Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 3

January 23, 2021
  1. Monster

The Beast of Calla Flats hounded the rural areas of Calla for decades before people figured out that it was actually a pack of direwolves that managed to keep from getting caught for generations. They are not really wolves but look vaguely wolf-like and are the size of a small pony. They are not to be messed with.

  1. Trends

The poorer ladies of the capital of Calla basically invented a new fashion trend when a few of them sewed together dresses from strips of leftover cloth creating a sort of rainbow dress. Eventually, rich women had them made from finer fabric and with more embellishments.

  1. Music

The music coming out of the Court of Bards outside of Paika has become more complex and upbeat. The invention of the guitar has made for interesting new compositions alongside the lute. The musicians of Ganarastav have started to spread the previous obscure popularity of the hurdy-gurdy.

  1. Traditional

Yearly, the capital of Paika holds a parade with dragon floats, music, and dancing. Many people wear costumes inspired by dragons. There are carts of food in the streets as people celebrate the anniversary of the death of Carragon.

  1. Lost Arts

People have largely forgotten the practice of archery outside of martial arts schools. With the advent of guns, many were eager to leave bow and arrows and crossbows behind.

  1. Priest

The Priests of The Musician are often born performers and their services are often at least partially a concert. They encourage others to join in and create a joyful noise. Priests in Ganarastav are more somber and speak in long sermons.

  1. Sacred

The temple of Calla has on display a simple walking stick that is purported to have been handled by The Wanderer. It is a venerated and holy object. Many people in back alleys have been known to sell “splinters” of this stick.

  1. Ostracized

Some races continue to be ostracized despite ongoing activism and efforts at education to try and change it. The orcs, the dark elves, the goblins, dragonborn, and tieflings are among those who are often villified. The dragonborn of Calla were largely forced to live in the dangerous wastelands.

  1. The Youth

The young people of Calla generally attend school for basic language, reading, arithmetic, civics, and history. Many also receive training in some sort of trade as they get older. Upper class kids often must study to take over from their parents. Some go off to study magic.

  1. Conflict

A continental conflict arose among the nations of Calla, Paika, and Florana. The drow elves rose from the depths and demanded their place in the sun and were prepared to take it by force. The war between the drow and the light elves tore all three countries apart in a civil war before both sides compromised.

  1. Celebration

Most lands celebrate the new year as the snow thaws and the spring flowers start to appear. The New Year’s Festival celebrates renewal and new life.

Media Update 1/21/21

January 21, 2021

Soul

I have been a fan of Pixar since they premiered their first feature film in 1995. Toy Story made me consider a job in animation for a short while as a teen. The company has a lot of hits and very few misses. When I saw advertisements for Soul, I was absolutely excited because people of color are still underrepresented in Disney fiction. This movie also corrected a lot of earlier mistakes by actually hiring on writers, consultants, and eventually a co-director who experienced and therefore understood black culture. That way they could tell a truly nuanced and authentic story and they succeeded. Jamie Foxx stars as a music teacher who is questioning his life. Tina Fey plays an unborn soul who has grown cynical. Graham Norton plays a hippie with a strange mystic background. The cast is rounded out by brilliant performances from Angela Bassett, Questlove, Richard Ayoade, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Donnell Rawlings and more. It is such a poignant story about what we do with our lives and how our plans change when life happens. I have heard people say that this was “Mid-Life Crisis: The Movie” but it is so much more. It is about culture, love, creativity, desire, and so many other things. I definitely recommend this movie.

Trolls World Tour

Dreamworks feels to me like it has more misses than hits but they are starting to pick things up in the past few years. Trolls was a movie that completely took me off guard. I was expecting a fun poppy movie (pun intended) with colorful animation and good music. The movie ended up being smarter than I expected. Trolls World Tour was a repeat of that phenomenon but to an even greater magnitude. This movie was way heavier than I thought it would be and had a great message. Ana Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return to anchor the movie again and are given a lot more to work with as it relates to emotional depth. Ron Funches returns with a much expanded role. Newcomers Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Clarkson, and Kenan Thompson really knocked it out of the park as new characters. Rachel Bloom plays the antagonist and does great as a heavy metal goddess. A special shout out to legends George Clinton and Mary J. Blige for rocking small but very important roles in the movie. The movie also displays more of a musical range as Pop is joined by Funk, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Classical, Techno, Yodeling, Reggaeton, KPop, and even Smooth Jazz. It makes for a very interesting soundtrack which is mostly made up of good covers. I recommend this movie.

Over the Moon

Glen Keane has been an animator since the seventies and particularly worked for Disney on legendary projects like Beauty & The Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Frozen and more. He recently left Disney and this is first time in the Director’s chair. He was joined by Audrey Wells, Jennifer Yee McDevitt, Alice Wu, and John Kahrs to create an authentically Chinese and human story. The movie follows a young girl played by relative newcomer Cathy Ang. She does such a great job of portraying a vulnerable yet headstrong preteen girl. Another relative newcomer plays a lovably annoying young kid who she is thrown together with. She has great chemistry with her family played by John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Sandra Oh, Margaret Cho, and Kimiko Glenn. They all give such warm performances that I wanted to hang out at their dinner table. Ken Jeong plays a lovable yet fairly annoying goofball (really a Dreamworks staple). Finally, the great Phillipa Soo plays a headstrong woman who is hiding vulnerability and she is so, so good at it. The original songs are all very beautiful and/or catchy. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Aunty Donna – Chuffed (Dad Song)

Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood

Phillipa Soo – Ultraluminary

Seven Lions Feat. Runn – Calling You Home

Mashup of the Week:

Oneboredjeu – X Gon Give It To Ya Maybe

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “Loss and Music in Animation”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
Special Shoutout to Jenny Nicholson’s 2 hour and 30 min video on The Vampire Diaries
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I finished watching Numbers Season 5
I watched City of the Dead (Rifftrax Version)
I watched House on Haunted Hill (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Hideous Sun Demon (Rifftrax Version)

Hypnospace Outlaw

January 18, 2021

As the trailer above illustrates, the basic premise for Hypnospace Outlaw is what if somebody in 1998 had invented technology to allow people to surf the Internet while they sleep. Two brothers, a programmer and a money guy, put together a company called MerchantSoft that creates a device and platform to create webpages and send emails while dreaming. This is called Hypnospace and it quickly becomes the new fad despite rumors that the new technology might not be safe. With the surge in traffic, you are tapped to act as an “Enforcer” which is bascially a content moderator. You are given categories of content which is against the terms of service and must be elliminated. You mark things for review and are given Internet bucks for correct selections.

You start pretty easy with the mission to enforce copyright violations. You go after the older generation of Goodtime Valley who have decided to stamp everything they own with popular comic strip character Gumshoe Gooper. You earn no friends as you basically break all of their JPGs because of their harmless violations of the rights of the cartoonist’s estate. During this phase you spend a lot of time getting to know the cast of characters in your jurisdiction. You also need to learn (or in my case relearn) how to navigate pre-2000s webspace.

Next on your todo list is stamping out harassment in the Teentopia section. A lot of it boils down to a feud between two teenagers named Zane and Corey. The two are merciless about mocking each other even though your detective work finds that the two are not as different as they seem. Zane is an ultra-edgy dude who draws comics making fun of Corey while Corey creates the Zane Sucks Club. It is really a pleasure to squash these squabbling fools.

You then are tasked with tracking down illegal software dedicated to extralegal commerce. Basically, a couple third-party businesses are using a banned form of currency called Capacash. These businesses have locked their paysites behind passwords or otherwise hidden their sites. In order to find them, you actually have to infect your set up with adware which creates popups that send you these sites.

After that it is on to more serious business as you must track down the source of a virus which is causing shock images. Since it is a teen who is behind it, the images are actually quite tame. Still, the virus is really annoying people on the platform and you have to track it down. You descend in the world of Tim who is a wannabe hacker who unleashes a virus in order to win back his ex-girlfriend.

You are back at it again when you must go after a bit of “malware” created to provide a speed boost to people’s surfing. It works but it is unauthorized and creates an annoying pop up. In order to track down the program’s source you have to infliltrate an unlisted section of Hypnospace created by disgruntled Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Video Games, Techie, and Comic Book fans. They are disgruntled because they have been brushed aside by MerchantSoft so that they could focus on the mainstream (forgetting that nerds and geeks were the backbone of the Internet at the time). This investigation leads to the firing of a MerchantSoft programmer who is the ringleader.

You then have to get to the really serious business of illegal downloading and uploading of music files. You need to stalk through a file sharing service called FLST. Every user has their own FLST site which works much like platforms like Napster and Kazaa. This is an underground solution for what was fomerly an official service that ran into too many legal problems. You start nailing these criminals and eventually find out that the head of MerchantSoft is engaging in a lot of this activity. Reporting Dylan Merchant pisses him off and you get fired.

Because of the continued chaos of traffic of New Year’s Eve, you are somehow rehired. Tim the Hacker is back at it again with another desperate attempt to win back Tiffany. This time he has created a virus called the Y2000 Mindcrash Attack which warns users of an imminent attack by Tim. The virus can only be shutdown if Tiffany performs a certain input into a webpage. The problem is that Tiffany seems to be nowhere around so you have to do it for her to save the rest of Hypnospace. You have to investigate more of Tim and Tiffany’s lonely corners of Hypnospace in order to solve the problem. Even when you succeed, Hypnospace still crashes which fries a lot of people’s brains leading to injury and death.

Flashforward to the “Present Day” where you are recruited to join four other members of the Hypnospace Archival Project. The project is tasked with cataloguing and saving what is left of Hypnospace. However, you are secretly tapped to instead carry out two investigations. The first is to prove that MerchantSoft knew the dangers that the technology posed. The second is to locate an admission of guilt from MerchantSoft that they caused the crash which harmed or killed people. You discover a hidden hacker collective existing on unlisted pages. They were trying to expose MerchantSoft and one of them managed to store a lot of evidence. It turns out that the year 2000 update from MerchantSoft actually caused the crisis. They cast blame on teen hacker Tim who was sent to prison for the remainder of his teens and was left with great remorse over his actions. This leads to a public confession from MerchantSoft and a proper memorial for the deceased.

The game is absolutely a fun parody of the Internet around the time complete with broken code and a lot of the goofiness of the Internet when it was truly the Wild West. They did a lot of worldbuilding by creating a lot of original content. I am especially impressed by all of the original music created for the game. You get both full songs and little commercial jingles which are all delightful (even the annoying ones). The game is entirely point and click and involves detective work and puzzle solving. It is a great game.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 2

January 16, 2021
  1. Pets

In the magical wastelands of Calla, dogs became interesting due to the cracks in reality bending their physiology. They grew in size and sprouted tusks and spikes. Despite their fierce appearance, these so-called Desert Dogs have often been tamed by the Dragonborn who were able to settle in that chaotic location.

  1. Bazaar

The mysterious Night Bazaar of Kanna Island is by invitation only. This works because Kanna Island is a Dwarven-made island that actually moves from place to place. Magical assistance is needed to navigate to its location. The finest chefs, exotic weapon dealers, the best fences, and more frequent the Night Bazaar and exchange goods. No paperwork is exchanged to help with the secrecy and bad deals are punishable by death.

  1. Monument

In the central square of the capital of Paika is a stone statue honoring the legendary hero Rylan. In actuality, everybody knows that this is actually Rylan herself. She was turned to stone during her last battle to defend the city. Clerics and wizards could have easily figured out a way to change her back but there were also several poisoned arrows sticking into her when she turned to stone. Knowing she would die either way, they decided to spare her that final pain.

  1. Legend

As hinted at earlier, the story of the death of the black dragon Carragon is often told in pubs and over campfires. The story goes that the mighty adventurers fought long and hard to defend Castle Paika from the dragon. Rylan was able to blind the dragon but this was not the final blow. The final blow was accidentally struck when the dragon tumbled into the battlement where the bard Piotr was standing and he fell onto the dragon. In desperation, he tried to find purchase with a sword he barely used and killed the dragon.

  1. Demon

Demons, like their counterpart Devils, are only able to create change in the mortal plane with assistance. They do this by tempting and corrupting mortals and tricking them into summoning them to the mortal plane. They seek to destroy and conquer and hard to vanquish once they have gained purchase in reality.

  1. Funeral

In the deserts of Calla, the Dragonborn took to dismembering their dead and placing the remains on tall rocks to feed the birds. It was believed this would help their souls soar to the afterlife.

  1. Subculture

The cult of the Light Beyond the Door worships a previously unknown god and seeks to open the door to let the light in. Many of them hide their affiliation in order to infiltrate other corners of society and to hide their unpopular beliefs. Many believe that this is a dangerous cult that might be worshipping a demon or devil or something worse.

  1. The Poor

The poor are often the salt of the earth, the miners, the farmers, the peasants, the shopkeeps, the working class, and so on. Most lands do not have homeless and the only people who live out of doors are the rangers and the druids who wish to. The wealth gap is not so big but it does exist in most lands.

  1. Feast

The most feasts of the year happen on Hearth Day which is in the very depths of winter. It is a day to remind people of warmth and fellowship. It is spent with family either the one you were born with or the one you found. The motto is: “Nobody goes hungry on Hearth Day”

Media Update 1/14/21

January 14, 2021

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun

I had never heard of this Australian comedy group before so I did not know what to expect beyond the above trailer. Whatever they were doing looked fun but I had no idea what I was really in for. The show is legitimately insanely funny and it is one of the rare comedy series where I legitimately did not know what was going to happen next and was blindsided repeatedly. Each of the six episodes gets a theme and a series of sketches follow that theme at least tangentially. Broden Kelly, Mark Bonnano, and Zachary Ruane are the three rambunctious guys who are equally at home being zany as they are being each others straight man. As they throw on different personas they change in unexpected ways. They are really good at parody, satire, and surreal humor. They also have a host of guest stars like Ed Helms, Michelle Brasier, Kia Stevens, Weird Al, Karan Soni, Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Thompkins, Antony Starr, Ronny Chieng, Kristen Schaal and more. The boys are almost always on screen and dominate the show, of course. I cannot recommend this show enough.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me

If you know me in realspace, you would have heard me rave aout the podcast with the above nname. It is a comedy advice show where the three McElroy brothers (Justin, Travis, Griffin) dispense horrible advice to half-serious questions from listeners and insane questions from Yahoo! Answers. This show is an extension of that while putting the zany yet awkward comedy stylings of the boys on screen. Each episode is devoted to answering a single viewer question. They get the question and then they run around their hometown of Huntington, WV to try to research the problem or try to prove something to themselves and each other. The three brothers have chemistry not only from growing up together but also from being on a weekly podcast together for several years. (Also, two of them worked together for Polygon). The show also features their father Clint McElroy, a DJ for a local Country station who tries to give them advice. It also introduces the comic stylings of the Mayor of Huntington, Stephen Williams. The boys often visit him to get permission for some stunt or another and he does a really good job of keeping up with their improv comedy while getting in a few lines of his own. I recommend both the podcast and this show.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

I was a fan of the View Askewnaverse and I own a lot of the movies on DVD. I was a big fan of Kevin Smith but I feel lately that I have parted ways with what he is doing. Still, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back still has a place in my heart. This movie was a callback to the heyday of Kevin Smith’s career from his present day. It had cameos from a lot of Smith’s old friends and coworkers and his family. The movie attempts to tackle what it is to be middle-aged and a father. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith return as the main characters and they have a lot of the same chemistry as they always did. Harley Quinn Smith (Smith’s daughter) plays Jay’s estranged daughter and really proves that she is taking this acting thing seriously. She is surrounded by delightful original characters played by Aparna Brielle and Treshelle Edmond. Cameos appear from Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and a few new additions. The movie was alright as a shot of nostalgia but lacked the quality of the movies it is calling back to. It also winked too much at the audience to focus on actually entertaining. I do not recommend this movie except for huge fans.

Music of the Week

Missy Elliott – Why I Still Love You

Poppy – I Disagree

FiSHBORN 『夜を抜けて』

Nasty Cherry – Win

Mashup of the Week

Angel Munoz – Boys Bringing Sexyback (Lizzo/Justin Timberlake Mashup)

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Them Boys”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched Rollergator (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Sharkado 2 (Rifftrax Version)
I watched A Talking Cat!?! (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Terror at Tenkiller (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Ator the Fighting Eagle (Rifftrax Version)
I finished Numbers Season 6
I finished Marvel Agents of Shield Season 7 (and thus the series)

The Swarm (1978) – Spoiler Review Pt. 2

January 11, 2021

When we left off last Monday, I was talking about loose plot threads and padding.

  1. Patty Duke is Single and Pregnant

Early in the movie, we hear a recording of the soldiers who were attacked on the base and one of them is bragging about his girlfriend who he is about to propose to. He mentions that she is pregnant and working as a waitress. We actually meet her later and visit her throughout the movie as she struggles with grief and then the chaos around her. She is about to get on the doomed evacuation train when her water breaks and she is brought back to the hospital where she has her baby and starts to fall in love with the head doctor there. It is kind of a sweet story that shows the aftermath of a death in the military but it also has zero impact on the movie.

  1. Maybe Eat Something Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda plays an immunologist whose main contribution is to figure out the lethality of the bee’s venom. He tries to develop an anti-venom throughout the movie after they find living bee subjects. Out of nowhere, late in the movie there is a plot where we find out that he is working so hard that he is not eating meals. He is lightly chastised by Caine who tells him he will get him any meal he could want. At that point, Fonda decides to test the anti-venom on himself. In a very long and tense scene, we watch as Fonda suffers the pain of the venom and then injects himself with the experimental anti-venom. He dies when his vital signs go out of control, proving just how deadly the bees are. He does the test on himself because he correctly reasons that human volunteers for trials would be hard to find on short notice. Except, shouldn’t he have eaten a meal before carrying out this test? He injected himself at his most tired and hungry. No wonder he died.

  1. Richard Chamberlain Goes Boom

A brief thing but Chamberlain plays a scientist who is sent to a nuclear power plant to convince them to shut down and join the evacuation of the path to Houston. They hem and haw over it and the bees end up causing the plant’s destruction leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths (which are only related to the viewer on a news ticker). How much padding is in this movie when a nuclear explosion is a footnote?

  1. Lee Grant Action News

We briefly follow a reporter played by Lee Grant who has been assigned to the Flower Festival and ends up in the middle of a bigger story. She has very little impact on the story except as another body out dodging the swarm during the big Maryville attack. She also has a big scene where she interviews Caine but Caine refuses to comment and they move on. Another great waste of time.

  1. That’s a Big Bee

A small point but in two separate scenes we see a victim of the bees (the boy and Ross) hallucinate a giant bee while suffering. It is a very silly element as you see what looks like a bee the size of a Buick hovering in the air grooming itself. A lot of time is spent on these two scenes. I wonder if they would have been less silly if the victims instead hallucinated that the swarm had gotten into the hospital. That would have been terrifying.

Overall

My mother and I really enjoyed this movie even though it was very, very goofy. A lot of the acting was very good or at least better than it had any business being. I also want to note how ruthless this movie was. There are so many scenes where the bees kill a lot of people including little children. There are several times in the movie where it feels like they should have filmed more takes. For example, Caine is a great actor but sometimes when he was shouting he was unintelligible. Ross delivers a scream in one scene which ended up being comically bad (although really good lung strength). The script needed a bunch of revisions to tighten it up and the various plot threads should have been tidied up and made to actually tie together. However, I feel like that would have made the movie less enjoyable. It is a great B-Movie because it was so bonkers and I would not have typed this much if it was a tight, serious science fiction movie.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 1

January 9, 2021

This is a Twitter challenge where I did some worldbuilding for the world of Undead Reckoning, Thistlewhite Manor, and Hearth Day.

  1. Origin

The world of Aofa was created by primal forces, guided by the will of the gods. The gods worked in congress in those days and put their whole being into creating a place for all races to thrive. The seas formed first and then the air and then the ground rose from the seas. The original gods then all contributed to the sun and the twin moons. Each god was then given a portion of Aofa to shape to their heart’s desire. The gods came back together to brainstorm the creation of the thinking peoples of the world and created many races together. Some got bored and created animals, monsters, and so on.

  1. Weekends

Weekends are only mostly important in most cultures in Aofa. All lands have agreed to an eight day week with the last two days being the weekend. For example, in the land of Calla, rural areas do not care much for the weekend as their livelihood generally does not care what day it is. In larger towns and cities, leisure time is often granted on the weekends. In both locales, temple services are usually held on the weekends.

  1. Technology

The biggest advance in technology was the creation of the firearm. Suddenly, a world of sword and sorcery was introduced to a tool of instant destruction. Guns were invented through a mixture of engineering and magic and the enchantments needed to create a working gun limits their proliferation somewhat. Still, they are quite common in the more dangerous parts of the world.

  1. Heirloom

The Sword of Strings also known as Dragon’s Bane and Piotr’s Blade was the legendary weapon that struck the final blow on the dragon Carragon. The blade was revered and passed down through the ages until it met its own demise while repelling demon attacks in Ganarastav. The remnants of the sword were eventually melted down to form a rifle of some renown.

  1. Emblem

This is the national emblem of Ganarastav. The gray represents the snowy fields that cover the land for half of the year. The purple represents the amethyst crystals charged with magical energy that are mined there. The wolves are the national animal of Ganrastav and also represent the faith and trust its people have for each other. The diamond knot represents the land’s thriving textile business due to the thick wool their sheep and goats produce.

  1. God

It is said that the gods were all slain by the Moonset Riders not long ago but it is also said that no god can be truly killed. When their time is at an end, they simply transition to another form. The gods are formless beings but it is said that they can take on earthly forms to walk among mortals. The God of Calla is known as The Wanderer because of his love of adventure and exciting tales. The God of Paika is known as The Musician because they so love music balancing art and precision in equal measures.

  1. Ritual

The funeral rites of Calla are to carefully wrap the body in cloth strips, douse the whole thing in oil, and set it on fire. The hotter and brighter the body burns is usually thought to mean a better afterlife. They do this because they are deathly afraid of the undead and do not wish for their dead to return to threaten the land. The ashes are often given out to those closest to the deceased but the majority are scattered.

  1. Secrets

Nobody knows who the Face Thief is. Nobody knows anything about them except that they kill people and literally take their faces. The theory is that they take the faces and are able to somehow use them to take on the appearance of those that they have killed.

  1. Ruler

The current ruler of Calla is Queen Fiona but the crown’s power has faded in years. In more recent times, many duties have been relegated to the newly formed parliament. The Queen, an elf, is able to provide her long years of experience but there are many more people to pick up the day to day slack. The Queen has the final word but is not often asked about routine happenings.

  1. Ceremony

The Heartbond Ceremony often leads to what is commonly called marriage. There can be a number of participants in this ceremony. Each participant puts their hand on the Binding Stone. If their intentions and faith in each other is true the stone will mark them with a magical tattoo which signifies the bond they have formed with their loved ones.

  1. Fairytale

There is a really good story about the adopted Ganarastavian Princess who, being born a tiefling, sought a way to become human. She and her lover went on a lengthy quest to obtain this goal. They made new allies and new enemies and turned the kingdom upside down. In the end, they reached their goal. However, when the spell was cast the Princess’ lover turned into a tiefling. Many lessons were learned that day.

Media Update 1/7/21

January 7, 2021

Wonder Woman 1984

I really liked Wonder Woman. Even though it was a bit of a flawed movie, it was still fun. DC received a lot of criticism for their movies being dark so I think they over corrected with this movie. I really wanted to like this movie but it felt like it had absolutely nothing to do with the first movie. This is not necessarily a bad thing but the movie also had very little internal logic in it either. Gal Gadot is once again Wonder Woman/Diana Prince who is personable and charming yet has had no friends for about 65 years. Chris Pine has an unnecessary return as Steve Trevor. He’s fine but why? Kristen Wiig was miscast as an “ugly duckling” character when she is not even Hollywood ugly and she did her usual mugging and running her mouth. Pedro Pascal plays the villain as basically the love child of Nathan Fillion and Kyle MacLachlan. Nothing makes sense within the movie, the pacing is off, and the tone is weird. There are a lot of good parts to this movie but they just did not fit it together well. I do not recommend this movie. Watch Birds of Prey again instead.

Stargirl

I fell in love with the Justice Society of America comics and absolutely loved the revival in 1999 which showed more of a merging of the older JSA with a new generation. Those books popularized Courtney Whitmore being passed the torch from Starman and the Star-Spangled Kid. This show is an adaptation of that story. Brec Bassinger is great as Courtney, a girl kind of lost in life who finds superheroics and a purpose to carry her through. Luke Wilson plays her stepfather, a link to the past and an all-around good guy. Courtney’s mom and her stepbrother (played by Amy Smart and Trae Romano) are great comic relief. There is an ensemble cast which is just starting to play a role three episodes in. The show has a great throwback feel to it while still being modern. It helps to bridge the feel of the old days and the new generation. The chemistry between Wilson and Bassinger is so good as well. I definitely recommend this show.

Titans

I have read every incarnation of the Teen Titans and I will continue to watch any adaptation of them. This show seemed to be kind of an adaptation of when the original Teen Titans reformed in their adult years mixed with an origin story. The show follows Robin (Dick Grayson), Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven, Hawk, Dove, and more. I am only three episodes in but the show has a manageably dark tone with a fun cast. Brenton Thwaites is a great Dick Grayson, a little dark but with a good heart much like the early Nightwing days. Teagan Croft plays a sarcastic yet vulnerable Raven who feels like the heart of the show. Anna Diop plays Starfire, more of the badass she was in the comics than the carefree spirit in other adaptations. Minka Kelly and Alan Ritchson play Dove and Hawk, a pair of hardened superheroes. I like how the story is turning and twisting and slowly weaving together so far and I look forward to three whole seasons of it. I recommend this show as well.

Music of the Week:

MF DOOM – One Beer

Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Carpenter Brut – Beware the Beast

Billie Eilish – Therefore I Am

Mashup of the Week

DJ Cummerbund – Play That Funky Music Rammstein

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “A Heroic New Year”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I started watching AGDQ 2020
I watched more Marvel Agents of Shield Season 7
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched When a Stranger Calls Back (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Hillbillys in a Haunted House (Rifftrax Version)

The Swarm (1978) – Spoiler Review Pt. 1

January 4, 2021

Rundown of the Main Plot

The Swarm is a Science-Fiction horror movie about a swarm of Africanized Killer Bees that have been scooped up from Venezuela by a series of hurricanes and deposited in Texas. The movie opens with a military reconnaissance team discovering a United States ICBM base where almost the entire duty roster has been killed. At first they suspect a chemical attack but a scientist (played by Michael Caine) appears and claims that it was a swarm of bees. He is arrested for being a foreigner on a military base in the midst of an attack but the base’s doctor (Katharine Ross) backs his claim. The President’s science advisor assigns the surly general (Richard Widmark) to follow Caine’s lead much to his dismay. Caine calls in a group of eccentric scientists (Richard Chamberlain, Henry Fonda) to try and solve the problem without harming the surrounding ecosystem.

After a local boy is orphaned when his family is attacked by the swarm, the local town of Maryville is involved while in the middle of their annual Flower Festival. Caine and Ross struggle to protect the town while working toward a solution to their problem. It turns out that receiving any more than three stings is automatically fatal to victims. Victims who pull through after less than three stings can still suffer a cardiovascular failure out of the blue. The surviving boy tries to avenge his family with firebombs but only pisses off the swarm and causes them to attack Maryville head on. Suffering major casualties in the town, the military decides to evacuate the town but the train used derails and explodes. Meanwhile, the bees have started to advance across the Texas countryside and end up in Houston. At the eleventh hour, Caine figures out that the bees were originally driven to attack by the sound of an alarm on the military base. They throw together a plan of action and the military is able to lure the bees out into the gulf and firebombs them all straight to Hell.

Be Kind to the Bees

I watched this with my mother (who is a beekeeper) and we were both pleasantly surprised that the movie made a huge effort to protect the reputation of bees. Caine stresses repeatedly that the American Honey Bee is not to blame for any of the carnage. In fact, the movie correctly asserts that we rely on the bees for pollinating our crops and thus our agricultural system depends on bees. The scientists try to come up with several plans that would prevent the death or destruction of the environment. The villainous bees are depicted as fairly innocent as well. They are just insects driven to attack through their interaction with human beings, something that should not happen. Of course, the movie neglects to talk about how the real-life Africanized bees were created by humans through selective breeding in Brazil.

Loose Padding

There are numerous plots added to the movie that feel like they were written in for two reasons. A) They wanted to add more movie and television stars to the cast B) This was a television miniseries and they needed to fill two and a half hours. These plots get absolutely ridiculous and I have to detail them all.

  1. Fred MacMurray and Ben Johnson are both thirsty for Olivia de Havilland

At some point early in the movie, we cut to Olivia de Havilland who is arranging flowers for the festival. She is approached by Fred MacMurray (the town’s mayor) and Ben Johnson (a retired engineer) who are both dating her. The two men snipe at each other but Olivia laughs it off. Throughout the movie, they both propose to her but she avoids answering either one. She points out that since she is the School Superintendent, she is a working woman and will give them their answer at the end of the school term. The three of them board the evacuation train together and are on it when it crashes and explodes.

This was a completely extraneous plot as the three rarely felt like they were in a movie called The Swarm. They were in a separate romantic comedy the whole time. MacMurray and de Havilland are present at a strategy meeting with the military and de Havilland witnesses the deaths of several small school children. Other than that, they don’t seem to act like there is a deadly threat anywhere near them. They also never cut back to them after the train crash so we never discover if any of them survived much less whether Olivia made up her mind about who to marry if anybody.

  1. Slim Pickens Steals a Dead Body

Sometime after the deaths at the ICBM base (the inciting incident of the movie), they have examined all of the dead bodies and placed them in a makeshift morgue. A county engineer played by Slim Pickens shows up outside of the fence at the base and threatens to shut off the base’s utilities if they do not let him speak to his son. The military quickly discovers that this man’s son was one of the many who suffered horrible death from bees. They let the man onto the base and show him his deceased son’s body bag (they never open it). Slim reaches down and picks his son up and cradles the body in his arms and starts to walk out with it. He is told that he will be shot if he tries to take the body. He dares them to follow through and they back down and he leaves with his son’s body. It is actually a really touching scene because Slim Pickens sells the heck out of it. However, Pickens never appears in the rest of the movie and the scene has zero impact on the rest of the film.

Check Part 2 for more craziness!

Undead Reckoning Pt. 6

January 2, 2021

Talbot woke with a start and realized he had been leaning against the glass of the train window. He hoped he had not made much noise while he was asleep and having his dreams. It was not the strangest dream he had ever had nor was it the most frightening. He tried to grasp at the fragments of the dream as it faded away. The only thing that remained burned in his memory was the face of that young dark elf woman and even that was slipping through his fingers. He shook himself, letting the cobwebs drift away. He took out a flask of mead and took a long sip. The scenery was still moving by outside like it was supposed to be. This was when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” A woman asked.

Talbot turned and looked up and was somewhat taken aback by what he saw. She was not very tall but she was wearing an extravagant light red dress with a corset. What through him for a loop was her red skin. He looked up past her smiling face and saw the black horns sprouting through her blonde hair. His drifted back ot her face which was covered in a stylized makeup design using a soft peach color around her eyes that almost made that area look human. She was absolutely gorgeous. She was also a tiefling.

Tieflings were rare. Extremely rare. Tieflings were those born from bloodlines mixed with either demonic or devilish heritage. There were a lot of legends on how that had originally happened and none of the stories were pleasant or appropriate for polite conversation. Whatever the origin, that bloodline was viewed by many as wicked. People thought that tieflings had been born evil and that danger needed to be curbed by any means necessary. That is why the cullings had started and many tieflings fell to the churches centuries ago. It was surprising to encounter one in the wild now. Yet here she was. Talbot had never believed any of the old legends and knew that people decided their own fates. He was not afraid.

However, Talbot did look up and down the train car and saw a lot of empty seats.

“Are you sure, miss?” Talbot asked. “There are plenty of seats.”

She smiled as politely as possible, showing just a hint of pointy teeth. “I hate to bother you but a woman like me should not travel alone and yet here I am,” she said. “You don’t need to protect me, I feel your mere presence will dissuade people from messing with me.”

“I guess I can manage that,” Talbot said, standing up. “Why don’t you take the window seat?”

“Are you sure?” the woman asked. “I wouldn’t be putting you out?” She smiled brightly, the idea obviously appealing to her.

“I’m not that put out,” Talbot said. “Be my guest.”

He moved out to the aisle and put his hands out to help her with her bag. She hesitated but handed it over but did and Talbot carefully put it up in the luggage rack next to his own small bag. He glanced back to catch a nervous look on her face. He shot her a questioning look in return.

“Just careful,” the woman said. “There are spell components in there.”

Talbot quickly withdrew his fingers from the bag. “Well, it’ll be fine up there,” he said. “I don’t imagine it will be a very bumpy ride.”

“I hope not,” the woman said as she flounced into her seat by the window. Talbot sat next to her, looking up and down the aisle to see if there were any objections. Not that he really cared, he just wanted to know if anybody would get in his face about being nice to a tiefling. He was not in the mood for an idiotic confrontation.

“My name is Talbot by the way,” he said, offering his hand.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” the woman said, taking Talbot’s hand with her own lace-gloved hand and shaking it only once. “My name is Clarity Havenwood.” She said it as if Talbot should have recognized the family which probably meant that she was rich, famous, or both. There were a lot of wealthy tiefling families. Talbot must have hid his confusion poorly because she added. “of the Silkspindle Havenwoods?”

Talbot shook his head. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m not familiar. You’re a wizard, though?”

Clarity shook off her disappointment and returned to smiling. “Yes,” she said. “I studied for years at Erolia University in Calliona. I’m happy to be back in country and headed west.”

“Not many people enjoy headed toward the magical wastelands,” Talbot said. “but I’m sure there are plenty of interesting phenomenon out there.”

“Oh I’m sure,” Clarity said. “I did my thesis on the gravity well of Karkown. I’m getting off before the wastelands, though.”

“Where?”

“Very forward, Mister…,” Clarity said, indicating a need for a last name.

“Hawkwing, and sorry,” Talbot said. “I’m just curious.”

“I’m getting off in Fallshield,” Clarity said with a smile and a shrug.


The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

Growing a family

Im just trying to evolve

Panorama of the Mountains

Liam Sullivan's Ideas and Reflections

Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

wolfenoot.wordpress.com/

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Prose, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

%d bloggers like this: