Archive for July, 2016

Comet Girl Pt. 3

July 30, 2016

There was chatter on the police scanner about an armed robbery from some man who had some sort of ice powers. He and some other masked goons were stomping around some bank in downtown Drake and it was just a short flight away for Traci to get there. However, there were two many eyes and cameras in the downtown area and Traci had agreed with her mother that she was not ready for Drake to have hard evidence of her existence yet. That was why her father had moved the family out to the suburbs before he disappeared. So he could keep his secret identity hidden a little easier. As far as Traci and her mom knew, that secret was still safe so Traci was not going to do anything to endanger that or her own secret.

It sucked because Traci knew that taking on a bunch of guys with guns and somebody with ice powers would be really fun. She had yet to encounter anyone with powers yet as most of them had kept a low profile in recent years. Either that or the powers and abilities themselves were just now re-emerging after a long dormant period. Kind of like Dr. Laco’s lectures about cicadas. Whatever the case, Traci sometimes got a little stir crazy attending pep rallies and study sessions instead of being out with other people with powers. That frustration sometimes made her want to punch something. As the tree in the backyard could attest, that punch was a truly destructive force. She and her mom had to lie and say that lightning struck it.

So now Traci was out flying out over the forests one county over in Lucas County. It was peaceful out there and it had become Traci’s version of going out for a jog. Of course, she jogged too but with a few of her friends and she had to pace herself so she did not outrun them all. Out here in the wilds, she could really cut loose as long as she kept a low profile and watched for lights out in the wilderness. The rush of the wind along her body was a total thrill and these were the only times she was sorry that she had cut her hair so short. At least she felt safe enough not to wear her mask out here in the country air. It felt awesome to be free in that night air to dart around over the trees. One day, she would feel this free in the middle of Drake City.

Her watched chimed as she was doing some lazy circles around the tallest oak in the forest which meant it was time to go back home. If she did not get to bed, she would not be remotely willing to get up in the morning to face the day. High school was daunting enough with eight hours of sleep, Traci could not imagine how bad it could get if she was sleepy and slightly grumpy all day. Besides, if she stayed out much longer her mother would worry and there would be a lecture and plenty of guilt. Nobody wanted that. Traci used her compass to point herself toward home and started to fly at a steady pace.

“What are you doing out here alone?” said a shouted female voice from her left. Traci stopped short to look in that direction. There was a woman dressed in some form-fitting black leather costume who was watching Traci with an amused look on her face. It was important to note that both of them were currently several stories above the trees and even further from the ground. Traci scrambled to pull her mask on. This had obviously never happened before.

“Who are you?” Traci shouted back. It was the best thing she could think of saying even if it sounded a little too flustered and silly after she said it.

“I call myself the Hammer,” the woman said. “What do you call yourself, young lady?”

“That’s confidential,” Traci answered. She was trying to keep her voice neutral. She was also trying to keep some space between herself and the woman.

“Mysterious. So, I guess we have to fight now,” the Hammer said.

“Wait, what!?” Traci asked. “Are you crazy?” Of course, Traci did not get an answer to that because the Hammer lunged and swung a fist at Traci’s face. Traci was so stunned that the punch landed and she found herself hurtling through the air. She was seeing stars for the first time in her life. She somehow avoided flying into a tree in that blindness. She looked around and could not see the woman around as she wove her way through the trees.

Suddenly, the woman lunged from behind a tree but, this time, Traci evaded her strike and threw a punch of her own. Her fist connected and it was now the Hammer’s turn to fly off into the trees. Of course, Traci could instantly feel that she had broken her thumb. Maybe it would be good to actually learn how to throw a punch before the next fight. Traci looked around but the Hammer was nowhere in sight. She flew into the night and wondered what that crazy woman’s intentions had been. Was she still out there?

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Media Update 7/28/2016

July 28, 2016


Limitless (TV Show)

I have seen at most five minutes of the movie that this show is based on. I got the basic concept that there is a neuroenhancer pill that allows a person to focus and remember things much easier. On a side note, I am glad that the show does not use the “10 percent of your brain” chestnut and instead talks about making connections in your brain fire faster and easier. You’re still using 100% of your brain, you are just more efficient. The show follows a burnt-out musician who gets a hold of the pill and uses his enhanced smarts to become an FBI consultant. There is a lot more to it but I do not want to spoil anything cool for you. I will say that one of my favorite parts of the show so far is the exploration of how your personality changes when you suddenly get smarter. It uses a lot of cool visual effects to visualize what increased processing speed and power might be like. It can also be really funny. I have to give a shout out to the star of the show Jake McDornan who gives a really cool performance as he almost plays two characters each episode. The show also has Jennifer Carpenter who you might remember from Dexter and she is awesome. Also, kudos to actually getting Bradley Cooper to cameo on the show a couple times. This is a good procedural with a science fiction twist. Check it out.


Dark Matter

I originally shied away from this show because its pedigree sounded very similar to Stargate Universe. Stargate Universe was dark and depressing while Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis were fun and adventurous. That is how I like my science fiction which often means that I am out of luck. Pure science fiction is often not very optimistic while fantasy tends to be a lot more hopeful. I finally decided to check this out because Wil Wheaton is involved. With the exception of The Big Bang Theory, I have loved everything that Wil has been involved with. I figured that it would not hurt to at least watch the first episode. The premise of the show is that a crew of people wake up from stasis on a spaceship only to discover that they do not know who they are. Their memories are almost completely wiped, leaving only instinct and sense memory to guide them. The show puts the characters in a conflict between who they are after the wipe and who they were before the wipe. The characters are all really charming and although there is a dark side to everything, the show is funny and light when it needs to be. The show also looks good and it feels like they are building a pretty rich world around the characters which we get to explore with them.  Check it out when you get a chance.


Equilibrium

I have had this movie on my Netflix queue for quite some time merely because Christian Bale is in it. Bale won me over during the Dark Night Trilogy and even further in American Psycho and the Prestige. I have a goal to watch all of Bale’s movies at some point so they are all on my list. In addition, this movie was supposed to have great visual effects. A lot of people call it a Matrix ripoff which would definitely be possible as it came out around three years after the Matrix. I disagree. The movie explores the dangers of putting logic too far ahead of emotion. The movie calls back to stories like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. It is a dystopian future where sense and emotion are punishable by death. I was expecting a hard-hitting blockbuster like The Matrix but instead, the movie is pretty quiet and thoughtful. The movie is incredibly suspenseful and much of it explores how people can live hidden lives in a hostile world. The Gun Kata displayed in the movie is really fun and is kind of Hong Kong Action Movie levels of insane. The movie could have been a little better paced but I think it was done that way to unnerve the viewer. It is kind of hard to describe without spoiling the whole movie and I do not want to do that. This movie is worth watching.

Music of the Week:

The Clash – Straight To Hell

Queen Pen – Party Ain’t A Party

Muse – Psycho

Edna’s Goldfish – Veronica Sawyer

The Tubes – She’s A Beauty

 

Weekly Updates:
– I have been watching a lot of the RNC and DNC conventions this week
– I watched a truckload of Daily Show and Last Week Tonight as well
– I wish I could get to a movie theater
– The classes I am taking have me incredibly nervous and feeling like I need to buckle down
– Adulting is hard, yo
– This week’s theme is “The Mind in Science Fiction”
– I think I have some time before next semester to kick out the jams
– I really hope I do

The Other

July 25, 2016

I have been thinking about this post for a while. Over two weeks ago I went to see a play called The Wedding Gift by Chisa Hutchinson. I will not spoil it for those who have not seen it yet but it is at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV. If you are reading this before July 31, 2016 then there is still time to see the production I saw. After seeing it, I wanted to briefly discuss some of the ideas and memories it awoke in me. So this is not exactly a review but instead a reflection on how the play affected me. If you want a non-spoiler review, here it is: It’s really good. I have said before that I do not get political on this blog because that is what Tumblr is for. This is not about politics. This is about culture and morals and human beings.

All during the play, I had fleeting flashes of memory and thought. I remembered the first time I read about slavery and really understood what the word and the situation meant. I thought about how those first African slaves must have felt as they were unloaded in the New World. I can barely fathom the mix of emotions they might have felt but I imagine that none of them were good. I thought about the manner in which a certain part of the family says the word “black” and how it irks me every time. Sometimes it makes me just a little sick. It made me think about the two Muslim kids in my graduating high school class.

Most of all, it actually made me think of a small part of my life that ended up being incredibly important to my worldview. At the end of my Freshman year at Mason Gross School for the Arts, I was looking for a summer job and my mother had a lead through my brother. He was working with a theater and dance company called Wombworks Productions and I was encouraged to work with them too. I ended up working for a program called Yoasis! which was funded by Yo! Baltimore. It was a program where older kids from youth centers could learn their way around a recording studio, acting, dance and music. It was the first year of the program and they wanted to call it Oasis but I mentioned that there was already a music group called Oasis.

This program was operated in West Baltimore nearly at the end of North Avenue. This was completely foreign territory to me but I trusted my brother and my brief experiences with the company earlier in the summer. When the program began, I found out that for the entirety, I would be the only white employee and the only white person at all around at all. It was eye-opening. The company was mostly inspired by African culture and some Native American culture but this program also reflected the culture these kids lived every day. There was rap, there was African dance, there was poetry and so much more. In fact, I remember writing one particular poem that was included in the show we were putting together.

I remember one incident where I was working with the kids and the other staff and one of the staff pulled me out of the room. They said that I “probably did not want to be in there right now.” The director of the program came in and started to speak to the kids about how the black man and woman were oppressed by the white man. I was just outside of the room but I could feel the tension, frustration and anger building up inside. It was not violent but it was honest and it felt to me like an old wound being ripped open again right there in that room. It has taken me a long time to really understand that moment. It made me understand privilege, oppression, racism and allowed me a glimpse of what it is to be the other.

As the play unfolded and ended, I thought about my brief experience being The Other. I thought about how vulnerable I felt walking across the street to New York Fried Chicken. I thought about talking to young black kids who had been shot at and had lives so different from mine. I thought about the things we shared and how they accepted my poem into their artform. I thought about how our country as a whole is treating the trans people and how we are disrespecting them because they are Other. I thought about how All Lives Matter misses the point of the statement and movement of Black Lives Matter. I thought about how those things are politicized when they should not really be about politics. They should be common sense.

The Other is anything that is any person or group who you feel is not like you. A rich and rewarding life is going to involve running into The Other over and over. It is important to understand The Other and its boundaries. However, while you are recognizing and understanding those boundaries, you should remember that they were made by people. Deep down we really are all the same. We can be smart, stupid, kind, cruel and all sorts of other descriptions. Recently, I have been interacting with a lot of people who have not really experienced The Other so they are afraid and prejudiced. Instead, I wish I could get them to go out and meet a gay person or meet a black or Muslim and realize that they are people too. It is important to remember that we are all The Other to some other group of people. All we can do is try to have sympathy for each other and try to understand each other and figure out what we need to do to effect positive change.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Johnny Mundo

July 23, 2016

WILPW

I know that the WWE Draft is currently rocking the headlines of the world of Sports Entertainment. I watched the draft on Tuesday night but when I watched it, it was a little less than live since I could not get to the television until after ten o’clock. I really enjoyed Raw and Smackdown this week. The draft was intriguing and in my heart of hearts I definitely correctly picked the first two drafts. I cannot wait to see how they utilize their separated talent pools. In addition, there are plenty of other recent headlines in the business or adjacent to the business. UFC 200 happened and Brock Lesnar was victorious. As much as I like Brock Lesnar, I could care less because I don’t care for UFC. Ah well. The Final Deletion exploded the internet making millions of wrestling fans sit up and say “Wait, TNA still exists?” The Final Deletion was hilarious but maybe for all the wrong reasons. Only time will tell.

All of that aside, I want to pay tribute to the other big news for the past three weeks. We are officially nearing the end of Season 2 of Lucha Underground. At the end of each season, the twisted temple holds an event called Ultima Lucha. This is an eight-hour event that is aired on El Rey network over three weeks. It is amazing and entertaining and pretty brutal. So let’s take a look at the leader of Worldwide Underground, one of the hottest new factions in Lucha Underground. Let’s take a look at Johhny Mundo.

John Hennigan was given a chance on WWE’s annoying reality show Tough Enough 2. Tough Enough was a show where people trained to be pro-wrestlers and competed for a WWE contract. It was a little annoying because, like other shows of its kind, it encroached on the mainstream product and threatened kayfabe. Kind of the same reason I hated the Diva Search, early NXT and Total Divas. Anyway, Hennigan stood out enough to earn a spot in Ohio Valley Wrestling which was a development territory that fed the WWE at the time. He was good enough to appear on WWE programming while working with Matt Cappotelli at OVW. He was trained by Jim Cornette and “Nightmare” Danny Davis at OVW. He obviously benefited from the training as it was not long before he debuted on WWE Heat and then WWE Monday Night Raw.

Hennigan debuted on Raw as Johnny Blaze and then he changed his name to Johnny Spade and then finally he became Jonny Nitro, assistant to Eric Bischoff on Raw. Thankfully this did not last long but it gave Johnny some more time to work on his promos and develop his streak of arrogance that has lasted through his career so far. He ended up debuting during a great time period. It set him up in the lower mid card at just the right time. It also allowed him to walk around the WWE while people like John Cena and Randy Orton were getting their first big pushes. Still, he was nothing special quite yet but few people get their big push overnight. I mean, neither John Cena or Cody Rhodes were too exciting early on either.

Finally, they found something real for Hennigan to do. They let him keep the Johnny Nitro name even though it was designed as a rib on Eric Bischoff and WCW. Now he was joined by Melina and Joey Mercury. Melina played Johnny’s girlfriend and was a great performer in her own right. Mercury was great too but ended up being more successful as an NXT trainer now. Together they formed MNM, a new stable fresh from Hollywood who were rich, successful and complete assholes. A tag team is a great way for new talent to break into the public consciousness. The trio started winning titles. Most importantly for Hennigan, they started to win tag team titles over and over. MNM went the distance and, in my opinion, remains a very memorable and fun tag team in a field of more bland or weird tag teams. I mean, Heidenreich teamed with Animal around that time. Come on.

Johnny Nitro and Melina jumped back to Monday Night Raw where Hennigan stepped up and started a singles career. He battled some of the greats and held his own and looked even more impressive than he had before. He won the Intercontinental championship from a triple threat with Shelton Benjamin and Carlito Colon. These guys are two extremely talented wrestlers who were both in an early point in their careers. He went on to feud with Jeff Hardy during one of his more lucid periods which ended up being great. Then he feuded with John Cena which says a lot about his skills and the confidence the company had in him. He lost Melina but briefly regained Joey Mercury in a brutal feud with the Hardys. He proved he could be tough and innovative as well as technically proficient and charismatic.

In 2006, tragedy struck and Chris Benoit murdered his family and then committed suicide. In the midst of trying to repair the damage, Nitro won his first heavyweight title when he picked up the ECW World Championship. He then changed his ring name (this is ring name number five, by the way) to John Morrison and added inspiration from Jim Morrison of The Doors to his character. This launched him up to a higher level in the company as this new character took off. He teamed with former reality star The Miz in some of the best chemistry I have seen in the business. In addition, he started to add a lot more to his moveset and became a lot more memorable. I was glued to the Miz and Morrison Dirt Sheet segments and I wanted to see what he would say next. At the time, I blatantly stole his tagline of “Be Jealous”. He definitely shone brightly in his new tag team role.

Of course, he had to break out as a singles wrestler again eventually. This began when Miz and Morrison were drafted to separate shows. I knew we would get back around to the draft eventually! After an attack by the Miz and a feud with heel Chris Jericho, Hennigan became a babyface for the first time since… well maybe the first time ever. He added to his moveset even more, finally adding his current finisher which is a split-legged corkscrew moonsault. He started to add more high flying and parkour elements to his style and got to show off just how athletic he is. It seemed to me that John Morrison was becoming bigger and bigger and should have been a heavyweight champion in the WWE at some point. He had all three of the things it takes to be truly successful in the business: Good mic skills, technical prowess/athleticism and the it factor. Instead, he left the WWE and disappeared into the independents.

Then he finally resurfaced in the Asistencia Asesoría y Administración down in Mexico. Now I never really watched any of that because I found it hard to access at the time. However, then I found out about Lucha Underground which is basically a US spinoff from the AAA. The Lucha style suits John well who adopted name change number six and became Johnny Mundo. He ditched a lot of the Jim Morrison stuff but kept a lot of the cocky heel humor and oozes arrogance. He is doing great things for Lucha Underground as he has excelled in every single spot they have put them. He has had great feuds with Prince Puma, Alberto Patron and Cage along with pissing off everybody along the way. He is arguably the leader of a new faction called Worldwide Underground. Mundo, Jack Evans and PJ Black are cocky heels who do not give a fuck about your rules. Blatant nut shots, blatant cheating, cowardly behavior and class clowning makes them the heels I love to hate. There are great things in John Hennigan’s future.

Media Update 7/21/2016

July 21, 2016


London Has Fallen

I remember seeing Olympus Has Fallen in theaters and I enjoyed it but I felt I had seen all of the adventures of Gerard Butler, Secret Service that I needed to see. The original was nothing special except that it was brutally violent and had quite a bit of uncomfortable torture. The torture or the violence were not out of place but there was noticeably a lot of both. The movie was dark and it was interesting and it was enough. However, my mom brought the DVD for London Has Fallen home and it is not often that my mother goes for that kind of movie. I was intrigued and I rarely pass up watching anything new if I have time for it. The movie stars the loveably grim Gerard Butler who basically plays the same character in different time periods in every movie he is in. He plays Mike, who is basically the Winter Soldier without all of the brainwashing. The President is played by Aaron Eckhart who is always welcome and the Vice-President is played by Morgan Freeman. The movie is mostly Mike’s rampage through London, killing terrorists to protect or save the President. Morgan Freeman watches from a command center and makes excellent commentary. There were a lot of cool stunts and not a lot of story to get in the way of the action. Watch it if you like a good stunt show with a lot of darkness but a good sense of humor about itself.


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

I remember watching the original Sin City at the behest of a co-worker up in Sussex, New Jersey. She thought the movie was awesome and I really had no frame of reference to know either way because I had not yet read much Frank Miller. The first movie was interesting and was mostly driven by Mickey Rourke basically playing himself with decent performances from Bruce Willis and Clive Owen. In this one, they pushed Mickey Rourke even harder and I think they ended up with too much Mickey Rourke which can be a bad thing. The best performances came from Powers Boothe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Josh Brolin was alright but he deserves better roles (and he got one if you read last week’s edition). Notice that I have not yet mentioned a single actress because Frank Miller hates women. Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba might as well have been very beautiful mannequins with speakers attached. In Sin City, women are fetish superheroines and run around in impractical prostitute clothes and kill men. Yet, they have zero personality and not much motivation. In fact, pretty much none of the characters have any motivation to do any of what they do. In short, Frank Miller is a bad writer and should feel bad. The movie also has so much CGI manipulation that is basically an animated film and it looks pretty awful. Just stay away from this and watch one of the dozens of good comic book movies.


47 Ronin

Keanu Reeves gets a bad rap, I think. He is a really good actor (“Whoa” aside) and is apparently overwhelmingly intelligent in real life. He has been in the business for decades now which has allowed him to pick up a lot of what the business is. The problem is that he has picked too many bad scripts or bad directors to hitch his wagon to which devalues his worth in everyone’s eyes. This movie felt like it was very ambitious but it fell short of what it could have been. Apparently, there was a lot of studio meddling during filming which led to several script changes as they had different ideas about the film from the director. As a result, the movie is one part fantasy and one part historical action/drama. While the movie incorporates some interesting Japanese folklore, all of that stuff seems tacked on. I love magic and fantasy but only if it is fully integrated into the story. The movie is beautifully shot and there were a lot of interesting ideas and emotional scenes. As usual, Keanu is a great actor but there were a lot of excellent performances from some great Japanese actors. Everything is perfectly arranged just so and the CGI is artfully done so it looks like it belongs for the most part. The movie was not advertised correctly as it should have been advertised more as a Seven Samurai meets The Gladiator kind of movie instead of The Matrix meets The Last Samurai. It is worth a look but only if you are committed to a long movie mostly about Japanese history and folklore.

Music of the Week:
MullyMan – I Go Harder
Stitched Up Heart – Finally Free
The Bouncing Souls – True Believers
The Chubbies – Living in Hell
Tokyo Police Club – Argentina (Parts I, II, III)

Weekly Update:
– I am almost done with Season 3 of Person of Interest
– The WWE Draft was a very fun and interesting night
– I kind of want to see Bad Moms and I’m worried about that
– Yet more Seven Deadly Sins was awesome
– I’ve started screening things for Halloween
– The IT Crowd continues to get better
– I will finally see Zootopia soon
– I kind of want to see Ghostbusters now. I mean whatever.
– This week’s theme is “Mindless Entertainment”

The Mystery Part 8

July 16, 2016

The Mystery

Detective Zaria walked up to Scott where he was struggling, pressed against the wall by a growing Frank. Frank was now twenty feet tall and his palm covered Scott’s chest making it harder to breathe and nearly impossible to move. Scott’s right hand was near one of his extendable batons but there was no way he had room to swing it. Besides, the Detective was close and would alert Frank before Scott could get anything done. Hell, even though her gun was holstered, Zaria could still shoot Scott for trespassing or really for whatever reason she chose. At his current size, Frank was stuck in the doorway he had thrust his arm through. If Scott somehow got out of his grasp and got that arm between himself and the Detective he would be home free. However, that was not the only play.

“Listen, I honestly did not come here to start any trouble. I came here for advice or help but I was obviously missing information. I can just leave and I won’t bother you again.” Scott said, doing his best to disguise his voice. He had not remembered to do so back in the alleyway but better safe than sorry. There really should be a manual for superheroes but Scott would just have to make do.

“Nice fake voice, Mystery,” Frank said, from the doorway. Scott was relieved that he had never told Frank his real name. “You really stepped in it this time.”

“I didn’t know you were dating a police detective. Also, I guess I should have called ahead.” Scott said.

“We’re not dating, you idiot. He works for me. If I wanted, I could have him crush you and bury you out back.” Detective Zaria said. Her stance suddenly looked a lot more relaxed and she looked tired.

“That does not sound legal,” Scott said. It was the first thing he thought of and it sounded dumb as soon as it came out of his mouth.

“Technically, neither does what you do. Focus up, Mystery.” The detective said. “The officer you saved is stable in the hospital right now. If that was not true, I would be handcuffing you right now.”

“I’m glad to hear it. The guy who shot him did it because of me, I think. I could not stop him and I felt terrible.” Scott said. It was the truth, obviously, he had nearly hung up his costume forever. He felt a weight lift when he heard that the officer was still alive and in good hands.

“Then we need to take him down. If he’s fixated on you then you need to work with us to take care of this.” The detective said.

“Work together?” Scott asked.

“Not like Frank,” Zaria said.

“Hey, being a cop in training isn’t so bad. I’m a little hard to miss so they were gonna catch me eventually. You’re a little more sneaky. Still, it took one bonehead move for you to finally get caught.” Frank said with a laugh.

“A bonehead move that came from a very real emotion. I can respect that and set it aside. The truth is, I think I can use you. Some of the higher ups do not trust your kind but I think you can be useful.” Detective Zaria said.

“Thank you,” Scott said. “I will try my best to help you out in any way I can.”

“Yeah you will,” Frank said. “Nobody says no to Zaria.”

“That’s Detective Zaria. I need you to write out a complete statement of what happened in the alleyway. I also need to stay in contact with you.” She walked back into the living room and then returned holding a small canvas pouch. “This is an orientation packet, of sorts. It has a flash drive with files on known costumed characters both powered and unpowered. It has contact information for me and it has a disposable cell phone. Let him go, Frank.”

“Aww. You never let me have any fun,” Frank said. He released his grip and started to shrink to human size. He stepped out of his bedroom. He looked different from the last time Scott had seen him. When he and Scott had worked together briefly, Frank had long hair and was scruffy looking. He had been big and buff like a cross between a surfer and a biker. Now, he was clean cut and sported a crew cut and looked even more cut. Scott could only guess that police work agreed with him. Scott looked away at Zaria and reached out and took the little package.

“There is also a GPS tracker in that bag but it is push button activated. If you run into trouble, you need to alert us. I do not want to be picking up any more bodies in alleys,” Detective Zaria said.

“Agreed. Neither do I. I will get that statement to you before morning. Is there anything else now that I have been thoroughly embarrassed?” Scott asked.

“No, do the statement. Keep me updated on your activity and I won’t have to arrest you.” She replied.

“Noted,” Scott said, “I will contact you soon. Frank, maybe you and I can talk sometime.”

“Count on it. Next time, don’t break into my place in the middle of the night.” Frank said.

“Also noted. See you later,” Scott said as he headed back into the bathroom and slipped out the back window before anybody could change their mind or pull any pistols. This was actually better than Scott could have hoped. He had been doing this basically alone and now he actually had a solid ally and maybe even back up. Now, it was time to start hunting that maniac out there on the streets. With no leads, it would be a lot of patrols and very little sleep. That suited Scott just fine.

Media Update 7/14/2016

July 14, 2016


Hail, Caesar!

I had been looking forward to this movie as I am slowly working my way through The Coen Brothers’ collection of films. I have yet to see a movie they made which was bad and pretty much all of them are beyond excellent. Some of my top favorite movies were written and directed by the Coen Brothers. This film takes us back to the almost mythic studio system in the 1950s. It was during this period that a lot of great movies were made, some of them now forgotten in the sheer volume that Hollywood puts out. You had a lot of post-war musicals like Singin in the Rain, huge period epics like Ben-Hur, quiet parlor films like Pride and Prejudice, cowboy films like Lone Star and all sorts of niche films you would not see today. It is definitely a very revered period of time but it was definitely not perfect. That is one of the points of this movie. The Coen Brothers were very young during the fifties and now they want to take the piss out of that period a little bit. We need that sometimes. I think that we need our legends to be reduced to everyday heroes so that they are a little more attainable and inspiring. Anyway, this movie follows a day in the life of a fixer for a Hollywood studio as he tries to keep the ship afloat and sailing for another day. It shows the very real tensions and issues that were present in the entertainment industry that we can read about today. However, as dark as the movie could have gotten, the Coen Brothers and their all-star cast manage to make the story funny and easy to swallow. Josh Brolin, in particular, did an amazing job as a Hollywood fixer trapped in his own personal film noir story. I definitely recommend this as it was excellent.


Ed Wood

Tim Burton is fueled at least partly by quirkiness and strangeness. He thrives on the juxtaposition of the normal with the weird and that could also describe filmmaker Ed Wood. Wood was not a great artist but he had some sort of vision that he awkwardly fumbled to the masses in now legendary movies. His films are full of continuity errors, production flaws, bad acting, cross-dressing, stock footage and strangely memorable moments. While I have no praise to offer for Ed Wood, I will say he was dedicated and worked hard. The action in this movie is disjointed and exaggerated. It is similar to the above film but it is even more alien, reflecting the strangeness of both the subject and Tim Burton’s style. The whole thing is in black and white to compliment both the fifties setting and most of Ed Wood’s movies. A lot of the comedy comes from the alien behavior of Johnny Depp as Ed Wood dealing with more down to Earth characters. The weird characters he surrounded himself in life are portrayed by people like Bill Murray, Martin Landau and Jeffery Jones. The weirdest is always Ed Wood and underneath the can-do moxie and confident tone it feels like there is also a desperation to be heard and accepted. The movie is funny, interesting and sometimes a little sad but it did not fail to entertain at any point. I recommend this especially for fans of horrible classic cinema.

 


Roman Holiday

Last this week, we have a movie actually filmed and released in the fifties. I had heard about this movie a while back but never really intended to watch it. I have a huge list of things to watch and that list shifts and moves as things catch my attention. Watching Hail Caesar made me want to watch a movie from that era that I had not seen before as I have seen quite a few. Lo and behold, Netflix provided as it always does and Roman Holiday popped up and I realized I had no information on it beyond the title. A title I had actually first seen while reading Batman: The Long Halloween. That made me even more interested. The movie is about a princess who is fed up with her seemingly interchangeable days of spouting policy and meeting dignitaries. She runs away and meets a tabloid reporter who smells a story and that is just where the fun begins. The movie does not have much in the way of plot. There are not many twists and turns but there is a lot of great character work and a lot of scenes of two or three characters just talking. The two main characters, played by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, are just oozing with charisma. I believed everything they said and I was not expecting to be as moved by the movie as I was. It is not very funny or very sad but it is a surprisingly pleasant ride. It looks at depression, finding your life direction, romance and journalism and it does it all without hitting you over the head with it. In addition, the backdrop is the beauty of Rome. If you are a fan of classic cinema, please check this one out.

Music of the Week:
Skarr-Akbar – Circle Of Success
Wild Belle – Giving Up On You
Oscar Benton – Woolly Boolly Boogie
Lea Delaria – Welcome to My Party
Mindless Self Indulgence – Shut me up

 

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme “Movies set in the Fifties”
– I watched a ton more Person of Interest and I love it
– I finished Series 2 of The IT Crowd and it gets way better
– The Seven Deadly Sins continues to be great
– I watched a ton of JackSepticEye, Commander Holly and Game Grumps
– Ninja Sex Party is working on another cover album!
– I want to watch Preacher.  I need to watch it before it is spoiled
– The holiday is finally over so maybe I can watch more stuff

Adventure on the River

July 11, 2016

It seems that all of my adventures start with me getting up early but this week is no different. It seems that any true adventure starts with drive time and that usually means getting up early. This is often a dilemma for me since I am definitely not a morning person. However, an adventure often has enough allure to accomplish the necromancy it takes to get me out of bed before seven in the morning. So it was that on Thursday I got up and followed the smell of bacon downstairs to grab a little breakfast with my mom and her husband’s family. Breakfast is also part of the ancient magicks needed to get me up in the morning and I could already smell it as it made its way to the table. Of course, the food was there but nobody else was.

There is something important you should probably know about me. I am terrified of being late. I actually have nightmares about it and I feel intensely guilty if I am late. I show up at events so early I am often waiting in my car for the doors to open. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I get to airports long before most rational people on the offhand chance that something will go wrong or there will be traffic. So when I saw that the rest of my adventuring party was not up yet, I decided that we were not going to make it and the trip was doomed. Eventually, everybody made it down and ate and stalled and slowly gathered their belongings and said their goodbyes to loved ones. Meanwhile, I was waiting in the car like a mental patient, mentally willing them to get in a car so we could depart. I guess this is more my issue than theirs.  Thankfully, we made it on time.

Where did we make it to? We arrived at River Riders Headquarters in Harpers Ferry at 9 am. I checked us in and was informed that, even though we were to show up at nine, the safety lecture did not start until 9:40. We all got to relax a bit before gearing up for white water rafting down the Shenandoah River and onto the Potomac River. I really love the water so I was excited but still a little sleepy and anxious that we would not walk the thirty yards to the meeting place within forty minutes. Like I said, I am crazy. Of course, we made and watched a safety video and all safety videos are both cheery and also pretty grim.

We drove to the river and my mom and I climbed on a boat with some of her recently acquired grandchildren. Our guide was immediately laid back and cool and I liked that he was not doing anything to force us to have fun. All of the guides on the river encouraged a huge splash fight and people were being pulled or pushed off their boats everywhere. It was a lot of fun and a great way to get everyone in the spirit of the trip. That was great because I was still feeling a little tired from waking up and worrying about getting there on time. We started down the river in great spirits, talking and laughing. We followed our guide’s orders on when to paddle and worked hard to match paddling rhythms.

The rapids were not overly challenging. Some of them were fun little bumps and others were a rough ride where I nearly felt like I was going to fall out. Only one of us fell out the whole way and it was kind of a fluke that came from his unlucky position in the boat. We laughed and traded stories the whole time about how we had fared on each rapid. We learned a little more about the area as we floated down the line between Virginia and West Virginia. It was a lot of fun just to be in a positive head space.

At some point, our guide let slip that any guide who fell off his boat would have to buy beers for all of the other guides. These were known as “Swim Beers” and were to be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, our guide informed us that the guide who was manning our party’s other boat had tried to take our guide out earlier. We quickly pledged our allegiance and said we would help get that guide off of his boat. We talked the whole trip about when was the best time to do it. Two grandsons on the boat volunteered to actually do the deed but we kept getting thwarted just before an attempt. At the very end of the trip, we made a beeline for them and the two guys dragged the guy into the water. We all cheered and laughed that we had finally accomplished our goal.

We took the bus back to headquarters, tired and wet but also satisfied and happy. We ate a hero’s lunch at the Clarion Hotel up the hill and drove home to dry everything out and take a nap. It was a great time and it was filled with positivity. We could all use a little more of that.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Independents

July 9, 2016

WILPW

The volume of sports entertainment out there is daunting these days. In my last post, I spoke of a time where there were two choices. If you did not like vanilla than there was always chocolate and if you did not like chocolate then screw you. However, there were always companies “independent” of the big two that you could watch. These independents are generally where the big two get their talent. Now we are down to the “Big One” but it feels like there are at least three levels now in our country. There is the WWE/NXT which is generally regarded as the top of the heap. Under that, there are companies like Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor and TNA. They are well-funded and have television but they still feed talent to the WWE. Below that are all the smaller companies that are largely regional and often feed NXT, LU, TNA and ROH. Of course, then there’s the AAA and NJPW and any other foreign markets which are kind of in a class of their own.

So anyway, it has been a long while since I enjoyed some independent action. I made time over the last two weeks to surf YouTube and check out some great matches. However, instead of praising companies, I thought I would take the opportunity to praise some of the performers. At present, these people do not have exclusive contracts anywhere. In lieu of clips, I decided to put up whole matches to show these people in action.


“King of Dong Style” Joey Ryan

Anybody who follows my twitter would know how much a fan I am of Joey Ryan. Joey is currently working on television for Lucha Underground but that is just one of his gigs. I have known of Joey Ryan since first seeing him in Wrestling Society X when he was one half of That 70’s Team with The Disco Machine. He got a try out on TNA Impact but they do not deserve him. His mission statement (according to various announcers) is to bring sleazy back to pro-wrestling. He has certainly accomplished this as he portrays a character you would not want to touch with a ten-foot pole and mostly because he might like that. His character thinks highly of himself but there is a good reason for that as he is a competent fighter in all of his incarnations. He is also the King of Dong Style which parodies Nakamura being the King of Strong Style. Sometimes, King of Dong Style means that Joey is immune to low blows and in Japan it means he literally fights people with his privates. As a guy who regularly takes part in intergender matches, he is the master of the Boobplex and the YouPorn Plex. Currently, he is touring with his long time tag partner Candace LeRae as The World’s Cutest Tag Team. He seems to thrive best in situations where he is not held back from being his pervy self but he has fit in anywhere I have seen him.


The Young Bucks

Matt and Nick Jackson are real life brothers who have been high up in the business for quite a while now. With all the talk lately about The Bullet Club and its partial absorption by the WWE, it’s cool to look at these guys too. These guys have become synonymous with the word independent in the past few years. They have thrived on the independent scene and worked for what seems like every small company in the country. They briefly worked in TNA as Generation Me but wisely got out while the getting was good. They are also regular special guests with ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling but neither are lucky enough to make it exclusive. As I insinuated earlier, these two are still members of the Bullet Club which had to expand to make up for the loss of AJ Styles, Prince Devitt, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Before AJ left, he used to do trios matches alongside the Bucks and it is clear they were on his level. Their work is incredibly smooth and they transition from move to move very quickly and they do the right moves at the right time. A lot of tag teams that engage in a lot of high spots pause a lot and look like they are just going down a list of moves they want to do. The Bucks are great about building the excitement of the match and playing to the crowd. They are like a faster, better version of the Hardys who did not go insane.


“The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay

The world of pro-wrestling recently exploded due to the online release of a New Japan Pro Wrestling match between Ricochet and Will Ospreay. I have not gotten to see that match as of the time of this writing but I have seen highlights. Some say it is amazing and others say it is destroying the business but it looked like a professional Lucha/Indy/Japanese hybrid match that had a lot of heart and athleticism. I decided to look into Will Ospreay because I already knew Ricochet as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground. After watching a few matches, I can tell that Ospreay deserves all of the hype and praise that he’s getting. He is definitely an amazing high flyer but I can see that he also has a technical side to him as well and I bet he can brawl if he wanted to. He is extremely athletic and is able to adapt to different styles. If you watch Ospreay/Richochet they are working a very light Lucha-esque style but if you watch the video above there is more weight to everything. England has a more hard hitting style with a history of both technical skill and causing pain. He (and many in the new generation) have been accused of just being spot monkeys but I can see good selling and plenty of psychology. His matches build and come to an explosive end and bring you on the emotional journey that they are supposed to. I can see where the criticism comes from but I do not agree with it. Ospreay is a hard worker and knows what he is doing and can only get better as his career continues.

So that’s it for this time around. I will have more next time when I have time to do this again. I enjoy watching stuff I am unfamiliar with to get an idea of what is out there. Sometimes the independent wrestlers get hired by the bigger companies and it is great to “know them when”. Time for me to go watch Ultima Lucha Dos!

But wait! BONUS MATCH!!! Because it includes two out of three entries here and I loved the match.


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