Archives 2021

Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 5: Dogs Make Their People Do Sex (A Christmas Wedding Tail)


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The Brady Bunch parents are fine but get stressed out about the wedding. The Cool Mom gives up her dreams to marry Wine Dad and Tom Arnold yells at people.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

Frankly no one matters.

  • Cool Mom – moved back home when she lost a fancy job
  • Wine Dad – owns a winery
  • Tom Arnold – not important to the plot other than communicating a job offer but at the end he tries to headhunt the preacher

There are kids and dogs but honestly they mostly just fill time with insert shots.

Rating: 4 Leg Humps out of 10

Nothing in this movie matters. They get married, whatever. The dogs run around. Possibly sponsored by Purdue Chicken.

Stunning Chicken

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Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 4: Death Note Santa (Naughty or Nice)


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Plucky Lead finds Santa’s magic Naughty or Nice book (is it bound in skin?) and uses it to expose petty naughty deeds, but then she feels guilty and apologizes. Santa disappears using the transporter effect from Star Trek.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Girl Santa – snitch
  • Catty Elf Friend – he actually doesn’t belong here since he doesn’t particularly effect the plot, but best character in the movie. He and Girl Santa have amazing chemistry and he has this part where he runs and jumps over a velvet rope, adorable. He has glasses though so he can’t be the male lead

Rating: 7 Catty Best Friends out of 7

Okay so I want to say that this functionally doesn’t have a Male (Romantic) Lead. The actual Male Lead is a Catty Best Friend she meets working at the Santa’s Workshop at the mall. This movie had a premise more cringey than usual, but it actually was really refreshing to see a different main screen dynamic—especially mixed-gender platonic friends. I also appreciate that the Plucky Girl Santa is genuinely a mess; she’s not the usual, “Oh, I’m such a mess! I’m unmarried and my check engine light is on!” Here, she’s legit having kind of a breakdown.

The resolution is literally that she tries to make people who did fucked up things feel better at her own expense. Also it’s really unclear how the book decides what counts? Like, the book tells her that her that the boyfriend cheated on her, but actually they were broken up–actually broken up. What’s the deal? Also a neighbor steals lawn decorations to win the neighborhood competition.


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Hallmark Holiday Advent 3: Christmas Murder House (Christmas Camp)


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This one straight up starts like a horror movie. Career Girl is sent to Christmas Bootcamp to get her Holiday Cheer certificate and the reason why isn’t important. The Male Lead is a human cable knit sweater. The dog is named Max and he’s great. The phrase “Christmas Mojo” is used more than once.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Career Girl – I don’t even know. She loves her work and they try to make that a conflict as if she’s a “workaholic” but she’s, like, a totally normal, sweet person. It’s really kinda creepy and gaslighty how they treat her
  • Handsome Sweater – son of Christmas Daddy, he eats French Toast with his hands like it’s regular toast
  • Christmas Daddy – runs the Christmas Camp but makes it feel like a murder house (see clip below) and seems super into having Career Girl marry in
  • Dog – Max, A+ dog. The one Christmas Mojo this film earns is for Max

Rating: 1 Christmas Mojo out of 10

The whole thing is just weird and uncomfortable. Career Girl doesn’t change or learn anything and people treat her like an insane person because she’s trying to finish a project for work and get a promotion. But like, she’s not weird or cut-throat or anything and is incredibly sweet and helpful. The main conflict is that the Christmas Murder House is losing money and Handsome Sweater wants Christmas Daddy to to move to the city with him. The main conflict is that Career Girl saves the Murder House by getting Christmas Daddy to franchise Christmas Camp, and Human Sweater is mad and goes all aggressive about how she only thinks about work. The bone after the paid military promotion character shows up and everything is fine. They put pies into a box sideways at one point. Like, standing up on their sides. Everything about this one (produced by MarVista) is awful and creepy. Almost every single pop arrangement of the Christmas carols are grating. They have snowball target practice. Richard (my husband) and I were just yelling at the screen, deeply uncomfortable.

Listen, I love cheesy movies like this, love romance novels. I’m perfectly fine with some of the goofy genre conventions or plot convenient storytelling, because it’s not really about the plot. It’s about people and conveying a certain feel-good vibe and affect, or at least being entertaining for how they rearrange the cheeseball lines and conventions around a setting. Lots of these movies feature literal magic and time travel, all kinds of stuff. Christmas Camp had no camp, as Richard quipped. The Camp was so chilled out and low key, and it made it sort of uncomfortable that the script seemed to be treating the setting as though it was from a completely different movie; a movie where the Christmas Camp was over the top and full of enthusiastic, wacky characters and the Career Girl learns to balance work with letting go and having a little fun and not being so serious all the time. You know–the true meaning of Christmas or something.

This is not a bit. There is something genuinely existentially off-putting about Christmas Camp that I’m having trouble articulating. I don’t know if it’s that the artifice of this being a movie was too obvious–with barely dressed sets, weird prop use, etc–or that without the obvious artifice the events in the movie are so unsettling and muted, subverting expectations of these types of films but not in a good way. It’s like the shock of someone break their arm and being able to see the actual bone poking out, jagged and existing in a place it should never be.

“This is the Angel Room. Isn’t it special?”

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Hallmark Holiday Advent 2: Ice Clowns of Canada (Winter Castle)


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Maid of Honor meets Best Man in an Ice Castle in Canada. There’s a ten minute sequence sponsored by the proprietors of the Ice Hotel. It’s about 20 minutes north of Quebec City and it takes two months to construct fresh every year. Each year’s Ice Hotel features a new theme to become a unique work of temporary art. And if you get thirsty, even the drinks are served in ice! The hotel is kept at a constant 23F except for the lounge (which is heated). They have 45 rooms, each decorated with a different theme. Maid of Honor is staying in the Polar Room. They also have some of the biggest tobogganing hills around! It’s the only ice hotel in North America.

They get together, the wedding is fine, there are no dogs but they go dogsledding off screen. Nothing matters next to Ice Hotel. They CGI the Northern Lights over the hotel, which in this movie is Circus Themed. Ice Clowns, perfect, no notes.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Maid of Honor – children’s author, big Elsa aesthetic, look at that braid GIRL get it
  • Single Dad – very eligible, but feels guilty about how his neighbor wants to marry him
  • Red Head – the neighbor, also Dead Wife’s best friend, wants to be Single Dad’s daughter’s New Mommy and faked a sprained ankle until it was time for karaoke
  • Concierge – I’m honestly not sure if he is actor or a representative of the Ice Hotel. Like, he was fine and everything but Y’ALL that ad copy. It’s implied he bangs the Red Head after she lets the Single Dad go

Rating: 7 Ice Clown Sculptures out of 10

“I should hope not!”

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Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 1: A Christmas BANGER (A Christmas Duet)


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Okay, so in this one the two leads used to be a famous music duo, and she got tired of the road and runs an inn where it snows a lot. He’s struggling to regain success on a small town tour. Surprise! He gets stuck and stays at the inn and they sing the duet at the town festival that the Female Lead hosted. The B plot is a hotel critic that starts off frosty but then warms up to the inn and falls in love with the Male Lead’s tour manager and they go fuck off to Europe. There’s a dog and a baby and cookies.

A Christmas Duet is actually pretty charming, and one of the few Hallmark entries featuring Black leads. There are occasionally some weird optics that are just glossed over (the white event planner won’t shake the male lead’s hand because the planner had a cold, but it was weird and seemed weird). The two leads are utterly charming though and their signature song is a BANGER.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Female Lead – Owns an Inn, juggles impressing the Critic and running the town festival
  • Male Lead – guitarboi but she heals him with her love and stability
  • Critic – starts off as a bitch but then she warms up to the Tour Manager, loves travel because of her dead husband?
  • Tour Manager – longtime friend of the lead duo, the Critic knew him for 2 days and then goes to bang across Europe with her
  • Checkov’s Pregnant Friend – gives surprise birth on Christmas Eve, is a guitarboi fangirl
  • Dog – awesome

Rating: 9 Guitarbois out of 10


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Marble Hornets’ Ending

Okay but also sideburns
Okay, so I’m more than ten years late to the party but I can’t get Marble Hornets, a 2009 web series loosely based on the Slenderman mythos (though here, Slendy becomes a different entity called “The Operator”).
 
So I won’t do an entire summart of the story as it originally took place over several years and multiple YouTube and Twitter accounts, but I’ll link both a primary playlist and an “explained” series below.
 
So, spoilers for the ending as well as my interpretation:
 
I find the ending both realistic and hopeful. Alex and Jay both became obsessed with secrecy and “ending it,” and we follow their mental and emotional deterioration. Brian himself is even described as a “shell” and the prime member of “ToTheArk” (I assume him to be Seth) is similarly flattened to one goal.
 
Tim, on the other hand…
 
We see through the survival of Jessica that the Operator continues to pose a threat as a looming figure and one ready to spread and exert influence, but she has begun therapy and medication–like Tim–to resist the influence of The Operator and lead a normal life. There’s risk there for both of them, sure, but I see it as an allegory for living with trauma and consciously rejecting abusive cycles.
 
Instead of treating the influence of The Operator–an influence that has haunted him his whole life–as a source of shame and secrecy, he’s the only one of the main characters to find a way to reduce the horror’s power. He sought help. He helped others.
 
The last text of “Everything is fine” is rightly ominous because nothing is truly “fine” after trauma; that said, Tim is the only one who found a way to acknowledge and cope instead of suppress and fester.
 
There is risk of relapse, but isn’t that always the case of trauma or mental illness? Not everyone was in the position Tim was to combat The Operator, and that’s a tragedy of the other characters instead of a condemnation. We clearly see Tim struggle with issues of lashing out and violence as Masky, even when resisting the control of The Operator in other areas.
 
Anyway, I took a lot of hope and warning from the ending rather than seeing it as Tim blindly perpetuating the cycle by not ending his own life. The other characters were not weak, but a strength of Tim was his willingness to see The Operator as a burden he could try to bear and mitigate rather than a force that could be eradicated.
 
That’s hopeful to me as a real-life human learning to live with trauma, mental illness, and chronic illness. There’s not healing in the traditional “Look, all gone!” sense but there is a complicated version of healing that’s coping well and living a full, thoughtful life.
 

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Bandcamp Friday Friends!


It’s another Bandcamp Friday! What a great day to pick-up The Salacious Crumbles‘  pay-what-you-want EP, “Carbonite,” music by a bunch of our Social Justice Bards, AND my solo stuff

My newest Dani Orthanc track is “Seagulls,” out free now!

It’s inspired by one of my favorite albums, Far Away Trains Passing By by Ulrich Schnauss. I was trying to communicate the wistful, sad, and open feeling I get when I sat under a pier to watch the ocean at dusk. Like, when the sand is still warm from the sun but you feel the air start to blow thick and chilly even though it’s technically still 80 degrees outside. You have to go home soon, but not yet. 

 

Folks with new stuff since last Bandcamp Friday:

  • The Blibbering Humdingers: Nerd wrockers family band and Bards of of Tigtone, the new album “Positively Gruntled” is out now!
  • Insane Ian: comedy! New track is “Vaccine Day”!
  • Marc Gunn: Autoharp Celtfather, new album is “Virtual Public House”!
  • Jeff Whitmire: deft comedy lyrics and joy, new track is “WandaVision”!
  • Mikey Mason: Nerd rock senpai, NEW album is “Retrossance”!
  • Catch some of these folks live on my weekly Triple Six show!

More Friends and Coworkers!

Fieri House


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#FieriHouse


Okay, so I started playing Sims 4 when it was on sale on Steam and I made an entire house of Guy Fieris. You can watch me stream it on Twitch (check out the FAQ to turn on notifications!)! I’m NOT an experienced Simmer, but sometimes ALL FIVE FIERIS get on the slip ‘n slide together and it is wholesome.

Meet the Fieris of #FieriHouse!


Guy Fieri (Orange Shades)

This is Guy Fieri, or Orange Fieri. When he’s tired, he’ll just keep making coffee instead of just going to bed. I relate to him. Guy works as a celebrity chef and is the household breadwinner.

Guy Fieri (Blue Shades)

This is Guy Fieri, or Blue Fieri. When he first moved in, Guy actually chose to go into standup comedy instead of cooking. Don’t let your dreams be dreams, Fieri!

Guy Fieri (Pink Shades)

This is Guy Fieri, or Pink Fieri. He’s currently working as a bartender, but he’s also into spooky stuff like seances! Guy is also pretty handy around the house with his love of tinkering!

Guy Fieri (Green Shades)

This is Guy Fieri, or Green Fieri. He enjoys knitting and gardening and is the stay-at-home Fieri! Every house needs a Fieri to be a home.

Guy Fieri (Vampire)

This is Guy Fieri, or Dark Fieri. He’s a vampire and loves playing with all the pets. His other main hobby is computer gaming and midnight snacks.

Donkey Sauce

This is Donkey Sauce. She’s wearing dino jammies and likes to sing along when the Fieris do karaoke.

Sushi Sauce

This is Sushi Sauce. She likes to jump on the counter so she can hiss at the dishwasher. She really fucking HATES the dishwasher.

Nugget Sauce

This is Nugget Sauce. He is very small and very lazy. You can win her love with food her letting her eat literal garbage she finds.

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“Both Sides”

They aren’t the same but it still makes me nervous

When a conservative man who utterly snaps on women and he gets described as a “god-fearing preacher’s son” or “a good kid,” we all are angry and disgusted and don’t doubt the reality of the victims (plus this murder got to cover for his violent racism with “sex addiction,” which is a whole additional discussion).

But then when men (and people that engage in a similar problematic behaviors associated with that kind of social entitlement) on the left (or popular with the left) exhibit problematic behaviors ranging from casual sexism to outright assaults, they get to be “missing stairs” with people making excuses for their behavior or lack of meaningful improvement of their behavior because they’re vocal “allies” or “feminists”. They get to say the right words and skip doing the work and then they get a pass too on the minor stuff, or worse. And then people get to be surprised when the house of cards falls if they do something publicly bad enough.

I’m definitely having a lot of trouble processing this and other recent events and re-mapping that into my own experience; thst said, I’m sharing this as a concrete example and not as fishing for sympathy—I’ve gotten that already and I don’t need to rehash it. So: I told people about Jordan’s secret filming and my abuse and abuse of others at his hands, but people still loved going to his bar because it was popular, and he had the vocal “good person,” feminist public reputation—the Josses, the preacher’s sons. And it’s easier to dismiss intimate partners, because truly we can’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I get it; I struggle with it too. But right or left, a lot of the excuses we make for truly disturbing or problematic behavior are so similar.

Conflict is not abuse. People are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, but people that have a base disrespect for The Other will feel more comfortable acting entitled (or worse) toward vulnerable populations.

And jesus FUCK this was so clearly a racially motivated hate crime. I’m not trying to make it only about the violent misogyny part because it’s so deeply used to amplify the vocal racism against AAPI people. I’m pissed off he gets to “have a bad day” and use “sex addiction” to cover for his hatred.

Also he “had a bad day”? The fucking victims had a bad day. That sheriff… the excuses are terrifying. I’m sure he’s a “good person” even though he posted racist memes about the “Chinese virus.” Is he just one bad day away from yelling a racial slur? Harassing Asian Americans? Abusing women? Murder? That man gets to have a gun.

I remember my name

I’m the same no matter what fucking makeup I wear

I came into non-monogamy through a really positive, ethical, organized, and safe swinger culture. There’s a lot of polyam overlap, but typically it was established couples with established couples.

Or roughly that–people might be in long term, caring (even loving, romantic) relationships with other couples, member with different primary relationship structures, or single people but you didn’t refer to or think of partners outside of your primary dynamic as “partners” in the same social sense. That’s not good or bad compared to most polyam I’ve been around or in—just a difference.

So the first time I engaged in a traditionally recognizable polyam relationship of my own, I think I missed a lot of red flags and incompatibilities because of that partner’s insistence that I was “new” at “meaningful” non-monogamy even though I’d been active in non-traditional lifestyles for almost 15 years myself.

When I wanted to have a conversation about levels of involvement, time expectations, and boundaries with other partners—weeks after we started sleeping together and it was clear we were becoming emotionally involved—the phrase he used was that I was trying to “exert control” over things and he was used to “letting things find their own level.”

But he insisted—even in his OKCupid profile, which he sent me unbidden—that he was good at relationship communication (“at the risk of sounding like a Nice Guy(tm)”) so I took that at fairly face value; that he’d respond to checking in on our “levels” like I would.

I feel like I became a convenient scapegoat for problems in his other relationships because I was farther away. I know for a fact there were instances where if he didn’t outright lie to absolve his responsibility of autonomy, he either attempted to or successfully controlled the flow of information between his partners to avoid his own actions or decisions. I mean, I can armchair people to death and it won’t matter but I feel like he avoided difficult feelings or situations while simultaneously building his sense of self on being “good” at handling them.

Everyone was always acting upon him, preventing him from taking action; and god knows what he might have told me about his other past or current partners that was either a lie, an exaggeration, or such a severe narcissistic misperception as to be upsetting in retrospect. I’ve been lucky–in a way–to have had parts of my experience verified by people I would not have expected.

So much of my professional and personal confidence was gutted by someone who claimed to be a self-appointed “mentor to women” despite both casual and overt sexism; he frequently referred to me as a “colleague” though he assumed the lone and language of “showing me the ropes” rather than talking shop or acknowledging our different knowledge bases in practice.

This started in very late 2017; I had always had my independent career goals, network, and songwriting. I wrote almost no new songs or parodies while I was with David for a lot of reasons, but one of them was negging and intimidation. He commented frequently on my “simple” songwriting and contrasted it with how he “couldn’t write a pop song with fewer than seven chords,” or how he disdained experimentation or song writing practice. That’s just the surface.

It’s sad, and I don’t think it was intentional. I think he is deeply insecure, traumatized, and nuanced but there was comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only one with these experiences. A think I’ve spent time (and still spend time) sorting in therapy are the ways I wrongly doubted myself and the ways I could have shown more empathy or confronted our different experiences in practice.

But–charitable human stuff aside–he made me feel like absolute shit on a bunch of levels and was privately hostile toward me while being publicly supportive during the investigation against my abuser.

He also responded to a comment thread I made on another friend’s post that he “wasn’t going to demand forgiveness” for overtly misogynistic comments about the intersection of my body and my music, though he directed all that discussion specifically to other people rather me. I felt he was co-opting the language of mental health (ie “no one owes me forgiveness”) to avoid having to make any kind of apology in the first place.

I don’t even know what I would want; I’ve learned enough that I’m not sure I’d find an apology at this point anything but hollow, and I acknowledge that. That said, I also want to be able to run into him at professional event without being afraid of his verbal retaliation. I’ve had time to sit with what’s a reasonable fear and what isn’t–especially given that the last time we spoke was right after Jordan had been charged. Frankly, I see that he weaponized that and other details of my abuse against me in ways I was right to find scary, and still do. 

Regardless, I feel I made a good faith, documented attempt to resolve professional issues with David before he made the “tits and ass” comments. He’s the only person who’s ever been asked to leave the Social Justice Bards roster, and I’m not the only reason for that. I am not aware of any attempts on his part toward de-escalation. 

I’m tired of feeling like I can’t speak up about this more publicly because he was a former partner and I’m acutely aware of how much easier it is–from both sides–to live with the dissonance that what happened to someone is *real* but also maintain a relationship with the other person socially or professionally. 

As for me, I don’t want to continue professional associations where I promote him but I don’t have strong opinions on people that do–partially because I recognize the realities of networking, friendships, and regional associations. There’s no hill to die on here. I’m happy to talk about my professional interactions with him (both positive and negative) but I generally reserve the very personal for relevant parties or close friends.

Anyway I wrote a bunch of songs about it, like, “Shake and Sweat” from FAWM this year.

“Shake and Sweat” from FAWM 2021
Shake and Sweat
Key: Am

Chorus:
I [G]shake and I [C]sweat
Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get
Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette
Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset

Verse 1:
[C]Lord I [F]know I can [G]beat a dead [F]horse
[Dm]Til I have[C] blistered [F]hands[G]
[C]Lord I [F]know what a [G]fool's errand [F]is
[Dm]And what will [C]happen to my [G]best laid [F]plans

[Am]This is how they [G]get you though
[Am]They take your normal [G]doubts
[Dm]Amplified [C]through their a[Dm]ssessments half-[C]true
[Dm]Any [C]sane per[G]son would [Am]just...

Chorus:
I [G]shake and I [C]sweat
Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get
Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette
Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset

Verse 2:
[C]How do I [F]judge my [G]own reac[F]tion
When [Dm]hind[C]sight's far a[F]way [G]
[C]How do I [F]judge if [G]I'm the one who's [F]wrong
[Dm]And what will [C]happen to [G]some[F]day

[Am]This is how they [G]get you though
[Am]They take your normal [G]doubts
[Dm]Amplified [C]through their a[Dm]ssessments half-[C]true
[Dm]Any [C]sane per[G]son would [Am]just...

Chorus:
I [G]shake and I [C]sweat
Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get
Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette
Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset

Bridge:
[Em]A year a[F]go I [C]tried to write this song
A [Em]year a[F]go I [C]thought maybe I was wrong
But in a [Em]year I [F]see that I'm [C]better off as [F]me
And yeah I'd [C]do it different[F]ly
But I am [Em]not a[F]shamed of [C]anything I [Dm]said
But [F]trauma warms my [Dm]bed and

Chorus:
I [G]shake and I [C]sweat
Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get
Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette
Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset

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