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Month: July 2007

Toronto Int'l Film Festival: Midnight Madness

The TIFF Midnight Madness film list is out. It’s always interesting comparing their movies to Fantasia; you don’t generally see movies at both, because (as I understand it) there’s a mild rivalry.

As is generally the case, Toronto got the big names — Romero and Gordon this year. Naturally, Fantasia has more depth in the fantastic film category, given that they screen rather more fantastic films. And, of course, Toronto has a lot of other movies to offer. In my ideal life of the idle rich world, I go to both.

Lost Victoriana

There’s a thread over at called “Lost Victoriana,” which is actually about the RPG Victoriana, but it got me thinking about a sort of lost history of the Victorian era — a history of technology that dwarves our own, a world of crystal skyships and sophisticated colonies on the surface of Jupiter. The Queen’s Patrol jousts with philosophical criminals who will toast the Queen despite their anarchic ways. Not a steampunk world at all.

Not sure what I’d do with it.

China, Back Then

[Game background; not to be taken as literal history.]

It’s 69 AD. The Han Dynasty rules China in the form of the hard-working but sometimes cruel Emperor Ming. He has been emperor for over ten years, and previous to his ascension, he was intimately involved in matters of state. Perhaps this is why he was so diligent and capable.

But there are shadows over his reign. It is well known that Prince Jing plotted to rebel, some years ago, going so far as to employ sorcerers to curse Emperor Ming. The Emperor resolved the issue by forcing Jing to commit suicide, and slew literally ten thousand others who were implicated in the conspiracy. It is whispered that Emperor Ming’s eunuch advisers were responsible for counseling the Emperor to this extreme act, but perhaps it was necessary in order to maintain the Celestial order and the Mandate of Heaven.

Some time after that unfortunate incident, the Emperor’s chief general was sent to hunt down the dangerous rebel known as the Jade Dagger. Much to the surprise of all, Ban Chao never returned from the hunt, and was has in fact been seen many times since cooperating with the Dagger Bandits, as the Jade Dagger’s men are known. Where there was once an annoying but ultimately ineffectual band of rebels, there is now a skilled, well-led fighting force fomenting tumult at the edges of the Empire.

And, finally, China is plagued by demons. While the Emperor’s men have always been successful in defeating demonic incursions, province by province — the eunuchs are rumored to be instrumental in these successes — it yet seems that no man is capable of pushing the demons back for good. For no matter how often they are defeated in any one place, a new infestation arrives in another province soon thereafter.

The Emperor continues to battle these shadows. He has the assets already mentioned; his current general, Guo Xun, is only slightly less formidable than Ban Chao. His twin bodyguards, Lin Bao and Lin Bo, are never-speaking pillars defending him from all harm. He is far from helpless, but he is also far from victory.

The Armageddon Blues

Daniel Keys Moran has put The Armageddon Blues up for download, right over here. It’s not his best novel, but it’s worth reading. And it’s a good sign, because it fulfills the promise that there’s more coming. So big thanks to him.

The judge in the Rodgers/Moran court case has apparently asked both parties to stop flaming each other online. At least, he asked DKM to take his blog down and there’s nothing left of all the posts Alan Rodgers made about how evil DKM was over on his blog. Thanks thusly go out to the judge, too.

Richard Thompson, 6/30

Richard Thompson’s one of the most depressing lyricists in the world. He’s also one of the artists I admire the most for his skill. In retrospect, a bit of emotion on my part could have been expected, since Susan and I saw him five days after we found out about the Benoit tragedy.

I teared up hard during the first song. You’ve got a viewpoint character singing about bad relationships, you’ve got guitar playing that echoes through the minor keys and embraces atonal harmony as a metaphor for futile rage, and somewhere in there Thompson’s voice has become just about as effective an instrument as his guitar. I think it was cathartic: despite what the world’s lost, life goes on, and talent goes on, and there’s aught yet to admire.

It’d been a while since I’d seen him live; the last time must have been seven or eight years ago. He’s really been pushing his singing skills. He’s more resonant and less gruff than he was back in the 80s by far.

So, yeah: a great concert. Lots of cuts from Sweet Warrior, plus enough older stuff. “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” is a brutally despairing anti-war song that’d get much more attention in any sane world; and his solo acoustic “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” — bass line plus solos simultaneously, of course — was deeply gratifying. But it was all good.

You can hear the whole concert here. That’s from the DC date of the current tour.


We’re sadly not going to Fantasia this year, but next year with any luck, and it’s not like it doesn’t just keep getting better. I need to remember to call someone about ordering the program this year.

Chris said something insane about a shortage of must-see movies this year. Naaaah.