Saturday, April 28, 2012

Movie Review: The Whisperer in Darkness

Initial response:

So, yeah. It left me...bewildered. Not that it wasn't amazing, but that ending...yeesh.

For those of you uninitiated to the awesomeness that is this story, it was written by a certain Howie Lovecraft back in the day, and is arguably one of his best stories. The basic plot (which the movie follows) is that during the floods of Vermont in 1927, more than just dead people were washed down the river. There were other dead things, and they didn't look particularly human. After a flurry of letters to the editor about the phenomenon and a rousing debate with a forerunner of Giorgio Tsoukalos (sans Centauri hairstyle), folklorist Albert Wilmarth starts receiving letters from a Vermont farmer named Henry Akeley, claiming that these alien creatures hang out around his farm and eat his cheesecake when he's not looking. (Okay, not that last part.) In the movie they have his son George come deliver the message, and a strange phonograph recording of a ritual involving the creatures. Has something to do with worshipping Shub-Niggurath and Nyarlathotep, and even Wilmarth is genre savvy enough to know this is Not A Good Thing. Unfortunately the poor bloke becomes increasingly genre blind as the story continues.

The movie expanded a bit upon the story, naturally, but they did it in a way that wasn't at odds with the atmosphere of the story. It is filmed in black and white and very much has the feel of an older movie, down to running the credits before the movie begins. Unfortunately they did not have a "Cthulhu and Friends" cartoon before the movie. The acting was wonderful and the effects done very well for the budget. This was produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Society, who make it a point of making Lovecraft movies that are not lame. They definitely succeeded with this one.

On one last, parting note...

When I was your age, Yuggoth was still a planet.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Partial Review: How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back by Sophie Barnes

As you know, on occasion I amuse myself by looking for Regency novels that are even half as witty as Jane Austen. I know, I know, it is an exercise in futility, but I try. I try really really hard.

In other words, I’m apparently a borderline masochist. Why do I keep punishing myself this way? For the cause, I say. For the cause.

While straightening the new books at work, which had already been straightened but I had nothing to do otherwise, I came across one with an amusing title. “How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back”. Huh. Sounds cheesy, yet amusing. I read the back. Seems poor Miss Rutherford was convinced she was going to marry this one guy, only for him to turn around and propose to her very willing best friend. But that’s okay! She knows a dark, brooding aristocrat who happens to be very rich, extremely handsome, and, of course, honorable deep down inside. The Regency seemed to have an overabundance of those. I recommend a time machine to bring some of those wealthy bachelors to the present so women will stop complaining about “haven’t found my Mr. Darcy yet”.

So, I decided to pick up this book and see if it was funny.

Why? Why did I do this? What foolishness possessed me? Apparently whatever foolishness possessed the author. Luckily I managed to leave off before finishing the whole thing, and some of my psyche is still intact.

Turns out the plot point that kicks off the whole thing wasn’t quite so dramatic. Even though the whole “guy marries best friend” thing is treated as though it’s a deep betrayal, it…wasn’t. Oh, the author tries very hard to make it a betrayal, yet she still fails. See, six years before, this Adrian fellow said to the eponymous Emily Rutherford that when he decided to get married, it would be her. Now, presumably, this was when they were around the age of fourteen. Of course Emily, being Marianne Dashwood on crack, takes this very seriously, spends several months babbling about her love for him to her best friend Lady Kate, then…never talks about it again. Except to her poor sisters. However, supposedly everyone and their uncle could tell she remained in love with Adrian, so when he proposed to Lady Kate it was a terrible, horrible, insensitive thing to do. They clearly didn’t care in the least about Emily’s feelings.

Because they forgot a brief period of time six years before.

Uh huh.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was implied this was Emily’s perception of the incident. But it isn’t. Everyone around her completely sympathizes with her and the hero chastises Adrian for his lack of gentlemanly behavior. (This is the same guy who, a couple chapters later, starts groping the heroine and making out with her before even asking her to marry him. Yeah, very gentlemanly indeed.) It even goes so far as to have our dear dramatic Emily going to their engagement party, saying that she bore them no hard feelings and wished them well, then turned around and told them how terrible they were and how they could never be friends again.

And it gets worse.

So apparently His Broodship invites the sisters to London, where they stay in a separate house but one that is connected by a door, so they’re not really in separate houses but it’s okay because his crazy old aunt is there. However, at one point, they engage in a tickle fight with him (Jane Austen rolled in her grave a bit) and Emily takes to kicking off her shoes around him all the time.

Oh, it gets much worse.

So while she’s beguiling His Broodship with her stocking’d feet and her exposed bosom (oh those Regency dresses), we also learn several things about her. She’s emotional, she’s dramatic, she’s flighty, she…suddenly expresses a deep love for the writings of Socrates and tries to engage in a philosophical discussion with His Broodship, even though she only gets so far as to say she enjoys Socrates and thinks his writing is very deep indeed.

At this point, I left off, because I knew what I was dealing with. This was no ordinary heroine.

I had somehow managed to stumble across...Mary Sue!

I would direct the authoress to this very amusing essay by George Eliot.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to the Republic of Pemberley in hopes of acquiring some brain bleach

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Christ is Risen!

It's Easter for us Orthodox types.

FYI Yahoo had a very interesting article about our "ancient mysterious fire ritual".

Eessentially it boils down to "we light candles".

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go celebrate Christ's resurrection. MYSTERIOUSLY.

But in all seriousness, Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Debra White Smith Reviews: Northpointe Chalet

Oh Lord. I have no idea how to describe this. It’s just…it’s the worst. I really, honestly did not like this book. The characters were unlikable, the story line unbelievable. I know it would be difficult to translate what was essentially a Gothic parody to modern terms, but…somehow, it could have been done much better. (Actually, if one wanted to, one could update it so that the Catherine character has been reading too many Twilight novels…)

Kathy has moved to the town of Northpointe to get away from her smothering parents and start her own bookshop. Though twenty four, she is still quite dreamy, spending her spare time devouring mystery novels. At a local picnic she meets a pastor, Ben Tilman, who, though seeming to like her, thinks her far too young and naïve to be a wife, based on the fact she dresses in printed t-shirts and jeans. (Oh, so immature!)

This is where it starts failing. Firstly, it’s one thing to have a very naïve, inexperienced seventeen year old Catherine scare herself silly with a spooky novel. It’s another thing to have an otherwise intelligent and fairly discerning twenty four year old (MY AGE, I ADD) listen to the town drunk ramble about a supposed murder and believe him.

Secondly, the Henry character failed. He failed so bad. In Northanger Abbey, Henry was kind, witty, flirtatious, and intelligent. The Henry expy in this book seemed like he read Pride and Prejudice and tried-and failed-to pretend to be Darcy. He is staid and actually a bit severe. It’s hard to find what Kathy sees in him.

Thirdly, the Eleanor subplot really made no sense. In this book, she has actually secretly married her love interest, and is still living at home while meeting her husband at a hotel. That’s just…bizarre. Truly, truly bizarre.

And then, the Henry character fails even further, in that he stops seeing Kathy because his father doesn’t like her. The Henry of the original had loads more backbone than that. He stood up to his father and gained his woman. In this book, it took Kathy making him read a self-help book about keeping a healthy distance from difficult parents to get them back together. WHAT? In fact, the entire thing was far too convoluted. First we think Kathy is ridiculous for believing the town drunk. Then we find out that Henry’s father is actually an even bigger jerk than the one in the original. In the original he was severe and a bit mean. In this he actually did abuse his wife previously, which makes one wonder why Henry gets so offended when Kathy could imagine the man killing his wife in a fit of rage at some point. Are we in Opposite Land here?

No, this was not a likeable book at all. I’ll return to Northanger Abbey any day, with its thunderstorms and locked cabinets and witty Henry. Heck, I’ll sit and listen to Udolpho’s Emily ramble in her pure pureness about pure things before I’d read this again.

On the other hand, if you're up for some Witty Henry...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Movie Review: Puss In Boots

If you’re like me the first thing you think of when hear “Puss In Boots” is “KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY…”

You get the picture. When I was a kid, two things really caught my attention. Kitties and dinosaurs. (One much cuddlier than the other, but still…)

So Puss in Boots became one of my favorite fairy tales. I remember watching the old cartoon (and I can’t remember at all what studio made it) over and over. And naturally when Puss in Boots showed up in Shrek 2 with those ADORABLE EYES, I went into transports of delight. (What? I read too much British literature, okay?)

And then I heard they made a movie.

Now, I admit I was rather torn. Naturally I thought a movie was an awesome idea, but…they weren’t using the original fairy tale. They were going in a completely different direction, and I wasn’t sure how this would work.

It worked just fine.

This is a “new” Puss in Boots origin story, and the writers, as usual, gleefully play with fairy tales the entire time. Puss is out to clear his name and repay an old debt, and to do this, he decides to take Jack and Jill’s magic beans, grow the vine, and steal the giant’s golden eggs. The problem is that in this version, Jack and Jill aren’t two dumb kids tumbling down hills, but a psychopathic married couple whose idea of fun is hijacking, arson, and murder. Then Puss finds allies in his former friend Humpty ALEXANDER Dumpty, and his accomplice Kitty Softpaws (the obligatory love interest, but of the fun and plot relevant kind).

It’s kind of an odd movie, but then again it was produced by Guillermo del Toro, so it’s oddness is perfectly understandable. It veers between playing with fairy tale conventions, and parodying old Westerns. And somehow these fairy tale characters living in what is essentially Old Mexico works just fine.

It’s fun, it’s bizarre, and it’s certainly original and clever. Go watch it.

Also I’m fairly certain every time Puss yells “OhmyGod”, someone was actually startling Antonio Banderas in the studio.

Monday, April 2, 2012

That's funny...

Although I don't remember this, Dale says I went 'round door to door last night insisting people donate $20 "to the cause". Strange, that.

Anyways, coming up, more book reviews, more Parody 5, and pictures of my hair cut. Because really I have a lot less hair now. That I do remember.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


It's Fish Day in France, or April Fool's Here. Apart from being the athEist holiday, it's a time when people play pranks. Sometimes thoSe pranks can be Harmless, other times they can bE painful. WhateveR the casE, have a fun, safe day.