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01 Oct 05:26

Party Dog ft. Ernie thee Corgi (Music Video) - Tom Cardy

by tom cardy

Show me a musical comedian who invokes the national census more than me and I'll show you a nerd who has nothing better to do then try and prove others wrong on the internet. Ft. Ernie the corgie. Art by Simon Greiner

Me Profile on Spotify -

Itunes/Apple Music -

Bandcamp -

Merch -
01 Oct 05:23

The System Is Down

by homestarrunnerdotcom

In the early days of, Strong Bad's popularity overloaded the server and brought the site down.

Original publish date: January 22, 2003
30 Sep 20:47

Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow And Other Authors Publish Open Letter Protesting Publishers' Lawsuit Against Internet Archive Library

by BeauHD
A group of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Cory Doctorow, "are lending their names to an open letter protesting publishers' lawsuit against the Internet Archive Library, characterizing it as one of a number of efforts to curb libraries' lending of ebooks." From the report: A group of publishers sued the Internet Archive in 2020, claiming that its open library violates copyright by producing "mirror image copies of millions of unaltered in-copyright works for which it has no rights" and then distributes them "in their entirety for reading purposes to the public for free, including voluminous numbers of books that are commercially available." They also contend that the archive's scanning undercuts the market for e-books. The Internet Archive says that its lending of the scanned books is akin to a traditional library. In its response to the publishers' lawsuit, it warns of the ramifications of the litigation and claims that publishers "would like to force libraries and their patrons into a world in which books can only be accessed, never owned, and in which availability is subject to the rightsholders' whim." "Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians," the letter states. The letter also calls for enshrining "the right of libraries to permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format," and condemns the characterization of library advocates as "mouthpieces" for big tech. "We fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit," the letter states. The American Association of Publishers' general counsel Terrence Hart issued a statement responding to the claim that the lawsuit is an attack on libraries. He said, "That authors and publishers support libraries is not in dispute and most certainly not at issue in the infringement case against the Internet Archive, which is not a library. "On the contrary, the Internet Archive operates an unlicensed digital copying and distribution business that copies millions of literary works without permission and gives them away for free. This activity is unprecedented and outside any reasonable interpretation of the copyright law that grants to authors the decision as to whether, when, through whom, and on what terms to distribute their works to the public." He added, "If the rights holder chooses to permit the copying of print books into e-books, that is a choice they are empowered to make as to their own works. The Internet Archive robs authors and publishers of that choice."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

30 Sep 20:45

It's Come To This

by Bill Harris
Eurogamer has an excellent review of FIFA 23: FIFA 23 review - a fitting end to a brilliant and grotesque era.

In the review, the phrase "engagement-farming" is used. Here's an excerpt:
All the worst parts of modern engagement-farming design are here. The red notification dots that keep you looking at your phone, the level-ups, the league-climbing system, the second- and third-screen web apps, the loot boxes, of course (the preview system is a nice try but does nothing, effectively giving you one free look a day, but positioning that right next to the blind pack you can infinitely buy - it's nothing more than a free taste, first roll on the house, masked as some kind of concession), and don't forget the actual games themselves, the kind of recurring head-to-head, just one more game multiplayer that would be almost toxically moreish as it is, goading you into another match with rage as much as enjoyment, without all the rest.

That's what AAA gaming has mostly become. It's not about providing enjoyment to the player; it's about manipulating them into spending as much money as possible. 

Isn't it incredible how much micro-transactions have lowered the quality of games? Particularly sports games, where the major franchises are essentially micro-transaction cesspools now. 

Think about how different games would be if micro-transactions were just banned. There'd be no reason to push game modes that involve spending more money, because there wouldn't be any. The quality of your game would actually determine how much money a company made, instead of endlessly milking the customer base by using casino-esque tactics to get them to continue purchasing. 

It's all gone quite insane, really. And what I can't figure out is how to stop it, because it just marches relentlessly forward.

Maybe the EU will propose banning micro-transactions someday, and we'll get to enjoy gaming companies testify (with a straight face) that such a law would hurt the consumer. 

30 Sep 20:42

Awesome autumn weather to kick off October

by Matt Lanza

We are waking up to our coolest morning of the season so far today, with Bush Airport registering in the mid-50s. Rural portions of Montgomery County and between Houston and Beaumont in Liberty and Jefferson Counties are even in the 40s this morning.

We will continue this delightful stretch of weather into and through this weekend. So, if you’re free on Sunday, come celebrate with myself, Eric, and Maria (along with Dwight and Lee!) at the Houston Botanic Garden for our Fall Day!

If you’ll be attending, we’d love if you could RSVP here if you wish. Thanks as always for your support, and we look forward to saying hello!


Abundant sunshine and pleasant. Highs in the low to mid-80s. That’s it. We’ll also begin to see offshore waters calm down a bit as Ian’s distant impacts wind down. Winds should be 5 to 15 mph.


We should see wall to wall sunshine this weekend. Look for highs in the mid-80s on Saturday, possibly creeping into the upper-80s by Sunday afternoon.

Look for more widespread 50s on Saturday morning outside the urban core of Houston and away from the Gulf. (Pivotal Weather)

Morning lows will be mostly in the 50s tomorrow and upper-50s to low-60s on Sunday morning.

Early next week

We’ll continue to see sunshine next week, but I am thinking there will be more high clouds to speak of, perhaps turning us mostly cloudy at times. A Pacific hurricane and some more upper-level moisture streaming across Mexico will likely spoil the blue skies. Unfortunately this won’t come with any beneficial rain it would seem, with most of it falling west of Texas.

Rainfall over the next 7 days will be non-existent in Southeast Texas. (Pivotal Weather)

In addition, we’ll slowly warm back up with highs in the upper-80s to low-90s and morning lows generally in the mid-60s.

Late next week

High pressure building across the Gulf from the Atlantic will allow us to warm up even a bit more later next week. Look for more 90s than 80s for a couple days I think. Our next front *may* get here next weekend, but it looks dry and weak right now, so I’m not optimistic that the dry weather and a late summer swoon will end. We shall see.


As recovery efforts continue across Florida, Ian is approaching the coast of South Carolina this morning. It should make landfall later today likely near Georgetown, SC, between Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Ian reintensified into a hurricane yesterday as it moved offshore. It currently has a wide swath of tropical storm force winds and a small area of 75 to 85 mph winds near the center.

Hurricane Ian Part II will be less intense than Part I but still should produce significant rain, flooding, surge, and some wind on the Carolina coast. (NOAA)

Notice how much wider the wind swath (orange) is than the cone (white) in the image above. It’s an important lesson in the limitations of the cone, as impacts can extend well outside the width of the cone. Whatever the case, here’s hoping Ian’s second act underachieves on the Carolina coast today and tomorrow.

30 Sep 12:36

Template for White People Outraged Over Lizzo Playing James Madison’s Flute

by Devorah Blachor

“Pop star Lizzo this week got the opportunity to play a 200-year-old crystal flute that was once owned by President James Madison—and some conservatives are absolutely furious about it.” — Raw Story, 9/28/22

- - -

I can’t believe they let Lizzo [play a flute owned by James Madison / twerk even though she’s not skinny / continue to exist as a Black woman].

I found this event [triggering / in violation of my need to only ever see thin white women on my timeline]. As someone who spends a fair bit of time yammering on about our nation’s heritage, it deeply offends me that [Lizzo seems to care about our nation’s heritage / a Black woman is now the Librarian of Congress].

Clearly this horrible event was a form of racial retribution. I know this because I believe life is a zero-sum game where [there are only winners and losers / only white people should put their lips on white people flutes / Lizzo should be as sad and lonely as my white nationalist substack subscribers].

Some people saw Lizzo playing James Madison’s flute and thought, Gee, what a nice thing that any normal person can enjoy. But this is the wrong reaction. Whenever anything happens in the world involving a prominent Black person, the correct thing to do is [immediately make it about myself / have a knee-jerk reaction I will never honestly explore / interpret it through my precious and lucrative lens of white grievance].

I don’t care if Lizzo is a [classically trained musician / popular and beloved artist / cultural icon]. Those things don’t matter to me, because when I look at Lizzo perform, all I can ever see is her [skin color / gender / body size], the three things that matter most to me when I judge a woman.

Speaking of which, what is a woman? Having given this question an unhealthy and inappropriate amount of thought, a woman is someone who should be [a virgin until she is married to a man / forced to give birth against her will / white if aquatic]. A woman is not someone who should [feel entitled to dress the way they want / dance the way they want / behave in ways that don’t please me personally].

I am absolutely qualified to make judgments on Lizzo’s performance, musical talent, and clothing choices because my only talent is [whining about white victimhood / obsessing about trans kids / podcasting about the scientific validity of Black mermaids].

James Madison is one of our most venerated forefathers, and in my anger over this Lizzo abomination, I’ve never once stopped to consider that President Madison [owned slaves / believed women didn’t deserve the right to vote / never once played his crystal flute]. And now that I’ve learned about the existence of this crystal flute, it seems very important to me that it should remain hidden away, just like [women who don’t conform to a Barbie standard of beauty / honest historical accounts about slavery and its enduring legacy / the truth behind my knee-jerk disgust response to Lizzo].

There are those who might take this event as an opportunity to celebrate the fact that Lizzo [actually cares about American history enough to tour the Library of Congress / is bringing welcome attention to the Library of Congress’s collection / is a multitalented artist and musician using her fame and powers for the good]. Me? I’m taking this opportunity to [embarrass myself, yet again, on Twitter / expose myself, yet again, as a petty and pathetic human being / enrich myself, yet again, off the dollars of people who still believe Trump “drained the swamp”].

At her Washington DC concert, Lizzo thanked the Library of Congress for preserving our history. She sparked international interest in its archival collection and inspired band kids everywhere to play their instruments with pride. What a sad episode for anyone who cares about this country. In fact, I feel quite ill. In a minute, I’m going to need [some smelling salts / to write yet another think piece about the catastrophe of wokeness / my comfort Confederate flag].

The Library of Congress should never allow someone like Lizzo to touch their archival instruments again. And that’s because [these instruments, which I’ve never given a thought to before today, are very important to me / Lizzo living her best life is something that makes me really mad / when I talk about our “heritage,” this is just code for “white people”].

30 Sep 12:08

Turn My Back

by Reza
30 Sep 12:08

Wing Lift

Once the air from the top passes below the plane of the wing and catches sight of the spooky skulls, it panics, which is the cause of turbulent vortices.
30 Sep 11:52

Sure, all this dry air is lovely. But is it ever going to rain again?

by Eric Berger

Good morning. The major weather story in the United States continues to have nothing to do with Houston. Now-Tropical Storm Ian has continued its devastating trek across central Florida overnight, bringing strong winds and deluging rainfall to areas such as Orlando, and knocking out power to one-quarter of the state. Ian’s center will soon emerge over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, allowing the storm to make a second landfall into South Carolina on Friday. Yesterday, on Ars Technica, I wrote about why this is the kind of storm that gives me nightmares as a forecaster.

Houston, and much of Texas, lie on the backside of Ian’s massive circulation. This means we’re going to see a continued flow of dry air through the weekend, bringing us warm days in the upper 80s, and lows near 60 for much of Houston, with nights in the 50s for inland areas. For this time of year, this is a potent and prolonged front.


Look for highs today in the upper 80s with sunny skies. Winds will be light, out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph. Low temperatures tonight will drop to 60 degrees in Houston, and a few areas near Conroe and points further inland may drop all the way to 50 degrees beneath clear skies. It has not been this chilly in Houston since at least early April.

Low temperatures on Thursday night will be the coldest in nearly six months. (Weather Bell)


Basically, the same marvelous day and night as Thursday.

Saturday and Sunday

The air mass will start to modify slightly this weekend, but our air is still going to remain plenty dry for this time of year. Look for highs in the mid- to upper-80s, and nights in the low 60s. The weather should be spectacular for our first-ever Fall Day celebration, which will take place from 10 am to noon. Come by and say hello to Matt, myself, Maria, Dwight, and Lee, enjoy plenty of activities for adults and kids, and walk around the beautiful Houston Botanic Garden. It’s free, and just our way of welcoming fall-like weather back to Houston after a long summer. If you’re so inclined, you can RSVP here. So far we’ve had a great response!

Next week

Conditions starting by Monday or Tuesday of next week will feel somewhere between summer and fall in Houston, with highs generally about 90 degrees, lows in the upper 60s, and partly to mostly sunny skies. The air, however, will be drier than it usually is during summer, so it won’t be oppressively humid during the days. Mornings and evenings should be reasonably pleasant outside. Another front is possible in about 10 days times, give or take.

Is it ever going to rain again?

Some parts of Houston have not recorded meaningful rainfall in nearly four weeks. The region’s main weather monitoring sites, Bush Intercontinental, Hobby Airport, and Galveston, are all nearly 4 inches below normal on rainfall this month. Unfortunately, that’s not going to change during the last couple of days of September, or the first week of October. Our next real chance of rain probably will not come until the October 8 to 10 time frame, so not this weekend, but the following one. And even then rainfall is far from a certainty. This is not a great place to be, as La Niña is expected to persist through this winter, which tends to bring drier conditions in Texas, including the greater Houston region.

30 Sep 10:52

This 1960's camera is powered by light and completely automatic

by Technology Connections

Amazing what you can do with a few photons here and there.

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30 Sep 10:35

Hellraiser Movies Ranked, From Pain To Pleasure

by Kayleigh Donaldson

Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" series is one of the most recognizable franchises in modern horror history. The gothic horror saga that combined BDSM, queer subtext, and philosophical agony has proven to be a favorite with fans for decades. 

In adapting his own novella, "The Hellbound Heart," Barker brought some much-needed freshness to horror in the 1980s at a time when the slasher villain ruled the roost. Centered on a mysterious puzzle box, the series revealed the demonic sado-masochistic forces of the Cenobites, a priest-like order of former humans who harvest souls for violent experiments. The head of these Cenobites, known as Pinhead, is one of the true icons of horror villainy. Freddy Krueger may offer great one-liners and Jason can slice you up good, but Pinhead is the one who gets into your head.

The "Hellraiser" franchise is a curious mish-mash of great ideas, ambition, studio meddling, and harried script rewrites. Like many a long-running horror series, it has its ups and downs, although "Hellraiser" has always had more low points than high. Mercifully, we're getting a new entry into the saga this month. Simply titled "Hellraiser", the new movie from Hulu seems to tick all the right boxes: it's R-rated, it's made by a genuine horror director with love for the story (David Bruckner), and Clive Barker is onboard as a producer. The trailer certainly got fans frothing at the mouth, with "Sense8" star Jamie Clayton now donning the pins to play our Hell Priest.

To celebrate the release of "Hellraiser", we're looking at the prior ten films in the franchise and ranking them from worst to best. Come, we have such sights to show you.

Hellraiser: Revelations

Fans knew this one was going to be bad when it was announced that Doug Bradley, who had played Pinhead since the first film, would not be returning for "Hellraiser: Revelations." It's almost impressive how shoddily made this film is, to the point where you almost wonder if it's secretly a parody of "Hellraiser" made by fans with no money. Even Barker took to Twitter to decry the film, saying that it is "NO F*****' CHILD OF MINE! I have NOTHING to do with the f*****' thing. If they claim it's from the mind of Clive Barker, it's a lie. It's not even from my butt-hole." Yikes.

Produced in a matter of weeks so that Dimension Films (formerly of Miramax and The Weinstein Company) could retain the series rights, "Hellraiser: Revelations" ended up playing in a single theater for a crew screening before going straight to DVD. And you can tell. The story, about two families whose sons went missing because of the puzzle box, is trite and poorly written. The acting is abysmal. The scares are non-existent. Poor Stephan Smith Collins, who has taken over as Pinhead, looks deeply uncomfortable in make-up that doesn't look finished. It's only 75 minutes long but feels never-ending. This is a film that exists for no reason beyond pure studio greed. Even hard-core "Hellraiser" fans should skip this one.

Hellraiser: Hellworld

You'll notice two recurring themes with the latter half of the "Hellraiser" franchise: one, the rush on behalf of Bob Weinstein's Dimension to push out a new movie solely to hold onto the property rights; and two, that the scripts started out as totally separate plots that someone was forced to shoehorn Pinhead and company into. "Hellraiser: Hellworld," released straight to DVD in 2005, started out life as an adaptation of a short story called "Dark Can't Breathe" by Joel Soisson. You get the sense that any horror franchise could have been clumsily shoved into this idea.

The set-up is at least intriguing: an MMORPG based on the "Hellraiser" series has engulfed the lives of six friends, one of whom became so obsessed that he apparently died by suicide to escape it. Two years later, they're invited to a private party for the game headed by the legendary Lance Henriksen, and soon, the Cenobites turn up to do what they do best.

Perhaps best known to some for featuring a young pre-Superman Henry Cavill, "Hellraiser: Hellworld" has some decent scares if you think of it as a generic slasher film. Of course, that's not what made "Hellraiser" so special, and as a "Hellraiser" movie, it's pretty bad. The meta aspect with the game could have built to something tricksy in the vein of the Cenobites' machinations, but it's all executed so sloppily. In fairness, it's hard to imagine how a hastily re-written script intended for entirely different purposes could have worked.

Hellraiser: Deader

Despite having maybe the worst title in the franchise, "Hellraiser: Deader" at least has some solid ideas propping up yet another speedily rewritten script for something that was initially Cenobite-free. Shot in Romania (a lot of these films were, for budgetary reasons), the story follows a dogged reporter as she journeys to Bucharest to investigate a Blair Witch-esque videotape that seems to show a cult committing ritualistic murder.

Bob Weinstein reportedly wanted the film to ape the tone and style of the ongoing Japanese horror trend from movies like "Pulse" and "Ringu", but it's hard to see any evidence of that in the finished product. Director Rick Bota was brought back behind the camera after making "Hellraiser: Hellseeker" but that film had better actors and some semblance of an actual "Hellraiser" story. Here, the problems bog down elements that would otherwise intrigue. Doug Bradley remains reliable and the idea of a cult eager to follow the Cenobites, who immediately laugh at their desperation, feels close to Barker's tone.

Hellraiser: Judgment

It's a real surprise that the 2017 addition to the franchise, which doesn't star Doug Bradley and bears the marks of yet another low-budget rush-job, ended up being surprisingly solid. It helps that the screenplay for this one, written by director Gary J. Tunnicliffe, was actually intended to be a "Hellraiser" film from the offset and not a forced rewrite of something unrelated.

Tunnicliffe himself, also on make-up duty, plays the Auditor, a clerk in Hell who is tasked with aiding the Cenobites in finding new ways to harvest souls in an era of advanced technology and decreased belief. This expansion of the mythos is truly fascinating and feels natural to Barker's world in a way few of the preceding films even attempted to be. This subplot gets bogged down with a more generic police procedural element that was done better in earlier films. Still, if the franchise had been able to continue down this route, fans wouldn't have been mad (the film was quietly dumped on VOD in 2018 after the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein forced Dimension Films into a panic.) Horror nerds should look out for a supporting turn by "Nightmare on Elm Street" alumni Heather Langenkamp!

Hellraiser: Hellseeker

The sixth film in the series, "Hellraiser: Hellseeker," did the unthinkable and brought back Kirsty Cotton, the heroine of the first two movies. Granted, it's not the best use of one of horror's more underrated protagonists, but actress Ashley Laurence is putting in the work here and is always a welcome on-screen presence. "Hellseeker" sees Kirsty seemingly dead and missing following a car accident, and her husband Trevor (played by the ever-reliable Dean Winters) trying to find out the truth as he becomes a suspect in her murder.

You can't help but start grading these movies on a curve given the major downward trajectory since its origins, but there is at least something truly interesting about "Hellraiser: Hellseeker," both as a new installment of the series and as its own thing. Some sequences offer a more surreal visual experience than one would expect from this sort of budget -- including one unnerving moment where the detective sees a murder happening through the eyepiece of a video camera, including changing angles, but he's filming an empty chair. Kirsty doesn't get the conclusion she deserves (in the comics, she becomes the new Pinhead and frankly, we were robbed of the chance to see Ashley Laurence in charge of the Cenobites), but it's still a satisfying ending to a story that feels more cohesive than what would follow. Its biggest problem is that it feels like a less striking version of the movie before it. Speaking of...

Hellraiser: Inferno

"Hellraiser: Inferno" has a lot going against it. The initial idea of having Kirsty face a plot by a cult to unleash the Leviathan and the Cenobites into the real world was nixed due to budget concerns. The script was, again, not intended to initially be for a "Hellraiser" film. And it had a first-time director behind the camera. Fortunately, said filmmaker is Scott Derrickson -- best known today for "Sinister," "Doctor Strange," and "The Black Phone" -- and you can see the origins of a sturdy horror director on display here.

At the very least, he understands that Pinhead is best utilized as a bystander to humanity's ills rather than a quippy slasher villain. The meat of the story is a morality tale wrapped up in a police procedural. An emotionally damaged detective with a history of cruelty and drug abuse is brought in to investigate what appears to be a ritual murder. He solves a puzzle box and then slowly his life starts to unravel. He's plagued by hallucinations and haunted by his own tumultuous past. 

While all of the expected "Hellraiser" beats are here, what makes "Inferno" most effective is in how it utilizes Pinhead as a purveyor of psychological torture. Sure, chains and mutilation can get the job done, but what's more interesting than having your prisoner punish himself? Derrickson makes the most of a tiny budget and actor Craig Sheffer, who previously worked with Barker on his underrated fantasy horror "Nightbreed," gets some stand-out moments. If any of the maligned "Hellraiser" sequels deserve reconsideration, it's this one.

Hellraiser: Bloodline

It's a truth universally acknowledged that every long-running horror franchise must eventually end up in space. "Hellraiser" got there on its fourth try (take that, "Jason X"). Fans of the series often refer to this one as the last true "Hellraiser" film because it was the last one (until the upcoming Hulu reboot) to have Clive Barker shaping the script and its plot actually makes some cohesive sense with the preceding three movies.

It does have the dreaded Alan Smithee pseudonym attached in the director's credit, after Kevin Yagher wanted his name removed following Miramax's meddling with the production -- which included cutting 25 minutes from the story, introducing Pinhead earlier than intended, and adding a happy ending. But even all of that idiotic micromanaging can't entirely quash the pure ambition that initially powered "Hellraiser: Bloodline."

Set across three points in time, "Bloodline" includes the creation of the original puzzle box in the 18th century (with none other than Adam Scott acting as a pervy antagonist), a descendant of the toymaker in the 20th century living in a skyscraper that resembles the box dealing with Pinhead, and a space station in 2127 awaiting the arrival of the Cenobites. Don't think too much about how some of this lines up with the major plot points of the third film and enjoy the pulpy madness. The origin story of the box makes for the most intriguing aspect of the film and offers an expansion of the mythology you can't help but yearn for more of. While "Hellraiser: Bloodline" is unfortunately messy, it's mercifully never boring.

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

With the third film, you could start to see the wheels fall off the franchise. It became clear that the radical aspects that made "Hellraiser" so fresh only a few years before were about to be intensely diluted with each passing installment. None of the human characters from the first two films are present (except for one brief video) and the sexual element that's key to the Cenobites' allure is gone. Yet what we have is still an intriguing series of ideas that offers a succinct conclusion to Pinhead's story and, if you choose to view it as such, a satisfying ending to a cinematic trilogy.

Following the events of the second film, Pinhead finds himself trapped in a statue called the Pillar of Souls, which finds its way to the office of a womanizing douchebag who quickly becomes Cenobite fodder. This Pinhead is utterly bereft of the slivers of humanity or calm distance he embodied in earlier films. Now split into two entities -- including Captain Elliot Spencer, who later became a Cenobite -- the film offers an often fascinating study of two halves of a broken man. 

Would that the entire film was so inclined. Most of "Hell on Earth" gets kind of campy, with lots of fun new Cenobites including one comprised of CDs. There's a thematic reason this take on Pinhead goes full merciless slasher villain, but it feels like a harbinger of things to come in the franchise. Still, Doug Bradley totally steals the show in a dual role and those sillier parts are pretty fun, certainly more so than later installments.

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Released a mere year after the first film, "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is a direct follow-up that keeps Kirsty as the hero as she's forced to take on an evil step-mother, a callous asylum doctor, and, of course, the gates of Hell itself. Stuck in a psychiatric hospital following the events of "Hellraiser," Kirsty is haunted by visions of her father being tortured in the underworld. Meanwhile, an ambitious psychiatrist hunts for the puzzle box and brings Julia Cotton, Kirsty's late stepmom, back from the dead to aid him in his hunt for pure pleasure. Needless to say, it does not go well.

"Hellbound" is a natural expansion of the first film but also a chance for Clive Barker (who didn't direct this time around, but did write the story) to flex his creative muscles. He might be best known as a horror writer but his greatest ambitions are revealed in his high-fantasy work (check out "Weaveworld" or "Imajica" for proof of that.) Here, we see the labyrinthine depths of Hell, which resembles a gothic version of an Escher painting. It's easily the most visually sumptuous of the franchise.

The origin story of Pinhead is laid out here in a shocking flashback that reveals the astonishing sacrifices required to be a Cenobite, but the true villain of the film is Julia. As played by the underrated Claire Higgins, Julia is the most dastardly and sexual take on the fairy-tale step-mother, with some '80s flair and a level of cunning that makes her seem far scarier than the ones with pins in their faces. Initially, the franchise was to center on her as the overarching villain. She tapped out after this film, which is a shame, but her arc remains one of the most satisfying parts of the entire "Hellraiser" world.

Hellraiser (1987)

Of course the original remains the best, and for good reason. Directed by Barker himself, "Hellraiser" is a tightly put-together horror that most potently captures the essence of the author's novella. The purest id of "Hellraiser" is here, that exploration of the malleable boundaries of pleasure and pain, and the depths some will sink to in order to achieve their most taboo desires.

A relatively faithful take on the novella, "Hellraiser" was infamously dismissed by Roger Ebert upon release with a half-star review that declared the film to be "as dreary a piece of goods as has masqueraded as horror in many a long, cold night." It's a strange description for a work that is certainly bleak in its moral outlook, but far more vibrant than such a description. It's often said that we're more scared of what we can't see than what we can see, but Barker makes sure the audience is just as petrified of what is shown in the harshest lighting available. The first true reveal of the Cenobites still ranks as one of the all-time great moments in '80s horror, and it's because you see every single detail of their astonishing make-up. The only scene that beats it is the extremely gooey reconstruction of the villain's body as it reverse-melts out of the floorboards!

While the Cenobites scare, the darkest and most effective part of "Hellraiser" is the humans, particularly its true antagonists, Frank and Julia. The former was torn apart by the Cenobites, while the latter kills unwitting souls to help him regain her lover's flesh. If you took out all of the inter-dimensional BDSM torture, you would still have an eerie and truly deviant tale of dark love gone horribly wrong. The Cenobites are mostly in the background here, truly acting as the clinical guards of obscenity that made them so upsetting in the first place. Even if we'd never gotten another "Hellraiser" film after this, it was clear from the get-go that we were seeing a genre masterpiece in the making.

Read this next: The Best Cosmic Horror Movies That Will Make You Hate The Unknown

The post Hellraiser Movies Ranked, From Pain To Pleasure appeared first on /Film.

30 Sep 10:17

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Star Nana Visitor Chats About Her Lower Decks Appearance [Exclusive Interview]

by Danielle Ryan

This interview contains spoilers for "Star Trek: Lower Decks" season 3, episode 6. 

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" has done an incredible job balancing irreverent humor with deep reverence for what's beloved about "Star Trek," and this week's journey to Deep Space Nine is no different. The U.S.S. Cerritos docks at the space station to deliver a whole mess of booze and help with a diplomatic mission, and maybe do a little sightseeing along the way. 

It's been seven or eight years since the events of the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" finale, and while some things onboard the former Cardassian vessel have changed, others remain exactly the same. Morn haunts his usual spot, Quark (Armin Shimerman) is up to no good, and Major Colonel Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) is a no-nonsense leader who handles it all in stride. In the episode, "Hear All, Trust Nothing," Colonel Kira gets a chance to make a baseball reference on behalf of Captain Sisko, share war stories with another Bajoran resistance fighter, and help deal with a diplomatic disaster. All in a day's work, or a day's "Star Trek" episode!

I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Visitor via phone (err ... communicator?) about her "Lower Decks" appearance, her feelings about Kira's legacy, and so much more. It turns out that not only was Visitor already a fan of "Lower Decks," but she would be game to do more, which should be music to any "Star Trek" fans' faux-pointed ears. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

'I Already Knew That I Was A Fan Of What They Were Doing.'

How did you get involved with joining "Lower Decks" for an episode?

You know, I'd seen the show, so I already knew that I was a fan of what they were doing. And then, it's the same as when I got "Deep Space Nine." It was a call from my agent. It's so boring. It's not like some interesting meet, amazing thing. It's just like, "Hey, they have a job for you." And it's like, "Yeah, I'd love to."

Were you surprised to learn that not too much had changed on Deep Space Nine in the eight years since the end of that series and the events of "Lower Decks"?

I was actually thrilled. I was thrilled because some books have me, my character, becoming a Vedic or this or that, and I really loved that she was still in there doing her thing.

'I Do Have This Fantasy That Sisko Is An Orb.'

What do you think Kira has been up to in that time, besides doing her thing?

I'm sure she's got a lot to do with Bajor, but I would hope that she's still on the space station, very much the way Sisko was keeping things going. I do have this fantasy that Sisko is an orb, is able to talk to her, and give her advice. And that Cirroc [Lofton] in some way is still there as Jake. And yeah, I've got this whole little fantasy going of what it's like there. But just like I continue in my life, that's how I see her still doing her thing out there.

'Being Bajoran Has Allowed Me To Play The Most Human Character I've Ever Played.'

In the episode, we get to see Kira reunite with an old war buddy, Shaxs. How was it getting into all those gritty details of the Bajoran Resistance again? And were you surprised by anything in the script?

No, I loved it. I really loved it. It's such an interesting way to work on animation because it's a different tone, because you have to put everything that you would put in your body and in your face into your voice. It's so different but somehow just as creative. So I loved that. I loved that she had war buddies and that she shared this and this one-upmanship, which is such a human thing. I do say this, that being Bajoran has allowed me to play the most human character I've ever played.

In that same sort of vein, Kira's such a unique character because she's both a freedom fighter and a terrorist, depending on your point of view. Was it challenging bringing that complexity to the screen?No, because some of that, as you point out, is how people perceive her. For her, she had goals and intentions set for her people, and that makes for a very clear path. So it's not confusing, but the way she was perceived is in this binary way. Is she good or is she bad? Well, she was both.

'She Is So Ingrained In Me.'

Did you have any requests for your animated version or for things that you wanted to see in the episode?

No, I was really interested to see how she would be drawn, how 30 years might look on her if that's what it was. But of course, it's not, it's their own timeline and who knows what space does in terms of all those things anyway. So it was fun that she was really recognizable to me. I enjoyed that.

And what was it like being in character as her again? Even if it is voice only and you had to do it a little differently, what was it like just stepping into those boots again?

So easy. I mean, it's really, it's a character. I mean, first of all, those seven years were like dog years. One year equals seven years, so I was Kira for 49 years, and she is so ingrained in me. Really, she actually shifted who I was, which makes sense when you think of ... You dropped thoughts in your head, and it actually changes the way your brain synaptically forms. So I was shifted by this character in really good ways, in having to accept foibles and having to self-examine. She did a lot of good for me. So it's joyful for me to step into who she is.

'I Felt Compelled Not To Play It Safe.'

"Deep Space Nine" had some struggles with fans and critics during its run, but has developed a cult following with seriously intense fans. I'd say out of all the Treks, "Deep Space Nine" fans are the most hardcore. I was wondering, did you ever expect it to get more love as time went on?

No, no, no. And it was so hard at the time that it didn't. And I was so aware of my character, my character, in particular, maybe just because it was personal, not being accepted. It wasn't what culture wanted women to be, especially in the '90s. I was breaking all kinds of rules and expectations and that wasn't fun. And yet, somehow, I felt compelled not to play it safe. It was like, "No, I got the ball. I was thrown this ball and I'm going to run until someone stops me." And that really was my feeling. It was like, "Well, they may fire me, but I'm just going to keep running until they do."

'Star Trek Offers Hope, And It Offers A Way To Get There.'

With "Lower Decks" and "Strange New Worlds," it feels like we're back in that golden era of "Trek" when "Deep Space Nine" and "Next Generation" were both on the air. Why do you think "Star Trek" is really resonating with people again?

Oh boy. I mean, it's huge, right? It's a huge question, but my answer feels huge in saying that "Star Trek" offers hope, and it offers a way to get there. I'm reading Frank White's book, "The Overview Effect," and it's basically talking about how astronauts, once they see the world from the perspective of space, all the separations, all the issues, all the fighting just seem silly. We're all spacemen on this planet, all together spinning around. So I think "Star Trek," by being set in the future, gives people a very safe, non-threatening way to look at new ideas, to look at diversity, to look at what's next, to look at space travel and what engineers and space engineers and astronauts and scientists are seeming to tell us where we need to go. We need to go up and out, not only for the exploration and for the opportunities, but also to help the Earth.

I interviewed because I'm doing a book on the women of "Star Trek," and not just the women who were involved in making it, but the women who were affected by it. And I was recently at ESA, and the satellites that they have up in the air, some people can have this feeling that it's all about we're spending a lot of money on just space. But no, we're spending a lot of money in figuring out, which just happened yesterday, what do we do if there's some big rock coming at us? Can we divert it? What's going on with the weather? I mean, satellites are a huge way for us to understand ourselves and the Earth.So all of that, and making new little scientists and sparking interests, and this woman growing up in the Italian mountains who watches "Star Trek" and goes, "Oh, it's okay for a woman to be an engineer." And she grows up to be Samantha Cristoforetti. She's a fighter pilot, and goes up to the Space Station and tells people what brushing their teeth is like in space. That's why it's important.

'It's Very Hard To Find As Meaningful Work.'

Would you be interested in coming back for any more "Trek," either animated or live-action, down the road?

Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, it's very hard to find as meaningful work, I have to say, as something that is created, not only to entertain but also to offer possible views of what we look like in the future.

New episodes of "Star Trek: Lower Decks" premiere Thursdays on Paramount+, and the entirety of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" is available on Paramount+. 

Read this next: 13 Reasons Why Deep Space Nine Is The Best Star Trek Show

The post Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Star Nana Visitor Chats About Her Lower Decks Appearance [Exclusive Interview] appeared first on /Film.

29 Sep 21:39

Star Trek: Lower Decks Features A Cameo From One Of The Franchise's Greatest Background Players

by Witney Seibold

The activity center of the eponymous space station on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" was called the Promenade, a circular walkway where tourists and officers alike could socialize, buy things at any number of shops, attend school, and even worship at a small Bajoran chapel. The most happening spot on the Promenade was Quark's Bar, a somewhat unsavory tavern/gambling hall/holographic brothel run by the clever and ambitious Ferengi Quark (Armin Shimerman). Quark was frustrated by the constant visits from the station's Starfleet officers, as Starfleet seemed to operate in a post-capitalistic milieu and Quark was spiritually devoted to the acquisition of wealth. 

Thanks to various war efforts and political upheaval, business wasn't always good at Quark's, but he managed to keep his business running thanks to the tenacity of some of his regulars. Also his willingness to exploit workers, dock wages, and generally be a greedy boss.

No matter how bad things got, however, Quark's Bar would always be occupied by a silent character that looked a little bit like an unhappy walrus. And in the latest episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks," which takes place at Deep Space Nine years after the events of the series, sees his return in animated cameo-form. This is Morn (Mark Allan Shepherd), who was, according to "The Star Trek Encyclopedia." named after Norm from "Cheers." While Morn was conceived as a background figure to occupy space behind a scene's action, he eventually captured the imaginations of the "Deep Space Nine" writers, and it wouldn't take long before Morn was granted a fascinating backstory. 


According to dialogue in multiple "Deep Space Nine" episodes, the bad and sad-faced Morn once had hair, and has slowly gone bald over the course of his tenure at Quark's. He seemed to be in a constant state of inebriation, and  everyone had quickly accumulated a Morn story off-camera. On the special features of the DVD for the seventh season of DS9, Morn was said to have lines of dialogue, but they would invariably be cut. In one episode, audiences heard Morn laughing, but that's the only time anyone heard his voice. 

Morn appeared in the background of 93 episodes of "Deep Space Nine," one episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (the one where the Enterprise docked at DS9), and the pilot episode of "Star Trek: Voyager." He became beloved merely by ubiquity, and speculation as to who he was ran rampant. As such, Morn became almost a supporting character on the show, even if he never -- with one notable exception -- became central to the plot. 

The one notable exception was the sixth season episode "Who Mourns for Morn?" (February 4, 1998) in which Morn dies. Quark is destitute without his most loyal customer, and offers Morn's stool to a new patron, a Bajoran man also played by -- in a cute casting twist -- Mark Allan Shepherd. 

Morn, it turns out, was incredibly wealthy, and bequeathed his fortune to Quark. The reason Morn was wealthy, however, was that he was once a key player in the infamous Lissepian Mother's Day Heist many years prior. Morn, it turns out, had hidden the entire take, and took to hiding out in Quark's Bar for years, hoping to avoid being tracked down by his heist associates.

Who Mourns For Morn?

It's certainly hilarious that the writers on "Deep Space Nine" finally conceived of a story starring Morn, only to remove him from the episode completely. Morn dies, and his heist associates immediately begin hounding Quark for their share of the take. Quark, quite taken aback that Morn had any money at all, had to fend off their threats and/or advances. It was only due to Quark's cunning and luck that he escaped unscathed. 

The episode ends with Morn's associates being apprehended and Morn himself -- rather surprisingly -- returning to Quark's Bar. Morn, it seems, faked his own death, knowing that the statute of limitations on the Mother's Day Heist was set to expire soon. If he waited long enough, and kept the money for himself, Morn could legally keep the entire take.

It should be noted that money in the world of "Deep Space Nine" takes the form of gold-pressed latinum, a scant amount of precious liquid metal sealed in hand-sized bricks or strips or slips of otherwise-worthless gold. Morn managed to extract the latium from its gold casing and stored a huge amount of it in his second stomach. The episode ends with Morn regurgitating a small amount of latinum into a glass to demonstrate his clever subterfuge. It's not without consequences, however. Having liquid metal in his stomach for many years caused Morn to lose his hair and age prematurely. The years of booze helped to alleviate the discomfort.

Morn, then, went straight back to drinking. We love you, Morn.

Morn, it seems, hasn't budged since the events of the final episode of "Deep Space Nine." Or, if one wishes to be imaginative, he did depart, went on a years-long adventure, and returned. 

Coming to Paramount+ in 2024: "Star Trek: Morn." 

Read this next: 13 Reasons Why Deep Space Nine Is The Best Star Trek Show

The post Star Trek: Lower Decks Features a Cameo From One of the Franchise's Greatest Background Players appeared first on /Film.

29 Sep 21:30

Hellraiser Review: The Reboot Is A Step Up For The Franchise, But Is That Enough? [Fantastic Fest]

by Chris Evangelista

In 1987, Clive Barker unleashed "Hellraiser," his stylish, artistic, gooey, kinky horror pic adapted from his own novella, "The Hellbound Heart." The film became a big hit and introduced audiences to the cenobites, a group of S&M creatures — angels to some, demons to others — who are summoned from untold dimensions by a puzzle box to offer people unspeakable pleasures and pain. The leader of the group, Pinhead, instantly became iconic, and when that sort of thing happens, sequels follow. Sure enough, a total of 10 films came out of the "Hellraiser" world, each more disappointing than the last. The series became dire, taking unused scripts for thrillers and clumsily shoe-horning Pinhead into the mix. Worse: the sequels also completely betrayed what made Pinhead and his cenobite pals so memorable. In the first and second films, which were shot back-to-back, Pinhead and his gang aren't necessarily evil demons from hell. They're otherworldly beings who get off on extreme pain. And if they dragged a few people to their death in the process, well, that was okay, too.

But as the series progressed (or regressed would probably be the better word), Pinhead changed into a Freddy Krueger-style slasher, spouting one-liners and stalking people like a common serial killer. Over the years, as the franchise grew worse, there was plenty of talk about a potential remake, or reboot, or reimagining, or whatever you want to call it. Now, it's happened (this is actually one of two reboots on the way; there's a TV series headed to HBO Max, too). Pinhead is back, now played by Jamie Clayton, our first female Pinhead. This idea isn't so far removed from the source material — the character that appears in "The Hellbound Heart" is described as androgynous, with a feminine voice. David Bruckner, who helmed the recent, and very scary "The Night House," is at the helm here, and that's a promising idea. Bruckner's "Night House" had a certain "Hellraiser"-vibe to it, complete with its obsession over physical structures and shapes that can be used to summon things from another world. So when I heard Bruckner was the one to bring the new "Hellraiser" to life, I perked up. With the franchise in such dire straits, bringing in someone like Bruckner could only be a step-up, right? 

The answer: yes. How could it not? And yet ... Bruckner's "Hellraiser" still feels lacking, although not for lack of trying. Pinhead and the new cenobites here are effectively scary and strange — but good look trying to see them for most of the film. They all have slick new designs, but the film is so murky and dark that you might need to boost your TV brightness. Barker's original film trafficked in darkness, too. But we could still see what the frig was happening on the screen. The real issue with Bruckner's "Hellraiser," however, is that it often feels kind of generic. I don't even love Barker's original film all that much, but it felt different. Barker was never the best filmmaker, but he knew how to create an otherworldly atmosphere that stuck in your brain. I can't say the same for what Bruckner is doing here. On top of that, the inherent kinkiness built into the series is completely gone (sure, there are sex scenes, but they're fairly vanilla). "Hellraiser" 2022 is the best the franchise has been in a while, but that's also not saying much. 

Angels To Some, Demons To Others

After a neat little spy-movie-like intro in which two characters swap the infamous puzzle box somewhere in Serbia, "Hellraiser" arrives back in the states to focus on Riley (Odessa A'zion), a recovering drug addict living with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), Matt's boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison), and another roommate (Selina Lo). Riley is in the midst of a relationship with Trevor (Drew Starkey), a fellow addict (the two of them met in rehab) that Matt sees as bad news. Also, there's a subplot about a mysterious billionaire (Goran Višnjić) who has an entire complex devoted to the mysterious puzzle box (it's traditionally called Lemarchand's Box, or the Lament Configuration). 

Through a series of unlikely events, Riley comes into possession of the box and — you guessed it — raises hell! Pinhead, played effectively with just the right air of detached menace by Clayton, shows up and says that either Riley can come with the cenobites to a world of pain, or someone else can go in her place. But did Riley really see any of this? She relapsed and took drugs right before she fooled around with the box, and there's a sense that maybe this is all a hallucination.

But clearly, something is wrong, because Matt eventually disappears into thin air, and Riley is determined to find him. This setup is fine, although it regurgitates one of the laziest tropes in this series — the idea that it's so damn easy to open that killer puzzle box and summon Pinhead and the 'bites. The franchise already tried to address this by suggesting the box wants to be opened so it can kill people. But in the original movie, finding the box was a whole big deal — something people tracked down obsessively. And while there's a hint of that in the film's prologue, it's all but abandoned until later in the narrative, and that feels like a mistake. I'm also generally tired of the whole "that scary thing you just saw was a hallucination — or was it???" concept in horror movies, and adding it to "Hellraiser" plays like a miscalculation. That's not to say the film sticks with that for its entire runtime — it eventually becomes clear that this is all real when people start being flayed alive by those ever-present cenobite chains. 

Such Sights To Show You

"Hellraiser" 2022 really finds its grove in its final hour, but getting there is tough going (the film clocks in at slightly over 2 hours, which is a mistake). I wanted to dig this, as I dig Bruckner's work. But every scene felt like it was missing one key ingredient to make it all click. There's gore and torture, but done in a rather safe manner. There's sex, but none of the kinkiness that drives the best entries of the series. And while Odessa A'zion is a strong lead, the supporting actors are rather weak, although that's more a result of underwritten parts. 

As for the cenobites, they're aces. The BDSM leather that defined the characters for years is gone. Instead, the cenobites have mutilated their flesh to resemble clothing — I particularly liked how the "robes" Pinhead is wearing here is actually just the character's own skin butchered into the shape of flowing fabric. Clayton makes for a great Pinhead — she's wisely not trying to emulate Doug Bradley's now-iconic performance and instead is making the character her own. This isn't quippy, slasher Pinhead. This is a Pinhead who likes to watch, and wait.

Through it all, Bruckner's direction gives the film the vibe of a '90s horror sequel. Is that intentional? I assume it is, and I appreciated the idea of deliberately invoking that '90s horror style. At the same time, I expected more from Bruckner after the visual flair of "The Night House." And just to make things extra confusing, the final act of the film feels heavily lifted from the 2001 remake of "Thirteen Ghosts," which ... is kind of weird. 

"Hellraiser" was in bad shape, and what Bruckner has done here is lift the series out of the gutter to give it a touch of old-school charm. But I know he can do better, and I just wish this revival was more of an icky, gooey success rather than a moderately okay horror pic. Oh well, I'm sure Pinhead and the gang will come back again at some point. They always do.

/Film Review: 6.5 out of 10

Read this next: Horror Roles That Changed Actors Forever

The post Hellraiser Review: The Reboot is a Step Up For the Franchise, But Is That Enough? [Fantastic Fest] appeared first on /Film.

27 Sep 12:44

Happy Fall Day, Houston! Here’s how you can celebrate with us this weekend

by Eric Berger

Good morning. Every year at Space City Weather we like to mark the day following the arrival of the season’s first real cool front as “Fall Day,” and today is that day. Matt and I really feel that this should be a holiday in Houston, so this year we’re actually going to celebrate it!

He and I, along with everyone else associated with the site, are going to be host a “Fall Day” celebration at the Houston Botanic Garden on Sunday from 10 am to Noon CT. The event is free, and will have activities for kids and adults. Please come by and say hello. You can show your interest in the event by RSVP’ing here. This is not mandatory, of course, but it will help our planners at Reliant get a better idea of what to expect.

We’re holding the event on Sunday morning because it gives us time to organize activities along with the venue, which is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy nature. While some of the drier air should be gone by then, Sunday should still be cooler and drier than a typical summer day, especially during the pre-noon hours. Hope to see you there!


Temperatures are starting out in the 50s north of Houston, while most of the rest of the region away from the coast is in the low 60s. With dewpoints down around 50 degrees it feels fantastic outside. Given this drier air and clear skies, our air will still warm efficiently this afternoon, with high temperatures reaching about 90 degrees. Winds are light, out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph. Lows tonight should again drop into the upper 50s for inland areas, with much of the metro area in the low 60s.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

The remainder of the week should bring more of the same: warm sunny days, clear and cooler nights, and plenty of dry air. Northerly winds may turn a bit gustier by Thursday or so, as our region falls on the backside of powerful Hurricane Ian. As a result, this will be the rare early fall front that not just hangs around, but brings even cooler weather a few days after the fact. Lows this week will probably reach their coolest level by Thursday night or Friday morning, when more of the region has a chance to dip into the 50s.

Low temperature forecast for Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend should bring more of the same, although with atmospheric moisture levels starting to rise again we will see a bit of humidity. Even so, right now I anticipate dewpoints to be in the 50s, which means the air will be much more comfortable than our typical, sticky summertime dewpoints in the 70s. Look for highs of around 90 degrees this weekend, with lows in the 60s. Rain chances remain near zero.

Next week

We’re probably headed back toward highs of around 90, with nights in the low 70s, by next week. While the air becomes more humid, at this point it doesn’t look to be oppressively so. Now that we’re entering fall we can probably expect a front every week or two, but there’s nothing concrete on the horizon after this week’s cooler air. The real sore spot in the forecast is the lack of rain, and right now I don’t have anything hopeful to say about that, I’m afraid.

Hurricane Ian is going to be a disastrous storm for Florida. (NOAA)


Ian has strengthened to become a major hurricane overnight, and will emerge from the western edge of Cuba this morning into the warm southeastern Gulf of Mexico, where it will find low shear and conditions that support further strengthening. This will be a historic storm for Florida, with the potential for devastating storm surge in the Tampa area, as well as points south. Wind damage will also be extreme for some locations. And in a final gut punch, the storm will slow down with weaker steering currents as it nears Florida. Houston residents who remember Harvey know what this means, very heavy rainfall. I expect parts of the Florida peninsula to receive 20 inches or more of rainfall during the next three to four days.

27 Sep 12:39

Conservatives Loved Expanding The 1st Amendment To Corporations… Until Last Year. Wonder Why?

by Mike Masnick

Right after the 5th Circuit’s ruling on Texas’ HB 20 law on content moderation came out, I wrote up a long post going through the many, many oddities (and just flat out mistakes) of the ruling.

Since then, one thing that was bothering about this ruling was that it wasn’t just wrong on the law, wrong on the relevant precedents, and wrong on the 1st Amendment… but it literally went against the last few decades of how conservative Federalist Society judges have been expanding the 1st Amendment to cover more and more activity by organizations (which, contrary to popular opinion, I actually think has been mostly correct).

The Daily Beast asked me to write up an analysis of the 5th Circuit ruling, and one thing I focused on was just how blatantly basically the entire Republican ecosystem completely reversed on this issue over the last year and a half since Donald Trump got banned from Twitter. I mean, at a very direct level, Republicans insisted (falsely) that net neutrality was an attack on the “free speech rights” of internet providers, and that the very limited net neutrality rules that the FCC put in place were “the government takeover of the internet.” Yet they suddenly have no problem applying much more aggressive and 1st Amendment violative rules to edge providers that are nothing like internet service providers.

And while I kept hearing people say that the Dobbs ruling showed that the Supreme Court will now ignore precedent to get to the results it wants, there’s something different about the 5th Circuit’s ruling in the NetChoice case:

The cynical will point to things like the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs (which overturned Roe v. Wade) and note that we’ve entered an era of Calvinball jurisprudence—in which precedents are no longer an impediment to whatever endgame Federalist Society judges want. (The beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes introduced us to the concept of “Calvinball”—a sport in which the participants make up the rules as they go, never using the same rules twice.)

But in some ways this decision is even more ridiculous. There are pockets of the conservative world that have spent 50 years honing arguments to overturn Roe. The opposite is true when it comes to upending the First Amendment.

Indeed, the same forces that worked to overturn Roe spent nearly the same amount of time working to strengthen and expand judicial recognition of the First Amendment rights of companies—from allowing a baker to choose not to decorate a cake, to allowing companies to cite the First Amendment as a reason not to provide contraception as part of a health plan, and deciding that the First Amendment did not allow Congress to bar certain types of expenditures in support of political candidates.

No matter how you feel about Masterpiece Cakeshop, Hobby Lobby or Citizens United, all three were cases driven by conservative arguments that relied heavily on the fundamental position that the First Amendment barred restrictions on corporate expression, including the right to not be forced to endorse, enable, or support certain forms of expression.

I pointed out how Ken White had once noted that there just wasn’t a deep bench of conservative judges looking to take away 1st Amendment rights. And that actually held for a while:

As First Amendment lawyer Ken White noted back in the comparatively innocent days of November 2016, regarding Donald Trump’s call to open up our libel laws, “You can go shopping for judicial candidates whose writings or decisions suggest they will overturn Roe v. Wade, but it would be extremely difficult to find ones who would reliably overturn [key First Amendment precedents.]”

But, as if to just put a spotlight on their lack of actual principles, a huge part of the Republican establishment flipped on this point on a dime, solely to punish tech companies that they feel have become “too woke.” It’s almost as if they only support the 1st Amendment for those who ideologically agree with them.

I mean, Justice Clarence Thomas, who almost certainly will vote to uphold the 5th Circuit, will be doing a complete 180 on his concurrence in Masterpiece Cakeshop. In that one, he argued the Supreme Court should have gone even further to make it clear that forcing a baker to decorate a cake for a gay couple would violate the baker’s free speech, and dismissed the key cases the 5th Circuit relied on in the NetChoice case (FAIR and Pruneyard) as being wholly inapplicable, while highlighting the importance of Miami Herald v. Tornillo (the case that the 5th Circuit says is wholly different) on the 1st Amendment protecting the right for private operators to “exercise control over the messages” they send.

With Dobbs, everyone knew where it was going, because conservatives spent 50 years working up to it. But the 5th Circuit ruling lays bare how there are no principles among an unfortunately large segment of today’s Republicans in both statehouses and courts. It’s not about principles. It is entirely focused on punishing people they don’t like.

There’s a lot more in the Daily Beast piece, but I wanted to highlight that one element that hadn’t received as much attention.

27 Sep 09:08

Comic for 2022.09.26 - Police Car

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
27 Sep 09:04

Military Morality

by Corey Mohler

PERSON: "A philosopher? What is that? Some kind of explosives expert?"

PERSON: "No he well help us be better at-"

PERSON: "No it's-"

PERSON: "Also what is “moral”, some kind of bomb?"

PERSON: "Got it. Alpha, roger, send in the eagle."

PERSON: "Alright, job done, targets destroyed."

PERSON: "No, you don't get it, the point was to save as many lives as possible."

PERSON: "Save? no...i'm pretty sure you have that backwards."

PERSON: "Anyway, don't worry about ethics, we used Smart Bombs. They are connected to our database of known terrorists, and have facial recognition technology to instantly identify tragets."

PERSON: "So if the people aren't known terrorists the bomb doesn't explode?"
26 Sep 12:56

Fall’s first real cold front will push into Houston today, and it will stay around for awhile

by Eric Berger

My friends it has been a long—so very long —summer. We have seen record warmth in June and July, and plenty of high temperatures in the upper 90s during the last week. A total of 131 days have come and gone since Houston’s high temperature first hit 95 degrees this year, on May 18. Fortunately, I’m pretty confident that today is the last day of summer 2022.

Oh, we’re still going to see some 90-degree days. There will still be some humidity, of course. But our first real front pushes in today, bringing with it a nice surge of drier air tonight. By Tuesday morning it’s going to feel quite a bit different outside. No, the days won’t be chilly, but the nights will feel like fall. And the dry air is going to feel pretty amazing. Additionally, unlike a lot of early fall fronts, this one will have sticking power. The dry air should last into the weekend. So enjoy what’s coming, because you earned it.

Meanwhile, there’s likely to be a major hurricane coming to Florida this week. We’ll discuss that below as well.


There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that today is going to be hot again. Expect highs to generally reach the low-90s across the region, with sunny skies. Light winds will turn to come from the northeast later today as the front pushes into the area. We don’t expect much (if any) precipitation with this front, and the bulk of the dry air will lag its passage, moving in tonight. Low temperatures tonight should drop into the mid-60s in Houston, with cooler conditions inland.

A dewpoint analysis on Monday morning shows a cold front on Houston’s doorstep. (Weather Bell)


You’ll be able to feel the drier air when you step outside on Tuesday morning. The lower humidity, combined with sunny skies, should allow highs to push into the upper 80s to 90 degrees, but temperatures will start falling fairly quickly after the sun goes down. Look for overnight lows in the mid-60s again in Houston, with cooler weather further inland.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

If anything, the flow of drier air should become more pronounced during the second half of the week as Hurricane Ian moves into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This should allow for warm, sunny days in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s (inland) and lower 60s for Houston. Mornings and evenings will be spectacular, y’all.

Friday morning could be the coolest of the week for Houston. (Weather Bell)

Saturday, Sunday, and beyond

By Saturday or Sunday, the onshore flow will probably start to reestablish itself. But at this point I still think we’re going to see sunny days in the upper 80s with at least somewhat drier air. Nighttime temperatures will start to warm, but should remain in the 60s. Highs next week probably climb back to around 90 degrees. I know we could really use some rainfall, but there appears to be precious little of that in the cards for the next 10 days or so.

Hurricane Ian

Ian continues to organize this morning, and has become a hurricane. This is the Atlantic season’s fourth hurricane and confidence is high that it will cross Cuba tomorrow and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. By Wednesday it should be approaching the Tampa area on the West coast of Florida, where it could bring historic wind and storm surge damage. However after Wednesday there is considerable uncertainty about whether Ian will plow into Tampa Bay, move more or less due north up the West coast of Florida, or remain 50 or 100 miles offshore while turning north for the Big Bend region of Florida.

Monday morning track forecast for Hurricane Ian. (NOAA)

I’ve been tracking the potential impacts on NASA’s Artemis I mission closely. The large Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, on the east coast of the state. At least minor impacts are likely, and Ian’s effects could become more direct. As of this morning, the probability of tropical storm force winds at the space center are 60 percent, with an 8 percent chance of hurricane-force winds. They could arrive as early as Wednesday. NASA officials are meeting at 11am CT today to decide whether to roll the Artemis I mission back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to protect the vehicle.

26 Sep 12:47

Comic for 2022.09.25 - Sheriff

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
26 Sep 12:45

Lands of two wheels

by Scandinavia and the World
Lands of two wheels

Lands of two wheels

View Comic!

26 Sep 12:43

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - I, Candy


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

And yet somehow people who study economics seem to become less humble.

Today's News:


26 Sep 12:40

England Exits Somber Mourning Period To Resume Joyless Normalcy

LONDON—Following Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and her people’s farewell to their longest-serving monarch, sources confirmed Monday that England had begun exiting its somber mourning period in order to resume its regular joyless normalcy. When Elizabeth passed on Sept. 8, English citizens reportedly paused their…


26 Sep 12:39

Insomnia Experts Unanimously Recommend Giving Up And Scrolling ‘The Onion’ Until Daybreak

CHICAGO—Evaluating a number of available treatment options for chronic insomnia, sleep experts at Rush University released a report Monday touting a unanimous recommendation to just give up and scroll The Onion’s website until daybreak. “After extensively reviewing studies on the best ways to alleviate insomnia, or…


25 Sep 21:07

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Never


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

In fact, after some number theory, you'll think numbers are real and real life is a shadow!

Today's News:
24 Sep 12:34

Comic for 2022.09.24 - Problematic

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
24 Sep 12:33

Historical Dates

Evidence suggests the 1899 transactions occurred as part of a global event centered around a deity associated with the lotus flower.
24 Sep 12:24

The Daily Stream: Alicia Silverstone Delivered A Star-Turning Performance In The Sleazy, Erotic Thriller, The Crush

by BJ Colangelo

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "The Crush"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu and Peacock

The Pitch: Two years before Alicia Silverstone would become teen queen royalty for her performance as Cher Horowitz in "Clueless," she made her feature film debut opposite Cary Elwes in the evocative "Lolita" thriller, "The Crush." 

The 1990s were a golden era for erotic thrillers, but few were willing to tackle the taboo nature of a sexually-forward teenage girl and a grown man who certainly knew better. Elwes plays a writer named Nick Eliot who moves to a new city for a magazine job, and rents the back house of Cliff (Kurtwood Smith) and Liv Forrester (Gwynyth Walsh), whose 14-year-old daughter, Adrian (Alicia Silverstone) becomes enamored with him. Nick stupidly kisses Adrian at a party, but upon realizing the error of his ways, attempts to set a boundary with her. Adrian, however, does not take kindly to his rejection, and her obsession only grows. Feeling rejected and angry that he's pursuing a woman his own age (Jennifer Rubin), Adrian begins to destroy Nick's property, ruin his friendships, and do whatever she can to try and get back in the good graces with the object of her affection.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Let's make one thing clear: Nick is in the wrong from the very beginning and the fact that "The Crush" tries to place the blame on a teenage girl is laughable and inexcusable. Writer and director Alan Shapiro wrote the film based on a situation from his own life, even going so far as to name the character "Darian," the real name of the woman he based the character off of. She successfully sued him for doing so, which is why the film was re-edited with the name Adrian. 

Truly bananas to think that just under 30 years ago, grown men were able to write films where they admit they were inappropriate with a 14-year-old and somehow make it out to be their fault. WILD! Adrian is clearly presented as mentally unstable, but this does not negate the fact that DUDE KISSED A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL. Anyway.

With this acknowledgment out of the way, it's hard to imagine a feature film debut from a teen actor with the ferocity and star power of Alicia Silverstone. The character of Adrian is essentially an All-American teen girl's take on Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," and Silverstone is an undeniable powerhouse. Nick tries to brush off Adrian's affections as nothing more than a schoolgirl crush, but Adrian shows her dangerous hand from the very beginning. 

Even without saying a word, Silverstone delivers a snarl or a raised eyebrow from behind a pair of sunglasses that screams, "I'm going to destroy you" with the volume of a bomb going off. The material is so intense and mature, and yet Silverstone wasn't even old enough to vote when she delivered one of the greatest villainous performances by a woman, ever.

A Cult Favorite Thriller

Due to its pulpy nature, "The Crush" was not received favorably by critics but has since developed a cult following. The film inspired a number of thriller and suspense movies throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but Silverstone's devilish performance remains unmatched. Adrian is presented as capital "E" Evil, and yet Silverstone is so undeniably charismatic you can't help but hope she tears Nick's life to pieces. 

In recent years, the subgenre of "Good For Her" horror films has grown in popularity, with characters like Jennifer Check in "Jennifer's Body," Grace in "Ready or Not," Dani in "Midsommar," and the titular "Pearl" turning into aspirational idols. Alicia Silverstone's Adrian deserves to be a member of this esteemed club, as she was already destroying the lives of men who deserved it decades ago. The "evil temptress" is a trope as old as cinema, but few have ever delivered quite like her.

We all know while watching "The Crush" that the story is exploitative and sleazy, but if you give yourself over to the absolute ridiculousness of the plot, you'll find yourself dazzled by sheer camp greatness. Elwes plays a pathetic worm with perfection as he tries to defend himself as something other than a dude who absolutely got seduced by a teenager, but is no match for the ruthlessness of Silverstone's unhinged femme fatale. "The Crush" is what happens when the trashy crime stories usually reserved for Lifetime movies (this is a compliment) are given a studio budget, and a cinematographer that frames Silverstone in as many close-ups as humanly possible, letting a facial acting artist craft a masterpiece.

Read this next: Horror Roles That Changed Actors Forever

The post The Daily Stream: Alicia Silverstone Delivered a Star-Turning Performance in the Sleazy, Erotic Thriller, The Crush appeared first on /Film.

23 Sep 20:53

Comic for 2022.09.23 - Gotta Go

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
23 Sep 19:27

Famous Chess Matches, If Some of the Players Were Cheating Using Vibrating Anal Beads, a Thing That Is Allegedly Happening in the Chess World and Is Not Something Random That I Made Up

by Alexandra Petri

“An American teenager’s victory against the world champion has sent chess into an uproar… Allegations of cheating—including wild speculation involving vibrating anal beads—have rocked chess to its core.” – The Guardian

- - -

The Queen’s Gambit

Beth Harmon walks into a chess tournament. It is the 1960s. She sits down opposite her opponent.

BETH: I can’t help but notice that there’s a long power cord coming out of your pants.

OPPONENT: (shrugs) No reason.

- - -


Before making his first move, Magneto hesitates, as though sensing something metal nearby.

MAGNETO: Is there anything you want to tell me, Charles?

PROFESSOR X: Absolutely nothing.

- - -

The Seventh Seal

DEATH: Hello, I am Death.

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Death! Let’s play chess.

DEATH: Excellent. You may live as long as the chess game continues. It will be a metaphor for a life well lived and the struggle of faith and despair.

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Great. Just, uh, hold on a second.


ANTONIUS BLOCK: I have to do something first. Something that will help my game.

DEATH: What?

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Don’t worry about it.

- - -

The Wire

D’ANGELO: If the pawn makes it all the way down to the other dude’s side, he gets to be queen.

BODIE: So if I make it to the other end, I win.

D’ANGELO: If you catch the other dude’s king and trap it, then you win. Unless.

BODIE: Unless?

D’ANGELO: Unless the other dude is cheating. Using vibrating anal beads.

- - -

From Russia with Love

Grandmaster Kronsteen and Macadams sit playing chess. A waiter brings water to both players. Suddenly, Kronsteen’s chair begins to vibrate aggressively. Water spills everywhere.

KRONSTEEN: I must go. SPECTRE calls.

- - -

Gary Kasparov vs. Deep Blue


DEEP BLUE: (moans audibly)