Archive for October, 2013

The Wolves Debut

October 29, 2013

Lately, I thought I would try my hand at writing bits of professional wrestling story lines.  Here is the first one without much comment.  Maybe more comment later.  These characters are created by me.  The story line is similar to many in pro-wrestling’s history.

             *                                         *                                              *

<As Jason Hawke and Gabriel Leo walk backstage, they are approached by Michelle Ross for an interview>

Michelle: Gentlemen, your long journey is over.  You won the championship last Sunday at the 3rd Anniversary show.  How does it feel to finally get the recognition for all that hard work?

Hawk: When I was a kid here in Chicago.  In a little area called McKinley Park, you might know it?  It was my dream to win this belt <Holding the belt up> and I’m glad I found the right guy to go to war beside.  <He clinked his belt against Gabriel’s belt>  It feels good. It feels amazing, Michelle.  Really, my mind is blown but I’m gonna have to disagree with you a little.

Michelle: Oh?

Hawk: You asked what it’s like to finally get the recognition.  We always got that from all those fans out there.  We’ve got all the people who cheered us and hell, all the people who booed us.  These belts are dedicated to them.

Gabriel: I heard that, Hawk. It’s all about the fans out there and what’s in here. <He pats his fist against his chest>  It’s all about Work Hard, Play Hard.  We’re going to work hard against the Darkness again tonight and then we’re gonna hit the town and play hard after.   We’re going to defend these belts for a long, long time.  There are a lot of good teams out there but we’re a great team.

Michelle: So what are you two going to do now?

<Before either of them could answer, Adam Wolf walks up with a smirk on his face>

Adam: Congratulations, boys.  Well. Done.  Hail, hail the conquering heroes.  <All without much enthusiasm or sincerity in his voice>  What are they going to do now, Michelle?  They’re going to bleed all over that ring and then get taken to the hospital. <His happy expression went dark>

Hawk: What? What the hell’s wrong with you?  Get the hell out of here.

Leo: Can’t you count, Adam? <Points to himself and Hawke>  Two on one.  You used to be cool.

Adam: Yeah I can count.  We’ll have to see how you feel about the numbers later.

<Hawk, Gabriel and Michelle showed their confusion as Adam walks away without further comment>

Announcer 1: That was Adam Wolf. It looks like his arm has healed.

Announcer 2: Good to see the the Lone Wolf back in fighting shape.

Announcer 1: But, what do you think he meant by what he said?

Announcer 2: You know, I have a bad feeling that we’ll find out sooner than later.

Announcer 1: I have a bad feeling that you’re right.

             *                                         *                                              *

<Leo and Hawke’s music hits and they make their way to the ring.  A few moments after they have finished posing on the turnbuckles the big screen comes to life.  On the screen a shaky camera shows the Darkness unconscious and lying on the floor.  The camera holds on the image before being dropped, showing briefly the angle from the floor before being cut off.  This is when a wolf’s howl rings out over the speakers and Alice in Chains’ “Hollow” starts up.  The music is unfamiliar.>

Announcer 2: What’s going on?

Announcer 1: That was the Darkness!  Somebody’s taken out the Darkness!

Announcer 2: And who’s coming out now!?

<Adam Wolf comes through the curtains and starts down the ramp.  Hawk and Leo are instantly on their guard and yelling at Adam although neither of them has a microphone.  However, Adam has a microphone and his music fades as he enters the ring>

Adam: It looks like your match is canceled, boys.  You can thank us later. You get to hold onto those belts for a little bit longer.

Announcer 1: Did he say ‘us’?

Adam: Calm down, gentlemen.  My gripe is not with you and it’s not with the Darkness.  My complaint is aimed at this company and all of you <He turns and points at the crowd>  I was World Heavyweight Champion.  I held my own belt that I fought hard to defend.  I never lost that belt.  That belt was taken from me when the Stormfront broke my arm.

<Michelle handed Hawke a microphone>

Hawke: Tough shit, Adam.  You win that belt back.  A real man doesn’t whine about his problems. He does something about them.

Adam: This *is* me doing something, Hawke.  It’s time to deliver a message.

<Two men jumped the barricade on the other side of the ring from Adam and slipped into the ring and attacked Hawk and Leo from behind. Michelle tried to slip out of the ring but a smallish blond girl slipped into the ring and grabbed her by her hair, pulling her in and hit her with a brainbuster>

Announcer 2: Oh my god! What… who are these people?  Wait, Michelle’s not even a wrestler!

Announcer 1: This is… this is… what’s going on?!

<The two men picked up Hawk and Gabriel.  Lucas Logan hoists Hawk onto his shoulders and drops backwards in a Reverse Samoan Drop.  Tavon Turner drives a knee into Gabriel’s face and then hoists him up and then down in a sit-out powerbomb.  Maggie sits on Michelle’s back and put her in a straight jacket submission and refused to let go>

Adam:  We are the Wolf Pack, the hunters in the woods.  <He pointed out his compatriots one by one> Lucas Logan. Tavon Turner. Maggie Sinclair.  People from different places but of a similar mindset with similar goals.

<The rest of the wolves kick at their targets, rolling them out of the ring and onto the floor>

Adam: We’re here to thin out the weak and the old.   Let’s face it, everybody back there is either weak or old.  Some of them are both. We will dominate this company and everybody will live in Fear. Of. Us.  Champions, your belts are ours.

Announcer 1: My God… this is too much
.
Announcer 2: We might want to get out of here, Bill.

Announcer 1: Call security. Somebody call security.  Call somebody!

<The Familiar music of Jimmy Knight fills the arena as he bolts toward the ring, brandishing a chair>

Announcer 1: Thank God, Jimmy’s here.

Announcer 2: The champ won’t give up this company without a fight.

<The wolves all clear the ring just as Jimmy slides in. Jimmy notices the wolves circling the ring instead of fleeing. They have the numbers game.  Lucas jumped up to the apron and Jimmy charges and swings but Lucas is already back to the floor so the chair just hits the ropes.  Adam has slipped into the ring directly behind Jimmy so that when Jimmy turns around he turns right into a spear from Adam>

Announcer 2: SPEAR!  Oh, we’re in trouble…

<As Adam talks, Lucas and Tavon pick Jimmy up and set the chair up in the middle of the ring>

Adam: As I was saying before.  This company is ours.  Those who resist will suffer.
The wolves come out at night so goodnight… and good luck.

<Adam grabs Jimmy and gives him the Wolfcry DDT on the seat of the steel chair.  The wolves look around a bit as their music hits.  A ton of security starts coming down the ramp and Adam orders the wolves into the crowd.  They all escape, leaving behind three battered wrestlers and one injured interviewer.>

Top 11 Halloween Movies

October 27, 2013

So I am attempting one (actually three) of these top 11 lists again.  Again, my criteria are my own.  These are supposed to feel like Halloween to me.  There is also a horror:comedy ratio that I followed in that there can’t be more comedy than horror although that too is debatable.   I left a lot of movies that I like and hate out of these lists but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Also, I still haven’t seen a lot of good or bad horror.  Here we go.

 

Top 11 Halloween Films

1 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – While this film is more heartwarming than scary, it is a Halloween movie through and through.  You can definitely see the Tim Burton touch in this movie but people tend to forget that Harry Selick actually directed it and it shows.  It’s not as super Tim Burton-y which is a really good thing.

2 Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – I watched a few of the Halloween movies but I found them boring.  I might be in the wrong but it felt like a more serious take on Friday the 13th.  I finally caught #3 much later in life and got a real kick out of it. I really wish they had continued their idea to do a Halloween anthology series. This movie scared the crap out of me all the way to the very end.

3 Cabin in the Woods (2011) – I have said it before and I will continue to say it.  The scariest thing in the world to me is the loss of self.  That said, this movie has the right mix of quirky comedy and scary chills.  I really do not want to give anymore away.  Watch this movie.

4 Evil Dead 2 (1987) – I became a huge Sam Raimi fan from an early age.  I do like the original Evil Dead but I prefer the more polished Evil Dead 2 because it has a lot more comedy while still having horrifying concepts.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m also a huge Bruce Campbell fan.

5 From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – While this movie isn’t always really scary, it definitely has some great horror effects and neat vampire mythology. Surprisingly, this movie has a lot of really good actors in it doing a great job.  I will always remember this movie as one my mom walked out on.

6 The Thing (1982) – I love my horror films to be psychological and the sense of isolation and paranoia in The Thing hits you right in the core.  The visual effects are just so creepy and the creature design is the most imaginitive this side of Guillermo Del Toro.

7 The Shining (1980) – I don’t really have to write much about this one as I feel the majority of people have seen this movie.  I like an adaptation of Stephen King which cuts the fat away and dives more into the characters and the real fear of the situations.

8 1408 (2007) – Another pretty effective psychological film that deals with far scarier things than ghosts and goblins.  This is how you do a haunted house film.  Not a lot of subtlety but a great sense of despair that tugs at your guts.  It’s another great example of somebody trimming a Stephen King story to the scary essentials.

9 New Nightmare (1994) – Yeah, I know this movie is wading deep into the sequels of Nightmare on Elm Street but I always liked it.  The “meta” nature of the film and tying it in with Grimm Fairy Tales are combined with the usual comedy and gore.  I felt a lot of the previous sequels had added too much back story and this returned Freddy back to being more monster than man.

10 What Lies Beneath (2000) – I feel like this movie was very much underrated as a thriller/horror film.  The movie does a good job of building tension but not exactly releasing it until the very end.  As it is a mystery, I don’t want to reveal much but it was another movie my mother walked out of.

11 Phantasm (1979) – I remember first watching this on my birthday actually which is almost 2 months after Halloween.  The movie is actually pretty creepy and really works on what appears to be a low budget.  Sure, I remember not knowing what the hell was going on by the end but the movie was definitely creepy.

Honorable Mentions: Red State (2011), Beetlejuice (1988), Constantine (2005), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971),

Top 11 So Bad They’re Good Halloween Films

1 Maximum Overdrive (1986) – I rented this movie pretty young because Holter Graham came to speak at our middle school because he graduated from there.  Like a lot of Stephen King stories, the premise is weird and potentially terrifying.  However, this film is rarely scary but definitely enjoyable.

2 Ghost Shark (2013) – Get ready for absolute silliness and the most contrived movie since Sharknado.  Still, this movie had me dropping my jaw and then laughing at the lengths they went to.  Basically, it’s about a shark that is now a ghost.

3 Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – Is this movie silly? Yes.  I still enjoy it.  Also, if you think about it, it is the movie where Jason achieves the highest bodycount.

4 Puppet Master II (1991) – To be honest, all of the Puppet Master movies pretty much blur together for me.  After the first one, they actually did a good job with the effects and not having the puppets talk saves it from being another Childs Play.

5 Leprechaun (1993) – Who would have thought that Warwick Davis could be so creepy?  Sure the movie suffers from a cast so bad that Jennifer Aniston stands out but I still enjoy it.  You may find yourself laughing more times than you feel scared.

6 Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) – I was looking forward to this clash of titans like a lot of horror films.  When the movie was finally released, I got exactly what I was expecting.  Tonally, the movie seemed to lean towards a Nightmare on Elm Street movie which is alright by me because I like the dark comedy of Freddy movies.

7 Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – I’m not going to lie, I have always been at least a little afraid of clowns.  Parts of this movie actually scared me even though I look back and realize that it is a very silly movie.

8 Troll 2 (1990) – A movie that is neither a sequel to Troll nor does it even have a single troll in it.  Horrible acting, horrible effects but an admittedly terrifying premise.  You’ll end up rolling your eyes a lot at this movie but I have to admit that when I was a lot younger, this movie scared the piss out of me.

9 The Frighteners (1996) – I went back and watched this movie after seeing Lord of the Rings because I had not yet discovered Peter Jackson.  It was fun to see a non-scary ghost story that was both interesting and not something stupid like Ghost Dad.  Points for Michael J. Fox.

10 Sleepaway Camp (1983) – I don’t want to spoil this movie but it does hold a twisted little place in my heart.  All I can say is: No matter how hokey and silly the movie gets, watch all the way until the end. Also, just skip every single sequel.

11 The Tripper (2006) – Can you think of anything more terrifying and goofy than Ronald Reagan as a psycho killer who kills hippies? ‘Nuff said.

Honorable Mentions: Childs Play (1988), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Mangler (1995)
Bottom 11 Just Bad Halloween Films (and I’m going to cheat and make them in no particular order because they’re all just so so awful. It’s like the reverse of Sophie’s Choice even though I have not actually watched that film.  Why aren’t you reading the list yet?)

– The Mist (2007) – Sure this film had some jump scares and there is a big use of the fear of the unknown.  However, the ending ruins the whole movie and the script is way too busy and things seem to happen for no reason.

– The Wicker Man (2006) – I never saw the original but the Nic Cage version is stunningly bad.  It’s a fun movie to make fun of but watching it is just painful. Stick to reading a funny review or clips of this one. It’s funnier out of context.

– Evil Bong (2006) – Stoner humor is not funny anymore.  I am not sure if it was ever funny to me.  Throwing stoner humor into a horror film just made me want to eject the DVD on this one.  For some reason, I stuck with the whole movie.  I was such a masochist sometimes.

– Book of Shadows : Blair Witch 2 (2000) – Even though it takes place in my beloved home state, this movie is horrible.  The characters are unlikeable and at the end of the movie you have no idea what in the hell happened.  It’s not mysterious and open-ended, it’s annoying and a waste of time.

– REC (2007) – Alright this is basically just one of the more high profile choices of a genre that I hate.  I hate handheld, found footage horror films.  Actually, I pretty much hate anything found footage as they give me headaches and I think they are lazy.  Found footage always struck me as film’s response to reality television.

– The Haunting (1999) – Every other minute of this movie acts like it is saying “This is scary, I swear. Are you scared yet?”. The answer is no.  I am bored.  Not even Liam Neeson can save this one.

– The Langoliers (1995) – I am cheating a little bit as this is actually a two part miniseries which makes it one long horror film where not much horror, terror or anything happens. Everything is pretty bland and even the concept makes little sense unless you’re really stoned.  At least you get to see Bronson Pinchot overact horribly but just go watch Perfect Strangers or Beverly Hills Cop III for that.

– Cabin Fever (2002) – The movie that proved that Eli Roth should never ever write or direct again. Unfortunately, Hollywood did not heed the terrible signs and to this day keeps putting him in charge of movies.

– House of 1000 Corpses (2003) – Oh my God this was a horrible movie.  It was made around the advent of so-called “murder porn” movies and I saw it as basically a snuff film.  I had given up on any of the victims surviving about 30 minutes in and therefore all of the tension in the script was gone.  It was just not my speed

– House of Wax (2005) – First, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  Paris Hilton is in this movie.  Second, Jared Padalecki is there but no Jensen Ackles to back him up in saving the day.  Third, it’s boring.

– Jack Brooks: Monster Hunter (2007) – This movie is boring.  You can pretty much ignore the subtitle because there is not much actual monster hunting or monsters until late in the film.  Really, the only good thing in the movie was Robert Englund’s mugging and you can get that from far better horror movies.

Dishonorable Mentions: Saw (2004), Jeepers Creepers (2001), Wrong Turn (2003)

Breaking Bad

October 13, 2013

I finally began to watch Breaking Bad about three weeks before the last episode.   I watched the interview with Bryan Cranston on the Colbert Report and heard Chris Hardwick raving about the show on the Nerdist podcast.  The way people were getting more and more passionate about the show made me finally want to take the plunge.  I am not as spolier-phobic as some of my friends and family are so I knew some of the kind of stuff I was in for.

To be honest, I have watched most of the episodes while playing Borderlands 2 since my ADD is often in full effect.  (Side note: Borderlands 2 is one of the best games I have ever played)  Still, I had to pause the game every so often because the show just captivated me.  So far, I have watched season 1 and 2.  I watched half of season 2 in one day.
My thoughts so far:

– I hate Skyler.  A lot.  This started from her first scene.  She is overbearing, selfish and just seems to be a horrible person.  That goes double for her sister Marie.

– At first, I hated Hank Schrader.  I think he was designed from his first appearance to be a blowhard.  He has evolved into so much more.  I have to sympathize with his panic attacks/anxiety disorder and he loves his family (including his screwed up wife).

– I really like Jesse Pinkman which is probably the consensus.  I like the idea of a screw up slowly trying to put his life in order.  Jesse is very real.

– Walter is becoming a horrible person but I find myself rooting for him nonetheless.  I think the fact that he is becoming a horrible person but he is becoming his own person.  He doesn’t want to get pushed around anymore.  I can understand that.

– I didn’t know that Bob Odenkirk is in this show.  He is so awesome in it.

– I loved Jane so much but she was just the wrong person at the wrong time.  Hated to see her go.

– John De Lancie!  Awesome!

– Looking forward to Season 3 but I need an emotional break from the show.  Breaking Bad is almost painful to watch.  I still really like it though.

Magical Girl Isabelle

October 13, 2013

(This is just a quick salute to magical girls that I wrote during two lunch hours at work.  I am a fan of Sailor Moon so that’s mostly where this came from)

Isabelle stood in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom and examined herself.  The transformation had been pretty complete and more than a little unsettling.  She turned a little bit back and forth to get as good a look as she could.  She wasn’t sure which part shocked her the most.

Her hair was usually a light straw blonde and it only came down a little past her ears.  Now a light pink braid hung down past her waist and swung with each of her movements.  That would take some getting used to.  Her eyes, normally a dull green, seemed to suddenly be nearly fluorescent.  She looked and felt taller. She had gone from a petite five feet to what appeared to be about six feet tall.  She was suddenly a little more muscular too like a sports star or something.

She was wearing armor and that was certainly new.  The armor was forest green and it didn’t fully cover everywhere but enough to provide protection without being bulky.  The material was light but looked really durable.  It certainly didn’t feel like anything she was familiar with.  She tested her movement a little more and, except for where it pressed to her skin, it hardly felt like she was wearing armor at all.  In fact, she felt like she was ready to run a marathon.

Isa tugged a little on her new pink braid just in case it was a fake and somebody had played a prank on her.  All she remembered was picking up that locket off of her bedroom floor and then there was a bright light and then suddenly she was like this.  Everything felt real but this was definitely surreal.  She decided to look in the mirror again. She was starting to worry that she was losing her mind.

She looked in the mirror again but the first thing that caught her eye this time was the locket.  It was around her neck now and she didn’t even remember putting it on.  Her fingers reached for the locket.  Her heart was hammering against her chest.  She hesitated at the last moment. What would she turn into if she touched that locket again?  In a few moments, fear turned to curiosity and determination. She touched the locket.

Instantly the room was filled with blinding light and she was lifted off of her feet, floating in the air.  She blinked with surprise as she felt the armor change back into the jeans and t-shirt she had been wearing earlier.  She felt the pressure of her new pink braid leaving her back and reached up and her hair was short again.  After a moment she was back on her feet on the ground.  She looked in the mirror and she was back to her short, geeky self again.

Isa breathed a sigh of relief and found herself speaking aloud with a shaky voice.
“What in the world was that?”

A voice spoke up from behind her
“That was a transformation spell built into an everyday locket. Unfortunately, that means you’re the chosen one.”

Isa whirled, enraged by that last comment. “Unfortunately!?” And then she stopped short as she spotted the ferret on her bed. “Wait who said that?”

“I did.” The ferret said.

“But you’re a ferret. Why is this happening to me?”

“It’s happening because you are the chosen one.”
“Great, I’ve been chosen by a ferret. I think there must be a gas leak or something.”

“Actually, you were chosen by the locket. I would have chosen somebody way better.”
If ferrets can smirk, this ferret was smirking.

“You know what? Screw you.  No wait, can you actually choose somebody else? I don’t know what this locket wants, but I don’t want any of it.” She went to tug the thing off of her but it wouldn’t budge.

“I wish. That locket wants you and it wants you to fight evil.”

“Fight evil?  What are we, in a Saturday morning cartoon?” She turned and looked in the mirror again. “It really looks like we’re in a cartoon.”

The ferret managed to sigh. “This isn’t a game. There are forces moving on your planet that will mean the end of everything. All of those forces will be coming after you first. Your only hope is training the magical powers that you now have to take them all out and save the Earth.”

Isabelle turned back to look at the ferret, taking in everything he had said. She took a deep breath before answering. “Ok, let’s train.”

The ferret suddenly stood on its hind legs. “What!? Just like that?”

Isabelle smiled and shrugged. “The way I think about it, this is probably only a dream. I might as well enjoy having superpowers until I wake up. If it’s somehow not a dream, I can’t take the stupid locket off. So if I have to, I guess I’ll come with you.”

The ferret sighed and scampered up on her shoulder. “It’s no honor and duty but it will have to do. Let’s go.”

Phillip Brooks

October 12, 2013

(This is a character for yet another campaign I’m playing. It is called PlanetFall and the setting is courtesy of my friend Jim and his business partners)

In a far-flung possible future of mankind, a prophet built a spaceship to save as many people as he could from a calamity he foresaw.  Around thirty thousand years later, humanity lives on large spaceships.  In this future, the government gets rid of criminals and political enemies by abducting them from society.  They are the Fallen.  Mankind survives by forcefully harvesting resources from planets.  Afterwards, they deposit the Fallen on these harvested planets.
***
Phillip Brooks was born on the Roland and was raised by his family to be faithful and dedicated to walking the correct path.  As he grew up, it was clear he would be the spitting image of his father who had died when Phil was five.  His mother never really explained to Phil or his sister how their father had died.  Like his father, Phil grew up to be big and strong but also smart.  When their mother died, Phil took care of himself and his sister.

Phil spent his days working on repair detail which was a job he started as soon as he was of working age.  The job made sense as he had been interested in fixing things and engineering since he was 5 years old.  His boss, Mr. Cruz had taught him a lot more about electronics, fabrication and engineering.  However, the job didn’t cover the bills.  It wasn’t really anybody’s fault.  Times were tough.

Phil looked around for a solution to his problem.  He only did he need to support himself; he had to support his family.  He had always walked the straight and narrow but a friend at work had such an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Well, he refused it a couple of times but finally he thought of his niece going hungry.  He went with his friend to the dark places of the Roland.

Phil made the rest of the money in underground fights under the name of Rowan Daniels.  He spent his time at his day job, covered in bruises and scars and looking forward to his next fight.  Even in the fights he kept the faith, wearing a small holy symbol clipped to his belt.

This life all ended when the law raided one of the fights.  His opponent knocked him out in the confusion in order to create a distraction to get away.  Now, Rowan Daniels is dead, long live Phillip Brooks.

Phil leaves behind a younger sister and a niece he had been providing for.  What will become of them now that he’s gone?  He will miss his friends when he has time to think about them.  The life he lost wasn’t the best life but it was his.  Maybe he had been happier than he thought.

Now that he has fallen, he feels guilty about his acquired fighting skills and isn’t eager to fight again.  This doesn’t mean that he won’t use those skills to survive and help those around him to survive.  He doesn’t blame the church because he believes that it is his fault that he fell.  Now that he finds himself so far from home, he resolves to use the skills that he took for granted.  Maybe he can help fix things.

***
Following the revelation that planet X2945 is inhabited by sentient beings, Phil’s world has been shaken.  He always suspected something was amiss when he was fixing what looked like weapons damage on ships.  If there hadn’t been a war in ages, why was there weapon damage?  He had dropped that line of thinking when Mr. Cruz had told him to stop asking questions.

Now he knows for sure that their government had been murdering these people.  He knows that his religion dictated the correct path.   His faith said be good to people and he believed in that above all.  Maybe the government had been forced to do what Phil had been forced to do and hurt people to preserve life.  He doesn’t know if this was the right thing or not.  With things on such an unsure footing, he will just have to do what he feels is right.

Still, with this new knowledge, he knows he will never return to the Roland.  There is no way they will let people up there who know the truth.

***

(An admission: The seeds for this character were Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph and CM Punk from the WWE.  I love that somebody much more grounded came out of that.)


susanne matthews

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