Last night after it rained, I heard some ladybugs arguing in the backyard. A piece of ladies' intimate apparel had fallen off the clothesline and a puddle of rainwater formed on top of it. The ladybugs were swimming and partying in the puddle, cranking up some 80s metal. I could barely hear the music, so it must have been hellishly loud by the standards of ladybugs.
"That's not how the song goes," one of the ladybugs said.
"You," the other ladybug exclaimed, "have no idea what you're talking about, and no appreciation for Judas Priest."
"I do like them, but it has nothing to do with what we're doing right now."
"Oh my god, it's like that song was written just for us, knowing what we'd be doing today."
"We're not breaking the law."
"Of course not. We're having a pool party. At the LAKE IN THE BRA, LAKE IN THE BRA!"
I like to occasionally blog about the creative projects I'm working on, and the ones I probably won't finish. Part of the purpose is to generate interest among both of my blog readers, so maybe they'll ask me about a project I'm working on, and that will spur me on to actually finish it. Part of the purpose is to record the ones I might forget about, so I can revisit them or just reminisce about them later. If/when I finish any of these projects, you'll see it mentioned here and everywhere else I can think of to promote it. Here's the current flurry of activity:
1. Horror dream. I woke up from a dream which looked like a teen horror flick. A guy caves in a girl's skull, then tries to explain to his friends why he was justified. Hijinks ensue. I started embellishing that dream scene and trying to just make a solid treatment, for now. I think I've got something fairly unique, although I'm really laboring to persuade that guy's friends (and the audience, and myself) why he might have been justified.
Prospects of actually finishing it: I've set one goal within reach, just a treatment for now. A friend of mine who has film skillz from actual film skool has been working on a plot and script for a horror movie. I told her we really have to finish her movie now so we can make mine next. Or at least so I can pitch this treatment to her or whatever.
2. Casino Royale/Climax Mystery Theater commentary. The guys from Overthinkingit created an audio commentary for Casino Royale (2006). I joked on their blog comments that they should make a commentary for the 1954 made-for-tv version of Casino Royale, starring Barry Nelson as the American agent "Card Sense" Jimmy Bond. The idea stewed for a few months until I decided that this is a gap someone must fill, and I shall be that person. So I read Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and dug out the handful of Bond movies I have on vhs and dvd, making notes along the way. Luckily the tv movie is less than an hour, but still a lot of time to fill.
Prospects of actually finishing it: I'm pretty serious about finishing this, but if I come up with only enough material to talk for 30 minutes, I'm not sure how I'll find or work up another 25 minutes of content worth recording.
3. Little Heist in the Big Woods. A short story I've been working on since July. I watched a few heist movies to research this, plus the first season of the tv show, the pilot episode, a later Christmas special, then read five of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, skimmed a few biographies, and read the full biography of the probable ghost writer of the books, Rose Wilder Lane. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane by William Holtz. Good stuff. Rose was a real globe-trotting journalist, but turned into a libertarian late in life, and lied all along about her mom's books being purely true stories, and her part in reshaping and fictionalizing many scenes. She was such a mirror image of Ayn Rand that they both repulsed each other when they met.
The story shows Pa's perspective on unseen events in the first book of the series. Remember the sugar snow, and how they went to Grandpa's to help collect maple syrup, and they had a big square dance at Grandpa's that night? Perfect distraction for Pa and his crew to dig up and carry away Grandpa's gold.
Prospects of actually finishing it: solid. Just a matter of time.
4. Brazen Hearts, Fresh, On Sticks, Season Two. Got lots of notes on this. a sketchy short story about the beef between Aunt Sadie and her rival sorceress. Stakes get raised hugely. Twists and turns. I've even taken all my notes with me on some of my longer vacations over the years, but it's still been on hiatus since 2008. The plan is to write and record six more chapters for the podcast, then revise all 18 chapters into a novel.
Prospects of actually finishing it: disheartening to have a gap of this many years, but I think it's good stuff and would like to wrap it all up in a bloody bow some day.
5. Collections. The Little Heist and Lord Jimi stories seem to fit together nicely. I thought they could lead off a fiction collection called "Little Heist in the Big Woods and Other Revisionist Atrocities." Might fit well with some past non-fiction writings about movies or comics or fiction. Or I might try to bundle some of my non-fiction and blog posts into a separate ebook.
Prospects of actually finishing: far on the backburner.
When Mothra attacks Inglewood, Marsellus Wallace orders his
two best guns to eliminate the pest. Vincent and Jules find their pistols are
ineffective, so they escalate to tanks and finally fighter jets. They steal Ultraman’s
beta capsule so they can both become giant sized and wrestle Mothra. Vincent
remembers something about Mothra becoming docile when someone sings to it, so
he suggests they tell it a bedtime story and sing a lullaby. He rips the roof
off a textile warehouse and insists that Jules should cover the beast with a
giant sheet, to tuck in the beast. It won't work without this step.
The plan fails miserably, but they manage to finish Mothra
by luring it into a giant tank full of pesticide. For years afterward, Jules
teases Vincent over the silly plan to lull the creature to sleep. Vincent
insists it would have worked if Jules had done his job right.
One day the two hit men are caught in the robbery of a
diner. When they inevitably find themselves in a Mexican stand-off, Jules
negotiates a truce. They can all leave safely and end the stand-off as long as
Jules gets his wallet back. But the robbers have collected a bag full of
valuables and wallets. Which one is it?
Jules sighs and says, “It’s the one that says BAD MOTHRA TUCKER on
The Dark Knight Patronizes: Democracy vs. the Prime Directive
I woke up this morning to the happy surprise of seeing my guest post on Overthinkingit.com: The Dark Knight Patronizes: Democracy vs. the Prime Directive. Yay! It compares the lies and lack of transparency from Batman, Starfleet, the Watchmen, MIB and other people you love. Walter Lippman does not think you can handle this truth.
Once you understand how to make a few simple shapes, you can improvise a crocheted rectangular or cylindrical case for any kind of small thing you want encased: an mp3 player, phone, cigarette pack, whatever. It's not exactly improvised, but like crocheted jazz, riffing on motifs that you're familiar with. After following these steps a few times, you should be able to make one without looking at any pattern and without reading these instructions again.
To make a case for a friend's iPod, I measured the dimensions, about 4.5" x 2.5" x .5", then made a cardboard crochet test dummy of it. I cut out several rectangles of cardboard 4.5" x 2.5", stacked them up until they were .5" high, then taped them together. That way I can hold my project up to the dummy and see if it's the right size.
The size of yarn and hook you choose will affect how big or small the stitches look, but won't affect whether the case is the right size overall, because you're checking it against the dummy as you go. I use single crochet stitches through the whole thing. You could experiment with double crochet or other stitches. The basic idea remains the same.
The easiest way to start would be with a rectangular base. If I wanted a very square-looking case for this example, I'd make a chain about 2.5" long, then turn and repeat a few rows of the same length until they were .5" high. That would form the bottom or base of the case.
I usually make a slightly trickier bottom that forms a sort of oval, the shape you might have seen in old rag rugs. Make a chain almost as long as the base of your dummy (2.5"), then turn back and begin to make circles around that chain. It's important to fit a few extra stitches or "increases" at both ends of the chain, so that it gently circles around. For example, if your chain was 11 stitches long, then your first row around should have 11 stitches exactly aligned in each stitch of the chain, then 3 or 4 extra stitches in the first stitch of the chain to make it round, then 11 stitches up the other side of the chain, then another 3 or 4 extra stitches in the 11th stitch of the chain.
When it matches the approximate size of the base of the dummy, you can begin doing even rows with no extra stitches at the ends. This will make a sort of cylinder extending upward from whatever shape you've made the base. No need to keep track of where the rows start and end after that, or to place a stitch marker. In this section, you can just keep crocheting around mindlessly for dozens or hundreds of stitches until you've made the case as tall as you want. Slip the dummy inside the case to make sure it fits, preferably after you've just barely established the base and made the sides one or two inches high. If it's too tight or too loose on the dummy, just unravel it back to the base and make the base a little larger or smaller. I try to make the whole case a little bit tight on the dummy, so you almost have trouble fitting it in the case. That way if all the stitches loosen a little over time, it will eventually fit just right.
When you've made the sides high enough for the dummy to fit inside, stop at what you imagine to be the back corner of the case. Hard to describe which corner I mean. When you lay it flat in front of you with the open end away from you and base of the case near you, the last stitch should be on the right side touching the table. Now you'll begin shaping a flap to go over the top. The easiest way would be a square or rectangle. Just turn and start another row along the back of the case. (From our example, it should be 2.5" long.) Continue adding rows and turning until you have a flap as long as you want. You'll want something big enough to cover the open top of the case, plus a little more to overlap down the front.
To make a rounded or pointed flap, start turning your rows one or two stitches early, before you reach the end of the row. This will look a little jagged (or you can think of it as digitized or pixilated), but you can even it out later by adding a row of trim. With the finished flap open, make one last row all around the open top and the edges of the flap. You might try doing this row in a different complementary color, or use slip stitch all the way around instead of single crochet stitch.
I use a button to close these, but there are certainly other ways you could experiment with, like velcro dots or little hooks. I haven't tried those, so good luck. When my final row of trim reaches the rounded or bottom tip of the flap, I stop and make a few chain stitches. Two or three chains will get your buttonhole away from the flap, then make another 3 or 4 or 5 chains. Make a slip stitch in the second and first stitches of the chain. This will leave a loop for your button to fit through. Don't proceed until you've got the button that you want to use in your hand. You don't want to try to pick out a button later and find out the hard way that the loop is too small for the button, or the button is too small to hold the loop and flap shut.
Check if the button fits through your loop. If it doesn't fit, or if it fits through the loop too easily, undo your last slip stitches and add more or less chains as necessary until you get the right size for your button.
Continue the row of trim around until you hit the starting point again. Slip stitch to your first stitch of the trim and finish off.
Lastly you'll need to sew the button onto the front of the case so it lines up with the dangling chain loop you made. The flap will hang a little differently if the case is empty, so fit the dummy into the case when you're deciding where to place the button. I'd suggest making it so you'll have to stretch the flap and loop just a little bit to reach the button, on the assumption that everything will relax and stretch over time anyway. If it feels too loose or too tight after some time, you can always remove the button and reposition it without much trouble.
That is all! If you see any dangling ends, weave them in, or do it the lazy way and just pull them inside the case.
Most of the cases I've made with this method have been for iPods and cell phones, but I used the same steps to make a large, envelope-shaped case for a netbook, about 5" x 8" x .75". I even made a tiny version with no top flap for my iPod Shuffle, 1" x 1" x .25", just as a joke. It turned out to be more useful than I thought. I slide the Shuffle into its tiny sleeping bag and then put it in a pirate band-aid tin, so it won't get scratched if it rattles around.
If you'd prefer to have a straightforward pattern, here it is below.
iPod case with button closure
4.5" x 2.5" x .5"
Crochet hook size G/4.25 mm. Worsted weight yarn.
I still recommend making a cardboard crochet test dummy to make sure it fits and adjusting as necessary. Abbreviations. Ch = chain stitch. SC = Single crochet stitch. st = stitch. Total number of stitches for the row are sometimes shown in parentheses at end of row.
Base and sides
Row 1. Ch 12.
Row 2. SC in 11th chain, continue sc in each stitch until the end. 3 more SC in first chain. Coming back up the opposite side of the chain, SC in next 10 chains. Place stitch marker. (24 st)
Row 3. SC 26 around in back loops only.
Row 4. SC 26 in both loops.
Repeat row 4 until you reach desired height (4.5"). Stop at back corner. When you lay it flat in front of you with the open end up and base of the case down, the last stitch should be on the right side touching the table, as if you're just about to go around the side of the case.
Row 1. Ch 1. Turn. SC in each stitch to end of row.
Repeat row 1 until the flap covers the open end of the case, plus one or two rows past.
Start another row, but stop in the second to last stitch of the row. Ch 1. Turn.
SC across, stop one stitch short. Ch 1. Turn.
Continue reducing until you like the shape of the flap.
Make one row of SC around the edges of the flap and around the open end of the case. At the middle of the top row of the flap, chain 6 or 7, then SL ST back to the chain leaving big enough hole for a button. Continue SL ST back up the chain. Finish the row of trim around, if necessary. Finish off. Weave in ends.
U love remix culture. Y U no respect remakes and sequels?
If you like remix culture, you gotta check yourself before you wreck your shelf. Bad sequels, bad remakes and bad fanfic are an aspect of Sturgeon's Law. Ninety percent of everything is crap, so don't let critics tell you sci-fi or some other genre is horrible just because 90% of it is crap. By extension, 90% of sequels and remakes and fanfic are going to be crap, but this doesn't mean all sequels or remakes or fanfic should get thrown out just because of that. (Unauthorized sequels would be a hybrid between the categories of sequel and fanfic. Or would all fanfic count as sequels?)
If we were going to categorically dismiss all unauthorized sequels, we would arguably throw out great stuff like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Paradise Lost (an unauthorized sequel to the Bible, more or less). Last Temptation of Christ. Here are a few dozen examples of high class fanfics/sequels plus some lowbrow ones: http://bookshop.livejournal.com/1044495.html
Not that I expect much from this Christmas Story 2. I'm just saying if we throw out things like that, we might be throwing out some good stuff. (Or we might be forgetting examples that made people grumble this same way when they first came out, before they became classics.) Also if we throw this on the bonfire and then turn back to another window in which we're writing fanfic or listening to a remix or watching mashups, we're being inconsistent.
[I've made this argument repeatedly. Thought I would dump it here so I can just point people to this post next time instead of repeating it from memory.]
... It occurs to me that this problem also relates to our relatively recent access to massive floods of info, trying to figure out how to filter it, and our previous reliance on gatekeepers to tell us what was good and bad. Part of the reason people are saying, "The sky is falling, someone made A Christmas Story 2 direct to dvd!" is because they're thinking, "Our gatekeepers are failing us! We can no longer count on the studios to feed us good stuff! How will we know what's good now?"
Some gatekeepers have been unreliable or inconsistent for a long time though. Publishers, editors, studios, deejays or record labels. Some of the great stuff you've come across in recent decades has probably been independent music that was turned down by major studios, independent movies that weren't created or distributed by major studios, books that were rejected by dozens of major publishers.
The good thing about the web is that it democratized some arts. Any idiot can make his novel or poem or photo or film or song available for the whole world. Any idiot can get stuff seen widely without going through the stale, old, traditional gatekeepers. Yay! But how do you get it seen by anyone? How do you make it viral? Gatekeepers won't necessarily pass your stuff along, so you have to figure that out for yourself.
As readers or listeners or consumers of democratized art, how do we know which things to try without the traditional gatekeepers? You have to become your own gatekeeper. Instead of waiting for a magazine editor to read through the slush pile and find a good story to publish, you have to read through a pile of slush and occasionally find something you like. This is good for you. Having access to the web and all this democratized art and information gives you great power. Have you read enough comics or watched a certain rapidly accelerating rebooted superhero franchise to know what comes with great power? What would your Uncle Ben tell you comes with great power? Not the rice dude.
You have the responsibility to wade through some crap now. You can't trust studios or other gatekeepers to reliably feed you Official Sequels that are anywhere near as good as the original, or to point out anything that is actually good. Stop whining and do some of your own gatekeeping, or at least find new gatekeepers who reliably point you in the right direction.
Safety Not Guaranteed: "Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel."
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: "As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan."
I guess there's no classified ad in the Steve Carrell one, but the title is phrased like the start of an ad.
I dreamed I was visiting at somebody's house, acting as a middle-man between them and a friend of mine who was looking to buy a house. Maybe this house was supposed to be near mine, so it was easier for me to contact them? I wondered for a moment why my friend wasn't doing this for herself. My dream-logic probably forgot about the existence of phones.
The house was on a lake, back yard looking out on the lake. A low A-frame design. After I had knocked on the front door and they let me in, I realized that there was no front wall on the house, just a sheet draped over it. I figured my friend wouldn't want to buy a house this small or add a front wall and front door to it. There were two small rooms, hardwood floor, maybe a basement. A man and woman, two small boys. The man was tall and thin (eventually revealed to be about 8 feet tall when he stood, but seemed normal while sitting for the first part of the dream). Brown hair a few inches long, mustache. The wife looked a little like Lili Taylor, but a little thinner in the face.
I sat with them in the back room for a moment. Tables and desk were crowded with knicknacks and papers, not as cluttered as my house in real life, but cluttered to the point that most average people would be embarassed. They offered me something to try. A big transparent tupperware container with a smaller jar inside. I opened the smaller jar thinking it was something to eat or maybe flavored toothpicks, but a label said it contained pieces of the True Cross. Strips of metal with different colored alloys. The True Cross was metal? I hesitated. Would they really give away sample pieces of the True Cross to visitors? Is it supposed to be something else in here? Some of them looked like matchsticks with tiny ceramic resistors on top. The man said something like, "They don't agree with everybody. You don't have to try one if you don't want," which still seemed like it was a kind of food.
They offered something else, or maybe the original tupperware and jar just transformed in the way that things do in dreams. This time it was a bunch of crickets or insects on sticks. One of them was a frog, which I picked. I'm pretty sure they were supposed to be food samples this time, but also they could tell my future, or the kind of thing I picked out would reveal something about me. I didn't eat it.
I mentioned that a friend of mine wanted to set up a time when she could check out their house. Asked what time they're available. Can't remember their response. They seemed to be friendly and hospitable throughout, but I was aware that they were politically conservative and we wouldn't get along if I started explaining the unfairness of capitalism and the benefits of worker-run cooperatives. Some of the cheesy tchotchkes had slogans written on them. In the bottom track of the doorwall looking out on the back yard and lake were a stack of little plastic signs, red letters on white background like humorous warnings, "Beware of Owner". They were stacked together so I could only see the first one, but I assumed/knew the rest were vehemently pro-gun slogans.
At some point I dropped or lost the frog, which was escaping into the back yard, and one of the boys had to go after it. The wife offered me a cookie from a cookie jar (which should have seemed weird after those first two offers, but at least she specified this time it was a cookie jar). I walked into a small kitchen off the side of the front room. Couldn't tell which of the many cheesy ceramic tchotchkes was supposed to be a cookie jar. She came in and helped me find it. Normal chocolate chip cookies this time. Can't remember if I took one.
As I had walked past her, she said, "I noticed this thing you do and I want to talk about it. As you walk past, you pull away from me like you're afraid to touch. It looks kind of girly."
I don't remember doing that in the dream, but I'm conscious of doing this sometimes in real life. I said some people think you're being aggressive or clumsy if you bump into them, so I try to avoid it. Seemed reasonable to me.
This is where the guy stood up and entered the kitchen (maybe to get a cookie for himself). I realized the woman was my height or a little taller, and the man towered over us. Like I couldn't even see his face, just looked at his shoulders up above our heads.
I recently watched Repo Men (2010) (my review: meh), a story in which the main character starts out as an enforcer for some bad powerful men, later becomes a target of his fellow enforcers, has a change of heart and begins defending other rebels and dissidents. Seems like one of those fairly archetypal plots, so I tried to think of an appropriate label and began to obsessively catalog how many others could fit this category. (Some of them have a change of heart first that turns them into a dissident, others are more or less unfairly targeted and only have a change of heart because it's happening to them for a change.) Here's what I came up with so far:
Robocop starts off fighting bad guys, but turns against OCP when he discovers they've gone bad. He's not as much of a jerk at the beginning as the Firemen or Sandmen or Repo Men. He doesn't have a change of heart and doesn't join or start defending street thugs.
The Bourne franchise doesn't fit the usual picture of a dystopia, but that's just because we don't recognize how much of a dystopia we currently live in. Political assassinations and functioning democracy don't mix, yo.
THX 1138 - Not an enforcer Dances with Wolves - Gone native, but neither dystopian nor an enforcer Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now - Past Enforcers Gone Native
Any others you can think of?
Dune (not dystopian?)
Universal Soldier Fantastic Four #48-50 (1966): the Silver Surfer betrays Galactus and sides with Earth.
Leave Them All Dirty: Just-in-time logistics applied to washing dishes
The advantage of "Just-in-time" inventory and logistics, I gather from zero research, is that you don't have to keep a bunch of product sitting in a warehouse. You can reduce or eliminate the costs of building, maintaining and staffing warehouses. Some goods have a limited shelf life, so the less time they spend in storage or in transit, the better.
If you wash dishes as soon as possible after dirtying them, they sit in the cupboard waiting to be used again, like products waiting in a warehouse. Washing them takes time, energy and money. There's no way to eliminate washing entirely, except for using paper plates. However you can reduce it slightly.
Someday, you will die. The last time you washed dishes before dying will be a waste, because you'll never reap the benefit of using them again. Maybe your dishes or silverware are fancy enough (or your heirs desperate enough) that someone will inherit and continue to use your dishes after you die. Or while still alive, you may buy new dishes and donate the old ones, or give them away or sell them at a garage sale. Either way, the new owner will probably wash them before eating off them*. Your final washing will be wasted.
Here's another scenario. Let's say you quit drinking coffee because it gave you heartburn or migraines or kidney stones or higher blood pressure or because your doctor recommended it. The only one who still uses your French press is your daughter. She gets hit by a bus. No one in your house will ever use that French press again. No one in your house will benefit from the final time it was washed. Another wasted wash.
One way to prevent wasting your time is to wash dishes and pots and pans and silverware right before you use them. Leave all of it dirty all of the time until the moment you need it. Then if you die, or for some reason decide never to use those dishes again, you haven't wasted a final washing.
Now that you're convinced, you'll need to make a few changes in the way you prepare food and organize your kitchen. For one thing, you'll need to add the time for washing cookware, dishes and silverware into your food prep time. It doesn't take more time -- you're just scheduling it before the meal instead of after.
Second, this strategy doesn't mean you can drop all dishes and cookware where they lay as soon as you're done cooking or eating. There's still some minimal clean-up needed so vermin won't be attracted. Also some level of mold accumulation could be hazardous to your lungs, even if you always wash them before cooking or eating off them. If you're not saving leftovers, throw them out along with cooking by-products, like bones or used cooking oil. (Or compost them or recycle as appropriate.) That might seem like an aspect of "pre-cleaning" that could be a potential waste of time, but the thing that will make it worth while is not having rats.
Lastly, you will still need to store dirty dishes somewhere, if you have more than enough to fill your sink. They should all fit in your cupboards, the same as they did when you followed the old-fashioned washing strategy. You might consider caulking or sealing the cupboards to make it less likely that vermin will be attracted or able to reach them. And you'll definitely want to warn any of your wasteful-washing visitors about your switch to the improved strategy, to prevent confusion and revulsion and botulism when they take a dirty mug out of the cupboard and pour themselves a glass of sickness.
Go, my children. Spread the word. Enjoy your extra moments of leisure, and the knowledge that you're saving money and resources and making the world more efficient.
* Advice to anyone buying or inheriting dishes or pots or flatware, whether they're new or used: wash it before using. You don't know where it's been. The person who owned those dishes might have read this and taken it seriously.
Hitler finds out about remix culture during his lifetime
In 1941 or '42 depending who you believe, the British Ministry of Information edited clips of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will to show Nazis marching in step to a popular song of the time, "The Lambeth Walk". They passed this short propaganda remix film to newsreel companies. It's possible that Hitler viewed it or heard about it, although he probably didn't yell at his generals as we'd like to imagine.
In the 1981 version of The Thing, MacReady and company see proof that there's a shape-shifting beast among them when they see the sled dog trying to change or absorb other sled dogs in a cage. They have a scientist (Wilford Brimley!) speculating about how it works or what it does. Suspending disbelief becomes difficult after we see some computer modelling that looks like a game of asteroids labelled as dog cells and alien cells.Other than helping viewers visualize what's happening, why would he spend hours programming it to show this? It's not like he stuck a computer sensor into the alien and it displayed what it saw to help him. It gets worse when the computer shows an estimate of how many hours it could take for this critter to take over the world. There would be way too many variables to get a solid estimate, or to bother attempting an estimate. And he's supposed to have programmed the alien-cell asteroids and a text simulation model overnight?
It's the same kind of mistake they make in Star Wars, Star Trek and a million other sci-fi shows, when Spock or an android says, "Our plan of action only has a 2.33276 percent chance of success, Captain." Malarkey.
Worse, the characters assume that after transforming into a human (or infecting a human), that person will be able to speak English. Sorry, but cells can't tell which language you speak. Or to put it another way, if you were genetically engineering a creature to somehow mimic another creature perfectly, it would be one step to get the appearance of the host creature, but much harder to make it absorb the mind or memories or knowledge of the host. Maybe it would access memories and knowledge if it infected a fully living human, but to change the victim's attitude would still require a pretty complex parasite.
If you rely on decades of watching or reading sci-fi stories about shape-shifting alien doppelgangers, the coolest kind are the ones who get into your memories and talk. But other than following sci-fi tropes, there's no good reason to assume that an organism would be able to do that.
... I realize that we see characters who are later revealed as converted alien or infected human, so we eventually know that they can speak English. The question is: on what basis do all the characters jump to this conclusion before they have evidence of it?
I noticed an error in last night's episode of The Herring, I mean The Killing. (S2 E11). Stop reading if you don't want it spoiled.
Linden and Holder seem to have made a bad assumption, which means the writers made a bad assumption. They find a magnetic key card with blood on it (Rosie's?) after tearing up the floor of the room in the casino where Linden saw it. I assume it's not a badge or ID card exactly, because they never clearly showed if there was someone's photo or name printed on it. They take the key card to Seattle city hall and try it at various doors. The latest clues seemed to point to the Mayor organizing a conspiracy, but the key card won't open the door to the Mayor's office. The card does open the door to Richmond's campaign office. We then cut to Jamie and Gwen, Richmond's two highest campaign advisers, watching their boss at a rally. If they reveal the killer in the final episode, I assume it won't be either of them, because they could hardly have made this red herring trail more clear if they had neon arrows pointing at them.
And if you didn't expect a lot of red herrings in this show, then you weren't paying attention. In the first five minutes of the first episode of this show, we see two red herrings, not even police-clue red herrings, but tactics to mislead viewers. We see a woman with red hair jogging through the woods. Then we hit pause on Silence of the Lambs and switch over the to channel where the first episode of The Killing is starting, a woman with red hair jogging through the woods. Intercut with her scenes are shots of Rosie running away from someone in the dark, presumably the night before. The jogging protagonist stops and sees something by the shore. Was it just my dying tv going dark, or did she see some kind of dead animal on the beach? Or was I just thinking she'd find Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic? To me, they built it up for her to discover the corpse, and then they faked out. She gets a call to come to a crime scene.
She gets to the crime scene and talks with cops who make the usual crime-scene chitchat we're used to from endless police procedurals. Then she gets into the building and in place of a corpse, they have a sex doll. Surprise, happy retirement party for Linden. They lead you down a path, then fake you out. After seeing that, why would you think the show is going to have straightforward resolutions to any of the mysteries?
The problem in this latest episode is that ID badges or key cards are not permanently set. If you get fired, they can reprogram the sensors in the building so your ID key card doesn't work anymore on any of the doors in the building. All they proved with their test is that at the time our heroes checked it, the card is set to open Richmond's office and not the Mayor's. They haven't proved that it always worked on Richmond's door or never worked on the Mayor's door. It's hard to judge how much time passed between the casino chief finding out they had the card, and the time that Linden and Holder test the doors with the key card. But the scenes go from daylight to dark, and it shows several scenes of different characters in different places. It comes after we see the casino chief calls to warn someone (which appears to be the Mayor), after the Mayor has time to summon the shady police Lt, who orders the arrest of Linden & Holder. Plenty of time for the Mayor or somebody to reprogram it so the key won't work, or to make it suddenly work on the wrong office doors.
Also note that this is 24 days after Rosie's murder, according to the title card that shows near the start of the episode. Even if the owner of the ID key card didn't know they lost it at the casino or that it was incriminating, even if they think they lost it at the mall, it's standard operating procedure to report a key card lost. At that point, security will reprogram the locks so that the lost card will not open any doors, and they'll issue a new key card to the person. That would happen passively, any time a person reports a lost key card.
I think this is a mistake, not a conscious decision by the writers. But the show is so full of red herrings and steering away from suspects that have been built up, I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to switch back somehow and explain that the key card system was reprogrammed. Whoever seems least likely to have committed the murder, but who has had a reasonable amount of screen time, is whodunnit. Maybe Jamie or Gwen. I would almost guess Richmond, following the Law & Order Biggest Guest Star rule. Any time a really big movie star guests on Law & Order, they aren't doing it to play a really juicy role as witness or murder victim or minor character. Almost without fail, the biggest guest star turns out to be the villain, the focus of the episode, the second most screen time next to the regular cast, a role that lets them chew the scenery.
In The Killing, the biggest guest star is The Rocketeer, Billy Campbell. They've steered us away from Richmond, given him a decent alibi, and made him a more or less sympathetic character. Maybe he managed to jump off a bridge in one town, get pulled out of the water and drive back in time to murder the girl? Maybe he paid that fisherman to claim he jumped off the bridge. It could be even more satisfying because after you get over your surprise that he did it, you'll remember all those hints they dropped in the first season, and you'll say, "I knew he was shady all along!"
In space, no one can hear you fail the Bechdel Test
I watched Outland yesterday, which was good in some ways, weak in others. I had watched Alien just a week or two ago, and the visuals and tone are very similar. Blade Runner seems visually similar to the other two (well, duh, directed by the same guy who did Alien). Lots of shadows and smoke, and lots of fluorescent lights.
It occurred to me that all three of these have something else in common: mining planets or asteroids. The Alien crew is towing a cargo of ore back to Earth, Outland is set in a mining outpost on one of the moons of Jupiter. Blade Runner deals with the post-traumatic stress of miners who can't integrate into Earth society when they come back. Or robots or whatever, close enough.
Another thing no one can do in space is stop prostitution, apparently. Alien has a little bit of what we'd call sexual harassment between crew members. Outland and Blade Runner explicitly talk about prostitutes and "basic pleasure model" skin jobs for the miners.
I'm poking around Amazon to find similar movies from this era, "Customers Who Viewed This Also Viewed..." Does The Thing (1982) fit with these other fluorescent noir films? It's not as moody as something by Ridley Scott, but you have shots of a camera moving down empty hallways in The Thing, similar to the opening shots of Alien. None of them have conventionally happy endings. Outland shows the hero solve some lower-level crimes, but doesn't address whether he stops the systematic corporate corruption.
The Thing doesn't have horny miners in space, but they're far away from home in a hostile environment. And the cast is all male. They might all fail the Bechdel Test. If Alien passes the Bechedel Test, it's probably a scene where Ripley and Lambert discuss the alien threat (or I might be thinking of a deleted scene).
Other possible candidates for Fluorescent Noir:
Silent Running (1972)
THX 1138 (1971)
Start with one Reese's Mini Peanut Butter cup. Unwrap it. Turn it upside down, with the narrow end of the cylinder up.
Take one Rolo unit from a bag or roll of them. The wide end of this cylinder matches up almost perfectly with the narrow end of the Reese's, making a tall ziggurat of chocolate, peanut butter and caramel.
The last item requires precise timing. If you're not careful, you might begin to eat it too soon, or gnaw off your fingertips before the delight is activated. Take one Hershey's kiss. I use chocolate, but whatever kind you prefer will work.
Turn the point of the kiss down into the top of the Rolo. Push down. At this point, it doesn't matter if you arm only the Rolo, or send it down all the way to pierce the pocket of peanut butter at the bottom. Just get it in your belly, by way of your mouth.
As Shore Leave / Holy Diver from Venture Brothers is wont to say: "Boom! Yummy."
I picked up a vhs copy of the pilot "premiere movie" of Little House on the Prairie, which for some reason is not included in the Season One dvd set. The irony is that they cover and exhaust the events of that book in the pilot movie. The tv episodes that most people are familiar with from years of reruns in syndication are set in the later book On the Banks of Plum Creek and a few other books. Out of ten years of the tv show, only 96 minutes of it are based on Little House on the Prairie. Most of it is based on the later books. It's like if the whole series Star Trek: The Next Generation had been named "Encounter at Farpoint".
There were a few details left out, a few details changed, but it was surprisingly true to the source material. They don't hold back Ma's fear or hatred of Indians. Ma seems strict and snobbish in the movie, and both parents tend to snap at the children more due to their stress. The books talk a lot about church, but the tv version has more thanking the Lord for surviving the latest calamity. The tv version inserted a miracle that was totally unnecessary: in the book, Charles and Caroline take actions that prevent a prairie fire from destroying their house. In the tv show, a sudden rainstorm puts out the fire that they seem unable to control. If you want to convince people that God is great, your stories shouldn't have such obvious Deus Ex Machina. Especially when you're contradicting the source material.
"Before him, the black storm climbed rapidly up the sky and in silence destroyed the stars."
Other than a few choice bits like that, the descriptions of weather and daily activity get tedious in The Long Winter. Whether Wilder intended them to or not, the repetition also conveys the tedium of being stuck in a small house most of the winter during blizzards, gradually running out of supplies and food until they're eating the same thing day after day for every meal:
In the morning Laura got out of bed into the cold. She dressed downstairs by the fire that Pa had kindled before he went to the stable. They ate their coarse brown bread. Then all day long she and Ma and Mary ground wheat and twisted hay as fast as they could. The fire must not go out; it was very cold. They ate some coarse brown bread. Then Laura crawled into the cold bed and shivered until she grew warm enough to sleep.
A blizzard rages against the walls of their house on one of those tedious nights, a loud white noise that tortures them week after week.
So after supper Pa called for his fiddle and Laura brought it to him. But when he had tuned the strings and rosined the bow he played a strange melody. The fiddle moaned a deep, rushing undertone and wild notes flickered high above it, rising until they thinned away in nothingness, only to come wailing back, the same notes but not quite the same, as if they had been changed while out of hearing.
Queer shivers tingled up Laura's backbone and prickled over her scalp, and still the wild, changing melody came from the fiddle till she couldn't bear it and cried, "What is it, Pa? Oh, what is that tune?"
"Listen." Pa stopped playing and held his bow still, above the strings. "The tune is outdoors. I was only following it."
. . .
Laura lay in bed and listened to the winds blowing louder and louder. They sounded like the pack of wolves howling around the little house on the prairie long ago, when she was small and Pa had carried her in his arms. And there was the deeper howl of the great buffalo wolf that she and Carrie had met on the bank of Silver Lake.
She started trembling, when she heard the scream of the panther in the creek bed, in Indian territory. But she knew it was only the wind. Now she heard the Indian war whoops when the Indians were dancing their war dances all through the horrible nights by the Verdigris River.
The war whoops died away and she heard crowds of people muttering, then shrieking and fleeing screaming away from fierce yells chasing them. But she knew she heard only the voices of the blizzard winds. She pulled the bedcovers over her head and covered her ears tightly to shut out the sounds, but still she heard them.
Finally, there's an interesting scene that seems to indicate Charles Ingalls (or the version of him created and written by Laura) would have disagreed with the Laissez-faire libertarian politics of his grand-daughter Rose Wilder Lane, the kind of person who wrote a positive review of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Pa threatens a consumer boycott against a greedy capitalist!
During a heavy blizzard, most of the residents of De Smet, MN SD are starving or close to running out of food. Stores are empty and trains won't get through until Spring. Risking their lives to help save the townspeople, two young men set out on a clear day towards a farm rumored to have plenty of extra wheat stored away, somewhere 20 miles south. If they can't find the place and get back before another blizzard comes through, they could freeze to death in the middle of the prairie.
A storekeeper gives them money to buy as much wheat as they can. After a few harrowing chapters [*SPOILER ALERT*], they make it back to town with sixty bushels of wheat, purchased at the steep price of $1.25 per bushel.
Mr. Loftus the storekeeper asks how much they want for their labor in hauling the wheat, and both refuse payment.
When starving townsfolk show up to buy the wheat, Loftus sets the price at three dollars per bushel. Pa Ingalls says he's charging too much.
"That's my business," said Loftus. . . . He banged his fist on the counter and told them, "That wheat's mine and I've got a right to charge any price I want for it."
"That's so, Loftus, you have," Mr. Ingalls agreed with him. "This is a free country and every man's got a right to do as he pleases with his own property. . . . Don't forget every one of us is free and independent, Loftus. This winter won't last forever and maybe you want to go on doing business after it's over."
"Threatening me, are you?" Mr. Loftus demanded.
"We don't need to," Mr. Ingalls replied. "It's a plain fact. If you've got a right to do as you please, we've got a right to do as we please. It works both ways. You've got us down now. That's your business, as you say. But your business depends on our good will. You maybe don't notice that now, but along next summer you'll likely notice it."
"That's so, Loftus," Gerald Fuller said. "You got to treat folks right or you don't last long in business, not in this country."
The angry man said, "We're not here to palaver. Where's that wheat?"
"The money wasn't out of your till more than a day," Mr. Ingalls said. "And the boys didn't charge you a cent for hauling it. Charge a fair profit and you'll have the cash back inside of an hour."
"What do you call a fair profit?" Mr. Loftus asked. "I buy as low as I can and sell as high as I can; that's good business."
"That's not my idea," said George Fuller. "I say it's good business to treat people right."
"We wouldn't object to your price, if Wilder and Garland here had charged you what it was worth to go after that wheat, "Mr. Ingalls told Loftus.
"Well, why didn't you?" Mr. Loftus asked them. "I stood ready to pay any reasonable charge for hauling."
Cap Garland spoke up. He was not grinning. . . . "Don't offer us any of your filthy cash. Wilder and I didn't make that trip to skin a profit off folks that are hungry."
Almanzo was angry, too. "Get it through your head if you can, there's not money enough in the mint to pay for that trip. We didn't make it for you and you can't pay us for it."
Mr. Loftus looked from Cap to Almanzo and then around at the other faces. They all despised him. He opened his mouth and shut it. He looked beaten. Then he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do, boys. You can buy the wheat for just what it cost me, a dollar twenty-five cents a bushel."
"We don't object to your making a fair profit, Loftus," Mr. Ingalls said, but Loftus shook his head.
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