Caroline Furlong considers the element of darkness

–in a very well put-together Substack column discussing The Shadow and The Dark Knight, their similarities, their literary and mythological underpinnings, and their (when you line them up and compare them, after all) quite evident differences. Of course, it’s never a matter of one being inferior to the other or one being superior.

Of course not….

via TheShadowcastKnows twitter (aka Raz0rfist)

PSA: Dresden Files Short Story out

heroic-hearts“Little Things” is Jim Butcher’s contribution to the Heroic Hearts anthology, released, uh, a couple days ago.

Protip: If you do not want to sign up for your free Audible download and/or fork over money for this, your free Overdrive library account has a “read an excerpt” option, which apparently includes the full length of the story.

It stars, as the cover denotes, Major General Toot-Toot Minimus and his not-girlfriend, Lacuna. Also appearing are the Za Lord, Dresden; his castellan, Sir William; the guardian spirit Bob, and the dread beast Mister of the fell paws and stubby tail.

The plot?

The conomee is bad. The Lord Dresden is in mourning. The troops are worried and restless. And there is a sudden, present threat to the pizza!

I have no further comments to add except that the Little Folk thinking that the tarp dropcloths all over the castle are tacky, poorly-made tapestries = magnifique.

what I did on my holidays

So the Gigantic Semi-Annual Booksale is on, and I had comp leave today (HR is apparently trying to decide whether or how much OT I get for last month’s patroling of the chicken-haunted wastelands.) God being merciful, I walked away with only ten dollars spent (the scifi/fantasy book section is downright skeletal these days.) But they were dollars well spent:

  • Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle & Tarzan & the Lost Empire – Edgar Rice Burroughs – I am slowly but surely compiling the Tarzan series in print.
  • First Aid for Horses – Eleanor Kellon, VMD (My childhood steed died of old age about two years ago, but….)
    • I almost got Marguerite Henry’s Stormy, Misty’s Foal for some of the schoolkids I know…but then decided that the brats wouldn’t appreciate it, anyhow.
  • A Stainless Steel Trio – Harry Harrison (A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, and The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues)
  • Son of the Black Sword – Larry Correia and yes, I do have it as an ebook; I just wanted a hardback copy. SotBS edged out Terry Pratchett’s Nation on account of costing a dollar less.

Down in the paperback section, I grabbed:

  • The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis
  • The Song of Roland – Translated by Robert Harrison and also with Guy Gavriel Kay’s name slapped on the cover for some reason.
  • Measure for Measure – Shakespeare
  • Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare, also.

Show me what you love

(Alucard is watching Adventure Time in his room)
(TV suddenly explodes as Luke enters.)

Alucard: That was a 70-inch… plasma screen TV. (smacks his lips and inhales deeply) So… how can I help you?
Luke: You must be the great Alucard…
Alucard: ‘Suup.
Luke: I’ve heard quite a lot about you.
Alucard: Oh, really?
Luke: The nightwalker…who glides through oceans of blood… beyond human, a monster whose power radiates with a darkness that casts a shadow on darkness itself—
Alucard: Oh, you dirty bitch! Work the shaft!
Luke: …Excuse you?
Alucard: Oh, I’m sorry, I like the dirty talk when someone’s sucking my dick.
Luke: Perhaps I should just skip to my point. My name is Luke Valentine.
Alucard: And I’m Carmen Sandiego. Guess where I am.
Luke: I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you here.
Alucard: Oh, so am I, and I’m failing, and I’m sorry for that. It’s just that I’m so agitated, because this blond little shit just strolled into my room, destroyed my 70-inch plasma TV, and is trying to impress me like I’m his alcoholic father.
(Both draw and point their guns at each other’s heads from point-blank range)
Alucard: Be a sport and grab Daddy another beer, would you?

I’m also highly partial to:
Alucard: Get that bitch a cannon! Bitches love cannons!
And,
Alucard: BITCH I EAT PEOPLE!
And, 
TV Announcer: The terrorist duo inside is comprised of a young British woman and some Ozzy Osbourne-looking motherfucker
seras_with_dead_bernadotteBut the thing that, at the end of the day, makes this show actually kind of worth it (I mean…arguably….) is the fact that, aside from being completely consistent with the characters’….somewhat exaggerated….personalities for shits and giggles throughout, it still knows when to sober up and take matters seriously. So when our big-tittied police girl has lost her arm, her eyes, her love interest, her duty post, and almost her sanity–not to mention that Nazi vampires have overrun London, and the Catholic Church, Mexican Inquisition, and the Salvation Army decided to “kill them all and let God sort them out”–we get a scene that is very genuine, emotional, and meaningful. 
Alucard: Listen to me, Draculina! You are so much stronger than you let yourself be!
Seras: (sobbing) ‘Ow do you know?!
Alucard: Because behind those eyes, I saw something I lost long ago: the will to live. Now, stop running from who you are. Confront it! Embrace it! And go for its fucking throat. Like a REAL FUCKING VAMPIRE!
Honestly, I hate secret government organizations that hunt supernatural threats, I hate vampires, and I hate sexy vampires….but thing is, so does everyone in this show, including the secret government organization and the sexy vampires. Put that together with oodles of stylized violence, fancy costumes, drama, melodrama, angst, blacked-out silhouettes with glowing/reflective eyes, guns, violence, more violence, no seriously the amount of anime gorn is what kept me from watching either the original or the abridged series for the longest time–you can’t get better than this. And I mean either the original, which plays things absolutely seriously, or…y’know, this version, which doesn’t.
 
Rated:
Anderson: Time the fuck out! If we’re doing this — and WE ARE DOING THIS — I’m not gonna come swinging at DRACULA! I’M KILLING ALUCARD!
Dracula: You do know that it’s just my name spelled–
alexander_anderson2c_monster_of_god

Small town libraries

Are pretty awesome, even if sometimes they operate by odd rules. Turns out, my library card for Town A Library is not accepted in Town B Library, twenty miles away in the same state and county. However, my card for County XZ library–one hundred and fifty miles distant as the car drives–is.

(“Skaith?”
“Yeah.”
“Riders?”
“Yeah.”
Of?”
“Yup.”
“Huh. There you are.”)

Or would be, if I’d gotten it renewed before, y’know, moving three hours away.

On the other hand, since I’ve just gotten my brand-new Kindle fired up and loaded, it’s probably for the best. Even though I’ve wanted to read Tarzan Alive since I was eleven years old.

On the gripping hand, paperbacks were 0.25$.

  • Son of the White Wolf – Robert E Howard
  • Solomon Kane: The Hills of the Dead
  • The Moon of Skulls

And, changing genres (to donate to a homeschool group I know of, which will probably thank me profusely and then ignore them because kids these days):

  • Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Anne of the Island
  • Anne of Avonlea (helpfully degunked by the nice lady. Well, 90% degunked)
  • Anne of Windy Poplars

Happy Things Go Boom day!

I’m out until Tuesday. In the meanwhile, please keep in mind:

– Keep long hair or dangling jewelry tied back or tucked away while lighting fireworks.
– Make sure to hold sparklers by the nonflammable end.
– Even if everybody else ran, don’t be the one to try and look cool by walking slowly away from lit fireworks, because having the casing fall on your head detracts from this image.
– Make sure all fireworks are secured to a firm, level, non-flammable base.
– Or at least are pointed up when you light them.

Twins of Evil (1971) – Hammer Horror review

s-l640a) Send help, I’m on a Hammer Horror trip. I’ve watched this, The Gorgon, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Hound of the Baskervilles in the last three days (sick leave time.)

b) This film isn’t meant to be a good film. It’s meant to be titillating trash. It’s not meant to have deeper thoughts or meaningful themes which are presented via the circumstances which the characters find themselves in and then examined by watching how the characters and situations deal with each other and change. It’s not really meant to have characters who have the deepest or most complex of motivations and character arcs, either: It’s mostly just titillating trash. But! And here’s what sets a good B-movie apart from mere titillating trash: it has just enough to make you look twice–and no more.

It has just enough enough structure to support its own weight (yes, there are the obvious questions such as, “A Puritan? In Germany? Making the sign of the cross?” and, “Which Emperor is this, exactly?” and, “Why doesn’t burning supposedly kill the vampires?” and, “So where did Mircalla go?”) and it has just enough characterization–and character development–to make it actually interesting, so that you watch to see what happens to these people or what they do next, rather than just marking off time until someone else’s top falls open or another rather suggestive biting session occurs. Or somebody burns a witch. Mind you, a solid 90% of this supposed character development is due purely to the fact that it’s happening to Peter Cushing and he was incapable of acting poorly AFAIK. Nevertheless. Even the Playboy bunny twins do their best. Being able to have actual twins probably helped this movie a lot, not only in the cinematography allowing them both to be on screen at once, but in not taxing the efforts of a single starlet cast for her looks rather than her acting abilities. There’s Good Twin Maria, who is quiet and demure; there is Evil Twin Frieda, who is defiant and reckless; and it’s not actually difficult to tell them apart.

twins-of-evil-d46ece71595443c8f8cf4a0aebf867b8

c) Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum is exponentially more funny after having watched a couple of Hammer Horror-type vampire movies.

Plot: The fanatical Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing, and it’s pronounced “Vile” because why waste time on these things?) and his sinister group “The Brotherhood” are hunting down and burning witches. Exactly how they determine these witches are in fact witches is unclear, because the opening of the movie shows them ignoring the fact that the victim is wearing a crucifix (but Maria proves her innocence by touching a cross at the end, so….); later, someone accuses them of simply targeting single, young, attractive women. As one would. Meanwhile, a genuine degenerate exists, considers himself immune to The Brotherhood’s rampaging, and regards them with complete contempt: Count Karnstein, who by virtue of his title and the friendship of the Emperor is free to seduce, ravish, and conduct Black Masses and/or orgies as the mood takes him. The mood has become less of late, because Count Karnstein is becoming, frankly, bored with a surfeit of Earthly pleasures. He’s more interested in unearthly pleasures now; and the only side that’s likely to satisfy him is the diabolical one.

At this point, Gustav’s recently-orphaned twin nieces arrive. One of them is quiet, well-behaved, and obedient: Maria. The other one is rebellious, headstrong, and horny: Frieda.

Long story short, Karnstein accidentally resurrects Countess Mircalla (AKA: Millarca, AKA Carmilla of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s novella of the same title), who turns him into a vampire, gives him a brief crash course in vampiry, and then vanishes from the movie. This is presumably so Karnstein can remain the main villain, and in turn, make Frieda into his sidechick. vlcsnap-2014-09-15-21h19m24s194Keeping another sexy vampire around might have been too distracting. 

Anyhow, with the mysterious deaths increasing, the witch-burning is intensifying, and, eventually, Frieda gets caught red-handed, red-fanged, and red-faced. Given that she’s Gustav’s niece, she does get the courtesy of a trial, and while she’s languishing in a cell, the Count decides to rescue her by replacing her with Maria.

Maria, possibly because she’s been hypnotized by the Count and possibly because she’s already been mistaken for Frieda before, or possibly because it’s pretty obviously useless to protest given the circumstances, isn’t able to or doesn’t bother to try to inform them of their mistake. However, the local schoolmaster does figure it out, rescues her from the stake in the nick of time, delivers a blistering rebuke to the Brotherhood (and some bonus exposition on what actually kills vampires, i.e., NOT FIRE), and leads them to Storm The Castle.

There, Gustav beheads Frieda, restoring her soul and innocence (and….it’s a moment that’s actually really scary.) Karnstein kills him (stagger, stagger, sign of the cross, collapse), and then, for reasons known only to classical movie vampires, instead of fleeing, stands there on the balcony menacing her, flashing his fangs, and taunting everyone until the schoolmaster manages to throw a spear through him. The end.

The bad stuff:

I mean, this movie wasn’t ever intended to be anything more than a cheap trashy watch with lesbian vampires. That being said, depending on your point of view, it might be a good or a bad thing to learn that there isn’t all that much lesbian vampire action in this movie, and none of it involves the twins. The closest we come to that is Frieda threatening Maria with unspecified consequences if she snitches to their aunt and uncle.

There is also the fact that after a certain point, everybody in and out of the movie just gives up and goes for it, consistency and intelligence be damned. Yes, this is normally a good thing–but it comes right after the point where, for instance, Gustav has just realized he may be doing the wrong thing, may have been in the service of evil all along. There’s an almost-good scene where his equally-fanatical sidekick offers to be the one to set (unbeknownst to them, Good Twin Maria) on fire; but he refuses and moves forward firmly himself. That’s good. But then we switch over to a moronic (I mean….it just falls so damn flat and that’s not what you want at the climax of the movie, right?) Storming The Castle sequence that, ugh it’s just so cheap! and it’s not even because I kept having Carpe Jugulum flashbacks! Yeah, yeah, yeah, most of the budget must have gone to the twins’ wardrobes, but still. Can’t you even make an axe-, spear-, and torch-wielding mob attacking the castle exciting?

The good stuff:

Peter Cushing, Peter Cushing, and not to mention, Peter Cushing. From his OTT-prayer whilst a fair maiden burns in the background introduction, to his moment of horrified realization that he’s on the wrong side, to his remorseful yet determined acceptance of Frieda’s death, Cushing dominates this movie. Perhaps informing his role (and definitely changing his look, as you can see above): this movie was filmed only months after the death of his wife of 28 years. The man looks gaunt and haggard, as he would for the rest of his career. Also a plus on the casting side is Damien Thomas as Count Karnstein. And, while his is a role that, y’know, does not call for subtlety, development, fine emotional shading, etc….you gotta admit Thomas never looks embarassed by what he’s doing. Silly, sometimes, but never embarassed. He commits to the bit and that’s great.

Silly, sometimes, but great.

Again, the Collinson twins do a fine but not particularly taxing job.

And, yeah. This movie isn’t great. It’s titillating trash and doesn’t really aspire to be anything more.

But it also doesn’t try to be less than thoroughly entertaining, and it succeeds.

Rated: it’s okay, I’m on medication now.

1-person, 4-cheese pizza

OK, so I am quite proud of how this one turned out, for once. Most of my pizza experiments have ended up just about edible, but nothing to write (or blog) home about.

So!

Preheat your oven. I had it at 350F and used a glass casserole dish, but an actual pizza pan and a higher temperature would work better. Grease it thoroughly (this step is IMPORTANT.)

– 50 g cottage cheese (technically, this is supposed to be Greek yogurt, but I didn’t have any. This worked fine, though, so I’m going to keep doing it. More cheese = more better pizza.)
– 10 g of whatever dried grated cheese substitute in a can you have on hand because it’s cheap (praise Aldi)
– 2 g (1/2 tsp) of baking powder
– 2 g (shakeshakeshakeshakwhoopsnahit’llbefine) of salt
– dash of Italian seasoning + garlic powder / onion powder if you feel like it
– 25 g flour

Mix, adding very small amounts of water as needed until the dough pulls together. It’s quite sticky.

– Add about ~10 g cornmeal to unsticky it.

En-dish it and bake for a while. Since you have gone to some trouble to grease your baking pan, don’t smush the dough directly into it. Smush it out flat on the counter first, then transfer to the pan. Once it looks like it’s mostly cooked through (~20 minutes?), remove, and add:

– 90 g or about four big spoons of pizza sauce of choice
– 25 g of one type of cheese (muenster from the discount grocery!)
– 25 g of another type of cheese (parmesan from the other discount grocery!)
– toppings of your choice (….I have long wondered whether asparagus would be good on pizza, but today is not the day I find out)

Frankly, the oven should be hotter than 350, because it took a while. Pull it out when it’s ready or you get tired of waiting.

It was just about the right thickness, nice and crispy on the bottom but not too much, fluffy in the middle, and very cheesy on top. Kindly pretend this post is illustrated with pinterest-style making of pics, because I’m not about that. 

Normal content programming will resume whenever I get the time to read an actual book.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (part 2) – just the good stuff

So…I’m not exactly sure where the switch flipped, but somewhere along the line, I stopped watching this movie to critique and review it and just started watching to enjoy it. Here’s my review: It’s…it’s quite good, actually.

Now, I don’t know how well it will hold up to repeat viewings. I agree that it has its flaws and excesses. It had moments that fell flat or didn’t really hold up.

But overall and I think the thing that redeems it, is that: Zack Snyder aimed for greatness with this movie. He wanted this to be an epic, yet meaningful story. He wanted this to be a story about larger-than-life heroes fighting a larger-than-life foe for the highest of stakes against a backdrop of the world in chaos. And if anyone had suggested 1,000 elephants to him, he’d have put them in, too.

The thing about aiming for greatness, is that sometimes you’ll hit it.

Plus, there are lots of little bitty moments that just work, like Diana shooting Barry Allen a tiny, reassuring smile (whilst obviously worried about the Bruce/Cyborg situation currently going down); or Cyborg’s mental image of the stock market manipulations being a bull and bear fighting. Or AquaMomoa angrily pointing at Flash after the latter has knocked them both to the ground. At super speed.

And, the fights in this one are a lot more epic. Like, a lot more. And it’s really awesome. Like, by the time all the heroes + Superman are done whaling on Spikywolf you feel kind of sorry for the guy. And something I never thought possible became possible: Soyboy Flash manages to have a scene where he is serious and commits to it, is heroic and goes beyond his limits–and it is touching and meaningful and it’s properly set up and builds on what came before and as the action climax of the movie, it’s marvelous.

Are the four epilogues completely unnecessary and even counterproductive? Yeah. Turn the movie off after Flash visits his dad in jail. Are there jarringly unnecessary and aggravating salutes to the holy flag of political correctness? Yes, but only a couple. You can hard-reset your brain back to enjoy mode by smacking it against a wall or something. I only needed to do that twice and I enjoyed the whole rest of the movie!

Or maybe I was watching the microwave. Anyhow.

Rated: I watched it. I quite liked it.