Saturday, December 10, 2011

Grimm, season 1, episode 5: Danse Macabre

After missing an episode last week, Grimm is now showing 2 episodes, one on Thursday night, one on Friday night. We’re going to cover these today and tomorrow.

And we start with a new beginning - this week’s Grimm starts with a quote from a fairy tale – the pied piper. I wonder if it’s because the tales were too obscure for some viewers?
And the theme today is music – a DJ with a rave full of very happy people and a string quartet who are considerably less happy with a very unhappy teacher.

Oh and rats – lots and lots of rats eating said teacher while he’s trapped in the car. I think being ratted to death is up there in my top 10 ways of not to die. Uckies Uckies Uckies.

The trail of oh-so-obvious clues leads to Geiger pest control – and the DJ (Roddy, but I’m going to call him DJ Ratty) from the rave a violinist playing to the rats and the DJ’s father. And we have ratty creature – viewed through the Grimmvision. His dad hits Hank for grabbing the kid and they all. We follow interviews where Hank and Nick try to play the understanding ones with Older rat guy and kid rat guy – and generally making doing a pretty poor job of it. The kid’s alibi as a DJ checks out though, alas, they have to let him go.

And then the autopsy reveals the teacher died of a heart attack, not being ratted to death – and, more, finds fibres in the rat’s guts in the school colours.

And we have a Romeo & Juliet relationship between DJ Ratty and one of the rich girls at the private school and we begin to see a lot more classism coming in – clearly the students and their families have vast amounts of contempt for the poor DJ Ratty. Rich lady runs down to the police to demand that the police act like the proper servants of the rich and deal with that nasty poor person.

Nick heads off to see Eddie, his Grimopedia about the Ratty people – Rynegan (sp?). I do like Eddie – sarcastic, snarky and always funny – I want more Eddie! I also like how he’s nice and pleasant and good now – but he still can carry his menace and dominance around with him when he wants. 

Anyway, Eddie as the cello player is going to hang out with DJ Ratty, the violinist. He’s reluctant, but charmed by DJ Ratty’s obvious talent. I love Eddie, really love Eddie – best character on the show.
In the meantime the 3 guys on the string quartet are worrying because they were the ones who unleashed the rats – and got Roddy kicked from school to make room on the quartet. Oh and they’re going to DJ Ratty’s next rave. Oh and the police are searching Rich Kid’s car and link it forensically with the rat that was autopsied.

Whether Eddie’s heart to heart with DJ Ratty would have worked we don’t know because the gaol calls to let Roddy know his father has been injured and can’t receive visitors for 48 hours – sending him into a little rampage. Breaking stuff, releasing the rats and doing a full on pied piper that made me itch to just watch.

Being Human U.K. Season One, Episode Three

This episode opens with Annie flipping out in the kitchen and Mitchell warning George to stay out, because he believes that Annie is suffering from PMT.  George declares the assertion ludicrous, and says that he is not going to eat his steaks raw because someone who is not alive cannot possibly be suffering PMT.  When they enter, Annie is indeed flipping out and the kitchen is a mess.  Today is the anniversary of what have been her wedding but of course being a woman, it had to be hormonal, though she no long has hormones right? She holds a grater saying that it was an engagement present.  Okay, who the hell gives a grater as an engagement present? That alone should have given her second thoughts about Owen.  Mitchell decides to ask Annie to go out, believing that what she really needs is to meet more people like her. 
They end up at bar that is having an 80's night, and Mitchell introduces her to another ghost named Gilbert. At the bar, Mitchell assures George that meeting someone with the "same condition," is exactly what Annie needs, but George reminds him that it wasn't a success the last time he encouraged one of them to meet someone with the same condition. Mitchell encourages George to get with a girl, but George confesses that he is worried about hurting her. I think this is a legitimate worry considering that he is a werewolf.  I am shocked to see Mitchell just blow away his concerns, considering the level of violence he is of capable of.

At the hospital, Lauren shows up and to ask if Mitchell got his present.  She tells him, "you did this to me, you made me what I am".  When he starts to dismiss her saying that he made her but her actions from that point on are her responsibility, Lauren tells him that Herrick made her do the film, and that the last time she came to see Mitchell, he hurt her terribly. Rather than showing her any sympathy, Mitchell tells her that he can barely help himself, and that he does not know what she wants from him.

Annie takes the bus to meet Gilbert at a cemetery, but when they get there, she realizes that it is her grave. When Gilbert calls it beautiful, she says "I was 22 years old, I had my own life to live. I was happy, I was in love." Gilbert says that she can be happy now, and Annie asks, "How can I be happy, I've lost the only man I've ever loved more than anything else in this world and the children that I wanted". Gilbert tells her that she is beyond all of that now, and that the beauty of the world is all still there for them.  Annie suggests that a better place is where they should have gone. He tells her that this is where you stay unless you find some kind of resolution. He says that she is still here for a reason.

When they get back to the house, Annie tells George and Mitchell that when she figures out what the unfinished business is, then she can move on.  When Mitchell asks what she is going to do, she tells him that she does not know, but she's pretty sure that it's going to involve some highlight pens and some paper.

When Mitchell and George leave, Gilbert puts on the most depressing music.  Annie finally turns off the music and tells him that she needs to finish her unfinished business before she can move on, and asks if Gilbert will help her. She suggests that it is a task or a project that they can do together.  Gilbert says, "if I do this with you, it probably means we'll spend quite a bit of time together". He grabs a pen and paper, and asks her to tell him about her.  When Annie starts talking, everything she says is about Owen and how romantic they were together.  He tells her that it was the dullest story that he ever heard, and that no one should ever make a film about that.

Fed up with the story, he takes her out of the house.  He takes her to get records, read Nietzsche and even harasses cops who cannot hear them.  Annie finally pauses to ask him if they are actually having Gilbert fun yet.

Back at the house, Owen is trying to fix the plumbing. Janey is complaining that the issue with the plumbing has been going on for months, and says that he should just call someone in.  When he refuses, she tells him, "I think you like coming around here, hanging around with those two blokes, pretending that you're a teenager again. The first time you came round, I smelled beer on your breathe after. Let them get pally and they will take advantage."  Obviously frustrated, Owen leaves, but before he walks out the door, he turns and looks around the house as though he senses Annie.

Annie goes upstairs and announces to Gilbert that they need to have a change of plans, because she is still in love with Owen, and that she cannot let him go.  Gilbert says he must be very special.  Annie says she knows she is there because she wants to be Owen's wife. She wants to "love him and cherish him and look after him".  They go over to Owen's new home, and she says that she is going to be like his guardian angel and stop anything from happening to him. When Gilbert asks if she is moving in there permanently, she responds with a smile, and says, "we'll see how it goes".

Lauren shows up at the hospital, and says to Mitchell that she is clean, but she is there because she just knows that she is going to kill tonight. "All I think about is when I can kill again, when I can feed. This screaming pain in my blood and nerves right under my skin. It gets shorter and shorter the time I feel good after I've killed.  I need something to keep me going please."  Mitchell then takes pity on her and opens up a vein so that she can feed.  Just don't kill anyone he says, "I promise I will help you".

Friday, December 9, 2011

American Horror Story, Season One, Episode Ten: Smoldering Children

And it’s time for another American Horror Story, fasten your seatbelts, adjust your safety screens and let the failing begin.

So we have a lovely flashback of Constance, Larry, Adelaide and Tate playing happy families – needless to say the dysfunction levels are reaching the ceiling. We also see a greater influence of Constance’s disgust for her disabled children – and how it put the pressure on Tate to be the perfect one. While a dinner with these guests is bound to be less than fun, it’s interesting to see at least Tate cared for and valued his siblings – angered by Bo’s murder and considering Adelaide to be a smart girl. I think just in case we started to see Tate as a nice person (ha!) we move on to drugs, guns and pouring petrol on Larry to have his own personal bonfire. Not a nice boy. I always assumed that Larry’s scars were from when his family were burned.

And on to Ben and Vivian where Ben apologises to Vivian for assuming she cheated rather than being raped. Vivian kicks him repeatedly in the yin-yangs (wait, that’s my wishful thinking). Ben also tells her about having different fathers for her twins. Ben insists that together they will find the answers and have Vivian home in a day or two. Vivian throws rocks at his head at the very suggestion of them together (damn, that’s my wishful thinking again. Alas, not the case).

And back to present day Constance who is shown pictures of Travis’ dead body to identify. While she’s grieving and saddened, she still manages to squeeze out some racism. Keeping it classy Constance.

See, it’s stuff like this that bothers me so much about American Horror Story. It’s not that there are rampaging isms in every episode that are migraine quality, it’s not even that they’re all unchallenged, normalised and presented as acceptable (though both are certainly the case) it’s that they’re so grossly grossly unnecessary. What story, character, theme or plot has been advanced by these constant throwaway lines of prejudice?

And Ben gets a visit from the truant officer, Violet has missed a vast amount of school. Oh and there are blowflies in the house, yes let’s have some ominous connections. Ben confronts her – my gods, she actually exists! I thought everyone had forgotten her. I certainly thought Ben had. Ben finally acknowledges that, zomg, life hasn’t all that easy and sunny for Violet – about damn time. It’d probably feel better if Ben wasn’t clearly doing it for the sake of pushing her to go to school rather than actual concern. I can’t stand him, a Walker should eat him. Wait, that’s Shane on the Walking dead. A ghost should eat him. He goes on to look for a school for Violet – a boarding school.

Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Angel had a difficult life - a mentally ill, abusive, dead mother and an alcoholic abusive father. She dropped out of high school without graduating, drifted between low end jobs, with an on-again, off-again relationship with a similar guy and she got by by taking pills - not prescription. Well, they were prescription, but not prescribed to her. I know, I know dead parents again but beyond the issue of a dead parent, is the issue that her mother had a mental illness.  Far too often in fiction those that are neurologically atypical are constructed as violent when in actuality, they are more often a danger to themselves than anyone else.

And then she died. It was just what she needed to turn her life around.

Now, thanks to her mysterious benefactor, she has a new job, she’s off the booze and the pills and she’s finally making a new life for herself. Except for, well, craving brains. Gooey, human brains in fact.Good thing she works in a mortuary.

Things seem to be getting on track except for a wave of bodies showing up. Bodies without brains, headless bodies (both very useless for her to snack on) that are forming an increasingly disturbing trend that the authorities can’t spot. Only just embarking on her new life, Angel is now in the middle of a murder mystery.

Zombies. Zombies as protagonists? That’s pretty damn unique. And it’s pretty well done as well (I had the misfortune to be eating a ham sandwich when the brain eating began. It will be a while before I can look at moist, glazed ham the same again). It’s a very interesting take on the genre and the idea of zombies - I like it and it’s always fun to find.

And I like Angel. She’s funny, she’s amusing, she’s pretty sensible (lacking the spectre of spunky agency) she’s light hearted and real. She’s also a pretty nuanced and deep character.

While traumatised childhoods are pretty much par the course in the genre and, yes, I am sick of them -  this was well done. Angel’s past clearly and deeply affects her, but it isn’t her all consuming obsession, nor is it cast aside casually either. She mourns her lack of education, she is wounded by her mother’s abuse and her father’s mood swings and violence clearly cast a shadow over her life that she can’t turn off - but nor does it become all she is for giant, dramatic angst-fests either. we also have some pretty good class analysis with the poverty they live in, her both ruefully embracing her “poor trash” label while at the same time resenting it and struggling against it. Her anger at being judged, but also her shame as well as her discovering her self-esteem and self-worth as the books progress - and all of it well done because Angel is generally a light hearted character. She doesn’t have to sit down and mope and have a long internal monologue to explain all this to us - but there’s enough subtle references to carry the weight of it.

Paranormal Steampunk and Dystopian Erasure - the Unpleasant Implications

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

What is wonderful about Dystopian and Paranormal Steampunk is that the author has the opportunity to either create a brave new world, or an alternate past. Obviously in all fiction this opportunity exists but dystopian and paranoramal steampunk lend themselves remarkably well to this idea. Unfortunately instead of taking the opportunity to do something different, the majority of the authors that we have read have simply recreated the world as we know it today with the addition of fantastic steam run objects, or a sparse earth with no difference to the power structures currently in effect.

In the case of Dystopian worlds, this erasure has a particularly unpleasant implication. After all, we know marginalsied people exist - we know there are people of colour and GBLT etc people out there - so where are they? Or, rather, what happened to them?

In a Dystopian world something has happened. Be it major societal collapse, nuclear, alien/vampire/monster invasion, environmental disaster, mandated playing of country and western music - some dark and terrible thing has afflicted the world and, usually, decimated the human population. And when we take the idea of a decimated human population and then show no marginalised survivors the natural assumption is that the marginalised people are dead.

This turns the dystopian world into a post-eradication world. And, in the case where it has been an active attack or invasion, it turns it into a post (or pending) targeted genocidal world. The implication is that whatever disaster happened - or whatever force attacked - it wiped out marginalised people first. Your zombie apocalypse apparently had a horde of zombies that just looooved the taste of GBLT brains. Your marauding monstrous horde really hated people of colour. That supernatural plague for some reason picked off the minorities first.

And this is rarely touched in the series either. We have the implied eradication, but it’s never addressed or explained or referred to. We have implied targeted eradication and this not considered relevant by any of the cast of survivors.

I know we’re going to get people answering this with “you’re reading too much into this” “the author didn’t intend this” and even the dreaded “it’s only fiction.” But the author carelessly erasing us rather than intentionally portraying us as eradicated doesn’t remove the implication of targeted destruction. If a minority is absent where we would expect them, and if there has been a great loss of life, isn’t it reasonable to assume they died?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger, Book 3 of the Parasol Protectorate

After being most unjustly accused of adultery in Changless, Lady Maccon, la Diva Tarrabotti, finds herself relegated to her old home and very much a social pariah in London society. In some cases worse, the Vampires are frightened of the child she carries and plan to end her life while she is without the protection of the werewolf pack. Other ladies would retire in shame, embarrassment and fear.

Other ladies are not Lady Alexia Maccon. She refuses to hide or cower from high society and has a quite marvelous time of staring them down. Determined to prove that the child is in fact Lord Maccon’s (not that she wants him back, of course, oh no - but she looks forward to slamming the evidence down in front of him) Lady Maccon travels to Italy, to the fanatical Templars, who know more about the Soulless than anyone.

Of course, the vampires aren’t going to let a little thing like leaving the country stop them hunting and trying to kill her which certainly doesn’t help Lady Maccon’s travel; even if she is equipped with an emergency supply of tea. Then there’s the Templars themselves who, despite access to the most wonderful pesto, are most unfriendly people and not even slightly accommodating.

And things are far from quite in London, much to poor professor Lyle’s consternation. Between Lord Maccon’s drunken binge, the vampires hunting Lady Maccon and the disappearance of Lord Akeldama, there’s quite enough to keep the beleaguered beta busy.

Less than 2 pages. That’s how far I got before I collapsed giggling. The combination of Alexia’s marvellously strong character, the beautifully flowery Victorian decorum and language and just some wonderfully crafted silliness makes this book, like the two before it, a constant source of mirth - even if Miss. Hisslepenny and her hats are sadly not so present.

This book is basically superlatively wonderful in all the same ways that Soulless and Changeless were. the language is wonderfully evocative of the era. It’s screamingly, hilariously, outrageously funny. Lady Alexia Maccon is a truly magnificent character - sassy and sarcastic, funny and strong, sensible and shameless. Frankly, if the story were poor, the backing characters flat and the world ridiculous, the books would still be an amazing read just because of Lady Alexia Maccon

Cover Snark: That's not in the Book!

A somewhat lighter snark this week. Here we look at covers that make you frown. Not because they’re bad or rife with isms (though they might be) but because they seem to bare no relation at all to the book’s content. You wonder if, perhaps, there had been a mistake at the publishing house ans the wrong cover had been glued on? Maybe the cover artist had a powerful artistic vision and wasn’t going to let a little thing like content get in the way?

We do a lot of cover snark, but I think this, more than anything else, makes it clear that the authors have, at best, limited control over the cover - after all, I can believe an author would chose an unnecessarily sexualised image, or an image that is rife with an ism - but an image that doesn’t even resemble the contents?

First up we have Richelle Mead’s excellent Succubus series - and some wings. Yes, wings. Now, Georgina, as a shapeshifting Succubus can grow wings - but she hardly makes a habit of it. And if she did, I’m sure they wouldn’t be that ragged.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review of Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case by Adam Pepper

An e copy of this book was received from the author via Goodreads.
Okay, the best thing that I can say about this book, is that it is only 162 pages long.  I was grateful when I got to the end.  

The protagonist is Hank Mondale and is a private investigator, with a huge gambling addiction and a small liquor problem.  Sounds familiar doesn't it?  There is nothing original about this character, and he is not in the least bit likeable.  He is constantly short of money and attempts to gamble his way out of his debt, and of course incurs even more debt. He desperately wanted to be cop, but could not become one because of past legal issues.  I know that the reader is meant to be sympathize with Hank, but a drunk gambler, who cannot keep his shit together is not appealing. Hanks problems were of his own making.  As a straight, cisgendered, able bodied White man, he should have had the world at his beck and call, whereas; the servile people of colour in this story were up against systemic inequalities. Even in the end, when legal issues should have been an issue for Hank, he was given a pass. The police had no regard for a dead prostitute, but a White man who can barely stay sober received tons of concern.
When Hank is contacted by Blake, a business tycoon to deal with an entity that is stalking his privileged daughter Mackenzie, Hank sees this as a dream come true.  With the promise of money, he begins investigating.  There are several murders and slowly we learn that these deaths are all connected.  

When Hank learns that all of the deaths are due to a monster, he naturally disbelieves what he is being told. It is only after seeing the creature for himself, that he realizes that the Blakes were telling the truth.  What he does not realizes is that though the Blakes are on the run from the creature, that they are equally culpable for the deaths themselves.

Wednesday Reboot: Van Helsing

Van Helsing was originally released in 2004 and it stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale.   As always, the purpose with the reboot, is to examine these movies from a social justice lens.

The first 8 minutes of this movie are in classical horror style and they are absolutely fabulous. They are filmed in black white and the music is suitably ominous.  The movie opens with peasants rushing through the streets carrying torches on their way way to Dr. Frankenstein's famous lab.  Just as he brings the creature to life Count Vladislaus Dracula appears to claim the creature for his own. It seems that Count Dracula, provided the castle and supported Dr. Franenstein's work because he wanted the creature.  When Frankestein refuses, Count Dracula kills him.  The creature grabs the good doctor and escapes to the windmill only to have the peasants set it on fire.  The creature yells, why just as the floor collapses, causing both him and the good doctor to be consumed by flame.  Count Dracula arrives presently to see the destruction and the scene shifts.

Enter Van Hesling who is apparently the most  wanted man in Europe, though he works for the knights of the holy order, a secret sect run by the Vatican that the public has now knowledge of.  After stopping in Paris to kill Mr. Hyde of the Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fame (this is again another magnificent work of CGI) he returns to the Vatican. He is told that the Vatican is the last defense for humanity against evil, an evil that the rest of mankind has no idea exists and that for Van Hesling this is all a test of faith.

The Valerious family made a vow to God that they would not enter heaven until Dracula has been vanquished from the land.  To date they have not succeeded and with few descendants left, Van Hesling is tasked to help the family because of the last heir dies nine centuries of labour will but for naught and the Valerious family will spend and eternity in purgatory. He is shown a scroll with the words in Latin, In the name of God, open this door. The scroll also has an insignia on it that matches Van Hesling's ring.  He is told that if he goes after Dracula perhaps he might find out what memories he has lost and his purpose.

Before he leaves, Van Hesling goes to see a friar named Carl.  In a scene very reminiscent of every James Bond movie that has ever been created, Carl outfits Van Hesling with every single modern weapon that is is capable of harming are killing a vampire that he can.  The weapons are clearly advances for the 1800's and are reminiscent of that scene in most steampunk movies and or books. Unfortunately for Carl, despite his protests Van Hesling informs him that he has to accompany him to Transylvania.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane, Book 1 of the Disillusionist Trilogy

Justine is a hypochondriac in a downward spiral, her life falling apart as her anxiety and panic attacks take over. Until she meets Packard, a man who can turn her whole life around.
A highcap psychic, he can see her problems and more, he has a solution. By teaching her to zing her fears into other people, she can be free from her crushing dread and panic for the first time. While it offers her freedom and peace, it comes with a price, acting as a vigilante with her fellow disillusionists, all zinging their emotions and problems into other people’s brains – psychologically destroying them.

While their targets are untouchable criminals, Justine has to deal with her new life as a vigilante, keep what she wishes to preserve of her own life – and decide whether she even wants it any more – and come to terms with the new control Packard has over her – for without the ability to zing she would be even more vulnerable than she was before.

And then there’s a target she doesn’t agree with and things aren’t entirely what they see; against a backdrop of a spiralling crime rate as unpoliced psychics use their abilities without check – and people driven by desperation to try and bring some stability to the city.

This book surprised me from beginning to end. It’s complicated, it’s nuanced and you never reach a point where you can sit down and say “these are the good guys, these are the bad guys.” It’s never that simple and no-one is that clean. We’re hit from all sides with a barrage of questions and things to think about – the question of vigilantism? Even when it works? What about imprisonment, what about cruel imprisonment, what about when there’s no alternatives and what about when it cannot last? And dependence, even when the alternative is death – and deception that ends up with people becoming utterly helpless minions – but, again, the alternative is death and the deception itself is an act of desperation from a man in an intolerable situation. For that matter, the issues of those who know they are entering minionhood comes into it – especially when you consider the alternative is not far off death, so what choice is it? We even look at the extra toll it has on the black disillusionists who have become helpless minions of a white man. And how far does the end justify the means?

And we meet the ultimate target and he’s evil... but he’s not, the boss man’s evil, no, wait, both of them have engaged in shitty behaviour but both of them had damn good (or, at very least, idealistic reasons for doing so).

Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 11: If a Fae Falls in the Forest

We start with Bo and Kenzi looking in envy at the uber expensive products in an exclusive shop – only to see that Ciara can afford to shop there! 

Oh… please not Dyson angst with hate and envy of Ciara. Please let us not go there. Go get kidnapped or something Bo. Or spawn some new super powers, or have a vision you then ignore. Something

And we have a fae serial killer. So much more amusing. Though Dyson writes off the prime suspect because she’s so much smaller than her male human victim – what he already established it was a fae. Surely size is irrelevent?

Instead of checking to see if the obvious obvious suspect is fae, they decide to use Bo and Kenzi to go undercover in some ritzy ritzy parties to find the murderer instead. And, of course, to get them into the parties Bo needs introduction and training with… Ciara. Oh please gods no. Can we fast forward to the kidnapping and rescuing? Please? Anyway, judging by the toga she ends up wearing, clearly Ciara loathes Bo with a fiery passion.

Ah yes, after several painful moments of not!investigating, Kenzi gets clonked on the head and we have the obligatory kidnapping. Ok it’s not BO for once, but it wouldn’t be Lost Girl without a kidnap now would it? She wakes up to find herself next to an unconscious guy and a dead guy – which quickly leads to a policeman interrogating her until Hale steps in and they both decide that a business card holder made by Leta S (a fashion designer who has “suspicious” written all over her) is suspicious. I’m not sure why. But they do and who I am to argue with random baseless hunches?

Meanwhile, Bo is getting some random stereotyped cryptic nonsense from a woman of colour. Even the fae get magical brown people to give them woo-woo it seems. Anyway, Bo also decides that Leta is also suspicious because… well because. 

So their sights are set on Leta who is after powerful rich men.  So Dyson should go undercover – oh and Bo should accompany him posing as his fiancée. That’s Ciara’s idea. Yes, Ciara who was so jealous before is now asking Bo to pose as Dyson’s fiancée. Yeah it’s not even pretending to make sense any more. Thankfully they don’t have to maintain their awful undercover for more than 2 minutes before bringing them in.

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 6: The Shepherd

David – Prince Charming – continues with his amnesia and having a great big party with all the people he doesn’t remember any more.

Of course Henry knows that it’s because the curse didn’t work on him and he has no fake memories and it’s hard for Emma to question him when it was Henry’s ideas that woke him up. Madam Mayor keeps pushing David’s wife Catherine back to him meanwhile David is clearly more interested in Mary Blanchard (Snow White) and how he loves her really. Of course, Mary is far too good (wet) to entertain the idea of seducing another woman’s wife and nobly pushes him away. Y’know, fairy tale snow white has a sword and kicks arse, Mary has, what, some wet celery and kind of crumples damply all over the place.

Mary’s coping method seems to be to clean. Thankfully Emma introduces her to the much more sensible tactic of copious amounts of booze and the sage advice that creeping on the married amnesiac is, indeed, not morally sound. Meanwhile Catherine tries to get David to come to bed with her but Davey boy’s having none of it because he looooves Mary. Madam Mayor swoops in to tell Mary to keep her distance from David, you naughty home wrecker! Mary responds to this terrible and unjust insult by… looking tearful and wet. Oh good gods, Davey, stay with Catherine until Mary develops an actual spine. But no, David decides to romantically stalk the protesting Mary instead.

Mary naturally has no way to make a decision so runs to Emma to make the decision for her. Oh dear gods, could she be any soggier? Of course, it doesn’t work out because David falls into Mr. Gold’s clutches (Rumpelstiltskin) and creates false memories for David sending him back to Catherine and away from Her Dampness. This, naturally, prompts more soppiness from Mary, at least she learns to get her drink on and make moves on the cute doctor. Maybe there is hope for her.

Meanwhile in fairy tale land, a prince engages in some of the most inept swordfighting I’ve ever had the displeasure to witness. Seriously, the man spends half his time with his back to his opponent, only avoids death because the guy with the spear seems to pause and stand still whenever Prince charming sprawls on the floor/presents his back/nearly falls off the cliff and both of them move like they’re up to their necks in treacle (now, remove the metal armour, have them rolling in treacle? Much more entertaining fight). I actually wondered for a moment if it were a really cheap way of trying to do Matrix slow-motion. Apparently this inept treacle-fencing is a test to see if he can slay… a dragon! (I’d say no, unless the dragon is elderly, wounded, has advanced leprosy and has lost all desire to live). A dragon that is plaguing the kingdom of king Midas – him of the golden touch. In return, Midas will pay them enough gold to completely destabilise their economy… errr, to make them rich. Oh and he turns his sword to gold – but it wasn’t like he knew how to use it anyway.

And after all that, he hasn’t even killed the guy, turns his back and gets himself well and truly stabbed. Very inconvenient – the poor king needs to find a dragonslayer stat or he doesn’t get the gold. In comes Rumpelstiltskin to make a deal, he pulls out the prince’s hidden twin goatherd (James – Prince Charming/David) brother for some dragonslaying and he gets to know where the fairy godmother hangs out (I remember this fairy tale J).

Said goatherd has an impoverished farm and a mother who wants to marry him off for some cash. But no, goatherd wishes to wait for true love – and in comes Rumpelstiltskin, already bought his twin brother and now looking for a 2 for 1 deal with extra dragonslaying. Well, standing outside looking heroic while the soldiers go do the actual dragonslaying. Yeah, soldiers against a dragon – we know how that ends don’t we? (At least the soldiers get better armour – full suits of chain while the prince only gets some badly boiled leather).  After the predictable char-broiling, the goatherd levels up to Big Damn Hero and makes with the dragonslaying (after the dragon conveniently forgets how to breath fire and he gains a sword with an edge even sharper than those late night knife adverts on the shopping channel).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some more Snark Theatre on Narcissus in Chains

Another great video from Minaminokyoko who says so much that we've all thought about the sadly shark-jumping Anita Blake series.

The quality snark here tempts me to read the series again for the snark alone. Almost

it also covers just how problematic the consent issues are in this series - no, no euthemism, the outright RAPE in this scene

The Fades, Season 1, Episode 6: Season Finale

So, the people have left town in fear, Paul has super powers an refuses to walk in Neil’s increasingly more extreme footsteps while Neil has jumped off the deep end and kidnapped Mac to make Paul obey
Starting with the Evil Fades, with everyone leaving town they’re having a problem with food supply – no fresh humans to snack on. But John, leader of the Fades is focused on Paul whose super shiny powers remain the only way to kill them. John’s unwilling to move on until Paul is dead, butchered and his body parts scattered

Meanwhile Paul is still having his apocalyptic ash dreams – that now include his own death by stabbing. Only this time he has some more information – the ashy death dream is today. Paul and his angelic side-kick Alice are running through the empty streets, dodging past the Fades looking for them. Random body parts and corpses scatter the deserted streets. It has an almost Walking Dead feel to it – and the same amount of menace and tension without the oozy make up.

Unfortunately Alice still has bad amounts of Neil disease – forget the little people, don’t be distracted, the family don’t matter etc etc. The Angelics really need to deal with that. But an encounter with the Fades and Paul’s unwillingness to blast them into itty bitty pieces results in them discovering the blast ray is actually multi-purpose and also can open the Ascension point.

For those who haven’t kept up – Ascension is what the Fades should be doing rather than hanging around, getting all icky then eating people but it was sadly broken (the theory is by World War 2) and needs fixing to get the Fades where they belong

Meanwhile Paul’s mum and sister Anna and girlfriend Jay haven’t left and are still hanging around waiting for Paul. Not the wisest of moves, especially with the Fades surrounding the house. Anna keeps trying to get them away while heir mum keeps insisting she can’t abandon her son. Again, I’m glad to see Anna speaking up, pointing out that she’s her daughter as well.

Mac and Neil are continuing the kidnap tour – and Mac is keeping up his usual skilful level of amusing and witty babble and banter including drawing Neil into a discussion as to who is more like Jesus Christ. It’s slowly driving Neil up the wall (which is extremely amusing to see) while he tries to contact Paul.  Neil goes well and truly off the deep end and kidnaps them all – holding Jay at gunpoint to try and force Paul to go around killing the Fades. He doesn’t listen, is completely lost to reason – and shoots Jay

Ok, sigh moment. This is the second time Jay has been kidnapped to get at Paul. I really dislike this trope of female love interests having no role except to be victimised in order to get at their men. That is the only role Jay has served in this series – in 6 episodes she has beenvictimised twice both to get at Paul

Neil now has an ultimatum to Paul – kill John or he will kill Paul’s family. Leaving Alice to beg him not to, to fix ascension (harking back to the “family isn’t important now” speech she had earlier)
Speaking of the family – Mac’s father Detective Armstrong finds Paul’s mum tied up and she tells him about Neil. While Mac and Anna, in a storage container, have a beautiful scene together… only to be found by Fades (Paul’s old therapist)

And on to the distraction characters, we also drop in on Ghost!Sarah (who, as you recall, has a new diet plan of human flesh, nomnom) and her husband Mark who really needs to find some point in this story C’mon, it’s the last episode. Anyway they have sex but Ghost!Sarah has a problem – she wants to eat him (no, not a euphemism) which naturally causes some consternation.  I’m not sure what role they’re supposed to serve – a humanising element? But the villains and protagonists in this series are very human already

Rather upset that she nearly snacked on her dearly beloved, Sarah goes to confront John, the Fade leader, asking him what she is and what he’s done to which John replies with the charming Biblical story of Sodom and how he’s creating a new nation which requires a little unfortunate bloodshed – this is the evil villain self-justification clause.

Of course, with Sarah on his side John gets the benefit of her own special kind of fluffy positive thinking – it doesn’t matter, everything’s dead, everything’s ash, there’s no hope. Cheerful sort. In her fatalism, Sarah, for some reason feels compelled to protect John, albeit rather ineffectually
Paul and Neil find John  and have a gun fight and limerick match. There then follows several rhetoric battles – Sarah vs Alice, Neil vs John – debate time! Moral viewpoints! Philosophies and tragic stories – go! Actually that sounds kind of dull and though I’m vaguely amused at the dramatic show down being an exchange of impassioned speeches, it’s pretty tense, a good way to finish off the world and fill in any gaps – and have an epic battle – even if it is with words

Review of Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover: Book 1 of The Black Sun's Daughter

When I finished reading  Unclean Spirits, I found myself staring at the cursor on my computer screen, not sure about what to say about this series.  I certainly am not overwhelmed by the story, but the book sorts of leaves you with a blank feeling.  

It begins with Eric Alexander Heller, sitting in a dive bar attempting to hire a few low lives to do a job.  He seems to have a sort of special sight that allows him to determine if someone is really human or, nosferatu or loupine. Apparently, these creatures implant themselves in human bodies, and the owner of the body is forcibly removed or exterminated. Yep, a sort of new take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He agrees to go with the men to another location, but quickly realizes that they are not who they originally appeared to be, and ends up dead.

Eric's niece Jayne, pronounced zha-nay (a point of which we are reminded about ad nauseum) arrives in Denver to settle his estate. She is met at the airport by Aubrey, who is a friend of her uncle.  We learn that Eric was never close to her parents, but that he always took time to be there for Jayne.  Out of the blue, Jayne says to Aubrey, "I just want you to know, "it's okay with me that he was gay."  Aubrey is shocked and tells her that he did not know that, and Jayne rethinks her assumptions.  It seems that she believed that Eric was gay because he did not get along with her religiously conservative parents. For a major part of this story, almost every time Jayne brings up Eric it is to inform the listener that he is gay.  It's like being hit over the head with a battering ram at times.

When Jayne meets with Eric's lawyers she learns that he is rich, which of course surprised her again because he was gay.  Can't think of how to respond that you have inherited millions of dollars, claim a gay uncle. When Jayne decides to visit one of Eric's apartments in the city she meets, Midian, a vampire with a penchant for cooking.  He spends most of his time worrying about what kind of food he is going to serve Jayne, Aubre, Ex, and Chogyi Jake; all of which are associates of Eric.  While in the apartment, some riders break into the apartment and attempt to kill Jayne (yeah the name does not get less irritating, and someone should tell Hanover that it's not a French name)  She of course goes all ninja, though she has never thrown a punch in her life. 

Back at Eric's Jayne determines that she has to kill Coin, the entity responsible for killing Eric.  Keep in mind that as a team she only has Aubrey, Ex, Midian, Chogyi Jake, whom she has known for a few days. This is spunky agency at its finest.  She is surrounded by strangers and has no skills but hey, it's off to kill the bad guys.

But before she can go off to kill the bad guy, of course she has to find to go out on a date and have some sex.   Having found Aubrey attractive since meeting Jayne decides to ask him out on a date which ends with the two of them having sex, because worrying that you might die soon does that to people.  When she wakes in the middle of the night she ends up going through his things and discovers that Aubrey is married and so of course she feels betrayed.  And what do you do when you're betrayed and someone is trying to kill you, you disappear for hours, telling no one where you are.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Twilight Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Breaking Dawn Part I is the fourth movie in the Twilight juggernaut. This film was much anticipated due to the wedding of Bella and Edward and of course the honeymoon night.  For many twi fans, these scenes were the culmination of a romance.  Just as with any other wedding there was discussion about the dress and plenty of hype.  I believe that the directors felt that this hype was enough to carry the story however, this assumption proved to be incorrect as far as I am concerned.  Rather than advancing the plot, this movie was two hours of fan service.  

Like with every other Twilight film we had the savage native represented by the werewolves, and the every so whitesome and delightsome vampires, represented by the Cullens.  The other prominent messages were of course one must marry, even if said marriage is ill advised for various reasons, a pregnancy is gift no matter the risk to the mother and of course the ever popular imprinting as a cover for pedophilia.

Rosalie’s transformation in the books from dedicated hater of Bella for giving up her mortality to utter devoted servant to the fertile one was pretty unpleasant - and it was no more palatable in the film.. See, I think Roaslie’s dislike kind of had a point - it is fairly reasonable to be vexed by someone deciding to make a vast life decision at the age of 18, especially when that life decision involves nothing more than “I got me a maaaan, I don’t need anything else”. But with Bella’s pregnancy and Rosalie’s conversion to Bella fandom, it’s clear that all those life decisions and missed opportunities are meaningless in the face of the White saviour baby. This means that Rosalies dislike of Bella was really about “you haven’t had a baby and are giving up your fertility!” rather than giving up her life and mortality. So an 18 year old’s lost potential and choices basically comes down to fertility; her value and opportunity boils down to having a child. Blessed be the womb.

Of course, Rosalie has all her anti-choice card’s marked with her constant chanting “it’s a baby! Call it a baby!” The one vague bright spot (kind of like a rose on a midden heap) there was Alice resolutely refusing to accede to that and continue to call a foetus a foetus. In some ways, this is presented as Bella’s choice - but it’s all about Bella’s sacrifice; especially when we consider how extreme the situation is. The foetus is breaking Bella’s bones and starving her to death and there is literally no way she can survive giving birth without a desperate attempt to become a vampire, which they’re not even sure will work. Her survival is secondary to the foetus, the loss of her life, even as a near certainty, is considered less important and she is expendable. I think this is even more problematic when we consider how much time Bella spends devaluing herself, how low her self-esteem is, and how Rosalie  reduces all of Bella’s potential down to childbirth. Throughout these books and films, Bella’s existence is defined in relation to other people - she lives to be Edward’s girlfriend (she almost literally stops existing when he leaves) and to be Reneseme’s mother; she herself is unimportant and discardable.

Review of Being Human U.K Season One, Episode Two

This episode opens with the most amazing description of what happens to George's body when he transitions into a werewolf.
He should be dead within thirty seconds. The werewolf heart is about two times the size of a humans, but in order to shrink, first it has to stop.  In other words, he has a heart attack.  All of the internal organs are smaller so while he's having his heart attack, he's having liver and kidney failure to. If he stops screaming, it's not because the pain has dulled. His throat, gullet and vocal chords are tearing and reforming.  He literally can't make a sound.  By now the pituitary gland should be working over time, flooding his body with endorphins to ease some of the pain but that too has shut down. Anyone else should have died with shock long ago but it won't kill him.  That's the thing I find most remarkable. It keeps him alive and even conscious to endure every second. An impossible curse spread by tooth and claw, victim begets victim. It's so cruel, it's perfect.
When said that way, just wow.   George wakes up in the morning to find himself naked in the forest.  A man is squatted down asking, "how the hell do you get home? You've got no clothes, you've got no transport. I suppose you ring someone, but God only knows where you keep the change for the phone".  When he gets up to runaway, the man calls out, "George I know what you are".  George asks, "why would you say something like that?"The man says, "cause I'm one too".  He tries to engage George, but George tells him that he doesn't want anything to do with him.

When George gets home, he finds that Mitchell has invited the neighbours in.  It seems that Mitchell believes that they aren't really participating, if they don't interact with people.  He suggests that they hide in plain sight, and that interacting with people and having them in the house, gives them a non threatening appearance.  When Mitchell leaves the room, Annie pops in. George tells Annie, "He doesn't understand, these people are British. You're not allowed to talk to your neighbours, until you have nodded at them for fifteen years."  Okay, I lost it laughing at that one. When George looks out into the living room, he finds the werewolf who had attempted to talk to him earlier.  George drags him out of the house in a panic

Once outside, George tells him, "I like to keep things separate. I transformed here last month and it does not belong here".  The werewolf responds, "let me teach you how to manage the condition. I can make it safer for you, and not just for you, for everyone". After the neighbors leave, they have him inside and he explains that he has been sleeping rough while searching for George. He tells that sometimes he is is own worst enemy, "Tully is as Tully does."  Tully then proceeds to charm Annie saying that she is more like an angel than a ghost.  He then turns to Mitchel and says "a mirror reflects a mans face, but his friends reflect who he really is".  Being completely charmed, Mitchell offers to let Tully sleep on the couch for a few days.  George is clearly unimpressed by this suggestion.

In the kitchen, George tries to convince Mitchell to change his mind aboutTully stay there.  He says the house is his way of closing that door, "and if I want to close that door, then I'm allowed to close that door".  Mitchell does not understand why George is resistant saying, "if someone could teach me to control who I am, I would jump at the chance."