The end was nearer than I thought...
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
My first pass of annotating Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire is complete. There is more that could/should be done, of course, but that will never cease to be true; "Art is never finished, only abandoned". Not that I'm abandoning this, but I am mostly moving on for the time being, having gotten this project to a point that I am proud of. Additions and corrections still happily accepted, of course!

I'm particularly pleased that the last note was for the phrase "full stop" :-)

[Obligatory Patreon link]
This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/667810.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags:

Alexx’s June Patreon update
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay

It’s been three months, as suspected. The finale of Providence wasn’t as time-consuming as feared, but on the other hand, the last chapter of Voice of the Fire is proving to be quite dense. Plus, gardening season started, and, sadly, weeding still pays better than scholarship. That said, plenty has been annotated.

I’ve also gotten a good start on the final chapter of Voice of the Fire, featuring Moore himself. Next update should feature that, another issue or two of Cinema Purgatorio, and the first few sections of “Round the Bend”. Be seeing you!

[My Patreon]

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/667629.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: , , , ,

The Eternal (1998)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Kestrell and I watched a nifty movie yesterday, an obscure Gothic horror from 1998, written and directed by Michael Almereyda. “The Eternal” is the name we saw it under, but as often seems to be the case with low-budget horror movies, it had several other titles as well: Trance, The Mummy, and Eternal: Kiss of the Mummy – possibly others.

All this mention of a mummy is perhaps deceptive, though not false. Our setting is not Egypt, but Ireland; the body emerging not from a pyramid, but an ancient peat bog. Also featured are Druids, witchcraft, transmigration of souls, terrorists, guns, explosives, whiskey, broken glass, broken hearts, broken promises… Plus most of your traditional Gothic elements: the creepy, isolated old house, the family secrets, the madwoman in the attic, the creepy girl, the thunderstorms. No individual ingredient was anything we hadn’t seen a million times before, but the sheer quantity of volatile moving parts meant that we had NO idea where the plot was going to go next.

The film ended up on our radar because it has Christopher Walken in it. As is often the case, his role was relatively small, though important to the plot. His faltering attempt at an Irish accent was perhaps the weakest element of the film, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment.

So, what’s the basic set up? A loving couple of alcoholics bring their son to Ireland and the ancestral house. Ostensibly, so he can meet his grandmother, but possibly also to try and stop drinking. (The script does acknowledge that going to Ireland to dry out is perhaps not the wisest choice.) Such family as remains alive within the ancestral house mostly accuse each other of having “lost the bucket” (apparently the Irish equivalent of losing one’s marbles – there seems to be a series bucket shortage in their neighborhood). Uncle Bill (Walken) is perhaps most obviously bonkers, since he’s spending a lot of his time hanging out in the basement with a remarkably well preserved 2000 year old corpse that he seems to think might be able to be revived.

One thing that particularly pleased me about this movie was that the script did not depend on anyone holding the idiot ball. At various times, characters are inattentive and miss details that one wishes they had not, and there are no shortage of poor life choices, BUT no one wastes any time denying the evidence of their senses (once they notice the weird shit), and they make reasonable efforts to get out of danger, even if these don’t always work. There is a character who looks for a while as if he will be a traditional Fatal Boy, but he does not fall into that trap, and even makes effective use of his one real life-skill (partying hard) before the end.

Many reviewers panned this on the sadly-traditional basis that it is a horror movie without a huge amount of blood, or even that large a body count. For those (like me) who like their horror with a lot of atmosphere and characterization, it’s an overlooked gem. Recommended.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/667165.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: ,

Garden Report
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
The strawberries are in bloom, which means it must be weeding season. Progress is happening at a goodly rate. Nonetheless, the project is eternal. Estimating from both my progress and observed growth rates, I should have the spider wort vanquished by approximately 2020. And by “vanquished”, what I actually mean is “cut back to the point where I can keep it away from the strawberries with ONLY constant vigilance”. Slow and steady wins the fruit.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/667099.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Follow Thru (1930)
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I found this film on YouTube (split into 12 parts, not sure why) as part of my great Thelma Todd binge. She’s only got a supporting role in this one as “the bad girl rival”, but does quite well in it. The film stars Charles “Buddy” Rogers, one of Todd’s classmates in acting school, and the only other member of her class to have a significant Hollywood career. Nancy Carroll plays the female lead, a local golf champion in competition with Thelma Todd for both trophies and for Rogers’s affection. The lead couple aren’t called upon to do much of a dramatic range, but do carry out their roles pleasingly. Also notable in the cast is a pre-Tin Woodsman Jack Haley, whose face I did not recognize but whose voice I did, in an extremely silly role. Matching him in silliness is Zelma O’Neal; the romance between her and Haley is delightfully off-kilter.

O’Neal and Haley had both been in the Broadway show that this film was based on. With a well tested story, and some of the actors already very familiar with their roles, I found the film more successful than the average of this era.

Of technical interest, this is one of the very first Technicolor films. They were still working the kinks out, so the whole thing has a fairly muted palette, but the history-of-technology geek in me found that neat to see.

In addition to the romantic comedy, it’s also a musical, mostly using pre-existing pop music of that era. The songs are well sung, if not enduring classics. Most of the choreography is either quite restrained, or looking very much like a stage number that was filmed. That said, there is one bizarre exception. A production number late in the film (section 8 of the split up YouTube version) “I Want to be Bad” starts out with some fairly nifty pyrotechnics and what could plausibly be practical effects. But it just keeps going more and more over the top, with angels descending literally from heaven and getting caught in the flames of hell, cupids in the clouds summoning astral fire engines, and things like that. I have to wonder if they borrowed young Busby Berkeley to choreograph that section. If they didn’t, I have to believe it was an influence on him.

Overall, a pleasant bit of fluff, and mildly recommended. But Sovay, you should at least check out that one song.

This entry was originally posted at http://alexxkay.dreamwidth.org/666879.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

_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.)

?

Log in