solarbird: (Default)
Those of us who have been saying that 50 Shades of Grey is domestic abuse aren't talking about the - rather badly done, from what I'm being told - BDSM. We're talking about the psychotic emotional abuse that underlies the entire relationship.

This reviewer gets it.
I screwed up. I screwed up big time. I went into this film thinking it would be two hours of B-grade hilarity about bondage that I could make fun of. It was actually two hours of incredibly disturbing content about an emotionally abusive relationship that left me really, really shaken.

And now I’m embarrassed that I ever joked about it.

-- Rosie Reviews: 50 Shades of Grey
solarbird: I made this! From a photo. (emma peel)

So, yeah. “The Caretaker.”

I’m getting pretty close to “ring me up when Moffat is gone from Doctor Who.” And I’m not that entirely sure I’m going to turn on my phone’s ringer. Because right now, there is so very little to like and so very much not to, and I am out of patience with Mr. Moffat.

I don’t like – to paraphrase James Nicoll – that at the rate we’re going, we’ll end up with an entire episode consisting of the Doctor negging Clara for 50-odd minutes straight by the end of the season.

I don’t like Clara again being defined so entirely by what men think about what she’s doing. I particularly don’t like – as Leeson on The Doctor Who Podcast said – that it feels like some sort of competition of who is better at taking care of her. She’s a goddamn adult, she doesn’t need taking care of.

I don’t like Danny Pink anymore, in no small part because of what I just said. I kind of liked him in the first episode; since then he’s become more and more weirdly erratic and demanding in ways that set of alarm bells for me. (I did like him when he went all soldier-and-officer on the Doctor, though, in this episode. I’ll say that.)

I don’t like the Doctor demanding explanations about Clara’s boyfriend, even if I don’t like that character. Wanting to know? Sure. Feeling hurt or isolated if he’s kept out of the loop? Okay, I can see that. Demanding like he has some sort of goddamn right? Fuck you, Doctor.

This show has made me think, “FUCK YOU, Doctor. FUCK you.” And wow, do I not want to be thinking that.

I can take an abrasive Doctor. Sometimes I like it. It’s a delicate balance, a challenge, and I’m not convinced it’s a good idea, because in episodes like this, you end up with nothing to like about this Doctor, or any of these characters. Don’t get me wrong, that can work. You weren’t supposed to like anybody in Absolutely Fabulous either, and that didn’t stop it from being completely genius.

But I think the way Moffat is running this version only works if you have previous regenerations of the Doctor in your head. One, to remind you that eventually he’s not like this, and for another, to place this into contrast, which makes this in turn more interesting.

That’s called “writing entirely for the fans,” and over time, it’s a really bad idea.

But most of all – on top of everything else, the thing that really punched me in the face, the thing that’s making me think that maybe I’m done…

I really, really don’t like the Doctor turning the black maths teacher into “the PE instructor” over and over again.

I really do not fucking like the Doctor playing racist tropes as dismissals.

See, here’s the thing. I can take my own ox being gored with more … grace? With having more stomach? I can more easily deal with problematic material that’s problematic towards me than I can with problematic material that’s that so very problematic towards others. It’s one thing to be all dismissive of humans, I’m fine with that. It’s another to be pulling out racist shit.

Now, I’m willing to listen to people to say this isn’t such a fucking racist trope in the UK. I only want to hear it from Britons, and really, I prefer to hear it from Britons of colour. But I’m willing to listen to that.

Something tells me, though… I don’t think it’s that different.

eta: The original version of this post attributed a phrase to James at The Doctor Who Podcast; the statement was actually made by Leeson, and the post has been edited to reflect that.

eta2: Anna has added her reaction over on her blog. She has other issues I don’t.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-excited)

All instruments (real, MIDI, otherwise) are complete. Flute was the last to the post, and I got that done over the weekend.

Vocals this week; final mixes next. Fun announcement hopefully shortly thereafter, and maybe not the one you’d expect given all the other things I’ve just said. There may be some surprises included in all this, oh, stuff. But I’m waiting on word from other people.

Once I know, you’ll know.

I have my first outside feedback on this album, or one song from it. A release candidate recording made its way further out than I intended. It leaked, like Doctor Who scripts leaking leaked; I had no idea until I got reaction mail about it on Sunday. So I’ve asked permission to quote that reaction mail, because I don’t mean to brag, or maybe I do, but this is the kind of reaction you really want to quote. It comes from an area pro, someone I know but not super-well, and involves the words “superb” and “addictive” and also “knockout,” and those aren’t all the good words.

Y’know, it’s still not too late to sign up for an Advance Review Copy.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

So, yeah, the latest Doctor Who, “Into the Dalek,” tipped the metre into wretched. Seriously, if I wanted to watch people traipsing through a giant robot, I’d watch Lost in Space, so I’m going to talk a little about this episode using stills from the Series 2 Lost in Space episode, “Trip Through the Robot.”

So first, there’s explosions. In media res, and all that. It’s not as good as starting a story, but it works in a pinch. And hey, future setting! I like those. Explosions!

Then there’s more explosions, in case you missed the first ones.

But all that’s more okay than it should be, because The Doctor is watching! And he saves the one that hasn’t completely blown up yet, even though she keeps wanting to shoot him too.

Yay! Saved! The whole crew gets together and thanks The Doctor, but then decides well, we like you, but we still have to kill you. That’s how we show gratitude here in the future!

But that’s not important either, because in fact none of it matters a few seconds later because the The Doctor runs and gets The Companion, which The Crew apparently decided he could do instead of shooting him, because The Crew have serious mood-instability issues have a patient. WHO COULD IT BE? Whups, not yet, time for new credits.

…and then we run about with The Companion for a while, but then The Doctor shows up, and we all go find out who is The Patient. And who is The Patient? Dun dun dunnnnnn A DALEK! O NOES!

This Dalek is very sick – so sick it has turned into a drama queen.

So, whelp, there’s only one thing to be done for it – Let’s Get Small! Now, this makes no damn sense even for Doctor Who, because honestly, have you priced tiny atoms lately? Nobody has the money for that. Even Lost in Space knew better, and just made the Robot Dalek Robot really huge.

But that’s not important either! All that matters is that even at this size, it’s bigger on the inside, because really, who can manage scale. Scale is difficult, who cares, it’s Doctor Who, suspend some goddamn disbelief already. Anyway, The Doctor and The Companion go inside. (And to be fair, this was a visually interesting moment in the actual episode, and I kind of liked that bit. Now, back to the hack job I’m doing here.)

And there’s a bit of wandering around inside, and finding things. None of those bits might be important, could they? Eh. Oh, look, it’s the engine room of the BroTrek Enterprise, a.k.a., a brewery! This would be convenient, except alcohol did not help this episode, and believe me, right about here, I started trying.

But oh no! There are antibodies inside the robot and they’re after us! Anybody got some gum? It won’t help, but hey, gum!

Run! Run some more! Oh good, here, here’s a diode heart food storage area, we’ll be safe there – it’s too important to have defences! (STRATEGY!)

Oh, as an aside, Happy Christmas! Apparently. But I digress.

We need to Fix The Dalek! Because this Dalek is so broken it’s become ‘good,’ which apparently means ranting about killing the things a Dalek doesn’t normally want to kill, and sure, that makes ethical sense, but hey, carry on.

And they get inside the jukebox reactor which powers the Dalek, and weld together the broken bit with… a screwdriver. Fine, whatever. Radiation: It’s Fucking Magic. So is the sonic. I’m kind of okay with that, it’s part of the territory.




Strangely, the Dalek boarding party is really not very large. And they board instead of just blowing up the ship some more. Anyway, then there’s a bunch of running around while The Doctor and The Companion try to re-reboot The Dalek into Good Mode again. Because sure, enough hits on the reboot button has to do something, right?

And The Doctor climbs up into The Dalek’s brain chamber and talks to it for a while.

And The Crew is running around getting shot at and killed sometimes because they don’t run away very well. And who are these jerks, anyway? Mostly people who wanted to kill The Doctor for saving and returning one of their fighter pilots. They must just hate her.

But eventually, they reboot The Dalek again, and this time it comes back up Good! Yay! But that just means it wants to kill Daleks again, which they thought was good before, but now it’s all depressing for some reason, I guess because The Dalek found out that The Doctor really does not like Daleks. And that’s just like The Good Dalek! And that’s bad. So The Doctor is being all mopey about not being better than The Dalek, even though that’s bollocks.

There’s supposed to be a dilemma in there about how The Doctor makes a better Dalek than The Dalek, except we saw that in the new series before already, and frankly, we saw it a lot better and more convincingly.

But in the end it works out kind of okay anyway, because The Companion tells The Doctor hey, you’re trying, and intent – like radiation! – is fucking magic, and matters a lot more than saving the universe a couple of zillion times, and that picks him up a bit. That’s… nice? I guess?

And then The Doctor drops off The Companion and wanders off in television space and time again. l8r l8r don’t be a h8r.

Roll credits while rolling eyes. The moral of the story is, “don’t let the robot run out of power, you morons, you’ll need it later” “rebooting fixes everything” “everybody can be good” “any chance to redeem a murderous psychopathic alien should be taken so I can feel better about myself” “one good dalek who wants to genocide the right aliens because it saw a star being born trumps a couple of hundred other… humanoids… because… yeah I’ll get back to you on that” “Samuel Anderson is kinda hot.”

Or, you know, that’s as much as I gleaned from this mess. Moffet is starting to make me miss Most Hated (6th) Doctor and No Really I’m An American Companion Peri, and goddamn, that takes some work. Is he a secret Colin Baker fan? Is all this about improving the past’s reputation by contrast? Because yeah, which is better, “Twin Dilemma” or “Into the Dalek”? Some questions should not be asked.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (Lecturing)

Just back from the first movie I’ve seen in months, Maleficent. I wanted to see this before it fell out of theatres, mostly because of the trailers with her wings, because yeah.

Let’s talk about the good parts, first: Angelina Jolie is wonderful. It looks great. The green fire which is signatory to this version of the character was lovingly rendered and just felt right. The christening scene, reinterpreted here? Perfection. The later interactions of Aurora and Maleficent, ages, oh, 13ish to the end of the story resonated well, and just worked.

But… while so many things are right, I can’t get past “pretty good” as a response. Not great. Merely pretty good. That’s because I just can’t get past the fact that in this film, too many things are too easy. I don’t mean physically easy, tho’ there is some of that; those parts are not so important. No, I mean emotionally easy.

And from here on out, we’ll be heading deep into spoiler territory, so you have now been warned.

Let’s start with our antagonist, King Steffan.

Sharlto Copley plays Doctor then King Steffan well, given what he has to work with. But there isn’t enough meat in the part. There should be; all the bones are there. But Steffan’s arc is missing too many important, difficult notes.

His needed to be both a more political story – it’s a very political tale, after all – and a story about ruined love. Okay, sure, there was never “one true love,” as the film fairly points out – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a kind of love there, and I think there was. And, well, betrayal of such things is a staple of royal histories. It’s entirely in theme.

And so Steffan commits a great treachery, setting events in motion, becoming King Henry’s heir. But that sort of treachery – so personal a treachery – needs confronting. In the film, all we really get is a big fight scene.

That’s letting him and the audience off easy, and it’s a failing. We in the audience need to know his self-justifications – how it was right for him to cut off and steal her wings, how it was right for him to seize the throne from a dying King Henry, how everything since then – the economic hardships, the battles – have proven how he and King Henry both were right to hate and desire the faerie lands.

How it’s all self-defense. How it’s all her fault. Not his. Not King Henry’s. Her fault.

Never his.

We shouldn’t buy it, of course. We don’t need to believe it. We just need to believe he believes it – even if only by lying to himself so strenuously for so long. We needed Maleficent to confront his justifications, and deny them, laying the lies bare.

We needed to see that, and we didn’t. Steffan’s descent into paranoia – see also, “uneasy rests the head that wears the crown” – played out well, but that’s not enough. We needed to get into his brain, and find him lacking.

It also would’ve been nice to see some of this from Princess and then Queen Leah’s view. It’s clear that King Steffan’s isolation grows throughout the film; it would’ve been nice if we’d known some of that has come from Queen Leah’s knowing that something happened between him and Maleficent. Sure, she knows about the wings; that’s why he’s king. But there was more to it, more that he’s lying about, something both more and rotten. Something that makes her suspicious, then untrusting, then isolating.

In short, his betrayal should ruin two potential loves. Ruined love already underlies the text; it should be a stronger undertheme, since it’s what unlocks his character. Love doesn’t have to be “one true love” to still be love; Steffan ruins it through betrayal for the sake of power, every time he acts.

It would make a nice parallel to the the other easiness problem in the film: the too-easy relationship of Maleficent and Aurora.

Maleficent’s affection for Aurora comes too quickly and too trivially, in film-time. Less so in story-time; it spans many years in character. But that’s not communicated well, and even in story-time, Maleficent’s saving Aurora’s life from the inept fairy trio’s overwhelming incompetence* mere days after cursing her to die.

And it doesn’t resonate; it doesn’t work. Maleficent’s complex and multistage arc should be awesome – from young love, to betrayal and ruined love, to justified hate, to claiming her revenge… and then turning back from that, working through to regret, and to building an adult, parental love, and reclaiming her life for her own, from the wreckage wrought by Steffan.

Most of the pieces are there, but… it’s hollow in the middle. We needed a better arc of her hate. The arc is set up nicely. The betrayal is agonising. And so, she cursed an innocent baby to “sleep like death” tragically on the cusp of adulthood, as per her symbolic death with the rending and theft of her wings, and we’re kind of on board with that. We can see how she gets there.

So she can’t just step in and save Aurora over and over again without a good emotional reason, even if only to tell herself. Yes, it’s the turning point in her arc. Yes, from her own curse (irony!) she’s fated to love Princess Aurora in some form, as everyone who interacts with Aurora will come to love her, though not “true love” her. Maleficent is hoisted by her own petard here, and that’s fine.

But as with Steffan, there are always rationalisations for things done. Steffan needs to rationalise his evil; Maleficent needs to rationalise her goodness, in symmetry.

It could be simple – Aurora has to live to 16 so that Maleficent can see the curse she laid down become true, and watch King Steffan’s agony and failure to stop it. That’s a bit stock – a bit, heh, easy, really – but it’s a starting point.

Saving infant Aurora is a critical change at a critical moment. We needed some emotional support for that, and we didn’t get it. I’m not looking for All! The! Angst! – I’m looking for more emotional struggle to sell me the progression of character. Maleficent initially needs to save Aurora out of hate and revenge, not out of “well, guess so.” “Might as well” is just too damned easy.

Which is a damned shame.

Still, pretty good. Not what it should’ve been, though. That always hurts; good and great are awesome, terrible is terrible, hilariously terrible is even better. They are what they are and could be. But the near-misses like this one… they hurt. Maleficent could’ve been brilliant. Instead, by letting characters and the audience off too easy, it was merely… pretty good.

Not great. Pretty good.

And that’s a damned shame.

*: The three fairies were well too incompetent. It felt as though they were made even more spectacularly incompetent simply to provide more opportunities for Maleficent to step in and save Aurora. And again, that’s another case of letting things be Too Easy.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (cracksman betty)

Cracksman Betty has shown up on iTunes! It costs more there! I don’t know why! But they make those decisions, not me! Clearly they think it’s a real album. :D Yay! It’s not much more, they just set their standard pricing on it. But that’s okay by me. ^_^

If you haven’t given a listen yet, you can hear the whole thing right here, on Bandcamp. No 30-second samples here! They you can buy it on iTunes, or hopefully give it some review love, which it very much needs.

I never did a review raffle beforehand because there wasn’t a beforehand! So I’ll do one now instead: write and post a public review in the next two weeks (plus a little – two weeks plus the weekend) and I’ll email you a special home-burned CD edition of the album. (It’ll be less S-100 Bus which you’ll still have to download on its own because of licensing, but it’s free, so that’s okay.)

This should play the whole album for you:

Post the link to your review here in comments to enter. And have a good weekend!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

Time for a Dick Tracy Must Die review roundup! If you know of any reviews I haven’t seen – and I find Google’s web tracking to be highly unreliable – please let me know!

Same for if you review it yourself! I love reviews. Any reviews, seriously, because word-of-mouth is most of what we independent musicians have. Like Seanan McGuire has said, even negative reviews are good reviews because, and I quote, “having reviews reminds people that a thing is worth reviewing.”

So all reviews are ♥, and here are three that are ♥ ♥ ♥!

Over on Amazon, people have posted two really positive reviews! It’s very exciting. ^_^

The first is from R. Piper, who says, “crime et. al. do amazing things with bouzouki, voice, lyricism, and emotion. “something’s coming” is truly scary, “”stars” is wistful-teary, when you leave” is a total song-virus, and “my boyfriend” just makes me laugh :)” Yay!

The second is from Silussa (hiya! XD ), who says, “I won’t claim that this CD sets a mood; the tone of “My Boyfriend” and of “Hide From Me” are completely opposite. However, if you want something very definitely not mainstream pablum, but rocking enough to crank down the windows and turn the radio up, then I recommend Dick Tracy Must Die.” Thanks! I hope people take your recommendation! \o/

The third is over on CD Baby, one of the places you can order the physical CD. There’s a new review entitled “Metallurgical Delight,” by Paul Fergus: “I’m blown away by the growth and diversity of what is now a full fledged wild growth of gemstone artistry. I know other people are cluing in, but I still feel that nyah ha ha covetous glee of having found a true treasure at last in the adventure realm…” Dude! Thanks!

I’d love to know what iTunes listeners think, but there haven’t been enough ratings yet. Go rate it, iTunes users, pleeeeeeeeease! ^_^

That’s all for this month! Hopefully there will be more in June. The next big show is at Seattle’s Venus Lounge/Mars Bar, in July. Hope you can make it!

PS: Since I’m quoting Seanan here, I want to note that the second in her Mira Grant Newsflesh series, Deadline, just came out. I read Feed, the first book, and if you haven’t, you really should. That’s true even if you’re not particularly into zombies; it’s political thriller SF wrapped in a crunchy horror outer shell, and nicely done. One of the things I respect in an author is a willingness not to pull her punches, and she doesn’t. I’ll be reading Deadline as soon as I can get a copy.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.
Buy Dick Tracy Must Die at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, or through Bandcamp!

solarbird: (assassin)

The first review I’ve found of Dick Tracy Must Die appeared on the web today, over at Diamond Island. It’s based on the downloadable album on Bandcamp, the files that went off to the mastering engineer. And…

…my gods, it’s full of raves. I’m… boggling. No bullshit here, I am stunned:

“[Dick Tracy Must Die is] outstanding… these birds are grown up and fly on their own… different, interesting, and independent at its core… biting insight and subtle wit… sincere and reasoned tenderness… Nothing’s wasted here…. I can’t find a single [song] I dislike. … The territory covered is impressive. I have yet to tire of it. The group characterizes itself as acoustic elf-metal. I would venture to say their sound is better described as acoustic elf-chrome—lustrous, hard, and pure.


…I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t think I’d ever get a review like this. From anybody. Ever. Particularly not from somebody who kinda hated Sketchy Characters.

People, f’srs, I gotta get this duplicator. Clickie for the Kickstarter project page. Srsly.

And here, have a player, they’ve made the whole-album player available. Yay!

I’m still boggling. OMG.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

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