Archive for April, 2015

A to Z Challenge Recap

April 30, 2015

The A to Z Blogging challenge comes to an end as of this morning. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of my last post but it starts with Z and it is a subject that I have thought about before. Planning was an interesting process throughout the challenge because I constantly changed my mind on what I wanted to write based on my moods. I think this will teach me to only write what I want to write on my blog. Like I said in an earlier post, I think this means that I’ll be cutting down on movie and television reviews. Though, I think I really like doing Top 11 list even if they’re actually a lot of work. I might bring back a little media corner-type blog and briefly talk about stuff I recently saw that I hated or loved.

It also means doing more creative writing instead. I love creating and guiding characters through new worlds. What I post on my blog are short rough drafts and are either the whole piece or a short segment of a longer story. Most of it I don’t know where exactly I’m going with them and I often look back and regret the story taking a certain path. Still, they’re just rough drafts and if I want to (and I probably do) I can rewrite the whole thing later on. I will always keep the originals on my blog when they were posted in their original forms (minus some proofreading).

It will be nice not doing a post a day until next year so I can focus on some non-blog writing I’ve been meaning to do. However, it has shown me that I can post a little more. I’m not sure on a schedule yet but I’ll let you know.

I really, really loved this challenge and I will be back next year but in the meantime, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here posting more content.

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Zombies

April 30, 2015

So if you’ve read some of my blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of things supernatural or horror-themed. I like to see different takes on familiar creatures and I like to see people come up with new, terrifying creatures. Guillermo Del Toro in particular is very good at coming up with amazing designs for stuff that just might give you nightmares. The old classics like vampires and werewolves have gone through so many different variations that they have more flavors than Baskin Robbins. Demons and angels are pretty much the same, including the Gargoyle Angels from I, Frankenstein earlier this month. Even the fae can be absolutely terrifying. Beyond that there’s all sorts of miscellaneous dark and creepy things that can be absolutely awesome.

This is not true of zombies. I don’t know what it is but I rarely get interested in fiction that has zombies in it. For the most part, Zombies are slow, stupid and weak. In most fiction, zombies are humans who have lost their humanity and are driven to prey on mortal human beings. I’ve stated before that loss of humanity is one of my greatest fears. However, the loss of humanity for Zombies is slow and the person doesn’t realize it has happened. When the lights are out, nobody’s home and who really cares who lives there now?

Zombies are outwitted and killed easier than the Wet Bandits. A single headshot or incapacitation turns them from a threat into a corpse. They don’t even shy away from gun fire and generally walk right into swinging range of a melee weapon. Like bees, they are mostly only dangerous in large numbers where they can swarm and overwhelm their target. Any competent hero tends to be able to avoid this situation and it removes a lot of the tension from the story.

Since the zombies themselves are kind of boring, anything related to them has to have interesting characters instead. I tried to watch the Walking Dead since it is the most popular zombie fiction in recent times, rivaled only by the Night of the Living Dead movies. The Walking dead just didn’t do it for me and I didn’t care about the soap opera that happened between zombie attacks. The Night of the Living Dead movies are full of stereotypes or characters too dumb to live for the most part. I gave up on them a while ago. The only zombie movie I’ve seen that I liked was Shaun of the Dead but that was because it was an interesting comedy. Oh and the Evil Dead series but again that was because the hero is fun to watch.

I think if somebody did a good story with an unstoppable zombie menace that was supernatural and not science fiction I might be interested. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something.

Youtubers

April 29, 2015

Lately I have been watching less TV and more internet content. A lot of that daily content comes from Youtube. Youtubers are an interesting animal as they function entirely differently from the normal television model. They’re often working alone or with way less money than your average television studio. Here are a few youtube content producers who I am watching instead of television.

Tamara Lynn Chambers

Tamara is an awesome actress and comedian who is pretty out there. She works with very, very short videos but her upbeat attitude combined with a healthy dose of sarcasm works well with me. I think the thing I like the best about her videos are how tightly edited they are. It feels like they’re shot guerilla style but a lot of it seems to be well-planned. Tamara came to my attention through watching The Nostalgia Critic who I’m a huge fan of. In fact, her longest running original series uses a character originated in Nostalgia Critic episodes. She hasn’t made too many videos and I hope she continues to produce new content because I think she’s hilarious.

Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?

Ashly Burch and Anthony Burch are siblings who love video games. Both of them have worked in in the video game industry for a long while now but it’s obvious they both love playing video games. The average episode of Hey Ash is pretty short but it’s packed with irreverant humor about video games, combating sexism, violence and so much craziness. The two siblings play caricatures of themselves who constantly insult and abuse each other (though usually it’s Anthony getting the abuse). Although I may be biased, I think that you could watch most of these videos without much video game knowledge. Still, having played a lot of the games, the videos are way funnier.

Markiplier

I’ve been watching Let’s Plays for quite a while now. I started watching Let’s Plays because I had no intention of playing certain games but I was still interested in seeing the art, story and gameplay. I especially love horror games but I’m too chicken to actually play most of them. A Let’s Play is often a great compromise because somebody else gets to be scared and I get to enjoy the scares vicariously. I discovered Markiplier through his Five Nights at Freddie’s playthrough. Mark is hilarious when he’s getting the pants scared off of him but I discovered he’s funny in most situations. His humor definitely helps with the scary games though because it diffuses a lot of the jump scares while keeping a lot of the quality scary stuff in.

X’s Guide to the Paranormal – Water Shut-Off Valve

April 28, 2015

Emergency Shut-off of the Water System in Kedward Manor From time to time, the water system of Kedward Manor malfunctions. Pipes break or are broken by external forces seeking to sabotage any mortals within the manor. This is unavoidable as any and all attempts to protect the plumbing lead only to madness. For evidence please read entries on the Pappas family in the 1950’s especially Christopher and Deena Pappas.

Recommended practice for all homeowners or caretakers is to shut off the water and complete all repairs between the hours between the hours of 11 pm and 1 am on odd days of the month preferably on a full moon. This is when the mysterious forces are at their weakest, bound by ancient rituals performed before the town’s founding. When confronted by non-lethal ghostly forces, it is often best to go with the flow.

First Step: The Naiads

If the basement is flooded (and trust me it will be flooded), a tribe of fae creatures known as Naiads. It is the Caio tribe but most Naiads can be treated the same regardless of tribe unless you are dealing with the Jaio tribe but that is another matter entirely. Please see the entry on Naiads for more information. If you have not placated the Caio tribe before the emergency you will need to murder enough of them that the rest retreat. Before the next emergency, please consult Placating the Non-Human Residents of Kedward Manor entry as you should have done when maintenance of the Manor became your responsibility. You will eventually heal from the Naiad’s poison, the deafness will last a little longer.

Second Step: The Valve Itself

Once you have located the shut-off valve, you must firmly grip the handle and speak one of your well-guarded secrets aloud. Once this is done, the handle should move freely. If it does not, you may need to feed it your blood. It does not need to be a lot of blood but enough to unlock the mechanism. You’ll know when it’s enough.

Warning: If you are a werewolf, remember to wear gloves when operating the shut off valve. There are trace amounts of silver in the handle and raised runes designed to paralyze those who are branded by the sigils. If you are unsure whether or not you are a werewolf it is best to play it safe.

Third Step: The Ghost Water When the handle is pulled, the water in the Manor will be shut-off but it will trigger the flow of the ghost water. The ghost water is both there and not there but it will drown you the same as real water regardless. The ghost water will fill the maintenance chamber within three seconds once the shut-off valve is triggered. If you have not read this completely before starting the shut-off process then I hope your family mourns you. To ward off the ghost water please use the following hand signals:

Hand Signals

You must complete the hand signals in sequence while humming a pure B Flat. After you have done this, the ghost water will have receded and the water will be shut off. Feel free to complete any maintenance at the appointed times. To turn on the water: Flip the handle to the on position and offer a prayer to Poseidon.

*  *   *

(The following is out of character)

Apologies, WordPress mucked up my formatting so the first few people who saw this may have had problems reading this post.  In my job currently I am writing a guide for maintenance and repair of a 12 bedroom house.  This was written in response to that and obviously inspired by Welcome to Nightvalehttps://www.youtube.com/embed/SJoIwGeKs3A” target=”_blank”>Gravity Falls and Broodhollow.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Tag Teams

April 27, 2015

WILPW

Tag Team wrestling is an interesting concept. Normal bouts in sports entertainment are efforts to prove who the best competitor is. That’s one reason we get mad when the heel cheats. He won not because he’s the best competitor but because he’s lucky and intelligent. Tag Team wrestling changes the dynamic by making it about the team and not the individual. It also changes the way a match is built. Suddenly there are four people involved in the match and conditioning and timing changes. You have to showcase all four people pretty evenly to be successful which means all four guys should be interesting. This has failed in the past but it has also succeeded spectacularly. In fact, some of my favorite matches have been tag team matches.

So let’s look at a few successful tag teams and look at what type they represent and my theory on why they were popular. Just as a note, I’m going to be using male terms a lot because tag teams are used infrequently in women’s competition.

The Motorcity Machineguns

Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin are two guys from Detroit who came up in the business around the same time and (from all appearances) are two guys who had worked together a lot before they were officially a team. These guys knew each other’s rhythms and timing and they absolutely killed it in the ring. They started as heroes who repped their hometown of Detroit by pointing to their hands (think about it) and defeating their opponents. Later the two became arrogant heels while still performing awesome moves. The two worked together so well because they were technically sound and knew each other so well. Some other great tag teams that knew each other well were Edge and Christian, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, The Mega Powers and the Thrillseekers.

Team Extreme

Sometimes tag teams are closer than two guys who have worked together for a long while. Sometimes they’re actually family. Matt and Jeff Hardy are two brothers who are very close in age and both of them loved Pro-Wrestling. They happened to break into mainstream wrestling just when hardcore wrestling was becoming huge at the same time as a resurgence in tag team wrestling. The two created a lot of tag team wrestling innovations and helped to turn the whole concept of a tag team on its ear. They also sacrificed their bodies to make it in the business and fans definitely respected them for that back in the nineties. Unfortunately both have hit hard times off and on due to drug problems and such but we’ll always remember the team that I refuse to call the Hardy Boyz. Some of these sort of great tag teams are The Rhodes Dynasty, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog, The Briscoe Brothers, The Young Bucks and Harlem Heat.


Beer Money

Sometimes instead of taking two guys who know each other well, you throw together two guys who aren’t doing anything at the time. Sometimes the promoter just hopes to fill a spot for the night and sometimes they’re hoping to throw crap and have it actually stick to the wall. James Storm and Robert Roode did not have much to do with each other. Storm had been in America’s Most Wanted but was now a hard drinking cowboy. Robert Roode had started a rich guy gimmick after Team Canada disbanded. So the TNA writers threw the two of them together in a move that baffled a lot of fans. The two of them defied all odds and worked on meshing their styles together. They made compromises and Robert Roode became less sophisticated and James Storm became more driven. Some other tag teams like this were The Rockers, The Timesplitters, Chris Jericho and Big Show and Miz and Morrison.


The Shield

Sometimes tag teams seem to succeed because everybody designs it that way. Everybody involved moves heaven and earth for the team to be a cohesive unit, almost a brand. The Shield appeared out of nowhere to aid CM Punk in keeping his championship during a PPV. However, they trained together before that at what is now known as NXT. To the average viewer (myself included) the three had come out of nowhere and acted as a cohesive and dominant unit. They dressed alike, they acted as one and they seemed extremely coordinated. Eventually, they slowly formed personalities of their own in preparation for them disbanding but they gained fan and notoriety by being a trained tactical unit. Some other tag teams like this are MNM, The Major Brothers, London and Kendrick, The Road Warriors, The Hart Foundation and the Four Horsemen.


Team Hell No

Some teams just don’t make sense on paper. Some teams it’s funny to see two people who cannot possibly get along enter into a team together. At one point, Kane was hated and feared as Hell’s Favorite Demon. Not only was he a Big Red Machine but he was the Undertaker’s brother and a supernatural force to be reckoned with. Daniel Bryan was a young and exciting wrestler who had won the world title and then lost it, becoming embittered with the fans and angry with his fellow performers. The solution? Send them both to anger management therapy. Eventually part of their therapy was to team up together and despite their intense hatred of each other, they were successful. Some other great teams in this vein were The Rock ‘n Sock Connection, MVP and Matt Hardy, Raven and Tommy Dreamer, Goldust and Booker T, The Two Man Power Trip and the Corporate Ministry.

Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

April 25, 2015

I was a little disappointed in this movie. During the A to Z challenge 2015 I’ve reviewed a few movies and I was pleasantly surprised. This time the surprise wasn’t so pleasant. I had heard of this movie as the “Nic Cage thinks he’s a vampire and overreacts” story and so I expected wild antics and wacky hijinx. Instead I got something I had never thought I would see. Subdued Nic Cage. I didn’t think such a thing was possible.

Just kidding. He was batshit insane once you get through the first twenty minutes and it was glorious.

Let’s face it, Nicolas Cage is incredibly strange. He makes good movies and he makes bad movies but he’s always the most interesting thing in any movie he’s in. He makes some of the strangest acting choices of anyone I have ever seen. The only one that can compare to the sheer strangeness of Nic Cage is probably Christopher Walken.

This movie certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to strange Nic Cage moments. He spoke with the weirdest accent and often accented the wrong words in sentences out of nowhere. His character was one of the biggest assholes to the point where asshole characters in the Twilight Zone would tell him to tone it down. Of course, at least when the Twilight Zone character is punished they learn they lesson. Not Cage’s character. He becomes a bigger asshole.

After that, he basically goes insane and acts in ways that most human beings would find puzzling or terrifying. I pride myself on my writing skills but I don’t think I can accurately describe what happens in this movie. I think the reason is that I mostly don’t understand the motivations of the main character most of the time. I mean, yeah he’s an upper middle class asshole who thinks he’s a vampire but that’s what’s in the script. Sometimes Nic Cage is operating from a different script and only God knows what was written in that.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie was terrible. It was unquestionably one of the worst things I have ever seen and I cannot recommend it in good faith. I would suggest that you watch it in a group and talk over the movie, especially in between the crazy Cage moments. There were definitely some funny moments and some fascinating moments but the movie was so boring the rest of the time. It’s not a good sign when I feel my attention drift off to other things during a movie I haven’t seen before. Now that I mention it, I think that’s what happened to the guy who composed the score for this movie. He wasn’t paying full attention either.

So basically we’re left with a movie that starts out like a normal movie where we’re following a jerk before his comeuppance and redemption. Maybe he’ll be like Scrooge. Then the movie just devolves into weirdness and madness. Please don’t watch this movie seriously. Don’t watch it alone.

Oh yes. I’ll just put this here in honor of A to Z Blog Challenge…

Underworld (2004)

April 24, 2015

I’m honestly embarassed that I hadn’t seen this movie until now. I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. I’ve read dozens of books and seen lots of movies and television series. When I was a kid, I always used to imagine something just beyond the veil. It was so close to our world that one wrong turn could put me in contact with something that goes bump in the night. Vampires and werewolves are probably the two biggest creepy crawlies around. Both deal with possibly losing one’s humanity to a beast inside. Of course, the movie doesn’t really deal with that aspect but that’s alright.

So how is the movie? Surprisingly good. I was expecting “Goth Matrix” but I got a far more subtle movie than I thought I would. I was expecting a popcorn flick and while I got one, it was not nearly as dumb as I thought it was. I don’t expect much from big budget movies between 1998 and 2005. This was a period where Godzilla (1998), The Matrix (1999) and Swordfish (2001) where blockbusters were enjoyable but not really substantive. I love all three of those movies but they were kind of half-assing it in the writing department. I would put Underworld on the angel side of good writing but it’s not too far from that line.

The movie is basically torn from the pages of White Wolf Publishing, a company that produces a lot of cool tabletop RPGs about werewolves, vampires, faeries and so on. There was even a lawsuit settled out of court by the makers of Underworld if you don’t believe me. There’s a war between vampires and werewolves that has gone on for centuries and supposedly werewolves are on the brink of extinction. Normally you would expect the hero to be a werewolf but we’re given vampire heroine Selene (Kate Beckinsale). She is tasked with figuring out a centuries old secret conspiracy that will change the war forever while she tries to protect her Dude in Distress. (By the way this was a refreshing reversal that was actually done right)

The acting was surprisingly good. I thought at first that Kate Beckinsale was wooden but I felt that she was instead reserved as you might expect an old vampire to be. There were moments where that resolve slipped and you could see splashes of raw emotion shine through. There were some good character actors throughout. Her Dude in Distress was not so great but served his purpose. However, Bill Nighy did an excellent job as an elder vampire and although he was corny in some places, he was very convincing in others. I also want to give a shout out to Michael Sheen and Shane Brolly who did a great job as the movie’s villains. Shane Brolly in particular was very easy to hate.

The art direction and cinematography was pretty awesome as the movie was very pretty but also very dark. It seemed to take place in what looked like eternal night or the same world that the first 5 minutes of XXX took place in. Len Wiseman directed this one and it seems he pretty much created the franchise. It makes sense that it would be pretty good as he is responsible for the Sleepy Hollow tv show and the underrated fourth Die Hard movie. I kind of wish he had toned down some of the exposition but, as a world-building fan, I have to respect what he created. I don’t think I’ll be watching the prequel anytime soon though. I feel like I’ve already seen it from the stories the characters told.

Overall, it was a pretty good movie. I would suggest seeing it.

Top 11 “Iconic” Movies of My Childhood

April 23, 2015

Top 11

Here is a list of the some of the movies that guided my childhood and informed my preferences later in life even to this day.  I was born in December of 1982 so do the math where I haven’t and realize that I was probably irrevocably altered by Tim Burton for better or worse.

Top 11 “Iconic” Films of My Childhood

11 The Goonies (1985)

This one is thick with so much eighties nostalgia that if you sliced it, it would bleed such radical blood. The movie is an adventure movie where a bunch of kids and some teenagers search for pirate treasure which is pretty awesome. It was even more awesome when I was a kid. The kids stuck together no matter what and they struggled to keep the faith of their mission. Forget Mikey, I always liked Data as the awkward inventor type. That’s mostly how I felt as a kid. I even liked to wear a long jacket a lot like he did. Even back then the movie felt kind of wistful and slow in places. While it is inspiring, the “our time” speech feels kind of sad as well.

10 Star Trek IV (1986)

I remember being a Star Trek fan long before I was a Star Wars fan. I don’t remember who introduced me to the series but by third grade my friends and I were poring over technical drawings. I never really cared too much about how the ships were put together. I cared more about what the plans said about what life on the ship was like. In my opinion, Star Trek IV is the most enjoyable out of the original six. Sure the crew had aged quite a bit by this point but it’s so interesting to see a future society interact with a more contemporary society. It’s also the funniest Star Trek movie (Generations is actually a close second). I often hear or read about this movie being demaned as the “Dumb Whale Movie” but it’s way more memorable than most of the other movies.

9 Clueless (1995)

This was a surprise hit in my family about the time when I was thirteen. The movie is so good at being a parody of nineties culture that it’s easy to miss that there’s actually a pretty introspective message to it all. Besides, it’s the closest I’ll probably ever get to reading Emma. I think this movie is the first time that I felt safe watching and enjoying a “girl” movie, a distinction that is getting harder and harder to make. It was rare that I watched and enjoyed a movie with so little explosions but Clueless is funny and the characters are relateable. Well, they’re not as relateable now but they were when I was a young teenager.

8 Crybaby (1990)

Any list of movies I enjoyed in my childhood has to include a movie from my hometown of Baltimore. I’m Baltimore through and through and wherever I’ve been, I have always had the city deep in my heart. Not only that but John Waters has always spoken to the weird, geeky and sometimes dark side of me that is fun to explore. The first exposure I had to his movies were a few glimpsed scenes of Serial Mom before it was shut off. Crybaby is the story of a love story amidst the battle between the Squares and the Drapes, a local motorcycle gang. All of this takes place in the suburbs and rural areas ouside of Baltimore. This movie helped prepare me for how cliquish school would get. It’s also way, way better than Grease.

7 Back to the Future II (1989)

The Back to the Future series is awesome. The team up of Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox made for screen chemistry that was off the charts. The first movie was good but I actually prefer the sequels as they up the stakes considerably without dilluting the product. I struggled to decide whether I should put 2 or 3 in this spot but I opted for 2 for several reasons. 1) Where else are you going to find a movie where Michael J. Fox plays three different characters while somebody does a Crispin Glover impression? 2) The future sequence is great because it’s completely optimistic and not a crumbling, post-apocalyptic mess. 3) It is the most science fiction heavy of the series and introduced alternate universe theories to mainstream pop culture. On top of all of that, it’s a great mix of funny and dark and inspiring.

6 Jurassic Park (1993)

I was pretty sure as a young boy that liking dinosaurs was just a fact of life for young boys. I mean, all of the television, toys and theme parks seemed to tell me so. Jurrasic Park was a no-brainer and I’m sure that’s what Amblin and Universal were thinking. Of course, that movie could have ended up being a cash grab but they chose some good source material and injected a lot of heart into it. I remember watching the movie for the dinosaurs but loving it for the people. The cast is amazing and the special effects hold up so much better than some of the cgi monstrosities that showed up just a few years later. Even Jeff Goldblum looked good in this one even though he’s usually kind of a cartoon character.

5 Beetlejuice (1988)

Tim Burton was always pretty much the patron saint of all of the somewhat gothy, geeky and misunderstood kids of the world. For everyone else he was probably an entertaining director who had some hits and some misses but was financially successful. I was always in the first group and Tim Burton’s style of weirdness definitely resonated with me in ways that I felt my friends couldn’t understand. Now, Beetlejuice isn’t exactly a brilliant film but it’s a whole lot of fun. It was the first time where I saw horror movie material used for comedy instead. At this point, Tim Burton’s art direction was still very new and exciting and it feels like there were more hits than misses. It didn’t hurt that Delia Dietz was one of my dream girls.

4 Ghostbusters (1984)

Again, a supernatural comedy/adventure movie that took what should have been scary and made it hilarious. The movie took Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis at the height of their careers. Bill Murray is especially on point as a snarky asshole with a heart of gold. Of course, the three hapless scientists (and later also the awesome Winston) are up against a world of ghost trouble and an elder god. The comedy, effects and story still hold up even when a lot of other eighties movies look completely dated (like The Goonies). The movie actually has some tense and scary moments but most of it is really fun. I was two when this came out so I definitely saw it a little later on VHS but in my late teens I finally got to see it in a movie theater.

3 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

I worshipped Indiana Jones when I was a kid. I even got my folks to buy me an official Indiana Jones leather jacket and fedora. Thankfully for everyone involved, they did not buy me a whip because I would probably still be wearing an eyepatch. Indiana Jones was the ultimate hero for me. I was a smart kid but I disliked team sports but I loved being physically active. I could imagine myself swinging through temples and dealing with bad guys while using my brains to sort out ancient mysteries. I also never liked snakes either. I chose the third movie for this list because it is my favorite of the series. To me the movie is immensely helped by the addition of River Phoenix as young Indy and Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr. The first movie feels like it drags a little in places and the second one has an insufferable female lead.

2 The Addams Family (1991)

Just like my early exposure to Tim Burton movies, this movie spoke to not only how different I felt but my desire to be different. It made it ok to “wave my freak flag high” which is what any geeky kid interested in the darker side of fiction probably wanted at the time. I was most taken at the time with young Wednesday Addams (another fictional character I had a crush on). She seems bored with what other people were interested in and had her own passions that she embraced. That’s exactly how I felt. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate one of the best casts any movie has ever had. Raul Julia and Angelica Huston in particular are captivating. It all makes me nostalgic for a television show that I never watched in the first place.

1 Batman (1989)

This was the alpha and omega of my childhood. This is the movie that spawned my interest in comic books which in turn led me to walking several miles to blow my allowance at the local comic book shop. Of course, it didn’t do that right away. Before this, the only Batman I had seen was Adam West who was goofy and looked like he’d have trouble fighting a plastic bag. I didn’t understand that the Batman television show was intentionally awful and that finally somebody had convinced Hollywood to do Batman somewhat seriously. All I understood was that Batman was kicking butt and his costume looked awesome and this was so awesome. I still love the tone, the dialogue, the pacing and the cast on this one. This is the best of the original four Batman movies and set the bar high for Joker portrayals on film. It’s also the only movie on this list that I actually saw in theaters, most of the others I saw on VHS months or years after their release. For that reason and many others, this movie will always be magical to me.

The Sword Part 3

April 22, 2015

The Sword

Kori was the last one out of her cheer leading outfit and into the shower and therefore was the last person left in the locker room. It was kind of creepy to be the last one in the building but Kori really had nowhere to be at the moment. She grabbed her bag and headed out the back door to the athletic fields. Her house was on the other side so it was the easiest path. Of course, that meant walking right past the football field which only reminded her of Austin. It had been two weeks since they had broken up and Kori felt like an outsider. She didn’t know how to relate to things. It felt weird cheering for the quarterback after he had cheated on her with somebody from the glee club.

Kori had trouble even getting angry about it anymore though she felt like she was angry at everything else. She stopped to take a deep breath and then breathed out the bad energy. She closed her eyes slowly and opened them and she swore she saw something shiny glint in the sun over by the equipment shed. She started heading in that direction. Maybe somebody had dropped some jewelry while they were out on the field. Maybe it was that glee club witch. Pawning anything owned by her would actually be nice. The thought certainly made Kori smile at that moment.

She searched the ground near the equipment shed and couldn’t find any shiny jewelry which was kind of a let down. Instead, her eye was drawn to something shiny on the wall of the shed. On closer inspection, Kori found that the object was not on the wall but actually embedded in it. There was a little bit of metal sticking out of the shed. She grabbed on with a perfectly manicured hand and pulled. She was astonished to pull a full metal glove from the shed. What the hell was this thing and how had it made it a softball-sized hole in the shed? She wished she had the answer but decided if she didn’t know, it wasn’t worth knowing.

She tucked the glove into her backpack and had almost forgotten about the whole thing by the time she was home and on the phone with Lindy. Lindy was just about the only friend who had truly stuck with Kori. The two of them had been tight since they were little and they almost always talked on the phone or in person before their respective curfews. Austin was a taboo subject now so they talked about a planned visit to the mall two towns over instead. It would be fun to get out of town and see somewhere else for a change.

Somewhere around the time they started talking about the upcoming county fair, Kori reached into her backpack and pulled out the glove. For half a moment she couldn’t remember where she had gotten the glove but then she remembered the field. She slipped the glove on. She could have sworn that the thing was too big a moment ago but it fit perfectly now. It looked good, smooth lines neat designs engraved into it. It was like the armor that all those knights from history class wore. Kind of like that Joan of Arc person. She felt strong wearing the glove and she smiled as she imagined slapping Austin hard with it. She thought about showing it to Lindy but she wondered if even she would understand.

Redcross Part 2

April 21, 2015

Redcross

Sarah arrived outside of the undertaker’s place a few minutes after the bell rang 11 o’clock. The sound felt too long and too ominous as if it meant more today and maybe it did. She paused at the door, the sign reading Warren Chilton firmly attached to it. He was the local keeper of the dead as her father had often joked when he had brought Sarah along for a visit. Warren was a tall and imposing man that only Sarah’s father had befriended. He had often found his way to the Redcross household sending little Sarah to run and clutch her father’s leg. His apologetic smile had always been less than disarming.

Sarah’s hesitation did not come from any past views of Warren Chilton. The ghosts of youth had all been chased away by the stronger ghosts of adulthood. Warren no longer scared Sarah. Well, maybe just a little if she was being honest. What really made her pause was the thought of the bodies in there. Mr. Nobody’s body was hard enough to look at out in the sunshine. In there it was dim and silent and much closer all of which seemed much worse.

She took a deep breath and pushed open the door. It swung open easily and she stepped inside, her boot steps sounded hollow as she stepped over the threshold. The cool air betrayed the presence of an ice block hidden away somewhere behind all of the finery and rituals.

“Is that you, Sheriff?” Warren called from a room in the back. That meant either the room with the bodies or the parlor for the guests who never came. That parlor was where Sarah would be deposited if Warren and her father had ever had to talk business which meant dead bodies. The parlor was thankfully free of dead bodies when there wasn’t a viewing or else Sarah would have asked to wait for her father outside.

“Yes, Mr. Chilton. You know, you’re just about the only person who calls me that.” The thought did make her smile. Even if he was somewhat unsettling, Warren was familiar and reminded Sarah of the good times with her father. That could never be a bad thing.

“And you’re usually the only person who calls me Warren outside of my wife.” He said. It was a gentle reminder. Of course, his first wife was ten years dead but Warren had once told John Redcross that he spoke to his wife every day still. Sarah tried to keep an open mind about it.  She knew that Warren’s second wife was very open-minded about it.

“Sorry, Warren.”

“No, it’s alright, Sarah. I wish more people treated me like a man rather than death itself. You’re not afraid of me anymore.” It was almost a question but came out sound like a statement instead. He lit a cigarette off of the candle near the door and a couple drops of hot wax hit his hand. If he felt anything, he didn’t show it.

“I grew up, Warren,” Sarah said with a shrug. She carefully hung up her coat and smoothed her dress.

“No, it’s something else, Sarah. It’s the same thing that makes you a good Sheriff. It’s the
same thing that made your father a good Sheriff.”

“And what’s that?” Sarah asked, looking up at the tall man’s beaming face. She was reminded of scarecrows and skeletons looking at him.

“Courage.” He said with a brighter smile. “Courage.”

Sarah sighed deeply. She didn’t feel very brave. She could feel the goosebumps on her arms and she felt on edge. “I didn’t want to come here.” She confessed.

“Nobody ever does,” Warren replied with a grave nod. “Shall we get on to business? Sunnier pastures beyond the rain clouds or so they say.” Sarah wasn’t sure who said that but it sounded pretty good as long as the rain didn’t last too long. She followed Warren but was relieved when he walked only a few steps to a simple desk where several items were laid out carefully. On one end of the desk, there were bloody clothes neatly folded. “These are the clothes and personal effects of the deceased,” Warren said as he turned up the nearby lamp so there was a little more light.

Sarah passed over the bloody tatters of the dead man’s clothes, she had seen them out at the spot where the man had been found. She looked with more interest at the personal items. She turned to look at Warren. “Is it ok to touch?”

“That’s fine. I don’t think he’ll mind.” Warren said with the slightest smirk.

She picked up a silver pocket watch which was inscribed with all sorts of strange symbols. She didn’t understand any of them.

“Do you understand any of these symbols, Warren? You’re a university man, aren’t you?”

“Not a single one. Do you?” He replied.

“Nope.” She sighed and set the watch down. The next item was a pearl-handled revolver which looked pretty fancy. She flipped it open and there were no bullets inside of it. “I wonder if he got to use this against whatever killed him. I kind of hope he hit it.” She said as she looked up at Warren who shrugged. It was no help speculating about gunplay without any more evidence. He might have just had the gun for show or had used the gun before he got to town and had yet to get more bullets. Too many possibilities.

There was a package of smokes, matches and money and a fancy silver belt buckle as well but besides being kind of flashy, they were ordinary. The only other thing was a piece of paper. It looked like it had been torn from a bigger piece and it had a cigarette burn in it but it looked more or less intact. Sarah picked it up and read it aloud.

“Come to me. Bring the key.” She looked up at Warren. “Instructions, it seems like. The key?”

“It wasn’t on him anywhere nor was it in him. I checked.” There was a pause as Sarah swallowed hard and tried to will her stomach not to do so many flips. “It seems to me to be a word that should be underlined. Something important, no?”

“Yeah, I get a chill just reading the words. It’s not signed so he must have known who it was from. I get the feeling the key’s a big secret. But I have no clue what it means, especially without the key itself.”

“Now are you ready for the rest?” Warren said, gesturing toward the back room.

“The rest? Warren, this is just a simple animal attack, right? There’s no need for the rest is there?”

“Well…” Warren began and cocked his head gently to the side, a gesture that seemed to mean that there was more to this story.

“No, don’t tell me that even you are influenced by the rumors that drunken idiot started.” She laughed but inside she hoped, she clung to the belief that this was just a case of lucky mountain lions finding an unlucky traveler. Why did something in her gut keep telling her differently? She could feel Warren looking at her and she could see him thinking. Something was wrong.

“I found some evidence that seems to indicate something else,” Warren said with a tone that was half proud statement and half apology.

“Something else? You’d better show me then.” Something tightened in Sarah’s stomach at the thought of seeing the stranger’s body again but that feeling warred with her sense of duty and curiosity.

“Alright. Follow me into the back, Sheriff.” Warren said as he led the way into the back room. The room with the bodies. Sarah dared to follow.


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