Episode 96: Nghi Vo’s Singing Hills Cycle novellas

This week, Andi and Lise lose their minds in every good way over two novellas by Nghi Vo: “The Empress of Salt and Fortune” and “When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain,” both of which are part of Vo’s “Singing Hills Cycle” series. Fantasy, multilayered, stories within stories, superlative world-building, queer and nonbinary characters, gorgeously told. The two include nonbinary cleric Chih, who is out collecting stories across an empire for archives and embedded in those stories – in the mundane – are much deeper meanings. Talking animals, ghostly elements, exquisite details. 

Nghi Vo’s website 

The Empress of Salt and Fortune” 

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain” 

LocusMag 

Q&A with Nghi Vo 

Shout-outs: Both Lise and Andi seemed to have shared a brain this session, as both shouted out jigsaw puzzles! That is, the ol’ skool pieces-in-a-box puzzles. Relaxing, working with our hands, watching an image come to life on a table. They bring us calm. 

Episode 95: Writing in the Time of COVID

Andi and Lise talk about how to create/write during a time of intense upheaval – in this case, a pandemic. How can writers incorporate it? Do they? Should they? How do you incorporate global traumatic events into, e.g., romance? How can you ensure that you are accurately capturing the experiences of people from different backgrounds who are also experiencing the pandemic? Also, Andi coins the term “panfic” though probably somebody out there has already done it. LOL 

Shout-outs: Lise highly recommends two novellas by Vietnamese author Nghi Vo. The novellas are 1 and 2 in the Singing Hills Cycle and include “The Empress of Salt and Fortune” and “When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain.” Queer rep, interesting POV approach. Andi has started watching season 2 of the CW’s Nancy Drew take and so far, she’s enjoying it. The new approach takes on Nancy Drew with paranormal twists. You can find the first season on Amazon Prime

Episode 94: Happiest Season…?

Andi and Lise are joined by fab Lambda-winning author Meghan O’Brien to discuss the 2020 holigay movie Happiest Season, in which Harper (Mackenzie Davis) is not out to her conservative family. Harper brings girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) along to her family’s for Christmas and things don’t go well. Neither does the script. Andi, Lise, and Meghan talk about effective elements of a romance and queer rep. 

Find Meghan at her website and also find her work at Bold Strokes Books

Shout-outs! 

If you want to watch a coming out film, Lise recommends But I’m a Cheerleader, starring Clea Duvall (who wrote Happiest Season) and also D.E.B.S. while Andi recommends The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. Want some Xmas movies that have F/F elements? Meghan recommends Let It Snow while Andi shouts out Season of Love. And Meghan also would like to shout out the F/F relationship in the TV series Orphan Black

Episode 93: Anna and the Apocalypse

Zombie apocalypse Christmas high school musical! 

No, really! Andi and Lise discuss (and rave about) the 2017 Scottish film Anna and the Apocalypse, in which Anna and a few friends have to fend for themselves in a zombie pandemic at Christmas time, save who they can, and try to rescue parents from the high school. It’s campy, fun, angsty, sad, but always heartfelt. Excellent musical numbers, great songs, and great soundtrack overall. 

Movie info 

Trailer 

Soundtrack on Spotify 

Streaming on various platforms, including: Amazon Prime, Fandango,  Hulu, iTunes, PlayStation, Xbox, and Vudu. 

Shout-outs: Lise just finished spec fic author Rebecca Roanhorse’s latest, Black Sun (2020), an “epic fantasy set in a world inspired by pre-Columbian Indigenous cultures” (SyFy Wire). Also – queer rep! Andi just watched the gay (M/M) 2020 Christmas movie, Dashing in December, which is basically a cute, sweet Hallmark trope made cute and sweet and gay. Fluff, angst, and Andie McDowell!

Episode 92: Dystopias, Utopias and Post-Apocalytpic Sh*t, Part 2

Andi and Lise just can’t get enough of this theme, and they had another discussion about how these themes play out in various elements of popular culture, how the visual elements produce certain feelings, and the role of the environment and corporations run amuck. Some of the movies and TV shows that came up were Anna and the ApocalypseBladerunner 1982 and 2049Shaun of the DeadFireflyStar Wars series, TerminatorDivergent, Hunger GamesDemolition ManZombieland one and twoFury Road, The Stand (1994 and forthcoming updater), and Resident Evil

Shout-outs! 

Lise has been playing Civilization 6 on the Xbox, and she’s finding it kind of relaxing in these times while Andi finally began watching teen noir series Veronica Mars (who’s a high school detective!) and she’s already binged two seasons. 

Episode 91: Dystopias, Utopias, and Post-Apocalyptic Sh*t

This week, Andi and Lise talk about various media they’ve consumed with dystopic, utopic, and post-apocalyptic themes that have stuck with them. They explore the weird links between dystopia and utopia and how an apocalypse can underlie those, and how characterization and relationships play out in these kinds of scenarios. Points of discussion include the games BioshockFallout, and The Last of Us; the movie Logan’s Run and A Clockwork OrangeThe Island; brief mentions of The MatrixStar Trek, The Handmaid’s TaleHunger GamesBladerunner; and Jean Stewart’s Isis book series. Plus other rando things that struck them as they unpack some of this. 

Shout-outs! 

Lise highly recommends the book The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, which is a novel dealing with travel between worlds that reveals a secret that threatens the entire existence of the multiverse. 

Andi is watching, on Apple TV, Visible: Out on Television, a docuseries that explores the visibility of LGBTQ people on television since the 50s and 60s. 

Episode 90: Aliens

Andi and Lise talk about the 1986 movie Aliens, starring Sigourney Weaver. It’s still one of their faves and holds up really well. Probably why it won a bunch of awards for special effects (including an Oscar). Here, Ripley (Weaver) is back on Earth after 57 years in cryo-stasis (following the end of the 1979 Alien) but agrees to go back to the moon where she initially encountered the xenomorphs when a terra-forming colony’s comms stop. She accompanies a band of Marines and a corporate shill thinking they’re going to destroy the xenomorphs but one of the themes this movie explores is enemies external and internal. Also includes major women’s and girls’ badassery, and for that time, that was rare. 

More on Aliens 

Original trailer 

IMDB cast listing 

Shout-outs! 

Lise would like to shout-out  the new series Truth Seekers, with awesome British comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, which Andi and Lise talked about HERE and Shaun of the Dead). Here, Frost is a paranormal investigator whose team goes ghost-hunting but may have stumbled onto something bigger (available on Amazon Prime). Andi shouts out season 2 of The Mandalorian, but is bummed that one of the actors in it whose career she’s enjoyed over the years turns out to be problematic (Andi and Lise discussed problematic faves HERE). Find The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. 

Episode 89: Sh*t That Freaks Us Out

In honor of spooooky Halloween Andi and Lise talk about things that freak us out, including some urban legends, folklore, and other creepy things: mirrors and the Bloody Mary legendLa Llorona (the weeping woman); Delphine LaLaurie MansionThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow/Headless Horseman; when something you think is normal isn’t; skinwalkers

Shout-outs! Andi is seriously obsessed with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving (find it at Project Gutenburg). And check out the 1998 movie Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp for an interesting forensic-ish take. And if you want, Andi’s take on Sleepy Hollow is The Secret of Sleepy Hollow, available at Ylva (and all the places!). 

Lise is finishing up The Good Place on the teevee; fun, insightful, brilliant. And she’s coping with the cray by watching episodes of My Little Pony while Andi is finding inspiration from historical accounts of women who were leaders in the French Resistance during the WWII Nazi occupation.  Sonia Purnell’s 2019 release A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II is amazing. And check out Lynne Olson’s Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler (2019). 

Episode 88: The Night of the Living Dead

Andi and Lise decided to do a couple of spoooooky Halloween shows, and this is the first. Here, they dig into the classic 1968 zombie apocalypse film Night of the Living Dead, co-written by George Romero, who also produced and directed it. This is the origin of our pop culture understanding of zombies, but there are some other currents at play here, and Lise and Andi will chat about those, too. 

More info about Night of the Living Dead

Trailer 

A few things you might not have known about the movie 
Some behind the scenes info 

Shout-out: Lise shouted out the pulse-pounding, tense movie Pitch Black (2000), a horror/space movie with Vin Diesel. He and others end up on a planet on which monsters come out at night, but what happens when that night is a month long? Andi piled on to Lise’s shout-out about this movie; she loves it. 

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