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Yuletide reveal! I got Pretender, and of course I took a TV show where the main character spends every episode as a soldier, fire fighter, policeman, doctor, and chose to make him an accountant. My biases, they are obvious.

Entertainment Weekly recently did an article of the iconic show for each of the fifty states. For Delaware, it was Pretender, with this as the explanation: "Well, something had to take place in Delaware." Yup.

Title: A Greater Sense of Security Than Warranted
Fandom: Pretender
Tags: Sydney, Jarod, pre-series

Summary: "They are all related. Because I chose them. I’m the common factor."


A Greater Sense of Security Than Warranted
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Title: Let the Right One In
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Genre: Horror
Rating: Is it possible to go negative?

Review: I went to my local bookstore around Halloween and asked for a book that would scare me. The clerk recommended this one. As I'd heard such fantastic things about the movie, I felt sure this would be a good read. It isn't.

Basic plot: A pre-pubescent vampire shows up in a suburb of Sweden. Hijinks--and by that I mean death--ensue.

I asked for something that would scare. This did not. Disgust me? Yes, frequently. But scare me, no. Because god forbid any scene should pass without me knowing what everyone's bowels and penis are doing. I say penis because there are almost no women in this book, but I'll get to that.

The vampire, Eli, is spectacularly bad at being a vampire. Eli's recruited a pedophile to go out and get blood, and the pedophile is spectacularly bad at doing so. In this mythology, anyone who is bitten by the vampire itself and doesn't have its spinal cord severed becomes a vampire. Despite knowing this, and despite there being obvious ways around it (stab them and let the blood flow onto the ground, then drink it from there), Eli goes around infecting half a dozen people who, in addition to threatening Eli's life directly, make the whole keeping vampire's secret thing rather difficult. (Asquerade-may!) And we're supposed to believe that Eli has somehow made it hundreds of years, when they can't make it a month in this one stupid town without almost blowing the whole thing?

The other main character, Oskar, is a bullied twelve-year-old boy with incontinence issues (see above regarding bowel and penis focus). Oskar meets Eli, and is maybe a little in love. Oskar is also obsessed with serial killers and fantasises about murdering his bullies. This lays the groundwork for some interesting development. Unfortunately we don't get it. Oskar does stand up to his bullies, but never effectively, and remains bullied until the end of the book. Oskar also doesn't really ever deal with the moral issue of being friends with a killer. There's some revulsion, but Oskar never definitively decides it's okay, or that it's not okay--he just decides it's not as important as Eli liking him. So over the course of almost five hundred pages, Oskar gets repeatedly beat up, and still needs a protector at the end. Not so much for character growth.

The book has many other characters who all get the sort of character development horror authors love giving right before offing them. As if it will be more shocking or disturbing if we get the two-page history of that person's life first. The key amongst these are a group of drunkards. I thought they would turn out to be the key to the resolution of the plot, which would be clever, but no. They stumble about and some of them die and that's the end of it.

Then there's the enormous fail. I'm putting this behind a spoiler cut because some would consider it a spoiler, though the fact that it's something that can be a spoiler is itself offensive, but anyway--trigger warning. )

This book has been sitting on my floor for a while waiting for me to write up a hate review of it, and now here you are. I don't know if the movie is better or just repeats the same flaws. But do yourself a favor and skip this book. Unless your idea of a fun read is spending a lot of time inside the head of a pedophile as he masturbates to things I don't want to write here, in which case--uh, don't tell me.
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On the train yesterday, I sat behind an American and three Austrians, all in their twenties. They had quite an interesting discussion of what the word "mushy" means. And then one of the Austrians said that when she got in the plan in Vienna, the moon was one phase, but it was a different phase when they landed here, because Vienna and New York were so far from each other.

To which the American--who, it turns out was a grade school astronomy teacher--was like, no, nope. Then he got them all to hold out their beer cans in a mini solar system to explain how the phases of the moon work.
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I had a dream that the role of Han Solo in Star Wars was played by Jeff Goldblum.

That would have been a very different movie. Veeeeery different. But I kind of want to see it.
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I saw a poster that Bones and Sleepy Hollow are doing a crossover episode. Um...what? It's been many years since I stopped watching Bones, but I'm pretty sure it's a straight procedural. And Sleepy Hollow has witches and demons and magic time travel and the apocalypse. So...how exactly is mushing these two worlds together a good idea?
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Dear authors of Daredevil fanfic:
1. There are no alleys in Manhattan. Not even in alternate reality dystopian Hell's Kitchen. There are no alleys. Sketchy warehouse districts, sure. But NO ALLEYS.
2. They type of people that are Matt and Foggy's clientele do not own cars. Nor would their neighbors. And if they do own a car, they'd probably keep it at their parents' out on Long Island or in New Jersey and have to take a train to get to it. Cars are not a thing for people in Manhattan unless they are wealthy.
3. Hell's Kitchen is RIGHT THE FUCK NEXT TO MIDTOWN. Seriously, look at Google Maps. Avengers Tower would be like a fifteen minute walk back to Hell's Kitchen. If someone was dropped at Avengers Tower, they wouldn't need to call someone to pick them up. It's not Far Rockaway. The neighborhoods are literally next door to each other.
3a. Walking and taking the subway is a faster way of getting around Manhattan than any sort of vehicular transport. I walk up Sixth Avenue every day and I beat the cars driving on it. Taking a cab usually takes longer than the subway.

I know none of these New York setting complaints are new, but I seem to have found a whole new set of authors who know nothing about New York. Gah, the calling friends to pick you up to take you from midtown to Hell's Kitchen one really bothers me. That's a back button right there. If I called a friend to drive me that distance, I'd be waiting there two to three hours while they schlepped to get their car and come back.
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[placeholder--will be filled in by Nov. 1]
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I just finished rereading Machiavelli's "The Prince," the copy I'd studied from in college. In the whole book, this is the only thing I underlined:
It is better to be impetuous than cautious, because fortune is a woman; and it is necessary, if one wants to hold her down, to bear her and strike her down.

Yeah. That about says it, doesn't it?
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Internet, you have failed me. Why did no one tell me about Locke? It's a Tom Hardy film from 2013. It is literally him in a car on the phone for an hour and a half. That is the entire movie. Just looking at his pretty face acting. I thought for sure I'd have heard of this from someone, but no. Stumbled across it. I'm amazed it hasn't gotten more fannish attention.

For anyone interested, it's streaming on Amazon Prime.
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I finally watched Daredevil. I find it interesting that the producers said they wanted to do a gritty, darker show, but without "gratuitous violence," cause, um, holy shit? Does the existence of Game of Thrones suddenly mean that everything that is less violent than Game of Thrones is suddenly not gratuitous? I really liked episode 10, but other than that... I'm also finding it funny that Daredevil is *gritty* show, but if you look at season one of Arrow, Oliver Queen kills/maims way more people. Just not with graphic and extended sound design. I think Arrow qualifies as darker.

I spent a lot of it thinking about the intersection of Catholicism and crime/detective shows. Cause it seems to me that whenever a character's Christianity is a major plot point, they're always Catholic. Fraser in due South, Scully in X-Files, Murdock in Daredevil. I can't off the top of my head think of a show where a Protestant character (any flavor of Protestant) has had their faith be foregrounded. I have a few theories as to why:
- Cop shows have main characters that are often of the ethnic groups that have made up police departments for much of the twentieth century, that is Irish and Italian immigrants, who are Catholic.
- The influence of the Godfather movies on crime stories, since the pageantry of Catholicism is forefront in that film.
- The association of Catholicism with white urban decay. Even in shows without a Catholic main character, we'll often meet a Catholic priest in a run down church in the worst (white) neighborhood of the city, who is doing his best to help that community.
- Writers just like confessionals a lot, and Protestantism doesn't have as defined ritual as Catholicism, making it a harder thing to write about.

What do you guys think?
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Actual conversations I had today.

Her: I love the new Star Trek movies.
Me: Oh, man, that last one was terrible.
Her: What are you talking about? It was great.
Me: Have you seen Wrath of Khan?
Her: No.
Me: Well, that's probably why I don't like it and you do.
Her: Yeah, I've never seen any of the show. People said they like never leave the ship on it.
Me: Which show?
Her: Star Trek.
Me: You mean Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise?
Her: ...
Me: I promise they leave the ship on the show.

*later*

Her: You're gonna hate me, but I loved the Star Wars reboot.
Me: What Star Wars reboot?
Her: You know, the Star Wars reboot.
Me: Star Wars has never been rebooted. Do you mean the prequels?
Her: No, the reboot.
Me: Episodes IV, V, and VI came out in '77, '80, and '83. Episodes I, II, and III came out in '99, '02, and '05. [No, I did not need to look that up.] So you mean the prequels?
Her: No, like when they rebooted those really old films.
Me: By "really old" you mean the original films? They didn't reboot them. They made prequels.
Her: But wasn't there a reboot in like the early 2000s?
Me: Those are the prequels. It's the back story--it's not a reboot.
Her: Oh, I thought those were a reboot. But this new one, it's a reboot?
Me: No, it isn't. It's episode VII. It's a sequel to the original trilogy.
Her: Well, I can't deal with any of that like old visual stuff. Like with the Star Trek TV show.
Me: Fair point that visual effects has evolved a lot since these were made, but believe me, the original Star Wars and the original Star Trek are not even in the same solar system for visual effects.

You know, I don't try to sell millennials on the original Star Wars--I know it's old science fiction, and I can't honestly be objective enough to judge its quality. However, if you're going to tell me that the Star Wars prequels are awesome with no qualifiers (and think that they are a remake of the originals!) it is fucking on. She google fact-checked me after this conversation. If we are talking the animated series or the video games, I'm not going to know what's out there for Star Wars. But if we're talking anything released between the original series and the prequels? Trust me on this. I know what I'm talking about. I promise. Other parts of this conversation involved confusion when I mentioned reading the books ("Oh, it's based on a book?" "No--media tie-in books--you know what? Never mind.").
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I have been watching through Royal Pains on Netflix while my other shows are on hiatus. This is basically cotton candy television. The show is mostly about showing amazing houses and bright, beautiful summer weather, where it has only rained once, and that was for the plot. It's also a medical show where everything that everyone is diagnosed with is an easy fix, and they're all better by the end of the episode. Spoiler for season 3 )

The biggest problem with the show is the way they've treated Divya, the main female character. She is not a romantic interest of either of the male leads, but the entire way they've treated her romantic life is just *headdesk*. Spoilers through season five )

So why am I still watching the show? Evan. Cause he's an accountant. I'm actually sort of amused by him as a portrayal of an accountant, cause the early show leans very hard on him being crooked and scheming, which is a very post-Enron way of looking at accountants. Most of the episodes in the first two seasons, he comes up with a scheme to make money/promote HankMed; he gets his come-uppance. Which is why I loved the storyline where Hank dumped him and tried to run his own business. Cause the point of that entire storyline was that business is hard and Evan is good at it. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed accountant competence porn.

Anyway, I'm sure this is not a show that is particularly being followed except in the "oh, Royal Pains is on...I guess I won't change the channel" way. But if anyone is watching it, come chat.

(Also, Boris is hot. What can I say.)
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I had a dream that was a montage of Spock going through therapy. Please, please tell me that's a fic that exists somewhere.
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I have been rewatching the Back to the Future trilogy with the boy. It's 2015, so it's a must, and he had only ever seen the first one, and that only once. (I don't know how, if you were alive in the eighties, you could've avoided them.)

Last night we watched part 2. It was always my least favorite, as a kid because it was too dark. Now, though, I can see it's not a great movie. Structurally, it's too chunked up--a section in 2015, in 1985, and in 1955--so that there's no overall build up of tension through the film. And it is a movie in love with its own cleverness. It is so obsessed with being able to interweave with the first film that it's little more than a rehash. In every section, they're duplicating shots and lines. And the section in 1955 is kind of Back to the Future fanfic, and I can honestly say I never wondered about what Biff did when he was off screen. The special effects, where they recreate scenes from the first, and where they have the same actor duplicated multiple times, are, from this remove, kind of amateurish. Cutting edge at the time, but I'm used to Orphan Black now for duplicating an actor, so the contrived shots in Back to the Future 2 are screamingly obvious. I'm not even gonna talk about the wild inconsistency of how time travel works in this world. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

And then there's how this trilogy treats women, which I can't really get around any more.

In the first film, Lorraine is so an object that her only lines are about things like what kind of man she likes. Whereas in many films, the hero completes the hero's journey and gets the girl as a side effect, in this film it's even more explicit: the goal is to get the girl, and in order to do that, George must go on a hero's journey.

Plus there's the rapiness. There's the actual attempted rape. And then there's the fact that Marty's plan was to sexually assault his mother. It says something profound about rape culture that none of this struck me as a small child or my parents as in anyway odd or inappropriate in what was essentially a kid's film.

But the first film doesn't hold a candle to the second. Lorraine in this one is so explicitly an object that, since George "won" the first time she was with him, and since Biff "won" in the alternate timeline, she's with Biff instead. They even show footage of the marriage with her obvious distaste, as if, in 1973, she had literally no choice. We see the marriage as explicitly abusive, and, with that footage, and the scene from the first film, we can pretty well assume that Biff has raped her repeatedly for years. She's even had cosmetic surgery she didn't want. She has no control, no agency, and no room to express her own desires. She exists in this film to prove that this timeline is wrong. And to make Marty sexually uncomfortable. Again.

Let's talk about Jennifer. There must be a TV trope for her function in this film. They clearly didn't want her in it, but were trapped by the last scene of the first movie--she got in the Delorean, so she must go with them to the future. So the writers decided that the best way to deal with an unwanted female character was to knock her out and leave her lying unconscious in various places. First they literally leave her unconscious body on a pile of trash. Then they leave her passed out on a porch swing. Even after they discover that this reality is dangerous and terrible, even though it has been hours and days, they do not at any point retrieve her or even check on her. To recap: even when Marty discovers that his house is not his house and witnesses a driveby shooting, he leaves his unconscious girlfriend on the porch of a random stranger's house.

The only time she even comes up again is for Doc to explain why they should abandon her in this timeline entirely. I mean, the movie flipping ends with her unconscious on a porch somewhere in the future, completely forgotten.

Plus, there's the racism. The first film is one of the most racist movies against Arabs (the Libyan terrorists are not even speaking a real language as they are maniacally violent for plot reasons). Then there's the moment in the second film where Marty first realizes the timeline has been altered. How does he know that his happy suburb is now a shithole? His house is now lived in by black people. Black people who scream and come after him with a baseball bat. And other than the mayor of Hill Valley in his cameo in each film, these are the only black people in the franchise. Gee, thanks Hollywood. Nothing says urban decay like scary black people in your nice white suburb.

So.

I still love the first film, knowing all of its flaws. And it was fun to watch the 2015 section and point out the things we do and do not have. But yikes.
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I was listening to Christian Kane's albums today. I have two, and the third is so ludicrously expensive I won't be trying to acquire it. I probably wouldn't know who he was if it wasn't for his acting, but if I had managed to find his stuff, I'd definitely listen to it anyway. Damn that voice.

It put in mind for some more country music, but...I have none. I have one Johnny Cash album, and it's the one with covers. The rest I have is bluegrass. What I love most about Kane is that voice. Does anyone have any recommendations for other country singers with a similar sound?
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Mad Max: The Road Warrior

A Western where you know the good guys are good because they robbed a sporting goods store and the bad guys are bad because they robbed a bondage fetish gear store. Assless chaps: It's a statement.
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So, turns out my enjoyment of Mad Max: Fury Road does not extend retroactively. Yeah, Mad Max was crap. Did not do it for me. And however feminist you believe Fury Road to be, Mad Max is on the opposite end of the scale.

Yes, I'm still going to watch Road Warrior. But in the meantime, I'm watching Duchovny in Aquarius.

Fury Road

Jun. 7th, 2015 09:57 pm
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I watched Mad Max: Fury Road yesterday and...I did not expect to like that, I was going cause a friend wanted to see it, but I did. I really really did. I've never seen any Mad Max movies before, and I spent the whole film gripping my arm rather hard, and definitely gasped and flinched in certain parts, but that film worked for me. The over all visual design is stunning, the worldbuilding is plausible enough (I could poke holes in it but nothing leaped out as implausible (except for the design of the brand--you can't design a brand that is a closed circle! the skin in the middle will slough off!) but anyway), and what can I say, it hit my emo buttons.

I suppose I will have to go back and watch the originals now, though I'm going to bet that Fury Road still comes out as my favorite of them. You know a movie is good when the mood of it clings so much it tinges your dreams.
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I finished watching Star Trek: The Original Series and--oof, that third season. So I decided to started watching the movies, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Which should really be called Star Trek: Look! We Have a Budget.

That movie is so bad, in such a Star Trek way. It has more special effects shots than Star Wars. And yet the only shots fired in the entire thing are in the very beginning, and we watch them blip into nothingness. The plot doesn't show up for an hour. There is more than ten minutes of watching Kirk's shuttle approach the Enterprise. There's a transporter accident with no plot bearing. They pierce the warp bubble, leading to fifteen to twenty minutes of slowed down images and distorted sound--again with no plot bearing. I decided at a certain point that this wasn't so much a movie as something like the Pink Floyd laser light show I saw at the Planetarium last year. Just swelling symphonic music and wooshy visual effects.

And because it's Star Trek, at the end, they talk their way through the problem.

I can see more redeeming value in it now, having seen the series and caring about the characters, but that's a bad movie right there. Even worse when I looked at the wikipedia page and discovered it cost $46 million, largely because all those plot stultifying special effects had to be done last minute and at great expense. It was so late getting through post that there was no time for a test screening, so they never got feedback that they might want to tighten up the pacing a bit.

Next up Wrath of Khan, which I already know I love. Only one of the films I haven't seen is five, but I watched all the other ones without any attachment to or knowledge of the characters, so it'll be interesting to see them again.

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