Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 5

November 29, 2021
  1. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark

There is a reason why The Boss has been so commercially successful. He has a lot of hits to pick from, all of which I can easily sing along to. I picked this one partly because of memories of the music video where he dances on stage with Courtney Cox. I just associate this song with fun. Springsteen is kind of the king of blue collar, middle-of-the-road rock and roll and I say that as a compliment. He has an easily recognizable vocal style with that rough voice that is also able to croon a bit. This song lives and dies by the drumbeat which just keeps the song going for me. Everything else is actually pretty chill. The guitar and keyboard are pretty slow and fade back to showcase Springsteen’s vocals. There is also a killer sax bit later in the song that I really like.

  1. Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls of Fire

One of those truly iconic songs that has been in a ton of movies and television shows. The song is a great showcase mostly for Lewis’ great vocals and piano playing. It was recorded with only bass guitar and drums to back Lewis up. Jerry Lee Lewis is one of those stars for whom a backing band just gets in the way. He is loud and energetic and that was what made him a star. The song also features a rare bass riff since guitars usually get all of the love. Lewis is hitting those keys hard, the piano blowing everything else away. It was a style that a lot of piano-centric musicians (Elton John, Little Richard) would also use.

  1. Fats Domino – Ain’t That a Shame

This song has a relaxed feeling to it as Domino sings about how he won’t be so broken up if his girl leaves him. One of the things the song does that I like is it has the instrumentation drop out during the chorus repeatedly and let Domino stand on his own. Domino’s voice is so smooth and so easy to listen to. This song is listed as rock and roll but feels more like jazz to me but genres can be difficult. Domino was yet another artist who did both vocals and piano in the mid-fifties. He has a smoothness and sardonic air in this song that I really enjoy.

  1. The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated

I have been a huge Ramones fan since I first heard them. Punk in general just has a lot of what I want in general. This song goes a mile a minute and is just so easy to sing along to. Especially the repeated refrain of “Ba ba ba”s. The song is a road song written as a semi-joke by the Ramones based on their experiences being on tour during Christmas and having literally nothing to do and being so bored between shows. They make the lyrics fun even if there is a tinge of worry mixed in there. The guitars just rock away in a constant bop for most of the song accompanied by a driving drum beat.

  1. Prince – Partyman

You do not understand yet how much I was obsessed with Batman (1989) and how formative it was in my early formative years. Looking back, I am absolutely fascinated that they got Prince to do much of the soundtrack of the movie and how well it worked. They also let him make some truly batshit insane music videos for his songs. The song itself is bouncy and fun, Prince at his best for me. I love the drum machine they used as it has a sort of fuzzy sound to it. It really does feel like the best parts of a party and I don’t really like parties. I will forever love this song for the museum scene in Batman but it stands great all by itself.

  1. The Clash – Rock the Casbah

The Clash is another punk band that I love but had a little bit of a different feel than other punk bands as they had a wider range of genres that they mixed in. This song definitely is an example of that wide range. It also has a bit of that great tendency of punk music to attack established political power structures. The song details the clash between a religious dictatorsip and the freeing power of music. Politicians have often either tried to tamp down rebellion in music or coopt it. I love Joe Strummer’s vocals in this as he belts out his lyrics only to be joined by his bandmates for the chorus. Topper Headon is putting in some great work on drums as well.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 11

November 27, 2021

The dragon’s gigantic face rose above the edge of the building and the heroes were prepared for the last stand. Those reptilian eyes filled with bright green fire. The dragon had new bleeding wounds across its face, near the right side of its mouth. As they watched, the dragon erupted into purple smoke and green flame and that green flame formed itself into a woman’s form. The woman stood imperiously tall and carried a large staff. She looked at them with absolute disdain in her eyes.

“Heroes,” she said dismissively. “When will you accept that this land is mine now. Any resistance will be met with death.” She spoke like royalty, her diction impeccable.

Mulan stepped forward, anger flashing in her eyes. “China belongs to its people,” she called out. “Who are you to say otherwise?”

The woman laughed. As her mouth opened wider in that laugh, blood dripped from the wound on her face. She did not even react to the obvious pain she must have been in. “I am Maleficent, child,” she said directly to Mulan. “You will say my name with respect before you die. If you say it now, your deaths will be quick and relatively painless.”

“None of us are dying,” Aladdin said. “We’re going to save this land.”

“Then we’ll find our way back to our worlds,” Rapunzel said.

“And our families and friends,” Anna said.

“For China,” Mulan said. “and for all of the worlds. It’s time to slay the dragon.”

“So be it,” Maleficent said. “Your deaths will not be quick if I can help it. I gave you your chance.”

“No more talk then,” Mulan said. “Time for action.” She raised her sword. Her new friends readied their weapons as well.

Maleficent slowly reformed into her dragon form, towering above them in no time. The battle began in earnest. The heroes had to keep moving to avoid the sheer volume of Maleficient’s dragon form and the occasional fire-breathing attack. They darted in with their swords when they could. Out of them, only Mulan and Merrida had any combat training and only Mulan and Aladdin had real combat experience. The others were holding their own, though. They had to or they would be dead.

Merrida fired arrows from a little bit of rubble she had climbed up on, nailing Maleficent with bullseye after bullseye. Maleficent eventually got tired of it and swung her tail. Merrida barely avoided the attack, tumbling down from her perch and landing hard. The string on her bow broke. Rapunzel ran to help her up as quick as she could.

“I’m out,” Merrida said. “My bow is broken!”

“I’ve got an idea!” Mulan called out. “Rapunzel! Use your hair!” She rushed toward the dragon and Aladdin ran with her. “Aladdin, both sides!”

The two of them dodged a lunge from the dragon.

“What!?” Aladdin yelled. “What does that mean?”

“Like a pincer,” Mulan said as she dodged a blast of fire.

Meanwhile, Rapunzel had plucked a long hair from her head. She wrapped that hair around one end of Merrida’s bow and then the other. As soon as she did, she closed her eyes and focused and the string glowed with golden light and tightened itself. Merrida knocked an arrow which also turned bright and golden.

Mulan and Aladdin drove their swords into the dragon’s neck at the same time from the right and the left. Merrida aimed her shot. Maleficent cried out in pain and Merrida fired into her open mouth. The arrow traveled deep into the dragon and then that arrow exploded. Maleficent exploded in green fire and cried out. Mulan swung her sword again and decapitated the dragon.

The battle was over and the exhausted heroes sat on top of a burning palace in the middle of the Imperial City. The flames surrounded them. There was no way out but they had slain the dragon and China would be free. Mulan saw Maleficent’s staff and picked it up and desperately tried to work it. The flames were so close now. She focused on the staff and it lit up. There was a sudden loud sound and a blast of cold air spread out over the palace quickly.

“It looks like this place needed to cool off,” a voice called out.

Anna sprang to her feet and hugged her sister. “Elsa!” she shouted. “I knew you’d come!”

Media Update 11/25/21

November 25, 2021

Our Kind of People

Frankly, I would not have even heard of this show if I did not know somebody in the cast. It is not my kind of show and I have heard it described as “Black Dynasty” which I think is pretty accurate. The show is a primetime soap opera about a black family dealing with their past and the fact that they are in control of a huge company. The show is about wealthy people and therefore not extremely relatable although not everyone was raised rich. I was very pleased to see Joe Morton as the patriarch as he is an actor I love. He plays a great villain who is also relatable. Yaya DaCosta plays the show’s protagonist, the one we follow the most and are supposed to be rooting for. She is a lot of fun. Nadine Ellis plays a perfectly snarky tweener who has some villainous tendencies. The show is very dramatic but it is very well-produced. I recommend this show if you like drama.

Monster Hunter

I have never played a Monster Hunter game but I have seen a few streamed on Twitch and I like the look and feel of the games. When I found out that there would be a movie adaptation, I was interested. Given that it starred Milla Jovovich and was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, I thought it would be basically like the Resident Evil movie franchise. It was a little bit but did not quite achieve what I wanted. The movie was very pretty and had a lot of cool interactions of the titular monsters. It followed quite a few rules of the game and had some similar visual elements. However, it lacked a lot of the goofiness that went into the games. It was grim and gritty whereas the games are often comical, goofy, exciting, grim, gritty, and scary. Milla did a really great job as usual. Tony Jaa was interesting as a character that the audience could not understand and was mostly comic relief. I am always glad to see Ron Perlman. I actually do not recommend this movie unless you are familiar with the games.

Terriers

I had been looking to watch this show for a long time (it came out in 2010). I have always been a fan of Donal Logue and wanted to see it and finally, I took the opportunity. Donal Logue plays a down on his luck, scrappy private detective and he is charming as usual. Michael Raymond-James has such great chemistry with Logue and is really funny. The show is really well-written and rests squarely on Logue’s back but he is always up to the task. The show is quirky and funny but also has some great mysteries. It feels like a cousin to Veronica Mars. I recommend this show.

Music of the Week:

Clarence Clarity – SU฿LORD

Yard Act – Fixer Upper

Cory Hotline – Love Is What We Need

Jean Tonique – Let Your Body Move

Mashup of the Week:

TJA Mashups – Ride it Off

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Found Family”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I watched more Titans Season 3
I started Young Justice Season 4
I started Elementary Season 6

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: “Hangman” Adam Page

November 22, 2021

All Elite Wrestling was born because Tony Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner and owner of TruMedia, took an interest in a stable of wrestlers known as The Elite. The Elite (at the time) was made up of Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, and Adam Page. The five had become great friends through banding together in several different pro-wrestling organizations. They put on the biggest independent professional wrestling show the world had ever seen when they organized and put on All In in 2018. Over 11,000 people were in attendance and many more were watching at home. This is what brought in Khan and his money and these friends were suddenly part of a company of their own.

The Announcement

Kenny, the Jacksons, and Cody all decided to take executive positions in this new company. They all became Executive Vice-Presidents so that they would always have a hand in the creative direction of a company based on their hard work and the hard work of their friends and allies. Adam Page was the only one of the five who did not take an executive position. See, Page was known as “Hangman” Adam Page, a simple cowboy from Virginia. He wanted to prove himself. He had not won many championships in his career while his friends had each won dozens. The Jacksons are known as The Young Bucks and had won tag titles all over the world. Cody Rhodes is the son of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes and has won tons of tag belts and singles championships. Kenny Omega is a phenomenon in Japan and has won so many championships. Hangman had not yet built his legacy.

Championship Against Chris Jericho

So it was that he entered the Casino Battle Royale to determine who would face Chris Jericho (arguably the biggest star the company had at the time) in a match to be the inaugural AEW Heavyweight Champion. It was his chance to finally elevate himself to the level of his friends. He lasted until the end of the battle royale and he would face Jericho at the next pay per view, All Out. Unfortunately, as hard as Hangman tried, Jericho had his number at every turn and beat him for the title. Worst of all, it was a clean loss since Jericho had not cheated and pinned Hangman right in the middle of the ring. It shook Hangman’s confidence.

Hangman floated around for a bit, getting into a feud with “The Bastard” PAC while trying to support his friends in The Elite. Eventually, Hangman started to team with his friend Kenny Omega and the two actually won the AEW Tag Titles. This caused some friction because the Young Bucks were the established tag team in The Elite. The Bucks wanted those belts but Kenny and Hangman were hesitant to face their friends. The Bucks eventually won the right to face Hangman and Kenny. The lead up to the match and the match itself was not exactly friendly as the two teams both really wanted to win. After a brutal battle, Hangman and Kenny stood tall and the Young Bucks could not call themselves “the best tag team in the world” anymore. There was definitely tension within The Elite.

It was during this time that the pandemic truly hit and The Elite got into a big feud with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle. The Elite expressed doubts that they could count on their old friend Hangman to back them up. Hangman seemed somewhat undecided after all of the bad blood between him and his friends. He had also taken to drinking more on air. He was not a sloppy drunk but he seemed a tinge sad with a whiskey glass in his hand all the time. Still, when the time came Page literally rode to the rescue in the Stadium Stampede match on his horse to save his friends.

Hangman then did serious damage to their friendship when he cost the Young Bucks a match which would have made them first contenders to the tag team belts. Page swore up and down that his interference was an accident but it was clear that he was worried about facing his friends and possibly losing his friendship and his first major championship belt. Their previous match had been very competitive and Page was obviously not looking forward to facing them again. For this, the Young Bucks expelled Hangman from The Elite even though Hangman was still teaming with their friend Kenny.

First contenders FTR sought to divide Hangman and Kenny further and they did it through alcohol. Page was a drinker but Kenny and the Bucks were straightedge. FTR started acting as Hangman’s drinking buddies, dividing Hangman’s loyalties somewhat and encouraging Page in his drinking. This inevitably led to FTR winning the belts by defeating Hangman and Kenny, causing all of the bad blood between the two to become even worse.

Hangman started making appearances at the commentary table where he assured everyone that he and Kenny were fine and would win back the belts very soon. However, without talking to Hangman, Kenny had entered into a tournament for a match for the Heavyweight Title and kept brushing off Hangman’s attempts to schedule a rematch for their belts. Hangman obviously dropped into a depression on screen and seemed to be more into drinking than wrestling. Still, he entered the same tournament as Kenny and the two faced off against each other in the tournament finals at Full Gear where Kenny defeated him. Hangman started to spiral even more.

The Kids of Barrie Park Pt. 3

November 20, 2021

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Chantal said but she was looking away, out the window. She could not meet Liam’s eyes. “I live a completely normal life.” Her voice wavered slightly during those last words which made Liam grin. Liam was an opportunist and he knew an opening when he saw one.

“Be real, we both know that’s not true,” Liam said. “You’re a weirdo just like me. It’s written all over your face. I know we don’t exactly get deep in our conversations. I never really wanted to talk about it, I sense you wanted to just leave it all in the past. I don’t blame you. I wanted the same thing but now we can’t ignore it. Not if it will put us in danger.”

“You sensed all of that, huh?” Chantal asked. “Did you use your hoodoo powers to do that?”

“I didn’t need to,” Liam said with a smirk. “I’m a detective, remember? As a true professional, I can’t let a mystery go once it takes hold.”

“Doesn’t being a professional mean that you get paid for your detecting?” Chantal asked. “This doesn’t seem like it will put money in your pocket.”

“I admit that’s true,” Liam said. “but, like I said, it might just save some lives. Among those lives are yours and mine. That’s all the payment I need, really.”

“Yeah yeah yeah so noble,” Chantal said. “I guess you’re going to drag it out of me eventually but I guess I have experienced some strange things.” She looked around to make sure nobody was close enough to listen in. “I do see things sometimes.” She sipped her Irish coffee.

“You see things?” Liam asked, his face gone serious and respectful. “Tell me about it.” He saw the pained reluctance in Chantal’s face. “Please.” He put as much feeling and compassion into that one word as he could.

Chantal locked eyes with Liam and the weight of her gaze was a lot but he saw her relent. “It’s hard to describe,” Chantal said with some frustration on her face. “Kind of like your thing. Except I see things sometimes instead. Like with my eyes. Sometimes I can see details that others don’t catch. Sometimes I see things that aren’t there. It’s very confusing. I ignore it as much as I can, really.”

“I wonder what that’s all about,” Liam said, mostly to himself. “I really need to figure this out. It could be nothing but it could be everything.”

“I really want nothing to do with it,” Chantal said with a sigh. “but I do have somebody you could talk to if you want.” She said this with utmost hesitance, like pulling nails from an old warped board.

“I don’t want to talk with other clueless members of our alumni,” Liam said. “Especially if they’re brushing their experiences aside as easily as you are.”

“Lay off,” Chantal said, narrowing her eyes. She seemed annoyed, bordering on angry. “We all deal with trauma in our own way. The woman I’m going to send you to is somebody I’ve been avoiding. She won’t leave me alone so I guess I’ll make you her problem and vice versa. You’re in luck, she’s in town for the funeral.”

“Yeah?” Liam said with a laugh. “Who is it?” He was intrigued now.

“She’s a doctor of Literature and History,” Chantal said. “She’s been hounding me to talk about my experiences and about the Incident but I didn’t want to. I don’t even know why I talk to you about it.”

“I’m very charming?” Liam asked. “I also rock your body whenever we run into each other.” He gave her a model-like pose which made her laugh, defusing a lot of the tension between them.

“You are charming,” Chantal said. “Not as charming as you think you are but you are charming and, yes, you are good in bed.” She rolled her eyes. “Speaking of which, are you coming back to my place or not?”

“The lady can’t resist,” Liam said with a smirk. “Yeah, twist my arm. I’ll come home with you and then I’ll contact this doctor of yours in the morning.”

Media Update 11/18/21

November 18, 2021

Dune (2021)

I never read the Dune books. What little I was able to absorb through osmosis sounded exceedingly strange but I knew that it was a science fantasy series told over several thick books. I never watched the David Lynch version. However, I started to hear really great things about this version and so I decided to watch it as soon as Halloween was over. The movie is very long at 155 minutes but I have watched plenty of movies that long. The movie took a while to hook me as I tried to absorb all of the lore and exposition. Once it hooked me, I stayed hooked and I was very invested for the rest of the movie. It helps that it has such pretty visuals but it also has a compelling story with interesting characters. It also has an all-star cast of Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgaard, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, and many more. It was also the first movie with Jason Momoa in it that I really liked. I recommend this movie.

Artemis Fowl

Another book series that I never read but now I really want to. This series tells the story of how the fairy world exists in the modern-day. It has such an interesting take on magic and the taxonomy of magical creatures. Like the Percy Jackson series, I feel like it does a lot to innovate its source material. The movie version was pretty good but they have yet to confirm a sequel so I wonder how well it was received. Still, anything with fairies is something that I am interested in. The movie rests on its star newcomer Ferdia Shaw who is pretty good as a surprisingly stoic child actor. Lara McDonnell plays a fae agent who is interesting and I want to see more of. Josh Gad probably has the best role I have seen him in as a strange, dwarven thief. I had never seen Nonzo Anozie act before but I found myself charmed by him. We also get some smaller parts from more seasoned actors Judi Dench and Colin Farrell. I recommend this movie.

Mockingjay Pt. 1

I watched part two about six years ago when it was in theaters and never watched this movie. I did read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire so I felt that I needed to close out the series. I ended up liking this movie more than Part Two. The second part was kind of confusingly shot and a bit confusing (even with all of the context I now have). This movie is very straightforward and tells a neat story about wartime propaganda and the shady ethics of government and the military. Jennifer Lawrence had settled into the role of Katniss Everdeen and really shines here. This was the last complete movie that Phillip Seymour Hoffman did and he is great. Donald Sutherland is at his most villainous and came off as very disturbing. Liam Hemsworth does a serviceable job as the guy. We get a lot of great returns from Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, and more. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

dankeサン – Futon Anthem

PERSEFONE – Merkabah

Selfmindead – “Progress”

Shmoneymo – LOCKED IN

Mashup of the Week:

Doug Ferguson – People Are Dreaming of Rainbows In the Dark

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Young Book Heroes”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
I finished Elementary Season 5
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I watched more Sopranos Season 1

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 4

November 15, 2021
  1. Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy

This is absolutely the kind of song that movies and television use as shorthand for “The Blues”. It has some guitar with a dirty sound to it, the drummer going hard on the downbeat, a wailing harmonica, and almost call and response cadence to the lyrics. The first thing I appreciate about this song is Muddy Waters told me that everything is going to be alright. That’s actually really nice to hear these days. This is the style that artists like George Thorogood tried to emulate. Waters is telling a story with every word and you can really feel his emotion. (So can his backup singer who keeps yelling like a primitive hype man). It almost feels like a prelude to brag and boast rap groups as well.

  1. Marvin Gaye – Can I Get a Witness

A lot of people put more stock into Gaye’s songs about love or sex but I really prefer this song. There is instantly so much joy in this song even though it is about heartbreak. Gaye is singing about how he has been mistreated and wants people to witness him. He wants acknowledgment which I think we can all empathize with. The song is very bouncy while still letting Gaye wail a little with his vocals. He sings over mostly a killer horn section and people clapping (tambourine?) which gives the song a simple feeling.

  1. The Velvet Underground – There She Goes Again

More twangy guitars are always nice. This is another band that I had to look up to remind myself of some of their songs. I have to admit that I am not really familiar with their work although I have heard the name as an influential group and I am somewhat familiar with singer Lou Reed’s later work. I think it is their lack of uptempo songs even though I fully admit that they are true artists. This is the best song that I could find. I do like Reed’s wandering vocals which remind me a bit of Bob Dylan here. It sounds like a great song to chill to if that was what I wanted out of music.

  1. Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love?

I have to admit that I first heard this song performed by George Thorogood and the Destroyers who I was obsessed with at one point. It is a really good song. I actually prefer the instrumentation of this version. Diddley’s band had some great guitar and some simple drumming. Diddley also sounds like he is having a little more fun with it as compared to Thorogood’s almost sinister delivery. In Bo Diddley’s mind, this song is a brag and boast song so that a woman would come away thinking that Diddley was such a badass that she would tell everybody she knows. It is basically just a list of dangerous and edgy things that make the singer look awesome.

  1. Otis Redding – I Can’t Turn You Loose

I first heard this song performed by The Blues Brothers, once again showing the benefit of cover bands who introduce you to great music. Redding’s band and The Blues Brothers band have comparable skills which makes sense because The Blues Brothers band was a supergroup of musicians that backed two comedians. Naturally, Otis Redding is so much better than John Belushi. He is throwing everything he has into this song and giving it so much more flair and soul. Redding sings in that almost gospel style that would be made famous by him, James Brown, and others. The song just really bops along behind Redding, letting him do his thing as he goes pretty hard. There are not many lyrics but sometimes you don’t need them.

  1. U2 – Elevation

I am not a U2 fan. In general, I am not a fan of Bono’s vocal style. I would not call it bad but it is definitely not my cup of tea as he slowly wails about Irish tragedies. This is the best song they have, in my opinion. The Edge and the rest of the band are obviously really good at singing and they got Bono to actually sing something a bit more upbeat, uptempo, and inspirational this time.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 11

November 13, 2021

Belle turned to her host, Ariel, her eyes wide. “We can’t listen to her, she’s a vindictive fairy,” she said. She turned to Aurora. “Can we arrest her?”

“Fairy?” Aurora asked. “I was practically raised by fairies. They’re not all bad.” Yet she eyed The Enchantress warily, fingers just touching the hilt of her sword. She had known three wonderful fairies but also one truly horrible one. She was not so naive to trust this stranger right away.

“She cursed my husband!” Belle said. Adam, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts had told her a lot about the night that this strange woman had transformed everybody in the castle. Her curse had almost reached maturity which would have kept everybody from regaining their human forms. It seemed overly cruel to Belle.

“People can change,” Tiana said. She thought of her own husband and her own personal journey.

“I can at least be a gracious host,” Ariel said. “Welcome to my castle, Enchantress. Can I get you anything?” She gave her best smile, trying to do what she thought Eric or her father would do. She had had such little time to train in the etiquette of human royal life and had been in battle so long that it was hard to remember when things had been normal.

“A spot of tea would be nice,” The Enchantress said. “Thank you.”

“I’ll go make some real quick,” Tiana said. She kind of wanted to get out of that room. Tensions were high and she was pretty sure that Belle had not blinked since The Enchantress had appeared. She walked toward the kitchens.

“Please, have a seat,” Ariel said, gesturing toward a chair. She sat down herself and looked at Belle who begrudgingly sat down as well.

“See?” The Enchantress said with a smile. “If your husband had been this kind, things would have been much easier.” Belle tensed at that. “A joke, my dear.”

“I’m not laughing,” Belle said crossly, folding her arms over her chest.

“The truth is, I have owed your husband and his servants an apology for quite some time,” The Enchantress said. “That curse was probably a bit much. I was looking for somebody to punish and I unleashed on the first person to anger me. If that also harmed you by extension, I apologize.”

Belle blinked in surprise. She was not sure what to say to that.

“Please excuse me for cutting to the chase,” Ariel said. “What is your intention in coming here? We’re sort of in the middle of a crisis at the moment.”

“Yes. I saw you slay the Sea Witch. Well, I came to offer my assistance,” The Enchantress said. “I could feel magical turmoil through the planes. Worlds that were once separate are now connected. The citizens of those worlds have been shuffled like so many cards.”

“We suspected as much,” Belle said. “Although, I suppose that confirmation of that theory is appreciated.” She offered that last statement reluctantly. She was still on her guard and appreciated that Aurora had not relaxed either.

“How can you help us?” Ariel asked. “We managed to open a portal through our own research. We were on the verge of reuniting with our loved ones.”

The Enchantress shrugged. “You have done well on your own, I must admit,” she said. “However, without a guide with power, it will be like groping around in the dark. I am a minor power. I can improve your travel options a thousandfold.”

Tiana brought in the tea with some beignets she had whipped up. Ariel gestured for her to sit and she did. Ariel trusted Tiana not only to cook but as an ally who knew a lot about logistics.

“What do you get in return?” Belle asked.

The Enchantress waived the question away with a laugh. “I’m not asking for anything,” She said. “I’m not the type to ask for first-born children. In truth, you have done me a great favor already in killing Ursula. The possibility that you might take out more rivals has me very willing to offer my assistance.”

“Rivals?” Ariel asked, a little taken aback. “Ursula was your rival? A rival in what?”

“She was a minor rival,” The Enchantress said dismissively. “Anybody who wields magic on her level or above has the potential to cause trouble for me. I would not oppose those who use magic sparingly or benevolently but Ursula and her new allies are unpredictable. If they got hungry enough for power, they could try and steal mine. I can’t have that. I already know that their little coven has imprisoned several of my kind. I will not let that stand.”

“Do you think we can trust her?” Ariel asked the room but looked pointedly at Belle.

“I think it’s worth a shot,” Tiana said.

“We’re kind of at her mercy,” Aurora said. “We’ve already seen how powerful she is compared to us.”

Belle sighed. “Aurora has a point,” she said. “and I actually trust her this time.” She had a hunch that The Enchantress was telling the truth. It was the same feeling that led her to befriend The Beast who had become her husband.

“I guess we’re accepting your help,” Ariel said. “Let’s get down to it. Our friends and loved ones are still out there.”

Media Update 11/11/21

November 11, 2021

Only Murders in the Building

I have recently gotten into the true crime genre, but I took a step back when I saw how ghoulish some fans have gotten. I like how this show treats the genre and points out the failings of true crime fans who get too invested. There are also some interesting side mysteries that are even more interesting than the main mystery. The show is about three strangers who get involved in a murder in their apartment building. Out of the three, I would say that Selena Gomez is the star which is really saying something. She is so good at being a curious young woman with a hard exterior. Steve Martin is really great as the lonely and curmudgeonly old actor. Martin Short is familiar as a whimsical but sad former theater producer. The three have such good chemistry together and, although I’m only on episode three, I can see how well they weave a story together. Each episode is so well-crafted that it was hard to tear myself away. I recommend this show.

The Sopranos

I never really watched this the first time around so I thought I would give it a try. For those under a rock, The Sopranos is the story of a mob boss who starts suffering from panic attacks and starts therapy. It is an interesting combination of family drama, comedy, and crime shows. James Gandolfini is absolutely magnetically charming as the lead, Tony Soprano. Lorraine Bracco is so clever as the therapist who is trying to deal with an out-of-the-ordinary patient. There is a whole huge cast of characters backing the show and all of them add so much to the story. The show is shot beautifully and even the weakest parts of it are entertaining. I recommend this show.

Gangster Squad

I have a soft spot for team-up movies. Not only Marvel movies but stuff like the Oceans franchise, The Italian Job, The Untouchables, and so on. I remember looking forward to this movie when I saw trailers but the release was marred by real-world gun violence. I lost track of it but I am glad I found it again. This movie is about a gang of cops who join together to engage in black ops against the mob in LA. It has an all-star cast. Josh Brolin plays a hard-nosed soldier turned cop. Ryan Gosling plays a carefree goofball cop with a mission. Emma Stone plays a damsel in distress with a good head on her shoulders. Sean Penn plays a devilish gangster. Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, and Giovanni Ribisi round out the cast. The movie has a great plot that slow burns and is mixed with action and a little bit of comedy. It has a great throwback feel to it. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

MAGNETIC SPACEMEN – Globetrotter

Deadletter – Pop Culture Connoisseur

The Phantone Coop – Don’t Be Afraid

Rhodes Rodosu – Dizzy Dream

Mashup of the Week:

Tufos Mashups – Judas Feels Bad

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Crime Time”
I started watching Doom Patrol Season 4

A Talking Cat!? (Genshin Impact)

November 8, 2021

Genshin Impact (which I’ve posted about previously) is a cross-platform, anime-inspired game that I play on mobile. It has a metric ton of characters that add to a rich tapestry of emotional storytelling. Stories are told through a series of quests where you often get to know several (NPCs) non-player characters through dialogue and action. Sometimes you are saving the world and sometimes you are helping somebody with their errands. Some of these quests are funny, some are exciting, some are sad, and most of them tend to mix a lot of emotions together. One such series of quests is called Neko Means Cat.

The quest line is actually completely optional as it is an offshoot of an actual story quest. In the world of Genshin Impact, your travels bring you to the islands collectively known as Inazuma. Inazuma is definitely heavily inspired by Japanese culture and folklore. Your goal in Inazuma is to deal with the thunder goddess Ei who is also Inazuma’s shogun (military/political ruler) and see if you can convince her to be a more benevolent ruler and also help you on your main quest line. This goddess (who is only the latest in a line of thunder deities) is worshipped at shrines that scatter the Inazuman islands. Your adventures lead you to Serai island.

Serai Island once suffered a calamity. It was here that the legendary thunderbird, a former thunder deity was slain by Ei after the thunderbird destroyed two of Inazuma’s islands including Serai. The fallout from their battle left Serai island with a perpetual raging magical lightning storm at its center. The player teams with two adventurers named Eiko and Taisuke to solve the riddle of how to get to the center of the island to resolve the magical threat. The two adventurers inform you that four warding stones must be activated to allow you to pass through safely to the center and far above Serai (where you eventually slay a memory of the thunderbird and vanquish the magical storm). They have no idea how the warding stones work but, acting on a hunch, you follow some mysterious footprints.

Following the footprints brings you to Asase Shrine, a small building built into once was the trunk of a mighty tree but is now a stump. When you approach the shrine you are saluted by a talking cat!? The cat introduces itself as Neko and the provisional head priestess of Asase Shrine. Neko knows how to operate the warding stones but asks for your help before she will teach you. The actual head priestess, Hibiki, is away, and in her absence, the shrine has become rundown. She has you repair the offering box so that when Hibiki returns, there will be many donations in the box. After you complete the task, she teaches you how to operate the warding stones. It is a cute little aside in an otherwise serious quest.

However, I stumbled upon the rest of it randomly by stopping by to see Neko again. It turns out that she has a whole list of things she wants done around the shrine to prepare for Hibiki’s return. Once you complete a task, a new one is not available until the next real-world day. So, each day you log in after the start, you get to have a new dialogue with the talking cat and do some simple fetch quests for her. She has you clean up piles of leaves, do more carpentry work, decorating, gathering Neko’s kittens, and feeding Neko and her kittens. One of the big quests she has for you is to find a stone worker to create a statue in Neko’s shape. You bring an artisan to her shrine and the startled artist agrees to make the statue. After the shrine is all fixed up, Neko will grow impatient waiting for Hibiki (remember it’s been at least a week since you started the quest line).

You travel to the largest shrine in Inazuma and speak to the priestess there. You inquire after Hibiki and the priestess tells you a story of a Hibiki who was famous over four hundred years ago. That Hibiki suffered a setback and set sail back toward Asase Shrine but obviously never made it back. Neko is confused and you are able to prevent the priestess from declaring that Hibiki is probably dead. Neko wishes to go back home to Asase Shrine and wait for Hibiki, muttering to herself that Hibiki sure likes to go where she pleases. It is left a mystery about what happened to Hibiki but it does not look good.

Neko is a really fun character. Neko basically acts with the personality that most of us project onto cats. She is somewhat imperious but ultimately kind and loyal. She orders you and the stone carver around but she is obviously not mean about it. She just expects you to do what she tells you. She marvels at the things that humans waste their time on and does not completely understand how the shrine or other human things operate. She seems quite contented with herself and lounges around the abandoned Asase Shrine with a host of other cats and kittens. Everybody who meets Neko (you, your fairy companion, the two adventurers, the stone carver, and the priestess) are astonished that she can talk. Talking cats are not normal, apparently. She is also apparently over four hundred years old. None of that seems to be weird to Neko and she chides people for wasting time wondering at such things.


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