Sleep Dep and Movies

Hi folks!  I’ve been traveling, and if you’re familiar with my usual pattern then you know what that means.  Or you read the title of this post.

I’m now working on hour 27, with a red-eye flight as my excuse, and I have seen several more movies to talk with you about.  I don’t think I’ll be able to offer any stellar critique, but a simple yes no maybe why seems within my grasp at this point.

This time I watched ChefEntourage, and RED 2.  I had a good time watching all of them, but had niggling feelings of doubt throughout most of them.  Chef might have had the fewest of those?  I’m not sure.

Entourage was funny, and felt like a group of totally ridiculous characters living up their ridiculousness in a larger than life fashion.  Now that I’ve looked it up and discovered that it came from a TV show of the same name which I never watched, I’m considerably less surprised.  It was a good stupid movie, and it might have been better than that but I have no idea because I was very tired at the time that I watched it.  On the plus side, it has Constance Zimmer (in a minor role, but Agents of Shield has taught me that Constance Zimmer is great).

RED 2 was basically what I’d expected, if not quite as good as I’d hoped; it’s a slightly different (and maybe not-quite-as-good) version of the original.  It’s funny that I should downplay it, as I quite enjoyed it, but even though I like its developments I’m not sure it measures up to the zest and pep of the first.  It felt like some of the original’s style was missing, though I liked Mary-Louise Parker’s character’s obsession with getting deeper into the world of spies and murder.  That felt fitting, and made a lot of excellent things possible.

And Chef… was way more of a feel-good movie than I’d expected.  I rather liked it.  It was very much a “man and his son” narrative, but it was a charming one.  Plus, I like food.

Okay, and now I’m going to stagger off and try to keep my eyes open until it’s bedtime.  My upcoming posts may be patchy as the holidays approach, but I may have some fun creative stuff to share at some point in there.

Spectre

I don’t feel just one way about Spectre; I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m ambivalent, since I did enjoy it overall, but … well, let me think through this with you.

First, perhaps most superficially, the intro song and credit sequence didn’t do it for me.  It had a hard act to follow given Skyfall’s opening, so I’ll give it that, but it felt pretty meh.

Plot-wise, Spectre builds on all of the little dribs and drabs of plot that were left hanging in the previous three movies (all the Daniel Craig ones: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall).  This meant that I felt a little lost going into it without having seen the others recently, but when I think back on the events of the previous movies I think the requisite hooks were there.

The Daniel Craig Bond films walk a tightrope that previous Bond films haven’t really walked before.  What I mean is, it’s unusual for a Bond movie to consistently build on what’s come before in any way, so this is a bit strange.  Personally, I think they could have done better.  They laid the groundwork for this film to some extent, but it seems like they sacrificed some continuity and clarity for the sake of trying to make more traditionally individualized Bond films along the way.  Of course, if they’d done less of that, then perhaps I’d be upset about how they undid the Bond movie traditions.

So Spectre is a bit of an odd fish.  It has excellent scenes, moments in which the movie offers up the beautiful set pieces that I’ve come to hope for (and even expect) from good Bond films.  But it also feels like it fumbles itself together at times, tries to make itself one whole thing out of a number of disparate scenes that needed just a little more narrative glue to make it all gel.

I have more thoughts to share, but…

There are *SPOILERS* after this mark.

Continue reading

Zombies in the Vineyard: a DitV hack

Dogs in the Vineyard is an indie RPG created by Vincent Baker; it has an unusual set of dice mechanics for its conflict resolution, and as part of that it encourages players to take turns shaping the game’s narrative.  While it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I have had a lot of fun with it.

It’s also highly moddable, much like other Vincent Baker games (Apocalypse World being a prime example).  While the DitV sourcebook describes a Wild West setting full of civil and religious strife, I’ve heard or seen others using the system to play in mafia-based story lines, Star Wars settings, feudal Japan, or even The Matrix.  And Baker hacked his own system to tell horror stories, in Afraid in the Vineyard.

So of course someone decided to modify things a little further to turn it into a storytelling system that would allow you to play in a classic zombie movie.  Sadly, while they’ve playtested their zombie hack, the ruleset that I was able to find online is nowhere near final.

I’m going to cobble something together from those notes as best as I can, and when I’ve done that I’ll share the result with you.  If you’re already familiar with DitV and Afraid, maybe you’ll enjoy taking a look too?

Rat Queens kicks ass

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Have you got a hankering for classic badass swords & sorcery adventures?  How about a comic full of that, but with four women as the central characters instead of the usual sausagefest?

Rat Queens makes me want to tell epic and gritty fantasy stories like nothing else does.  This is a comic that left me scrawling “RAT QUEENS IS INSPIRATIONAL” on random notes late at night so that I wouldn’t be able to let it pass me by.  And of course somehow I forgot to tell YOU about it.

This is where you should go to order your fix online.  If you have a decent local comic store, you should go there instead!

Holy fuck I love this comic.

Child of a Hidden Sea, by A.M. Dellamonica

Wheee, portal fiction!  When done well, this stuff is great.  I got this book for free somehow, though I can’t remember why.  I’m glad that I did.  It’s quite enjoyable.  I’ve already seen the next book in the series in my local library, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, but I do want to say a few more words in favor of you reading this book.  It’s got a female protagonist and non-hetero characters, it’s got lots of sailing and boats, and it has a climax that I found very appealing.  Lots of fun.  It’s intrigue and sea-adventure wrapped up in a portal fiction premise.  What’s not to like?