Thursday, July 31, 2014

(Image post) I'm magic

Still don't have my computer back and fixed, not planning on doing much new stuff until my computer is back, but I wanted something other than the "Let's harass Shakesville and Ana Mardoll's Ramblings," site as the most recent post.  So it goes like this:

Toward the end of last week I found a piece of rebar on the street.  Being me, I picked it up.  I quickly found that it's length, radius, and general heft made it an ideal wand.

Clearly this was not a random thing discarded and forgotten owing to recent roadwork, it was destiny.  Ok, that's absurd.  It was a random thing.  But the wand implied a hair style and thus this picture:

Absolute proof that I and my fashion sense are magic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

When you call it "hilarious" I call bullshit.

Ok, so there's this tumblr and disqus community called Drink the Shaker Kool Aid, it exists because, and I quote:
The fact is, [Melissa McEwan's] time needs to be finished. No more invitations to Femfest. No more quotes in mainstream media. Done. Find something else Melissa. Maybe recaps since that’s the majority of your content when you’re not being snide and nasty. 
So I post on tumblr about it, hoping people will take notice and go “well JFC that’s some bullshit.” Or even argue with me. That’s cool too.  
Nice that criticism is welcomed, I guess, but when your entire purpose is to make a single person be shut up ... yeah, I don't even know how to end the sentence.

There are messages that need to stop, and there are certainly people who annoy the hell out of me, but setting out to influence a large enough following to alter the mainstream media's tendency as part of a campaign to silence a single person is pretty extreme and pretty extremely assholic.

Of course if it were just Melissa McEwan, founder of Shakesville, then I probably wouldn't even know about it.  My connection to Shakesville is via Ana Mardoll.  She's a contributor to Shakesville but, more important to me, she runs Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.

She's a friend and she's an inspiration.  Her Twilight deconstruction directly led to the various versions of the van scene (I think my favorite is the Physics version) which lead to Snarky Twilight and Edith and Ben.  Snarky Twilight, in part, lead to My Zombie Apocalypse Team. Her Narnia deconstruction lead to If the heroes did their jobs.  Not to mention all sorts of one offs.

Point is, Ana is my friend, my colleague, and a source of inspiration.  She's also "open game" for Drink The Shaker Kool Aid.  So, you know, harassment.  Fake reviews of books.  Talking about her death and the horrible things that will happen to her body afterward.  That sort of stuff.

But it's totally for the greater good.  It's all to improve feminism and because Ana and Melissa are hurting people.  They are hurting people at Drink the Shaker Kool Aid.

And their reactions (Ana, Melissa) are "hilarious" and "hysterical".

Now forget about the derivation of the word "hysterical", the point here is: FUNNY.

When people who have been hurt see their response to that called out as harassment and such instead of legitimate complaints they don't react by laughing.  Unless it's the humorless laugh of someone who has had all joy burned out of them.

So, if nothing else made me call bullshit (and pretty much everything else makes me call bullshit) I'd still be calling bullshit on the basis of the situation here being perceived as humorous.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lo, how the never-actually-mighty have fallen.

I finally got the computer shipped out for repairs, I think I even did it when I said I would, which would make it last Saturday.

Since then I've dug through the junk pile that once was my family room to access information on a desktop that stopped working right years ago.  My current primary computer is a laptop that'll fry my legs if I put it on top of my lap and doesn't have enough memory to ... you know, run.  Also no sound, in or out.  It lacks the hardware so even if I attach external speakers (I'm counting headphones in that category) it can't do anything with them.  There may be a software only version of a sound card but given how badly it does ordinary tasks there's no way I'm going to ask it to try emulation.

Secondary works well enough considering when it was made except for the fact that it will just blink out of existence without notice and with no predictability.

It did pretty well before blinking out the last time, might have been up for a full hour.  It finished restarting while I was writing this.  Right here.  Well actually after the first sentence of the next paragraph, but things would be really disjointed if I didn't go back to insert this one but instead wrote it after that.  So, it started, it made the "I'm on, you can use me," sound it immediately crashed.  Full power down instantaneously.  Not even a blue screen of death.  We now return to your regularly scheduled post, already in progress.

And yesterday I watched a movie on tape.  Yeah, tape.  VHS.  All shall fear me because I have '90s tech.  And by '90s I mean '80s.  And by '80s I mean late '70s.  But the film was from the 90s.  1991, Rutger Hauer, Mimi Rodgers, Joan Chen:
In the prison of
the future, criminal
justice will have
a deadly twist.
No bars.
No walls.
No chance of escape.

[secondary just crashed again, damn it I could really use a computer with sound right now]

Anyway, it's not a bad movie, though it would have been nice if there were better acting in it.  I didn't remember that the nerdy guy whose security pass they stole in Sneakers was the warden, he did a pretty good job but the other bad guys he spent much of his time interacting with really,really sucked at the whole acting thing

Hauer, for hist part, was stuck having most of his scenes be about the novelty factor of the premise, very little time for actual ... you know, movie.

"Because Plot" actually tends to leave you with not much in the way of plot.

Still, the premise can be exploited well.  In Swordfish a variation was used to devastating effect, but as a tool rather than a premise.  The Transporter 3 based an entire movie on basically the same idea.

[and secondary failed again]

The movie deserves to be remade in some fashion, just not by ANY of the people who are remaking movies these days.

Probably one of the best parts of the movie was Stephen Tobolowsky (he'll always be Werner Brandes to me, his voice is his passport, verify me) explaining to Rutger Hauer that the reason the prison doesn't need walls and only requires a bare minimum of guards isn't the devices that exist to blow the heads off escaping prisoners, it's paranoia.  Since the devices are linked in pairs (if one goes, they both do) and no prisoner knows who their "partner" is any time that any prisoner tries to escape it's potentially a death sentence for each of the other prisoners.

Anyone who doesn't want to lose their head to a small explosive secured around their neck has to do everything in their power to keep the other prisoners from escaping.

But ... plot.

Very little of the movie takes place at the prison so we never see this dynamic in play.

While there are multiple female actresses, only two really rise to the level of character and that's a damn shame.

And the black guy dies first.  And second.  And fourth.  I wasn't keeping count, but that might have been all of the black guys in the movie.

It's because of these reasons and more that the film deserves a remake, there is potential in there, but there's also loads of crap smothering it.  Unfortunately it deserves a remake by people better at making remakes (or indeed original films) than our current generation of film makers.

But all of this is a tangent, the point is that I watched a film on VHS.  Twice.  Just yesterday.

Part of me wants to say, "Don't fuck with me or I'll break out the Betamax," part of me is wondering if I should plug in the record player, part of me is wondering where all those reel to reels got to (the player is actually already plugged in, down stairs), part of me is going, "What the fuck?  At this time last week I was compiling my own personal cut of a movie from a Blu-ray disc," and part of me is just waiting to get back to the copy of Spirited Away I've gotten my hands on.  It's subtitled, not dubbed, which is annoying because my eyes like to wander, but beggars (and I'm totally one of those, that donate button isn't just for show and the reason I have multiple broken computers lying around is because I can't afford to throw out broken shit, I need to be able to use that shit when the non-broken stuff breaks) can't always be choosers.

Though sometimes beggar s do need to choose.  They say not to look a gift horse in the mouth but horses are expensive and require a lot of care and the gift could bankrupt you and AT THE VERY LEAST you should rap on the belly to see if it's hollow because you don't want a bunch of Greeks bursting out of there after you've gone to sleep and killing off your entire town.

Finally, why is "beggars" spelled with an "a'"?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fleas! Oh my fucking god fleas. Also I'm broke. But mostly the fleas.

So I didn't get the computer off to be fixed when I had hoped and wasn't in a position to do it afterward for a while.  The most recent post was prescheduled and I haven't exactly been producing volumes that are just waiting to be posted.  I'm hoping to get the computer shipped off to repairland today.  But that's not the point, this is: Fleas!

All attempts to kill them have only succeeded in making them angry and the result is swarming monstrosities with an appetite for blood.

Most likely what is needed is a series of comprehensive attempts which: a) cover EVERYTHING in the house, and b) are spaced out so that when flea eggs hatch they're killed off before they get a chance to breed.

At the moment I have almost no actual money, absolutely no credit, and not enough wiggle room in bill paying to be able to use the almost-no-money to buy flea killing methods.

I think the phrase is, "Fuckity, fuck fuck fuck," but don't cite me on that.  And in addition to the problems with the furnace I previously mentioned, there's this: my washing machine is apparently at least partially broken.  Fuck.

None of this is really conducive to writing, so I have no idea when I'll be updating the blog next.  If things go well I won't even have the computer for a while because it needs fixing.  More than I originally thought.  In addition to the wireless modem ceasing to work the speakers are acting wonky and the optical disk drive doesn't work right.  Sometimes it doesn't work at all, sometimes it can show what the disk contains but will fail as soon as you try to do anything, sometimes it spins out of control and won't stop until the power is cut.  (Ejecting via the manual override you need a long thin thing to access {say a needle or a straightened out paperclip} does not cause it to stop spinning, it just demonstrates how fast it is spinning, does a fan impression that is only limited by the fact the disk isn't shaped with an intent to move air, and has the potential to cause friction burns if touched.)

To repeat: if things go well, as in not badly but as good an outcome as can be hoped, I will be without my computer for a while.

Attempts to find some partially working secondary computer to use while the primary is repaired have, thus far, been hindered by the fact that taking a step toward the place where said back up computer would be stored instantly results in my legs being covered in blood sucking devil insects known as fleas.  Fucking fleas.

I don't know what to do about the fleas because no money.  I think the god of money doesn't like me.  This should be when I'm storing up a money reserve to keep me going over the winter months of heightened oil usage, but all appliances seem to want to fail at the same time.  This to the point that I can't afford to buy things with which to kill the fleas.

I did say, "Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck," right?  *looks up*  Yes, I see that I did.

Ok, so, stuff.  In closing, I'd like to write more of various things.  It's been far too long since I did an Edith and Ben installment, for example, and I've plotted out way more of the princess story in my head than I've actually written, but I have no idea when I'll get to do such things because:
  1. Computer
  2. FLEAS!
  3. Broke
That is all for now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Monthly Donation Reminder Post

This is the monthly post where I remind everyone that I'm really low on money (basically always) and I have a donation button.


This month it falls on the ides.

The ides of July would have been known as the ides of Iulius to the ancient Romans.  Named after Iulius (Julius) Caesar.  Before it was renamed in his honor it was "Quintilis".  Like the other number months (September, October, November, December) Quintilus is different from our calendar by two.  That is to say that even though it means "5th" but it's the 7th month of our year.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Why I might not be here for a while

Yesterday my wireless stopped working.  I didn't think too much of it.  I figured re-install drivers, restart the computer, all will be well.

That's not the case.  The computer knows that there's a device somehow related to networking that isn't working, but it doesn't even know that it's the wireless adapter (even if I tell it) and it will not work.

This is a problem for two reasons.  First, wireless is how I connect to the internet.  If I'm at home then it's simply not feasible to plug directly into a cable for anything more than a short time (so doing it to download the correct drivers was ok, but doing it for blogging not so much.)  If I'm not at home then often I don't even have access to non-wireless means of connecting.  Second, I need to get it fixed.  This is why I have a warranty after all.

While it's away being fixed I'm not going to have a computer.

To say that this will adversely affect my posting is like saying that Buck Williams is bad at making analogies.

Of course I can post from other people's computers, as I am now.  So we'll see what happens.

(Also, August 3rd is my birthday, if you're interested in getting me something.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Now You See Me (a spoiler filled post on the cost of cuts)

Note the title.  Spoilers.

Now, I've mentioned that Now You See Me  is the kind of thing that I think could do well as a TV series in the style of Leverage or The A-Team.  A story of outlaws doing justice via crime.  In The A-Team they used their skills as inventive soldiers, in Leverage it was their skills as thieves, in Now You See Me the series (which is, so far as I know, never going to happen) it would be using things out of the magician's handbook.

If one looks at it like that then the movie itself would be the origin story.  The original A-Team never had an origin story episode, it just had an opening narration.  Leverage did, and the movie The A-Team was an origin story.

There's a problem with all three origin stories if allowed to stand on their own.  They're self serving.  The Leverage crew wanted payback after their client didn't pay them and tried to kill them.  The A-Team wanted to clear their names after being framed.  Now You See Me is a bit different in that the people doing most of the work (though not the planning) aren't the ones with the vendetta, but it's still about someone getting even.

And this is where we go spoiler heavy.

In existing editions of the movie what happened was this.

Thaddeus Bradley was a magician who was either jealous or not that good or just cared about making as much money as he could.  The exact reason doesn't matter.  He realized that magic wasn't working for him and decided that instead he could ruin other magicians for a profit.  He'd strip away the mystery, show how all their tricks were done, and give them a bad name while he was at it.  (He referred to his first mark as a "two bit hustler".)

In order to break into the world of media he concentrated on a single magician: Lionel Shrike.  Thaddeus' debut was to utterly destroy Shrike's career and do it mercilessly.

It took Shrike a year to even recover enough to attempt a comeback.  He was going to do an escape.  He was chained up, locked in a safe, and dropped in the Hudson River.

It turned out that the safe manufacturer was corrupt.  The substandard worse-than-advertised materials they used couldn't take the pressure of the river even though, if the safe had been manufactured properly, it shouldn't have been a problem.  The safe warped itself shut sealing Shrike inside and thus killing him.

Shrike's life insurance refused to pay and as a result the family was ruined.

Flash forward to the time of the movie.  Four magicians are recruited to be initiated into a secret society that guards real magic.  To get in they need to follow a series of instructions with blind obedience.  The instructions are three shows.

Show one: they rob the bank that carried the note on the insurance that refused to pay out because it was totally their fault.

Huh? Wha? Wait.

In a deleted scene it is instead said that they foreclosed on the Shrike family house forcing them onto the street.  Given the time in which we live it isn't hard to believe that they did this without sufficient cause and were still doing it to people at the time they were robbed.  Switching from that to "the bank that carried the note" really kills a lot of the righteous indignation that makes one think the bank should be robbed.

In fact there's nothing that makes one feel the bank should be robbed and the money is given to a random Vegas crowd.  If they'd stuck with foreclosure then they could have done so much more because Nevada, especially around Vegas if I remember correctly, was hit really hard in that arena.  The crowd could have been selected from people who were hurt by that.

Anyway, second show: The insurer who refused to pay out.  This was played well.  They robbed the guy, but they gave the money to very specific people.  The show took place in New Orleans and everyone in the crowd had been loopholed out of insurance settlements post Hurricane Katrina.  They robbed the insurer to give the people the money they were cheated out of by the insurer.  Something that you can feel morally good about.

The third show was the safe manufacturer.  It since became a security company that is under investigation by the FBI. What gets cut is that it isn't just under investigation, it's known to be guilty. The FBI knows where the safe with the dirty money is, they're just waiting for someone to show up and claim it.  The security contractor stole the money from funds intended for reconstruction stuck it in a safe in a warehouse, and waited, hoping that if they waited long enough no one would make the connection when they finally tapped the money.

Them showing up to open the safe is the break that the FBI is looking for because it'd be hard to weasel out of responsibility then.

Also cut is the part where it's pointed out that the money is being sent back to the ones it was originally intended for.

The result is that it doesn't really feel all justicey but instead more of, "What the fuck, you're going after these people because of one bad safe decades ago when they don't even make safes anymore?"

And finally Thaddeus Bradley is framed.

Bradley being framed works out because Morgan Freeman can pull of "condescending remorseless asshole who you want to see behind bars" quite well.  It's a talent.  It has to be because, even taking the deleted scenes into account, Bradley is the one who there's the least damning things against.  He's a parasite and his idea to catapult his own career by destroying Shrike's did ultimately result in Shrike's death, but destroying someone's career as a magician isn't even illegal.

The closest thing I know of to Bradley in the real world is "The Masked Magician" who was absolutely nothing like Bradley.  He showed how a variety of magic tricks were done, but they were tired old tricks that no one really relied on anymore.  His career was an attempt to force magic forward rather than an attempt to destroy someone and profit off that person's downfall.  For there to be a real world Bradley there would need to be, say, someone who decided to make a name for himself by showing how every single one of, say, David Copperfield's tricks is done in such a way as to bring down Copperfield and force him to go back to the drawing board for whatever his next act would be (which could take years because magic tricks take a lot of work), which no one might attend anyway.

Then Copperfield would have to die in his comeback attempt and the person who destroyed Copperfield's career would have to respond to the death not with guilt or even sympathy but instead scorn.

Regardless, that's part of what was lost in the cutting.  Of the four targets two don't come across as deserving enough.


Another thing that changed was money and Fuller.

I like Agent Fuller.  Agent Fuller is the sidekick.  Agent Fuller is gender non-conforming. While the person who discovered this (the mentalist) makes fun of him for this, and Fuller is very uncomfortable about being outed, it's the case that Fuller is presented in a positive light.  Even when the mentalist is making fun of him, it's clear that the mentalist is being an asshole.  But back to Fuller.  He's loyal, he's smart, he's competent.  He can't win, but in part that's because his boss is secretly working for the other side.

But then he gets left hanging at the end of the movie.

The original way things were going to play out was this:

The horsemen dropped real money on the crowd (in the revised version one is left wondering why no one but Fuller noticed it was obviously fake) and everyone assumed it was money they had stolen.  Fuller was the only one who took a closer look at the money.  He checked the dates.  He reveals what he learned  (the next morning) by showing a bill that's two years old.  The stolen money had been waiting in the safe for 5 years.  So the money couldn't have been from the safe.

Fuller and the main character discuss what's happening and Fuller points out that:
1 They're probably going to lose their jobs.
2 He loves his job.
3 He needs his job.

The Four Horsemen meet up with the main character in the middle of nowhere and he gives them a choice, they can take their share of the money (a quarter of a billion each, give or take) or they can join the secret society that uses magic to bring justice.  They can't do both.

Eventually they decide to join the society.

At that point Fuller, who hasn't been fired yet, is given a phone call revealing the location of the money and he runs off to retrieve it which will presumably make him a hero and thus let him keep his job.

All of that gets lost to the cutting room floor.  Even in the extended edition Fuller's story just ... stops.


Another thing was Alma Dray.  I'd very much like a copy of the original script because her story was clearly different.

In the existing film (theatrical or extended) she's sent by Interpol, is largely dismissed by main character, has him blow up on her for no real reason toward the end, points out correctly that she's done nothing to deserve such treatment, disappears for a bit, reappears asking main character to trust her ("take a leap of faith") he does, cue possible romance.  There's even a kiss.

In the deleted scenes, the reason that the main character isn't happy with her is that she wasn't who Interpol was supposed to send.  He knows the person Interpol was supposed to send and trusts that person.  She claims she had to replace the other agent because his mother was sick.

Instead of the blowing up for no reason in the final version, Main character gets a call that he's been waiting for for an unspecified period of time, the details of the phone call aren't clear (we only hear the very beginning and very end) but he's speaking French and both Alma and the agent that was supposed to be sent are French.  When he hangs up he says to Alma that she lied to him, presumably about the other agent's mother being sick but it isn't stated in the material I have available, and when next they speak it's tense and the reason that she disappears for a bit is that he won't tell her where they're going because, "I don't have the luxury of giving you the benefit of the doubt twice."

In the final version of the movie Alma gets treated badly for, apparently, shits and giggles.  In the version that isn't gone with she's actually treated less badly and there's a reason for him not to trust her.

It makes sense and also makes the main character much less of an asshole.


Finally there's references.  When the first (and only) Pirates of the Caribbean movie was made the film makers realized that they had a problem.  Will Turner needed to say, "Barbossa," because, "Hey, you, guy in the hat," simply wouldn't do.  Which meant that Will needed to learn that Barbossa was named Barbossa.  He didn't.  Never in the movie up to that point did he have an opportunity to learn the name.  So they rewrote an earlier scene to have Jack tell Will, "Captain Barbossa and his band of miscreants..."

This movie has the opposite going on.

In the end we have:
Dylan: I know that the logical conclusion for you is to take this case to it’s resolution and for you to turn me in.
Alma: Yeah.  But you know how I feel about resolution and logic.  And you also know that I think some things are best left unexplained.
Uh, no, he doesn't.  How she feels about logic (which was she didn't think it was going to help in solving this case) was in an alternate version a scene that appears in the extended version but not in the theatrical.  How she feels about resolution is in a scene cut from both versions.

As for things best left unexplained, I'm not sure that exact thing ever comes out but it might be a reference to the scene that was cut from both versions.

In a scene inserted to take the place of various things cut out Dylan says, "You were right, it's bigger than all of us," to someone who never said it was bigger than all of them.

Cut scenes and suddenly your characters are spewing non-sequiturs.