Blow your mind

The Movies List

So, lucrecia posed a question elsewhere, but one that got me thinking; and the question is, what movies SHOULD be in a good DVD collection?

Now, this is a tricky one. In terms of the absolute bar-none classics that deserve to be bought because FUCK YOU, THAT'S WHY, there are very few. But a DVD collection, in my opinion, should be able to do the following:

  • A film for every mood

  • A (good) film for every genre you enjoy, if not every genre

  • The keystone films that everyone references, in order to properly grok The Simpsons/Coupling/How I Met Your Mother/Castle/a dozen other shows that do this

  • Films to challenge you, to engage with mentally

  • Films to watch and enjoy without needing your brain on

  • Film franchises/chains of association/TV series that you can watch as ongoing enjoyable projects, building on one another

Ideally, the list should be longer than that; you can be in a particular mood long enough to want to see multiple films, absolutely.

I'm not going to attempt to subdivide what follows in that way, but I'm using it as a keystone. You can make your own assumptions about things or ask me in the comments.


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Crying Foul

So, that was the first horror LARP weekend I've helped on to any notable extent, and a very weird one from my perspective. Even setting aside the usual propping and considering just being David Bradbury, I did more to facilitate the appearance of Bradbury-turned-monster the Bloated Man before the event than once the players encountered me. I think it works out thusly:

  • Two hours spent filming the hour of video

  • Half an hour getting a plaster mould made of my face

  • Half an hour getting plaster dust out of my eyes and plaster out of my hair

  • Fifty minutes getting into costume, having a latex face applied, being stuffed with fluff for bloating, having snazz and fake blood poured over me

  • Five minutes waiting for my cue

  • Three minutes 'on screen' - and literally on screen, at that, as Eric was filming the approach in character.

You can set the video aside as that was essentially a different thing, but that still adds up to just shy of two hours for three minutes, which I will admit is not on a level with Alan Cumming playing Nightcrawler but is still quite a thing. I wasn't convinced it had been worth the effort until I saw the photos, but holy fuck, did the entry of the Bloated Man WORK.

Way back a year ago when I was approached about playing Bradbury the idea of making sure nobody saw me before that moment seemed a great one, and I think it DID work out for the best, but I admit that during the 16 hours I was effectively trapped in the ref bunker, I was less convinced. Still, I had some William Gibson, some Agatha Christie, and some very good people to keep me company. And I learned that experiencing an event from a single room elsewhere on the property is fascinating.

Firsthand, I experienced the approach of the Bloated Man toward the group and his death at the hands of his host's foster daughter. I heard the screams of the returning thief, infected by the cult and sent back as a warning. Everything else I got second-hand. The maid, actually a cultist, burst into the ref bunker in maid outfit and cult robe, covered in blood and brandishing a rifle and a shotgun with the same mad grin she wore for everything else announcing gleefully "I killed Mish and she killed Andrew!" The three dead sat around dissecting their deaths in detail. One of the Black Swan radios was often in the room and would crackle into life occasionally.

"Have they even noticed Mish is gone? Does anyone CARE?"
"If you want to see Connor do the rain dance, come down here. They're using pans for drums."
"Josh fell on his arse chasing the big black cock."
*the sound of pans being rhythmically beaten*
"Why will no one eat the goddamn mouse?"

I saw E prepped for her summoning. I saw Charlotte don her surgical facemask. I saw Mike overcome the technical issue with Charlotte's message that was people missing an iPad's volume control. We told Jacob he had a bit of red on him.

I actually think this was a fun way to experience an event, but at the same time, there are things I really wish I'd seen.

I really wish I'd watched the auction.
I really wish I'd seen the players start to work out that everyone was infected.
I really wish I'd seen the women in Bradbury's life argue over who got to stab him.
I really wish I'd seen the videos. I still haven't, for one thing.
I really wish I'd seen the woman behind Verity make a certain deal.
I really wish I'd seen the rain dance, I admit.

Still, here's the priorities. Thus far, everyone seems to have liked it. I think we got some good stuff done. We tested the use of video in these events, and we tested the use of coloured smoke grenades, and they both worked. The players got a good ending, so somewhere in there, they worked out what was going on and how to solve it, which had been a concern.

The characters closest to Bradbury got a good emotional reaction to the event. The characters I wrote worked well for their players.

Next time, though, I think I can do better.
Blow your mind

Not Oft Interr'd With Their Bones

Because many of the best Livejournal entries have subjects badly paraphrased from Iron Maiden.

Anyway, the_fnords asked me to write about evil.

Evil is... tricky, for me. I tend to use it as a symbol of The Objectively Morally Wrong, which means that not much qualifies as outright evil; the majority of crime is something that can be defended, at least in certain circumstances - the classic parent who steals to feed their family, for example.

It seems to me that, mostly, the crimes that cannot be excused are those which are unnecessary - stealing to feather one's nest, inflicting pain not to defend or deter a greater level of attack, inflicting pain in particular for pleasure with no heed to the other's feelings...

Which ultimately, for me, comes back to something that I believe I first saw formulated by Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein's work, taken as a whole, could be used to derive quite a good ethical code, one which forbids bigotry of all types, encourages love, eschews violence where possible, but which is ultimately built around the following core:

"[Sin/Evil/Crime] has its root in believing that your happiness is more important than that of the people against whom you offend."

It's not a bad formulation, in my eyes; certainly it's a good starting point.

What I do NOT consider evil to be is an external force and excuse. There is little excuse that I can see for a rational adult human not currently in the throes of mental illness neglecting to consider what effect your actions have on others; considering the effect of inaction is trickier, as it is possible not to notice that your inaction is affecting things, but nonetheless, it's difficult to justify even then. We don't NEED an external force, and there isn't much of an excuse; the notion of a mythical objective wrong isn't necessary.
Blow your mind

God Does Not Endorse TV Evangelists

One now from invisible_fool.

Spiritual beliefs (or lack of).

This one's liable to get rambly. You have been warned.

So my family's a Catholic family. I was baptised, I did the study, I took first confession and then Communion. My grandparents gave me a crucifix to hang up which went on the one wall hook my room had. All the kids who had their first communion the day I did got some weird kind of medal with vaguely angelic symbology. I vaguely associate that time with a book they gave us to fill in about our lives and our relationships with Christ - I found that again, recently, and read through it; I was embarrassed, but in that way you always are when you revisit things you wrote before your teens.

I also associate it with Fiendish Feet yoghurt. Have I got that name right? Google says yes. This was a kid-marketed yoghurt range where all the flavours were different monsters. I got one a week as a treat after the Saturday pre-Communion meetings. (They were held near a place that sold the things, and the Beano adverts had me fascinated).

So that's up to about 11. For all that I'm talking about side matters, material offshoots, I believed, at that time.

You never leave Catholicism behind, not completely. For the rest of your life, after the faith goes, you're a lapsed Catholic. My grandparents' relationship with the Welsh Catholic church was intimate; the church in the graveyard of which they both lie wasn't Catholic before my grandfather brokered a deal to alternate Sundays with the C of E congregation in there. By the time I was growing up, the C of E had left it behind; cutbacks, and it's a tiny village church (in a beautiful part of the world).

But at 12, with the encouragement of my school's chaplain and of the priest at my church, I was reading the Torah. In translation, obviously. I'd already gotten through a Good News version of the Bible, having given up on understanding the KJV until my vocabulary had expanded. I was still Catholic in my faith.

Around 14 I dipped my toes into the Qur'an, again with the encouragement of the same spiritual counsellors. I was still Catholic in my faith, (the school chaplain was C of E) but I felt a lot better for having read the other texts, and for asking about certain parts. I wanted to know what other folks' saw in their faiths, I guess, and I felt better in my own for it. I read C.S. Lewis' Space trilogy around this time, too. I still didn't see Narnia as Christian, apparently I was blind, but my family introduced me to a lot of writings by people who had questioned their god or gods and come through with faith intact. (R.S. Thomas is a particular favourite, for that.)

Around 16 I had a crisis of faith. I didn't realise this when it happened, because it took the form of the first novel-length fiction I ever completed. It was only in the third draft editing that I realised what was going on. Over the course of writing this, I'd refined the various niggling doubts I had about both Catholicism and wider Judeo-Christianity. I ceased to look at my faith as Christian; actually, for quite a while, I considered myself atheist. It took a while to come back to the kind of loose faith I have now, and I detoured through agnosticism on the way. (I also read the teachings of a number of Gurus, while I was at it.)

Intellectually I remain agnostic; I recognise the argument for a godless universe, and I recognise the argument for a divine universe, and on a purely intellectual plane, I do not believe there to be sufficient evidence in either direction to make a choice. Emotionally, I have faith.

If you ever visit Chester Cathedral, try to get up to where the organists play from, on a raised area. Look out from that position out to either side. With the electric lights installed in the lasty fifty years, you can see the intricate carvings atop the wooden structures.

Intricate carvings by workmen who would never have imagined anybody could see them. But they were the chosen of their community, to honour their community's faith. This was no time to skimp. Betjeman was atheist, yet he loved church architecture. It seemed to me, when I first saw those carvings, self-evident why.

Whether faith is right or wrong, it can drive us to amazing heights. It ties communities together.

At sumbels, I toast to the gods of my land, the gods of my ancestors, and the gods of my blood. My ancestry is mongrel, sourced from many countries, but Irish, Germanic, and Nordic mixed is a good bet for the primaries. My blood is my life, my passions, my interests, my thoughts, my desires, my fears and my loves. Its gods vary in my sights between deities with identities and abstract concepts. My land is British, and its gods are legion. But I feel they deserve their recognition.
Bat Country

This Shit Will Fuck You Up

So, for the third and so far final request, I turn to almighty_weasel.

Post about violence.

So this could be interesting, because this is kind of a wide field. I... was going to write that I avoid fights nowadays, and this is technically true but in a very important way it's misleading.

I don't tend to go anywhere fucking near the kind of places people fight. Because fuck that noise, that's stupid.

I've been stupid in the past, though. I think you've seen me comment on this in this series of memeposts, for a start. Specifically, I was a teenager. And I came into being a teenager with a desperate need, not to not be a nerd, but to avoid the traditional social consequences of being a nerd.

(I didn't even fucking KNOW how not to be a nerd. I worked it out in my mid-teens, and it both made me massively unhappy and didn't help.) I wanted to have friends, put simply. And somewhere along the way, I got them... but I felt a constant need to prove myself to them. We spent a lot of time in pubs. One of my friends had a weird blind spot; said blind spot was around six foot tall, two and a half foot wide, and stood next to the girl he was hitting on, growling protectively.

(No, seriously. This wasn't a thing that happened once. It happened often enough that it became a running joke. AND WE KEPT GOING TO THE FUCKING PUBS WITH HIM.)

So... I spent a lengthy period trying to impress my friends. A length period wherein bar brawls - no other good word for them - were not uncommon. And one day I woke up and came to the sudden, blood-freezing realisation that last night, that guy had had a knife, and that guy had had a metal pipe of some kind, and come to think of it, weapons had been getting more and more prevalent in these fights...

I'm not claiming to be special, or a great fighter. I'm claiming I was lucky, which I was, and stupid, which I really was. If I had any special advantage, it was reach combined with being less drunk than the other guy. This is a stunningly useful advantage in terms of not being hit.

That does cover the majority of my real-world experiences with violence; a few others, connected largely to seeing red at racism, and... yeah.

Some of the specific stories are tragic. Some, especially at this remove, are kind of funny. But I'm not sharing those, because, again, I don't want to make out like this was in any way a good idea. The time to fight someone is the point where the alternative is worse. There aren't many of those. Ask me for the funny ones when I'm down the pub or something, maybe. I dunno.

So that's real-world violence, as I see it. Fictional violence, I have much less of a problem with. Really. Look at my DVD collection.

And, you know, I'm OK with that. I don't believe fictional violence begets real violence in any but the loosest sense. I know full well that I've been able to disperse anger and frustration in the real world by loading up Star Wars Battlefronts and 'accidentally' slaughtering Ewoks. And there are ways of choreographing violence to make it look absolutely stunning.

...I feel like there's a lot more to say here, but I'm blanking on it. I may return to this. Or someone may give me more things to write on. Or something else.

Look! A distraction!
Blow your mind

That Lovin' Feelin'

It just occurred to me that it's only the Lancastrians on my flist who know what meme's going around, so before I begin...

"Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it."

luvlymish asked:

Polyamory and your changing relationship with it.

Sooo... yeah. For those of you who don't know, I've been in a polyamorous relationship for coming up on a year now and dabbling on the fringes for about a year before that.

This has definitely changed my belief that I could never cope with being poly.

I encountered polyamory as a concept through open relationships first; like many, my initial response was "No, hang on, that's cheating" until someone pointed out that everyone had agreed to this going in, whereupon (I would've been fourteen when the idea was first floated past me) it turned into "OK cheating" like using a godmode code when you weren't deathmatching.

I'd be a lot older before I encountered polyamory in the flesh, so to speak. By then I was aware that it was more than just open relationships, but I was convinced it was Not For Me. I had a lot of Rules about relationships in my head at that time - rules I didn't expect others to follow, but that I would follow, and thus that dictated some of my relationships and some of my relationship fuckups. One of those Rules led to a lament on LJ a while back - around the time we were writing letters to ourselves at 15 or 16. Blue jeans. Yeah. That one was my own fault - the degree to which I only realised much later.

(I still have one Rule of relationships; never fuck two up the same way. At the very least, learn from each mistake. But that's tangential.)

Most of my Rules were stupid, by the by. But then I've always maintained my younger selves deserve a slap.

I encountered a few people who were poly, and a lot more who gave it a try and had it fail. I boggled faintly at the former and sympathised with the latter, and privately reached the conclusion that it wasn't for me; that I'd never get a hold on my jealousy, or my pride. That I'd take it as a contest, and lose, and things would explode. I got to uni.

I took a number of baths and a degree in English.

I took a lot of opportunities and missed others. I saw some folks put down poly roots, and it worked for them. I put down monogamous roots, and somewhere along the way that stopped working. I can point at where and when, at least roughly, but that's completely tangential to this, and dragging two names through the mud and I've only the right to drag my own.

I got called out for referring to a poly woman's partner as her other half.

And I more or less rolled with it; it was working for that lot, and working for that lot, and sort of working for that lot, and oh god no for that lot. But it'd never work for me, so good for the folks it worked for and bummer for the folks who tried and it didn't, and... well.

Besides, I had other stuff on my plate. Among other things I was abruptly nursing a crush on a lesbian. Clearly this was never going to work.

Circumstances conspired. They have a way of doing that; you can't trust the shifty buggers. And I say that while still a vocal believer in, not reading synchronicity as a signal, but in making it one.

The lesbian got engaged. They made a cute couple.

By now I was starting to weigh up the possibility of poly for other, unrelated reasons. Life rolls on, after all. It was becoming something I was slowly beginning to feel could work for me. But I wasn't sure.

I had some very stange conversations over MSN with the lesbian's fiancee. This in and of itself was not new; this in and of itself has not stopped. She's good people. But the subject matter was, for a time, different.

The lesbian came over to watch a movie. Grosse Point Blank remains an excellent film. We kissed. I spent the rest of that evening panicking. Clearly I had just driven a friendship right off a cliff, and Lieutenant Columbo was going to ask me a lot of probing questions.

They still make a cute couple, but as nexus points of a polycule. And sometimes, when circumstances conspire, what appeared daunting can feel natural, can feel easy.

And really, that's the core of how my thinking's changed; my perspective on how all this relates to me. All the rules of not fucking up are still there. There are some others, too, sure. Mind you, this year my uncle's engagement fell through. My sister and her long-term partner are splitting up.

When it comes down to it, a relationship that works has always been and will always be about finding a combination of people which hangs together. So far, so good.

I'm... not looking for anyone else, right now. It's still a little odd to reflect that that's an option. But I'm happy with things the way they are; someone else may become part of that. We'll see.
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