33. Outlander 1.11 – The Devil’s Mark

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/outlander-111-the-devils-mark-0

Episode 1.11 “The Devil’s Mark” – original air date April 18, 2015

The next installment in Nikki and Sher’s Outlander sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

As usual, this episode is only pretending to be about Outlander, while Nikki and Sher catch you up on their lives and comment on The Devil’s Mark.

*spoilers for the books and episodes*

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Favorite Quote: “Looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.” – Geillis

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

Speed

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/32-speed

Speed (R)
1994
93% rotten tomatoes

Li’l baby Keanu was 30 years old when this movie was made. LOOK AT HIS LI’L BABY FACE AND HIS LI’L BABY BUZZCUT!

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Ack, okay down to business.

1994 and thereabouts is a special time in movie history. This is kind of the last time we get movies without a major CGI component. All of the effects here are just standard trickery and deceit.

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CGI was definitely a thing by 1994, but it wasn’t extensively used like it is now. In fact, Jurassic Park was the first physically textured CGI, and that was in 1993. What is physically textured CGI you ask? I’ll tell you. It’s Level Three computer magic. 2D computer animation is Level One (beginning in 1972), 3D computer graphics is Level Two (beginning in 1976). That is the extent of my knowledge. Okay, okay. I can’t find a really good description of the processes, but from what I can understand of what I did read, computer graphics prior to Jurassic Park were just kind of layered over whatever was shot on film. The difference in the physical texturing is the use of green scenes to implant the computer images into the final product.

Some additional landmarks – Toy Story was the first full-length CGI film (1995). Starship Troopers had the first big ol’ CGI battle scenes (1997). Fight Club first used something called photogrammetry, which is using photographs to measure things (1999). Perception/timing alteration – The Matrix (1999). First use of motion capture GOLLUM from LOTR: The Two Towers (2002).

The point is – all the action in the old action movies has a different kind of feel to it, prior to all the CGI. I’m not saying CGI is bad – it’s great, but it’s different, that’s all. Two things can be different but still equally lovable.

A note on the script – the characters in this movie are all unexpectedly well-developed. Well guess who wrote the dialogue for the movie? JOSS WHEDON. You know he has a great talent for inter-character relationships. Buffy. Firefly. All have casts with crackling chemistry and very believable human interaction.

Okay, so let’s do a short plot recap. Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels are super cops. Not like Robocop, but since they’re the focus of the movie, we’re led to believe they’re better than other cops. Even the other SWAT cops. And we’re right, obviously. The movie starts out with them foiling a disgruntled ex-bomb squad guy’s plan to extort money by trapping hostages in an elevator.

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Side note – being trapped with a random selection of people inside an elevator in peril is an excellent way to see someone’s true colors. It’s a good first date idea. Keep that in mind.

Okay, so ex-bomb guy is like, oh yeah? How about I DIDN’T actually blow myself up like you thought – I escaped, because I’m an evil genius. And by the way – if that wasn’t elaborate enough for you WATCH THIS. I’m going to blow up a random bus when it’s right in front of you, just to get your attention so I can tell you that I’ve rigged a random city bus with a BOMB. But not just any bomb, oohhhhh no. This is an extra special, needlessly intricate, super dramatic bomb. It’s just going to chill under this bus. BUT – once the bus gets up to 50 mph, then it’s ARMED. And once it’s ARMED, the bomb will go off if you let that bus get BELOW 50 mph.

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So our super cop Jack finds a way to get on that bus dammit, because that’s the only place he can solve the problem. Using a walkie-talkie (cell phones were neither widely available nor affordable in 1994), he can communicate with other super cops and make all the right turns to avoid LA traffic so they won’t slow down and explode. Here comes a series of obstacles: panicked guy shoots the driver. A panicked woman tries to get off the bus with the injured driver and oh ho ho – ex-bomb squad guy thought of everything because he already has a tiny bomb under the bus stairs for just such an occasion. He explodes the stairs and panic lady gets crushed under the bus because that’s the punishment for panicking.

Jack, because he’s so young and level-headed, decides he’s going to get under that bus, goddammit. So that’s what he does. And what does he find??? A FAKE BOMB. The peasants rejoice. But then finds the MUCH BIGGER REAL BOMB. The peasants despair. But what’s this??? A clue??? A shitty gold watch OMG THE BOMBER MUST BE EX-POLICE BECAUSE THIS IS EXACTLY THE SHITTY GOLD WATCHES WE GIVE TO COPS ON THEIR WAY OUT. So based on this and other context clues, I guess, they figure out this guy used to be on the Atlanta bomb squad. No word on why he’s in LA. I guess because at the time Atlanta wasn’t a big filming destination, and he couldn’t be from LA because then the cops would have known who he was.

So Jack’s beloved partner goes on a raid to dude’s house and – I have to pause here for a moment. This fella has been blowing stuff up all over the city, right? So you’re gonna just walk up in his house. Cool – so they get blown up, and now Jack is devastated that his partner has been blowed up. So of course he’s going to redouble his efforts, because REVENGE.

Buncha stuff happens, but let’s skip forward to – the end. Everyone is off the bus now except for Jack and Annie. They couldn’t get off because of reasons. So they find a pipe laying around, jam it on the pedal, hurl themselves off the bus, and watch it crash into a plane and explode. I assume the plane was empty.

Now Jack has to chase down the money they left for Atlanta guy, but Atlanta guy is so far ahead of them – he’s anticipated every move (because he’s an ex-cop and he knows how they think, ya know), so he’s gotten the money away, but he RESURFACES AND KIDNAPS ANNIE because women is bait, y’all. So he puts a suit made of bombs on her and takes her as a human shield to the subway, then handcuffs her to the subway.

He’s making his getaway on the subway when he decides it’s time to fondle that sweet dough. There’s a dye pack in there though, and it explodes in his face, and makes him super mad. He hears Jack stomping around on top of the subway car and goes up there to finish off that meddling kid. But instead he gets decapitated.

So now Jack and Annie are in a runaway subway car that’s going too fast and being conducted by NO ONE. He takes off her suit made of bombs but can’t manage the handcuffs. (?) So he derails the subway car on purpose, which results in it being jettisoned out onto the street where it turns on its side and all the windows break and Annie is THROWN on top of Jack (lucky) and also they kiss. The end.

So what is the point of all this, you ask? Good question. A good action movie has to have a good bad guy motivation, otherwise it just drowns in its own preposterousness. On the surface, Howard Payne is pissed because his thumb got blown off and he was forced to retire. But… you have know when you join a bomb squad that you might get maimed. It seems like it’s probably on the job application. I’m not sure why the amount of money he wanted was 3.7 million, but it’s possible I just missed it hidden somewhere in the dialogue. I think the reason this movie doesn’t feel ridiculous and contrived, even though it is, is not so much Payne’s motivation, but rather his dedication. This fool is very determined to get his money, and the elaborateness is him giving a big “fuck you” to the career that spurned him. As someone who appreciates vengeance, I can fully buy into this villain.

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As you may know, Speed has been called “Die Hard on a bus” and I am inclined to agree. Why you ask? There’s lots of broken glass in this movie. So many explosions. Underground tunneling. Bomb complications. Hero embroiled in a situation far more intense than he’s trained for. Villain always three steps ahead, and has complex plans – in short, he’s a respectable equal to the hero, instead of a bumbling brute. Villain kidnaps the hero’s woman. Villain dies a grisly death. Speed is Die Hard on a bus.

Okay, enough gushing. Let’s get to poking holes. The scene where the bus jumps the gap in the road. We all know that’s physically impossible, yes? Let’s explore.

I got details from a couple of physics focused websites.

Here are some physics basics – gravity has no horizontal effect, so as soon as the bus leaves the road, it is falling. It’s completely up to its horizontal velocity as to where it’s going to end up.

SO – the gap is 50 feet, or 15 meters. The road from which they jump appears to be mostly flat, about a 5 degree incline. The bus launched into the air traveling 67/68 mph. In reality, the front bumper of the bus would have smacked onto the other side of the jump, and then would have plummeted to the ground, killing everyone, unless the bomb went off first, which would also have killed everyone.

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Just install some hydraulics to give your bus that extra lift before charging over certain death

In order for this jump to have worked, the following changes would have to take place: The bus would have to be travelling at 78.3 mph, and would have to take off from a 30 degree incline. That’s quite a bit different than what was depicted.

But let’s talk about physics some more, shall we? What always bugged me as a kid – while the bus is mid-air, there is no friction against those spinning wheel, yes? So what would the speedometer actually read? Would it drop or spike up? Does it matter if she kept her foot on the gas? What happens when you touch back down if you have it floored in midair? Then I realized I actually have no clue how a speedometer works, so INTERNET.

Let’s find out how speedometers work, shall we? Speed is just how long it takes you to go a certain distance, which sounds like it’s measured after the fact, right? What your speedometer tells you is your instantaneous speed – how fast you’re going right now. We know the basic car mechanics, right? Fuel combusts, pistons pump, engine turns over, which engages the driveshaft, and then the wheels go.

So apparently, there’s a li’l speedometer cable attached the driveshaft (it can also show up in other places). The speedometer cable spins a magnet inside something called a speed cup, which creates eddy currents in the cup that spins it as it tries to keep up with the magnet. There’s a hair spring on the drive shaft between the magnet and the speed cup, and it tightens, which keeps the the cup from turning all the way. The pointer on your speedometer is based on how far the hair spring lets that cup turn. Which leads me to wonder how do we ever know how fast we’re actually going.

Electronic speedometers use magnets positioned to pass each other on the drive shaft and create a little current. A circuit measures the time between those pulses and converts it to a speed reading, just FYI.

Okay, so this is all good to know but it doesn’t really answer my question, so the next obvious step is consult an expert car guy. Enter James – ex-Marine, current mechanic, all-around cool dude.

He told me that in addition to this sensor system, some newer cars will have a GPS mechanism to read speed. I don’t think that applies in 1994, so we’ll stick with the mechanical system.

Whilst in the air, the speedometer would have shown higher than their actual instantaneous speed because of the reduced load on the drive train due to the absence of friction on the tires. This makes sense now. Additionally, he says the bus would have slowed down in reality, yes, because the drive train has nothing to push against. So as long as the bus didn’t slow down to under 50 during it’s descent, and was able to keep moving swiftly once it was on the other side of the road, it’s plausible that the bomb wouldn’t go off – ASSUMING – he says, that the bomb was wired to the speedometer, and not something weird that would measure the actual speed of the bus. In which case kablooey.

Apparently, people who worked on this movie thought it was going to be an epic failure, but it turned out to be rousing success, as well as other movies like it. I feel like it was a changing of the guard of sorts. We’re moving out of the 80’s action movies that were very campy, and so sweaty. Die Hard came out at the end of the 80’s, in 1988, so it acts as the vanguard for change.

Let’s review. The 80’s were full of movies starring jacked dudes just tearing shit up. Terminator, Robocop, Predator, Rambo, Commando, Mad Max, Conan, Escape from New York, Road House, Bloodsport, Lethal Weapon, etc. The big names were Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Segal, Chuck Norris. I will admit I’m being a little selective. I’m not including horror/sci-fi or adventure movies, like Alien and Indiana Jones. I’m focusing on the manly action movies.

To be fair, a lot of these guys were still kicking around in the next decade, but additionally, the 90’s were full of movies starring Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jean Claude, Tom Cruise. The new class of action heroes were still buff, but not on steroids. The fighting shifted from brute strength and huge machine guns to very skilled combat. We looked for action stars to not only be physically capable, but mentally agile and cool under pressure as well. We’ve got a lot of movies where an average guy gets caught up in some crazy stuff – Point Break, The Fugitive, Independence Day, Con Air, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Face/Off, Desperado, Cliffhanger I guess, Universal Soldier, etc. That’s not to say these things were absent in other decades, but the concentrations were shifting.

In conclusion, here are some rippling forearms:

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What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

32. Speed

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/32-speed

Nikki and Sher do speed! I mean Speed! We talk speedometers, elaborate villains, that pesky bus jump, and decide if Speed really is Die Hard on a bus.

Also, we’re in Georgia, so there’s a little background noise from the air conditioner. It’s hot, y’all. Enjoy!

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/history-cgi/

https://physics.info/projectiles/practice.shtml

https://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-speedometer-works.html

https://film.avclub.com/keanu-reeves-boards-a-bus-that-can-t-slow-down-for-one-1798257725

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/speed-anniversary_n_5375581.html

Favorite quote: “Shoot the hostage.” – Jack Traven

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31. Outlander 1.10 – By the Pricking of My Thumbs

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/31-outlander-110-by-the-pricking-of-my-thumbs

Episode 1.10 “By the Pricking of My Thumbs” – original air date April 11, 2015
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with the beginning, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

As usual, this episode is only pretending to be about Outlander, while Nikki and Sher catch you up on their lives, talk frankly about suicide and its repercussions, and comment on By the Pricking of My Thumbs. If you’re easily offended, this episode (and probably the whole dang podcast) is definitely not for you!

*spoilers for the books and episodes*

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Favorite Quote: “If ye drop him, I’ll have yer balls.” – Rupert

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

The Mummy

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/30-the-mummy

The Mummy (PG-13)
1999
57% rotten tomatoes

So this is actually a remake of a 1932 movie called… The Mummy, which starred Boris Karloff and damn he looks awesome. I’m a sucker for old movies regardless, but this one looks really good. And you can’t go wrong with Karloff; he’s a master.

But back to 1999. DID YOU KNOW – Brendan Fraser almost actually died for real in that scene where his character is hung? Something went wrong with the rope, and he died for many seconds and had to be resuscitated. WE ALMOST LOST BRENDAN FRASER. 

It was a close call.

So, to the meat of the thing. We (meaning white people) have been obsessed with Egypt for a long time. Popular opinion is that this started in the 1920’s when King Tut’s tomb was found, but in fact the obsession goes all the way back to the Greco-Roman era. The obsession was heightened when Howard Carter opened Tutankhamun’s tomb, but it was nothing new. Plus, in the 20’s we had movies and popular pulp fiction books and whatnot, so it was more accessible to everybody. You didn’t have to go to a fancy pants museum to see artifacts and relics.

ADDITIONALLY – King Tut’s tomb sparked a sensational news cycle for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this tomb was a goldmine. Most Pharaoh’s tombs had been looted and stripped of anything valuable way before Carter arrived. But Tut’s tomb was intact and untouched. This was a huge win for Carter, who by the way, had arrived in Egypt in 1891 and worked in several different burial sites for different backers and people. In 1907 he entered into a business relationship with Lord Carnarvon, an Egypt enthusiast (see <the obsession was always there>), to excavate Egyptian nobles’ tombs. Eventually in 1914, he assigned Carter the job of putting a team together and digging where King Tut’s tomb was expected to be. But… hey guess what else happens in 1914? That’s right, Sandbox Scuffle I! If you haven’t listened to our episode on The Neverending Story that won’t make any sense to you. So I’m not going to explain – go listen to the episode. It’s funny.

Fast forward a few years and they can get back to work. They spend a few years coming up empty, and Lord Carnival or whoever is thinking about pulling the plug. But then a little boy, digging in the sand with a stick, found something none of the archaeologists had been able to – A STONE STEP. So, they dig. A few weeks later, and they’re able to get into the tomb, and several months after that, they finally reach the innermost chamber, which holds King Tut’s sarcophagus. All told, it took ten years until the excavation was completed, so there was undoubtedly frequent news reports and updates to people back in the west, and it would stay in the public consciousness for that span of time at least.

Amid the excitement of the excavation, was the even more salacious excitement of the PHARAOH’S CURSE *insert creepy music* So I don’t know how this curse story got started, but it makes sense when you think of human nature – we try to attribute meaning to just about anything. And so I’m thinking that some people figured that since this tomb had escaped the looting of the previous century, there must be some Very Good Reason. Like maybe if you open the tomb you’ll die a slow and horrible death? Sounds right if you don’t think too hard about it.

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Regardless, once the dogma has been established, the confirmation bias will swoop in to make sure those ideas stay firmly fixed in our heads. Here are nine (non-Egyptian) folks who supposedly fell victim to the curse (they’re all archaeologists unless otherwise noted):

  • Lord Carnival (or whatever his name was)
    • Dude cut himself shaving and died of blood poisoning. This isn’t that unimaginable considering that we were still about ten years away from antibiotics, and they weren’t living in the most hygienic conditions. NEXT.
  • Sir Bruce Ingham
    • Howard Carter gave him a mummified hand as a paperweight (… I have follow up questions…), and dude’s house burned down. Then he tried to rebuild and it flooded. That is either some very bad luck, or homeboy’s got enemies.
  • George Jay Gould
    • He visited the tomb once, then got really sick, stayed sick for a long time, and died of pneumonia. I would like to point out that Gould was an American, and many visitors to countries not their own encounter diseases they don’t have any immunity against and die. Especially before antibiotics. NEXT.
  • Aubrey Herbert
    • He never visited the tomb or had anything to do with it, but he was Lord Carnival’s half brother. He was kind of a hot mess. He was born with a degenerative eye disease that eventually left him blind, but he also had really disgusting rotten teeth, and his dumb ass doctor thought maybe if we pull your teeth out your eyes will get better. I kind of think maybe his doctor made it up because he didn’t want to look at his teeth anymore? Anyway, he got sepsis from the tooth extraction surgery and died. This was half a year after Lord Carnival bit it, also from blood poisoning. Again, no antibiotics, no sterile scalpels, questionable medical degree…
  • Hugh Evelyn-White
    • So, this one is weird. I think he might have been a highly suggestible type. He freaked when “two dozen fellow excavators” died, so he hung himself and left a cryptic note about succumbing to a curse. This one, if it’s true as told here, could be due to a mental break, or some sort of delirium caused by illness maybe? Dunno. NEXT.
  • Aaron Ember
    • This was a totally preventable death. He was an Egyptologist present when the tomb was opened. His family’s house burned down, and he didn’t escape because he was saving a manuscript he’d been working on called “The Egyptian Book of the Dead.” I would callously say he did it to himself, but his wife went to get their son and I don’t think any of them made it. Sad next.
  • Richard Bethell
    • He was Lord Carnival’s secretary who was smothered in his room at a gentleman’s club, but apparently he’d previously had some house fires? I don’t know about curses, but I’m thinking it was some kinky stuff gone wrong. The old timey gentleman’s clubs were places dudes could go and do weird stuff in private. Also, I wonder if fire insurance was a thing in the early 20th century?
  • Sir Archibald Douglas Reid
    • He was a radiologist (with a title of nobility???) who x-rayed Tut before he went into the museum. He became very ill and died three days later. MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BREATHE MUMMY DUST – I DON’T KNOW?? People weren’t great at washing their hands in the 30’s???
  • James Henry Breasted
    • He was an Egyptologist there when the tomb was opened. Here’s where the story line gets meander-y. When he got back home he found that his pet cobra had eaten his pet canary, and was still in the canary cage, chilling over the bones of his vanquished prey. So you know canaries are thought of as harbingers, canary in the coal mine and all that. The cobra was used as a motif in the garments of Egyptian royalty, so – I guess you can make something out of that. But he didn’t die. Until over ten years later, after he went on another trip to Egypt. I don’t even know why he’s included.

Howard Carter, who was chiefly responsible for organizing the search, died without any connection to the curse – he had lymphoma. Maybe from breathing all that mummy dust. But popular belief is that the pharaohs spared him from the curse, as well as native Egyptians, of course. All those laborers died of normal causes, like negligence and poor working conditions.

You know what I like though? Science. Math and science. When they get married, they have a baby named Statistics. The British Medical Journal did a study in 2002, I’ll spare you the details, but the gist of it is that the survival rates for those Westerners in the excavation crew present when the tomb was opened or examined did not differ significantly from those who were not present. Regarding Carnarvon’s death (remember he cut himself shaving), some theorize that there could have been dangerous mold and bacteria growing down there, but experts say no, he was chronically sickly (as evidenced by his grisly half-brother). Also, if there were these dangerous miocrobe-yinhabitants in the tomb, the deaths would have been much quicker. Who knows.

So, speaking of native Egyptians… it’s us, so you know we have to say “white people ruin everything” at least once a podcast. It hasn’t not been true yet. But the ancient Egyptians had a strong belief in the importance of these tombs, and everything that was done in preparation for  a deceased ruler being sealed inside was intentional and meaningful. So in come some foreign white dudes and they’re like ‘hey we wanna dig up your ancestors and put them on display in a different continent – how bout a little help?’ It’s probably safe to assume that not every Egyptian in the 19th and 20th centuries was overly concerned with the ancient rituals, but on some level you’d think it would be hard to see your native story dug up, interpreted, and displayed by strangers. I don’t know any of the politics surrounding this, and frankly I’m so sick of politics that I didn’t even want to look it up, for fear of discovering some fresh hell, but whether legal or not, it’s shady as hell.

National Geographic has an article covering the general idea around when it’s cool to dig up human remains. It’s a sticky subject. We can learn a lot from these efforts, but at the same time, these were human beings who never consented to having their bones dug up and put on display for some bored grade-schoolers to gawk at. In many cultures, it has historically been criminal to mess with remains. In more recent-ish history, this has been partly to prevent grave robbing, a) because that’s a shitty thing to do, and b) because doctors in training had to sneak around to get bodies to study because autopsy was considered immoral, sacrilegious, and/or illegal.

Some of the arguments are that in many cases we don’t know what an individual’s religious beliefs were; even in an area that’s predominantly one thing or another, you can’t be sure. Is it okay as long as you rebury the remains when you’re done studying them? Scientists get into some raging nerd fights over this issue of sending remains back to the country of origin for reburial. (I say nerd fights with love, btw). One bioarchaeologist called the loss of future academic opportunity re-burial would present the same as “book burning.” The First Nations community has won federal legislation demanding the return of these remains, but it’s not enforced, apparently. Of course. Another bioarchaeologist states that the concerns of a group of people for their dead have to be considered more important than scientific exploration.

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The same article lists some benefits that have come from studying human remains: we know more about the types of labor people performed, injuries suffered, foods people ate (and by extension, we learn about the plants and animals in the area at the time). DNA can connect remains to other remains, and help us learn migration patterns of groups of people. We can learn more about historical events, like the Black Death, which had a huge impact on the world (20% of Europe’s population died). Studying these historical diseases can help us understand modern diseases and maybe offer solutions.

Also, continuing research means that you don’t just dig up a body, test it, study it, and then you’re done with it forever. New researchers come up with new studies or technologies, and need to re-examine the remains for something that hadn’t been looked at before.

Now for some bad things about digging up bodies. SHOCKING – there’s a history of racism. Just one example: in the 1800’s, First Nations bodies were dug up so white people could prove that they were superior, presumably to make themselves feel better about stealing the land and being huge dickholes.

Also, like I mentioned before, grave robbing was a big concern. Not just because valuables were taken, but because family members didn’t want their loved ones being dug up and then cut up in some medical student’s dark lab. If you factor in religious concerns about the body into their anxiety, you can see why people took pains to prevent this from happening.

Currently, there are ethical considerations that scientists have to abide by, and they vary by culture. Each country seems to have their own way of regulating excavations. I get the sense that the majority of the argument is about what has already been done in the past. DeWitte, quoted in the article, stresses that for populations that have been historically “marginalized and exploited,” they need to be given more consideration as far as handling their ancestors’ remains, for obvious reasons.

So, coming back to how modern Egyptians may have felt about the white dudes taking their dead away – does it really matter if they okayed it? The ancient Egyptians had strong reverence for the dead – we know this without a doubt. So this is one situation in which we don’t have to guess at the beliefs of the people we exhumed. And I feel pretty confident that they would not be cool with it. Just because a lot of tombs were looted by assholes – does that give us the right say “damage is done” and continue disturbing their dead? It’s not like Howard Carter found King Tut and we were all like “cool, we’re done with Egypt now!” Scientists are still over in Egypt digging stuff up, so we know the Egyptian government is okay with it as long as they’re following the rules, but I think we know that the ancients wouldn’t have wanted that, and that’s what makes me feel weird about it.

Along those lines, I found some stuff stated somewhere but didn’t save the links, but the sentiment was that the difference between digging up bodies being cool or not cool is whether the civilization as a whole is dead. So the First Nations or Native American remains are protected because they are very much still alive and kicking it. But the ancient Mayans and Egyptians – even though Egypt and Peru are still populated, are considered dead – just like we don’t think of modern day Italy and ancient Rome as being the same culture. It’s a thinker, for sure, and luckily it’s not my problem to solve – there’s no right answer here, and there’s no way everyone will be happy.

Moving on!

This movie kinda starts and ends with Imhotep, who was a real dude, many thousands of years ago (he was alive in the 27th century, bce, which would make him like… 4500 years old or something). So, he did everything – he was an architect, astrologer, minister, magician, medicine guy, etc. He was considered a genius – Leonardo DaVinci comes to mind for me when I read about him – and was held in high esteem. He was second in command under the king Djoser. He is thought to be the architect of the step pyramid at the necropolis in Memphis (Egypt). It’s currently the oldest example of “hewn stone” and thought to be the first pyramid.

At only 100 years after his death, he was considered a demi-god of medicine (which was pretty fast, and also remarkable considering he was born a commoner – LIKE DAVINCI). Then in the 1st century bce, he was elevated to a full deity. He’s still revered by physicians because apparently he was less of a quack than other old-timey doctors, like Pliny. He rejected magic, and his writings contain the first known descriptions of anatomical details and medical procedures, such as trepanation (relieving pressure on the brain but cutting into the skull). He may also be the first to develop plant-based medicine. In fact, since he was so awesome, people didn’t think he was a real person until the late 1800’s when proof of his existence was found. And since we’re talking about tombs – Imhotep’s burial place has never been found.

Okay, so. I kept reading about him but I couldn’t find any reason that he would be converted into what we see in The Mummy,  in either 1932 or 1999. There’s no mention of his love life anywhere, or any reference to the dark arts. I’m assuming the ancient Egyptians would have considered resurrection rituals dark magic, on account of how they treated their dead, but I don’t know for sure.

Well, turns out Hollywood just used dude’s name. The fictional Imhotep was around in 1290 bce, and was high priest under Seti I, who was a real dude (son of Ramses I, father of Ramses II). And speaking of remains, you can view his online, if you so wish. So, Seti built a memorial temple and dedicated it to Osiris, so I think that’s why Imhotep is called a high priest of Osiris in the movie. Seti was considered the greatest king in Egypt’s history, and is speculated to have been incredibly handsome. I looked at his wife (Tuya) to see if I could find any kernels of drama  with Imhotep, but there’s nothing there.

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Now, if you recall your ancient history, Nefertari was the wife of Seti’s son, Ramses II, and that is who Evelyn is a reincarnation of in The Mummy, which would be Imhotep’s boss’s daughter-in-law, it seems.

Now for Anck su namun. There was a real woman whose name is pronounced the same, though spelled a little differently (Ankhesenamun). She was born to Nefertiti and Akhenaten, and was married to her half-brother Tutankhamun. Fun fact – she’s thought to have also been married to Tut’s successor after his death, who was HER GRANDFATHER. And then maybe after her mother’s death she was married to HER FATHER before she married Tut. Now – these may have been symbolic marriages and not sexual ones, since it was common for kings and pharaohs to have more than one wife. But maybe not. Gross. Anyway – she would have been alive at the same time as Seti I, so it fits, though Seti I would have been king after Tut. It should be noted that records of her disappear after marriage to her grandfather.

These folks were alive in a time of religious upheaval in Egypt, which maybe inspired some of the magical plot points in The Mummy? Regardless, the 1932 movie, on which the 1999 movie was based, was inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, so it makes sense that they would craft a story based around him (kind of). And to be fair, since the tomb was just discovered, there may have been a lot of information they didn’t know then that we know now.

Supposedly, the original script was loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “The Ring of Thoth,” but was later changed so that instead of running around murdering women that look like his long lost love, he’s trying to bring her back from the dead. With the Scroll of Thoth. Much more romantic.

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So the Scroll of Thoth is made up for the story, but Thoth was a real person, who is believed to have authored The Book of the Dead, and who is supposed to have brought Osiris back from the dead when Isis asked nicely. So now the Osiris reference is making more sense.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT ODED FEHR NOW???

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He’s so beautiful. So he’s Israeli, but he lives in the US now. Probably somewhere in Southern California.

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I looked on his Wikipedia page, and his father is listed as a geophysicist and a marketing executive, which sounds pretty random but very cool.

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Anyway, we just need to clone him and make a bazillion of him.

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Enough to go around.

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So long as the clones are willing, of course.

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Okay, everybody leave now.

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

30. The Mummy

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/30-the-mummy

Nikki and Sher bring you the highlights of the Egypt craze of the early 20th century, discuss the Pharaoh’s curse (spoiler alert – not a real curse), debate the ethics of excavating the dead, and look at the real historical figures that the characters are based on (spoiler alert – it’s the Imhotep you’re thinking of).

Also, we’re in Georgia, so there’s a little background noise from the air conditioner. It’s hot, y’all. Enjoy!

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fraser-survives-ithe-mummy-i/

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/archaeologist-opens-tomb-of-king-tut

https://www.biography.com/people/howard-carter-20683395

http://mentalfloss.com/article/23321/victims-king-tuts-curse

https://www.history.com/news/is-the-curse-of-king-tut-real

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160407-archaeology-religion-repatriation-bones-skeletons/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Imhotep

Favorite quote: “HEY! Looks like you’re on the wrong side of the riiiiveerrrr!” – Rick O’Connell

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29. Outlander 1.9 – The Reckoning

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/outlander-19-the-reckoning

Episode 1.9 “The Reckoning” – original air date April 4, 2015
Starz network
Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with the beginning, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!As usual, this episode is only pretending to be about Outlander, while Nikki and Sher catch you up on their lives, talk frankly about suicide and its repercussions, and comment on The Reckoning. If you’re easily offended, this episode (and probably the whole dang podcast) is definitely not for you!

*trigger warning – suicide talk*
*spoilers for the books and episodes*

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Favorite Quote: “What does fucking mean?” – Jamie Fraser

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

Predator

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/28-predator

Predator (R )
1987
80% rotten tomatoes

Now, Predator does not take place during a war, but I always think of Vietnam when I see it. Maybe because it’s jungle-y, but it just LOOKS like the footage from Vietnam. We’re here in South America, and NOT in Vietnam, but still. In my defense, the Vietnam War was twenty fricking years long, so it’s safe to say that it stayed with the public consciousness for a while. “Hey, where can we drop these soldiers off in a place that makes sense? The jungle you say? That sounds right.” We just can’t stay away from war, can we?

Before we jump in, let’s give some background: Predator and Alien (and unfortunately Prometheus (and Blade Runner!!)) all exist in the same universe. Predator hunts Alien – Alien hunts Predator. The grand culmination – one of the first of many mainstream franchise crossovers – was Alien vs. Predator in 2004. Freddy vs. Jason beat it out by one year.

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BUT BEFORE ALIEN VS. PREDATOR – we have Dutch and Sarge running around on a mysterious covert mission in South America and their team being picked off one by one as an alien monster with unfair advantages (such as laser cannon, thermal vision, and knowing about it’s existence) hunts them. Do the lesser humans triumph? You bet your sweet ass they do. Except… there’s kind of an unnerving appropriated (yes) laughter that happens at the end that is not expected of something that’s just been defeated. What does he know that we don’t??? So much. So much…

Fun fact: Jean Claude Van Damme (JCVD) was originally supposed to play the Predator, which would have essentially turned him into an alien ninja. I am glad this did not happen. A couple of things ensured this most fortunate failure – they couldn’t get the makeup and prosthetics to work in the jungle, and also they were afraid Predator would seem puny next to all the enormous bodybuilders. That’s a legitimate concern. Ultimately Predator was voiced by Peter Cullen, who did the voice for King Kong and also OPTIMUS PRIME, and played by mime and actor Kevin Peter Hall.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN PETER HALL.

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look how sweet and normal he is!!

Remember back when I said JCVD wasn’t big enough to realistically intimidate the likes of Carl Weathers and Arnold schwarz? Kevin Peter Hall was 7’2”. He wasn’t bulky like the other cast members – if you look at pictures of him he seems very long and lean – he’s built like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who is also 7’2”. But that’s still a YUGE human. Unsurprisingly, he played basketball in college and also professionally for awhile. Since he was so tall, he often played monsters. He was Harry in Harry and the Hendersons, and did some horror movie stuff, and he was ALMOST cast as Geordi La Forge.

Ready for some heartbreak? Hall died at the age of 35. He had complications from AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion. In an interview, you can watch some footage of the behind the scenes of Predator, which include some of the hilarious earlier versions of the monster suit.

Hall says that he tried hard to give all of his costume characters the same motivation and mental nuance and attention that he did to his regular human characters – he didn’t just think of it as a physical role. AND – in contrast to JCVD having hissy fits about the motion capture outfit from the first attempt – the make up effect artist said that Hall was very professional and nice, and everyone had great things to say about him so obviously this man did not deserve to die such a horrible death and the universe should be ashamed of itself. One warning – if you watch this interview you will see Carl Weathers without his mustache and it’s not pretty. That means needs a mustache at all times so he doesn’t look like a middle-aged baby.

Let’s put that sadness behind us and talk about something cool: Predator’s abilities and gadgets.

The invisibility effect in this movie is probably still my favorite invisibility effect because it seems like how it would actually look. There’s just a little bit of blurry movement, but if you blink you’ll miss it. I’m going to link an article that goes into details, because I don’t understand it enough to rephrase it. But basically Hall would wear all red, to contrast with the green/blue color scheme of the jungle and do a thing, then the camera would do an identical take, so i assume they were using some kind of rig that they could ensure would repeat exactly what they’d just done. Then they filmed the same shot again, but with a wider lens. They then used magic to put all three shots together, which made it look like light was bending around Hall figure. It’s beautiful nerdy stuff.

Fun fact – science is getting pretty good at making invisibility cloaks. There are more and more items that come up where scientists have figured out some way to scatter light and reflect another point onto the thing with lenses. It’s only a matter of time until I can say “I’m in your kitchen eating your food” and it will actually be true.

So earlier I mentioned his laser cannon, but the proper term is plasmacaster. It sits atop his shoulder, and sights a target using three beams of light (called a laser rangefinder) from the helmet that create a triangle of death. Because the laser rangefinder comes from the helmet, the plasmacaster will sight as Predator moves his head. Then it shoots plasma at variable blast powers to stun or explode you, or anything in between. Can also be unmounted and carried in the hand.

What else. Thermal vision? Yes please. I’ve always wanted this. I think it’s because I have glasses and am always looking for an ocular upgrade. This seems to be packaged as part of a “detect life forms” module, because we hear heartbeats when we see the hot bodies (huh huh huh huh). How do you cover your hammering heart with cold mud, Arnold? Oh, you work out so much your resting heartrate is 5? Okay then, sorry I asked.

Well it IS a module and it’s called the bio-mask. These masks allow Predator to see in thermal (infrared), health stats mode, or xenomorph mode. In a subsequent movie, we see a predator put a sample of a substance into his bracelet, ‘scuse me, Wrist Gauntlet, and have it update his bio-mask to highlight that substance, so the possibilities are kind of endless here. It’s kinda like the Sheikah sensor in BOTW.

And of course, how could we forget the ultimate universal translator. You would think a civilization that has such amazing technology would have better things to do. Or maybe that’s the point – they’ve achieved such a level of competence and efficiency that this is what they do to feel challenged and engaged.

There are a bunch more weapons and tools Predator has, and you can check them out on Xenopedia. I find that fandom websites are extremely useful for this sort of detail-oriented nit-pickiness.

Okay let’s talk about these dudes. They’re huge dudes. How do you get that many huge dudes to fit in one choppa? Well, they didn’t actually have to worry about how many would fit in the helicopter, turns out (huh huh huh huh). The reason they all look like action figures is because the characters’ looks are based on Sgt Rock comics. All you have to do is look at the covers and you’re like “yeah I get it.” It’s all machine guns and tank tops and punching. They’re DC comics, so I assume they’ll bring you down and leave you depressed. I did not read any as part of this episode’s research.

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Supposedly the director, McTiernan was trying to be subversive. I don’t think a lot of it comes across, likely because of meddling on the part of others. He said that firing all those bullets into the jungle was supposed to be set up so that nothing was back there; hitting nothing was supposed to point out how “impotent” guns are (I don’t think that’s the argument we need), but a producer ended up changing it so there are bodies in there. I don’t know know it would have played differently – there are so many other extremely macho elements that this subtle dig probably would have gone unnoticed, but who knows. McTierney also directed Die Hard- and I still think of these movies – these two specific movies – as possibly the most stereotypically macho action movies ever made. If there’s any sneaky progressiveness or depth in here, I don’t see it. I love these movies – don’t get me wrong, but when I want to think deeply, they’re not my go to.

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

28. Predator

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/28-predator

IT’S OUR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY PODCAST, WHICH IS SLIGHTLY LATE!!! To commemorate such a momentous occasion, our podcast topic is PREDATOR – our first viewing of which was essentially a distillation of our friendship, for reasons that will be explained during the show.

We give you the deets on all that super cool Predator tech, why it makes sense that Dutch’s entire team was buff af, and how it’s super (not) weird that Predator is sexy.

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/07/20/health/invisibility-cloaks-research/index.html

http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/Plasmacaster

http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/Bio-Mask

http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

http://mentalfloss.com/article/62249/15-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-predator

http://www.indiewire.com/2012/06/25th-anniversary-5-things-you-might-not-know-about-predator-109412/

Favorite quote: “This stuff will make you a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus, just like me.” – Blain

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Legend

Listen to the podcast here: http://www.notyourmom.libsyn.com/27-legend

Legend (PG)
1985
42% rotten tomatoes

Here we are with hell and devils again. It’s kind of like when you’re searching for a new trashy romance novel and want something different, but all the ones without demons and shit are super boring and annoying. That’s life without Tim Curry – boring and annoying.

The man is a god among men. His face, his voice, his physicality – all flawless in any role he’s ever done. Ever. Here he is in all of your favorite movies/shows:

Dr. Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Wadsworth in Clue
Dr. Petrov in The Hunt for the Red October
Pennywise in It
Captain Hook in Peter Pan and the Pirates
The voice of Hexxus in Fern Gully
The voice of Taurus Bulba in Darkwing Duck
The evil concierge in Home Alone 2
Sir Gawain in The Legend of Prince Valiant
He played a family (yes, a family) in an episode of Tale from the Crypt
Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers
He played several characters on Dinosaurs
He was MAL on Captain Planet and the Planeteers
He was Dr. Anton Sevarius on Gargoyles
Major Vladikov in McHale’s Navy
He was several voices on Aaahh!! Real Monsters
Gomez Addams in Addams Family Reunion
Big Brother on Johnny Bravo
A voice in an episode of Samurai Jack
Voices on Batman Beyond and Voltron: The Third Dimension
He was even on a couple episodes of Roseanne, Monk, Will & Grace, and a bunch more shows, either as an visual actor or a voice actor
Annnnnnd Darkness, in Legend

He has also done quite a few albums and plays. Looking at his body of work, I don’t think he’s ever taken a day off. His youth was spent traveling and moving around a lot, and though he was very young for much of it, I wonder if the experiences didn’t affect him in some way and aid his impressive characterizations. Also, he apparently didn’t have television until he was 10; up to that point he only had radio, which he credits for his fondness of voice acting.

The point is – he’s done everything that’s cool and awesome. Or he’s MADE everything he’s been in cool and awesome, at least as much as possible. If we’re being honest, he’s the only good thing about Legend besides the unicorns (I know, I know). An article from The Guardian, written by Toby Moses, points out that this movie, directed by Ridley Scott, btw, was an epic failure, and tells us exactly why: Jack has absolutely no depth and is impossible to empathize with, and Lili is very stupid and they make awful decisions in order to advance the plot; in other words the movie has terrible character development and very bad writing. BUT DARKNESS. He’s the bright spot in this movie, ironic since he wants endless night. From the first moment we see him on screen, we’re captivated. We know we want the happy streams and trees to survive, but as Moses points out, we kind of feel like Jack and Lili deserve annihilation, and Curry is so god damn compelling that we root for him instead because at least he’s not flat and empty.

Now I would like to point out here Toby Moses is a man. I assume. We recently had an in-depth discussion of why we women love bad guys, and also what exactly that means, so we don’t need to rehash that here. You can go listen to our episode on Hellboy for all the juicy deets. In that episode though, we never considered the effect of the bad guy on the male viewers. In this article, Moses is telling us how he not only looked to Darkness for a role model, but also General Zod, and Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys, and Christian Slater in Heathers. So it seems the gentlemenz aren’t immune to the pull either, which makes me think it has more to do with human nature and societal pressure.

He points out the same things we’ve noticed – the villains get the best lines. The villains seem to have the most realistic perspective. The villains generally look more badass. In good movies, the villains also make the most sense. In legend, the villain is just despotically trying to destroy day forever I guess because he’s Evil? I don’t see a motivation or driving backstory for Darkness, but since he looks the way he does I assume we’re supposed to just assume that he’s out to ruin everyone’s good time. The 80’s: the pinnacle of stereotyping people by their looks.

In a better version of this movie, Darkness would have some only slightly skewed reason for wanting perpetual night, something that would force us to confront our own morality constructs. This is what I love about the rebooted comic book universes. All of the villains have been elevated from cartoonish stand-ins for wartime enemies or personifications of socially immoral proclivities to surprisingly cogent guerrilla reformers.

Okay, The Telegraph did this whole thing on Legend. I’m not sure it’s the greatest source, however, because the article describes Ridley Scott as moving away from sci-fi and fantasy after Legend… and going on to direct Alien and Blade Runner… now I’m no genre expert, but…

Okay okay okay, but according to The Telegraph, Legend was the final nail in the coffin of sword and sorcery movies. The articles says that Legend, following such FAILURES (ugh, really???) as Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal reinforced the idea that this kind of thing had no place in the movies – it brought an end to the era of 80’s fantasy. It wasn’t until Peter Jackson hit mega-success with the LOTR trilogy that this idea was overturned (the first of which came out in 2001, so that’s 15 bleak years). I spent some time racking my brain to see if this was true, and I can’t think of anything to refute it. I feel like the 80’s and 90’s were full of science fiction, and some magic, but usually witchy stuff or curses and hexes. Like board games that take on a life of their own.

Was it really that bad? I have always had – and will always have – a ‘weird kid’ sensibility, so I’m probably not the best judge. I loved Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules, I loved Hey Dude and Salute Your Shorts and the Adventures of Pete and Pete. I love Star Trek and Disney movies – I kind of loved everything except the popular stuff. I didn’t get into John Hughes movies until I was in college. I didn’t get all the teen romances – I just didn’t understand the dynamics and the politics in those. The prime directive is super easy to understand. Going on a quest to save humanity is a very understandable motive. A teen boy trying to get laid who has the whole community behind him is very confusing. And I was too young to truly appreciate 80’s action movies.

Let’s take a break from this upsetting allegation  and talk about genre terminology. Here is the nerd trifecta: sci-fi, fantasy, and sword and sorcery.

Science Fiction:

  • Heavily features technology and scientific understanding, computers, robots, machines, space/time travel, aliens, genetic manipulation. Can include fantasy elements. Can be plausible or wildly imaginative. Many sub genres: Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, Hard sci fi, soft sci fi, space opera (space-faring lifestyle), Punk/cyberpunk/postcyberpunk/retropunk/dieselpunk/steampunk/clockpunk/biopunk ETC.

Fantasy:

  • Uses magic or supernatural forces feature heavily. Can include sci fi elements as well, especially if it’s a modern setting. Subgenres – urban fantasy (fantasy in an urban setting), dark fantasy (elements of horror), fables, fairy tales, epic/high fantasy (highly developed – like LOTR), heroic fantasy (King Arthur), science fantasy (scientifically explainable magical elements (equal hybrid of sci fi and fantasy)
    • Sword and sorcery – subgenre of fantasy, blends heroic fantasy, adventure, and some light horror. Usually has a barbarian warrior pitted against supernatural and human adversaries

Back to this guy’s review. Here is a direct quote: “…something in the way [Jack] elongates his words suggests a fleeting intimacy with the English language. Throw in unicorns, wisecracking goblins, tittering fairies and a chair that bleeds black puss and the result is a carnival of queasiness.”

I don’t get it. All of that sounds awesome to me. AND APPARENTLY – we didn’t even get the best version of the movie. The original vision Scott had for Legend was even more sexually charged. Here’s another quote: “In the first draft, one of the unicorns is shot with a crossbow – it jumps up and scratches the princess on the shoulder…later, she notices hair sprouting out of this nasty wound in the shoulder. She wanders to a pond and sees her reflection in the moonlight. She turns into a beast. Darkness looms behind her and basically seduces her. They are coupling frantically when Jack and the fairies break in to save her.

… THAT SOUNDS LIKE A WAY BETTER MOVIE. A frigging producer nixed it. Clearly they don’t know what they think they know about the female demographic. AND ALSO in the US, Fox cut an amazing orchestral soundtrack for a frigging LSD sounding hippie band – Tangerine Dream. Also a really big important set burned down before they were done using it, so… it’s safe to say that this is not the movie that Ridley Scott first envisioned. Our movie is 89 minutes – there’s a directors cut out there that’s 114 minutes. Supposedly all that was cut was by the production company and made little sense to people actually working on the film.

But you know what – lots of movies from the 80’s that were critically dissed have become nerd canon. So poo poo. And I think it’s hard to make a serious fairy tale movie. Disney is aiming for kids – that’s different. But look at Alice in Wonderland – Red Riding Hood – Snow White and the Huntsman – Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters – Jack the Giant Slayer – Cinderella etc. All not great.

So now for something really, really exciting…. IT’S SUPPOSEDLY THE INSPIRATION FOR THE LEGEND OF ZELDA – NO WONDER I LOVE IT SO MUCH and the first Zelda game was released in 1986, so that’s totally plausible.

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Le sigh… so much world-saving to do… so little time…

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!