Thursday, January 23, 2020

I Watch Films: The Predator

The Predator

This film tries to be open and supportive about mental health and neurodivergence but every time it takes its eye off the ball it falls back on lazy stereotypes, easy jokes and some bad biology. A Predator is being hunted by other Predators, crashes on earth, is captured by Project Stargazer. Project Stargazer recruit a good-looking biologist, meanwhile they section the army captain who saw it; he’s mailed the helmet and gauntlet to his home where his son figures out how to use them. The Predator escapes, the army captain and all the mentally ill veterans in the prison van also escape, the biologist falls in with them, Project Stargazer decides to kill everyone and a big Predator comes to hunt the little Predator with Predator-Dogs.

The film is a big mess. I did like the callbacks though – “Get to the Choppers,” and “You are one beautiful motherfucker,” were nice. Some of the action is pretty good.

Watch This:
For some old-school wisecracking action
Don’t Watch This: For anything to make sense

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

I Read Stories: A Potable Woman

A Potable Woman by Jennifer Met

Met riffs off a number of fairy tales, using them to illustrate scenes from the lives of two women. They are violent and dangerous, and they don’t quite add up. I love them.

Read This: For fifteen scenes of modern fairytales, shorn of trite morals and hinting at harder lessons
Don’t Read This: If you like your fairytales clean and bright

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Monster of the Week 8: Grond Grund

Monster of the Week for the third week of January is Grond Grund, who loves the daily grind, uses "spicey" language and has long conversations about coffee.

Monster of the Week is supported by my Patreon.

Monday, January 20, 2020

I Read Books: The Hallowed Hunt

The Hallowed Hunt

Bujold returns to the world of The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, but to the Weald, a country to the south of Chalion*. As before the Gods are powerless except when people choose to act for them. Ingrey is sent to investigate a murder of a prince; as a child he had the spirit of a wolf put in him, which has been banned since the destruction of the Old Weald. He discovers the prince has been killed by Ijada in a forbidden rite that went wrong and has left her with a leopard spirit.

Travelling to the capital various strange events occur; it seems someone has put a geas on Ingrey to kill Ijada. The prince’s soul is sundered from the gods because of the animal spirits intertwined in it; only a miracle can restore him.

But there is also a dark miracle at work, seeking to thwart the gods at every turn.

Bujold spins plots and magic and theology deftly, each attempt by Ingrey, Ijada and others to find their way out creating more confusion and strangeness. Very rewarding.

Read This: For an excellent convoluted plot and romantic fantasy novel with a few views on the nature of kingship
Don’t Read This: If the weirdness of made-up theology will put you to sleep

* Apparently another time period as well though this is essentially irrelevant to the story

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I Watch Films: Dracula Prince Of Darkness

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Dracula is dead (the famous closing scene from the previous film with two candlesticks making a cross appears here – this is from before home video etc. so they didn’t expect audiences to remember what happened previously). Two English couples are travelling in the Carpathian mountains where they meet a priest who suggests they don’t go to Carlbad. They go there but are abandoned by their coachman at the crossroads, are picked up by a mysterious carriage and spend the night in Castle Dracula.

Things don’t go well.

One couple manage to escape and the rest of the film revolves around the attempt to defeat Dracula and/or loose his hold over the wife.

Watch This: An old-fashioned horror film with plenty of blood and a fair stab at an interesting conclusion
Don’t Watch This: If you don’t want an iteration of people going to a castle and bad things happen

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I Read Stories: Cavity by Theresa Delucci

Cavity by Theresa Delucci

In your life you meet thousands of people. Some of them (statistically) will be murderers. The narrator of this story meets thirty two, the same number of teeth in a standard adult mouth.

The story is also about eating and tooth care. But it’s mostly about murders and being a woman and relationships.

Read This: Because it is a set of superb vignettes about murder
Don’t Read This: If proximity to murderers makes you uncomfortable

Friday, January 17, 2020

Lacey Lee's Infamous Mushroom Lasagne

Lacey Lee’s (In)Famous Mushroom Lasagne

As reconstructed by Neil Willcox from his report of The Case Of The Missing Dog

Lacey refuses to give amounts, claiming that “Recipes are for wimps.” As such every weight or number should be considered approximate and you will have to use your own judgement.

Mushroom Sauce

Mushrooms, cut into small pieces (If you have a selection of wild mushrooms or some nice chestnut mushrooms then they will be excellent. Lacey more usually has half a dozen field mushrooms and a big handful of dried mushrooms, soaked for at least an hour. Keep the mushroom water.)
Onion, chopped
A couple of sticks of celery, chopped
A small carrot, chopped
A couple of cloves of garlic, chopped
Some herbs, thyme is good, also oregano, dried or fresh, whatever you like and is to hand
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Some tomato puree
Maybe some vegetable stock (Or chicken stock, though as written the dish is vegetarian so make your choice accordingly)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

White Sauce

A big lump of butter
A couple of spoons of plain flour
A pint of milk, maybe a bit more.


Lasagne sheets
Grated cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Sweat off the onions, celery, garlic, herbs, carrot until soft. Add the mushrooms and let them cook down a little. Stir in the tomato puree. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and stir in, add the mushroom water if there is some and the stock. Season then allow to cook for a while. You want it to be quite thick, so if it’s a little watery allow it to reduce.

When nearly ready heat the oven to maybe 180C. Make a white sauce (melt butter, cook in flour, add milk by increments, stirring constantly until thick). Take it off the heat. Butter a lasagne pan.
Now assemble the lasagne as seems appropriate; usually one layer of mushroom sauce, one layer of lasagne sheets, a layer of white sauce. Two repeats is fine, three is good, more is showing off. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On top lay sliced mozzarella (for stickiness) and grated cheese (for flavour). Put the lasagne dish on a baking tray in case it overflows, then into the oven for probably 40 minutes or the top is browning and melty and bubbling. Serve with bread and a salad.

This post, a real recipe from a fictional story, is supported by my Patreon.