After the nunnery we made a second unsuccessful attempt to register with the police, and again the entire station seemed to be deserted. J, who was suffering from the effects of altitude, opted to spend the rest of the day at the hotel. The other three of us squeezed into one car (it wasn't a squeeze, the cars were huge), and headed into town for lunch. We ate at the Snow Hill Restaurant, opposite the very purple Snow Hill Hotel.
I had some exceedingly hot soup and the best onion pakoras, while abrinsky dined on mounds of paneer fried rice. While we ate we looked at D's pictures from trekking in the eastern Himalayas. I'm not fit enough for trekking and I never will be, but the pictures made me want to go all the same. D was keen to convince me that some of the easier treks are within my reach.
We had a quick pop round the shops for solar powered prayer wheels (as you do). We have one already, purchased in Sikkim, but T wanted one. We spotted a double version, but it was the only one available and it was broken. T bought two single ones and we bought a 7m string of prayer flags. (They are supposed to be fluttering in our garden, but are still in the bag waiting for us to get our act together.)
Next, the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. It was very tranquil with many chortens. And many puppies (of course; they were everywhere). There was a small square building with glass sides, in which a finch had become trapped. T rescued it. Eventually.
The following review is of a horror/drama/comedy/ zombie/feminist movie. It’s not a romance. There will be spoilers. Read at your own risk.
I‘ve always said that I can’t watch horror because as someone with anxiety I don’t need any extra. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve finally started to understand the cathartic effect of a certain kind of horror. I’m increasingly fascinated by horror in which (GENERAL SPOILER)
a woman emerges triumphant – not hopelessly traumatized or dead, but actually stronger and more confident because of her experience.
Add that to my fondness for movies that cross genres, and it’s not surprising that I loved It Stains the Sands Red despite the movie’s terrible title and terrible, terrible poster.
Trigger warning for rape and eating of faces. There is mild child in peril stuff near the end. No non-human animals die that I recall.
The plot is very simple. Molly, our heroine, has to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible while avoiding a zombie who follows her slowly but relentlessly. The movie opens with Molly and her boyfriend, Nick, driving through the Nevada desert away from a burning Las Vegas. Nick knows a guy named Jimmy who will meet them at an airfield and take them to Mexico. Nick and Molly clearly live a life in which “knowing a guy” is the most important survival skill a person can posses.
Molly’s first actions in the film are to snort some cocaine, drink some vodka, and then make Nick pull over so that she can throw up. The car gets stuck in the sand, messy things happen, and soon Molly has to hike by herself for about forty miles across the desert. Her assets include several large bottles of water, a lighter, some cocaine (“The great thing about coke, see, is I don’t even need to eat!” she says). She also has couple of cigarettes, a cell phone that is actually working and is getting a GPS signal, and a single tampon.
Her challenges include the fact that she’s on her period, she’s dressed in leggings, a black pleather halter top, a fake fur shrug, and platform heel boots, and she’s being followed by a zombie who she names “Smalls.” She has no wilderness or combat survival skills but she’s incredibly determined – plus she doesn’t want to die a slow and agonizing death from being zombie kibble. So she plods along, just slightly faster than Smalls, muttering, “One foot in front of the other,” and “Bad shit happens. You deal with it and move on.”
This movie switches genres several times. One thing I love about it is that the whole zombie apocalypse thing happens off screen with no explanation or discussion. The writers seem to believe that we’ve all seen or read enough zombie stories to know how this kind of thing goes down.
The movie is also a good reminder of why the slow, shambling, uncoordinated zombie is a dangerous foe. Smalls is easy to avoid as long as Molly either keeps moving or finds a place to rest that Smalls can’t climb to (it seems that any tall rock will do the trick). However, like a very decaffeinated Terminator, Smalls never stops. He doesn’t need water or food or cocaine or sleep. He doesn’t need to pee and he never slows down to light a cigarette. Since there are no other people around to pursue, Smalls remains completely fixated on Molly. He walks and walks, forcing Molly to walk just a little bit faster and never let down her guard.
After a while Molly names Smalls and starts talking to him. She insults him with such verve that it’s utterly hilarious. “My God, you’re like every guy I’ve ever met a bar!” she complains. Once Molly has the hang of avoiding being eaten, the movie settles into a weird yet wildly entertaining mix of comedy, drama (we learn just enough about Molly to feel awful for her) and survival. Then there’s a “Man is the True Evil” bit, then there’s a weird military bit, and eventually we end up at FEMINISM FUCK YEAH THIS IS SO CATHARTIC I’LL GIVE IT ALL THE A’s!
But not so fast! I cannot give this movie all the A’s.
For starters, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense. One is that there’s a scene in an abandoned house that is super creepy, but it doesn’t make any sense at all. Why doesn’t Smalls immediately follow Molly into the house? Does he spend hours trying to figure out how to walk through a doorway? How can Molly hide from Smalls by taking refuge in an empty bathtub? That’s where you hide from tornadoes and hurricanes, not zombies. There’s also a scene with some military guys who clearly have not read any zombie novels or seen any zombie movies.
Trigger warning: here begins a discussion of a rape scene in the film.
A far bigger problem with the movie is that at one point two men show up and rape Molly, who is saved by Smalls. I’m not a fan of gore, but I could watch Smalls eat that dude’s face all day long and never flinch. You go, Smalls.
On the other hand, I suspect we could all do without the actual rape scene. In fact, I have to confess that I was an irresponsible reviewer and I fast-forwarded the rape scene. My husband had to fill me in on the details (he says it was long, graphic, and that Molly never got to beat anyone up, not even a little). Later I realized that this was a problem for me as a reviewer because it was so easy to forget that it happened that it affected my grade. However, at the time, it meant that I could skip over something really icky and manage not to miss any character or plot development whatsoever – which is a very clear sign of how gratuitous that scene is.
I don’t think it’s always wrong to include a rape scene in a movie, but I do think that rape scenes are overused (see my post Mad Max Fury Road Makes Your Rape Arguments Invalid). For a rape scene to be justified, the scene has to advance plot and/or character development in a way that nothing else in the movie can accomplish. The rape scene helps alter Molly’s feelings towards Smalls, but it seemed like Molly was warming up towards Smalls anyway. It’s also a reminder that the true monsters are human, but any audience savvy enough to know why Las Vegas in on fire is also savvy enough to know that man is the true monster. I have a theory that the concept of The True Monster is Man is not that surprising to women anyway. It’s such a cliché that doesn’t fit in this movie, which works so hard to avoid clichés in other ways.
Right before the rape, Molly has a moment where she realizes that these guys in a truck are trouble. It shows how smart she can be. If this rape scene had to be in the movie — and I don’t think it did — then it could have involved Molly figuring out how to get away, or how to steal the truck, which could always have blown a tire or something a few miles down the road so she’d still have to walk. Maybe she could have actively attracted Smalls to her so that she could divert him into eating the dudes. Any amount of creative agency and power on Molly’s part would have helped the scene, whether she successfully escaped or not. I’m not saying that to victim blame but rather to point out that her character arc was on the side of more power, not less, and we needed to see her have more agency. We’ve been watching Molly slowly level up and to strip her of her agency at this moment feels like a cheat that accomplishes very little purpose other than to humiliate and degrade Molly, who has already been subject to a lifetime of humiliation.
Here’s why I loved this movie in spite of its flaws. It takes a character who would normally be zombie fodder in the movie’s opening scenes and it develops that character to a point where the viewer empathizes with her, cares about her, and roots for her success. It doesn’t go overboard with Molly’s back-story and it doesn’t give her a free pass. What it does do is allow us to see her as a person, not “a dumb broad.” Seeing Molly go from a stereotype to a fully-fledged character, watching her grow into a self-confident woman with a purpose, was truly thrilling. The movie is a tour de force for Brittany Allen, who plays Molly. I also have to give so much credit to Juan Riedinger, who manages to give Smalls a lot of personality without ever detracting from the fact that Smalls is a zombie. I just can’t overstate how much I loved Molly and how cathartic and satisfying it was to see her level up.
This movie is such a mess to grade. I like that it’s doing something different and interesting. I would much rather watch something that is a hot mess but is at least trying to shake up a genre than something that is a perfectly polished cliché storm. Ideally, I could give this movie lots of grades, and break them down like this:
A: For the effectively creepy opening shot of a burning Las Vegas, for the creepy jump scares of the initial nighttime scenes, for Molly’s character arc overall and for Smalls, who is both terrifying and endearing by turns. This accounts for about 75% of the movie at least.
A-: At one point Molly distracts Smalls by throwing her tampon for him to chase. Everything about this scene is wonderful, including the acknowledgement that women have periods and the way Molly crows, “SUCKER!” as she sprints away. If a woman were directing, maybe this scene wouldn’t have been played quite so much for laughs, and yet I felt it fit well with a genre which has been more honestly exploring women’s lives and bodies in the last few years with movies like Prevenge, Raw, and The Babadook (I only know these movies by reputation so this is not a recommendation per se.)
A: For all the little details that work on a character basis, like when Molly has to lie to Jimmy (airplane guy) about Nick (boyfriend guy) because she knows that without Nick, Jimmy perceives her as having no value and therefore he won’t help her.
C: For all the things which made no sense, especially a day later when I calmed down and went, “Wait…what?”
The natural ending of this movie involves Molly in a car. Everything after that is part of another movie. It’s tacked on and we don’t need it to conclude Molly’s character arc. If the extra stuff was the beginning of a sequel (we could call it It Stains the Sands Red: Molly’s Turn) I’d be all for it. When Molly smiles while driving a car, go ahead and stop, because at that point the movie is effectively over.
For the rape scene, the title and the exploitation-style poster. Seriously, people.
I’m going to average this to a C with a caveat.
In my opinion, you can legitimately watch this movie and completely skip the rape scene and everything that happens after Molly drives a car and smiles (just consider everything after that point to be a preview of the next movie). If you skip those scenes, you won’t miss anything important in terms of character arc or plot. Just hit fast forward when
the guy tells Molly, “No, no, you stay in front,” and go back to Play when either the bad guys are all gone or a little earlier when things get bloody if, like me, you want to see a rapist get eaten face first. [/spoilers]
Skip the rape, eyeroll about the logical problems, but stay for the humor and the feminism. Here’s the horror and gore heavy trailer (it’s not a great trailer in my opinion, but it’s what we’ve got)
So that beauty and the beast thing I'm not writing?
Has a working title: walls of broken stone.
I'm trying to figure out which elements of the base story are essential and which can be changed or discarded.
...I don't even know what I'm going to do with this if/when I write it. Probably just post to AO3 or something rather than selling it. It's not like BatB rewrites are that New And Differeht any more, plus I don't think I have the courage to try publishing -- or the energy for all the negotiating stuff and promotion that being a Real Writrr involves. But I think some of that is my brainweasels trying to trip me up in advance, so I am not going to even think about it until I actually have something to do something sigh.
Note: above post written on my iPad (which likes to not word correctly) without my glasses and it's almost 1aj so my vision is blurry. Any mistakes or typos or odd phrasings will be fixed on the morning.
Shout out to Reader Andie who sent us this email for a Rec League right up the Bitchery’s alley! Here is Andie’s original request:
I’d love to have recommendations of historical romance novels where either the hero or heroine or both are activists. As a history nerd, I love reading about reformers in the 19th century — abolitionists, suffragettes, union organizers, and other crusaders. I’d love to read more historical romance novels that deal with those who were fighting these fights and how they managed to find love while doing so.
On a related note, I’d love to read more historical romance novels where a specific point of history informs the story. I’d like novels where the history is more than window dressing.
Sarah: Alyssa Cole should make you very happy! She has two novellas, Let it Shine( A | BN ), set in the 60s during the initial freedom rides and the early days of SNCC, andLet Us Dream, which is set in the 20s. Her novel, An Extraordinary Union( A | BN | K | G | iB ), may also satisfy your request- it’s set during the Civil War, and the heroine is a free Black woman undercover as a slave in a Richmond household.
As far as history playing a major role: Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories ( A | K | G | iB | Au | Scribd ) series in which everything happens in accordance with Regency history, but with a small fantastical element. Real life historical events play central roles in the stories, especially after the first story.
Which historical heroines would you recommend for Andie?
Here’s a picture of Athena on the last day of summer. The next day (today, as I’m writing this after midnight) we bundle her and much of her belongings into the minivan and head down to Oxford, Ohio, where Athena begins her time at Miami University. We’ll drop her off, help her get situated, and then drive away, to come home to a house that for the first time ever will not have her in it on a regular basis. It’s a good and expected and desired thing to have her start this part of her life. But it will be different. If there was any doubt that our daughter is no longer a child (even when she remains our child), coming home to a house without her will be the closing argument on that.
It’s nothing new in the annals of history, mind you. Children leave home all the time. But it’s new to us. And that’s the thing. We’ll be fine, and Athena will only be an hour (and a text or a tweet or phone call) away. But it will still be different without her. A little bit of each of our hearts goes with her when she goes.
That’s all I want to say about it right now. Except to reiterate again how much I love my daughter, and how proud I am of her for who she’s become and excited for who she has yet to become in these next few years. What a wonderful time for her, and for us. Still, I hope you’ll understand if I’m a little out of it the next several days. It’ll just be me, missing my kid.
Looking for a short series (2 or 3) books that I read as a pre-teen.
I'm pretty sure the main part of the story revolved around a female character trying to escape a ruling class of bird-like (?) people.
There are really only one thing I remember clearly... that there was a river that turned living creatures who fell into it into wood. There was a ship captain who had pulled out a pregnant woman who had fallen in. He sketched her everyday and realized she was trying to speak,but moving super slowly. I think he ended up removing her child, who was then some kind of living wood creature.
These weren't the main characters from what I can remember. I really hope this rings a bell with someone, it's been bothering me for the last 15 years!
Adam has been delivered to College Park for his junior year. Technically, he has enough credits to be a senior and could graduate this spring, but since he started out in the business school, he had first-year computer science to study as a sophomore, and now he's doing honors in both that and math, so it is going to take him at least one extra semester (which is not a problem because he has a scholarship). He spent most of the day getting his books, laundry, bike, and other things ready, with a break so we could go meet Paul for lunch at his office cafeteria.
Adam and I watched The Mummy while he packed, then Paul arrived home with Adam's high school friend Arvin, who needed a ride to College Park. We all dropped off the car because it has an appointment to be serviced tomorrow, went to Plaza Azteca for a quick dinner, stopped at Shoppers Food Warehouse so Adam could stock up for the semester, dropped Arvin off at his apartment, and took Adam to help unpack before giving him a lift to a party across campus. Now we're home with post-travel chores to finish. Here is the outside of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa:
Teach 5 classes - I taught my first class this weekend. It went pretty well, but I only used up 20 minutes of my hour time slot. I need ideas for what to add to this class. This was Historical Research Methods.
Post 100 situations prompts to AO3 - I've posted another story.
Listen to 90 other podcasts - I listened to a freakonomics podcast about when helping is actually hurting. It had to do with mentoring kids one on one and how those kids went on to have universally worse outcomes than the kids who were not mentored.
Read the entire Bible - I'm in 1 Kings.
Go on a 30 minute poke walk 140 times - Went on another walk today. It was about 30 minutes, around Thrasher Park.
Go to the PSWC 140 times - I went to the HVN meeting today.
Joe helped me figure out what was going wrong in my "Ninefox March" Cockos Reaper project since the lag was driving me nuts.
Ctrl + Alt + P will give me a performance meter but sadly only tracks CPU usage per track--if it also tracked RAM usage per track (if that's even a thing, hell if I know how computers/DAWs work) my problem would be solved.
It's not that I don't have enough RAM. It's that something in the project is causing a memory leak. I'm guessing one of the virtual instruments. The problem is that there are NO good options. Like, if Orchestral Tools Berlin Strings or Metropolis Ark 1 is the source of the memory leak, I am going to...I don't even know. Write tech support, I guess, and hope they have a solution.
Right now the best bet is to track memory usage in a completely new project in which I introduce a single instrument at a time and see where the leak starts/begins. Time-consuming and annoying, but doable. Not happening tonight--probably after I turn in this novel.
I feel like it’s been interesting playing a little with the definitions of what’s “important”, what “matters”, etc – on the one hand, Ultimates is about literally everything that has ever been in the Marvel Universe, but at the same time it’s not about Iron Man. And I’m allowed to wander off and grow this cosmic garden and make wonderful things out of it because I can do that without stepping on too many toes. We’re operating on such a big scale that it’s almost like when particle physicists reveal that actually the universe is a hologram and all the information of our lives is encoded on the outer walls of spacetime, or whatever it is this week. It’s great, and it blows your mind, and it’s wonderful to know that human beings are able to come together and explore this territory… but it doesn’t pay your bills or fix your car, at least not in a way you can immediately see. So, yeah, we now have an idea that Marvel’s multiversal history is much bigger and broader than we thought – but at the same time, that’s not likely to pop up in a Daredevil story. -- Al Ewing
I've been failing at online-iness recently. My email inbox runneth over, and I have sooo many tabs open (again). Sorry if I owe you any kind of communication. My bad. 잘 못했습니다.
Kdramas *blinks blearily* I've spent the last week and a half mainlining Suspicious Partner, despite the fact it started to go downhill about half-way through. ( Spoilers ) Overall, I finished because I'd watch Ji Chang Wook to hell and back, apparently, and the supporting cast was fun, but it's not one I'd particularly recommend.
Also watching: Goblin and Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (rewatches), and Chief Kim (on-going).
Not sure what I'm going to watch next on my own; maybe Secret Garden, since I hear it has body swaps, and wikipedia tells me it stars Empress Ki herself. Maybe something else. La la la...
Reading I'm two-thirds of the way through Y. Euny Hong's Kept, but then I was out and only had my Kindle with me, so I started In Other Worlds (Sarah Rees Brennan), and now I have little inclination to go back and finish Kept. Oops. (But I will. Eventually.)
Does anyone know offhand if random people can donate DW points (to buy paid time for comment-searches) to a community? I know you can do it for an account but can't figure out from the FAQ if this works for comms as well.