I found a place where you can put things

It’s called a cupboard.

Onward with Merlin.

The Mark of Nimueh

I remember Nimueh from Mallory’s version. In it, Merlin tries to date-rape her so she turns him into a tree. He stays as a tree to this day, according to Mallory. How sad.

I know nothing about the historical relevance of these legends, the themes, the character motivations and such, but I do remember how much terrible sex and romance and attempted rape is in the Mallory version. I remember how the female characters make no sense, and in some cases are cartoonishly ridiculous (like Elaine fainting twice, ten minutes apart, because she sees Lancelot’s wounds, which was freaking hilarious). Also that Mallory wrote the whole thing while in prison for rape, so GO FIGURE.

In this episode, the first real depiction of Gwen and Morgana’s friendship appears. I like this friendship a lot, until eventually Morgana, who goes evil for reasons, gets jealous about Gwen inevitably becoming queen even though Morgana has never actually wanted to marry Arthur.

Anyway, I’m sure all of that will become clearer when I get there. For now, Nimueh is causing a ruckus. Arthur thinks Gwen is a sorcerer because Merlin has gotten carried away. This is awkward.

One of my favourite aspects of Gwen’s character in these early episodes is that she’ll say something, and then quickly apologizes for making assumptions when she hasn’t really made any. It’s cute and relatable.

Morgana teases Arthur into helping her and Merlin save Gwen, and that’s my favourite part.

The Poisoned Chalice

Nimueh part 2!

Merlin acts as a poison-checker and almost dies, but still manages to intervene in everything Arthur does anyway.

Uther acts like a world-class villain and throws Merlin’s antidote that Arthur just risked his life getting on the floor. But it’s worth it in the end because Arthur teams up with Gwen to secretly get the antidote to Merlin anyway.

But why Nimueh lured Arthur out there just to not kill him is definitely a question I have. She says, “It’s not your destiny to die at my hand,” and, I do wish they would have lightened up on the destiny stuff. It doesn’t even pay off well, as far as I can remember.

That said, this was an exciting episode.

Lancelot

Lancelot saves Merlin from Buckbeak. Arthur pronounces his name “Lance… a lot.” And is mean to him. They knight him, then immediately find out he’s not knight material for whatever reason. A commoner? Probably.

I wish they’d made him French, like he’s supposed to be, but prejudice about commoners is already an established issue for Uther and Arthur, whereas prejudice about different countries never is, so, whatever.

Lancelot kills Buckbeak with Merlin’s help, and here’s another wish I have: I wish this show were less like Dungeons and Dragons, wherein usually when encountering a magical creature you have to fight and kill it. Or maybe that’s just what happens during the campaigns I play. Either way, every once in a while if Camelotians would just… be nice to the beast, stop destroying its habitat or return an object that belongs to it or what have you, this would be a better show. In this particular episode Buckbeak has zero motivation except the taste for human flesh. Which is amazing, but wouldn’t it be nicer if Merlin used magic to befriend it and teach it about plant-based substitutes?

Lancelot is way too heroic for no reason. Everyone except Merlin and Gwen treat him like garbage and he’s really nice about it, so, OK.

Here’s how King Arthur’s Disasters did it – and yeah, he’s definitely supposed to be French in this version, despite the lack of accént.

Tis all.

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Daenerys and her Throne

LMAO.

They had all the ingredients right there in the pot and then… they just… threw the whole pot out the window into the sea and INSISTED they’d made us dinner.

WELL DONE.

owl machine

erm‘s feeling a bit bothered by Dany lately, probably because now that Season 6 has started and her plotline is actually moving for once, her inevitable descent on Westeros is no longer something far off in the distance.

Here’s an unsettling scene from last season:

View original post 1,692 more words

He may be an idiot, but he’s a brave idiot

(game of thrones spoilers)

(for some reason)

So there’s this fantasy show in which a young woman with incredible power eventually goes full villian, and though it is foreshadowed pretty much from the beginning, in small ways and then slowly in larger ways, it still doesn’t really make sense with respect to her characterization throughout and it seems like the biggest reason for it to have happened at all is because some authorial intent exists out there in the netherverse that hath ordained that it must needs be this way, though we are still unsure why, and maybe it’s a little bit misogynistic and maybe it’s fine, but would have been far more compelling, entertaining, and would have been material actually worthy of the actress if they’d… tried harder.

It’s called Merlin.

Thankfully, Merlin is saved from being extremely disappointing in the end because it’s mostly about the bizarre and often touching friendship between the title character and the young Prince Arthur, and that remains good throughout, even if the Morgana subplot never makes much sense.

At least, that’s how I remember it.

So now, as I have finally fallen hard out of love with A Song of Ice and Fire, and to be clear it’s not because Dany went rogue, but instead because Dany going rogue was not earned, it’s time to rewatch Merlin and recap the episodes, a few at a time, in brief, because Emrys knows, I need it.

DISCLAIMER OF ZERO IMPORTANCE: I studied the King Arthur canon or whatever in university. I took several classes on it. One was strictly Tennyson’s poems, one was Medieval Romance, most of which was different early versions of King Arthur, and one was King Arthur retellings for children. And I have no clue. Not one clue. I don’t know what the King Arthur legend is supposed to be about, or what the importance of its themes are, or why any of the characters do what they do. I don’t know. I just like Merlin.

The Dragon’s Call

We meet Uther murdering a sorcerer. Great guy. Gaius almost dies and yells at Merlin for saving him, because MAGIC IS OUTLAWED. A major theme in this show is persecution, using magical ability as a metaphor for whatever you like. It starts pretty much right here, with Merlin crying at one point and wondering why he was born this way, and if maybe he’s a monster.

The villain is a particularly scary sorcerer woman whose son is the one who was murdered. Her being scary and killing a couple of random women so that she can get her revenge is effective. We understand why Uther has the prejudices he has – which kind of makes the magical ability=real life persecuted identities thing not work, but that’s OK. We also understand that every bad thing that happens in this episode is because Uther acted out of prejudice and murdered this woman’s son at the beginning.

There’s a chained dragon. We love a chained dragon being set free – but  I think that takes a while.

The episode’s highlight is Merlin standing up to Arthur’s bullying of some random servant, and later they fight.

I especially like “How long have you been training to be a prat?” and Arthur’s chuckling “You can’t address me like that.” I think he finds it refreshing, secretly.

Gwen shows up and talks to Merlin while he’s in the pillory, which is also cute.

Merlin=Prince Arthur’s manservant in the end. Lol.

Valiant

I got distracted during the first quarter of this episode, but I think today’s villain is a Knight called “Valiant.” But maybe I made that up. His house sigil is some snakes.  I wish just once we could have nice snakes in fiction. Jeez.

Nerd alert! Gaius needs venom from the snake to make an antidote. He’ll also need a horse. You inject snake venom into horses, who then create natural immunity, which is isolated from blood samples and turned into anti-venom. It’s why anti-venom is rare and expensive, and also a good example of something I hope we soon create an alternative for because that job sucks and was not consented to by the horses, lol.

A mouse dies in this episode, fed to shield snakes. I’m not a fan. Magic shield snakes shouldn’t even need to eat.

Uther is surprisingly not trigger-happy when it comes to executing sorcerers, but in this episode his reasonableness gets in the way. But so does the toxic masculinity of the Uther/Arthur father/son relationship. Arthur’s big problem here is appearing not 100% like a perfect, idealized knight in front of his father, and the court. And appearing like a perfect, idealized knight is his duty, and he will die doing it if he has to.

That’s dumb, Art. But I get it.

Merlin conjures a rottweiler out of stone, which is very exciting for these Medieval times in which he does so and these modern ones in which I’m watching. (I looked it up and apparently Rottweilers have been around since before Medieval times, who knew – well, obviously whoever added one to this episode knew.)

This is the beginning of the lists Arthur gives Merlin all the time. These are my favourite parts of the show. It’s relaxing to know that Merlin has way more on his plate than I do at any given time.

WELP that’s it for one day! Thank you, Merlin.

When Dany Met Sansa

Game of Thrones/When Harry Met Sally Crossover fic, because frankly I’m livid.

*I know GRRM doesn’t like fanfic. This is not fanfic. I am not a fan.*

Dany and Sansa are flying together from Winterfell to King’s Landing in 8 4-hour shifts or whatever on Drogon. Dany thinks Sansa is naive and also an obstacle. She is right about one of those things. Sansa does not appreciate Dany’s cocky Targaryen attitude and won’t bend the knee. Imagine this conversation screamed over the noise of flying on a dragon.

Sansa: Dany, we are just going to be friends.

Dany: Good, great, friends. BEAT You realize, of course, that we can never be friends.

Sansa: Why not?

Dany: What I’m saying is — and this is not a threat in any way, shape or form — is that women can’t be friends with other women because the hating-all-other-women-inexplicably-because-they-may-not-bend-the-knee part always gets in the way.

Sansa: THROWS HER SOME TRADEMARK WINTERFELL SHADE That is not true. I happen to have a number of women friends and there is no hatred or knee-bending or knee-not-bending involved.

Dany: No you don’t.

Sansa: Yes I do.

Dany: No you don’t.

Sansa: Yes I do.

Dany: You only think you do.

Sansa: I was friends with Margaery Tyrell!

Dany: … You only think you do.

Sansa: VERY OFFENDED We commiserated over Joffrey!

Dany: She was playing you. She just wanted to be queen and wanted you to bend the knee. Gets in the way every time.

Sansa: OK, fine, let’s say you’re right. What about Brienne?

Dany: She bent the knee to you! And you can’t really be friends because she’s your servant so you inherently don’t respect her, and you only like her because she isn’t a threat to you being a queen.

Sansa: So what you’re saying is that you and Missandei aren’t actually friends.

Dany: Exactly. I can’t remember the last time we actually spoke words to each other.

Sansa: ROLLS HER EYES What about Arya?

Dany: Oh please, the Arya situation proves my point perfectly! Last week everyone thought you were going to have her executed. The fact that you didn’t doesn’t mean it wasn’t a legitimate possibility for like three months, so, yeah, you’re not friends.

Sansa: I was obviously not going to execute my sister.

Dany: First of all, it wasn’t actually that obvious. And second, no woman can be friends with another woman who won’t bend the knee to her. It is known.

Sansa: So you’re saying that a woman can be friends with other women who do bend the knee?

Dany: No, they pretty much hate them too. GAZES OFF INTO THE DISTANCE, A HAUNTED, TARGARYEN TYRANT LOOK IN HER EYES Especially if there are bells involved. The bending the knee thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

Sansa: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.

Dany: Guess not.

Sansa: That’s too bad. You were the only woman I knew in King’s Landing. Except Cersei.

Dany: See, that right there –

Sansa: Ugh.

Drogon: SHRIEKS

Dany accidentally loses her mind and burns down all of King’s Landing not long afterwards, and Sansa breaks up with Podrick, and because of these tragedies when they next run into each other (at the Eyrie Outlet Mall) they bond and are able to, ironically, actually become friends and Dany realizes this whole outlook on life was stupid so she also starts having deep conversations with Missandei and invites Brienne over for cake. Sansa and Arya actually hash things out onscreen. Then eventually Dany and Sansa get married and bend the knee to each other because it’s an equal partnership. 

Winter Reads

WELL supposedly it’s spring now. Let’s have a list of what I read up until this moment in the year 2019.

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

birdie

I actually read this last summer/fall, and kept forgetting to add it to my lists. This is a very good book about Indigenous women (and I guess there’s one white woman) of every age sticking up for and protecting each other, killing for each other if need by, and helping each other stay alive. I’d be cautious with this because it delves into childhood sexual abuse as well as domestic abuse in general and it’s awful, but if you can stomach it, I highly recommend.

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

hunger

This is another one that, if you think you can stomach it, is really, really worth it. It’s a memoir, and I’d call it a collection of short essays about bodies, her own body specifically, and the world we live in that refuses to make room for them. There is also, informing everything, an instance of horrible childhood sexual assault. This is an important read because it says the opposite of what we hear all the time, over and over again, about fatness and fat people, and that is that there isn’t anything wrong with fatness, and that fat people are human and they deserve dignity and the same consideration that thin/non-fat people get.

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova

crush

IT’S SO CUTE I RECOMMEND. Especially if you have kids (middle-school age, whatever the hell that is) in your life, give this entire series to them.

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

brave

I had to immediately reread this once I finished Crush. It’s fabulous. I wish my elementary school existence was so woke.

Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

now a major motion picture cori mccarthy

Aw, this was also very cute. It’s a lot of fun to read if you like feminism and fantasy literature especially, because it ends up being very validating and empowering. Yey this book.

IN PROGRESS:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

the bear and the nightengale katherine arden

I’m still not done but this is fascinating.

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

puddin'

I am devouring this currently, likely to be done soon. It’s the sequel to Dumplin’ and it’s everything I could ever have wanted in a Dumplin’ sequel.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

her body and other parties

I am astounded by this book. The very first story in this collection, called “The Husband Stitch,” is a retelling of the girl with the ribbon around her neck story and I have never in my life read something so true and so real and so… sad? It was like my own head fell off and stayed off for days after finishing it, and I had to set the entire book aside for a while to recollect myself. It may not work the same, or maybe not as intensely, for others, but so much of what I’ve read so far is working for me. It’s keeping me awake at night; it’s leaving shrapnel like nothing else ever has. I’m a huge fan of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, as well as Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch, and this fees like a modern version of The Bloody Chamber and a grown-up, slightly more melancholy version of Kissing the Witch. Anyway I’m in love, read this.

I asked Three if she’d read any so that I could plump this post up but she has not, so, it is what it is!

“Unlikable” Women Addendum: Elle Driver

I recently did two things. First, I wrote a short list of “unlikable” women characters – ymmv ofc, who are, arguably, all protagonists. Second, I watched Kill Bill, volumes one and two.

So here’s something about Elle Driver.

Elle is more like a villain than anyone else in the Kill Bill movies. This is my main reason for believing her to be an unlikable woman character who isn’t given her due.

The first time we see her, she’s dressed as a nurse (… sort of) and is whistling away as she makes her way to kill Beatrix. She gets vicious when Bill calls her to call it off, then relaxes because Bill is manipulative and can do whatever he wants, I guess.

In Vol. 2, she tells Budd to make sure Beatrix suffers, then shows up and kills Budd, then calls Bill and tells him Beatrix killed Budd and she killed Beatrix, then fights with Beatrix and tells her that she killed her master, then Beatrix… sort of kills her. Kind of. It’s ironic, I guess.

I enjoy Elle a lot, I’m just not particularly happy that there’s apparently no empathy to spare for Elle, though Beatrix mourns Bill after, and also immediately before, Bill dies. I don’t mind Beatrix being conflicted, it’s just that when you consider Bill and Elle side by side, only one of those people (as far as we know) is an abuser.

Elle participated in the massacre and the beating of pregnant Beatrix, and also judging by her actions in Vol. 2 she just isn’t a very nice person, but Bill, “The Snake Charmer,” is the one with the power. He’s the one who orchestrated it all. He’s the one who set this all up because his 30-years-younger than him favourite blonde took off on him. He’s the one who shoots her in the head, intending to kill her, and the baby she just told him is his.

Bill is paralleled by two other men in this movie, I think. One is Estaban, who gets a short scene in which he tells Beatrix he wouldn’t have murdered her, he’d have just cut her face for her betrayal. Then calls over a young woman whose face is, indeed, cut. Beatrix doesn’t have empathy for him.

Pai Mei is the other Bill parallel. Maybe it’s more dubious, but Pai Mei’s teachings are how Beatrix does the titular thing. Bill is the one who brings Beatrix to him. Pai Mei is abusive as well. Maybe it’s a different kind of abuse… the consensual kind? He’s a martial artist who teaches people by abusing them, and their ability to live with the abuse and succeed anyway is… uh… how they succeed.

Elle tells Beatrix that Pai Mei took her eye because she called him a miserable old fool.

My question is: is it really fair to consider this specific thing consensual abuse? Should Elle have expected that Pai Mei would take her eye out, or do some sort of violence that doesn’t heal on her, if she mildly insulted him?

It doesn’t have an easy answer, in my opinion. I think in the real world Pai Mei would go to jail, and also assassins aren’t this cool. But in the Kill Bill universe, it’s somewhere in between “Elle should have heeded the story about how Pai Mei kills people who don’t nod back to him and kept her defiance to herself” and “men who do damage to women for betrayals large and small are the bad guys in this universe though.”

Anyway, Elle murdered him. I for one can’t really get with Beatrix’s horror and sadness there. Guy got what he deserved, as far as I’m concerned, but the movie, of course, frames this as the big “villain confesses something emotionally devastating to the hero” moment.

I have a couple of other things to say about Elle. I like the part where Beatrix throws Budd’s chewing tobacco byproduct or whatever that’s called (tobacco spit? IDK I’m not looking it up) in her face and she kind of calmly says, “Gross.” I think I like it a lot because it’s a very muted reaction in contrast to what I would have expected her to do in this situation.

I also really like the way she kills Budd. It’s metaphorical and kind of sweet of her. It’s also extremely exploitative of that snake, so, obviously I don’t like that, but as these things all exist in the bizarre realm of killing William, I mostly think it’s a nice touch.

Should be noted that there is no corresponding nice touch from Beatrix’s side of this conflict… and there’s my main problem. Women admiring each other even when there’s professional and personal animosity – not just for the villains, thanks.

Elle, you deserved just one thoughtful sentimentality more in these films.

“Unlikable” Women Characters: A Short List

0WLMACHINE, AKA, THE PLACE WHERE WE CONSTANTLY HUNGER FOR FEMALE KUZCOS, JACK SPARROWS, HOUSES, SNAPES, BETELGEUSES, SHERLOCK HOLMESES, SHREKS, DEADPOOLS, VS, HAN SOLOS, GRINCHES, SCROOGES, (AND SO ON) IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION. WE HUNGER. WE THIRST. WE HUNGER AND THIRST FOR YOU, LADY.

Yes, there are occasional female antiheroes. There are a lot more of them in books, which is unsurprising given most readers are women and isn’t it that most writers are women too? Anyway, whatever. What we know for sure is that there’s a YA series with a female Sherlock Holmes and it’s glorious.

We want more unlikable women in movies too, because we’re flawed, and sometimes, we’re the unlikable women that we want to see in the world, and it would be nice to be able to escape into a movie for ninety-odd minutes with an antihero who just does whatever she wants and maybe learns a lesson on the way. But she doesn’t have to.

Although there aren’t as many flawed female characters somewhere on the spectrum of being unlikable as there are male characters, there are a few notable unlikable women I (erm) can think of, lately, so, here’s a list.

And here’s a disclaimer: I like all of these unlikable women.

And another one: your mileage may vary. Maybe you see these characters as extremely not unlikable. That’s fine. I don’t. And I like them anyway.

That said, here’s the list.

And there are spoilers – most of these movies are fairly recent, so be warned.

Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Quick summation: a solitary middle-aged biographer struggling to pay her bills or to get her current project published has a talent for writing quick witticisms that sound like dead famous people, so she commits a lot of fraud by creating false historical treasures. She is also not very nice, and she has a cat.

She’s based on a real person, and the movie is based on the memoir she wrote based on some real-life events. I’m not sure how much this movie deviates from her book and how much her book may deviate from real life, because I haven’t looked into it yet, but, here are some bullet points about Lee (movie-Lee):

  • She does NOT make an effort to be nice
  • She has a cat, whom she loves
  • She makes one friend, whom she treats moderately well, in my opinion (may be up for debate)
  • She has one love interest who she ends up being quite cold to, and regretting it, and that lady was super sweet
  • Redeeming factors: she’s nice on occasion to Jack, who is homeless and has better social skills than her; she loves her cat (I know this is supposed to contribute to us seeing her as isolated and not good with people, and I’ve made this joke about myself with regards to my own affinity for cats but, OK, hang on, interlude: if you can empathize with, care for, and love a little cat, you can do the same with people. Doing one does not preclude you from doing the other. Frankly, my friendships (for lack of a better word) with cats have done nothing but make me a better person and have brought me into contact with other people as well as helping me to empathize with people better, so, whatever, world at large. Cats are good for people, should people take care of them properly); and the crimes she commits are committed out of necessity. Also, they aren’t that bad. At the end when she says, “I’m not sorry,” or, something along those lines, but concedes that no matter how unsorry she is and no matter how good it made her feel to have her work appreciated while committing fraud, it wasn’t worth it, I nodded along. I’m not saying what she did was right. It just… isn’t that bad.
  • It’s really not. In the grand scheme of things? Come on. It would have been much, much worse for her to end up homeless or for her cat to continue to go without medical care. Saving some dead famous people having witticisms they didn’t write attributed to them falsely and people with more money than sense spending it on something inauthentic is not worth anyone’s destitution. Sue me, that’s my opinion. I told you I’m sometimes unlikable.
  • Things that are, admittedly, hard to look past: she is overly rude on occasion to people. And there’s a wrenching scene where she and her friend clean out her apartment, which she has let get into a major state of unsanitary. It’s a scene that makes her pitiable, and it also makes her kind of unlikable, which I’m uncomfortable about admitting. If she were mentally ill or unable to do minimum standards of care for herself (and the cat), then I’d have lots of sympathy, but she is capable of cleaning. It shows her cleaning. Still, I’m weirded out by that scene and by what it made me think about her.
  • I don’t care that she committed fraud, I care that she let garbage rot for way too long in her home. I… I don’t know. Don’t trust my opinions.

Tree Gelbman in Happy Death Day

Quick summation: A partying sorority girl keeps waking up and it’s the same day, only the twist is, she keeps getting murdered by a weirdo in a baby face mask and she has a limited amount of time to solve her own murder and escape the loop. She starts out not very nice at all, but, out of necessity, she gets better.

The reason I didn’t add Phil Conners of Groundhog Day fame to that top of the post list is because here she is.

I love Tree. I’d die for her. Some notes of note:

  1. She’s a very stereotypical sorority monster girl. She’d be the villain in Sydney White or She’s the Man or The House Bunny or another one of those movies. There is a counterpart to play that role in this very movie, though, and her name is Danielle. Unfortunately, Danielle is kind of a shallowly written character, but, fortunately, Tree reflects that she isn’t nice to her sorority sister at all, and also, even though Danielle has motive to murder her and is one of Tree’s top suspects in her own murder, Danielle isn’t the murderer.
  2. She’d also be the girl who dies near the beginning or maybe the midpoint of a typical horror movie, and she’d stay dead. Not so, here.
  3. There’s a reason for her nastiness: the pain of grief. I’m not opposed at all for there being a reason for an unlikable woman’s unlikability, nor am I opposed to her figuring it out over the course of the film and becoming redeemed, which is what Tree does.
  4. While the movie does make a point of Tree’s overt sexuality at the beginning when we’re supposed to dislike her the most, its handling of the whole ‘staying over in Carter’s room’ situation proves that it’s a smarter movie than to simply want to punish women for being sexual. Tree assumes that Carter “took advantage” (raped) her when she was blackout drunk the previous night, which explains why she’s so brusque with him for almost the first half of the movie, until she finally yells at him about it. He tells her that he “obviously” wouldn’t have done that, and that he just didn’t want her to choke on her vomit or something. After that, she warms up to him and he eventually helps her on her quest to solve her own murder.
  5. The movie vilifies the fully adult, married professor doctor she (… and someone else) are sleeping with. Tree is almost immediately remorseful about her actions as soon as she sees his wife, and his wife isn’t the murderer either. The movie portrays doctor professor whatever his name is as being an unfaithful patronizing casually misogynistic donk, which is fun, because often these types of characters are protagonist-types.
  6. Tree gets to be funny as well as unlikable. I really like this movie.

Abigail in The Favourite

Quick summation: She’s from a formerly wealthy family and has fallen on hard times (very hard times), so she comes to the court to get a job since her cousin is Queen Anne’s Favourite. She gets a lousy job but then proves to be capable and also cuttingly ambitious, so she moves up in the world, and she does some questionable things, and she loses her humanity a little.

She was my favourite in The Favourite, and I am not sorry.

  • I am annoyed at the part at the end where she hurts the bunny for kicks. This movie uses animal cruelty to depict the loss of humanity that comes with ambition and the cutthroat pursuit of ambition, and I’m not here for it. There are other ways to show that, which would make any movie easier viewing for me, personally.
  • That aside, I like Abigail’s journey. I like the frank ambition. I like how calculating she is. I really like that “sex scene” that takes place on her wedding night. As an ace, I watched that and thought: “There it is, my favourite sex scene ever.”
  • The only thing is, I’m not sure about the end of this movie. I think we’re meant to understand that, despite the fact that Abigail got what she supposedly wanted, and despite the fact that Anne got what she supposedly wanted, neither of them actually got what they wanted. Abigail can’t control Anne the way Sarah did. And Anne may have wanted to punish Sarah, but in doing so, she removed her from her life, which is not actually what she wanted, replacing her with someone less devoted to her than Sarah always had been, ultimately. And… I like it, but also, I’d have preferred a more triumphant ending for Abigail. One without the animal cruelty, because no one hurting a rabbit for kicks is any shade of triumphant, ever. I realize that a triumphant ending would be less nuanced and thought-provoking, but I like what I like.
  • This is, like with Lee Israel’s crimes, an example of something where I don’t really think what she does is that bad. She does a few bad things, sure, but she does them out of necessity. I couldn’t help rooting for her.

I could have written about the other two here, but I like Abigail the best and she’s the one with the clearest arc that goes upward to power, so, I’ll leave it at her.

Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen

Quick summation: She’s always struggled to make friends, then she made one best friend, then they grew into teenagers and she finds her BFF having sex with her older, much more popular brother, so she like, scorch-earths her relationships and lashes out at a few other people besides. She has a kind of heart-warming friendship with the English teacher who she is also mean to. Eventually she fixes everything.

  1. She is SO. MEAN. And SO. SELFISH. I love her.
  2. Nadine’s horribleness is also, like Tree’s, connected to the pain of grief. It’s also connected to who she is in general though, as she was always a little unpleasant even before her father dies.
  3. Ralph Breaks the Internet stole its central conflict from this movie.

Amy Dunne in Gone Girl

Quick summation: on the morning of her wedding anniversary, she goes missing. Things don’t look good for her husband, who is bad at behaving like a normal bereaved husband, mainly because he hated her so much in the end and wanted a divorce and is sleeping with his much younger student. It turns out Amy’s alive and framing her husband for murder. Unlike every other woman on this list, this is actually a cold-blooded killer criminal genius. The things she does are irredeemable, and a lot of fun to watch.

I’d die for Amy.

  • So… right off the bat. What Amy does is wrong, obviously. She commits terrible crimes over the course of the film. But it’s so much fun sitting back and watching her do it.
  • She frames a man for murder. His “crime” is being an unfaithful patronizing casually misogynistic donk. She frames another man for kidnapping and rape, and then murders him. His “crime” is being a patronizing controlling obsessive casually misogynistic donk.
  • Those are not crimes worthy of murder or being framed for murder, but hey, there are no shortage of movies from many eras depicting women being brutally murdered, and sometimes raped or sexually humiliated as well, for the “crime” of being overtly sexual in whatever way the movie could get away with showing, or moderately unlikable, or annoyingly powerful while being female, or being “incorrectly female” to borrow a phrase from Hannah Gadsby, so, I’m not going to apologize for getting a kick out of this one instance of men having terrible things done to them for their comparatively less terrible actions.
  • This movie contains my other favourite sex scene.

I’M SORRY OK, IT’S A WELL-MADE SCENE. And the music really brings it together. Really sets the mood there.

Well, there it is. There are a few others, of course. But that’s what I’ve got so far.

Do you notice that there are no Disney protagonists on this list? The only one who approaches it would be Merida, and I wouldn’t put her on here because Merida was right (#MeridaWasRight).

Disney. Live action Emporer’s New Groove and cast a woman as Kuzco.

Or the next princess doesn’t start off fully nice.

Thanks so much.

A brief thing about the new teaser

All right, this ^^ is out.

Fair warning, I have nothing worthwhile to say about this, except that like everyone else who watched it, I’m very excited.

All I’ve got is that while I love this (I LOVE this), I do hope my best girls, and my best guy, and my best snow-guy, and my best reindeer, have some… good times, too.

Also I hope they overcome everything that has come their way.

My one wish is that someone edits Frozen so that we can see what a trailer for that movie in this style would look like. I enjoyed the Olaf vs Sven teaser they put out at the time, but just for comparison’s sake I’d like to see it.

Here are my suggestions:

  • you’d need, for the beginning, long shots of Elsa doing things with her powers. I think the only thing that would work would be the parts where she’s in chains near the end
  • I’ve got nothing for the colourful ice diamond part
  • Anna running after her sister and falling, the first time Elsa uses her powers publicly
  • Kristoff determinedly rides Sven in Frozen twice, so, pick one
  • For Anna being sad and then jumping, some mixture of the Marshmallow fight, and maybe at the end where she’s freezing. Or just the Marshmallow fight
  • Elsa attacking the guards and/or running from the chandelier
  • in place of the new characters, maybe just the crowd dealing with snow, or Arendell freezing
  • Then for the hard stare, um, Elsa building her castle?
  • And for the very end, I’d have Anna punching Hans, but that doesn’t really work. But since spoilers (and also a clear narrative) don’t matter here, maybe Anna freezing/saving Elsa

Now, yeah, that wouldn’t make any sense. But if you’d never seen the movie (and also you weren’t planning to, because this would be a huge spoiler fest), it would at least be a lot of cool imagery. And it might suggest some other storyline that could make sense.

Anyway, I hope someone does it.

In the meantime I’ll just watch this one again.

That said, happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

(why is this so funny), Part 2

Please watch this video.

 

I’m at a loss.

I can’t stop laughing.

Why though.

Why.

Though.

Well, partly it’s because of the guy in hysterics in the voice over. That definitely helps. Even the guy who conceived of doing this video can’t stop laughing, and it just adds to the overall absurdity of it all.

But the other part is just that Bee Movie thing.

Bee Movie.

They couldn’t even come up with a name for their movie, in the end. After all the hard work, after getting big name actors and comedians to do the voice acting, after the excruciating animation process itself, they were like, “Uh, well, uh, it’s a movie… about a bee…”

Maybe they’d always intended to call it Bee Movie, though. I don’t know. I also don’t care. I’ve watched the trailer multiple times in multiple variations, I’ve watched Bee Movie in its entirety (though it got faster every time they said “bee”) and I’ve read the premise of the film, and I’ve also read Hive for the Honeybee which is likely out of print right now but it’s an amazing existentialist book about bees and that’s the movie they should have made. My point is that I don’t even have to watch Bee Movie. I don’t need that negativity, the negativity of a woman on a date with the bee she’s in love with thoughtlessly killing a mosquito and then both of them laughing about it even though the event that brought them together in the first place was her saving him from being killed by a human because “Why does his life have any less value than yours,” in my life.

Instead, I’ll take various internet denizens’ offerings, which have thankfully injected Bee Movie with some much-needed value. A reason for even existing, shall we say.

This is part 2 of the other thing I posted. Half of those videos were scrubbed from Youtube because of Dreamworks and copyright law. Damn it, Dreamworks. You’re killing my buzz.

GET IT

Recommending books to people is scary

Today someone came to my door and then inside my house trying to sell me a water filtration system. Usually I don’t end up in these situations – I just don’t answer the door. Or the phone. Sales people and actors are the scariest people, in my opinion – I respect them, but being around them makes me anxious because half the time I’m thinking “Oh wow your job is so hard, if I were you I would drop dead from anxiety poisoning!” and the other half I’m thinking of all the ways they might be/definitely are lying to me.

But anyway.

I made something up, and then she gave up, and then she asked to look at all my books. I was like, “Sure!” but, nervous. How do you talk about books to people? Well – I know how I do. I struggle and change the subject, is what I do. But it depends on the person, really. Usually, I find it hard to commit to a book in conversation, even if I love it, because I don’t want to accidentally inflict something they’ll find even mildly boring.

Reading a book is so personal and intimate. At least with watching a movie or a show, it’s happening on the screen, but the book is really happening in your head. If it’s well-written enough, a book makes me forget I even exist, so immersive can be the experience. And reading a book you hate is, in my opinion, anyway, so much worse than watching a movie or a show you hate. And I’d hate to inflict that, especially that, on anyone, just by saying “It’s good, you’ll like it!” without any qualifiers. And qualifiers take up time, time that could be better spent not being in a conversation at all, thanks.

Why, yes, I’m a cat person. Thanks for noticing.

She asked if I’d read The Giver, which, of course I have. I’m pretty sure it’s still on the Ontario school curriculum. Then as she was leaving, she asked me to recommend something. “Something like The Giver,” which she added because I asked her to narrow her interests down for me because, like, oh my god.

I couldn’t think of something like The Giver. I eventually came up with Tuck Everlasting. It doesn’t have the same dystopian punch of The Giver, but it’s still a very thought-provoking little book about mortality. It was, um, also on the Ontario school curriculum, and that’s probably why I associated the two. I panicked, OK?

But if she reads it – and, maybe she’s a good sales person and she was just doing some sort of sales trick, but I kind of thought she was serious and wanted to go find a new book to read, so, whatever – I think she’ll like it. Who doesn’t like Tuck Everlasting?

The only other time in my entire life that someone has actually asked me for a book recommendation was during a job interview, and I’m pretty sure it was the question and answer that lost me the job. Which is OK because I didn’t want the job – I just wanted job. Because it was the recession and I was a student and it was almost impossible to convince anyone to hire you as a student in a recession. I don’t even remember what this particular job was. Data entry? And what that company did, or what it was called – I have no idea. I have forgotten everything except the book thing.

So he asked, and I said, It by Stephen King. Which is still one of my favourite books. It is something special, people. Also he was a white guy in his 40s or 50s, so, safe rec, right?

My people. He was so unimpressed. And he never said why, and I honestly didn’t care because, a) It was a recession and I was a student and it was a long shot and what is this job, exactly? and b) Why would I want to work with someone who is weird about Stephen King?

I am open to critiques of Stephen King. I just have a feeling his wasn’t particularly nuanced.

So I just explained why I loved the book so much and then left the interview feeling like, “Well, at least I got to talk about It, and I mildly annoyed someone who probably deserves to be mildly annoyed, frankly.”

I do sometimes wonder what book he was looking for.

Lolita? That’s my least charitable guess. Maybe something by Philip Roth, whose work I have never and will never read because, man, who has time for that, right? Or some other big shot contemporary white guy author, I don’t know. I also can’t even come up with any other big shot white guy contemporary author names. I may be an English major – and I don’t care. In fact, I was taught I didn’t have to care. Times have changed.

Maybe he was looking for something by Faulkner or Dickens – two comparable names if I’ve ever put two comparable names into a sentence before. Or, slightly more charitably, Octavia Butler or Toni Morrison or Ursula Leguin. Maybe some brilliant Canadian like Joy Kogawa or Miriam Toews.

But then if that’s the case, still. There really shouldn’t have been a wrong answer.

Except Lolita.

OMG I bet he wanted me to say something by Rand.

Anyway.

I’d rather have a discussion about my likes and dislikes with someone or someones who would also talk about their likes and dislikes, and maybe we’d all do some soft pitches for books that each of us may enjoy, to then ponder over and maybe choose from. That seems like a better way to recommend books, than on the spot, or as a trick question in a job interview. But what do I know?

The Uncomfortable Reality of Racism in the Animal Rights Movement

I had this as a tangent in a review of the book Sistah Vegan, and decided to re-post it now as its own thing, in response to the news that Belgium made Halal and Kosher slaughter methods illegal. I made it a little smarter, because new year, new look, new Paige.

new paige


Here are a couple of comments I stumbled upon recently, in response to an animal advocacy group sharing an article that said Canada was badly ranked for it’s treatment of animals (unsurprising).

halal comment

The first comment is frustratingly ignorant. The SPCA can only do so much, because the laws need to be updated. Pay attention to who you’re voting for. The laws also require law enforcement officers who are actually interested in enforcing the laws in order to be effective. Pay attention to who isn’t doing the enforcing and give them hassle when they fail to act.

The second comment is, you know, racist.

It’s ignorant, too, because, really. What is the SPCA supposed to do about an industry practice that is entirely legal and defined as “not animal cruelty” and instead one of the acceptable methods of slaughter?

I should expand on the “racist” thing though because I happen to know some people IRL who would take issue with that label, annoyingly. “It can’t be racist if it’s about a religion” OK Brent, best case scenario you’re a bigot, congrats, but I’m still going to call it racism because Islamaphobia gets directed at anyone who looks vaguely brown.

Why is it a problem that people are against the Halal slaughter method? Well – in an ideal world, it wouldn’t be a problem. Halal slaughter isn’t great, where animals are concerned. It requires animals to be alert during slaughter whereas otherwise the animal would be stunned first – although personally I think it’s not the biggest difference because animals slaughtered for food tend to be at least somewhat aware of what they’re heading for before they get stunned, especially if the slaughterhouse is badly designed or not following the top guidelines. But it makes enough of a difference to the individual animals that really that sort of practice shouldn’t be allowed – in an ideal world, where this slaughter method wasn’t a religious law and freedom.

Why single out Halal? Kosher is exactly the same. Also, why single out either Halal or Kosher? Why not single out the industry standard practice of grinding up male chicks while they’re still alert? That is not done because of religious laws, just for, I don’t know, expedience, maybe. Or what about gestation crates for pig mothers, which is a practice that causes immense suffering for years on end rather than for just a split second at slaughter? How about going after gigantic quotas that lead to massive stress among the already stressed-out workers, which of course leads to physical abuse of the animals, either as a necessity for reaching quota or as an outlet for frustration?

How I deal with Halal and Kosher is that I’m mostly silent about it, because there are, in fact, animal advocates of both the Muslim and Jewish persuasions who are having these conversations within their own communities and it isn’t my place as some rando Catholic to butt in. Why not allow them to take care of their own cultural practices, particularly these days, when their communities are under quite a bit of stress because of certain unmentionable somehow elected officials? Really, ever since September 11, 2001, it hasn’t been the opportune moment to start browbeating Muslim people about one of their cultural practices that isn’t the greatest for animals. Especially when non-Muslim Canadians aren’t exactly lining up to tidy up our own garbage practices.

Canada has plenty of animal rights issues to tackle that are not specific to Muslim or Jewish religious laws. Like the seal hunt.* Like all of those other meat industry standard practices I mentioned. How about the transportation of pigs for slaughter? That was kind of a big deal a while ago.

Also, Islam is in many ways a pretty animal-friendly religion. Sure, Halal requires animals to be alert for slaughter and there are the sacrificial animals during Eid al-Adha, but Muslims are technically not supposed to eat pork ever (good for pigs), and one of the pillars of Islam is fasting, which leads some Muslims to abstain from meat for lengthy time periods each year for their spiritual health (good for food animals in general).

I don’t know this commenter and for all I know “Halal” was just the first thing that popped into their head when it occurred to them to email the SPCA. But probably not. I think it’s more than safe to say that this is an example of someone who probably does care about animals, but who also is upset about Muslim people existing nearby and has decided to kill two birds with one stone and join the two pet causes.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t speak up here. I seriously considered it. I think things like this hurt everyone, because first of all, it’s racist, which is never good, and then there’s the fact that there easily could be a Muslim person scrolling through these comments, and animal rights needs allies, and to have allies we need to make people feel welcome, and not make them feel like they do anywhere people enthusiastically voted for Stephen Harper and his low key Islamaphobia. Finally, it does delegitimize us. People are looking for any excuse to dismiss animal rights as a thing worth discussing, and if you’re using it as a platform to be racist, you’ve basically handed them a perfect reason, the best possible reason, to stop listening forever.

The reason I didn’t speak up is sort of complicated. The first problem is that Facebook will then plaster that conversation on the walls of my friends, some of whom are my coworkers, and I didn’t want them to see me calling a stranger an Islamaphobe. And that’s basically what it would have been, because the second problem was that I couldn’t come up with anything calm and reasonable to say.

I still think the right thing to do was to think about it for a while and then post something along the lines of, “Hi there – Islam is a pretty animal-friendly religion, actually, considering the fasting and such, and there are lots of other, non-Islamic and totally legal industry practices that cause a lot of suffering to food animals, none of which the SPCA is capable of ending on its own. We need to vote smarter and put pressure on our elected officials so that they know we want animal welfare improvements. And also eat less meat, person who probably eats a lot of non-Halal and still probably inhumanely procured meat. Have a LOVELY non–Muslim-hating day!”

Alas. Next time.


*This was in the Sistah Vegan review without a line through it. I put one through it now because I can’t ignore that activists honing in on the seal hunt hurt First Nations people. It hurt them in the past, it hurt them in the more recent past, and it continues to hurt them now.

still think the fact that the federal government is very loud and perfomative in its support of First Nations people when it comes to the seal hunt but has militia-looking RCMP officers arrest pipeline protesters, who are not only protesting something ecologically damaging but also something illegal, which is a pipeline being built through lands that belong to First Nations peoples and not to The Crown, is more than a little bit important. If the world is moving on from seal products (and it looks like it is, for now), we should just develop a good basic income program and pilot it with people who are trying to sustain themselves on that industry, supplementing their seal income, and also maybe we can not build the stupid pipeline and actually deal with the multitude of other ways the First Nations are still being violated in this country.

Projecting onto the Tudors

I’m one of those people who can’t help but be fascinated by the Tudors and the entire historical era they lived in and shaped. There are just so many questions to ask and events to contemplate, stemming from, in my opinion anyway, the fact that it’s almost impossible to look at the sequence of events of all of these peoples’ lives without concluding, unfairly, with no real evidence, but still pretty soundly, that they were all so miserable.

Henry VIII is the best example of this. Of course he was miserable. His claim to the throne was fine but not unshakable, and he had various enemies. He needed, as all monarchs do, a male heir, but this eluded him for quite some time. His inability to procure one is Shakespearean. Well, it’s not, because Shakespeare wasn’t a thing until Elizabeth I had been queen for a while, and even then he was kind of low-brow during his own time, but, you know what I mean. Henry’s is the perfect story about toxic and fragile masculinity, and it actually happened.

His kids just make everything more poetic. His much desired male heir died far too young without a male heir of his own. Edward was also clearly manipulated by his skeevy regeant who made him remove his sisters from the line of inheritance before he died. Still, one after the other, both of Henry’s daughters, who he’d disowned/disavowed/divorced and executed the mothers of/threatened to execute over the years took her turn on the throne. Mary I had to take the throne by force, riding in with an army and her sister at her side, which is super cool and I want to watch that movie, frankly. That movie is unlikely, though, because Mary managed to become somewhat unpopular by executing Protestants a little too cruelly and by marrying some Spanish guy (xenophobia never goes out of fashion). Much after her own time, history made her even more unpopular as anti-Catholicism came back into fashion in England, harder. That’s one interesting detail. Another is: hey, look, that’s the second Henry kid without an heir, and the question hanging menacingly in the air as she got older without getting pregnant: would she let her Protestant sister, cleverly pretending to be a Catholic, succeed her?

The answer was yes, and everyone is in love with Elizabeth I who is the perfect, absolutely perfect, poetic justice of an ending to Henry VIII’s legacy. Some depictions of the Tudors love to point that out rather bluntly, like the ending of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Elizabeth herself dies without an heir, and isn’t that amazing: all three of his kids managed to hold onto the throne and never provide the heir everyone was always angsting about.

It’s the perfect story. And it really happened.

But so did a lot of other things which were absolutely horrific.

It’s really easy to sympathize with and fully, whole-heartedly love a charismatic actor playing a 1500s monarch who says something about how people shall be allowed to worship as they please in a time of religious strife. The guy behind me in my screening of Mary Queen of Scots did. He said, “YES,” after Saoirse Ronan playing Mary, Queen of Scots, said basically that. And me, too, sure. I as a kid did that thing too, watching Cate Blanchett say something less progressive (because Bess wasn’t as progressive, unfortunately), in the rather unfortunately anti-Catholic Elizabeth I.

[quick sidenote: I’m Catholic and Catholicism should absolutely be critiqued and even made fun at all times, but a) nuance, and b) Catholics had it rough in England during Elizabeth and for a long long time after her, so, nyeh, and c) NUANCE PLEASE and also d) I still love that movie]

But, uh, this same magnanimity was not extended as kindly to Jewish people, and/or Romani people, and/or plenty of other groups at the time. I’m not actually sure how Mary was on the subject of antisemitism, but, I’m just going to assume she wasn’t good.

Watching The Tudors, which is actually the only TV series I have on DVD without regretting spending all of the money, is interesting, because while like most other film adaptations of this historical period, it obviously overdramatizes some most things, it also does provide some amount of nuance. I mean, it also helped to Google stuff as I went along, and to have taken sixteenth century English lit courses which provided a lot academic context, but, still. It’s better than Elizabeth I, at least. One of the most important elements of context that The Tudors doesn’t skimp on is how huge the religion question was to these people, Catholic and Protestant alike.

It seems ridiculous now, so of course the monarchs professing some amount of moderation seem like the best people (even if they did execute their fair share of “heretics” – and I’m looking at you, Elizabeth I). At the time, which denomination you were was high stakes stuff, however much it seems backwards to us in the 21st century.

It was less high stakes if you were royalty. For example, Elizabeth got to renounce her professed Catholicism and be a Protestant queen as soon as she was crowned. Mary I got to be fully Catholic again as soon as she was crowned, despite signing a thing declaring her father to be the head of the Church in England. And although Henry insisted she sign it, his very prominently Protestant adviser Thomas Cromwell supposedly advocated for her to not have to sign it, since everyone knew she was so devout. Mary herself may have been a little naive, but surely she had some inkling that her sister wasn’t really going to keep up the Catholicism when she took the throne. Maybe not. But if she did, then her sister’s incorrect faith didn’t matter enough to Mary to have Elizabeth exiled, or executed.

The implications of that are that people at the time, including the commoners, believed strongly that you had to worship the right way to get into heaven if you were a commoner, but, the higher towards nobility you were, the more God loved you, so, you could do whatever you wanted, really.

That is definitely no stunning revelation. I think we all know that’s how people at the time felt, but I would suggest that most adaptations avoid getting into how, uh, tyrannical some of these monarchs truly were. There are a couple of considerations there. First, they thought they had every right to be, and even most of their subjects thought so too. Paradigms have shifted, so it’s certainly not fair to judge their actions entirely based on current morality. Second, you can’t be honest and show everything – the antisemitism, the torture of the (usually poor, elderly) women they honestly thought were witches, the animal cruelty, and, hey, didn’t colonialism start happening at this point, complete with slavery – and have people actually sympathize with your characters.

Removing the Tudors (and those adjacent to them) from their own historical context just enough to make them palatable is a good strategy for making watchable movies and television. It’s also helpful if you’d like to use their stories to comment on what’s happening now.

But what’s relevant about these people these days?

Go see Mary Queen of Scots to find out, but here’s a short list:

  • comparing Mary to Elizabeth, this movie manages to make a point very, very compellingly: that if Elizabeth had married and had given birth to a male heir, she quite likely would have been deposed and/or betrayed by some useless husband. We can never know, of course. But this movie makes its case, and of the various explanations I’ve seen in fictionalized portrayals of Elizabeth, this is my favourite. It gives her more agency than Elizabeth I‘s “I don’t trust men, they’re all cheaters and also transphobia” does. (There’s more to it than that, but, still). The Royal Diaries series version of Elizabeth has her, at a very young age, declare that she will never become a wife because she was traumatized by watching Catherine Parr run screaming through a hall before being arrested, which was effective and, frankly, excellent children’s literature, but I still like this movie’s version better
  • men are out specifically, purposefully, to destroy women’s political careers because they resent taking orders from women, because they are misogynists. “Not all men” and whatnot but hey, it’s still Trump’s America and this movie noticed.
  • it’s possible to make a movie about actual real-life female rivals, who actually in real life got into some situations that required one of them to have the other one executed, and still have – like – Margot Robbie has this very fictionalized speech where she’s imagining what she would say to Mary if she could and it’s, yeah, very fictional, but also gorgeous. I think both of them cry when they see each other for the first and only time – they have a lot of animosity but they’re also lovely the whole time, fascinated by one another, they love each other, and BLESS this movie for that because OF COURSE they would have on at least some level
  • this movie proves that you can put actors who are people of colour into a British period piece playing historical people who IRL would likely have been white, and the world doesn’t end
  • it also proves you can add in queer characters without being bigoted (coughing pointedly at Elizabeth I) – but I have some caveats to that which are, and I quote, “OK but you put one gay man and one trans person in this movie and both of them are horrifically murdered, wtf”

Anyway, there are probably more, but this movie was very good. It’s good enough just for the actors to do their things in cool costumes (and probably win awards), but it’s also just good, including my multiple caveats, most of which I’m not going to add in here. It was quite refreshing after the anti-Catholicism of Elizabeth I and it’s sequel, if I remember correctly, which handles the Mary Queen of Scots thing quite differently.

I wish I could have written something more insightful about the Tudors and how we keep telling their stories, and maybe one day I will, but for now, this will have to do.

(OK BUT)

(HE EVEN MAKES A NON-APOLOGY THAT SHE SNEERS AT)

(“I REGRET THAT YOU PERCEIVE ME AS A FAILURE”)

(OMG THIS MOVIE IS A PRODUCT EXACTLY OF ITS TIME)

Let Us Watch All Seven Harry Potter Christmas Scenes

Because why goddamn not, right?

(well, maybe because the books are right there and they’re better, did you ever think about that?)

(shh)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Christmas

philosopher's stone christmas 2

What do I remember of this Christmas? Well, in the book, Ron makes a comment about turnips and he gets a maroon jumper (… sweater?) and the twins get jumpers too that have the first letters of their names on them, leading to the best joke ever:

“But we’re not stupid. We know we’re called Gred and Forge.”

And for some reason, that isn’t in the movie.

To be fair, it’s the sort of joke that is delightful and amazing while you’re reading it as a kid (and as a half-serious adult, too), but maybe it doesn’t work as well on screen.

So how’s the movie version?

To this movie’s immense credit, it includes a scene of Hagrid dragging in a huge tree.

And wizard’s chess.

This was before Steve Kloves stopped letting Ron be capable of basic human function.

Ron and Hermione are behaving like their book selves. This is the last time it will ever happen.

Ron’s jumper has an “R.” Awwww, they’re cute. They’re actually like real friends in this movie!

Ron knows what an invisibility cloak is. Amazingly, flabbergastingly, they don’t have Hermione show back up from her holiday to explain it while Ron goes, “Uhhh IDK.”

At this point, in the book, everything gets really sad, what with Harry wasting his vacation staring at his parents in the mirror until Dumbledore shows up and kindly convinces him to move on. The movie does it too, somewhat less impressively in my opinion, but it’s all there.

philosopher's stone christmas

Well that was cute. I know this movie is a bit underwhelming, but I am pretty fond of it. At least it tried. And honestly, it’s the closest they ever got, characterization-wise.

Which is… sad.

Moving right along…

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Sugar Plums

chamber of secrets christmas

In this one (in the book) Harry’s a pariah, right? And both Ron and Hermione stay over Christmas because they feel bad for him? Or is that another year… or is that multiple years because they’re such good friends honestly that’s all the movies needed to do right, just that one thing, and wow, did they mess it up.

This one again has lovely Christmas imagery and music.

All the Weasleys stayed? I call a foul.

chamber of secrets christmas 2

Polyjuice Potion. They did that on Christmas. Savage.

They’re still letting Ron be genuinely funny, which is surprising. And this is the only scene where Hermione makes a mistake and we can all giggle at her.

Also, this thing where they still sound like themselves on the potion is so bad.

Draco: “I didn’t know you could read.”

The Slytherin common room is decorated.

Draco: “You think there’s someone here who’s WORSE than Dumbledore?”

Harry: “… Harry Potter?”

Draco: “Good one, Goyle.”

Wow.

This movie is honestly amazing.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Jolly Old Saint Nick

prisoner of azkaban christmas 2

In the book………… is that where Neville loses his slip of passwords and then Sirius breaks in and then Sir Cadogan gets fired as the replacement Fat Lady?

This is the best movie.

Hedwig brings winter in this one, which is beautiful. And this time, it’s Harry watching everyone else go to Hogsmeade. The twins feature, gifting Harry with the Maurauder’s Map.

Or course these two figured out the code to the Map was “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”

Harry: “And that – no. Is that really -”

Fred: “Dumbledore.”

George: “In his study.”

Fred: “Pacing.”

George: “Does that a lot.”

Ron and Hermione are awkward together, which is incorrect, and then Harry terrorizes Malfoy.

prisoner of azkaban christmas 1

Does Christmas not feature in this movie?

It does not.

Instead, Harry yells about Sirius and it’s stupid.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Christmas Pudding

goblet of fire christmas

Oh great, the Yule Ball.

Aww, who put up the garland in the Gryffindor common room? It’s even red and gold! (It was the House Elves, wasn’t it. I’d rather believe it was all the boys though.)

Ron and Hermione’s dynamic is absolute garbage here. It was already bad in the book (deliberately) but man, they made it so much worse.

But McGonagall is here and is great. Where is the festive thistle on her hat though?

Remember how ridiculous it is that Hermione looks no different?

Mrs Norris has red eyes. How did Ginny afford new dress robes? Oh, come on. I wanted to see some vintage Weasley women’s attire, because Ron’s outfit is actually the best one of the night. Actually I now remember something about how Ginny got new ones as a present for something. Still.

The poor Patil twins. Harry and Ron are terrible dates and should have just gone to this dance together. It would have been so much better for everyone involved, but, alas, heteronormativity.

Harry is 100% in love with Ron in this book though. It’s easy to forget because the movie flubs it entirely, but he is so in love with him. As friends, sure, but it’s serious love. And they more or less do go together. They walk around dejected in the rose garden and hide in a bush and eavesdrop on Hagrid together.

I like how in the book, Hermione screams at Ron, gets the last word in, and makes him feel stupid, but in the movie he just makes her cry and then walks off with Harry calling her “scary.”

Oh good, it’s over.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Carol of the Bells

order of the phoenix christmas 2

In the book, Harry attacks/saves Arthur, and then goes to Grimmauld Place for Christmas and feels really guilty about everything. I think this time, the movie does it justice.

Let’s see, then.

Ew, Harry kisses Cho and then tells Ron and Hermione about it. I hate it it’s so awkward.

Christmas the First in Which Nagini Features. She will return. And how.

This is one of the few (movie) parts that does Snape justice, too.

OK the Blacks wouldn’t live among Muggles, would they?

And I love Arthur’s crown.

Ron and Hermione are legitimately cute in this scene – separately, as an eventual couple… they’re just cute.

order of the phoenix christmas

This scene does an excellent job of examining how Harry doesn’t have a family that he can take for granted, and Sirius doesn’t either, and that’s part of why Sirius is so important to him. It’s annoying that this is the first time Harry learns that Sirius’s family owns this house. But it works apart from that.

Christmas is always a good time to highlight how sad it all is, like in the first one with Harry and the Mirror of Erised. It’s an excellent foil, especially with the Weasleys just in the next room.

And Sirius’s speech about morality and grey areas and choice is good.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Reindeer

halfblood prince christmas

This is the worst movie. (But Hedwig went to the Weasleys’ for Christmas, and that’s adorable.)

In the book……… I can’t remember. I think Ron and Hermione were fighting. Did Hermione go skiing?

This movie treats Lavender Brown atrociously. The actress is very entertaining but it’s so hateful.

The book version is, admittedly, a little hateful too, but it’s nowhere near as bad as this. Guys, apart from the actress’s obvious talent, this isn’t funny.

Ron knows what an Unbreakable Vow is, though, so, that’s something.

Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggh Harry and Ginny. It is so awkward. Even if it had gone well, without Ron being clueless, it’s so bad. It’s not cute, it’s not romantic or quirky or anything, it’s just bad.

This is some next-level awful. Why did they write it like this? They must be sadists.

And it only gets worse.

But then the Death Eaters show up, thankfully.

Yeah, this sequence is bad.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Ghost of Christmas Future

deathly hallows christmas

This one, in both the book and film, is burned into my brain.

Oh no.

Oh no.

You are wrong.

I don’t like this either.

AHHHHHHHH.

NO.

NO SHE ISN’T.

OH NO.

IT’S SO OBVIOUS OH NO.

HERMONE IS ALWAYS RIGHT, LISTEN TO HER.

THERE ARE FLY SOUNDS.

NO.

NOOOOOOOOO.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

JESUS CHRIST RUN.

HARRY YOU’RE SPEAKING PARSELTONGUE PLEASE NOTICE.

deathly hallows christmas 2

WHAT IS THIS NO.

I FORGOT ABOUT THE FLY ROOM.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

GET GONE

OK IT’S LESS SCARY NOW

BUT WHAT IS THIS WHITE NURSERY, WHY DID THEY INCLUDE IT, IT’S STUPID.

I THINK WE’RE SUPPOSED TO FEEL BAD THAT SHE HAD A KID WHO DIED WHEN CLEARLY SHE WAS SINGLE AND FINE ABOUT IT, WHY CAN’T SHE JUST HAVE BEEN CHILDLESS, GO AWAY MOVIE WRITERS.

IT’S A CREEPY IMAGE, I’LL ADMIT.

OK THAT WAS THE GREATEST POTTER CHRISTMAS EVER.

NO MATTER HOW IRRITATING OR PERHAPS, BUT HOPEFULLY NOT, SORROWFUL YOUR CHRISTMAS IS, AT THE VERY LEAST YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TALK TO A SNAKE PRETENDING TO BE BATHILDA BAGSHOT BY LIVING INSIDE THE CORPSE OF BATHILDA BAGSHOT.


The end. Harry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Winter Solstice Reading Roundup (Belated)

It’s Frozen. Of course it’s Frozen.


I have no idea what I read during the fall. I know I didn’t get through that much, though, so, go me.

This is not in order and probably incomplete.

the countess conspiracy courtney milan

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Well, it’s Courtney Milan, so, obviously, I really liked it.

It also has maybe my favourite thing from any Courtney Milan and also any romance I’ve read so far:

“‘I know you, Sebastian,’ she said. ‘You like sex, and for me, it’s a complete disaster.’

He simply raised an eyebrow. ‘Let me tell you more about rakus perfectus,’ he said. ‘The whole point of raking is to make sure that everyone is satisfied and safe. There was one night when the woman I was with changed her mind after she came up to the hotel room I had taken for the evening. We spent the night playing vingt-et-un for pennies.’

‘Is that a euphemism?’

He considered this. ‘Yes. By “pennies,” I meant “half-pennies.” It just flows better when you say “vingt-et-un for pennies.”‘

‘Weren’t you furious with her?’

‘Should I have been?’ He shrugged. ‘I won three shillings.’

….

‘When a woman bursts into tears in the bedroom because she’s realized she doesn’t want to go through with it, you’ll make her very happy when you pull out a pack of cards.'”

[Milan, Courtney. The Countess Conspiracy (The Brothers Sinister Book 3) (p. 222). Courtney Milan. Kindle Edition.]

So yeah. That right there is a romance hero.

I’m still annoyed that the costumes on the covers aren’t historically accurate or that the ladies don’t look the way the heroines are supposed to.

I get why it’s like this, obviously. But the reason is stupid, and I’m still annoyed.

witches-abroad-terry-pratchett-new

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Sigh. I did like it for the most part. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, but overall, I’m still chasing the feeling I got while readying The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

Um…

That’s it?

I think there was at least one more, but I have no idea what it was.

I’ll finish up by talking about what I’m still currently reading.

how to be alone lane moore

How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore

I’m almost done this. I highly recommend it. Moore’s is a story about a neglectful and abusive family, which wasn’t my experience growing up and isn’t my reality now, but this is still so easy for me to relate to, and I suspect it’s probably essential for our times.

now a major motion picture cori mccarthy

Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

I really like this. It’s a good premise with good characters and I’m halfway through and I have no idea how it’s going to end.

the bear and the nightengale katherine arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherin Adren

I was going to give up on this after one chapter. I gave it until chapter two… and then three… and did a 180. Now I think I may also finish the series, if I ever get around to finishing anything ever again.

eleanor oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Read it last year, and it was my favourite, so I’m re-reading it. Apart from it being my favourite, Lane Moore’s book kept reminding me of it so I had to pick it up again.

dumplin'

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Same as above. I think these two were my favourites from 2017. And while I liked the movie (on Netflix) and have watched it numerous times already, I do prefer the book.

I’m in the middle of some non-fiction as well, but I’ll talk about those later.

And that’s all for this year! Get some cozy winter reading in for me… or get some more cozy winter reading in for me, if you’re already doing that.

Do it more.

Jeez.

A Tag, stolen and changed

I saw this Literary Dinner Party Tag at the Not-So-Modern-Girl blog and liked it a lot. I like most tags, really, but this one is particularly good. I also managed to track down the maker of the tag, NEHOMAS2, and have decided to be extremely boring and answer it with all Disney characters.

I’m sorry.

I do read (a decent amount), but I’m still going to be obstinate and use Disney characters. I even feel like I’ve done this before, but it was a much more intimate dinner party, so I’m going to do it again.

Here’z the rulez:

You must invite 11 guests, and there must be:

1. One character who can cook/likes to cook
2. One character who has money to fund the party
3. One character who might cause a scene
4. One character who is funny/amusing
5. One character who is super social/popular
6. One villain
7. One couple – doesn’t have to be romantic
8. One hero/heroine
9. One underappreciated character
10. One character of your own choosing

Let’s send those invites. To Disney characters.

Someone who can cook/likes to cook

remy ratatouilletiana whipped cream

Well that’s going to be Remy and Tiana. I’ll be dis-inviting someone else so that I can have both. (To be clear – I’m inviting them to a dinner party… but even though they’re the guests, they’re going to cook? I kind of like this idea but I also feel a little bad.)

Someone who has money and will fund the party

charlotte money

Charlotte can come! It won’t be awkward at all asking her to… pay for this party. She will likely be absolutely fine throwing money at the venue.

Someone who might cause a scene

ariel fork

Ariel. Forks everywhere.

Someone amusing

genie applause

The Genie!

Someone very social; popular

tony rydinger

Is there that in Disney? Let’s go with Tony Rydinger.

A villain

(not pictured)

Frollo! Promptly disinvited. He is the worst. I don’t even feel bad.

One couple that doesn’t have to be romantic

kronk and yzma dinner party

love that it doesn’t have to be a romantic couple, so I’m choosing Yzma and Kronk. There, the villain spot is casually ticked as well. (Is it a good idea to invite these two to a dinner party?)

A hero(ine)

mulan

Mulan, the most heroic hero in all of China.

An underappreciated character

srgt tibbs

Sergeant Tibbs is THE most underappreciated character of all time, and he is invited.

Whoever

edna mode

Edna Mode. Obviously.

All right folks, swamp gumbo’s on. It’s a vegan dinner party – keep the comments to yourselves; the chefs are world class and also already down.


If you’d like to do this – the regular book one or the Disney one, definitely go for it.

Caring for an Older Cat — Katzenworld

We’ll always, ALWAYS extol those who care for and adopt senior pets, but it’s important to remember that senior pets require special care that only gets specialer as they continue to age.

It’s also important to remember that when choosing a younger pet. Ideally, your younger pet will one day become a senior. As the villainous, manipulative Scar once said, be prepared!

Here’s a nice post about caring for senior cats.

The post Caring for an Older Cat appeared first on Katzenworld – Welcome to the world of cats!. Caring for an Older Cat As cats age they need a bit of extra care and attention to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Cats are considered elderly when they reach around eleven years old but many…

via Caring for an Older Cat — Katzenworld

The seed never sees the flower

image

We had some lousy (and unsurprising) news about the environmental impact we have had and are having this past month.

I wanted to briefly write about it because the news itself is scary, and frustrating, and after being scared and frustrated about it for a minute I, like many others, I think, just sort of… push it all aside, and try to pretend like everything is fine, because, what else can I do?

I also kept seeing one sentiment bounce around social media, directed at a tweet from CNN listing some things individual people can do to lessen their environmental impact. Anger about how most of the damage is done by a few corporations, and, underneath, sometimes, fear about wanting to take any personal responsibility.

That fear is understandable. The way our world is set up, even small lifestyle changes are difficult. You have to be committed. You have to have means, too, depending on which changes you’re making, and not everyone does, so, I get it. I also wholly agree that voting is the most important thing any of us ordinary people down here on the ground can do (hasn’t been working out for us so far, though).

But I’m always suspicious of anything that outright rejects the premise that individual choices matter. Of course they do. They might not be huge on their own, but they matter, and they add up. They have the potential to add up quite a lot, actually.

Whenever I hear specifics about the horrible state of the world, my salvation is always looking for something to do to help. Often there’s not a lot that can be done. The environment is a bit of a different story. There are so many choices we can all make in a day that are small, and that add up. I’m not going to say what they all are, because I think in this consumerist world, those small things are going to be different for everybody. I know which ones work for me, and which ones I feel safe aspiring to, and that can be enough for now.

Environmental catastrophe is such a demoralizing, disempowering, frightening topic. But as for pretending everything is fine, because, what else can I do? I’m done with that. Instead, I’m going to try to stop being afraid to think about it, try to stop thinking there’s nothing I can do, and try to start doing more.

And ALWAYS listen to this.

So You Found a Box of Haunted Kittens… What Next?

The image source is also a recap.

I can’t help it, I’m sorry.

Episode 2 of The Haunting of Hill House will be spoiled.


Episode 2 of The Haunting of Hill House features a box of kittens, and as far as animal-related horror moments go, it’s not actually that bad. You don’t have to know much about kittens to have an inkling early on that not all is right with this box o’ the kits, and when the horror starts happening with them, the images are brief. There’s no lingering on their suffering, and their deaths are used to examine how child-Shirley’s experiences with death shaped her as an adult. It’s narratively relevant, in other words, and that is usually not the case when the pet dies in a horror film.

But still, I’m a professional, and as much as I was happy to see that animal death wasn’t being used as cheap shocks by lazy writing and direction, I still was watching some people make bad and uninformed decisions regarding a box of kittens (which they later argued about in a refreshing little dialogue scene that also includes the bizarre implication that one of the kittens had to be… uh… shot). So I have some pointers for the next time anyone happens to find a box of kittens, because everything that could have gone wrong in this situation went wrong, and we can all stand to learn a new thing. Just in case.

Step One: Don’t Listen to Mr Dudley

No, you should not leave them there. But not because of the ghost dogs. If you’ve found some listless, thin kittens, they’re probably abandoned or orphaned. Take them. Set a trap in case mom comes back. (You’re going to want to check that trap at least daily while it’s set.)

Step Two: Make a Few Phone Calls

If the box o’ kittens are listless and thin, they need emergency veterinary treatment (which is probably going to be euthanasia, but hey, not always). Vet treatment is expensive, even euthanasia, so, if you’re not made of money, call your local animal shelter. If they don’t have space, call your local animal control. If you don’t have one of those, look. I don’t know. Don’t shoot them, though, unless you REALLY don’t have any other options.

Step Three: Don’t Feed them Cow’s Milk

So you’ve decided to let your child try to raise them. Congratulations. Head to the store for some Kitten Milk Replacement. If you can’t get KMR reliably, there are other, less convenient options.

Step Four: OK But You Have to Make them Pee First

Kittens are pretty helpless, moreso even than human babies. They can’t urinate or defecate on their own, so you have to stimulate their urogenital region to make them do it each time you feed them so they don’t die.

Step Five: OK So Now One’s Dead, Maybe It’s Time to Go to the Vet

There are hotels around, so surely there’s some sort of animal hospital nearby. They may have a serious viral disease or congenital problems. Go get some diagnostic work done (and probably some euthanasias).

Step Six: OK So Now Just One is Left Alive and It… Might Be… Demonic?

It’s probably not demonic; you just live in a haunted house full of black mold. But now you’re pretty sure they should have been euthanized, right? OK, good. Maybe consider other alternatives than walking into the woods and shooting the last one. It’s tiny. Come on. I suppose if there really aren’t any other options, you can technically euthanize a kitten by shooting it, but on a clear day with a perfectly good station wagon in the driveway, just… just take it to a vet.

Step Seven: Try not to be a stubborn pedant when you watch TV

I’m sorry, it’s just that this summer some guy came to the shelter I work at and dropped off two juvenile squirrels that were clearly most of the way through the process of starving to death. He’d been “feeding” them puppy milk replacer, which is actually the correct food, but whether he found them already half-starved or he was just kind of putting the powder in their general vicinity and hoping they would absorb it like some sort of weirdly powerful vacuum, it didn’t work, and I had to euthanize them. And if he’d brought them earlier they could probably have been saved. Also I didn’t shoot them because a) guns are stupid and I am not allowed to have one at work, and b) they’re too small for that.

I couldn’t suspend my disbelief throughout that subplot. All I could do was watch, hearing my Animal Shelter Professional Judgey McJudgerson voice echoing gravely in my brain: “Ooooh, that’s really irresponsible of them to let her do this,” and “Ooooh, she’s feeding them cow’s milk, and way too little of it,” and “Ooooh, she’s not emptying them first, that’s not good,” and “Well they’re either starving or they have FeLeuk, so, this isn’t going to end well,” and “Oh come on, that is an inappropriate method of euthanasia for anything smaller than a coyote.”

But, as I said before, this episode wraps up the doomed kitten subplot with Hugh and Liv having one of their few arguments, each disappointed in one another and themselves about how they (mis)managed Shirley’s naive expectations and her subsequent horror and grief. It’s still refreshing to see the doomed animal element of a horror have actual significance, and while this story certainly won’t teach anyone how to successfully raise orphaned kittens, it does offer a lesson about making mistakes and recognizing them as such.