_Finder_ dream
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Had a dream that I waa reading _Finder_ by Carla Speed McNeill. (Well, earlier, I was watching an old Babylon 5 tape, but in the manner of dreams, the experience shifted.) There was a memorable incident where someone was meeting and negotiating with a tribal chief. I don't remember his name, so I'll call him X. X was a very big man, and had his (rather ancient) wife next to him during the meet. After the negotiations were over, and the foreigner had left, X removed the outer layer of his robes to reveal that "he" was actually three slender women!

It seems that, a while back, this tribe had a difficult situation. Tribal law dictates that the chief must be male (mostly due to the neighboring tribes being sexist). The original Chief X, when he died, had three daughters, but no sons. None of the daughters had married (partially due to the fact that any husband might end up Chief, and they didn't see any acceptable candidates in the dating pool). Faced with this conundrum, X's wife managed to convince the tribal Council to accept the legal fiction that X's daughters, collectively, *were* X, and could maintain "his" Chieftan-ship.

That seemed like a nifty enough idea to be worth sharing. I'm not a fiction writer, so if anyone wants to pick it up and run with it, feel free.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/666575.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: ,

Climate change for kestrels
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
The kestrel-cam in Boise, Idaho is active again. There are five eggs in the box, despite a long hiatus after the first two, possibly caused by an unseasonable snowstorm at that time.

Right now, mama-bird is sitting on the eggs determinedly, as wind blows snow hard enough that there are drifts inside the box with her. Brrrrr!

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/666205.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

IEHEU (1977??)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Yesterday, Kestrell and I watched a bunch of YouTube videos from the British Film Institute, mostly ones connected with their “GOTHIC” film festival from a few years ago. Which may have had something to do with the incredibly odd film I dreamed last night.

I was at a… party? At any rate, there were a lot of friends around, and we were snowed in. I was channel surfing looking for something interesting to watch. I eventually landed on a PBS station from out of state, which seemed to be showing this movie repeatedly and/or in random order. I can’t be quite sure, because the snowstorm was intermittently knocking out the signal, so what bits I did see were in random order at any rate.

The overall antagonist of the piece was Godzilla, but he was attacking Victorian England. In order to combat this threat, Sherlock Holmes had enlisted the help of Dracula, Jack the Ripper, and others (maybe Frankenstein’s Monster?). Near the end of the film, Jack had a speech about how he envied Godzilla for having spent most of its life in a world without humans.

Much earlier in the film (probably the opening scene) a prehistoric tribe of white furred hominids are about to be trampled by rampaging woolly mammoths. We focus in on one of them as he closes his eyes and prepares to die – but he doesn’t die, though blood splatters across him. A ghastly roar is heard above the noise of the trampling mammoths. He opens his eyes and sees (though we do not) the towering form of Godzilla, chomping down on the mammoths, inadvertently saving the ape man’s life. His name is Zaius, and he will become the shaman of his tribe.

Meanwhile, in Victorian England, criminals are taking advantage of the chaos of a Godzilla attack at night to break into a bank vault – but Sherlock Holmes has anticipated this! Sadly, his near-superhuman speed is not sufficient to stop the criminals, who escape in a waiting coach. Several of them were dressed as cowboys (Including Billy the Kid?) but most of them were uniformed Bobbies. Some sort of government conspiracy at work?

I was telling someone else at the party about this incredible film I’d been watching, when I woke up enough to realize I wanted to tell all of YOU about it. And now I have.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/666029.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: ,

Farewell LiveJournal
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Given the latest round of shenanigans, I'll be largely abandoning LiveJournal going forward. I'm not personally worried, so I'll be maintaining crossposting for the time being, though really just for the further-crosspost-to-Facebook functionality. But I won't be reading LJ, so if you expected me to see something there, try another means of communication.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/409933.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Gaming Campaign Idea: Magical Kids
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
An idea occurred to me the other night, which I am not currently in a position to use, so I release it freely to the world. It is suitable for RPG campaigns in a fantasy or historical milieu which have been going for a while and perhaps need something different to shake up the players.

The party encounters a group of small children (mixed genders and ages) who dress and talk strangely, and who seem to know the party members. These kids are the protagonists of a Magical Adventure story, in the mode of Edward Eager or E. Nesbit. By means of some magical McGuffin, the kids have been transported here to meet their favorite Heroes, in the midst of one of their greatest adventures!

The kids should all have distinct personalities. These don’t need to be (and arguably shouldn’t be) terribly complex, just enough to keep them distinct, and possibly provide extra conflict. Possibilities include but are not limited to: the Brat, the Responsible One, the Shy One, the Worrywart, the Skeptic (who doesn’t believe this is happening), the Boy who thinks Girls Are Icky, the Girl who CAN SO do anything a Boy can, the Snitch, the Gushing Fan…

The kids, of course, know all the players’ characters intimately, potentially including significant secrets, almost certainly including details of their futures. The older children probably have some notion about paradoxes which will incline them not to talk about such things too much, but the GM should totally use this opportunity for foreshadowing and/or awkward reveals. Of course, while the kids have read all the way to the end of the “book”, that’s not to say that the book was necessarily accurate…

Naturally, the kids will get in trouble, and the players will have to rescue them. Possibly repeatedly. (If your players are the sort who are too callous to rescue hapless children, make sure to spring this subplot on them in a circumstance where powerful NPCs will pressure/force them into it.)

Depending on how meta the GM wants to get, the “book” which the kids have been transported into (and which the players inhabit as their own reality) may be classified as History or Fiction. Depending on the past behavior of the players, it may be appropriate to classify them as favorite Villains instead of Heroes.

The magical McGuffin which brought the kids here may perhaps be a McGuffin which the player characters either own, are seeking to own, or are seeking to destroy – though at a later point in the McGuffin’s own timeline. Even if none of these seem to apply, the kids should certainly possess a few artifacts of a much higher Tech Level (or magical equivalent) then are prevalent in the campaign. Not necessarily things which adventurers would typically find useful, just interesting and/or hilarious. (And if the players DO come up with some devastatingly powerful use for such a thing, let them get away with it once or twice, but remember that there are no batteries or repair shops that will let them use it indefinitely.)

Alexx’s March Patreon Update
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Well, my prediction of managing a Patreon update every other month seems to be holding true. Since last time, I have:Looking forward, the next update should include another Cinema Purgatorio, the conclusion of Providence, and possibly the last few chapters of VotF, depending on how much effort Providence #12 turns out to be. After that, on to Jerusalem!
Tags: ,

Fun mobile games
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Speaking of both frugality and fun, I recently picked up the latest Humble Mobile Strategy Bundle. Some I had played before and enjoyed (Kingdom Rush especially), but two are new to me and are proving particularly fun.

Hero Generations is a sort of highly condensed RPG. Each move takes a year of your current character’s life. When your lifespan runs out, it’s game over – unless you acquire enough fame before then to win a mate; if you have, the game continues with their adventures, starting with a hand-me-down item or two, or perhaps some other advantages. Each generation takes only a few minutes to play, so it can be rewarding in small chunks. However, there is clearly an overarching plot which will take a significant number of generations to complete. While a few things are constant, much of the world is randomized each game, so there is plenty of replay value.

Guild of Dungeoneering has many similar qualities: each session is relatively short, but the over game could take a long time, and there’s plenty of replay value. The theme is a little like the old PC game Majesty, in that there are lots of adventurers in the world, but you don’t directly control any of them. Instead, you act as a sort of Game Master, laying out dungeon tiles, treasure, and monsters in a way which hopefully will entice the adventure into challenges which will level them up successfully so that they can defeat this particular dungeon’s quest. The combat mechanic is a simple card game, but each character class has a different default deck, and what loot you pick up inside a dungeon also affects the cards in your deck, so it’s got a little bit of deck-building character as well.

Both games are recommended. If you like playing on an Android device, and act soon, you can get both of them and many more besides for a whopping five dollars. I expect (though have not checked) that these games are also available on other platforms, though you might have to pay retail.
Tags:

Frugality versus Fun
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
So, you know that thing about the Evil Republican who said poor people are going to have to decide between new iPhones and health insurance? I’ve seen many arguments go by about how many cell phones it takes to equal the cost of health insurance, and similar arguments on an economic or factual basis. The same sort of dialogue is happening about the National Endowment for the Arts, and many other recent political issues.

But I think there is a moral argument worth having here, also, which seems to be largely overlooked.

One of the moral stances implicitly held by many people on the Right (though they are usually too canny to come right out and say it), is that if you spend ANY money on something that isn’t a necessity, you are Not Really Poor. Or, to look at it from another perspective, anyone who is actually poor does not deserve to spend any of their meager resources on entertainment.

This, I find abhorrent. A life which is entirely spent on the bare means of survival is worse than that of most mammals. A life in which one is not allowed to EVER choose enjoyment is a life not much above that of a slave.

Call Her Savage (1932)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Thelma Todd has a fairly small, thankless role in this as a tough society dame who has the misfortune of not being nearly AS tough as headliner Clara Bow. But Bow, in her apparently-best talkie role, is riveting. In this, her penultimate film role, she demonstrates that she definitely still has IT.

The story is purely melodrama, but it is pre-code melodrama, with lots of room for implied salaciousness. Bow plays a young lady named Nasa, who has a fiery temper and a wide emotional range. By the time she’s out of finishing school, the tabloids have nicknamed her “Dynamite”, and she’s earned it. Her character arc brings her all over the map; from rich society girl, to destitute single mother prostitute, back to riches, and finally (perhaps) true happiness with the one who quietly loved her all along. Along the way, she rides horses (and men), whips rattlesnakes (and men), has knock-down drag-out fights with Thelma Todd (and men), and enjoys lots of offscreen sex with men (just men, though I gather the original novel had rather more range).

One notable historic tidbit: this film apparently contains the first not-even-coded depiction of gayness. At one point, Bow goes slumming to a cabaret with mincing waiters singing a saucy song about sailors! Like many incidents in the film, it’s hideously offensive by modern standards, but historically interesting.

I can’t say it’s a GOOD film, but I mostly enjoyed it.

Seven Footsteps to Satan (1929)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Seven Footsteps to Satan (1929) is the earliest Thelma Todd film I have found. Indeed, it is so early that it is a silent movie (apparently one of the last silent horror films).

While I found it interesting enough to finish watching and to write about, let me be clear up front: this is not a good movie. Not much plot, unevenly paced, poorly directed. The acting is passable. And, though this is not a fault of the original makers, the existing print that this was restored from is incredibly washed out, lacking nearly all visual detail. The ending is a narrative cheat that is only half a step above “it was all a dream”.

The story begins with a somewhat nebbishy leading man who is practicing marksmanship in his secret lab, so that he will be well prepared to go exploring in “darkest Africa”. Soon, he gets tangled up with robbers and then he and his girlfriend are suddenly kidnapped. So far, so pulp.

But then the film takes a sharp left into dream logic. Our heroes find themselves in a huge mansion that seems not unrelated to Castle Frank-N-Furter. It is packed to the rafters with secret passages, thugs in tuxedos, tortured damsels in distress, mysterious dwarfs, screeching apes, inscrutable Orientals, men with Exceedingly Strange facial hair, femmes fatales, ominous shadows, groping hands, and orgiastic cultists whose cult leader is named Satan. This is not a complete list.

Our hero keeps insisting that he just wants to go home, in the apparent belief that this will have any positive effect. But things keep happening. It’s never really clear why he has been brought there at all, what Satan wants with him, which of the weird characters are actually on his side, or much of anything really. (At least until the last few minutes, whose existence I deny.) It’s very nearly Lynch-ian. If you’re a fan of the surreal, I recommend starting at the 20 minute mark, and turning it off at 1:10 (just as the clapping starts).

?

Log in