Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Nine Inch Nails at the Hard Rock Casino

 I haven’t been to the State of Nevada since last century, possibly due to an old grudge over the fact my marriage occurred there, in cold and snowy Lake Tahoe. At one point in my life I was much more of a Vegas kind of person – addicted to cigarettes, reasonably svelte, fond of late hours and sparkly things. At my current location in the life cycle, my favorite thing in Las Vegas besides the band I went there to see was the extra-large bathtub with whirlpool jets.

I spent most of the weekend there, in a cloud of Lush bath products, listening to the classic rock channel on the TV in my room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. A doomed resort recently purchased by Richard Branson, who intends to turn it into a Virgin.  

For now it’s a delightfully seedy ode to baby boomer music, fashions, cocaine habits and sexual proclivities. There are “alternative” and “hip hop” channels on the TV too, but the main casino floor throbs to the Stones, and the Eagles, and Aerosmith, and Dylan, and Eric Clapton, and Neil Young, and ZZ Top, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Boys with guitars, playing appropriated blues riffs while dressing fabulously. Their actual clothes are displayed on mannequins and hanging from the walls – the suit Mick Jagger got arrested in, the sequinned LA Dodgers uniform worn by Elton John, the suit jacket Jimi Hendrix left at a friend’s house before wandering off to overdose on heroin.

On the room doors there were huge black and white photos of various rock stars and Vegas iconography – the old Flamingo sign, a young Michael Jackson’s proof sheet, Freddie Mercury in his harlequin tights, and … on my door (room 645), an image of the man I’d journeyed to Las Vegas to see. 

Trent Reznor. Mister Nine Inch Nails himself. The guy that basically created the amazing album Pretty Hate Machine all by himself on a laptop or a Nintendo or some kind of primitive early ‘90s tech. One of those albums that is permanently etched on my brain. Sin makes me want to dance, Something I Can Never Have makes me want to cry, Terrible Lie and Head Like a Hole make me want to fistpump and holler. That’s not even my favorite Nine Inch Nails album; the honor would go to Downward Spiral, the only CD I’ve ever worn out (not scraped, not scratched, played to death after a couple years residence in bay 5 of the nifty multi-CD changer I had in the ‘90s).

When I was a kid I had fantasies of doing what Mr. Reznor did – create a whole album by myself, with machines. Play all the instruments, sing all the vocal tracks, write all the songs. He does seek help from other humans for various parts in the process, such as touring live, when he brings along an A game band. Aside from that, most of NIN’s music is pure Trent. Angry, loud, passionate, raw genius.

Last time I saw Trent I was in the middle of a nasty argument with my ex. It was enough to put me off concerts for a while.

In fact … I wasn’t even going to write about this, but I’m still mildly annoyed about it … my Lyft driver to the Styx show gave me shit for attending a concert alone. “Isn’t it more fun with other people?”

Answer: no. When I’m experiencing live music, I am there to stare at the band as I go into a little trance and focus my entire brain on what they’re playing and how they’re playing it and what the crowd’s energy feels like and how the drums are mic’d and what kind of gear they’ve got and ooh, he’s singing that phrase ascending while he did a descend on the original recording. Stuff like that.  

I’m not really there to socialize. I’m there to hear music.

And as a matter of fact, attending concerts with my ex-husband were miserable enough to put me off live music until one day, quite recently, within the last three or four years, I said to myself, “screw it, I’ll go see concerts alone, and if I need anyone to hang with I’ll just take my fan forum habit to Facebook and make new friends, who love my favorite bands as passionately as I do.” So I’ve been doing that. Especially since Prince died, and reminded me that I need to see my favorite musicians while I can, before they die or retire or go insane. And I really don’t need some incel Lyft driver to argue for the proposition that live music involves paying more attention to whoever’s accompanying me than the band I’m there to see. 

So. When I heard NIN was playing in Vegas, at the Hard Rock Casino, I decided to take myself there. To buy balcony seats, because my frail old bones are no longer compatible with mosh pits. To pamper myself with room service and bubble baths and whatever else I wanted, which turned out to be not a whole lot. I extended invites to a few people, including my recently-discovered half-brother, but I intended to go regardless of whether anyone else felt like coming along, and as it turned out, nobody else could make it.

Plus I came down with a cold way back at the beginning of June, which I was fighting all through Colorado and its assorted species of pollen, and by the time I got to NIN I was exhausted. I made one brief excursion to the strip, for the breakfast buffet at Paris, after which I decided that buffets are best done when one isn’t ill and one sparkly casino looks pretty much like the next. I bypassed the giant ferris wheel and the shark tank and the burlesque museum and the mafia museum and the 24-hour neon-covered cannabis dispensary … well, mostly … and all that other stuff so I could focus on the music. And the bubble baths. And the naps. Socializing was far too strenuous and I was happy to avoid it. 

Extra deep bathtub with whirlpool jets ... mmmm

The first night was great. My seat was dead center, second row of the balcony. Trent played a great energetic set, and his voice was in fine mode, with stunning range and power behind it.

Only one issue: the drunk. The guy sitting directly in front of me was drunk. And friendly. Obnoxiously so. He wanted to chat, he wanted to buy me an additional diet coke (he bought a round for everyone around him, which was funny because most of us were drinking soda or Fiji water and seemed mildly annoyed with his alcohol-fueled extroversion.

He was harmless though, and good-natured, and backed off after a few hints. Possibly I’m even being sexist, because I had a friendly drunk sitting next to me at the last Ween show but she was a bubbly girl with cute tattoos and I didn’t find her objectionable at all.

That night I had the easiest time leaving a concert I’ve ever had – walk about 100 yards, past a Dunkin Donuts (okay, yeah, you got me, I stopped, both nights), turn left to the elevator bank, stagger another thirty feet to the door with Trent’s picture on it.

The second day was pure laziness, with some TV watching. I played some video blackjack, and then I blew all my winnings on a giant Game of Thrones slot machine, and I don’t regret it in the least. I ate some marvelous ahi, and a cheese enchilada, and the best omelet I’ve had in a long time. The second night was smooth sailing. I was all the way over to the left, five rows back, but this time I was sitting next to a cool couple (they were “cool” because they knew and loved the songs, and no further conversation was necessary).

And Trent’s set was even better, with some unscripted ranting and a petulant flinging of a bad naughty out-of-tune guitar, and even better singing, and an encore with Gary Numan, and a couple hours of sheer musical magic, with no creeps annoying me whatsoever. Followed by a donut, and a relaxing bubble bath, and a night in a tall fluffy bed covered with down pillows. And room service breakfast. Probably one of the better weekends of my life, even despite having a cold. No annoying ex-husbands, Lyft drivers or cheerful drunks necessary. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hugo Awards 2018: Best Novelette

I've finished all the novelettes.

"Children of Thorns, Children of Water," by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017)"Extracurricular Activities," by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017)"The Secret Life of Bots," by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)"A Series of Steaks," by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017)"Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time," by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017)"Wind Will Rove," by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017)

Two of them stood out and eclipsed all the rest: "Wind Will Rove" and "A Series of Steaks." The one about steaks had playful bioengineering and an adorable female couple, and an ending that made me smile. That's Vina Jie-Min Prasad, whom I already decided deserved my Campbell vote because she posed with a rabbit. She's got a light, breezy, fast-moving, rabbity style and I admire that.

"Wind Will Rove" was absolutely appalling. Space colony, far future and hackers destroy all the music, forcing people to reconstruct it from memory. It disturbed me because there was an almost gleeful aspect towards tearing down all those past performances and starting afresh. Kind of like when the Taliban demolished all those Buddha statues. I want to know how hackers can destroy all the music when notation exists, and when people tend to keep their own separate private collections, and yeah, it made sense if you applied it to folk music only, not symphonic, not even hip hop or rock since those can be accurately described. It was just an awful story, anyway, and I couldn't decide whether that awfulness deserved my vote or not. I eventually decided that anything that can get under my skin to that extent deserves my vote ... but in second place, right after Prasad.

The others ... sorry, they didn't register as hard as these two, so I kind of mentally separated them into their own class -- fun, but didn't bring their Hugo-worthy A game. Or possibly too brilliant for my befuddled mind to comprehend. Or maybe some point between the two.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


I just went to Denver to see a couple nights of Ween at Red Rocks. I’ve always wanted to visit Red Rocks because it looks amazing, and I can vouch that it’s even more impressive in person, with towering rock formations cradling you as you perch on a hill looking down at Denver.

Getting up there is a workout, with a steep uphill hike, and lots of stairs to negotiate, and the seats are splintery benches without lumbar support. Once you get up there, however, the view is amazing and the acoustics are perfect.

I spent my visit being sort of dehydrated and oxygen deprived. I caught a dose of pollen just before I left California from going way out to the suburbs to hear Styx and Joan Jett. They have even more pollen in Denver. They also have air that sucks the moisture out of everything. I found myself keeping my water bottle beside the bed so I could grab it when I’d wake up in the middle of the night with a painfully parched mouth, which happened three or four times every night. Combined with my hayfever, I couldn’t really talk for longer than a couple sentences without breaking into a coughing fit, and as a result I was a little more shy than normal.

Denver is a gorgeous town full of dark green trees and Victorians made of brick, as compared to the wooden ones here. The people of Denver are pragmatic folks with comfortable shoes and healthy outdoorsy lifestyles and impressive tattoo collections and potent cannabis.


I’m in favor of cannabis, and use it medicinally. I’m also a YA author and I don’t believe in encouraging people under 18 to use psychoactive substances like cannabis or alcohol, even though they frequently do just that. There are studies indicating heavy use of cannabis can affect brain development in teenagers, so I don’t recommend they indulge until reaching majority. I’m a realist too, and I’m well aware that kids occasionally party, and if that’s going to happen, I’d rather they do it with cannabis, which is highly unlikely to result in tragedy compared to all the other options. I do include substance abuse scenes in my stories, because it’s a situation YAs typically encounter.

But I don’t generally write much about cannabis. Aside from saying there’s some in Colorado, and it’s potent.


They also have dinosaur bones in Colorado, and I stopped by the Denver Natural History Museum to look at some of them. Nifty! I loved the plesiosaurs suspended in the air, and the amazing size of the diplodocus.

Geology and Meteorology!

The rocks sheltering Red Rocks are part of a long spine that runs way back into the hills, and tracing its path is one of those humbling experiences that reminded me of how puny we humans are compared to the hills and the trees and the wind.

On night two, there was a raging storm. Thunder! Lightning! Soft warm rain that had me drenched to the skin within seconds! There were signs advising us all to take shelter from the severe weather, and stagehands covered the band’s equipment in waterproof tarps as we wondered whether the show would go on. It did, starting an hour late as the storm moved toward Denver, punctuating the concert with stabs of background lightning and treating us to some double rainbows. The moisture sucking propensities of Colorado air worked just fine on my clothes and the wooden bench seats, rendering them dry as a dinosaur bone in very little time. Incredible experience!

Food and Lodging

There was great food but due to my infected sinuses, I couldn’t really taste anything. I stayed in a mansion built in the 1880s which at various times served as a brothel and a hippie commune and currently is a bed and breakfast. Denver is full of great old Victorian houses made of brick, in contrast to the wooden ones I’m using to seeing in San Francisco.

In Summary

I loved everything about Colorado except for the altitude and the pollen. If I ever get back there I’d like to do something more nature-oriented, like visit a hot spring in the winter while there’s still a little snow on the ground.

Hugo Reviews: Best Novelette (part two)

I read A Series of Steaks by Jie-Min Prasad Vina on an airplane and enjoyed it very much; it's a bioengineering caper story with a cute pair of women and some forged steak, and lots of cool hard sciencey details.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Review: Crash Override by Zoe Quinn

This book is up for a Hugo award in the Related Work category, so I suppose it’s time for me to talk about Gamergate. I really dislike both sides of Gamergate. Asking me to take sides is like asking me if I want broccoli or lutefisk. Or if I’d rather listen to Emerson Lake & Palmer or Spandau Ballet. Or if I’d prefer a migraine or a toothache.

Before Gamergate, I was a gamer, AND a blogger who would blog about video games and gender, right here at blogspot, which was how I got my blogging start, doing DarthBunnywabbit and various other gaming blogs. Which all got deleted, well before Gamergate happened, after I realized I didn’t care enough about the subject to invite the sort of heated discussion it tends to bring.

At that time, like now, women made up about half of the gaming audience but marketing tended to focus on the lad audience, similar to movies. Also similar to now, gender (as well as race and income and nationality and ethnicity and orientation) can be concealed in the context of multiplayer videogames, making them a very liberating place where you can socialize across demographic lines in the quest to find brains that can strategize at your preferred level.

I’ve been a gamer all my life. Chess, Atari, Nintendo, RPGs, backgammon, logic puzzles, mah jongg, blackjack, Car Wars, AD&D, Avalon Hill, Tunnels & Trolls, Tetris, Battletech, Angry Birds, Sims, Heroes of Might and Magic, Magic the Gathering, Civ, WoW, Hearthstone, Cuphead. Star Wars Galaxies (the greatest MMO ever) (heavy sigh … bursts into tears). I have ludophilia. I’m addicted to strategy, and points, and advancing, and giving my brain a workout.

I’m also a San Francisco Bay Area liberal, although I’m kind of a reclusive one, because I’m more about universal healthcare than weird mainlander theories about how to achieve harmonious social relations. I don’t play well with science haters and tear-it-all-downers, be they liberal or conservative.

An important thing to know about the San Francisco Bay Area is that from the nineties forward, the tech industry has been paying their employees substantially more than anyone else, resulting in ridiculously high rents and a resulting schism between the anticapitalist hippies who used to rule SF and the invading rich techie carpetbaggers, and tempers tend to run high. I’m sort of on the border of that, as an old artsy hippie that loves computers. I’ve been to both sides’ parties, where I’ve hung out listening to them talk smack about the other side, and it’s not pretty in either direction.

For instance, the alternative journalism scene, which descends from old rabble rousers like Rolling Stone and Village Voice and Berkeley Barb. In addition to being a gamer, I also worked with/around the alternative press for over a decade. A lot of those folks are steadfast tech-haters, and yet as journalists, they sort of gravitated naturally into covering the gaming scene as adjunct to covering other teen fashions like rock music and blockbuster movies. Unfortunately, gamers tend to be more interested in whether a game is challenging to play than whether it reflects trends in societal attitudes. End result – imagine Sports Illustrated written by people aspiring to work for Alternet and Mother Jones. Writers who want to make the world a better place, living in cramped apartments with too many roommates while the affluent tech bro types next door gentrify the crap out of their local pub. And gamers who learn early on that journalists loathe everything about games except for the expense accounts and launch parties. Just about every gamer has been burned at some point by a glowing review of some unfinished buggy crap product that can be trounced within half an hour of installing it.

Gamergate concerns a love affair gone bad. After a painful breakup, the boy wrote a diatribe and posted it on the internet. Several sympathetic dudes clustered around him to commiserate, and this led to them outdoing each other in their attempts to punish and degrade his ex, Zoe Quinn. She was attacked nonstop, her personal info was hacked, her relatives were threatened, nudes photos of her were located and distributed.

Shortly thereafter, a flood of articles ran in assorted alternative newsblog outlets, each lede containing some permutation of “gamers are dead” as they collectively blamed the assault on all people who play video games. No doubt these articles were hatched in feverish sessions in discussion groups and listserves and wherever else wordy people congregate online, but since gamers don’t tend to hang around in those circles, it bore all the stamp of authoritarians gone mad.

This is where I first heard of Gamergate, after waking up one morning to discover that I had suddenly become, due to the magic of guilt-by-association, a misogynistic bro who is dead, or should be. I was angry, as were the other gamers, many of whom raised a collective middle finger and escalated to boycotts and letter writing campaigns. Vehement pro and anti factions crystallized.

To the anti-GG faction, Gamergate is solely about the misogyny apparent in Quinn’s assault. To the pro-GG types, it’s all about clickbait journalists falsely attributing blame, destroying people in order to boost their ratings. I think there are tiny kernels of truth on both sides, as well as a lot of surrounding inflammation and foul-smelling discharge.

There was a time when I was very knowledgeable about Gamergate, and I would spend hours reading the pro- and anti- boards to discover what was inflaming them at any given moment, so I could avoid it. 

I made a point of never saying anything in either direction

because both sides were lousy with aggro people. In fact, I’m fairly certain that a lot of people on both sides of Gamergate were there mainly because they were spoiling for a fight. I also noticed plenty of opportunists who noticed a fight was happening and hastened to infiltrate it and divert it toward their own interests. 

For myself, I cut way back on gaming and started writing novels instead, although I still maintain a stable of maxed out WoW toons and I occasionally lose myself in Hearthstone or Cuphead or Sims 4. I gave up completely on being a social gamer, and these days all my ingame friendlists are blank. The climate is too partisan; I can either be a “social justice warrior” and go around despising “elitists” and turn off all my incoming chat lest I hear colorful language, or I can be a “bro” and go around despising feminists and liberals and others who want me to filter my colorful language. I choose neither, and I miss the days when I could just chill with a bunch of other pottymouthed gamers, but being a novelist has its rewards.

Most of the actual in-my-face aggression I’ve experienced over Gamergate has come from the antiGG crowd, many of whom apparently think I’m a poor deluded bimbo with Stockholm syndrome, running a gauntlet of gender-based verbal violence every time I’m logged in but my stunted little consciousness isn’t raised enough to realize it, probably because I’m secretly a Ronald Reagan loving fascist, because who else would play videogames? Certainly not nice people. Gamers are people who revel in racist sexist hatred 24/7, and we know this because the journalists said so, and only a vile fascist would question the integrity of journalists.

Last time I got a taste of this was in a discussion about the movie Ready Player One, which I still haven’t seen. Somebody presented an opinion that it was problematic, even though the book wasn’t, because RPO-the-Movie came out post-Gamergate, after we had all learned that gamers were evil toxic fascists. Others chimed in about how RPO was all about white men acting as cultural gatekeepers, controlling access based on whether others were familiar with white-male-centric pop culture, such as Van Halen. My argument that from my personal experience with the ‘80s, Van Halen actually had a huge female following (due to having an especially photogenic lead singer) was disregarded. Even though I saw them live a couple times. They put on a really good show. 

I’m still in a handful of gamer groups, most of them female-only. Female gamers get grief from Gamergaters, anti-Gamergaters, creepy guys in LFR, competition-hating equalitarians, vituperative neighbor moms who refuse to let their kids play with kids who are allowed to access disgusting console machines – you’d be amazed at how much vindictiveness people can summon for women who are just goofing off having fun rather than anxiously trying to please somebody else.

Or maybe it has more to do with women doing something competitive with their brains … a lot of people really don’t like that at all.

I do admire how Ms. Quinn has rebounded from having loads of undeserved negativity cast her way. She is working to help others suffering the same fate, and she is holding her head high, and moving on.

I’m trying to do the same thing, while continuing to avoid saying anything for/against anything or anybody connected with Gamergate. So, no, I’m not going to vote for Zoe Quinn’s book. I probably won’t write about Gamergate again for a long while either.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Genetic Shade

Lately I’ve been talking about my DNA adventures in places other than forums devoted to that kind of discussion. Some people are interested, some aren’t. Others throw me weird varieties of shade, and I wanted to write a blog entry to link when people say similar things in the future.

The Hypothetical Invasive Bastard

First has got to be the Hypothetical Invasive Bastard [HIB]. Some people are afraid of DNA databases because they have an idea some vengeful bastard will come along to destroy the family. One person brought up the scenario of a HIB appearing and maliciously doxxing any relatives who don’t want to contribute to the database. Presumably this means advising all their Facebook friends there’s an illegitimate person in the family tree, thus causing everyone to be shunned by polite society.

All I can say to this is: you know your genes better than I do. Maybe your family is full of vengeance and malice and wealth and titles and shunning. Mine isn’t, nor are most of the families I read about in DNA forums. The typical scenario is that people make contact, and then they go ahead with their lives while having varying levels of contact.

Still, it’s hard to figure out what to say when someone says, accusingly, “you are a fool for belonging to those databases because you’re bound to attract a HIB who will destroy you and everything you love!” I think that may have been the plot of some movie that I haven’t seen lately.

Bottom line: no, I’m not scared. And no, you don’t get to call me foolish for not being scared. Privately, I think you’re being foolish … plus you might even be revealing your hand, indicating that your own family is full of HIBs … which means perhaps I ought to give you some distance

The Massive Government Database

Gattaca is a movie about a dude who wants to be a pilot, but he can’t because a genetic scan reveals he might have precluding physical issues, so he steals someone’s identity. It’s a very scary movie to some people that fear a Massive Government Database [MGD] will somehow crush their dreams.

I don’t really believe in a MGD dedicated solely toward being mean and fascistic toward the people theoretically giving it service updates, but assuming there was one, I’d want my DNA to be one of the over-catalogued “normal” samples as opposed to some outlying strain belonging to a tribe of theoretical resistance fighters.

I will allow that fears about governments, numbers, databases and so on are grounded in reality, but not everyone who wears black, white and red at the same time is a fascist. The UK has everyone’s blood type in a computer somewhere, and you don’t see them using it to fabricate radioactive kaiju (yet). MGDs don’t scare me either.

You Should Appreciate Your Reals!!

Sometimes people will say to me “I’m an adoptee and the only parents I need are my REAL ones, the ones that raised me!” And I can appreciate that they feel emotional about these kinds of subjects, but DNA is real too. Information is real. Truth is real, no matter what they tell you in spin school. You can love a symphony and understand music theory at the same time.

This statement is actually more about guilt and shame, as the accuser attempts to make me and everyone else curious about their origins out to be a Bad Child. The accuser, meanwhile, is a Good Child, loyal and true, proud of their ignorance. I’m not going to speculate about what kind of upbringing might influence someone to have that sort of response, but I’m glad I didn’t have one.

You’re Looking for Kinfolk Due to Cravings for Personal Relationship(s)

I don’t pretend to speak for everyone like me, but in my case it had a lot to do with anchoring myself in history. When you’re cut off from your roots, all you have is vicarious history. To me that’s distinct from wanting an intimate relationship with other humans.

Often there’s an unspoken “neener neener, your parental relationship was lacking so you’re seeking a substitute.” Which almost makes me want to resort to personal details, defensively – and yet I hate arguments like that, the kind you can only win by revealing more of your past than you want to reveal. To me that’s not so much a debate as an attack.

If my genetic kin want to have friendships, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too. The fact that they have shown me so many pictures of men, elders, kids, babies and beautiful young maidens bearing the facial features of our clan blows me away, and is sufficient all on its own.

Now I can look at a Shakespeare play and think, “Oh yeah, that character is probably like one of my ancestors.” I can watch Beauty and the Beast and think my people were definitely involved with printing and bookselling back then, given the number of authors and editors and readers among us. History isn’t abstract. I have a rudimentary filing cabinet now, with some kind of connection to the past. “White European girl” just does not suffice.

If any personal relationships develop beyond that sense of being a jigsaw puzzle piece that fits into the main picture, that’s gravy. What I seek is background information, just like so many of my sisters and brothers in DNA discussion groups. People who are privileged enough to know even humble information about their ancestors – regions, careers, names – often hold this desire in complete disdain, without realizing how much they’d miss it if it were forcibly withheld.

That’s not quite the same as wanting to glom onto a living person with familial-type emotional demands.

Why Would Anyone Want To Know Anything As Silly As Their Ancestry?

People who say this often follow up with a discussion of how some silly relative of theirs did their silly family tree once, and they only glanced at it, because it was silly, and they can’t imagine how anyone would want to have such silly information occupying their brain.

It would make sense if they actually turned out to be descended from amazing accomplishers but that hardly ever turns out to be the case. They’re just humblebragging, trying to one-up the bastards. Having information available but not being interested in pursuing it is different from having that information withheld from you by the state or by people who insist they are acting ethically.

DNA is Geneology

DNA is more like forensic geneology. It has to do with studying actual family trees rather than the duplicitous ones found in cultures where there’s a lot of shame about ancestral purity. With DNA you and your distant cousins work backward to figure out who was shagging whom. With geneology, you examine the historical record to see who married whom. Sometimes these populations overlap.

DNA is Racism

Science can tell which geographic region your ancestors came from, but “race” is a slippery issue. Moreover, a great many people have at least one ancestor who came from far away. DNA is more about deconstructing the mythological racial purity associated with geneology, if that makes sense. Frequently it reveals adultery and clandestine hookups. Sometimes it leads you to relatives connected through crimes like rape, or slavery. It’s difficult to remain racist after submerging yourself in the DNA experience and understanding exactly how flimsy these categories are.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bunny Review: Peter Rabbit

After retrieving Kahuna from Cat Safari (and acquiring a tasty Italian combo sandwich and some extra vinegary potato salad from the deli) I surrendered to my exhaustion and collapsed on the couch. Since I was having difficulty braining I headed toward the movies.

Oooh. A kids' movie with animated rabbits. Voice actors include Margot Robbie and Daisy Ridley. Let's do it.

Review One

Peter Rabbit is a wonderful kids' movie, full of bright colors and talking bunnies, with a sweet character based on Beatrix Potter who is kind to animals and spends her days painting pictures. The bunnies get into a fight with neighbor MacGregor over some delicious CGI vegetables, with no blood, sex or tragedy. Perfect for toddlers.

Review Two

Peter Rabbit is some kickass CGI featuring a horde of tiny lovable Beatrix Potter creatures, all of which are beautifully rendered, right down to the eyebrows and hedgehog quills. We have leader Peter in his blue jacket, tubby lop-eared Benjamin as his helpful sidekick, and his three sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy (who argue about seniority) and Cottontail (a fierce bunny amazon). Their neighborhood includes luminaries from the Potter tales like Pigling Bland and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. The script is full of sly jokes and the sort of trickster antics one would expect from rabbits, with an Important Lesson about not letting one's competitive instincts result in peoples' houses getting destroyed.

From a sheer animation and storytelling perspective, this flick is a master work. The scale of the critters, the extremely rabbity way they move, the natural flow of their fur. It's like Babe 2.0 (and there's a snarky little reference to Babe tucked in there too). Buster Keaton would approve of the visual gags, probably Chuck Jones would like them too. This movie is great at juggling dangers both real and illusory, keeping you on the edge without turning the anxiety too high. And all the actors do a fine job, especially the younger Farmer MacGregor, a London yuppie with a flair for physical comedy.

Way fun.