Media Update 9/23/21

September 23, 2021

Vivo

Anything Lin-Manuel Miranda is involved in gets a look from me. Sony Pictures Animation has partnered with Netflix and they are really cranking out some good films. It feels like animation in general is really upping its game. This movie is about a kinkajou living in Cuba who must journey to Miami for a mission of love. Lin-Manuel plays the titular kinkajou with attitude and mad bars. He is paired for most of the movie with the delightfully energetic child actress Ynairaly Simo. Zoe Saldana plays a very sassy and smart mom. There are some great smaller bits by Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer, Juan de Marcos González, and Gloria Estefan. The music is really great with a mix of Cubano, Miami, Jazz, and some newer electronic stuff. There are 11 new songs written by Miranda. I recommend this movie.

School of Rock

This movie has been on my list for a long time but recently the movie has come up a lot and it was finally time to jump on it before Halloween starts. Jack Black has always been a favorite of mine. He has so many energy that it is impossible not to get caught up in it. Here he plays a down on his luck rock guitarist who ends up as a substitute teacher. The movie is really well done and leans into Black’s wonderful chemistry with the child actors. The child actors are absolutely superb with a special shout out to Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., and Maryam Hassan. I also really liked Joan Cusack as the quirky principal. The soundtrack is really good with plenty of classic rock songs and original songs performed by Jack Black and the kids. You can definitely see both the (family friendly) influence of Tenacious D and also a lot of heart and joy. I recommend this movie.

Earwig and the Witch

I really like Studio Ghibli movies (even if Miyazaki isn’t involved) so I was interested to see a movie I had not heard of yet being released. Also, this is the studio’s very first 3D animated film. Also, also, this is directed by Goro Miyazaki who is the son of the famous aforementioned Hayao Miyazaki (one of my heroes). This movie felt like a new direction for the studio but it also had a lot of the familiar feel of Ghibli films. In this movie, a young orphan girl is adopted and thrust into the world of witches. I was not a hundred percent sold on the new 3D animation but some of it ended up being very good. Still, it is lacking something. It feels more like a Ghibli video game. The acting really made up for some of the flaws elsewhere in the movie. Taylor Paige Henderson plays the titular Earwig and is a delightful protagonist. Vanessa Marshall plays a really good antagonist reminiscent of Roald Dahl books. Dan Stevens is probably the best part of the movie as a talking cat. Finally, there’s some good rock music by Kacey Musgraves. I recommend this movie despite its flaws.

Music of the Week:

Knife Party – Centipede

The Interrupters – A Friend Like Me

ラスト・チャンス – Instant Junkie

Heist Life – 4 Devils

Mashup of the Week:

Sackie Bum – The Final September

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “One Good Song Can Change the World”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I started Titans Season 3
I started watching Slasher Season 3

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 3

September 20, 2021
  1. Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier

When I was growing up, I never really listened to the lyrics of this song growing up because I had yet to learn history. The song’s title and lyrics make reference to the term Buffalo Soldier which was coined by Native Americans during the Indian Wars. The regiment of black US Army soldiers was given all of the difficult jobs in the military. One of those jobs was to protect colonizers from displaced Native Americans who thought that their hair looked like the pelt of a Buffalo. Marley was a fighter in his own way, fighting for the rights of black people through his music and his activism. The bouncy tune and Marley’s signature calm but forceful voice combine to create a great song.

  1. The Beach Boys – Barbara Ann

There are so many great songs to choose from when it comes to the Beach Boys. A lot of their songs were appropriately fast-paced and uptempo for me. Barbara Ann is just so much fun. The vocals have more of a layered feel as we have not only the usual vocals from the Beach Boys but also William Jan Berry from Jan and Dean (who originally performed the song). Those vocals are bouncy and cut loose and fun. There are not a lot of other instruments as the guys are mostly just jamming the vocals. The single was rushed out by the studio without the band’s knowledge to try and bolster the group’s reputation after the previous release was disappointing. Still, it gave the track a less polished feel which may be why I like it so much.

  1. Buddy Holly – Maybe Baby

My dad used to sing this to me as a kid. That is primarily why I chose this song out of all of Holly’s hits. Apart from my sentimentality, the song is really good on its own. The song is upbeat and up-tempo but somehow still allows Holly to croon out the vocals. The guitar and bass guitar parts form a really fun riff. The song has a little bit of a playfulness but definitely a bounciness that I love. This song (seeing as how I heard it as a baby) was my introduction of the genre of rockabilly. My parents taught me so much about music and how to appreciate it.

  1. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

I have been slowly reminded lately that Led Zeppelin is actually a good band. I think that my perception of them is constantly colored by Stairway to Heaven which I dislike so much. They have so many rocking tunes. Early on when I was a kid I was blown away that they had so many Hobbit references in their songs. I just did not get a lot of that from other bands. This song was always my favorite with its battle cry and lyrics about Viking journeys and battles, it really gets your blood pumping. The guitar riffs feel all jangly and exciting. It does not hurt that this song had such a prominent place in Thor: Ragnarok.

  1. Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

The first thing that hits me in this song is the rhythm from the drums as they kick in. Thar rhythm continues through the song like a steady march. Then the high horns kick in. Wonder sings with an obvious joy and passion that is impossible to deny. It is interesting that this is probably the song that saved Stevie Wonder’s career. He had only two moderate hits previously and, as his voice changed, the studio was about to cut him loose. Like me, the producer for this single and the fans really liked Wonder’s new, deeper tenor and he was back on top and headed toward becoming a legend.

  1. Sam Cooke – Good Times

Probably one of Cooke’s most iconic songs (and more commercially sellable than the very important A Change Is Going to Come). As usual, Cooke’s voice is so sweet to the ear as he croons out some great lyrics. The backing instrumentals are really good at staying out of the way and letting Cooke burn things up. The song speaks of the heart and soul of what music is and what feeling good should be.

Undead Reckoning Pt. 12

September 18, 2021

Pepper and a young man that Talbot did not recognize started carrying a veritable feast into the room on platters. It all smelled very good and it was far finer food than Talbot had expected this far out in the frontier. There were several whole roasted chickens, steamed carrots, toasted mushrooms, brisket, and mashed potatoes. Rahj immediately reached out and palmed one of the chickens, whistled, and then threw the chicken out of an open window. Something very large and hairy jumped up in the window and snagged the chicken. There was a deep growling sound from beneath the window. Everybody stared at Rahj who shrugged.

“They won’t let me keep Sandor inside but he still must be fed,” the large Dragonborn said. He then set about devouring whatever food he could reach.

“Um,” Clarity started, seeming to be at a loss for words for once. “Is Sandor your dog?”

Rahj grinned and began to speak with food in his mouth. “Ha!,” he cried out, letting out a single barking laugh. “In the desert, we have pets far superior to your dogs. It’s an insult to call Sandor a dog.”

Clarity seemed to think about that, almost as if she was deciding which part of the statement she was most interested in. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Did you say ‘out in the desert’? Do you mean to tell us that you have lived out there? Is this a recent occurrence or have you lived out there when it was still dangerous?”

Rahj frowned and looked at Clarity as if he was deciding whether or not she was being ignorant or insulting. Talbot immediately realized Clarity’s mistake and he looked around and saw that Clarity was the only one not in the know. She had an innocent look on her face which must have convinced Rahj that she was merely ignorant.

“Your government has always hated my kind,” Rahj said, his voice a low growl that almost harmonized with the growl from Sandor outside. “They made it real hard to find land of our own. Our scales are resistant to magic and we went out into the desert to settle where other mortals were too scared to go.”

“That is impressive, Mr. Blackscale,” Clarity said. “I apologize for my ignorance, I had not known that the government had dealt you such a poor hand. It is shameful. I am sure that everybody in this room does not share in such prejudice.”

Rahj grunted. “Thanks,” he said. “We made it work out there but the government and all of the business types want back out there now that it’s safer. I’m sure they’ll take our land too.”

“I hope they don’t,” Talbot said. “I never did cotton to how that worked out. You all should get first dibs, of course.”

“Blackrance is going to go to the government about it,” Rahj said. “He understands what it’s like since he’s drow. It’s the only reason I agreed to guide all of you out there.”

“You’ve talked in person to our illustrious patron?” Clarity asked. “I have only communicated with him via correspondence myself since I was out of country.”

“He sent me a letter too,” Talbot said. “I haven’t met him.”

“He came out into the desert,” Rahj said. “Faced me like a man alongside that one.” He pointed at Titus who nodded.

“I accompany Lord Blackrance on most occasions,” Titus said softly. “This is a rare moment when I am not by his side.”

“He came to see me at church,” Ana said. “He vas very polite and convincing.”

“So only half of us have met him,” Talbot said. “Wait, that reminds me. What about the other one? The person across the hall from me? What is their deal?”

“Mr. Seneca has a complex situation so he and Lord Blackrance agreed that he would not meet you until Lord Blackrance could be present,” Titus said. “Everything is going according to plan.”

“You do realize how suspicious that is don’t you?” Talbot asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I am very aware,” Titus said with a smile. “I can only operate according to Lord Blackrance’s wishes unless there is an emergency.”

“A lot of rules go out the window in an emergency,” Talbot said with a sage nod. “I remember that.”

“I’m sure you do,” Titus said.

Media Update 9/16/21

September 16, 2021

Marvel What if…?

I used to love reading issues of Marvel’s What If and their multiverse. In the past few years, I have written a few myself and I have ideas for more. When I heard about this animated show, I was excited and intrigued. I was not prepared for how good this would be. This show proposes what would happen if you made minor changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. Each episode shows the different event and takes it forward to a conclusion. The acting is done largely by the casts of the movies they draw from. For example, the first two episodes use the voice talents of Haley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, and Karen Gillan. Other voice talents filled in for stars that could not or would not make it like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who have retired from their roles. I was not prepared for how detailed the stories would be and how much they make me fondly remember the various movies. I recommend this show.

Reminiscence

I was wary of this movie but I saw that it was leaving HBOMax and so I jumped on it. The movie is set in a world in a future ravaged by climate change. Technology has been invented that allows people to review other people’s memories. The story is a kind of film noir detective piece heavily using that technology. Hugh Jackman is great as the grizzled memory technician who becomes an amateur detective throughout. His narration really drove home that film noir feel. I did find his character infuriating and frustrating at times but it ultimately worked. Thandiwe Newton is excellent as his wisecracking coworker and only friend. Rebecca Ferguson is really good as the femme fatale, that iconic woman who is nothing but trouble. Cliff Curtis is really good as a monstrous heavy, a villain who is complex and interesting. I recommend this movie.

Coherence

I watched this movie on a whim and I am really glad that I did. This was the kind of movie that I really have to think about and probably watch videos and read articles about to fully understand. Either that or I need to make a series of flow charts while I watch it again. The former is more likely to happen. The movie is about a group of friends who get together for a dinner party on the night that a comet is to pass closely to Earth. They are suddenly plunged into a lot of drama and intrigue stemming from their history as a group and also multiversal happenings. The movie is fascinating and mind-bending. I was not too familiar with the cast beyond Nicholas Brendon who took a darker turn than I’m used to. Emily Baldoni really stole the show as the character the movie focused on most of the time. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

seeyousoon – Faster Please

MUNA – Silk Chiffon

Rob Scallon – Slappity Slappity Slap!

8 Graves – Numb

Mashup of the Week:

espiodetv – Chop I’ve Funked

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Playing with Time”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Titans Season 2

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Love That Danhausen

September 13, 2021

Since I have been getting back into the world of pro-wrestling, I have been once again scouring YouTube for my beloved weirdos. I love good technical skill but I am a sucker for a strange gimmick. These are the performers who are often polarizing like Orange Cassidy, Abadon, Alexa Bliss, and more. One of the names that has gained a cult following online is Danhausen and for good reason. The performer (named Donovan Danhausen) has created a compelling little weirdo and the gimmick is really going places.

Not much is known about Danhausen because he is shrouded in mystery and his answers in interviews are either evasive or made up on the spot. What we do know is that he comes to the ring with his face painted like a death metal musician, spooky leather pants, and extensive tattoos. He does not have the best physique but he is definitely pretty fit. He comes off as nerdy and awkward through his movements but is definitely capable of technical wrestling. Like other comedy wrestlers, if he was not good at wrestling, he would not be as popular. People buy into the weirdness but at the end of the day, he gets things done.

Danhausen speaks in the third person and often adds ‘hausen’ at the end of words in his sentences. He speaks with an odd, high-pitched voice that his performer describes as “a mix between Conan O’Brien and Mark Hammill’s Joker”. Danhausen is entirely focused on wrestling supremacy as a means to dominate the world and get sacks of cash. Everything he does is focused on that goal. As part of that, he does not care much for other pro-wrestlers. He often gets their name wrong either through apathy or as a psychological tactic. Either way, it definitely throws people off of their game. The only wrestlers that he manages to befriend are ones that he feels will get him closer to his goals.

For example, he has recently teamed up with the French-Canadian Frankenstein PCO. The two work well together. PCO is not the brightest barbarian but he can take a lot of damage and deal just as much to opponents. Danhausen is more wily and quick and the combination is really starting to turn some heads in the Ring of Honor tag division. Teaming these two popular misfits together seems odd at first but makes a lot of sense. PCO is not much of a talker, Danhausen cannot stop talking even during matches. Danhausen sees himself as an evil mastermind and PCO does not care as long as he gets to hurt people.

Let’s run through some other parts of Danhausen’s gimmick.

NO SWEARING!

Danhausen hates it when anybody on camera with him swears. It is not that he objects to swear words but he objects to what swear words do. If somebody swears in a YouTube video or on Ring of Honor episodes, that segment might be censored or cut. That means less money for Danhausen. Danhausen may be very evil but he is also very practical. He recognizes that demonetization has become a big thing on YouTube and other platforms and he wants to prevent it from interfering with him receiving huge sacks of cash (which he strangely calls “human money”).

Teeth

Danhausen carries a jar of human teeth to the ring. Nobody is sure where Danhausen obtains these teeth but he promises that they are ethically sourced. He has claimed that some were sent to him by actor/wrestler David Arquette. He may have stolen some from other people. The teeth understandably confuse his opponents who are not expecting people to bring teeth down to the ring. When he has his opponent down, he will often pour the teeth into their mouth and then hit them so that he has effectively knocked their teeth out.

Tequila!

Danhausen admires Pee Wee Herman. Herman is a great warrior in Danhausen’s eyes because he faced down a whole bar full of bikers once by performing a dance to the song Tequila by The Champs. Danhausen has adopted this warrior song for his own use. In the middle of a match, the music may start up which prompts Danhausen to dance like Pee Wee did. However, he adds in a few kicks to his opponent as he dances.

Adaptation to Weirdness

Danhausen is able to mesh with other strange wrestlers. He has fought the eternally lazy Orange Cassidy in the past. He has the aforementioned tag team with PCO. However, on the indy scene, he had two tag teams that really showed off his strangeness. The first was with WARHORSE whose name is capitalized for good reason because he is loud and forceful. The other tag team was with queer wrestler Effy who formed the tag team Gaytanic Panic with Danhausen. Danhausen adapts really well to the gimmick of whoever he is facing and alters his gimmicks to work with the match. Here are some examples:

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 10

September 11, 2021

Mulan was able to lead her team since she had been to the Imperial City several times before. They crept down several alleyways. The place was crawling with those shadowy creatures and the dragon was raging, stomping around everywhere and large parts of the city were burning with green flame. This whole thing was coming to a head and Mulan knew that she had to end things soon or there would be no China left to protect. They broke a window in the lowest floor they could reach and they all snuck in carefully.

“Which way do we go?” Aladdin asked, crouched against the wall.

Nobody seemed to have an idea right away. The city was chaos and the palace was not much better. Everybody was relatively unscathed from the cart crash. They still had their gear and weapons but there was no way to know which way was the solution to their problems. They could not stay still for long. The longer they stayed still, the more likely it was that they would be found and cornered.

“I’m not sure,” Mulan said. “I feel like logic would dictate that we’re heading to the throne room but that could be wrong.”

Suddenly, Rapunzel’s short brunette hair started to pulsate with bright white light and momentarily became blonde before growing down to her shoulders. Everybody looked surprised and Merrida opened the door a crack to make sure the sudden blazing light had not attracted attention. Rapunzel had taken hold of her hair and was marveling at it with a mixture of awe and worry.

“What is going on with you?” Merrida asked. She came off as gruff but everybody was concerned at the surprising turn of events.

“Are you alright?” Anna asked, taking hold of Rapunzel. Anna definitely wanted to fix everything for everybody and she was beside herself.

“I think so?” Rapunzel said. “This is actually sort of how my hair used to be. There is a lot of magic floating around this place.” She tied back her hair with a bit of string she found on her person.

“Do you have a feel for where the biggest mass of it is?” Mulan asked. “Where are we headed?”

Rapunzel closed her eyes and thought. “The highest point,” Rapunzel said softly. “I think.” She pointed upwards toward what Mulan knew to be the top floor of the palace. The Emperor’s living quarters were up there. It made sense.

“That’s good enough for me,” Aladdin said.

“I can lead us there,” Mulan said with a smile, her confidence returning to her. Everybody else looked bolstered by this news as well. “Follow me.”

They set off again and crept through the palace. Their pulses were pounding so loud that they thought somebody would hear them. Their stealth could only last so long and soon they were having pitched battles in the hallways and on the stairs. The shadowy creatures were all around them but they fought bravely. The fighters fought and the more peaceful people supported as best they could. They all knew that it was only a matter of time before this fighting would attract the dragon. If that happened, their time might really be up.

They fought to the top of the palace except that much of the Emperor’s quarters had been burned away and that level was exposed to the open air. Mulan hoped that the Emperor and his family were safe somewhere. They looked around and there was nothing too obvious. There were what looked like they could be magical objects of some sort but it was all foreign to the adventurers.

As they stood trying to figure it out, a massive claw hooked onto the edge of the roof and green flame erupted. The adventurers gathered their weapons for a fight.

Media Update 9/9/21

September 9, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

I never read much of Shang-Chi in the comics. The only ones I know that I read was his appearance in 2007 run of Heroes for Hire. Honestly, I feel like a martial arts hero character works better in film than in print anyway. This is a fun fantasy/action martial arts romp as Shang-Chi returns home to China to confront his past. The titular character is played by Simu Liu who is equally good at being dramatic, a badass, and funny. He is going to be a huge star. He is joined by Awkwafina in probably her best role to date. She is allowed to show so much more range here, mixing comedy with humanity really well. Tony Chiu-Wai Leung plays the perfect damaged villain. Meng’er Zhang is great as a mysterious anti-hero character and really stole a lot of scenes. Finally, Michelle Yeoh was excellent as always and very fitting to have on board since a lot of the martial arts were obviously inspired by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I recommend this movie.

Free Guy

As soon as a Ryan Reynolds movie is announced, I know that I will be watching it. This is the story of an NPC inside of a video game who suddenly becomes self-aware. The movie had way more depth than I thought it would. Ryan Reynolds is on point as the titular character, a combination of hilarious and engaging. He is joined by Jodie Comer as a gamer with a mission. She is delightful. Joe Keery plays a computer programmer in the real world who is impossible not to like. Lil Rel plays Guy’s best friend and provides a lot of comic relief. Taika Waititi provides the movie’s villain which is basically capitalism. The movie was the most accurate portrayal of video games on film to date. It really put on display the feel of what being in a MMO is like. There were so many touches of authenticity that amazed me. I need to see it again to catch all of the gags. I recommend this movie.

Cruella

People were bagging on this movie pretty quickly because of one scene early on. However, I had heard from reliable sources that the movie is actually campy fun. It is. This tells the origin story of fashion designer and attempted puppy killer, Cruella De Vil. The movie is really engaging. Emma Stone is brilliant fun as Cruella, she really plays two different characters really well. Emma Thompson plays a perfect snooty villain. Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry are really good at playing buffoonish comic relief. Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays the kind young Anita. John McCrea plays a quirky artist. Predictably, the costume designs are fantastic. The movie plays like a heist film which is absolutely not what I was expecting. It was so much better than I expected. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

ARCH ENEMY – You Will Know My Name

Marlowe – Lost Arts

sKitz Kraven – Locked & Loaded

Ginny Di – The Wave-Soaked Maiden

Mashup of the Week:

KajMashups – Through The WataMote And Flames

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Titular Character”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I finished watching Slasher Season 2
I watched more Titans Season 2
I watched more Batwoman Season 2

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 2

September 6, 2021
  1. Jimi Hendrix – Foxy Lady

I listened to a lot of Jimi especially when I was in high school. I had a friend that played a passable cover of his version of All Along the Watchtower. My brother learned to play guitar from watching Hendrix do it. He had many fantastic songs but Foxy (or sometimes spelled Foxey) Lady has long been a favorite of mine. Part of it has to do with this song being prominently used in Wayne’s World. Most of it has to do with the song itself. It is definitely a great display of Hendrix’s wailing vocals with his unique deep voice. The guitar riff also really does it for me. It feels like a revving engine to me as it punctuates each sentence in the song. One thing that really hit me as I went back through Jimi’s catalog to make my selection is that he only had two albums to choose from. It’s still pretty tragic.

  1. James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)

Yes, I went with the cliche. This song just makes me feel good. It starts with Brown’s excited scream and then the funky horns start. The horn riff feels joyous and playful. The drums and horns really punctuate the chorus and give it the oomph it needs. James was never really easy to understand but when he recorded this one, he was clear as a bell. It may be why this is the song most used in movies, television, and commercials. As with all of his songs, James Brown sells the hell out of it with his vocals and leaves everything behind when he’s done.

  1. Little Richard – Rip It Up

Decidedly not going with the cliche this time. When I think of Little Richard, I always think of him hitting the long high notes as he leans back as he plays the piano. He put his whole body into the music even when he was just sitting at the piano which would inspire plenty of other pianists (ie Elton John). When I was going back through his catalog, this song caught my eye and I realized I had forgotten about it. This song feels like it has a little more edge to it. The bouncy instrumentals make me smile. The slightly aggressive way that he sings about having a good time after work makes me think back to times that I felt the same way. It just feels so good to be done for the day and heading out (or in my case home) to have some fun.

  1. Aretha Franklin – Think

Once again influenced by movies as Aretha’s performance of the song in Blues Brothers is electric and sassy. Aretha may have been known for Respect but she shared it with many other acts. Aretha owned this song and nobody ever came close. I also really like the lyrics better for what Aretha does with them. The way she weaves the words (especially in Blues Brothers) felt like a predecessor to rap music with the speed she’s going. Aretha’s voice has always been one of my favorites and her songs seemed to be more uptempo than some of her contemporaries. I really love the bouncy, happy rhythm as Aretha threatens her lover.

  1. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack

There are not as many Ray Charles songs that I like as other artists on this list. He was a great singer and piano player but his songs were more crooning than I usually listen to. In fact, my favorite song he ever did was paired up with George Jones called “I Didn’t See A Thing”. It’s just so playful and funny but it doesn’t count for this list. Hit the Road Jack is playful and feels a lot like what I think of as traditional blues. This is definitely a song that does a lot between Ray and his backup singers. Ray gets the majority of it but the back and forth really sells it. The horns are iconic and once again it is easy to guess why this song is also used a lot in film.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Hawaii Pt. 10

September 4, 2021

In the morning, something happened that had not happened in days. Jumba came out of the underground lab. He was carrying Maui’s hook and he carefully set it down on the table as Maui, Moana, and Adam were having breakfast. Maui instantly snatched it up, obviously happy to have it back in his sights.

“Not a scratch on it,” Jumba said. The alien looked tired and Moana watched him some concern at first but knew that Jumba would not have accepted her fretting over him. Jumba had similar bravado to Maui. It was easy to spot but not exactly easy to deal with.

“Of course not,” Moana said. “It’s fine.” She put a little force into her voice to try and convince Maui to not worry so much. For all of his bravado, Moana knew that her friend could be very insecure. Out of every mortal creature in her whole world, Moana actually knew the demigod the best. The bond they had formed was strong.

“Uh huh,” Maui said with some doubt in his eyes. He was looking over the hook in minute detail, determined to find any slight bit of damage. He got up from the table and started using the hook to transform into various animals. Each transformation was very sudden and startling and Adam tried to keep calm watching it. Moana seemed to be used to it and ignored it. Adam tried to do the same.

“Did the hook help you figure anything out?” Adam asked, getting to the real topic at hand.

Jumba’s face brightened a bit from its usual stoic expression. “Yes!” he said excitedly. “I discovered many things. This object has opened many doors in my studies.”

Maui transformed back into his musclebound humanoid self and managed to tear his eyes away from his hook. “Anything specific to what we’re dealing with?” he asked. He sat back down at the table. He seemed to be back on mission once he was sure that the hook was intact.

“Oh yes,” Jumba said and put a small disc-shaped object down on the table. He smiled slightly and looked at the three sitting at the table. They looked at the device and then they all looked back at Jumba. They stared at each other for a few beats.

“What is it?” Adam asked, looking dubious. He leaned over momentarily to get a closer look. If he was still The Beast, he might have sniffed it. Since his arrival, he had seen a lot of strange so-called technology. It was all still very new to him. Magic had seemed much simpler in his world but somehow more wondrous. Moana seemed to be better adapted to it all but Adam looked at her and she was just as clueless.

“It is a tracker for the source of the transformation magic,” Jumba said. He pressed a button in the center of the device and a blinking arrow appeared and then started pointing in a direction away from the city. “Magic is over there. Apparently.” He stepped back and looked proud.

“That’s great, Jumba!” Moana said. “Now we can hunt down whoever or whatever is doing this and maybe fix things around here. Maybe we can even get everybody back to where they belong.” She took a deep breath. “One step at a time. Let’s finish eating and then we’ll get out there.” She started to eat her breakfast again. She was excited to solve the mystery and save the day but she knew that she had to take care of herself.

“We’re going to make somebody hurt,” Maui said. “Fuel up for beast mode, Adam.” He punched Adam’s shoulder playfully. Adam tried to smile. He was still not completely at ease with his inner beast especially when it became his outer beast. He was not sure if he knew how to control the transformation.

Media Update 9/2/21

September 1, 2021

Summer of ’84

This had been on my list for a while and I was happy to finally get to it. This is a great character study movie that feels a lot like Stephen King. There are a lot of clichés but they feel like such good clichés. This is billed as horror but it is more of a mystery/suspense movie that tackles what it is like to be a kid in the middle of summer in the suburbs. Graham Verchere really carries the movie as the lead kid, a conspiracy theory hobbyist who has a good heart. Judah Lewis, Cory Gruter-Andrew, and especially Caleb Emery are great as his best friends. Their friendship feels like a mix of Sandlot, Stand By Me, and IT. Rich Sommer plays a very compelling and intense cop character. Tiera Skovbye plays the playful girl next door really well. The movie is very interesting and well-paced from beginning to end. I recommend this movie.

Head Count

I really gave this movie a chance but I ended up turning it off before it finished. Billed by some as a combination of The Thing and It Follows, it ended up being more of the latter but lesser in general. The movie attempted a slow burn but it felt like nothing was happening. In addition, the writing for all of the characters forgot to make them actual characters so I found them a bit boring and two-dimensional. There were some good bits of suspense. I saw a lot of comments online about how the director Elle Callahan could do great with better material but she was a writer on the movie too so I’m not sure. Some of the cinematography is pretty, though. I do not recommend this movie.

Piranha 2: The Spawning

When I found out through Atomic Trivia that this was technically James Cameron’s first directing experience. He was fired after only a few weeks and was paid so little that he ended up seeing a hallucination from malnutrition that inspired Terminator. The movie is low-budget and largely helmed by Europeans who never did much else and it had to be distributed through a porn company. Still, I had fun watching this very silly movie. The special effects are laughably bad and a lot of the acting is cartoony as heck but it made me laugh. The movie is a straight rip off of Jaws but it was hard to be too mad at it. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

G.bit – WTF

MC Abdul – Shouting At The Wall

WILD RED – ONSET

Gawr Gura – REFLECT

Mashup of the Week:

Jeff Kealy – Baby One More King Without a Crown

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “One Last Bit of Summer”
I started watching Titans Season 2
I finished watching Doom Patrol Season 2
I finished watching The Flash Season 7
I watched Nail Bomber: Manhunt
I watched Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics


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