Posted in Current events, Movies, Politics, Pop Culture

The Princess Defense: A Kickass Statistical Analysis

The release and box office success of Wonder Woman has feminist debate on the lips of Geek Nation once again. I haven’t seen it yet, but count me among the fans. I love the idea of a kickass female leading the charge in a summer superhero flick, even if she has to have perfect hair and a one-piece maillot with boots and tiara ensemble to do it.

But here within the happy ranks celebrating the movie, a rallying cry has emerged that is starting to get on my nerves. “My princesses are now generals! Huzzah!” writes one blogger who gets shared around the web. “Princess Buttercup is finally redeemed as an Amazon!” writes another. (I’m paraphrasing the thesis of both, of course; they’re easy to find and very nicely written.) The idea seems to be that these princesses, Leia and Buttercup and by extension every other princess in every other movie prior to the Great Climbing from the Trench was a misogynistic embarrassment to feminists—or at least no more than the sloppy seconds we clung to because popular art, particularly science fiction and fantasy, offered us no one else.

When I called poppycock on this notion yesterday, I got a short course on representation in response—we have plenty of princesses and domestic goddesses, this woman explained, but we need more kickass warrior women. When I suggested that I had noticed a lot more women kicking people in the face in popular art lately than I had non-desperate housewives, intellectual professionals, or princesses who ruled by something other than the sword or dragon, she wrote back that she was specifically referencing blockbuster movies. She’s obviously smart and made her point well, so I decided to cast an analytical eye over the top 5 movies of 2017 so far by box office, the best definition I know of “blockbuster.” (This list came out at the end of last week, just before Wonder Woman’s big weekend, and FYI, even just from presales and previews and such, she came in at Number 11.) I asked the same series of questions about each, and here’s what I found:

  1. Beauty and the Beast

Most prominent female character(s): Belle, the central protagonist. It’s her story.

And she is? A scholarly dreamer and inventor who becomes a princess.

Is she kickass? Well, no, not really. She’s willing to rip up her iconic pretty princess dress to ride to the rescue of her Beast, and she picks up a stick and whacks a wolf or two. But I’d call her more brave and practical than I would kick-ass; she’s a lover and a reader, not a fighter, and she doesn’t seem to have any kind of psychological or identity crisis about being rescued.

Does she have sex? Not on screen, but a growl and a giggle at the end suggest that if not yet then really soon.

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2:

Most prominent female character: Gamora, one of the hero’s team of sidekicks and his love interest

And she is? A green-skinned alien hottie in a sexy leather outfit who flies spaceships and shoots people in the face.

Is she kickass? Oh hell yeah

Does she have sex? Oh hell no. In fact, the notion that she might is one of the big running jokes of the plot.

  1. Logan

Most prominent female character: Laura, a MacGuffin

And she is? Another in the long tradition of super special damaged daughter substitutes for heroes in contemporary science fiction, fantasy and horror (see also: Firefly, The Last of Us)

Is she kickass? It is the entirety of her character.

Does she have sex? What’s the matter with you, you sicko! Of course she doesn’t!

  1. The Fate of the Furious

Most prominent female character: Michelle Rodriguez is back as the kickass love interest, but most prominent is Cipher, the villainess

And she is? The Ball Buster

Is she kickass? Oh hell yeah

Does she have sex? She tries to seduce the hero ‘cause that’s what these girls do, but he ain’t having it.

  1. Lego Batman

Most prominent female character: There’s a Batgirl.

And she is? A second string sidekick

Is she kickass? As much as a Lego figure can be, yes.

Does she have sex? No. Did I mention she’s a Lego figure?

So of the five most popular movies of 2017 prior to the release of Wonder Woman, only one has a female as lead protagonist, but all of these women but one are, in fact, kickass. (We’ll get back to that sex thing and why it’s important in a minute.) But this probably isn’t a fair sample; it’s only the first week of the summer blockbuster season. So let’s look back at 2016:

  1. Rogue One

Most prominent female character: Jyn, the protagonist

And she is? A pilot and mercenary with family connections that make her the best and most motivated choice for what turns out to be a suicide mission for the Rebellion.

Is she kickass? Absolutely. She hesitates to get involved with the Rebellion, but she’s been living by her wits and her laser pistol her whole life.

Does she have sex? There’s just no time. There’s a slight suggestion that there might have someday been a romantic connection to her partner in the mission if they had survived, but they die as friends.

  1. Finding Dory

Most prominent female character: Dory, the protagonist

And she is: A sweet, goofy single gal fish with short term memory loss

Is she kickass? Not at all; it’s very much not that kind of movie

Does she spawn? No – she’s more of a spinster auntie

  1. Captain America: Civil War

Most prominent female characters: Black Widow and/or Scarlet Witch, two secondary plotlines with equal time in the background

And they are? Superheroes in sexy leather outfits, one for each side of the central, dude-centric conflict

Are they kickass? Again, that’s all they came for.

Do they have sex? Just a little mostly unspoken emo yearning. Black Widow trades longing looks and oblique dialogue with a sensitive guy who turns into a big green monster, and the red rubber consciousness that looks like Paul Bettany casts a lot of shy glances at the Scarlet Witch—but she’s also got that super special substitute daughter thing going on, so maybe that’s what his deal is. (Only a superhero movie would cast Paul Bettany as a character with no discernible penis.)

  1. The Secret Life of Pets

It’s a kid’s movie, and every character except the background mommy figure and a couple of plot devices in passing is male.

  1. The Jungle Book

It’s a kid’s movie, and every character except the background mommy figure and a couple of plot devices in passing is male.

So again, of the ones that bother to have female characters of any substance at all, only one isn’t kickass. Methinks we might be mis-defining the problem and losing sight of what makes Wonder Woman such a milestone. Wonder Woman isn’t awesome because she’s kickass in the battle sequences; you can’t swing a dead henchman without finding a woman who’s kickass in battle sequences in these movies. She’s awesome because it’s HER FREAKIN’ MOVIE. After making her do her time as the Amazon ex machina in Batman vs. Superman, DC has put her front and center in her own origin story, committing to the project enough to have a great script and great actors and the budget to carry it off. (We’ll leave the debate about how much or little they promoted it for another blog post.) And yes, that is amazing and groundbreaking, and I can’t wait to see it, and I’m so glad it’s doing so well.

But let’s circle back to Leia and Buttercup and sex. In their original incarnations as princesses, they’re pretty kickass. Buttercup isn’t riding off to battle, but she is strong-willed, loyal, staunch in her convictions, and more than willing to face off shrieking eels, shove her kidnapper down a cliff, and go nose to nose with the royal asshole forcing her into marriage—when the confrontation comes, he’s the one who blinks first. And Leia might still be wearing a grotesquely impractical white gown and going by the title “princess” in Episodes IV-VI, but she’s a senator/spy who can stand up under torture, outshoot any storm trooper, and, oh yeah, lead a rebellion against the most powerful empire in the galaxy. So what’s the big evolutionary change in them that is inspiring all these tears of joy at their new empowerment? What was wrong with them before that’s right with them now? Sex—or rather, the elimination of sex. Princess Leia and Princess Buttercup are both objects of desire for men in their story, and each of them reciprocates this attraction when they find their soul mate. They fall in love. But once Buttercup becomes an Amazon general, it’s a pretty safe bet even for someone like me who hasn’t seen the movie  yet that she hasn’t got much time or patience for mawwiage or even twue love. And General Organa has given up romance to such an extent that she doesn’t even kiss Han Solo good-bye as she sends him to his death. I’ve done an informal poll, and pretty much every cis woman and gay man I know would have at least kissed Han Solo good-bye as they sent him to his death. But a nice, platonic hug is all General Organa will muster.

I love all these kickass women; I wouldn’t part with a one. And celibacy is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice. (This isn’t about boys, by the way; if some of these women had girlfriends, you’d never hear a peep of dissent out of me. Nor do I think all of these movies need that romantic element, far from it. But the fact that literally the only one that does is the Disney fairy tale movie gives me pause.) But choosing not to take a mate isn’t inherently better or more noble, and it doesn’t equate to empowerment, female or otherwise. Yet this is the message that so many of these popular movies with their celibate beauties seem to be sending, and this particular reaction to the Wonder Woman phenomenon shows that it’s not just Joss Whedon who’s infected. Since the beginning of time, there have been misogynistic jerks who think a woman is always supposed to look sexy but never supposed to have sex. If she doesn’t look sexy, she’s a hag. But if she has sex, she’s a slut. The patriarchy has been using shame to police women’s sexuality since Lilith and Eve, and the women who buy into that patriarchal model have always been their best agents on the street. But as feminists, aren’t we supposed to be better than that? Do we really want to embrace the message that any woman who takes a lover is surrendering, defining herself by that relationship and therefore lesser in our eyes? I don’t think that’s what Wonder Woman means to say; I don’t think that’s what we want for one another. Nobody has to be a princess or dream of being a princess if they don’t want to, or a housewife, or a space pilot, or an Amazon. But nobody has the right to make any of us feel less like a woman if we do.

Posted in Movies, Paranormal romance, Short Story

One from the Vaults for Halloween

frankenstein_150211-173Earlier this week, me and my peeps Alexandra Christian, Crymsyn Hart, and Siobhan Kinkade went to the big city moving pitcher show and saw Benedict Cumberbatch and company in the NBT’s version of Frankenstein. And it was awesome!  I wanted to write a full, glowing review, but honestly, enough people have done that already – just trust me; if you haven’t seen it yet, just go already. And if you’ve only seen the version with Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature, go back and see the other one. Seriously, there are no words to describe how awesome Cumberbatch is in that part.

But I digress.  It’s Halloween, I just saw a kick-ass version of Frankenstein, and I don’t have time to write a new story at the moment, so I’m reposting this one.  It originally appeared in a gorgeous coffeetable book on the art of Isabel Samaras entitled Tender Hooks, and I’ve actually featured it here before. But for anyone who hasn’t seen it and wants a short, scary read, here’s for you. Fair warning, though – it is VERY gruesome and pretty darn explicit. Read at your own risk. bwhahahahahahah

 

The Bride

My darling sister,

            I have little hope that you could believe the strange particulars of my tale even if I could tell it to you sitting at your side.  In truth, I can hardly believe it myself.  But I beg you, do not listen when others will tell you I am dead, that my precious Charles is dead and I have succumbed to despair.  Those who would tell you such a lie are only protecting themselves, and in truth,  I cannot blame them.  But neither can I bear to think that you will grieve for me.  Know by these lines that I live.  I have found the every happiness you wished me not so long ago when you kissed me on my wedding day.  My Charles is here beside me, and my heart is full of joy.

                                                            Yours ever loving,

                                                                        Elizabeth

 

Elizabeth leapt down from the coffin maker’s wagon almost before the horses stopped.  “The hospital!” she demanded, grabbing the first British soldier she saw standing upright.  “Where is the hospital?”

The young man just stared at her as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes.  “I don’t . . . who are you?”

She slapped him across the cheek.  “Listen.”  She took hold of his bearded chin and focused her eyes on his.  “I am the wife of Captain Charles Dumont of His Majesty’s Royal Marines.  He has written he was wounded.  He has asked me to come quickly.”  Her grip tightened.  “Where is the damned hospital?”

“There.”  He pointed across the ruined field to a half-demolished gatehouse.  “In the cellar – use the outside steps.”

“Thank you.”  She heaved the heavy carpetbag full of Charles’ notebooks in both arms like a baby and broke into a run.

The stone stairs were sticky with blood, and the charnel-house stench rising from the open doorway was appalling, but she didn’t hesitate.  “Ho, Miss!” the guard at the door called as she pushed past him.  “You can’t go in there!”

“Stop me, and I’ll kill you where you stand,” she muttered without slowing down.  A skinny young fellow in bloodied shirtsleeves and a bloody apron over his uniform trousers was coming toward her up the narrow aisle between the stretchers, carrying a tray with a brown bottle of laudanum, a small glass, and a crystal pitcher of water.  “Come with me,” she ordered.  “I may have need of you.”  Without pausing to see if he obeyed, she hurried along the line, looking down into each sweating, pain-twisted face.  “Charles!” she called out, fighting back tears.  “Darling, where are you?”  The officers and foot soldiers were all mixed in together, and some were obviously already dead, but she refused to panic.  She had come at once in the clothes on her back with nothing more than the notebooks; she must surely have arrived in time.

“Elizabeth!”  Alistair Gray was hurrying toward her through a narrow doorway to one side, wiping his bloody hands on a towel.  “In Christ’s name, why are you here?”

“Where is he?” she demanded, her legs going weak with relief.  “He sent for me – I came as quickly as I could.”  The look on his face made her blood run cold; she tried to shut it out.  “Where is Charles?”

“Dear Elizabeth.”  He tried to take the carpetbag from her arms, but she refused to loosen her grip, clutching it more tightly to her breast.  “He should not have sent for you.  You should not have come.”

“He is my husband; of course I should have come.”  She looked up into his eyes, clenching her jaw to keep from screaming.  “For the last time, Alistair, where is he?”

“Darling, Charles is dead.”  Her legs gave way for a moment, making her stagger, and Alistair caught her by the arms.  “Help me,” he ordered the young man carrying the laudanum.  “We must get her out of here—“

“No.”  She straightened up, wriggling free.  “Take me to him.  I don’t believe you.”

“Elizabeth, for pity—“

“He is not dead.”

“My love, I promise you, he is—“

“Take me to him!”

The fury in her tone made his face turn whiter underneath its freckles.  “Very well.”  He took her gently by the elbow, and this time she allowed it.  “Come.”

The dead were being stored like firewood in a gardening shed, the bodies of foot soldiers stacked along one wall.  Two officers had been laid head to foot on a low, marble-topped counter along the other wall below a row of windows.  One of these was Charles.  She let out a small, strangled sound, and the carpetbag fell from her arms.

“Elizabeth,” Alistair said, trying to take hold of her, but she pushed him away, moving forward.

“My darling . . .”  She touched his face, the skin as hard and smooth as stone.  “My darling, I have come.”  Half-blind with tears, she ran her hands over his body, pushing back the tatters of his clothes.  His head, arms, and torso were mostly intact, but one leg was little more than butchered meat and bone, and the flesh was swollen and torn over one hip, a sickening wound that smelled like blood and shit.

“He was in terrible pain,” Alistair said from behind her.  “The intestines were torn, Elizabeth.  I know you would have wanted to speak with him one last time, but truly, his death was a mercy.”

“He is still warm.”  She lifted a dead hand to her face, kissing the palm and curving the fingers to cup her cheek.  “His flesh is still pliable.”

“He has not been gone for long.”  She shivered, swallowing a sob, and he put a hot, dirty hand on her shoulder.  “Let me take you away from here.  The troops will be pulling out soon – Nappie is nipping at our heels.”

“Was his heart damaged at all?”  She caressed her husband’s face, tracing the curve of his jaw as she gazed down on his closed eyes, the dark brown lashes stark against his blue-white cheek.  The eyes beneath those lids were blue.  She imagined the moment when the life went out of them, when her darling one had ceased to live inside this shell she loved.  “And his brain?”

“His heart no doubt sustained a certain strain as he lay dying, yes.”  He knew what she was getting at; she could hear the horror in his voice.  “With the brain, it would be impossible to say what damage might have occurred.”

“But all of the tissue is present,” she persisted.  Letting go of Charles’ hand, she moved along the counter to examine the other dead officer.  This one had lost the top half of his head, but the rest of his body seemed virtually untouched.  She unbuttoned his trousers and pushed them down over his hips, making the young medic who was still attending them cry out in horror.  “Their frames are of comparable size,” she said with barely a tremble.  “Presumably the organs would be compatible as well.”

“Elizabeth, be quiet,” Alistair ordered.  “Think what you are saying—“

“I’ve brought the notebooks.”  She bent down and opened the carpetbag, pulling out the one on top and holding it out to him.  “He asked me to bring them.  Alistair, he knew.”

“You’re mad,” he insisted.  “Mad with grief—“

“Your experiments in London were successful—“
“Successful?” he demanded, aghast.  “The subjects went insane with violent rage the moment they awakened—“

“The subjects were dogs,” she pointed out.  “They had no true consciousness, no soul—“

“His soul is gone!” he shouted.

“No,” she said, tears spilling down her cheeks.  She was still crouched on the floor beside the carpetbag; now she reached out and took hold of his trouser leg, on her knees.  “His soul is waiting for me.  He will return.  He could not leave me.”  He was looking down at her, terror and tenderness mingled on his face in equal measure.  “He sent for me, Alistair.  He told me to come.”

“To say good-bye.”  He fell to his knees as well.  “Elizabeth, your heart is broken now, but it will mend.  You will love again—“

“No.”  She laid her palm against his cheek.  “If you love me, you must help me now.”  She stood up and went to the medic, still watching them as if he thought he must be dreaming, his tray still before him.  She poured a healthy measure of laudanum into the glass and topped it off with water.  “Go and prepare a surgery,” she told him.  “Dr. Gray must operate.”

“No,” Alistair said, shaking his head.  “You cannot ask me to do this.  I will not.”

“You will.”  She handed him the drug.  “I will help you.”  He drank deeply, and she smiled.  “We will bring him back.”

ššššššššššššššš

            Making ready was much easier than she had dared to hope.  The British troops had indeed moved out within the hour and left the dead and wounded behind with only Alistair and the one skinny medic to attend them.  There was no one to see them carry Charles and the other officer’s corpse into the roofless dining room that would serve as a laboratory, no one to ask questions as they assembled the equipment listed so carefully in Charles’ notebook, no one but Elizabeth to know how much of the opiate Alistair needed before he was ready to begin.

With Elizabeth standing on one side of the long dining table to mind the instruments and the medic ready at the other to do the heavy lifting, Alistair removed Charles’ ruined leg at the hip, dismantling the joint with a watchmaker’s careful precision.  “The skeleton can be saved here,” he said calmly, as if he were back in London addressing his students at the RoyalAcademy.  “But the flesh and organs must be replaced.”

“Sweet Jesus,” the medic groaned, closing his eyes.

“Steady on, lad,” Elizabeth ordered, refusing to acknowledge the tremor in her own voice.  “We’ve only just begun.”

Three hours later, the anatomical assembly was complete.  The medic lit lamps and tall torches against the gathering darkness, and Alistair mixed himself another drink, laudanum in brandy now instead of water.  “You’ve done beautifully,” Elizabeth said, standing by the body that now lay on the table intact, her precious Charles with the leg and cock of a stranger.  The medic had already discarded the leftover bits into one of the mass graves left open by the infantry when they marched away.

“I have done abomination,” Alistair said, his words slurred from the drug.

“Nonsense.”  She caressed her husband’s cheek for a moment before she turned back to his dearest friend, determined to go on.  “How do we charge the cells?”

Alistair looked as if he wanted to argue, but he smiled instead.  His flesh was as pale and drawn as the man on the table’s, his eyes rimmed in red, and his smile was like the grotesque grin of a skull.  “Not yet, my love,”  he said, raising his glass to her.  “First we must bind him down.”

The electrical apparatus was a clumsy, inelegant thing, a cage of greasy metal fittings and crystal tubes enclosing Charles on every side connected to an inner web of delicate copper wires that wrapped around his body like a shroud.  Back in London, she had wept to see such a thing constructed over the corpse of a dead dog, had bitten her own fist to the bone to keep from sobbing when Charles and Alistair had switched it on.  But now her eyes were dry.  “Have we made it properly?” she said, studying the beautifully-drawn schematic in the notebook.

“What does it matter?” Alistair said with a bitter laugh.  The mad light she had always feared in him had come into his eyes.  “How can we hurt him now?”

“Just what is it we mean to do, Doctor?” the medic asked.  “What is this contraption?”

“Oh come now, Sergeant, surely you’ve guessed,” Alistair said, draining his glass.    “We mean to make new life.”  He took Elizabeth’s hand and kissed it.  “Are we not gods, after all?”

Elizabeth caught his hand as he would let her go.  “Promise me you’ve built it just the way you and Charles did in London,” she said, her nails digging into his flesh.

“Oh yes.”  He drew her closer, close enough to smell the brandy on his breath.  “It is exactly the same.  When the sergeant engages those cells, the current will surround him completely and penetrate his flesh, just as it did to those poor creatures we tortured in London.  Every nerve will be charged with electricity at once, a fire in his blood, inside the marrow of his bones, a pain to raise the dead.  Remember how they howled, Elizabeth?”  Her lower lip trembled, and tears spilled from her eyes, but she refused to look away.  “Is this what you want?”

“Yes.”  Her voice was steady in spite of her tears.  “I will not let him go.”

“Selfish, stupid child.”  His grip was painful on her wrist, and he bent closer as if he meant to kiss her mouth.  She closed her eyes and turned her face away.  “The sin be on your head.”  He let her go.  “Not mine.”

She opened her eyes to find that he had turned away, and she whispered, “Of course.”

“Engage the cells,” he ordered the medic.  The young man obeyed, though his face was white as death with fear.  A high-pitched whine rose from the apparatus, and the vapor in the crystal tubes began to glow.  “Guard the door,” Alistair said, shouting over the din as the metal cage began to shake.  “For God’s sake, don’t let it escape.”  The medic scrambled for his rifle and stationed himself at the door, his bayonet pointed at the corpse.

Elizabeth barely noticed.  The spider’s web of copper had begun to spark and crackle, the body snared inside of it to twitch.  As she crept closer, she could see the veins along the inside of her husband’s arms deepen in color and begin to pulse with life.  “It’s happening.”  His fists clenched, a voluntary movement, graceful and controlled.  “It’s all right, darling,” she promised.  “I’m here.”  His eyes popped open, and his gaze met hers.  “You’re alive.”  She was laughing and crying at once, horrified by the pain she could see in his eyes but weak with relief.  “You will be all right.”

“Don’t touch him!”  Alistair caught hold of her arm, moving closer as well.  “The current would kill you.”  The sparks were reflected in the surgeon’s eyes, his expression a mixture of horror and fascination.

The body began to jerk on the table like a puppet shaken by the strings, but the apparatus was losing power, its whine losing pitch, its glow beginning to fade.  “No!” Elizabeth said, rushing to the cells, but she didn’t know what to do.  “Alistair, fix it – don’t let it stop!”

“The cells will only hold so much charge,” he answered, coming after her.  “A man is not a dog—“

As to dispute him, Charles threw back his head and howled, the muscles in his neck contorted with the strain.  His head thrashed back and forth against the table, his lips drawn back over his teeth.  The medic screamed like a woman as the creature lunged against the restraints, one powerful arm coming free.

“Turn it off!” Elizabeth cried.

“Elizabeth!” Alistair shouted, appalled, as the creature groped for her, breaking through the cage of glass and metal.  The surgeon dove for the controls, ripping at the wires, his hands burning as he grabbed the still-glowing copper.  “Sergeant, for God’s sake, help her!”

“My lady, come back!” the medic said, rushing forward.  He tried to grab hold of her with one hand as he aimed his rifle with the other, but she dodged him, pushing him away.  In the same moment, the creature on the table broke free.  He flung the cage that surrounded him away in a shower of sparks and breaking glass, howling and snarling like a wolf at bay.  Elizabeth screamed as he caught hold of the medic and shook him like a rag doll, the rifle firing wild as he dropped it on the floor.

“Charles, no!” she screamed again as he wrapped a hand around the medic’s throat and squeezed, snapping his neck like a reed.

“Elizabeth, get back!” Alistair ordered, drawing his pistol.

“No!”  She moved to grab for him, but the creature was faster.  Raising a heavy section of the apparatus that had saved him in both hands, he turned on the man who had been his dearest friend and broke the metal framework over his head.  Alistair staggered, the pistol falling from his grasp.  “Charles!” Elizabeth cried, but she could not seem to move; her legs had turned to water.  The creature raised the last broken pipe he still held and hit Alistair again, a sideswipe to his skull that sent him crashing to the floor.

“Charles.”  He turned to her, panting, his face still drawn with pain.  His dark brown hair was wet with sweat and falling in his eyes, and his head was lowered, his shoulders hunched – an animal at bay.  “You’re safe.”  Trembling, she made herself move closer.  “The worst is over, darling.”  He still held the broken pipe, now wet with Alistair’s blood.  “You have come back to me.”  He looked confused, a child lost in the dark, and she smiled, tears spilling down her cheeks.  “It will be all right.”  Moving slowly, she reached for the twisted web of copper still wrapped around his waist.  “No one will hurt you any more.”  He drew in a sharp breath as she touched him, his fist tightening around the pipe, but he didn’t move to fight her as she unwrapped the web and dropped it at their feet.  “I love you so much.”  She laid her palms against his chest, and he flinched, a tremor racing through him.  “I love you.”  She pressed her open mouth to his skin, the hard plane of muscle just over his heart.  She could feel his heart beating, stronger and stronger, feel his flesh warming under her hands, and she moved closer, curling against him, making a sound between a laugh and a sob.  He was alive.

He dropped the pipe and scooped her off her feet.  Making a sound that was almost like words, he kissed her, his mouth rough and clumsy on hers, his tongue pushing inside, and she tasted him, meat and metal, not revolting but different, not the taste she knew but somehow like it.  He carried her across the room and shoved her back against the broken plaster wall, and she felt a sharp stab of pain in her side.  “Elizabeth.”  His voice was thick and slurred, barely intelligible, barely human.  But it was her Charles’ voice, speaking her name.

“Yes.”  She caressed his cheek, framing his face in her hands.  “Your own Elizabeth.”  She kissed his mouth, drawing his lower lip between her teeth.  She was bleeding from her side, hot and wet, but she barely noticed, barely felt the pain.  He lowered his face to her shoulder, sniffing her flesh like a dog as he ripped at her clothes, baring her breasts.  Hunched over her, he wrapped his arms around her, one powerful forearm under her behind to lift her up, his mouth coming down on her breast, suckling like a child.  “Yes,” she repeated, faint with sudden, fiery want.  His touch was as rough as his kisses, and she gasped as his hand found her cunt.  He groaned low in his throat, and she felt his cock against her hip, hard and strange.  She trailed her fingertips along his side, across his stomach, and finally down over his hip, trembling with fear and fascination as she traced the seam where he had been remade.  He grabbed her wrist so hard she cried out, but she didn’t try to pull away.  He looked down at her, awareness dawning in his deep blue eyes.  He kissed her mouth again, more tenderly, more sure.  She wrapped her hand around his cock and guided him inside her.

He drew his breath in sharply, closing his eyes, and his arms tightened around her.  She braced her hands against his shoulders as he drove upward, pushing her up the wall, then wrapped her legs around his hips.  His bare skin felt hot against hers, as hot as ever in his life, and though the cock inside of her felt strange, his rhythm was familiar, a long, slow build that carried her passion with his.  She watched his face and nearly cried, the way his brow was knit in concentration was so much the way she remembered.  She pressed her cheek to his, her arms around his neck.  “My love . . .”  He quickened his pace, shifting her closer, his hips ground to hers, and the sharp thrill of her climax broke inside her.  She cried out, and he groaned, driving her harder against the wall, and she felt him come as well, the wet burst cooler than life and vaguely shocking, making her shiver.  She lay her head down on his shoulder, clinging tight, and he cradled her close for a long, sweet moment.  A sob escaped her as she pressed her face to his throat, her arms wrapped tightly around him.  Still holding her against him, he sank to the floor, and she curled close in his lap.

“Elizabeth . . .”  His voice was still strange but more tender.  He cradled her jaw in his palm, turning her face up to his.  He smiled down on her, haunted but alive.  “Thank you.”

“My sweet darling,” she said, laughing with relief.  Her face pressed to his chest, she felt his arms enfold her.  She knew they were safe.

“Elizabeth.”  Alistair was coming toward them, his head and neck and collar soaked with blood, his pistol aimed before him.  “Get out of the way.”

“Alistair, no,” she said, trying to struggle to her feet.  He was coming closer, stepping over the dead medic.  “Please, stop.”  Charles stood up, lifting her easily.  “Wait, both of you,” she protested as he set her to one side.

“It is a monster,” Alistair was saying, his eyes bright as if with fever.  “It must be destroyed.”  The pistol was shaking in his hand.  Charles snarled at him, taking a step forward.

“No!” she screamed, throwing herself between them.  The pistol shot ripped through her, a bolt of lightening through her chest.  She fell forward, clutching at Charles, an icy cold spreading inside of her, hot blood pouring from her breast.

“Dear God,” she heard Alistair say from behind her, a dull thud as the pistol hit the floor.  “Forgive me . . . .”  Then everything went black.

ššššššššššššššš

            When she opened her eyes, a man was bending over her – a demon.  Fire was consuming her; she was in hell.  She screamed, struggling in bonds that held her down, desperate to escape.  Searing, stabbing pain raced down her limbs, making them jerk without her will, and she whipped her head from side to side, gnashing her teeth in fury.  How dare they? she screamed inside her head, but the words would not come; she could not make them form inside her mouth.  As quickly as the thought was born, it died, lost inside a wild, animal rage.

“Peace, love,” the beautiful demon was saying, words that just barely had meaning.  Just outside the range of her vision as she fought, she could hear another creature sobbing, begging for . . . . something . . . . what did this mean, forgive me?   The fire was fading, the pain becoming less, but her confusion was growing.  The man bending over her was unfastening her bonds, and she began to cry.  “Come back to me.”  He kissed her, lifting her up in his arms, kissed her eyelids and her cheeks, and suddenly she knew him.

“Charles.”  Her voice was barely more than a rasp, but he heard her.

“Yes,” he said, smiling.  She looked down at her chest and saw a long, jagged line of black stitches.  He touched her chin and turned her face to his.  “And you are Elizabeth.”

The end

Posted in Movies, Uncategorized

Random Thoughts on the new Desolation of Smaug Trailer

hobbit_desolation_of_smaug_posterSo the shiny new trailer for The Hobbit 2:  The Desolation of Smaug hit the interwebs last week.  Have you seen it yet?  If not, here, I’ll wait:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPVWy1tFXuc

Pretty nifty, huh?  The three movies of Lord of the Rings in their extended director’s cuts on DVD, taken all together as one, are my absolute favorite movie of all time.  I watch them over and over; I watch the making of documentaries over and over; I love every little detail about them, even the stuff I don’t like.  (Admit it; you know what I mean.)  So I was really bummed out by the first installment of The Hobbit when it came out last year.  It was beautiful; the effects were amazing; it was perfectly cast; Martin Freeman is all that is light and light and lovely as Bilbo Baggins . . . but damn it all to hell, it was boring.  By the time the trolls showed up, I was sneaking peeks at my neighbor’s watch, trying to guess how many more minutes of dwarven whimsy must be endured before Gollum would finally show up.  I love the story of The Hobbit.  I’ve read the book half a dozen times.  One of my first experiences as an actress was in a children’s theater adaptation where I played no less than three parts – a troll, a hobbit, and one of Smaug’s legs.  But compared to the epic narrative of LOTR, this tale of a reluctant burglar and the dwarves who grow to love him is pretty simple stuff, even if you make the lead dwarf all angsty and hunkerrific.  Stretching it into three movies is a stretch indeed, no matter how fast and loose you’re willing to play with The Silmarillion to dig up some extra plot.

So now there’s this trailer for Chapter 2.  And again, it’s gorgeous, and it does look a lot more exciting than the first one.  Except . . . the stuff that looks exciting doesn’t look much like The Hobbit.  For example . . .

It looks like they’ve given Legolas some kind of romance.  Do what?  Don’t get me wrong; I loved the romantic elements of LOTR; I thought they added hugely to the overall experience of the story.  But those elements were all at least suggested by Tolkien’s original text.  I also really like Orlando Bloom as an actor and as an object for lustful perusal (though more below on how he looks in this).  But is Legolas even in The Hobbit?  I can totally deal even if he isn’t; they do go to Mirkwood where he’s from; it makes sense that he would be there.  But a elven sweetheart?  Seriously?  The only relationships I remember Legolas having in Tolkien’s original writings were his big brotherly love for Aragorn and his fun bromance with Gimli the dwarf.  He’s just not that kind of character.  Again, nothing wrong with expanding on the character, I suppose, but if I’m interpreting the tiny snippet from the trailer correctly (which, it must be said, is hardly assured), it looks like they’ve put in an angsty love connection just to bring in the ladies.  And this lady isn’t convinced.  (The fact that they’ve chosen human-shaped tank top hanger Evangeline Lilly, one of my least favorite actresses ever, to play the Elf Chick doesn’t help.)

And speaking of the elves . . . I hate their digitally enhanced shiny skin glowing with inner light.  It looks like they were going for Renaissance angel and hit Tinkerbell in Return to Toys R Us Mountain instead.  I get that the actors who play elves are a wee tad older now than they were when they made LOTR, and maybe that needs to be addressed.  But they’ve gone waaaaay too far.

Casting Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon was brilliance; he’ll be awesome.  (But oh, the bestial fan fiction the world will be forced to endure – Run, Bilbo, run!)

If we make it into the dragon’s lair in this movie . . . . what the heck happens in Chapter 3?

Why is Gandalf already so fussed about The Ring?  It’s been a while since I read it, but does Bilbo ever even tell Gandalf about finding The Ring in the The Hobbit?  He might; I just don’t remember.  But I do know that Gandalf doesn’t start making big, scary connections to Sauron until The Fellowship of the Ring.  I wondered about this when we had the addition of the scary spiders and poisonous forest and shadow in the ruins and blah di blah blah blah in Chapter 1.  They’re trying so hard to give this story the same weight and import as LOTR, but it just doesn’t work; it’s not that kind of story.

I will definitely see this; I will enjoy going back into this world.  But I’m afraid that just like with Chapter 1, I won’t feel satisfied.  I came out of every single installment of LOTR ready to buy another ticket and walk back in.  I just don’t see that happening with any installment of The Hobbit.

Posted in Current events, Movies, Pop Culture, TV, Uncategorized

Some random thoughts about the 2013 Golden Globes

Adele-Golden-Globes-006I’m an awards show junkie.  Have you ever wondered who the lunatic is who’s actually watching all that red carpet coverage on E! and actually reading the crawl at the bottom of the screen and actually knows the names of all those deeply freakish-looking fashion “experts” prattling into the camera?  Yeah, that would be me.  I make no claims of sartorial splendor for myself, but I’m fascinated by the weird wonder of the fashion universe the way some people are fascinated by Honey Boo Boo or the stock market – it’s a train wreck; I can’t look away.  My best friend and I used to plan our Golden Globes viewing for weeks in advance – others could join us if they wanted, but we were watching from the red carpet through the bitter end and work the next morning be damned.  (Watching the Golden Globes is always more fun than watching the Oscars.  Everybody says it’s the liquor they serve the audience, but I think it’s the lack of elaborate production pieces meant to entertain us and distract us from how hopelessly snotty and out of touch the nominations are.)  Since Petey moved to another state and I got married, we can’t watch together any more (which, lemme tell ya, I hate with the passion of a thousand burning suns).  But this year, Max felt secure enough in his masculinity (and happily sated enough by the dinner I’d cooked) to at least sit in the room with me while I watched.  Still, he couldn’t really appreciate the full depth of my bitchiness, so I thought I’d share a little of it with my darling kittens instead.

chastain-golden-globes-592x382Item:  Jessica Chastain can’t just fire her stylist between now and the Oscars.  She needs to have them crucified next to Sunset Boulevard, preferably within sight of the Chateau Marmont, as a warning to others lest this shit get out of hand.  She is one of the most gorgeous women on the planet with an amazing body.  Yet somehow they managed to make her look like a frump with a bald spot wearing a shower curtain.  What the hell, y’all?  She’s the frontrunner as Best Actress for freakin’ everything this year.  Yes, she played a cupcake last year in The Help (though I would submit she was one damned smart and feisty cupcake), but we totally get that she’s a serious artist playing a serious woman doing serious work in Zero Dark Thirty.  For pity’s sake, let the woman be pretty!  And if she did it to herself, somebody take a long, hard look at her meds.

Item:  Who would have thought Daniel Day Lewis would deliver the funniest line of the night?  Nice to know there’s a real sense of humor in there somewhere.

Item:  I don’t know if she’s living or dead, but wherever she is in the universe, Helena Bonham Carter’s mother saw her on the red carpet and said some English woman’s version of, ‘Oh for cryin’ out loud! As pretty as she is and as much as they pay her, she could have at least combed her hair!’  I noticed her husband, Tim Burton, had his arm in a sling.  I hope he broke it trying to wrestle that tube of blood red lipstick out of her hand.

Item:  Jennifer Lopez has apparently started drinking the same embalming fluid they gave to Evita Peron.  Happily, Nicole Kidman seems to have given it up – she looked more lifelife than I’ve seen her in years outside of a movie.

Item:  Taylor Swift can suck it.

Item:  I don’t know what “Girls” is, but it sounds like “Sex and the City” for women with tattoos.  This would not be a recommendation.

tommy-lee-jones-is-not-impressed-golden-globesItem:  Y’all, it is time to admit it.  Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig are not funny.  They’re pitiful.  Or rather, they’re cynical, mean-spirited assholes who have made a living pretending to be pitiful to make fun of the rest of us, whom they mistakenly believe to be both pitiful and too stupid to realize they’re putting us on.  Oh wait . . . apparently some of us are that stupid.  In any case, I’m with Tommy Lee Jones.

Item:  Somebody is going to have to explain to me what the deal is with Bradley Cooper.  Everybody talks about how hot he is, but he looks like yet another cream cheese boy (to borrow a phrase from my very clever brother-in-law), the mannequin they made to replace Kevin Costner when his face finally started to move somewhere in the mid 2000s, the kind of bland-looking handsome guy who could pose for that symbol they put on the men’s room door.  (see also:  Ryan What’s His Name, the guy who supposedly says “hey girl” all the time.  What’s that all about?)

Item:  Ewan McGregor was far and away the best-looking guy in the room, but when did he turn into Obi-Wan for real?

Item:  Jodie Foster has known for weeks she was getting this award; why didn’t she write down her speech?  I couldn’t care less who she sleeps with, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that being her business, not mine.  I even sympathize tremendously with her being sick and tired of people telling her she needs to come out for the sake of a community of strangers.  But honey bunny, if you don’t want to share, just don’t.  Don’t talk about it.  Don’t make excuses.  And if you’re really pissed off enough to deliver some kind of scathing manifesto, make sure the bitches you’re telling off can understand what the heck you’re talking about.

 

Item:  Mel Gibson looks more and more like ‘Mel Gibson’ on Southpark every day he lives.  Bless his heart, he could haunt a house.

Item:  Nobody cares who you forgot to thank in your speech, especially whoever it is you’re stomping over to get to the microphone to fit it in.  Send them a nice note tomorrow.  (And having your wife do it for you is a little bit cuter but still rude as hell.)

Item:  Ben Affleck is apparently smarter than his hair.

Item:  Anne Hathaway is gorgeous and gifted and deserves every accolade she gets.  To play two such different characters – Fantine and Catwoman – so exquisitely in the same year is nothing short of phenomenal.  So somebody needs to find that voodoo doll that Sally Field probably  has hidden in her underwear drawer and de-magic it.  Just remember, Sally, if you won this year, everybody would say it was because you’re an old lady who won’t be around much longer, and that’s ridiculous.

Item:  Russell Crowe was GREAT in Les Miserables.

Item:  Hugh Jackman’s wife is every bit as adorable as he is, so y’all jealous bitches need to just hush.

Item: [borrowed from my sister] When did Bill  Murray sign the Santa Clause?

Item:  Tina Fey can look more like Johnny Depp than she can Sarah Palin, which ought to be a tremendous comfort.

Item:  Ricky Gervais never felt the need to make a joke about how he was almost too fat to fit into his suit.  Shame, ladies, shame shame shame.

Item:  Whoever custom designed Julianne Moore’s dress does not wish good things for her and needs to be punished.  Did nobody hold up a mirror and show her how it looked from the back?

Item:  Jennifer Lawrence’s comment about Harvey Weinstein made me like her a lot.

Item:  That Dodge Dart II thing looks like a pretty cool car.

 

Posted in Batman, Movies

Wabbit Season

One of the things I did on vacation was see The Dark Knight Rises, the final dark chapter in Christopher Nolan’s dark Der Ring Des Batman-lungen trilogy.  One of the previews shown before it was for the Nolan-produced Man of Steel, aka Die Leiden des jungen Supermans, which looks, among other adjectives, quite dark.  So moved and inspired was I by this experience, my fangirl need for chaos, knowledge, and control seized me and forced me to psychically hack the hard drive of Nolan’s writing computer where I discovered his first notes for a new project:  Wabbit Season, a dark and hyper-realistic interpretation of another beloved and iconic fictional universe long revered in the collective subconscious of American pop culture.

Working Title:  Wabbit Season

Bugs Bunny:  Protagonist; small-time criminal, genius intelligence, incomplete arts education, anarchist, open transvestite, closet transsexual – Brooklyn accent, Irish descent – ties to IRA; good with bombs.  Casting notes:  Christian Bale currently preparing with carrots-only diet and plastic surgery to stretch ears.  Other possibilities if Bale unavailable and/or uninsurable due to starvation?  Will Smith?  Warner Brothers pushing Jim Carrey; too on-the-nose.

Daffy Duck:  Homicidal moralist – strong ties to Black Panther movement of the 1960s – 1960s setting?  Subtle lisp suggestive of homosexuality, self-loathing, love/hate/lust/kill fixation on Bugs.  Torture sequence involving bill.  Casting note:  take meeting with Chris Rock re:  possible dramatic vehicle.  Don Cheadle could also work.

Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire:  Primary antagonist, industrialist, serial killer.  Owns a mansion and a yacht.  Childhood history of profound physical and sexual abuse, current addiction to whiffable drug designed by his own pharmaceutical company – turns red while under the influence.  Hunting enthusiast; obsessively drawn to Bugs in drag.  Casting note:  keep calling Tommy Lee Jones, restraining order be damned.

Secondary plotline to open the film involving dwarf mafioso Babyface Finster – Tom Cruise has expressed interest; only if he dances.  Prefer Peter Dinklage, would take Patton Oswalt if his sense of irony can be surgically suppressed.  Mel Gibson last resort.  Possible product placement deal with Huggies?

Other possible titles:  “Pronoun Trouble.”  “Despicable.”  “Hassenpfeffer.”  Trilogy?