XOXO 2018

Previous writing on XOXO: Three Years of XOXO

This year at XOXO 2018 there was a project called Dear Future Me, in which attendees were encouraged to write a postcard to themselves which will be mailed to them in August next year, before the next XOXO. I did not get around to writing a postcard to myself, partly because I had a hard time putting into words what I wanted to tell my future self. Maybe I have the words now, although they still feel too awkward and strange in my head to fit neatly on a postcard… But what I keep thinking I want to express to future me is that I hope they have learned to accept the love and friendship that now abounds in their life with more grace and less fear. I never want to lose the sense of wonder and gratitude that I have for this bounty but I would like to be a little less surprised by it.

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Three Years of XOXO


This weekend I would probably be in Portland, OR for XOXO like I was the last three years if there were one this year. I appreciate the Andys taking a break and although I’m missing it this year, I’m also kind of glad to have a break. It’s always a good idea to take some time to rest and/or reflect at some after major creative endeavors. Every year it has meant something different and greater than the year before and I’m sure that will continue to be true if (when) it comes back.

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I’ve decided to watch 31 horror movies this month and then write about it. You can read the previous installments here, here and here. This is the final week!

23. Darling

I’ve seen Lauren Ashley Carter described as the “Audrey Hepburn of indie horror” and I was convinced that’s true by this film alone. She absolutely carries this dark little fever dream of a horror flick, filmed in black and white about a woman acting as caretaker in a large house with a dark past and a forbidden room. It’s beautiful and strange — much more atmosphere than story, and I highly recommend it if that’s your thing (as it is mine).

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I’ve decided to watch 31 horror movies this month and then write about it. You can read the previous installments here and here.

16. The Stendhal Syndrome

I had intended to focus on mostly Giallo this week but this movie disturbed me so much that I was reluctant to go further down that route. Although I am generally a fan of Giallo in general and Dario Argento in particular, I just kept thinking about the fact that he was filming his daughter in incredibly sexualized rape scenes, which just feels so creepy to me.

Asia Argento in a blonde wig

The title is a reference to an actual condition where a person has an extremely intense response to an experience, particularly art — and the movie opens with Asia Argento’s character, police detective Anna Manni, being affected by it while in the midst of pursuing a serial killer/rapist. She’s captured by this killer multiple times and the focus of the movie is really on how this affects her, which was an interesting spin, despite the creepiness.

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I’ve decided to watch 31 horror movies this month and then write about it. You can read part 1 here. For this week I decided to watch non-Western horror, which really ended up being just Japanese horror. I had added a few Korean films to my list but I didn’t get around to watching any of them so maybe next week (though I’m also planning to throw in some Giallo — Dario Argento, Mario Bava, etc). I was also struggling with insomnia this week which meant I was tired and didn’t have as much time and energy to watch stuff, so I ended up watching fewer movies and towards the end I switched back to American stuff.

9. Alter Ego

“From Takashi Shimizu, director of The Grudge and Ju-On horror films” — according to Amazon. Takashi Shimizu is one of my favorite horror directors of all time, and I was a bit surprised to find something of his that I hadn’t seen already. When I realized he didn’t direct it, I understood; the actual director is Issei Shibata, someone I’ve never heard of and who has only three directing credits. This is a pretty silly movie, about three models who are doing a fashion shoot with some creepy old men at an abandoned (haunted) school. The special effects are mostly ridiculous video effects, like distorting the characters’ faces when they’re manifesting the evil.

I don’t have anything against direct to video — the original Ju-On (The Grudge) was direct to video as well, and it was one of the first horror movies to scare me in a long time. This is no Ju-On, however. It’s a terrible silly movie.

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I’ve decided to watch 31 horror movies this month and then write about it. Here are all of the movies I watched in the first week of October, in chronological order.

1. The Exorcist

Normally I have a “no Christian mythology” rule for my horror, which is why I hadn’t seen The Exorcist before. I didn’t end up finishing it before it left Netflix, but I saw enough to feel like my rule was warranted. We have an “ancient evil” unearthed in Iraq, a beleaguered single mom/actress (played by Ellen Burstyn) who sees her once loving and cheerful daughter literally possessed by demons. I’m sure a lot has been written about the movie as an analogy for the ways mother/daughter relationships can become problematic as puberty approaches but I don’t think that’s particularly interesting.


The thing that surprised me the most about this movie was how much of it ends up being medical/body horror, as they perform various tests on Regan to find out what’s wrong — including a “spinal tap” that looks a lot more like “let’s stick a tube in your jugular.” Following that, there’s a conversation with one of the doctors about whether to consult a psychiatrist or not and he says “let’s explore all of the medical avenues before we start looking at somatic possibilities” which I just found to be a fascinating statement. I would hope that some thirty years later we have a better understanding that there isn’t a sharp bright line between psychiatric issues and so-called medical issues.


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One of the things that can make accusations of abuse or rape or other consent violations really confusing is that it is a very common tactic for both parties to make similar accusations. I saw someone asking the other day how to tell where the truth is in such cases.

I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I can tell you the guideline I use which I feel fairly confident in (aside from my own instincts which are quite good) — look for the goals. Abusers want power over — they want to continue to control or destroy their target. So they will claim abuse as a justification for continuing to hound/monitor/dox/harass the person they claim is an abuser. Most of the time, victims want to be left alone. They want to be safe. They don’t want any further interaction with their abuser.

So if someone is claiming abuse but the only acceptable resolution is total elimination of the target? That’s abuse.

To be clear, no one should be forced to interact with anyone that makes them feel unsafe for any reason.

Also, please note that I am speaking in broad strokes here. This is a guideline, not a rule — use your judgment. I’m sharing this because I’ve seen this tactic used enough times to turn people against a target (this is how gamergate began, for instance) and the mantra of “believe victims” is turned against victims themselves.

Originally published on Medium.

I should probably be writing a “favorite games of 2015” post, but uh, I didn’t actually play a lot of games. Her Story (highly recommended, btw), The Beginner’s Guide, some of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and some World of Warcraft. Not much of a list, eh? What I did do was listen to a lot of podcasts. What follows is a list of my favorites, organized by topic and otherwise in no particular order.

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