A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)
I have never read the books by “Lemony Snicket” because I did not hear about them until well after they were released. I think I might have liked them if I had had the chance but instead, my introduction to the franchise (because it is a franchise now) was the 2004 movie. When I was growing up, I was a huge Jim Carrey fan. The 2004 movie was something I watched in 2006, while in the wilds of New Jersey and affirmed that Jim Carrey had grown up a little bit. I thought it was a good movie. This series is so much better. They replaced Carrey with Neil Patrick Harris who knows when to ham it up and when to play it darkly serious. As a result, the whole production shifts into something darker and more disorienting. Even knowing the rough plots of the first three books, I felt like I might not know what was happening next. On top of that, the kids playing the Baudelaire Orphans are awesome. The character actor’s playing Count Olaf’s acting troupe/henchpeople are really brilliant. There are a ton of great actors swooping in and making great cameos or two episode runs. Patrick Warburton (as Lemony Snicket) is the best I have ever heard or seen from him and that includes The Tick. There is a weird rhythm to the show which is both funny and unsettling and they lean into the gimmick hard. I definitely recommend this one.
When I first saw the posters for this movie, I thought it was a cheap kids movie with some bland yet whimsical premise and moved on. However, I have discovered a regularly updated list called 1001 Movies to See Before You Die and this movie made the list in 2011. When I found out that it was on Netflix, I decided to check it out. The Netflix description is horribly bland and would have confirmed my suspicions but thankfully I pressed on. This movie is actually a bit of historical fiction based on a book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is set in the early 1930s in Paris, France. Like most parts of Europe, many adults were still rattled by the Great War but were enjoying a period of relative peace. The movie actually took a while to get into but after a bit, the movie grabbed me and never let go. The movie concerns itself with the early film industry (predating movie stars and the glitz and glamor of Hollywood) and specifically Georges Melies who directed silent films and worked with Houdini’s mentor Robert Houdin. The movie is directed by Martin Scorsese and it shows. The thing is put together in such a way that it builds and builds into an emotional crescendo at the end. I have to give all the credit in the world to Ben Kingsley and the legendary Christopher Lee. Sascha Baron Cohen appears and actually delivers a pretty subtle performance that I did not think he was capable of. I recommend this as it surprised me although be warned that it is a bit long.
I believe I have spoken here about my love for Guillermo Del Toro and the intricate worlds he crafts. He is one of the best writer/creators at building worlds simply by including a lot of background detail and creating beautiful/horrifying imagery. I was surprised when I found out that he had teamed up with Dreamworks to create an all ages show. When I found out what the show was, it made more sense. If you take the Troll Market scenes out of Hellboy 2 and extrapolate that into an animated television show then you can see where Trollhunters comes from. Of course, that is not the whole story. Del Toro is also good at creating relatable characters who talk to each other like human beings. We get a lot of story about the main character’s life as a middle schooler (I assume) who is living with his single mom. His story is actually kind of touching. The other aspect of the show is what made me jump at watching this show this week. The main character’s story is basically the same as a magical girl story (from anime) but he is male. The main character uses magic to transform into fighting form and has to deal with self-doubt, fear and a whole list of swirling emotions so that he can stay in fighting form. I am interested to see where this one goes as I have not watched the entire first part yet but I will. If you like Del Toro and you like stuff similar to How to Train Your Dragon then I recommend this one.
Music of the Week:
– This week’s theme is “Kid Power”
– I am onto Season 6 of The Office
– I am into Season 4 of Parks and Rec
– I am halfway through Season 4 of Arrested Development
– I am still watching Season 2 of Dusk Till Dawn
– I want to see Hidden Figures so bad
– I’m looking forward to pulling from the 1001 list more and more
I like to think of myself as a good writer. Of course, that is all subjective but many people have told me that I am a good writer and that is what I try to be both here and in my professional life. However, I got way too into a game with friends over the weekend and I thought that I would bring it here. My friend launched us into a game of “Explain a Movie Badly” which is the kind of thing I have seen as a hashtag on twitter. So how about I engage in a little purposefully bad writing? I will put a whole bunch of movies here and you can try and guess them from my horrible descriptions. I have found that the game brings out details from movies that people may have forgotten or never even noticed before. All the movies will be ones I have reviewed in one way or another on this blog and there will be a link to the answer below each bad explanation.
A voice actress saves a movie studio.
Can you guess it?
Don’t look at the answer below if you are still thinking.
The answer is Singin’ in the Rain
A job is vacated due to a death and a woman pushes to be the first to claim it.
A young girl becomes clinically depressed.
A man struggles to save Halloween from robots and magic.
A zombie travels a long way for revenge
Three brothers fight off a colorful home invasion.
A high schooler manipulates a girl into changing for him.
Television kills an entire family and a tv star.
A woman fights the effects of aging.
An author hates his past works.
A loser fails his way into a successful nightclub.
These are a few characters or teams that I feel could use their own show or movie. Some of them have already been animated and some of them already have a television show but they could use more. I purposely left out characters who are confirmed to already have a movie or show in the works.
There have already been some allusions to Deadman’s origins when Nanda Parbat was mentioned on Arrow. Boston Brand is a deceased circus performer who clings to the land of the living in order to right wrongs and save the day. While I have really only experienced the character during crossover events, I feel like a lot could be done with this character. In death, he is merely a spirit but he has the power to possess people to use their bodies to accomplish his tasks. He is also often a conduit between the lands of the dead and the living. The problem with putting this on screen is how to depict the possession. Frankly, it could be fun to see a bunch of different actors doing an impression of whoever is playing Deadman. I am not sure if the character could carry a movie on his own but a movie teaming up with somebody like Zatanna or some other mystical DC Comics characters could be fun. It looks like he will be in the upcoming Justice League Dark but that is one animated feature. He could also be in a television show with a whole bunch of guest stars standing in for him in each episode.
10 The Shadowpact
While they were not around for long, I always liked the Shadowpact. They were a ragtag group of mystical heroes and anti-heroes who confronted mystical threats. They always kind of struck me as kind of a blue collar superhero team. They all met each other at a magical bar that exists beyond space and time that is owned by formerly retired leader Nightmaster. Probably the most famous character is Blue Devil, a guy who sold his soul for demonic powers and fame. He struggles with the decision and how it might inspire others to sell their soul too. My favorite character from the issues I have read was Detective Chimp. He is an actual chimpanzee who can talk and was also a very intelligent, chain-smoking detective. In fact, two reboots ago, he was somebody that Batman would consult with to help the World’s Greatest Detective figure out tougher mysteries. The problem here is that the team also had The Enchantress in it and Suicide Squad kind of screwed that up. She is not very necessary and Nightshade (another magician) can easily fill her role since she is already on the team. I won’t go into everyone on the team but they would make a good movie.
The Runaways were a breakout success in comic books that seemed to come out of nowhere not long before the Civil War storyline in Marvel Comics. The Runaways were young superheroes who were struggling with a very difficult truth. Their parents were some of the most powerful yet relatively unknown supervillains in the world. While villains like Doctor Doom and Loki were tearing down cities while loudly proclaiming their intentions, the Pride were villains that controlled things more from the shadows similar to the early days of the Mafia. They were grooming their kids to take over the family business but the kids had different ideas and ran away from home, struggling with not wanting to be villains but also not really wanting to fight their parents. The series deals a lot with dealing with the strong emotions that come with youth and being on the lam with superpowers and/or superweapons. There were also some very interesting gay, lesbian and transgender themes which we haven’t really seen a whole of in superhero stuff so far. There were so many interesting concepts in this book that would be amazing adapted on screen.
8 Green Arrow
A long time ago (at least a decade), a movie was announced as being in development. This was long before press conferences where the big two revealed their movie schedules for the next four years. DC Comics revealed a potential movie that at the time was simply called Supermax. In reality, the movie was a vehicle for the Green Arrow. In it, Green Arrow would be imprisoned in a new state of the art prison for high-profile lawbreakers and would have to escape to survive. It would have had cameos from a whole bunch of DC Comics villains who would be imprisoned alongside him and thirsting for superhero blood. I really wanted that movie to happen but it was canceled a while ago with the new darker and edgier concept that DC has going on. Green Arrow always felt like a more lighthearted superhero. Like Batman, he was a rich man who combatted crime in a costume but he was always a little more snarky. He is also one of the most liberal superheroes around and that is not bad in my book. Of course, we already have the fantastic show Arrow so nothing like Supermax will probably be made but I would actually love to merge the two ideas at some point and allow Steven Amell to have a movie under his belt.
7. The Outsiders
This was a short-lived offshoot of the Teen Titans (who will probably get a movie eventually). Nightwing and Arsenal (two former sidekicks) put together a more pro-active superhero team. They hunt down supervillains before they finish putting their master plan together instead of waiting for them to attack Metropolis or Gotham and having to scramble to defeat them before stuff really hits the fan. It was a cool concept to see these characters not only react to situations but also try and track down villains before their plans were made. That way, the innocent bystanders of the DC Universe were not in danger as much. When the battle occurs in a remote supervillain hideout, the characters can be more free with their wanton destruction. I am sure Lex Luthor probably insures his hideouts anyway. Along with Nightwing and Arsenal there were plenty of young heroes just trying to figure things out. Metamorpho is basically a walking chemistry set. Grace Choi (no superhero codename) is a super strong bartender who does not take any crap from anybody. Thunder could manipulate her density to cause all sorts of havoc. Then there’s a super powerful android named Indigo and Jade who is basically a Green Lantern. The comic also had a positive outlook toward LGBTQ issues and had a fairly light tone. I cannot stress enough how much DC Movies need a lighter tone here and there.
6 Sandman (Wesley Dodds)
Soon there might be a movie based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and if it makes it through Development Hell, then I think I will be in love with it. However, there is another character involved with DC Comics with the same name who is actually connected. Wesley Dodds is a rich inventor who lives in the roaring twenties. Wesley’s problem is that every night he cannot sleep because of horrible prophetic dreams connected to the Dreaming from Neil Gaiman’s series. These dreams may keep him up but they also push him toward solving or preventing horrible crimes. He wears a suit, a World War I gas mask and uses a gas gun to put his enemies to sleep. In the Sandman Mystery Theater series, he fights extremely evil people. Dodds himself is a quiet mouse of a man but when he dons his mask, he is confident and ready to risk his body and freedom to bring criminals to justice. Along the way, he is helped and hindered by a party girl/flapper named Dian who is often able to figure out a lot of the mystery without Wesley’s help. Together, they are a formidable force. If Warner Brothers wants to go dark and gritty, they should do it with characters and situations built for it instead of tarnishing their bright, shiny symbols of justice.
5 Blue Beetle and Booster Gold
This is pretty much the opposite of the above entry. There is a time for things to get dark and edgy but if Warner Brothers keeps playing the same song, then people are going to leave the party. Suicide Squad attempted to be more lighthearted but it still had muted colors and struggled with portraying villains vs. having characters save the day. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are two heroes who bring both the best and worst out of each other. A movie starring the two of them has a lot of potential to be very funny while also adding a little variety to the DC Movie universe. Booster Gold is a man from the future who stole a bunch of equipment and traveled to our time to become famous and a superhero in that order. Blue Beetle is an inventor superhero who has a tendency to be a little too serious. Put them together and they are a formidable team that is constantly cracking jokes on each other like a buddy cop movie. Something in the vein of I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League would work. It would be kind of a gentle parody of Batman v. Superman and other offerings in that universe mashed together with an almost improv style of comedy.
4 Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl kind of became a meme a couple of years ago as writers dug through the archives and realized that this minor hero had beaten a lot of Marvel’s biggest villains. She has defeated Doctor Doom, Galactus and several more heroes with determination, smarts and being underestimated. The character has a lot of charisma as seen in her own book recently. She has been a babysitter for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s baby (spoiler maybe?) and has been an asset to a couple of different superhero situations. Lately, she has been going on her own adventures as she has tried to figure out who she is and where the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl fits in. Her character has a similar can-do spirit to Kimmy Schmidt and actually has a similar disconnect from the way things really work. She also regularly breaks the fourth wall in her adventures and pokes fun at a lot of superhero tropes and other things we take for granted. In fact, she literally takes some of this from Deadpool who gifted her a set of flashcards which explain most of the characters in the Marvel Universe. Her movie or television show could be kind of like a PG Deadpool. We all know that the reason Deadpool worked was not because of its rating. A similar thing with the same fast-paced, cartoony action with smart dialogue would definitely work.
I was just old enough to be able to watch the animated show Static Shock when I was a kid. I would love to see them reexamine that character since there are tons of issues around starring the character. Static comics put a spotlight on what it is to be a black kid in American cities while also showing what it is like to be a young superhero. Power over electricity and electromagnetism is a powerful ability and I was always impressed with the different ways the character could use that power. He wasn’t like most characters with energy-based abilities which includes the similar Black Lightning. He did not always zap his problems away and instead either used his powers indirectly or thought his way out of a problem. Virgil Hawkins was an inspiration, especially to young black Americans who wanted a hero who looked like them. In addition, his villains were people you would actually meet walking around a city who just happened to have superpowers. Deciding what cause to further through use of those powers was a big theme in the cartoon and, from I’ve read, the comic. Apparently, there is a live action television show that may or may not be happening and I hope that it stays true to the spirit of the character. Also, please do not cast Jaden Smith.
2 Hawkeye (Kate Bishop)
I fell in love with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series. Not only does it portray Hawkeye in a very human and relatable way, it really does a lot of good for his protege Kate Bishop. Kate took over the mantle of Hawkeye for a while for Clint Barton, especially why she teamed with the Young Avengers. She is younger and just as good a shot as Clint is but she comes from an entirely different background. She comes from wealth but tends to shrug off her birthright more often than not. I would love to see something with Kate in it because she is a pretty complicated character in her own right. Also, Hawkeye gets a lot of crap from fans of the Avengers series of movies. I love Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, the kind of blue collar/military hero that is just trying to survive while more powerful heroes rage around him. I would love to see a Hawkeye movie where he mentors Kate and they fight villains together. We already saw a little bit of Hawkeye’s urge to mentor during Avengers II And Civil War with Scarlet Witch but Kate would be snarkier yet more receptive. To me, that would be the best way to do a Hawkeye movie which could lead into a Young Avengers movie or just stand on its own.
Please. Please. PLEASE give me a She-Hulk movie or television show. Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin and she accidentally gets transformed into She-Hulk through a blood transfusion needed to save her life. Unlike Bruce, she does not need to be angry to transform but being angry definitely will transform her more easily. She also is not the bottomless pit of rage and self-loathing that Bruce is and actually becomes a better person through being She-Hulk. Hands down the best part of her is that she is a working lawyer more than she is a superhero. My favorite stories about Jen are when she is actually trying cases and researching the law and making closing arguments and getting this done legally. Punching somebody is at the bottom of her list to do when she can simply get an injunction and end the fight before it even begins. I want to see her try some superpowered cases and deal with villains with legal skills. She could bring in Patsy Walker (from Jessica Jones) as her investigator and there could be cameos from all sorts of great characters. This is probably the whole reason I wrote this list. Give me a She-Hulk show or movie or both.
Swiss Army Man
I am definitely a Daniel Radcliffe fan and I have loved everything I have seen him do. In 2015, I watched an independent movie called Horns which made me even more of a fan of his. His stances on feminism and humble interviews also really sold me. During one of those interviews, he mentioned working on this movie and I was intrigued. He does not seem to pick normal movies anymore and I am totally alright with that. This movie is absolutely surreal and I am pretty sure you are not expecting where it goes. Whatever you are thinking, you are probably wrong. I like being surprised by things and this was definitely a good surprise. The movie is definitely not a light subject but there is a great dark comedy to it. The movie is wonderfully shot. Just about every frame could be printed out and framed on a wall. There is not much dialogue in parts of the movie but body language and little sounds tell us all the story we need. There is a morbid, cartoon-like quality to the movie that I fell in love with almost immediately. Paul Dano is great as a half-crazed but optimistic survivor and Radcliffe is… well I do not want to spoil it. Let us just say that he is the title character and the trailer above will tell you. The movie has some of the best physical work that I have seen in a while and Radcliffe is growing by leaps and bounds in his acting skills. I definitely recommend this weird movie.
I have watched a few shows from England but most of them have been from the BBC because the BBC is really good at partnering with American distribution methods. As Netflix grows more powerful, it seems to be reaching out to more foreign markets much to the benefit of subscribers. I have not watched any television across the bond since over twenty years ago so I had not heard of E4. This show is a supernatural comedy/adventure story about two women in their twenties trying to figure things out. Oh, and they can also see the demons that walk among us and have taken it upon themselves to act as demon hunters. I like the more relatable reactions to somebody telling you that you really can see demons and that you are not crazy. The show feels kind of like a blend of Shaun of the Dead and Being Human (the UK version) with the two female leads in way over their heads. I have only watched a bit of the show but I am intrigued by the way the demons work and how much magic actually exists in their world. The two actresses (Cara Theobold, Susan Wokoma) who are the leads play off each other really well as one is fully weird and somewhat crazy and the other is just trying to keep up. The main villain is played by Tony Curran who played Datak Tarr on Defiance and is great at playing an evil jerk who is still kind of charming and interesting. I definitely recommend this one as it is interesting and is not very long.
A friend of mine from my game group suggested that I watch this and I was intrigued enough by her explanation of the show that I wanted to check it out. Basically, the future is apparently horrible enough for them to develop a form of time travel technology to try and change things for the better. They choose people who are about to die and they rewrite their brain with a consciousness from the future. These people take over their host bodies and carry out missions in tightly knit cells that have no idea what the mission is or what other teams are doing. It is weird. Most of the show is the team trying to complete missions while stumbling through their hosts’ normal lives. I am on episode five and the show is pretty interesting. Everybody is dealing with a lot of crap and they are all horrible at living in the 20th Century. The mystery of what is happening in the future and what this Traveler organization is actually doing is the driving force of the show. There are a lot of ethical dilemmas that spring from the time travel technology. Uploading your mind into somebody else’s life is confusing for everybody involved and you have no idea what that person’s life was really like if you are only going off historical documents and social media. I recommend the show but I do not know how long I will watch it myself.
Music of the Week:
– This week’s theme is “Teamwork”
– I watched more of season 2 of Dusk Till Dawn
– I finished Season 3 of Arrested Development
– I am halfway through Season 4 of Parks and Recreation
– I am halfway through Season 5 of The Office
– I loved Season 1 of The Magicians
– I watched more of Season 3 of The Following
– I attended King Ubu at Pointless Theater on Saturday
So, my birthday happened recently. As I have explained previously, it is the 29th of December which is a very awkward time which means that it has rarely been celebrated by friends. I received a portable cell phone charger as a gift for Christmas so I decided to go into the woods on a long walk to test it out, get some exercise and catch some Pokemon. I took a trip down the familiar Mountain Pass Road. There are no mountains in Baltimore but these roads certainly feel like mountains as they are long and steep. As usual, I started to cast my eyes around to entertain myself. I mean, Pokemon Go is interesting but there is a whole world out there which is way more interesting. Once again, I slipped around the backside of the Maryland Zoo and that is when things got interesting.
Do you see that? Do you see that!? I just happened upon that broken fence and my first thought was that I could easily get onto Zoo property and poke around. Then I quieted that part of me that I have not indulged since middle school when I learned to pick locks. My second thought was that maybe something had escaped. Some new breed of lion that can tear metal and leap fences. I looked around but there was only an old man walking his dog and he seemed unconcerned. So, maybe something had not escaped or at least not recently. Then I started to wonder if something had maybe broken in. Some animal liberator from some idiot group like PETA gets it in their head to release some creatures to prove some point. I know it’s mysterious and totally a sign that something is going on with the zoo.
I tried to shake off the whole fence thing as I walked on. It is not my business to police the zoo or fight rogue animals in the middle of Druid Hill Park. I’ll leave that to zoo security or whatever bounty hunters they might hire. I rounded a few more corners and then I saw something else that freaked me out even more. That is a Device with a capital D. That is not a normal piece of equipment. The first thing I thought was that it was some kind of hydrogen bomb but I bet they make those smaller now. Technology is getting smaller and smaller. Then I wondered what it might actually be. My best guess is that it is a bit of technology that they put near the road so it can be picked up and repaired by their overseers. I think it is some sort of Doctor Moreau-ish equipment for experiments on animals.
Of course, this is not that strange. The current site of the Maryland Zoo is only Site B. I have talked about Three Sisters Pond before but I was shocked to discover the origin of one of my favorite spots to visit. I had always wondered where the actual pond was that the Pokestop described. There is no water. There is not even the sound of water. There is nothing but trees but this week I saw it from a different angle thanks to the vegetation going dormant for winter. The perfect ridges and oval shape of the “pond” proved one thing. It is a sea lion pool or at least it was. What happened to the sea lions? Sacrificed to someone? Something?
There’s nothing I can do. The authorities probably would not believe me. Hell, you probably don’t believe me as you’re reading this. That is alright. I know how to protect myself and ward my house against evil animal experiments that might try to destroy me. In the end, this is Baltimore and whatever it is probably is not tougher than this city. We will be fine.
Sarah Redcross made her way over to the doctor’s office but the door was closed and locked. Not surprising at this hour but usually, Marion was still up and reading one of her books. Either the newest medical texts she could get her hands on or tales of adventure. There were no lights on in the windows but in the darkness, Sarah saw a note pinned to the door. She walked over there and lit a match near it and smiled to herself. It seemed that the good doctor had visited the undertaker after all.
Sarah headed in that direction of the undertaker. The sound of the rough dirt under her boots seemed extra loud in the chilly night. Even in the middle of the night, she felt vulnerable as if something would jump out of the darkness to tear her to pieces. The skirmish with those men, those things, earlier still had her shaken. She still had no idea what they were but either the other two had dragged the dead one away or, well, she did not want to think of any other possibilities. Gunfire still rang through her imagination and she could not make it stop. It made her touch two fingers to the revolver at her side.
Essex was a quiet town to be sheriff of. Sarah had witnessed her father breaking up fights, accepting or tracking bounties and busting the occasional cattle rustler. He mostly made people feel safe and almost never had to pull his gun from its holster. Even rarer was when he actually fired the thing. Sarah had kept up that tradition in the short time since she took over as sheriff. She was sure her father would have disapproved and would say something about going out and doing something worthwhile with her life. Secretly, he would be thrilled she took after him. Sarah felt that being sheriff of this little town was worthwhile and she could not imagine living anywhere else.
She knocked on the undertaker’s door and waited. She had her sheriff’s star clearly visible even though every single person in town knew who she was. After a moment or two, the door was opened by Raina Chilton, the wife of death himself. Her sunny smile even at a late hour was a welcome sight and Sarah could not help but smile back. The smiling actually made Sarah feel happier.
“I suppose you are here to meet with the academics, Sheriff?” Raina asked. Even after so many years, there was more than a trace of the kind of accent that came from south of the border.
“I suppose I am. It’s not too late is it?” Sarah asked in return.
“Of course it is, but that has yet to stop them. Go on in,” Raina said and stepped aside.
Sarah tipped her hat and then took it off before entering and heading toward the back. She took a deep breath quietly before entering so Raina would not see her nerves. At that moment, she would rather be facing down ten more gunmen than heading back to where the dead bodies were kept. She swallowed and pushed through and into the back room. Marion Schaefer and Warren Chilton looked up from the card table they were sitting at. There were several papers and diagrams in front of them and Sarah was glad to see the body had been covered up.
“Sarah,” Warren said, “It is good of you to visit. Can I get you any tea? I think we still have some coffee as well.” He was the very face of kindness as usual.
“Sheriff, this case you have is a strange one,” Marion said. She preferred to get to the point quickly which Sarah actually really appreciated at the moment.
“Case?” Sarah asked. She had never heard her father use the word before.
“That’s what Mr. Holmes calls them in the books when a mystery is on. It seems appropriate here,” Marion explained.
“This isn’t one of your books, Marion,” Warren said with a disapproving look.
“You are as difficult as this case, Warren. It might as well be. There is so much we still do not know and so much that does and does not make sense,” Marion said with an exasperated look followed by her rolling her eyes.
“Why don’t you two tell me what you’ve found? We can go from there,” Sarah said. She needed the two of them working together rather than sniping at each other. On any other day, she would have been amused by their banter and playful rivalry.
“As we went over earlier, the man was mauled by some sort of animal but was killed by some bladed weapon,” Warren said.
“Like a sword, for example,” Marion said. “I believe it was a sword which, while strange, explains the wounds on the body. However, it does not look like the wounds I saw from a calvary blade or a bayonet from the war.”
“I would agree with that second option. It is not a bayonet. I am not fortunate enough to have experienced a wound from a calvary blade so I trust the doctor in this instance,” Warren said.
Sarah nodded. “I would call that the opposite of fortunate. So we don’t know the exact weapon that killed him or whatever animals did this to the body,” She said.
“I believe the wounds were made very close together as the claw marks did bleed a little bit,” Marion said. “Animals working so closely with man, it makes me think of all of the horrible creatures I have read about. Perhaps even werewolves.” The last was said with a touch of excitement and a touch of fear. The look in Marion’s eyes made Sarah actual consider the possibility for a moment.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Marion,” Warren said. “We are a little frustrated because that is all we know for sure. We are working on a few other things to help you match a weapon or perhaps we could confirm an animal by its claws.”
“I do think the claw marks might be feline. They seem to fall into that pattern,” Marion said.
“Have you found anything else that might help the case? You certainly came over at an odd hour just to check on our progress,” Warren said.
“I was hoping the key was still on the body, somehow,” Sarah said. She had been working on the idea during most of the walk over after she had sent Holly home.
“I can assure you that there is nothing left in or on the body. We checked,” Marion said. “We sewed him back up.” She offered when Sarah made a face.
“I was thinking it might be more metaphorical,” Sarah said.
Justice League vs. Teen Titans
I have to admit that I have not really read much of the New 52 (some of which is currently getting half-rebooted?). In fact, it has been a while since I have read any DC Comics because of Man of Steel and the loss of a lot of characters that I really liked. The new grim and gritty direction turned me off but the animated features seem to be based on the New 52 but seem lighter. Maybe it’s the vocal performances. This movie is done in the same animation style as Young Justice and it is really pretty even if the colors seem a bit muted. I had already seen the new 52 Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg) but I had not seen the Teen Titans yet. This movie surprised me as it was centered around Damian Wayne as Robin. The other big star of the movie is Raven dealing with her father which is a threat big enough to draw in both teams. Most Teen Titans groups have been centered around Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. I am always happy to see Beast Boy, Blue Beetle and Raven but I was happiest to see a grown up and not-so-naive Starfire. There was a bit of comedy here and there to lighten the mood which is always needed. The story is a great introduction to the Teen Titans while continuing the Justice League and Damian’s stories from earlier animated features I have seen. There are a lot of moments I did not expect and it was a movie well worth watching. It was like a blend of Young Justice, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited and the New 52. I recommend watching it as it is a pretty good look at some older characters made new again.
Birds of Prey
This has been on my list for quite some time. The Birds of Prey series was a way to make the best of a bad situation with Barbara Gordon. While The Killing Joke had good artwork and a good story, it discarded Barbara Gordon like a cheap bit of tissue which was unfair to her character. Better writers picked up her character and gave her a new direction, using her mind instead of her body. It still did not really make sense but it was better than letting her die or gather dust. This show is about Barbara Gordon (as Oracle) mentoring Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Along for the ride is Dinah, the daughter of the Black Canary who has psychic powers. They are up against Harleen Quinzel (still a psychiatrist somehow) and a cavalcade of superpowered lackeys. The show has a bit of an interesting feel to it. Since it is an alternate history that deviated from the comics early on, I had little idea what to expect. It has a bit of a Riot Grrrl feel mixed with early 2000 electronica slickness but it is extremely dated. The show was created by the same company that created Smallville but it did not survive after its first season. I can see why as it is a bit clumsy and lacks an iconic character like Superman or Batman but the show had heart. The actors and actresses are really trying their best with less than stellar scripts and there were actually a lot of actors who I love. Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds), Rachel Skarsten (Lost Girl), Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers) are all solid. Aaron Paul even makes a cameo in the first episode. It’s a shame this never really got off the ground but it’s worth a look if you think you might like a combination of Charmed and Smallville.
Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants
This movie was based on a toy line that is available for purchase in toy stores everywhere. Therefore, it has a specific look it is going for which ends up being a pinch of Young Justice mixed in with a bit of Bruce Timm’s Batman the Animated Series and a lot of The Batman. Once again, I was surprised to see Damian Wayne again but he is definitely an interesting Robin. Let us not bury the lead, though. This movie is about Batman using a giant mech to fight giant monsters. As such, it does not pretend to be anything else for even a moment and does not take itself too seriously. It is a story that definitely lends itself to wackiness and a campier tone. It is also definitely a toy commercial, not that this is necessarily bad. I watched both GI Joe and Transformers when I was a kid and that is all those shows really were. We also get appearances by great characters like The Flash, Green Arrow and Nightwing as part of Batman’s team. For villains, we have Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Killer Croc, Bane, Chemo and Clayface. One of the most interesting elements to me, is that Damian is now a teenager (or older?) and has shed a lot of his arrogance. I think my favorite part is The Penguin, voiced by Dana Snyder who plays Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The heroes are kind of white meat but the villains really shine in this as snarky weirdos who made me laugh more than once. It is probably not a series that I will pursue but I did not hate it and I was amused throughout. I would definitely recommend it for younger Batman fans.
Music of the Week:
Jet Black Stare – Ready to Roll
– I watched more of The Magicians and it’s great
– I started watching Dusk Till Dawn Season 2
– I’m almost done Season 3 of Arrested Development
– I am on Season 5 of The Office
– I am on Season 3 of Parks and Recreation
– I can watch RAW and Smackdown again since my schedule changed!
– This week’s theme is “The Wayne Family Does it Again”
Which was the first planet discovered?
Welcome to 2017. I have spent New Year’s Eve in a lot of different ways over the years. When I was little, I spent the holiday with my family and did not stay up until midnight. Of course, I probably would not have been able to make it to midnight anyway. When I was able to stay up, I counted down with everybody else and it was fun. Early on in high school, I was working with Mobtown Players in Baltimore and I always attended their fundraisers on New Year’s Eve. It was fun hanging out with those guys. They were all older than me and they did treat me as “the kid” but they also treated me with respect and talked openly with me. When Y2K came around, we went south and spent the night at my uncle’s party with a lot of people we did not know but that was important to my mom. In recent years I have spent a lot of New Year’s Eves alone playing video games. This year, I played board games and drank margaritas with friends. I think I prefer hanging out with friends, given the choice.
This can only be played with friends you want to alienate.
On a personal note, in 2016 I vowed to embrace the power of positivity. Originally it was just a cute phrase that The New Day started but I have found myself happier after using it in my own life. That is why I never embraced the “Fuck 2016” attitude. It was sad that a lot of celebrities died last year but not exactly surprising. They died in 2015 and every year prior and will continue to die in the future. It won’t be just celebrities either but we know that. The election was beyond disappointing but we will soldier on and we will survive. We will be a beautiful nation to spite the ugliness that keeps trying to pull us down. Of course, some people personally had bad years but I know a lot of people who had babies or got married in 2016 and I think it is an insult to them to scream “Good Riddance 2016”. Of course, people can embrace that meme all they want. I’m not the boss of you.
It’s time to move on. We’re going to crush it this year.
I am excited for another year. I will be advancing into the legal field one way or another and that is something I have wanted for over a year now. That desire has grown with each class I have taken, preparing for my new career. I am excited to play Dungeons and Dragons soon. The possibilities when starting a new story with a new character fill me with a lot of joy. I am currently writing a second draft of a play I started early last year. I have a good idea for another play that I can’t wait to start.
If you hadn’t noticed.
This blog will remain a priority for me because it has never stopped being fun and I love the accomplishment of getting each and every post finished and published. The blog also challenges me to grow in my viewing habits and my writing. I know there are people who read this thing. I see you like posts and there are views and visitors almost every day. The statistics for 2016 blew 2015 out of the water. There were 1256 views which means that there were approximately 3.5 views per day and I am only scheduled to post three times a week. I want to say thank you to anybody who ever visited here even once and those who continue to do so. I appreciate it. I never made this thing to get famous but I am glad that other human beings are interested.
If things go well, the archives should be fully updated once again by the time this posts at the usual time (2 AM). Every post can be somebody’s first post so find somewhere to start on the right and have at it.
John Cena has been in the WWE for fourteen years now. Before that, he wrestled for Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. When he was starting out, he created a robot wrestler character called The Prototype. While I never saw this side of Cena, it makes sense. The man is a machine and has been since he debuted over a decade ago. He works harder than just about anybody in the company and it shows in his success.
When I first saw Cena, it was when he debuted against the now legendary Kurt Angle. Kurt was always an impressive physical specimen but suddenly this young punk came out of nowhere and challenged him. His battle cry was “Ruthless Aggression” and he certainly showed he had it. He was far from the wordsmith he would turn out to be but physically he was fast and everything he did looked good. It really was like the second coming of The Rock as he was pushed toward greatness from the moment he first appeared. Not only did he beat up Kurt, he was given kudos by a lot of veterans on camera and was even congratulated by The Undertaker. He had the charisma and he had the moves and he had the respect, he just needed a little more to truly get over.
Later that year he found that special something that would help boost him a little more into the spotlight. Taking a cue from his real life rapping skills and the popularity of hip-hop and white performers in the genre, he adopted the persona of John Cena, Doctor of Thuganomics. He leaned in hard to the gimmick and turned heel in the process. All of the kayfabe respect he had before, he threw back in the faces of those backstage as he feuded with the Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. He had rap battles with other superstars and proved that his gimmick was no lie. He was very good at getting people to boo him but I always loved to watch him. It was during this time that he developed the finisher that he uses today. It was called the FU to mock Brock Lesnar since it started like his F5.
In 2005, Cena won hist first heavyweight championship against John Bradshaw Layfield. It was a good choice because Cena was still technically a heel heading into the feud. Having him take down a heel faction that was a symbol of authority and politics was a good way to show that he was a good guy. I felt he also stepped up his game, broadening his character and showing that he could definitely play with the big boys. Not long after this, though, fans started to boo Cena probably because they felt he was being pushed too hard and too fast. It did not help that he was feuding with Chris Jericho who is so good that fans cheer him whether he is a babyface or a heel. The booing gained momentum and fans pretty much turned on him. I have to admit that I loved seeing Cena throw his shirt out into the audience and seeing the audience throw it back at him. I bought into the hate and booed right along with everybody else.
Cena won my respect, though. He did not let the booing faze him and instead worked harder. In one of the great modern storylines, he feuded with the Nexus. Cena often fought by himself against ten men and never gave up. Finally, this led into one of my favorite Cena feuds. He faced off against CM Punk. Cena was practically manufactured by the WWE as he never really wrestled anywhere else. Punk was an indy darling. Cena had a small move set while Punk had a huge arsenal to draw from. Cena and Punk burned the house down and had some of the most memorable matches of both Punk and Cena’s WWE careers. During this time he also feuded with the Miz in a feud that, over time, helped pull Miz into a whole new stratosphere. The two seemed to almost be made for each other at times.
Probably the biggest feud of his career was a two-year feud with The Rock. As I alluded to before, the two were very similar. Both were charismatic youngsters who joined the WWE with huge momentum already on their side. Both were immediately crowned as legends and given kudos by their colleagues just after their first match. Both were pushed too hard and too fast, forcing the crowd to hate them. However, The Rock turned heel in response and eventually got the crowd to love him while Cena just persevered and stayed the honest yet aggressive character he had always been. It was around this time that the company started to have Cena win no matter what. It led to the meme of LOL Cena Wins because his victory was almost always a forgone conclusion. It was similar to Hulk Hogan’s career in that respect.
Cena has now won 16 heavyweight belts throughout his career, tying his record with that of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He continues to work hard, still performing despite multiple injuries and setbacks. Along the way, he won back my respect but I still resented that he always won. Last year he won the US Championship and he started to turn his image around. He issued open challenges and he barely won them. He got injured again. He came back and he actually started losing for once in his career and I was overjoyed. Not because I still hated him but because LOL Cena Wins was actually being used for a great new purpose. All these new stars were beating the unstoppable Cena and it did not make him look weaker but it made a lot of them look stronger. He went toe to toe with indy darling AJ Styles and Styles won and has continued to win. They will go at it again next year and I will be glued to the screen when they do. In the meantime, he is making new forays into Hollywood and crushing it as one of the most charitable celebrities. Period. I still expect good things from Cena. In my opinion, he just gets better and better.
(HAPPY NEW YEAR = LAST POST OF 2016)