Mad God (2021)

October 3, 2022

Being lost is scary. I remember a very specific incident, in fact. Growing up in Baltimore City, there were not a ton of green spaces for kids to run around in. There were local parks with playgrounds but they were almost always crowded. When my parents wanted to breathe in slightly better air surrounded by trees and water, they chose the unfortunately named Robert E. Lee Park (now called Lake Roland Park after the lake it surrounds). I must have been about seven but I am not a hundred percent sure about that. I don’t even remember how it happened but somehow my family was nowhere in sight. I was terrified. I started tearing around the trails in a panic. I had not yet learned that when you are lost, you are supposed to stay put until somebody finds you. I instead engaged in blind panic which is probably an early indicator of my anxiety problems in retrospect. It turned out alright for me. I was found. Getting lost is becoming less likely these days but it can still happen.

Strange unknown worlds are also scary. I have experienced it several times in my life. The first big shock to my system was the difference between how I was taught the world is and how it actually is. When you are really young, you are shielded from a lot of the world’s ugliness. Everything is sunshine and smiles and everybody is nice and gets along while working together. The cracks slowly form in that and then there is a realization of the evil and ignorance in the world. This is when a kid has to start forming defenses to cope with the tough parts of life. I also remember moving to northwest New Jersey after being cradled in the college atmosphere. Being in a new place and trying to use maps and intuition to find my way was difficult. I never knew who to ask for directions but that was mostly my anxiety. I never wanted to bother anybody because I did not want to be bothered. I always imagined the worst-case scenario.

The first thing I noticed was the wonderful animation. It should be wonderful, it has the masterful Phil Tippett behind the wheel who worked on the visual effects of so many movies. This is his personal project that took 30 years to make meticulously. It is stop motion animation so it has the creepy jerky quality a little bit but there is so much that astonished me that it was animation. The art form has really improved over the last few decades (see Laika Studios) but this is something entirely different. It is beautifully shot with such an old-school cinematic flair. Every detail is crafted expertly and nothing is half-assed. Every single frame is a painting I would hang on my wall. There is some puppetry but I feel that is in line with animation.The designs are like a bizarre mix of Cronenberg, Lovecraft, and HR Giger. They are truly horrible to behold.

The tone of the movie is bleak and mysterious. Since there is no dialogue, we do not get a lot of solid answers as to what exactly is going on. There is a definite narrative but it also feels like a safari through a strange, alien world. Nothing looks human but some of it feels vaguely similar to our culture or at least the brutality at the center of human culture. The viewer is left the guess at what exactly is happening while following the central character who is the audience’s point of view. In each scene, you can definitely tell what is happening physically but the why is left to interpretation. Its a very different film in this way. Actually, what I would compare it to somewhat are the video games Inside and Little Nightmares. The viewer is taken on a journey through a disgusting and disturbing journey through a dark landscape.

Overall, I liked this movie. It was esoteric and hard to parse but the visuals never stopped being amazing. It is very clear that this was a passion project as I cannot see any studio agreeing to fund it. Tippet worked on it when he had time or had film interns who wanted to get some hands-on animation experience. The movie was terrifying in a lot of ways but one of the major ones is that I did not know what was going on. The movie seems to delight in giving the viewer that feeling. Would I recommend it? That is a more difficult question than usual. I think a lot of horror fans would love it but I can also see a lot of people turning it off after thirty minutes because of the lack of narrative. I recommend it as a spectacle and a reminder of what animation can do when pushed to its limits.

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

October 1, 2022

Clearly, somebody in pop culture finally got the message that animatronics are creepy. I think my first real experience with animatronics was the famed Munch’s Make Believe Band at the famous pizza establishment run by Charles Entertainment Cheese. I was also familiar with the less famous Rock-afire Explosion of Showbiz Pizza. The limited motion and mouth flaps of the animatronics were at once creepy and exciting for me. Here were things that were both alive and yet not alive. Of course, I had been to Disney before that but it was not until my second visit that the memory really stuck with me. Of course, I have talked about one of my life’s defining points, Snow White’s Adventures, and how it influenced my affinity for horror. So, Five Nights at Freddy’s helped bring animatronics back to the horror world, but they have always been there. In fact, I wrote about a similar movie over two years ago.

What makes animatronics creepy? I have spoken before about why I think clowns and mascots are creepy and part of that is true for animatronics. Even if they are fashioned as humans, they wear inhuman faces. You hear them talk and you see them move and you expect to see a human face but it just isn’t there. With animatronics, there is an additional layer. They are not really there. One of the things that can be creepy is that they are not delivering their voice lines or their songs to you. They do not notice you. They can’t notice you. They do their schpiel whether you are there or not. Of course, that is what makes animatronics so effective in horror. What would happen if they do notice you? What would happen if they really do see you?

The first thing I noticed was how much you can tell that they focused on getting the nostalgia feeling correct. It is strange to have nostalgia for something that did not happen but this definitely captures the feeling of all of those animatronic birthday pizza party locations. The color palette of the movie feels otherworldly at times. The camera work is often beautiful and the shots are carefully arranged for maximum effect. One thing the movie does is a lot of quick cuts in a row that never failed to make me laugh but also felt a little unnerving. The animatronics are so goofy which also makes them more terrifying when, well, you know. Their movement was done very well to the point where I could not tell what was CGI and what was practical. The kills are absolutely brutal and definitely exciting.

I really love the acting in this one. Nobody in this movie acts like a normal human being. Every single person is strange and it often feels like their part of different conversations. While this would usually be a sign of a bad movie, it was obviously intentionally weird for comedic effect and to keep the viewer off their guard. Also, the movie has a simple premise so they do not waste time getting to the fun stuff. Nicholas Cage is always on point, of course, and he is great at acting alternatively pissed off and crazy all without uttering a single word. Emily Tosta is great as possibly the only sane character in the movie, a small-town girl with ambition. The rest of the cast is made up of goofy character actors who add to the strange ambiance. The voice acting from the animatronics is spot on for a cartoon and exactly what you would get at Chuck E. Cheese. Their music is really well done as well.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It was a great movie to pick to start the month off as it has a mix of horror and humor. This is not just a cheap, quickly made horror movie to cash in on the resurgence of animatronic horror. This had some thought behind it and it showed. Now it is not a complex movie but the worldbuilding is on point. Apparently, Nic Cage produced the film as he was very protective of the script. It shows. There are a lot of things they could have done to cop out on and make it more ordinary but they stuck to their guns and made something that felt strange and new. I recommend this movie.

Media Update 9/29/22

September 29, 2022

Madhouse (1981)

A friend of mine suggested this movie to me because they found it to be extraordinary and strange. This has not been officially declared a Giallo movie but I certainly believe it qualifies. A young woman is summoned to visit her estranged twin sister who has been hospitalized with a terminal, disfiguring sickness. As their birthday approaches, the woman is haunted by a familiar beast. Trish Everly plays the main character and is great at being innocent and despairing. Allison Biggers is great at playing a twisted, bitter version as the sickly twin. Dennis Robertson is absolutely strange as the uncle who grew up to be a Catholic priest. Finally, Michael McCrae is a nice presence as a sane and competent psychologist boyfriend. The rest are colorful characters performed by comedic actors. The movie has a great dreamy atmosphere and a mystery that had a lot of surprises. There were also some very gory deaths. I recommend this movie.

Deep Red (Rosso Profondo) (1975)

This one is often listed in the top five of all Giallo movies. A young pianist happens to witness the murder of a young psychic woman and finds himself caught up in finding the killer along with a plucky, young reporter. David Hemmings is great as the lead, showing real concern and curiosity but also having some real human moments. Darla Nicolodi plays the reporter and provides more humor and a legitimate reason to investigate murders. Gabriel Lava plays the perpetually intoxicated playboy best friend who is also comic relief. The movie has some very beautiful visuals, often with the titular color. There are some creepy images, some with dolls and artwork. The mystery was fun to follow and the deaths were appropriately bloody. I recommend this movie.

Blood and Black Lace (6 Donne Per L’assassino) (1964)

A much earlier Giallo film that shows the roots of the subgenre. In an Italian fashion house, the murder of several models exposes the cracks and flaws in the relationships surrounding the fashion world. This is more of an ensemble piece so we do not get an actual main character. Instead, we jump from model to model as the story evolves. The cast is very stylish and great at weaving a web of mystery with tons of red herrings. The mystery is central to the movie, interrupted by lurid violence against women. One thing I noticed that amused me is all the smoking which is kind of a relic of days gone by in film. I also love the look of the killer whose likeness may have inspired the character Rohrschach from the Watchmen comics though I can’t prove it. I recommend this movie.


Music of the Week:

The Royal Foundry – Listen To The Beat

Avril Lavigne – Bois Lie (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)

GloRilla – Blessed

Ayra Starr – Rush

Mashup of the Week:

Jt brooks – Zombie on the Otherside


Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Giallo Week”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Attorney Tom, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Emily D. Baker, Wendigoon, Tamara Chambers, LegalEagle, NWA, Dead Meat, Quinton Reviews, Drew Gamblord, Onsta, Savy Writes Books, Gabi Belle
  • I watched more Naomi Season 1
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 3
  • I watched more The Strain Season 1
  • I watched more She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
  • I watched more The Sandman Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5
  • I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season
  • I watched more The Flash Season 
  • I watched Evil Bong 888
  • I watched Blade: The Iron Cross
  • I watched Puppetmaster: Axis Rising
  • I watched Sons of Hercules: In the Lands of Darkness (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Cyber Tracker (Rifftrax version)
  • I watched The Million Eyes of Sumuru (Rifftrax Version)

Halloween 2022

September 26, 2022

It means that it is the return of my Halloween event. I celebrate Halloween during the entire month of October with plenty of Halloween hijinks. This mostly includes reviewing horror movies. I watch horror movies all year but I try to watch a lot of them during the upcoming month. I will be doing thirteen reviews leading up to October 31st when I will do a final review and a special surprise. All reviews will be as light on spoilers as I can manage. I will also be doing some fun projects on Saturday. Mostly whatever strikes my fancy.

Please see the below schedule:

(Schedule Subject to Change)

September 29 – Media Update – Giallo Week

October 1 – Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

October 3 – Mad God (2022)

October 5 – Little Monsters (2019)

October 6 – Media Update – Low-Budget Lovecraftian

October 7 – Raven’s Hollow (2022)

October 10 – The Brood (1979)

October 12 – Vampires vs. The Bronx (2020)

October 13 – Media Update – Horror Sequels

October 14 – Saloum (2021)

October 17 – We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2022)

October 19 – The Fog (1980)

October 20 – Media Update – In The Movie Theater

October 21 – Feast (2005)

October 24 –  Here Comes Hell (2019)

October 26 – The Dark Half (1993)

October 27 – Media Update – That Thing is Possessed

October 28 – The Blob (1988)

October 31  – X (2022)

Disney: The Dark Kingdom (Theme Park Design)

September 24, 2022

I thought I would give my take on the rumored Disney villains park. In my mind, it would be more for teens to adults allowing for a spookier atmosphere and leaning into a more adult atmosphere. I mean, it would still be Disney so it would not go too far but kids would not be the main demographic. These are just some of the attractions that I thought of. It is divided into sections much like the Magic Kingdom. 

Maleficent’s Castle

Vile Village– The long road leading to Maleficent’s castle where villains can feel free to be themselves.

Maleficent’s Castle

Most Disney parks need a castle as their centerpiece. The jet-black castle that sat on the Forbidden Mountain would be a perfect choice. Its asymmetry is a great contrast to the picture-perfect castles in other parks. I think adding some gray ornamental flourishes similar to the brambles from the Kingdom Hearts franchise might look good.

Cruella’s Dress Shop – A villain-themed clothing store owned by Cruella De Ville.

The Wicked Spindle – A fancy restaurant themed on Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent

The Ruby Apple Cafe – A more casual dining experience themed on the Evil Witch

Lotso’s Army – A dark ride themed on the various Toy Story villains getting together

Straight to Hades – A boat ride on Charon’s boat through Hades where one can see depictions of various legendary greek heroes. The ride is hosted by Pain and Panic as 

Tartarus BBQ – A Hades themed barbecue place

The wild amusement park of Pleasure Island

Pleasure Island – An area based on the same place from Pinnochio mixed with the now-closed adult area of Disney.

Oogie Boogie’s Ghost Coaster – A dark coaster designed after the blacklight visuals from Oogie’s number from Nightmare Before Christmas.

Oogie Boogie’s Casino – A casino themed on Halloween and horror.

Turbo’s Arcade – A massive indoor arcade themed on the insane villain and also the MCP from Tron.

Stromboli’s Theater – A theater where versions of Disney stories are told biased in favor of the villains.

Cruella’s Road Racers – A high-speed driving ride based on the maniacal driving of Cruella De Ville.

Ralph’s Wrecking Rampage – A coaster themed on Ralph which he protests because he’s not “that” kind of villain.

The salty streets of a smuggler town similar to Tortuga from the movies.

Smuggler’s Bay – A lawless area near the water

Davey Jones: Terror of the Deep – A journey through scenes of Davey Jones punishing the people of the Caribbean along with his monster crew

Captain Hook’s Ship – A ride on Captian Hook’s ship out in the water

Smee’s Seaside Pub – A simple pirate pub

Ursula’s Grotto – A dark ride mixed with a splashdown ride that explores Ursula’s legendary lair.

The Weasels 

The woods have eyes.

Wicked Woods – A spooky forest-themed area.

The Snuggly Duckling – A recreation of the tough bar from Tangled.

Gaston and Clayton’s Hunting Lodge and Tavern – An eating and drinking establishment owned and operated by the two arrogant Disney hunters

The Flight of the Sanderson Sisters – A flight simulator in the vein of Soarin’ where you fly a broom and terrorize people with the Sandersons.

Yzma’s Zoo – A trip through an animatronic zoo with the implication that all of the animals are transformed humans. 

The Evil Queen’s Revenge – Basically Snow White’s Scary Adventures but lean even more into the horror elements

Maybe a giant recreation of the Cave of Wonders lion.

Atrocious Adventures – An area themed on more global and adventurous experiences.

Charles Muntz Flight of Adventure – A flight simulator in the vein of star tours that details the heroic deeds of disgraced adventurer Charles Muntz

The Elephant Boneyard – A dark ride where the riders are stalked by Scar and the hyenas

Glomgold’s Minecart Ride – A frantic mine cart ride similar to the Indiana Jones Adventure mixed with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Journey into Jafar’s Lamp – A terrifying and surreal thrill ride into the world inside of Jafar’s lamp where he has complete power.

Monsters, Inc. : Right to Scare – A journey into the Monster’s Inc. world with those still dedicated to scaring and not laughing

Media Update 9/22/22

September 22, 2022

Prey

I have only recently reconnected with this franchise and I heard rave reviews about this movie. In the Northern Great Plains of America in 1719, a young Comanche woman strives to be a hunter like her older brother and prove herself to the tribe. Of course, that is when a Predator shows up. Amber Midthunder deserves all the praise she has received and more. She is such a great action star while being somebody I want to spend time with. Dakota Beavers is great as a jerkass with a hidden soft spot. They do a really great job at giving the rest of the tribe chances to show different character moments while being in the background. Dane DiLiegro is so creepy as the Predator. The Predator franchise has done so well with practical effects to add to the creep factor and the expressiveness of characters who do not speak English and are so alien to our world. I recommend this movie.

The 355

This one failed to make much of a splash despite an all-star cast but I was still curious. Four intelligence agents from four different nations team up to stop a catastrophic weapon from being unleashed on the world. Jessica Chastain plays a plucky yet hardened CIA agent. Lupita Nyong’o plays a tough former MI6 agent. Penelope Cruz plays an NDI psychologist unaccustomed to fieldwork. Diane Kruger plays a grizzled BND agent. Fan Bing Bing plays an enigmatic and somewhat distant MSS agent. Finally, my boy Sebastian Stan plays the more questionable CIA agent. The action is absolutely great and the cast has enough acting power to carry what could have been a bland script. I recommend this movie.

Catwoman: Hunted

The DC animated films have generally been on the up and up so I try to watch pretty much all of them. Catwoman is caught up in a plan to take down an international super-criminal syndicate alongside Batwoman. Elizabeth Gillies shines as Catwoman, dealing with imminent danger with infectious positivity and funny jokes. Stephanie Beatriz is great as the gruff and beleaguered Batwoman, bringing a lot of the same energy from Brooklyn 99. The rest of the cast does a great job at creating a rich world with a lot of light touches that give the adventure weight while also keeping it fun. DC Comics stuff is allowed to be fun. I definitely recommend this movie.


Music of the Week:

Anne-Marie x Aitch – PSYCHO

BLACKPINK – Shut Down

Carly Rae Jepsen – Talking To Yourself

Izzy and The Black Trees – Liberate

Mashup of the Week:

Phillip 16 Mashups – Genie of Broken Dreams


Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Hunted”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Attorney Tom, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Cruel World Happy Mind, Emily D. Baker, Wendigoon, Tamara Chambers, LegalEagle, NWA, Dead Meat, Quinton Reviews, Drew Gamblord, Onsta, Keyan Carlile, Savy Writes Books, Thought Slime, Amanda the Jedi, Some More News, Danny Gonzalez
  • I watched more Naomi Season 1
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 3
  • I watched more The Strain Season 1
  • I watched more She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
  • I watched more The Sandman Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5

Stray Thoughts

September 19, 2022

NaNoWriMo

I’m thinking of doing the annual November writing event. I have done it exactly once before so I know that it is possible. Still, 50K words in 30 days is a lot. I did it last time because I had a dead-end 9 to 5 office job and a new friend group. Now I have a job that I love and the same friend group who I have become very close with. I feel like I have less time on my hands but if I knuckle down, I can do it. I want to do it. I want to accomplish something. I would probably publish the first draft in installments here.

Halloween

One of the reasons I have historically not attempted NaNoWriMo is because of my Halloween event which I will still be doing this year. Halloween is very important to me. I review a lot of movies and I love reveling in that. I also love being creative. I also have a lot of friends now to spend Halloween with. I want to show my friends scary movies again this year. I want to hang out with old friends and experience old traditions. I want to finally show my mom a full scary movie.

Deathloop

I want to write more about this video game. It is so intricate and entertaining. It also gives me the good kind of anxiety, the same kind I feel when watching a good horror movie or going through a haunted house. I want to write something up when I complete the game which will p probably be soon as I feel like I am running out of things to do. I will be sad to be done with the game but there are plenty of games that I want to play or replay.

Work

Work does not feel like something obligatory and painful anymore. When I got my first office job, I was working for the weekend. As soon as 5 pm hit, I was headed for the door. I came into work right at 9 am. Now, I love my job. I can easily work past quitting time without realizing it. I work really hard but I feel accomplished. I look forward to going to work everyday but by quitting time, I am definitely ready to go. I’m happy for the weekend in a more normal way. I don’t dread Sunday ending. Things are going alright.

Turning 40

This December I will be turning 40. What should I do? I feel like it warrants a big party. I haven’t really had a big adult birthday party. One of the leading ideas is to take a big trip to Las Vegas. I’m still thinking about it but I don’t have much time.

Batgirl (Movie Pitch) Pt. 2

September 17, 2022

Cast of Characters:

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl – Age 20 – A young woman who has a strong sense of justice and is trying to find a sweet spot between Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s methods. 

Played by: Leslie Grace, Jenna Ortega, Isabella Ferreira

Alysia Yeoh – Age 20 – A young transgirl and Barbara’s best and closest friend.  

Played by:  Ivory Aquino, Harisu, or an unknown probably.

Garfield Lynn/Firefly – A former special effects master in Hollywood but now resorting to crime.

Played by: Brendan Fraser (Original casting), Andrew Dunbar, Alan Tudyk

Commissioner Jim Gordon – Gotham’s top cop who stops at nothing to get justice but also values his family very much.

Played by: Kyle Chandler, Ben McKenzie, Hugh Dancy

Elena Gordon – A charity fundraiser and activist who loves her family.

Played by: Mia Maestro, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado

Yolanda Montez – Age 32 – A young trainer and fighter at Wildcat Gym.

Played by: Alexa PenaVega, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Génesis Rodríguez

Luca Mercurio – An up-and-coming runner for the Gallante Crime Family.

Played by: Giulio Berruti, Michael Angarano, Giacomo Baessato


Yeoh Apartment – Interior

Barbara shows up and Alysia’s mom tells Barbara that she needs to eat, she’s a growing girl after all, and to get Alysia to eat too. Barbara says she’ll see what she can do. She goes up to Alysia’s room. Alysia is happy to see her friend and shrugs off the bandage on her arm. She would have been far worse off if Batgirl had not saved her life. Barbara winces at “Batgirl” but it is clear that Alysia is Batgirl’s biggest fan. She says that she has been keeping the truth from her best friend, her only real friend. 

Alysia: You don’t have a crush on me, do you? Because I love you more like a sister.

Barbara says it’s not that. She admits that she has been spending her time fighting crime on her own. Alysia is confused and starts to laugh it off until Barbara holds Alysia’s footage up. Alysia sees the look in Barbara’s eyes and stops laughing. “You’re Batgirl!?” Barbara brings up the whole Murciel thing but Alysia says that it doesn’t matter what her name is. It matters what she does and who she is inside. Alysia brings up again that when she wanted to come out as trans, she came out to Barbara first. She did that because she trusted Barbara and believed that Barbara would never hurt her because Barbara is a good person. When people pushed her down and called her names, Barbara was always there to pick her up.

Alysia’s mom brings them food. While they are eating, Barbara frets about the arsonist. The pattern says that the next arson will happen in a few weeks. Alysia points out that not even Batman does it alone. She needs more friends. Barbara is not interested in bringing anybody else out in the field. Alysia says that this is not what she meant. For example, Alysia can be another set of eyes and help cover for Barbara when she has to disappear. Also, she saw Barbara fighting and she seriously needs some help. Barbara says that her father had her take self-defense classes and Judo for years. Alysia says that it’s time to level up.

Wildcat Gym – Interior

Alysia introduces Barbara to Yolanda Montez. Yolanda agrees to train Barbara in mixed martial arts but seems a bit stone-faced at first. Yolanda is from a neighborhood where people get hassled by Jim Gordon’s cops. They have a training montage where the three girls get to know each other better and Yolanda warms up to Barbara. Barbara is also obviously improving. Yolanda tells Barbara as much before Barbara leaves the gym at night. Barbara spots a couple of goons outside of the gym. She suits up and swoops in to rescue Yolanda from getting mugged. Barbara does great in a real-world application of her new martial arts skills and Yolanda helps end the fight. 

Gotham Abandoned Building – Interior

Barbara feels more confident as she heads out to stop the next predicted arson. She creeps into the building with Alysia on a Bluetooth call. Barbara bemoans not having the flashy gear that Batman has. Alysia says there’s no way they can afford that stuff on their allowance. Barbara surprised Garfield who is setting up the job. Barbara tries to talk Garfield, who introduces himself as Firefly, out of going through with it. Garfield refuses and tells her to get out while she still can. When she persists, he blurts out that they have his sister, Bridgit. Sensing that he has given too much away, Garfield goes on the offensive again. Barbara does well until Garfield pulls out a flame thrower and nearly barbecues her. In the fight, Barbara tries to hold onto Garfield but instead rips a chain off of his neck. She once again is forced to flee and she is sent out onto the street by an explosion. A frustrated Barbara runs as firefighters, the police, her father, and Batman all show up. Batman spots her but lets her go when he sees how upset she is. He tells Gordon that he doesn’t think they’ll be seeing Batgirl again.

Garfield Lynns Workshop – Interior

Garfield realizes that his necklace is gone but disregards it when the door opens. Mr. Mercurio walks into the workshop while Garfield is working on his gear. He tells Garfield that Mr. Gallante is very happy with Garfield’s work. They are going to make a lot of money and Garfield can share in those profits. They can always use another enforcer and Firefly would strike fear into the hearts of all of the Gallante Family’s enemies. Garfield says he just wants his sister back. That’s all that matters to him. Mr. Mercurio relents and says that after the next job, there will be a happy reunion. There is a catch, though. If Batgirl shows up again, Mr. Gallante wants her dead as a warning to the Bat and the rest of the city. Mercurio introduces Garfield to new gear to make that happen. Garfield affirms that it will do the job well.

Gordon Apartment – Interior

Alysia visits Barbara at home who has spent the day in her room with the cover story that she is sick. It is not a total lie as she did have some smoke inhalation the night before. Alysia comforts her friend and tells her not to obsess over the setback. Nobody got hurt again. Barbara admits that she has been spending her day trying to track down Bridgit. She reveals that what she got off of Firefly was a locket with a young girl’s picture in it. That picture and the name Bridgit are not enough. Alysia brings up that the police are really good at finding people. Barbara and Alysia eventually talk Barbara into getting the information from her dad’s office.

GCPD Station – Interior

Alysia and Barbara show up at the police station. Barbara stops in to see her dad but he is dealing with a lot. She leaves Alysia to keep her father busy while she “goes to the bathroom”. She heads to the computer mainframe and manages to trick the technicians out of the room. She scans the locket and manages to find Bridgit’s identity and her connection to Garfield Lynns. She also finds out that the police have been interested in Bridget as she has been seen dating Luca Mercurio. 

She realizes that the kidnapping is probably bogus. She runs out of the room to avoid the technicians. As she does, she sees that a door is ajar in evidence lock up. She carefully slips inside and finds gear from Gotham’s greatest criminals. She reaches out to touch Mr. Freeze’s gun and an alarm goes off. She sweeps the gun into her bag and runs out. Commissioner Gordon shoos the girls out so that they can deal with this new problem. Barbara feels guilty that she stole from her father.

Gordon Apartment – Interior

Alysia comes over for family dinner and the girls are a bit nervous when Jim Gordon casually questions if they saw anything while they were at the station. They saw nothing, of course. Alysia agrees to cover for Barbara as she goes out to stop Firefly. Barbara suits up and heads out into the night.

Abandoned Building – Interior

Garfield is setting up his next burn, this time in a more populated area. Barbara appears and tells him that he needs to stop. He can end this. This isn’t like the last few times. If people get hurt, there’s no coming back from that. People are likely to die this time. He tells her that he would do anything for his sister. If somebody is going to die, it’s going to be Batgirl first. If she wants to stop him, she’ll have to kill him. They fight again with Garfield really trying to kill her this time. Barbara manages to use the freeze gun to put out Garfield’s fancy new flame equipment.

It is at this point that she manages to trap him and show him the information about Bridgit. Garfield does not want to believe at first. What if Barbara is wrong about her not being in danger? Then Barbara will help him rescue her. He needs to turn himself in. Garfield says that she is right. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody and he doesn’t want to do this anymore. 

It is at this point that they hear the roaring of a jetpack and Mercurio shows up in advanced Firefly gear. He had a feeling that Garfield might not get the job done so he had the tech guys whip up some superior firepower. Garfield questions Mercurio about Bridgit. Mercurio admits that it is true and is surprised that they could keep the ruse going so long. It doesn’t matter. Mr. Gallante offered Garfield a permanent job and when he turned it down, he became a loose end. Garfield will die, Bridgit will be told it was an accident and will get over it eventually. 

Barbara frees Garfield and the two fight Mercurio and his advanced gear together. The two manage to bring the inexperienced Mercurio down and Garfield tells Barbara to go as sirens approach. He will tell the cops everything and let the chips fall where they may. Barbara leaves him to get arrested.

GCPD Station – Exterior

The batsignal is on. Batman shows up but it is Batgirl who greets him. She says Gordon is at the mayor’s office and will not interrupt them. She tells him about the resolution of the whole affair. She tells him that the Gallante crime family was behind it all as part of a massive real estate scam. She anonymously sent all evidence to the GCPD. Batman is impressed. He admits that he underestimated her. He had a feeling that he would see her again and gives her a case of equipment. He points out that equipment is only as good as the skill to use it. He offers to train her to use it. She is excited but skeptical. Batman points out that clearly, he cannot talk her out of this and she does show promise. He would feel guilty if something horrible happened to her and he could have helped prevent it by showing her the ropes. He tells her that he will be in touch. She bids him goodnight. He says: “Goodnight, Barbara.” and her eyes widen as she turns around and he is gone.

Media Update 9/15/22

September 15, 2022

Uncharted

I have not really played the Uncharted games but I know that they are really popular and that they have wanted to make a movie adaptation since the 2000s. A young man is called to an archaeological treasure hunt that will take him around the world. Tom Holland is so fun to watch as Nathan Drake. He’s just a really relatable guy. Mark Wahlberg is a loveable asshole. Sophia Ali is great at being enigmatic and snarky. Tati Gabrielle and Antonio Banderas are great villains, vicious and fun. The movie is apparently not a perfect adaptation of the game which I really like so it can be its own thing. I appreciated the dialogue, the stunts, and the beautiful visuals. The whole movie is an adventure that felt like a mix of Fast and Furious, Mission Impossible, and National Treasure. I would love to see more of these characters in a sequel. I recommend this movie.

Elvis

The combination of the outlandish Bahz Luhrmann with the spectacle of Elvis Presley sounded like a perfect combination. Elvis Presley is picked up by manager Colonel Parker and he heads to superstardom. As one would expect, this is a beautiful movie with plenty of wonderful costumes and great music. The movie is about a toxic relationship between a young, honest man and a predatory manipulator. I know that the story is not happy, but I did not expect the movie to be quite so sad. The strength of the movie comes from the performances of Austin Butler (Elvis) and Tom Hanks (Parker). The two play off each other so well. Fair notice but I stopped watching this movie a little over halfway through. I turned it off because it was sad, not because it wasn’t good. I recommend this movie to those who can handle sad.

Pretty Little Liars

This is one of those shows that has been around for a while but I have never watched it. Four high school girls deal with a mysterious stalker who knows all of their secrets after their friend dies. The show has a lot of soap opera intrigue that follows a lot of deeply flawed characters. I found a lot of it fairly silly because all of the characters keep doing bad things even though they know somebody is trying to expose them. I watch a lot of ridiculous stuff (Riverdale, Nancy Drew) but this felt a bit different. Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario do a really good job walking the tightrope of being awful but also being somewhat likable. I am not sure if I want to continue this show but it will always be there to fall back on. I recommend this if you like shows like Riverdale. 


Music of the Week:

Patoranking – Kolo Kolo [Feat. Diamond Platnumz]

Romero – Talk About It

Nailbreaker – Long Dead End

Fluid Druid – It’s Not For You

Mashup of the Week:

lobsterdust – We Get Around


Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Untrustworthy”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Attorney Tom, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Cruel World Happy Mind, Emily D. Baker, Wendigoon, Tamara Chambers, LegalEagle, NWA, Jarvis Johnson, Dead Meat, Quinton Reviews, Chad Chad
  • I finished The Lincoln Lawyer Season 1
  • I watched more Naomi Season 1
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 3
  • I watched more The Strain Season 1
  • I watched more She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
  • I watched more The Sandman Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5

Eurotrip: England

September 12, 2022

I recently recovered a little gem (pictured below) from my childhood. When I was thirteen, I went on a trip to England and France with my mother. Looking back, it was a real privilege and I am really glad that I embraced it as such. I saw so much and learned a lot about another country. My mother and I still talk about that trip from time to time. England was first and we spent an entire seven days there.

 Almost every day, we took a bus tour to somewhere in the country. As I was a teenager with a hormonally damaged circadian rhythm, we developed a routine. I have never been a morning person but in my teens, it definitely got to ogrish levels. So, my mother would roust me from bed and I would shower. I would then go down to eat a breakfast of mostly sausage. We would climb aboard the bus where I would fall asleep for a mid-morning nap. I would wake up fresh as a daisy at our destination.

Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

One of the most amazing day trips that we took was to Stratford Upon Avon. As a young bookworm, I was a fan of William Shakespeare. I had already studied a little bit of Shakespeare in school. Primarily, we read Romeo and Juliet. Fun fact, the first bare breasts I saw on screen were in Franco Zeffirelli’s film adaptation. I was enamored with Shakespeare’s iconic verse and had seen a lot of stage and film adaptations by this point. Visiting the birthplace of William Shakespeare was a little bit spiritual for me. The same goes for Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was also educational, teaching me about how gross life was back then. For example, canopy beds were partially invented to shield those in thatched roof cottages from falling rodents. 

Here, I purchased the above-pictured text of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy. I had it memorized at one point and it hung in my childhood bedroom along with many other trophies that are now probably lost to time. I was amazed that my mother found this little reminder of my love of the written word and theater which I had long before I became a theater professional myself. I also purchased a red on black tie with Shakespeare’s signature repeated on it which I treasured until it fell apart. We would have visited The Globe Theater but it was under construction at the time.

The Roman Baths in Bath, England

We visited other places. I fondly remember visiting Bath although we were not there long enough to experience the titular luxurious baths. The architecture was amazing and I remember the feeling of being there at the Roman Baths. It was funny to me because it was definitely an amazing place but it also reminded me of spending childhood vacations at Hot Springs, VA at the Homestead.

The Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral

We visited Salisbury Cathedral where I got a little bit of a headache from being hungry. Still, we bought some chocolates from the gift shop and I bounced back bit by bit after probably being more than a little hangry. It was there that I laid eyes on something that meant a lot more to me later but probably meant a lot to my mom at the time. One of the four remaining original copies of the Magna Carta is stored and displayed at the cathedral. This document inspired modern law and represented what few rights the lower classes have snuck out of the hands of the rich.

Stonehenge

We visited Stonehenge which was interesting but honestly a little anticlimactic. The engineering feat was amazing. The contradictory conspiracy theories connected to the monument prepared me for being let down in the future when mysteries have no conclusive answer. Sometimes it is alright to accept a cool story when the truth would probably not really change things. In retrospect, Stonehenge is really nice. It is quiet there and the surrounding verdant fields are beautiful.

Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, England

We visited Warwick Castle. The castle was originally built in wood by William the Conqueror only to be rebuilt in stone centuries later. It is a popular tourist site when it comes to castles because it was owned by Tussauds Group when I visited. The popular tourism and attractions company was able to restore the castle more extensively so I saw it in great condition while still being historically accurate. I have always loved castles and knights so this visit was amazing. The castle also boasts an enormous collection of weapons and armor from various periods in medieval history.

We also visited the famous Oxford University and a Friends School since I attended Friends School of Baltimore. Oxford had great architecture but I think some of the context was lost on me at the time. I was way more excited to see another Friends School like the one I went to. It connected me to this foreign country I was in and also made me feel a little less foreign.

The “cursed” Koh-i-noor Diamond

We went to other places in London and the surrounding areas. I really liked The Tower of London with all of the ravens, foreboding architecture, and the crown jewels even though you have to stand in line to view them. I did enjoy the ghost stories and learning about the Koh-i-Noor diamond. In retrospect, the British deserved to be cursed for what they did to India. We also saw the Changing of the Guard while extremely jetlagged.

The Sherlock Holmes Public House and Restaurant

The trip was meticulously planned by my mother but we did have downtime to relax or do whatever we wanted. I was given an opportunity to pick and plan one activity. This ended up being dinner at The Sherlock Holmes Public House & Restaurant. Leave it to me to want to celebrate a fictional character amongst all that real history.

Westminster Abbey, London, UK

In light of recent events, I have to relate the one time as an American that the monarchy actually had an effect on me. We were on the bus tour that would take us to the standard London sights of the Tower of London, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. As the bus turned toward the final stop of Westminster Abbey we were informed that the royal family was in the middle of an impromptu visit to the abbey and that we would not be allowed to visit. We were disappointed, of course.

To make it up to us, the tour company (Frames Rickards) took us to the Tate Museum which I enjoyed a lot. I love art museums and the Tate is a great one so it ended up being a bonus. My mom and I visited Westminster Abbey later on our own time and it was good. Still, it’s not every day that a queen changes the plans of an American. At least, not since colonial days.

Real Fish and Chips

I remember a few other fleeting miscellaneous moments. I can still hear the tour bus guide yell “Frames Rickards!” in my head to summon us back to the buses. I remember having real fish and chips. I remember visiting a pub and having real English pub food. Our hotel was right next to a stop for the Underground and we spent a lot of time “minding the gap”. I also remember our tour guide pointing out the real 100 Acre Wood that inspired AA Milne while writing Winnie the Pooh. I was so lucky to have gone and I cherish those memories still both for the experience and the time spent with my mom.


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