A Moving Movie Both Important and Beautiful
Okay, geeks, it's not often that Madame Moody will write a review for a movie that has nothing to do with Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, so pay attention!
When it comes to things that are important to Moody, you better believe that girl power is on the very top of that list. And this movie, The Eagle Huntress, has just that and so much more.
Thirteen-year-old Aisholpan lives with her family in a modest yurt for the warmer months and a modest mud/brick dwelling/school dorm the rest of the year. She knows how to care for cattle, dreams of being a doctor and has an interesting best friend--her father. Aisholpan is also descended from famous eagle hunters for many generations back, eagle hunters who were all men. Even today, all eagle hunters are men, but Aisholpan has a dream--to be an eagle hunter. And she has a family who will gladly face ridicule, anger and strife to make sure the girl who has the eagle hunting spirit in her blood gets her chance to prove herself.
I want you geeks to watch it, so I won't tell you how it goes. I will say that on a five-star scale, this was an eleven for me. The shooting was magnificent, the narration sparse and tastefully done, and the story had me laughing, crying and hoping.
One of my favorite moments in the video is when Aisholpan's father says that, to him, girls and boys are equal. This might seems a very simple sentiment, but it is not one that I've heard from many men, and I have RARELY seen it play out in day to day life. Some men I know will claim equality, but to see that belief in action in the way her father supports and trains her is hope-inducing.
In the movie, a judge for the eagle hunter's competition says something about Aisholpan that would be easy to overlook. He says something to the effect that it is even more important for Aisholpan, as a girl, to show she can handle her horse and eagle, sit well and ride well. That is an astute comment, whether he made it to be so or not. The fact is, women truly do have to work harder in many occupations to be seen as a viable person in the field. Men walk into eagle hunting as a right. The elders against Aishoplan make this clear--women are weak, frail and could not make it. Women have no right to compete, and they have every stereotype against them.
Aishoplan, in her humble, smiling, and fierce way accepts the challenges laid out before her with grace, as many women have had to do in order to change the status quo. And she has her father cheering her on in front of all the nay sayers, telling them, "This is just the beginning. More will come!"
And the light in his eyes, the way Aishoplan smiles his way, reveling in the warmth of having a father who not only cheers her on, but speaks of female engagement and equality with such passion is enough to make this movie one of the best of the year.
A truly moving film about a family you will fall in love with, about the eagles who love them, and about bravery in the face of odds.
Madame Moody is volunteering in a couple capacities at Norwescon 2017 this year. It is being held from April 13-16th in Seatac, WA. Say "hi" if you see her.
Madame Anxiety will also be attending Norwescon for her podcast Too Many Words. She will be gathering information for the podcast, possibly conducting interviews and just seeing what kind of mischief she can get into. Madame Moody will help her find mischief for sure.
If you're a geek and not sure about Norwescon, let me encourage you to give it a try. They have activities for young ones, a really great geek art show/alley, and tons of booths, books and panels for the geeky at heart. The people are nice, the pace is relaxed and fun. Here's where you go to register (Pre-registration is so affordable):
If you have a hard time affording geekery, go to this scholarship site for geeks who need a little financial boost:
Con or Bust
Stay geeky, my friends!
Madames Moody and Anxiety took their little witches and wizards to the new Harry Potter-themed movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. They, being of geeky mind and disposition, have shared with your below their take on this new addition to the wizarding world.
Madame Moody’s (aka H.M. Jones) Musings *Not Entirely Spoiler Free*
Characters: (5 of 5)
Madame Moody fell in love with the characters in Fantastic Beasts. It is clear that the screenwriters and J.K. really knew who Newt Scamander was. They understood how socially awkward he was, how stunted with people he was, how caring he was. And we get to know that, too, as viewers. I might add that I think him to be rather dreamy and am smitten with him, as well. That helps with the rating.
There is a large amount of “othering” in this film, which puts our main character and his friends in deep straights. Newt’s accidental friend, Jacob, is a wonderful actor and a fun addition to the story. He’s not the bumbling, helpless muggle most wizards expect him to be (apart from Newt and Queenie, who understand his worth). The final few scenes (you’ll hear no spoilers from me) with Jacob are so moving and so unfair that I cried like a baby. No lies.
I loved Tina and Queenie. They are believably from a time period where they are still being openly discounted for their gender, they have snippets of backstory that endear them to the viewer, they are smart, loyal and pretty darn brave. It makes you wonder which houses the American Wizarding school has, if any, and which traits placed them where. Maybe that’s not a thing in the American school. Maybe we’ll find out! OOOO!
The villains were great. I love a good villain, though I knew from the start who he was, which is a bit of a downer. However, he was a double-agent sort of man, which is also kinda fun. Apart from the main villain, we have secondary characters who are a little hard to love, but aren’t quite villains, like the President of the Wizarding World who is harsh and fails to see value in the right people until it’s too late. You also have the children of the New Salem clan who are less villains and more mistreated, abused and mishandled lives. Great complexity there.
There are a few characters (mostly muggles) whose stories aren’t really answered, but I have a feeling that there will be a continuation for Fantastic Beasts and that it might happen then.
In Moody’s eyes, the characters were a huge perk in the rating of this movie as a whole.
Plot: (4 of 5)
The plot was pretty good in this movie. It had good tension, some fun, uplifting moments, moments of intrigue and moments of humor. It was well paced. However, there are a few points when I thought to myself: “I knew that was going to happen” (see main villain comment), and that was disappointing. I also thought that the end was kind of smashed together so that some loose ends were left loose. This could be because there will be another movie, but it left me wishing they’d put another 15 minutes in to answer some questions left buzzing in my head, to give great depth to what happens next. I mean, Queenie gets her moment with Jacob, but Newt loves him, too!
That said, the part in the end with the bakery of fantastic beasts=best scene in the world. I’m still interested in our villain. You can’t just have a Johnny Depp Grindelwald and not give us more! *more on that below*
Geek Factor: (3 of 5)
Don’t get me wrong, I geeked out hard over the fantastic beasts themselves! Brilliant. Wondrous. If only Hagrid were not a baby or fictional and could have been there to see them…Newt is geek-out worthy, too. He’s a truly obsessive geek and his caring, loving, kind nature makes his wearing the Hufflepuff scarf a beautiful thing. Didn’t catch that? Just look at the below picture.
But here’s a few things that bugged this HP geek:
Grindelwald gets very little backstory. We know he’s “bad” in an offhand way, but we don’t really get much about him. As HP nerds, many of us will understand, but will still want more backstory. We don’t know how old he is, how old Dumbledore is at this point (though he is mentioned by Graves *I.E. Grindelwald*). We don’t know if he is Dumbledore’s rival yet, has been for years (probably the case), or was ever his lover (as has been hinted by HP geeks for ages). If so, his comments about Dumbledore seem a little stilted.
The Obscurus (obscurial). *SPOILERS ABOUND* I (and my mate) was a little annoyed by this addition to the story. Mostly because in the HP books we never hear a think about this parasite. You think you would, if it existed. You think other young kids dying and killing others in their wake due to non-magical training or suppression would be a thing that’s mentioned more widely.
Some speculate that Dumbledore’s sister who was presumably a squib actually had one of these obscurials living inside her, that she became one, was misdiagnosed as a squib, and killed their mother. I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s where they are going with this, but I still stand by the fact that I think it would have been mentioned before.
We don’t hear much about the American school for witchcraft and wizarding. That’s a bummer and it best be rectified. It’s weird (in HP) that this school is never mentioned, too. Are you just trying to pacify us Yanks, J.K.? Is it because we spend millions on your franchise? Do not tease us! Okay, it’s fine if you do.
Altogether, Moody and her kin enjoyed this movie very much. There are some things I, as an older geek, wanted, but I was moved by story of Newt and I loved his friends and fantastical beasts. I also appreciate the fact that Hagrid is, many years later, still having to fight to make sure people appreciate fantastical beasts. It seems that, in the HP universe, like our own, we are slow to learn.
4.5 of 5
Madame Anxiety Addresses the Masses
-Jayme Beddingfield (Madame Anxiety)-
J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world of Harry Potter has been cherished by many for years. Both her and the characters in her stories are loved household names. Rowling’s immersive and magical world doesn’t only bestow many layers of whimsy and wonder, it also delves deep into issues we deal with every day: tolerance, bigotry, and the need to follow dreams.
One thing Rowling’s always leaves us with, is wanting of more. Finally, that day has come. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' gives us more of the world we crave so much, but instead of behind the magic-protected walls of Hogwarts, we are transported into New York, 1926 alongside Rowling’s newest unforgettable protagonist, Newt Scamander. The brilliant team of J.K Rowling and David Yates that brought us the final four Harry Potter movies doesn’t disappoint with their newest venture.
We join Newt Scamander on his globe-trotting journey while he researches and writes the book ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.’ Long-time fans were first introduced to this book while attending Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Newt is undoubtedly a classic. His smile and cleverly honest one-liners are only some of the qualities that make Newt Rowling’s new darling.
Within the first few scenes, we are hit with immersive excitement, and adorably furry thief. The pace is a graceful balance of intrigue, action, and story setting. Warner Bros and J.K. Rowling announced that there would be four ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequels shortly before the first was released in theaters, allowing fans to settle in their seats a little bit more comfortably. Rowling’s typical carefully placed characters and details demonstrated that this would, in fact, be another deep and complex story. Each character weaved their own sense of heart and direction as the plot unfolded. The first of five movies simultaneously gave us plenty to expect in future films and was a gorgeous stand alone.
Even though Fantastic Beasts will, of course, be compared to Harry Potter, it is definitely its own story with a feel though reminiscent of Harry’s, it is painted a few shades darker. From magical mayhem to budding friendships, adorable creatures and terrifying villains, this is sure to be cherished franchise in the making.
Meanwhile in Washington is a collection of Washington state stories in the speculative, dystopian, sci-fi, paranormal and fantasy genres. The Madames Geek are calling all Washington authors of the above genres to submit their best locally based short fiction.The Madames will pay a small collection of chosen authors $20 for a short story based in Washington state. Please read the below guidelines before submitting.
1. The author must be a WA state local *living in WA state at the time of publication*
2. The author's story must be based in a WA town *we have a lot of Seattle submissions, so try to give us something based in a place other than Seattle*
3. The author agrees to a payment of $20 for their story, and gives Madame Geek Publications exclusive rights to publish the story for 5 yrs.
4. The story should be 1,000 to 7,000 words. Some leeway given, if the story is brilliant.
5. Deadline to submit is December 15, 2016
6. Email your submissions to email@example.com and cc firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an author, I realize that there are many reasons why your book may not be picked up. But I still don't get why Morgan Smith is not a household name. I just done. It's not fathomable. I love this author's work, so I'm taking this moment to get Mogan to tell me a little more about herself, and share her with other geeks. Cuz, Geeeks, this a a woman you want to know more about. She's fascinating and her books are off the hook.
Geek Chat: Author Morgan Smith
Morgan! The Madames Geek are very happy stopped by our hovel of a website. Can you tell us a little about how you came to write your fantasy books?
Well, the first one was written on a dare. I used to own a bookstore, and one day a publisher’s rep from a big name house came in with the new catalogues.
“This on,” he said. “ this one will be huge, and I know you guys specialize in fantasy and sf, so I snagged you an ARC.”
Three months later he comes back and wants to know how many dozens we are going to order.
“None,” we said. He was aghast. Nope, none – we were firm. He began to argue.
“Look,” said my business partner. “We tried. I got about halfway down page two and couldn’t go on. Morgan made it to page three before she was defeated.”
“We really did try,” I said. “We gave it to the staff. We sent it home with customers. Nobody made it as far as the end of the first chapter. It’s a dog.”
He was still arguing. I said the problem was that not one tree should have given their life for this – it was a piece of rubbish that shouldn’t have made it through the first minute’s worth of the junior-junior-junior intern’s time when they pulled it out of the slush.
The rep said, defensively, “It’s their first book. It isn’t easy to write a book.”
“Obviously,” I said, ”it is easy to write a book. Just not easy to write a good book.”
“I dare you to do it,” said the rep. “I dare you – I’l buy you lunch if you can come up with a book by next year.”
“I never said I could –“
“I dare you.” Publishers’ reps are nothing if not stubborn.
“I double dare you,” said my business partner. Business partners are nothing if not dangerous.
I figured out my main character while stuck in traffic on the way home, sketched out a plot while doing the dinner dishes, and started writing the next morning. Nine months later, I had the first draft of A Spell in the Country, and the rep had to take me out to lunch at a very expensive restaurant.
That's awesome. I'm very happy you were dared, as Spell is one of my favorite fantasy books. It’s clear you have a good idea of the history, society and even religion of the people who occupy your books. Can you tell us a little about the world your characters inhabit?
What I did was to imagine how Britain would have evolved socially if Claudius had never looked across the Channel and had ideas about conquest, and if the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans had all stayed home. It’s an idea about where an Iron Age society might go if left untrammeled well into the Middle Ages.
But for plot purposes, I gave it a bit of apocalyptic back story of a “Golden Age” with a developed magic taking the place of technology.
I was drawn to all of that largely because it was easy: I had the background from my education and training: I’d been steeped in archaeology and art history of those periods for about thirty years by then, and that’s how I interpreted “write what you know”.
I think that's probably why your world came across so clearly. You knew what you were talking about. We are a very geeky blog, here. We are passionate about things that are on the fringes. Would you consider some of what you do to be geeky? If so, what are some fringe obsessions Morgan has?
Textiles. Making them, unearthing them, analyzing them. How do they relate to the society that makes and uses them – what do they signify, what can they tell us about the people. My entire MA Archaeology was about textile tools in Anglo-Saxon burial contexts, because contrary to popular belief, not very many are found as part of the grave furnishings.
Even just knowing *how* they made things can tell you so much.
I once made a Norse hangeroc (a kind of pinafore dress from around 800AD) starting with the raw, unwashed fleece and combing it, dyeing it, spinning it and weaving it on a vertical loom my husband made me. I even got him to make me some bone needles to sew it together with. Because I really, really wanted to know how that felt, to do all that.
As a fan of weaving, I do that that you are such a geek for it. What a wonderfully unique experience. I hope a future character weaves magic. That would rock. Your book combines some truly spooky elements with epic fantasy very seamlessly. Are you a fan of paranormal horror?
I am. I really love the ones that combine some scary things with smart aleck humour: Ilona Andrews, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher – they manage to tread that line really well.
And I love Anne Rice for when I want to stretch my mental muscles, because no one does horror with a literary twist better that she does.
We are agreed. Some great choices. I am also a Rice fan. She really is the master of what we now know as modern paranormal/vampire lit. She took old literature and themes and made them so vivid and intriguing for a new age. What are some of your favorite fantasy/sci-fi books?
Kate Eliot’s Jaran trilogy. Barbara Hambly’s Sun Wolf series. Anything by Ursula LeGuin, and ditto Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay.
If one of them read something of mine and didn’t think it was awful, I could die happy.
We should be best friends. I'd probably pass out on the spot just be to near LeGuin or Gaiman. What are some hobbies you take part in that are unique?
I play a Viking on occasional weekends. It’s part of a worldwide Viking re-enactment thing I belong to: we do demos to educate people about what those times were really like.
That's fantastically geeky. You must post a picture for us sometime. Tell us more about your character Keri. Where do you draw your inspiration for this character? (Keri is one of my favorite fantasy characters, btw).
You know, I’m not entirely sure. I knew that I didn’t want to write about “The Chosen One” who spends most of time whining about “Why me?” And I knew it to have it be a woman, and that, in the same spirit of “write what you know” it was easier for her to be a fighter/soldier type, because I had, by then, put about three decades of doing martial sports combat with various degrees of armour and different weapons styles. So I went with what seemed to need the least amount of additional research.
It was the 90s. Research was a lot harder before Google.
Yes, you can (and I do) google everything these days. But hands on training (espeically in combat like you did) is way cooler and often more believable. Where can we get your wonderful books? I mean, I already have them, but what if other people don’t?
A Spell in the Country can be bought from multiple places – here’s a quick link for all of them:
And here is one for Casting in Stone (which is technically Book One, but they can stand alone, and I wrote Casting in Stone fifteen years later, anyway.)
Is there another book in the works to go along with A Spell in the Country and Casting in Stone? *she asks enthusiastically*
I’ve just started plotting the third book: “The Roots of the World”. (I am hoping that it won’t take me too long to write it. I’d like to get it out this coming spring or early summer. But I have learned that I cannot rush these things. They get there on their own time.)
Plus I have about half of a related book that takes place a good bit after “A Spell in the Country” is part of the “cycle” but not exactly related directly, although some of it happens in Keraine. (If I can figure out what to do with the really incredible plot twist I threw at it, I might get that out around the same time as Book Three, which would round my year out pretty well.)
That news makes me so happy! You made this geek girl's day! You know I'm good for a beta reading. Thank you for coming onto our geeky site, Morgan! We will do all we can to promote you, even throwing your book at the heads of innocent bi-standers.
Morgan Smith has been a goatherd, a landscaper, a weaver, a bookstore owner and archaeologist, and she will drop everything to travel anywhere, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Writing is something she has been doing all her life, though, one way or another, and now she thinks she might actually have something to say.
Alright, geeks, listen up! The Madames love reading, art and kickin' heroines. So, for our first post the Madames Moody and Anxiety are happy to bring you a list of amazing graphic novels/comics that you need to go out and purchase immediately (note the age ranges, young readers, and ask mom and dad before you pick up anything R-rated). Madame Moody's mom was not good at monitoring her reading...and you see where she is now! ;) So, read through our list, do your research and read some geeky books.
Madame Moody's Comic Picks
Madame Moody wants none of your run of the mill man saves the universe silliness! Madame Moody will have characters both diverse and complex. She loves to read heroine driven stories about women who are powerful and maybe a little evil. She happens to like it when a heroine is not all that...uh, sweet. So her reads are going to be a little on the violent side, and probably darkly funny rather than laugh-out-loud funny.
Girl Genius- Phil & Kaja Folio
Girl Genius has one a few Hugo awards, and it is no surprise to this lady why. It's a quirky comic starring a slightly clumsy, very smart and somewhat mad "Spark" by the name of Agatha Heterodyne. If you're a steampunk enthusiast, this is the comic for you. This comic as an old-world feel, but is swimming in mad scientists, experiments gone wrong, potions, machinery, tea, coffee, and SCIENCE! With some violence, some "sexy" references, etc. this is one you'll want to put in the mature young adult category, if you scare easily. However, my six year old loves this comic, so I'm not going to suggest you can't enjoy it if you're young. Madame especially likes Jagermonsters. They are hilarious, and, like herself, can't get enough of cool hats.
Nimona is a shark! Or a dragon! Or whatever the heck she wants to be! We are not quite sure yet why she can be these things, but we do know she has a very sad backstory that she's not ready to share, even with the wonderfully written Lord Ballister, her "boss." What could be a girl-sidekick story quickly turns into a tale of loyalty, hilarity and mystery. This comic seems to be a medieval sci-fi comic, with modern flares. This story has some violence and killing, but is suitable for young readers, and is actually very sweet. A National Book Award Finalist and a real treat, you'll love Nimona and want more.
The Rat Queens-Kurtis Wiebe
Okay, this one is really violent and has some nudity and many sexual scenes, so it's probably at 18+ recommendation. But The Rat Queens is a delightfully brazen look into a band of misfit women who help just as much as they hurt and who love each other unconditionally. There's a complexity behind each woman, in their backstories and personalities. These comics by Image are also very diverse in their cast, not sticking to stagnant narratives. I am so pleased by these comics and can't wait for more.
Madame Anxiety's Picks
Madame Anxiety has a dystopian, journey-driven taste that leads her to some dark characters, but she also has a sense of humor and spunk that leads her to fun, bright characters. She's eclectic, this one, in her tastes and suggests the following comics for those who want a wide range of great reads.
Squirrel Girl-Marvel Comics
Squirrel Girl: a comic that features a strong, realistically drawn female who is smart and funny. Marvel has done a great job featuring this bright, interesting mutant. Interested in becoming Iron man's side-kick, she quickly proves that she's more than capable of being more than just a side-kick and moves past his rejection of her to become her own superhero.
Saga-Vaughan and Staples
Saga: fantastic sci-fi, space opera and urban fantasy all in one? Yes please! Image does a delightful job in bringing us the most awesome comics. This one is riddled with complex characters, interesting backstories and engaging plot. If you like Star Wars, but want a little more female driven-narrative, this is a comic you need to pick up.
Wastland: a gritty post apocalyptic comic. It's psychological focus, careful pace and intriguing characters keep you reading. This comic is steeped in mystery. It's got some violence and heavy themes, to be sure, but is a good mature reader comic for those looking for a slower pace and thoughtful read.