Media Update 8/6/2020

August 6, 2020


Muppets Now

I have been a rabid fan of the Muppets since I first watched The Muppet Show as a kid. I have consumed every bit of Muppet content since that first exposure. I love the Muppets. Some people were turned off by Muppets Tonight and the recent The Muppets (2015). People may have been thrown by the different formats. This new show is styled as a web show with the Muppets putting together show segments. For example, the first episode has Lifesty(le) with Miss Piggy, Okey Dokey Kookin with Swedish Chef, Muppet Masters hosted by Walter, and Mup Close and Personal hosted by Kermit. The central figure of the show is Scooter who is trying to upload the show while chatting with Muppets characters. It has the same Muppet comedy and I really enjoyed myself a lot. The whole cast (including new additions like Walter) seems to be up for grabs and I could not be happier with the show. The first episode had human guests including Taye Diggs, Linda Cardellini, Carlina Will, and Ru Paul. I cannot wait to see what future episodes will bring. I definitely recommend this show.


Scoob!

Scooby-Doo is another franchise that I have been into since I was a kid. The original animation was cheap but the voice acting, ghosts, and comedy carried it through. The various iterations through the years have kept the story fresh and made the franchise iconic. This movie is a gentle facelift and the first movie to bring it fully into CGI animation. I think the art style gives it a new coat of paint but keeps it faithful to the old art style. The whole movie is actually a love letter to Hanna Barbera in general. The story has Mystery Incorporated mixing it up with Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dick Dastardly, Muttley, Dee Dee Sykes, and Captain Caveman. This is supposed to set up a new Hanna Barbera shared universe. The voice acting was really good with a mostly new actor for every character. Talent like Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Mark Wahlberg, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Tracy Morgan, Ken Jeong, Kiersey Clemons, and the legendary Frank Welker. It was an exciting story with plenty of good comedy. I definitely recommend it.


Perry Mason

I never watched the original Perry Mason but have heard it referred to often from legal professionals. I was intensely interested to see what this new show might be. It follows the titular character working as a private investigator who primarily works for a defense attorney. Matt Rhys plays Mason, a rundown man who is a brilliant investigator but the rest of his life is falling apart. He works for an attorney played by John Lithgow who is barely recognizable. The rest of the cast is great and the show is pure Film Noir. The lighting is dark but also the subject matter is as well. I will spoil just a tiny bit here and say that the show involves a child murder mystery. It gets a bit graphic similar to The Alienist. The show also dwells a lot on Mason’s PTSD from being in the trenches of the Great War. The show is dark but we shall see if it picks up since this is supposed to be an origin story for the legendary defense attorney himself. I recommend it but be careful since it is very dark.

Music of the Week:
Poppy – BLOODMONEY

Kim Petras – Heart to Break

Yung Bae – Must Be Love

Five Finger Death Punch – Inside Out

Boy Danger – Tightrope ft. Gitau

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Bringing it Back”
– I watched more Elementary Season 2
– I watched more Hannibal Season 1
– I watched more Riverdale Season 4
-I watched more Batwoman Season 1
– I watched more Scientology and the Aftermath
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 5
– I watched more Harley Quinn Season 1
– I started The Umbrella Academy Season 2
– I started watching Unsolved Mysteries (2020)

Psychonauts/Hollow Knight/Risk of Rain

August 3, 2020

So I have been playing more video games. It is a great release when I reach home after a day at work or something to do inside while it is so hot outside. I can only take so long of a walk outside these days before I start melting. I have to plug Good Old Games (gog.com) because that is where I have found many cheap PC games. Despite all this game playing, I have been pretty productive writing entries here on the blog. I am even writing a story and banking it to be released here later, probably when I need a vacation or if something comes up. I have also officially started writing for my Halloween event as well. Playing new video games has been inspiring me and allows me to zone out and let things swirl around before I write.


Psychonauts

The first game I will talk about is my replay of Psychonauts, this time on PC instead of Playstation 2. I bought it so that I have it saved on the cloud instead of relying on my physical copy and also it was cheap. I had played the game a couple times so I pretty much zoomed through it. The game is great, produced by Double Fine whose employees previously had made a lot of point and click adventure games for LucasArts. The game combines some of the structure of a traditional adventure game with a fun beat-em-up combat system. The game follows a young kid named Razputin who sneaks into a psychic summer camp run by superhero spies. You get to interact with your fellow campers while trying to get to the bottom of an insidious mystery. The main construct of the game is that you are able to enter the minds of people at camp and navigate their anxieties, their fears, their complexes, and try to help them fix things. It is really a surprisingly sweet game with a goofy and surreal sense of humor. The sequel should be coming out soon so I wanted to refresh my memory.


Hollow Knight

I actually had not added this game to my list despite how ‘beautiful’ it is because I knew that it was a very difficult game. I tend to shy away from notoriously hard games because they can be frustrating and I do not want to feel like I am banging my head against the wall. The price was dropped to a shockingly low level and I could not pass it up. I fired up the game and immediately there was a learning curve. The game was definitely difficult but I kept at it and my fingers started to learn the way the character moved. I died a lot. Over and over I died but never did any of it feel unfair. I always felt like I had almost gotten it and I was surprised whenever I got past a part that had previously stymied me. Part of what helped me was that the game saves often so when I needed to step back, I could do so quickly. However, I constantly found myself eager to go back to the challenge since I felt like I was so close.

The game is a Metroidvania game set in a world of insects. While all of the characters are insects (or arachnids or worms), the story is high fantasy. You play as a mysterious creature who has no memory and yet wanders into the town of Dirtmouth. You carry a nail at your side which you use as a sword. As you play, you meet many characters who help you to learn who and what you are and what your role is in stopping an ancient curse. The underground kingdom used to be made up of a diverse alliance of beings. The moths have departed, the mantises still defend the kingdom in the deep, and the spiders are corrupted. Every environment is beautifully crafted even though many would think it gross because of all the bugs. Like most Metroidvania games, the gameplay involves a lot exploring and backtracking once you have found keys or new abilities.

The game possibly the most difficult thing I have had to do in a video game. There is a platforming section called The White Palace which is optional but I wanted to try it to get a better ending. You must use double jumps, dashes, wall climbing, pogo jumps, and more to make it through an incredibly difficult course. One misstep leads to death and having to start the segment over again. By the time I made it through, my hands hurt and my mind was fuzzy. It was so zen and exhilarating to finish. It was actually fairly anti-climactic when I beat the game after that because I had already been through the worst. Most of the game involves having to fight numerous bosses most of which are undead insects. I did not finish 100% of the game but I may pick up again down the line but man, I need a break from that game.


Risk of Rain

I picked up a few other games lately and one that was dirt cheap was one I had seen touted by a streamer I am a fan of. I had no idea what the game was about but I was game to give it a shot, fresh from my victory with Hollow Knight. Risk of Rain is a 16-bit roguelike game in a science fiction setting. You are meant to fail over and over and explore to unlock things in the game and make it easier. The game is fairly simple to start, you face an unending onslaught of enemies designed to wear you down. You pick up powerups and upgrades to get stronger so you can make it through levels to the end of the game. It is a fun little game and I am really just getting started in figuring it out.

The story is that you were aboard a spaceship hauling cargo when it started to blow up and you are forced to flee to a random planet via an escape pod. You have to fight your way to teleportation gates that jump you to a ship to get back into space. The way that goes depends on what character you choose to play as. You start as The Commando but I have unlocked several characters so far. I have unlocked The Enforcer, The Engineer, The Rogue, the Sniper, a robot Loader, a combat robot, a robotic chef, and an acid-based alien. I still have a few left to unlock but I am slowly getting it done. Each character has a completely different play style. There are melee and ranged characters. Each new character leads me to basically relearn the game and some characters just are not my style. Still, I’ll keep giving it a shot.

Koshain

August 1, 2020

(I thought I would update information on one of the fictional lands of my fantasy setting which kinda sort of is still a D&D campaign setting.)

Koshain is a desert nation in the middle of the continent of Aldona. The land of Koshain is cursed with a desert climate due to the fallout from the events that occurred in what is now the neighboring nation of Khull. The magical fallout created a harsh atmosphere full of sandstorms and cloudless skies allowing for oppressive heat. Lesser nations might have been driven out but Koshain adapted their way of life several millennia ago. Many residents of the nation fell back to live in the more stable city centers where they could find shelter from the wind. Farming moved underground where magic helped sustain a lot of agriculture. However, in the transition, insects native to Koshain went on the menu and remain a delicacy for the rich and a necessity for the poor.

Others set up a system of nomadic life where people keep moving to keep ahead of the sandstorms. The constant movement helped in establishing a massive trade network that was needed to obtain foodstuffs and goods that were no longer readily available in Koshain. Dwarven stone-cut outposts set themselves up as outposts and shelters for trading caravans. The dwarves also found rich deposits of jewels and ore that became very useful for trading, allowing the nation to have a chance of survival and eventually led to success. However, the trade-based economy led to a large gap between classes. City trade barons and aristocrats (often the same thing) became richer and their workers were stuck under their collective thumb. This eventually led to a large criminal contingent who view themselves as freedom fighters and revolutionaries instead of villains.

At some point, the Koshani people adopted specially formulated face paint to keep their skin from burning. The lower class just slathered on one color while the rich often painted their faces in ostentatious multicolor art pieces. Face painting has evolved into an elaborate social status ritual with different classes and families following different patterns. A millennia ago, Koshain suffered from a horrible plague that killed many of its citizens. To combat this respiratory sickness, Koshani people adopted face masks as protection. The lower classes strapped on cheap masks and soldiered on. Once again, the rich went in an artistic and showy direction and had beautiful masks designed to hide their faces away from the world. When the plague subsided, the poor discarded their masks (except when traveling in sandstorms) but the rich kept their tradition. Criminal leaders adopted masks that are almost parodies of the masks of the wealthy.

Because of the large criminal population in the cities, the capital of Corren is also the home to the world’s greatest lock designers (and consequently the greatest lockpickers). The criminal element is broken down into different guilds who have each declared themselves as autonomous factions separate from the governance of the rulers of Koshain. The various thieves guilds compete with one another but are definitely also aligned with each other against the upper class. Alliances are common between the guilds and crews often encounter each other while out on the job. For example, a second crew might show up during a heist and would decide to distract law enforcement to obtain a later favor from a guild. The enemy of their enemy is often their friend.

Speaking of the rulers of Koshain, there is a Koshani King that passes through generations through biological children (legitimate or not). The King is the ruler, never the Queen although the Queen is revered as a celebrity. The truth is that it does not matter as much who is King. The King often consults a council in order to make decisions which is made up of the heads of the most profitable trading empires. Aristocrats often buy their titles and pass them down through the generations. These titles are much less restricted by gender as it is recognized that women and nonbinary people can be shrewd in business. The King rarely makes major decisions without economic input.

Media Update 7/30/20

July 30, 2020


See You Yesterday

This had been on my list for quite some time and I had to jump on it this week thanks to the theme. I also wanted to finally jump on this because it is part of Netflix’s Black Lives Matter collection and I want to encourage that sort of thing. It is definitely related to Black Lives Matter and is super relevant to the current climate. In it, two young inventors struggle to finish their time travel project when a police shooting becomes deadly. The concept of having to go back in time to remove yet another black death from history is impactful. It really frames the problem perfectly and I think would make it clear even for skeptics. Eden Duncan-Smith is fantastic as the young and brilliant high schooler with a bit of a passion problem. Dante Crichlow is great as her friend and partner who also has an eye to the future. Most of the movie is concerned with the chemistry between these two and there is a lot of great chemistry. I also really liked Astro (that’s his whole name) who played the older brother of the main character. I definitely recommend this movie as it is very much worth watching.


Palm Springs

I was extremely excited when I found out that Lonely Island was producing another movie. Pop Star was such a fun movie with heart that I will always check out what these guys do. Andy Samberg has made some career moves that I have questioned but when he is with his friends, he almost always succeeds. I also found out that Quyen Tran was the cinematographer, a person who came to my attention through Critical Role but who is a great artist in her own right. The movie is a time loop movie but manages to make the idea fresh again and plays with it really well. Samberg is great as the hapless boob resigned to the loop. I was not familiar with Cristin Milioti but she was great as the more cynical and curious young woman. JK Simmons was fantastic but I have never seen him be anything but. I was also surprised to see two CW stars who I love Camila Mendes (Riverdale) and Tyler Hoechlin (Supergirl, Superman and Lois). I definitely recommend this movie as it was silly but it has heart like a lot of Lonely Island projects.


The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time

Asylum is a weird movie studio that has a long and weird history of really crappy movies (although last week I reviewed one of their TV shows). They started to draw attention by creating cheap knockoffs of Hollywood blockbusters and quickie movies adapted from public domain stories. A lot of their ideas come long after somebody else originally had them. However, Sharknado was a different animal altogether. It was not well-made but it made a splash with how over-the-top ridiculous it was. As the franchise progressed, it leaned in to being as crazy and trite as it could be. As the phenomenon grew, they crammed more and more B and C list cameos in. This movie is no different except that it also includes time travel. I will say that the medieval segment took the cake for most awful people in it with both Marina Sirtis and Neil Degrasse Tyson sharing scenes. Also, Ben Stein as Alexander Hamilton was a mistake. I mean, I see where they were coming from but ugh. Anyway, it was a crazy franchise and I recommend it for the spectacle and insanity but don’t pay for it.

 

Music of Week:
Gorillaz – PAC-MAN

Watsky – Undermine

Deorro – Rise and Shine

ONUKA – ZENIT

K.O.Y – Baltimore

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “It’s About Time”
– I watched more Elementary Season 2
– I watched more Watcher videos
– I watched more Hannibal Season 1
– I watched more Riverdale Season 4
– I watched more Z Nation Season 1
-I watched more Batwoman Season 1
– I watched more Scientology and the Aftermath
– I watched The Couch: Baby Blue (my friend was in it!)
– I finished Supergirl Season 5
– I finished Black Lightning Season 3
– I finished Legends of Tomorrow Season 5
– I started Rizzoli and Isles Season 5

30-Day Challenge: Songs Pt. 2

July 27, 2020


7 – A song to drive to

When I was living in New Jersey and driving my broken down white Saturn, I used to love to listen to this one as I drove. It has the perfect mix of calm and upbeat to really get me into a groove. It is also really fun to sing along to. I actually first listened to it on the road when I worked for the circus. Sitting shotgun in a mack truck, dozing a bit from exhaustion and listening to easy listening classic rock. The Eagles rock but they never really rock too hard and it was always pleasant to listen to them on the road. I remember listening to them on the long drives from Northern Jersey home to Baltimore when I was furloughed or for the holidays.


8 – A song about drugs or alcohol

Buckcherry was the music that I would play loud in my room during my middle school and high school years when I was angry. I would sing along and get it all out of my system. In retrospect, it was not so healthy to stew in it like that but teenage angst paired with an anxiety and anger problem is not pretty. The driving guitar and metal-style singing reminded me of a mixture of heavy metal with hair metal with a garage band edge. The band is very good at churning out problematic lyrics (see their song “Crazy Bitch”) but their songs are definitely bangers.


9 – A song that makes you happy

Ninja Sex Party is a band that I discovered on YouTube just as they were starting to really take off and thus the production values of their videos were getting better. Music Videos kind of died a while ago but some artists have kept the flame alive. All of NSP’s videos tell a story visually and lyrically. Danny Sexbang (Danny Avidan) is just so joyful with his lyrics and plays an obliviously happy character. I love the bouncy composition that Ninja Brian (Brian Wecht) came up with for this one as well. It is so catchy and easy to sing along to. I will always be a fan of this band and I remember well seeing them live before they really started touring. I also met Brian Wecht briefly once.

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10 – A song that makes you sad

In my opinion, the most overrated song in the history of music so far. I have really grown to dislike this song. It is slow and pointless and has never been fun to listen to. It made me hate Led Zeppelin for years until I learned to listen to their more upbeat and uptempo songs. I do not even consider it a rock song because it does not rock.


11 – A song you never get tired of

When the Gorillaz came on the scene they were a revelation. I was instantly a fan and the more I learned and listened, the more of a fan I became. They are a supergroup made up of many top musicians in rock, electronic, and rap. It had a punk rock feel to it and that was definitely supported by the animation style furnished by Jamie Hewlett (of Tank Girl fame). Because the band was made up of fictional characters, any musician could enter or exit the band for any song and create without being tied to their particular style. Their first album was probably the first that I listened all the way through without ever skipping a track. It was basically a perfect album and this was my favorite song off of it. Part of that is due to Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s rap breaks. The music just comes together so well.


12 – A song from your preteen years

I was a bit of a bigot when it came to music as a kid. I dismissed rap music but during my preteens and teens, I suddenly saw my folly and embraced rap and hip hop culture. I had bought into previous generations’ racist and classist take on rap. However, I was raised better than that and during this time I started to rebel against everything I thought I had believed. Part of that process started with Tupac Shakur, a fellow Baltimorean who had made it big out in California. His style was the quintessential style in rap that I would grow to love. His samples and flow were upbeat and just what I wanted to hear. His lyrics were brilliant the way they fit together like puzzle pieces so tightly. Tupac led me to artists like NWA, Busta Rhymes, Pharoah Monch, and so many more.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 4

July 25, 2020

The Imperial Palace had burned halfway to the ground and little gray creatures were scrambling all over the place trying to put things back together. A lone figure stood on the roof looking out over the land. She was gaunt yet imperious and green eyes shone brightly set in her grayish-green face with blood-red lipstick. Her black cloak had purple accents and her headdress had curious-looking horns. She carried an ornate gold staff with a yellowish crystal. The staff had been recently reconstructed and the fractures had been filled in with silver. The enchantments were even stronger than they had been before. The woman was brooding as she glared over the countryside.

“Mistress Maleficent,” a deep, gravelly voice suddenly sounded beside her. She turned and saw one of her minions, carrying a spear and wearing a spiked helmet. The thing looked timid yet puffed up its chest to try to appear brave. “The rebuilding process is going smoothly.”

“It’s Empress Maleficent now,” Maleficent said. “Is that all that you came here to tell me? Go back down and get back to work.”

“There was a question of the dragons, your imperialness,” the creature asked. “They are all over but they don’t really look like you do in all of your magnificence.”

“Yes, yes,” Maleficent with a sigh. “They have different ones here. Tear them all down, replace them with images of me.”

“Um,” the minion hesitated. “in your dragon form or your most beautiful and splendid um fairy form?”

“Do I have to tell you everything?” Maleficent said, practically spitting the words at this lowly creature. “Put both up. This country is now mine. Remind the people of this.”

“Yes Empress,” the minion said, groveling and bowing. “May you reign forever. I will go make sure that your orders are law.”

“And make sure that any military or any so-called heroes are eliminated,” Maleficent said. “String them up as an example to the rest. I will not have a repeat of earlier events.”

“You mean with Aurora and Phillip?” the minion asked.

Green flame erupted around them in a perfect circle. “Do not utter those names again or I will roast you where you stand,” Maleficent said. “Spread the word. I will rule this new world.”

“Yes, your wonderfulness!” the minion managed to stammer. He ran away as soon as the fire receded and started yelling out orders for rebuilding.

Maleficent smiled to herself. It was good to inspire such fear again. Now all she had to do was continue to conquer this land. She would not leave herself open to the same vulnerabilities this time. She had meticulously worked a spell to banish all magical creatures besides herself and her minions from the land. She sensed very little magic left in the land that was not her particular brand of darkness and fire. She could devastate any army with her dragon form with the support of her magic and her idiot minions. They may have been stupid but they were good muscle and loyal. This time, no other fairies would meddle in her affairs or dull her curses.

She still did not know how she had gotten to this place. She remembered the stabbing pain of Phillip’s sword in her chest. She remembered her own green flame erupting everywhere around her as she thrashed and tried to tear the prince apart. She remembered the ground falling away under her and then blackness. When she opened her eyes she was floating in the void, her shattered scepter floated in front of her. She was confused. Was she still alive or had she returned to life? Was this something else entirely?

As these thoughts had been rushing through her mind, she heard a voice from the darkness. It presented her with an old oil lamp made of some blackened metal. She could sense a great, dark power inside of it. There was some horrible curse on it. Some creature was trapped inside of it or had been trapped inside of it. The voice told her to consume it. She tried to argue but the voice was insistent. The lamp would restore all of her power and add to it as well. The allure of more power was enticing. She transformed into a dragon and easily swallowed the lamp whole. She could feel it burning inside of her and she grew stronger. Wounds closed, her staff reformed itself and she felt like she could swallow the world at that moment.

She was briefly introduced to two other women, vastly inferior to her but powerful in their own right. One was underwater and an octopus monstrosity and the other was a bony looking witch. She sensed they shared her ambitions for their own worlds. A door opened and the voice called on her to conquer. She had. However, now that the flurry of violence and destruction had abated, she was left to wonder who her benefactor had been. Was there a grander plan? Maleficent did not like feeling like a pawn but first things first, China would burn.

Media Update 7/23/20

July 23, 2020


The Old Guard

Charlize Theron is definitely the best female action star and quite possibly may be the best action star full stop. She is at the very least top ten. I adored her in Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, Mindhunter, Aeon Flux, and the Fate of the Furious. She has such a commanding presence that studios should definitely be using her like crazy. In this, she is an immortal soldier who leads a squad of immortal soldiers who travel around as freedom fighters. They have to face off against a pharmaceutical company who is targetting them specifically. Theron is the grizzled soldier who has been living for several millennia. Relative newcomer KiKi Layne is the young upstart who is new to the team and the immortal life. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a well-meaning researcher who has evidence of the team. Harry Melling is a Martin Shkreli-type pharma bro. The story is based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka who also created the awesome Stumptown comic and worked on Wonder Woman. The story is very well-told and the characters really resonate. The action scenes are some of the best I have ever seen. I definitely recommend it.


Harley Quinn (2019)

This is the new animated series that premiered last year. This series actually comes off as a mix of a comic book show and a sitcom with the characters constantly getting into awkward situations. The humor is very R-rated with plenty of gore, cursing, and craziness. The show is centered around Harley’s attempts to strike out on her own after breaking up with Joker. She is living with Poison Ivy as she tries to get her life together. The supervillains of Gotham come off as petty and cliquish and it is very funny. The show also goes pretty deep into the roster of DC Comics characters and also pokes fun at previous Batman projects. I am interested to watch the character’s arcs and see the jokes they come up with. The show is definitely pretty graphically violent but not overly much for most people, I think. It also has an all-star cast including Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Alan Tudyk, Ron Funches, Diedrich Bader, Christopher Meloni, JB Smoove, Jim Rash, and so many more. I recommend this show.


Z Nation

I had seen this show available for streaming for quite a while but I kept passing it by. I think mostly because of The Walking Dead. This show is definitely not TWD. This show focuses more on the zombies and follows more than one storyline and the characters have more goals than just surviving. They need to get an asymptomatic carrier across the country in order to study his blood. They are guided by the last surviving member of the NSA, a computer geek played by DJ Qualls. There does not seem to be a star of the show yet as everybody gets a little time in the spotlight here and there. But I would go with Kellita Smith as a former National Guard member who seems to almost have fun in the apocalypse. I also really like the silent sniper character played by Nat Zang. Anastasia Baranova plays the group’s tech expert and I really like her style. I love to hate Keith Allan as the wise-cracking criminal whose blood is so important. There are plenty of other characters but I am trying not to get too attached in case some of them die. The show has a lot of action but also has offbeat humor mixed in with the drama. I recommend the show but be warned it is fairly gory.

Music of the Week:
Tyler the Creator – A Boy is a Gun

TOOL – Fear Inoculum

Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B – MotorSport

Vice Girl – They Live, We Sleep

BRADIO-幸せのシャナナ

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Get Yourself a Crew”
– I watched more Elementary Season 2
– I watched more Watcher videos
– I watched more Supergirl Season 5
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 4
– I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 5
– I watched more Hannibal Season 1
– I finished The Flash Season 6
– I watched Ooga Booga
– I watched Head of the Family
– I watched Dollman
– I watched Supersonic Man (Rifftrax version)
– I watched Dolls (2019)

 

30-Day Challenge: Songs Pt. 1

July 20, 2020


1 – A song you like with the color in the title

Paint it Black may well be my favorite Rolling Stones song. It has a faster tempo than a lot of their songs driven by a killer drum beat and a great guitar riff. It also features a lot more toned down vocals form Mick Jagger than he usually sings. One of the funny things about this song is that it really gets me going even though it is about grief and depression. This is a song that I have heard since I was a kid because my dad was way into the Rolling Stones. However, my passion for it was reignited after its prominent use in the video game Twisted Metal Black which really fit the tone. I also really liked the french version used in Talladega Nights. Runner up (since black is technically not a color) is Mr. Blue Sky, a great upbeat tune.


2 – A song you like with a number in the title

I have to go with Seven Nation Army because of the Ravens. The song was not written for Baltimore (although a lyric mentions my hometown) but we certainly adopted it as our own. The signature guitar riff has grown from Ravens games to Orioles games and has taken over as an almost soccer-like chant. It has also recently been used as a chant in support of pro-wrestler Keith Lee (“Oh, Bask in his Glory!”). Independent of sports, the song is just a lot of fun. Like the above song, it has a driving beat that fires me up. I have no great love for the White Stripes but they do have some fun uptempo bangers. Part of that with this song is the fairly simple seven-note riff mixed with Meg White’s “heartbeat” tempo. I also like the vocals that Jack White uses here. They are distorted and, as much as I respect a pure singer, the sound designer in me loves filters and distortion used musically.


3 – A song that reminds you of summertime

I picked this song because of the summer I spent outside doing labor as a campaign staff member tasked with helping to put up 4X8 campaign signs. It involved a lot of carpentry but even more swinging of sledgehammers (which I already had experience in from the circus). We rode around in a big pickup truck and tried to beat the heat. One of the ways we kept our spirits up was listening to pop music and my mind keeps drifting back to that particular year in music. This was the summer that I fell in love with Katy Perry’s music and this song, in particular, reminds me of summer. The song is bouncy, fun, and has a great little rap insert from the legendary Snoop Dogg (before he became Snoop Lion for a bit).


4 – A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

I mean, I do not want to forget the man who I called my father since I was two years old. However, there is a version of him that I would love to forget. He is an alcoholic and that version of him never felt good. Now, I still love this song but there was a time when all it did was remind me of my father’s demons. Plenty of people are able to drink recreationally without issue but I never really got into songs that glorified excessive drinking. I hold out hope that my father will exorcise his demons again but I remain realistic. As to the song itself, I particularly love Nicki Minaj’s rap portion of the song as this was my introduction to her style.


5 – A song that needs to be played loud

I was tempted to write in NWA’s “Fuck the Police” here but you probably should not do so without backup and a sturdy recording device. Instead, I have to give love to a band that I have loved since I could pick my own music. I did not give them love during last Wednesday’s trivia night but I can give them a bit of love now. Pretty much any AC/DC song can be and should be played just below the threshold of pain. I listened to a lot of their music on repeat (on headphones) during high school (mostly Greatest Hits and Stiff Upper Lip). I think I will go with Highway to Hell because the song has played such a part in amusing me and firing me up through the years. There have been so many times that I have been driving toward something and the song starts playing and I have to chuckle. Sometimes the title is accurate and sometimes it is not at all accurate but it never fails to get a reaction from me. The driving guitar riffs and wailing vocals are hard to deny.


6 – A song that makes you want to dance

I mean, I do not really dance. Not in public but I do bop a bit and the most dance-like movements I make are usually in the shower while I am listening to upbeat music. As a huge Disney fan, I fell in love with the lore, style, and especially the poppy music of the Descendants franchise. Steven Vincent has been on board as a songwriter for all three Descendants movies (but strangely not the TV Show) and he has only gotten better with each movie in the trilogy. Part of his success is he has some of the greatest young performers that Disney could probably have gotten their hands on. I have become especially enamored of Sofia Carson’s vocal style (although China Ann McClain is the better singer). This song is probably my all-time favorite of the whole franchise. The lyrics are extremely relevant to both the fairytale setting but also the apprehension that all young couples face. The bops in the Descendants franchise seem almost scientifically designed to get your toe tapping so it is no wonder it makes me wiggle.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 3

July 18, 2020

Mulan was a little surprised when Yao hugged her when she entered the hastily assembled war room of the fort. The usually grumpy Yao pushed away after only a moment but was still grinning from ear to ear. Mulan found herself smiling even though Shang was still down in the medical tent. Mulan, Shang, Yao, Chien-Po, and Ling had been through a lot of adventures together. It made Mulan’s heartache and worry about Khan and Mushu who were still missing in action. Still, it was good to be in a stable environment with a friend in front of her although they were not always exactly friendly.

“Mulan!” Yao croaked out in his somewhat raspy voice. “I am so glad to see you. I was worried about a lot of our friends and the Emperor’s forces. I made it here with some of our soldiers but I am out of my element in command.”

“You seem to have done pretty well,” Mulan said. “The soldiers looked orderly and the fort is running smoothly and is fortified.”

“Do you know where Shang is?” Yao asked. “He could take over. He could even counterattack through this chaos.”

Mulan took a deep breath. “My husband is in the medical tent,” she said. “He is injured and unconscious but I am hopeful that he will recover.”

“I’m sorry,” Yao said. “I have great respect for General Shang.”

“We all do,” Mulan said. “Is that white healer really any good?” She instinctively looked over her shoulder back toward the medical tent. Her husband had been in pretty bad shape but she had thought him dead before and had been glad to have been wrong. Shang was a fighter and she had to count on that.

“Yes,” Yao said. “I wouldn’t have put her in charge there if she wasn’t. Rapunzel has magic when it comes to healing and she’s so damned perky it’s hard to beat her optimism. It kind of gives me the creeps. We rescued these foreigners and they have come in useful. They all claim to be royalty so it made sense to let them make themselves comfortable. In return, they have helped us operate more smoothly without trying to take over. Believe me, I tried with that Aladdin.”

“He seems capable but I’m not sure if we can trust them that far,” Mulan said. “As far as we know this is the last major holdout after the attack on the Imperial City.”

“Then you should take over, Mulan,” Yao said. “You’d be a much better leader.”

“I’m not even officially in the military,” Mulan said. “I don’t know if that’s proper.”

“You’re an advisor to the Emperor!” Yao said.

“I turned that post down. Remember?” Mulan asked. “I’ve helped out in an unofficial capacity but I don’t really have the skills to lead here.”

“Who cares?” Yao said. “You’re a hero of China. They’ll accept you. Your country needs you Mulan and I know you have always stepped forward.”

“That’s hardly fair,” Mulan said. “I’ll do what it can but I’m not sure if that isn’t too far.”

“It’ll work,” Yao said. “You’ll be better at it than I am.”

“Fine. If the soldiers agree then I will lead until Shang can take over,” Mulan said. “He is much better in command and I am much better at doing my own thing. It’s how we work.”

“It’s a deal,” Yao said excitedly. “I’m sure you won’t have to shoulder the burden for long. Shang will be up on his feet quick. Where should we start boss?”

Mulan sighed. “I guess I should meet with these foreigners and get the lay of the land,” she said. “I have to admit to being very curious. How many are there?”

“Only four so far,” Yao said. “Rapunzel is a healer and spends most of her time in the medical tent although she’s handy elsewhere. Anna is a really hard worker and apparently really well-read and is always there with a helping hand. Aladdin is an accomplished fighter and he and his carpet have been going on scouting missions to bring back more survivors.”

“What about the one up in the tower?” Mulan asked. “The one whose speech I can barely understand.”

“Merida is a wild woman but is a crack shot with a bow,” Yao said. “She’s better than anybody I saw in the military and that includes you, Mulan.” He caught a look in her eye. “But not by that much.”

“She needs to learn more manners,” Mulan said. “but it is good to have an accomplished warrior keeping a wary eye on anybody who approaches.”

Media Update 7/16/20

July 16, 2020


Hannibal

I had watched a little of this show at some point but I never really gave it a fair shot because it was not accessible. I have read all of the Thomas Harris books where the character of Hannibal Lecter was created. This show is a reimagining of the three books and the movies. It is really neat because the movies had different directors, screenwriters, and tones. To have it all under one banner gives things more of a unified direction. The show follows Will Graham (the protagonist of Red Dragon) as he works to catch serial killers. Hannibal Lecter (played brilliantly by Mads Mikkelsen) has decided to help out but obviously has an ulterior motive. He is a shark swimming around and pushing buttons. Laurence Fishburne plays Jack Crawford, Will’s boss and Lecter’s friend. Caroline Dhavernas plays Alana Bloom, a psychology professor who tries to keep Will stable. The show explores the twisted world of serial killers in a very pretty artistic way. Seriously, the crime scenes are often disgusting but they are also gorgeous. I recommend this show.


Dark

This is a German show but I have started watching it dubbed in English (since Netflix provides that service). The show is a science fiction show that deals with time travel and disappearances in a small town. I am not that far into it but there are a ton of characters including adults, teens, and children. The town is reeling from a suicide and a child disappearance. On the edge, the town is in for much worse events that may be repeating things from back in the late 80s. It is an interesting show that slowly works through dozens of interconnected threads. I am interested to see where this one goes. I am not sure if this actually involves time travel or just weird stuff with time and space. It may be something else entirely. It is rare that I am so lost on the premise of a show but also excited about it. There are a lot of characters and plot threads to keep track of but it may be very rewarding to do so. I recommend it as well.


The Alienist

The concept of this show is that it is set in 1896 in New York City. The show covers the dawn of modern crimefighting techniques that use psychology and forensics. It mixes both fictional characters with actual figures from history. For example, there is a character based on Alice Stebbins, the first female police officer in New York. Figures like Teddy Roosevelt and JP Morgan are around. Luke Evans plays a reporter who is arrogant and a playboy with connections in the dirtiest parts of town. Dakota Fanning plays the aforementioned first female cop, dealing with misogyny and trying to further her career. They work with Daniel Bruhl who plays the title character, an Alienist which is kind of a special psychologist who specifically examines abnormal psychology. The show is super dark and deals with sexual exploitation and violence toward minors. It is not an easy show to watch but it is pretty fascinating. I recommend the show but it is also pretty gory and not for the faint of heart.

Music of the Week:
Gorillaz – Hollywood

ESKIMO CALLBOY – Nice Boi

Drown This City – Stay Broken

YUNGBLUD – original me

J Balvin X Bad Bunny – Yo Le Llego

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Investigating the Darkness”
– I watched more Elementary Season 2
– I watched more The Flash Season 6
– I watched more Watcher videos
– I watched more Supergirl Season 5
– I watched more Riverdale Season 4
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 4
– I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 5
– I watched more Doom Patrol Season 1
– I watched more Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc. Season 1
– I finished American Vandal Season 1
– I watched Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
– I watched Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
– I watched Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay


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