Archive for November, 2016

Sometimes a Dog is Just a Dog

November 28, 2016

So, something new has happened in my life recently. I’m not talking about Thanksgiving which was an adventure worth having but, if given the choice, I would have taken tradition instead. No, I am talking about a dog. My brother has started fostering dogs for the local SPCA and that I agreed to help him since I am spending much of my time at home working on schoolwork. When he goes off to the gym or meets with a tenant, I get to watch his temporary dog. (The dog is temporarily his and yet permanently a dog) I really do not mind even though it can get a little distracting. I am working on final papers for the semester so I am not really out and about.

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Here she is.  Who’s a good dog?  Rizzo is.

Of course, this is Baltimore so there is one breed of dog that is likely to be hanging out at a shelter in the city. Yes, my brother picked up a bonafide purebred pitbull. Her name is Rizzo and yes that name is based on the character from Grease even though she looks nothing like any of the actresses I have seen in the role. In fact, her coloring ends up making her look more like a cow than any dog I have ever seen. She is a sweet dog at age two and she still has a lot of energy and not a lot of focus. She will lie down on her bed next to my couch as I type away at this computer just fine. Then, the door opens or some weird sound happens from somewhere nearby and she is up on her feet. It is cute but a little distracting. I think she will grow out of that.

Unfortunately, “pit bull” is a dirty word in American society today. Pit bulls were originally created by breeding terriers with bulldogs. The idea was to combine a terrier’s agility with the bulldog’s bite strength. The reasoning for this was to create a creature bred for violence and specifically the pit bull was made for dog fighting. Unfortunately, that is what a lot of them are still used for these days. Their behavior leads to people vilifying the poor misguided things. I was always skeptical of labeling pit bulls inherently dangerous. Now that I have met Rizzo, I am sure that the reasoning is flawed.

Rizzo is strong as hell. In a lot of ways, she is much stronger and faster than I am. I have seen her savage objects with her teeth and I know how capable she is at destruction. She could destroy me and not even work up a sweat while she did it. While she is very capable, Rizzo is not interested in that. I have seen her meet a few people now and she is just excited as your average Labrador retriever or hound dog. That excitement has never translated into an attack or any indication of violent behavior. So, I don’t believe any domesticated animal is inherently dangerous. It is all in how the dog is treated. If you train a dog to be violent,  it will be violent. If you treat the dog with love and respect then it will do the same. Whoever adopts that dog will be lucky.

The Story Pt 1

November 26, 2016

the-storyShe sat across from me as I studied in the library. I was leaning toward getting some Chinese takeout but besides those potentially dangerous thoughts, I was keeping to my work. I had three major papers due in the next two weeks and I was trying to focus on those. Of course, I had plenty of normal deadlines in the meantime. Sleep was slipping away from me as I slowly receded into the world of the mind. On top of all of that, I was trying to wrap my head around some new works by some colleagues in Ireland.

I am a dramaturg by trade or at least that is what I was studying to be. A dramaturg researches plays and writes about the dramatic arts. While I was working on my degree, I was critiquing and editing plays written by my friends and the friends of my friends. I love getting into the guts of other people’s stories. There was an upcoming festival in Dublin that had an approaching submission deadline. A friend of mine had sent a play for me to look at. Several of her friends had followed suit and I have trouble saying no.

She was moving. I realized that she had been silently watching me this whole time. She was sliding her hand across the table to get my attention. I tried to ignore her. I had no time for random women in libraries, even if they were redheads. She was persisting, leaning over farther and farther to get into my field of vision. It was starting to get annoying. Could she not just get a librarian? I did not have enough sleep under my belt to deal with this.

“William Park?” She asked in a tiny library voice. My name is William Park. Wait, how did she know my name? I looked up at her sharply.

“How do you know my name?” I asked. Her eyes were very green. The green of a healthy field of grass. I once had a collection of Marlowe plays bound in that exact color.

“I know it because I am supposed to know it at this point in the story.” The woman said.

“Okay,” I said. “Am I supposed to know your name?” I asked. Her answer was weird but also kind of funny to my sleep deprived mind. I smiled in spite of myself.

“No, but I tell it you right now. My name is Helen Booker,” She said. I found myself shaking her hand when she offered it.

“‘Booker’. Funny, you keep talking about a story,” I said. “That’s weird. I’m not sure what you’re talking about or what you want from me. Thoughts?”

“The story is the world and the world is the story. A lot of it is not written yet. We want to make the rest of it more interesting,” She said with a flip of her hair and a big grin. I noticed there were thick goggles pushed up on her head and tangled in her hair.

“Did you say Booker or Bonkers? Please leave me out of whatever you’re planning to do,” I said. With no small amount of drama, I looked back down at my work. Of course, it was hard to concentrate but I hoped the act would convince her to move on. I glanced up a few moments later. I could not help it. She was now less delightful and more impatient.

“We do not have time for this. Now that I have made a move, they will be trying to prevent this from happening.” She said. Her eyes darted around the room nervously.

“What exactly would they be preventing?” I asked. I started shoving myself into my bag. I had a feeling it might be better to work back at my place.

“I made contact,” She said as if that meant more than I thought it did. “I am here to recruit you.”

“You’re going to fail. Whatever you’re recruiting me for, it is not going to happen. That saves them the trouble of preventing anything,” I said.

“Nobody has ever said no before,” She said with a frown.

“Read my lips-” I began saying before Booker covered my mouth with her hand. Her frown quickly turned into a silly grin again.

“You haven’t gotten the whole sales pitch yet. Now come with me, I think the editors are coming.”

“Editors?” I asked.

As if on cue, there was a popping sound coming from the stacks. Booker reached out and yelled something I couldn’t understand. Some objects that moved very fast hit the tables behind me.

“What the hell was that?!” I yelled. There were holes in the table directly behind me. Booker held up her hand dramatically and opened it and a piece of metal fell to the floor.

“Bullets. Run!” She said and ran. I ran after her. I looked over my shoulder and saw a clean cut man exit the stacks with a determined look on his face. I turned and nearly ran into the front doors. We pushed them open and started down the marble steps. I nearly fell twice but I managed to barely keep up with Booker’s long strides. Three was a whole line of cars parked at the bottom of the steps. In unison, all of those cars detonated, forming a wall of intense flame. Booker hung a sharp right and I managed to keep up with her in the staggering heat coming from the cars. We squeezed through a gap between the cars and the fence and ran toward some trees.

Booker held up some sort of emblem that looked like a white rabbit. It shone brightly for a moment and then a hole opened up in the ground a couple of yards ahead. She performed a perfect baseball slide into the hole to my astonishment.  I hesitated for a moment and heard a bullet hit a nearby tree trunk. I dove headfirst into the hole and found myself tumbling through an immense empty space. I tried to look up but I could no longer see the hole I had come through.

Media Update 11/24/2016

November 24, 2016


The Grinder

I knew I was going to watch this show when I heard the premise around the time I started thinking about studying the law. After the election, I decided to watch it and it is a very funny and relevant show right now. Rob Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, an actor who played a lawyer on television. He has now decided to help out at his brother’s actual law firm. It is a great story about a man with a ton of ideas but no training trying to bluster his way through being successful. Meanwhile, his intelligent and well-trained brother comes in and saves the day. It is a great story about how you cannot just charge into a situation and be successful without knowing the rules. The rules matter and watching somebody with great confidence fail and adapt is very funny and interesting to me. Fred Savage, who plays Stewart Sanderson, often acts as the last sane man and tries to reign in his brother. Happily, Savage is not viewed as the villain for doing this because he is both correct and Lowe’s character is usually being flagrantly ridiculous. A lot of the humor comes from the clash between the everyman and the celebrity. There is a big of vaudeville in Fred Savage’s performance and a ton of melodrama in Rob Lowe’s performance. The two characters slowly start to affect each other so that they can take on a bit of each other’s positive characteristics. They are backed by a great cast and great guest stars. The first episode even has Kumail Nanjiani in it. It is a little unfortunate that a good show like this went off of the air so quickly but there is a lot of that going around. I definitely recommend it, especially for how it tears apart shows like Boston Legal, JAG and Law and Order.


The Big Short

I was glad to have an excuse to make myself watch this one because I have had access but had not gotten around to watching this movie. It was right up my alley. First, it had Christian Bale in it and that is an automatic point in favor of a movie for me. Christian Bale does not really play sane and normal people and this movie is no different. Here he plays a guy in charge of managing an investment fund who is a genius who is good with math but not people. He sets in motion a chain of events which leads to himself and others shorting the US housing market in 2007. Everybody thinks they are crazy because up until 2007 the housing market was mostly stable. As we know, the subprime mortgage crisis along with horrible banking practices created a financial crisis that we are still recovering from. Early on, the movie is actually kind of funny and quirky as we meet our characters. As it continues, it becomes more of a horror movie as the characters begin to realize just how messed up things are and how doomed the economy is. It is also a story of realists vs. optimists as we see professional economists and bank representatives try to paint on a smile as the world starts to burn around them. The movie could have been much more melodramatic but one of the things that breaks the tension a bit is the constant breaking of the fourth wall. The characters (who are based on real people) turn to the camera and explain the economic and banking concepts involved or explain what happened in real life. They also cut to famous celebrities three times to help explain things which is great because it gets a bit complicated. Slowing down to explain the concepts really helped the movie. It ended up being a really good but sickening movie because a lot of the stuff in it really happened. I definitely recommend it.


Dice, Camera, Action: The Curse of Strahd

The tabletop roleplay gaming group that I am in is gearing up to play Dungeons and Dragons. While I have watched my share of streams and listened to podcasts, I am not completely in tune with the new fifth edition rules. As I have stated in the past, I am a huge fan of “Commander” Holly Conrad who is a YouTuber and a cosplay wizard. I am also a fan of Chris Perkins, who has become kind of a dungeon master to the stars as a Wizards of the Coast employee. So, it was a no-brainer to start watching episodes of this stream. Watching it reminds me of our gaming group and how our characters instantly like or hate each other and all of the group dynamics. The story is also interesting as it covers a module called The Curse of Strahd which is set away from The Sword Coast or the Forgotten Realms. Instead, the players are magically transported to a new but dark land where vampires are the main threat. This makes the story pretty dark and Halloween-y but the players manage to keep it light. For instance, they call themselves the Waffle Crew and constantly bicker and snark at each other. I was not as acquainted with the other players but I really like NateWantsToBattle and Jared Knabenbauer who both know their stuff. I have absolutely fallen in love with the sunny, silly portrayal of a paladin that Anna Prosser Robinson achieves. Of course, I love Holly’s socially awkward tiefling warlock and her epic weirdness. I am way behind on this show but I will continue to watch it.

Music of the Week:

Cashmere Cat – Trust Nobody ft. Selena Gomez, Tory Lanez

Slapbak ft. Miss Aleida “Dance All Night”

Television – See No Evil

Em Sea Water- The Box Theory

Train – Play That Song

Weekly Updates:
– I watched more Galavant and it just gets better and better
– I watched a lot of Markiplier’s Undertale streams
– As I mentioned, I watched a ton of WWE programming
– I watched a bit more Lucifer
– I continued Once Upon a Time Season 6
– This week’s theme is “The Importance of Rules”
– Happy Thanksgiving!

What I Love About Pro-Wrestling: Thanksgiving 2016

November 21, 2016

WILPW

I spent much of this weekend catching up on watching some WWE and Lucha Underground so I thought this week was a good time to focus on a few things I am thankful for. Even if things are not perfect, it is important to focus on what you are thankful for. Much like the New Day, I like to spread the power of positivity and I have been holding onto that power hard in the last year. We are going to need the power of positivity going forward so let us work on igniting the sparks that make us feel jazzed. So let us dip a little into what got me jazzed lately in the world of sports entertainment.

Rich Swann and James Ellsworth

I am from Baltimore and when I see anybody representing Baltimore in a positive way, I feel happy. A little light goes off in my brain and I get excited. When I was watching the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network, I spotted Rich Swann and I thought he was awesome. I love his high energy, party guy quality. I love it even more since his character focuses up as soon as the bell rings. When he first showed up on Raw, he teamed briefly with Cedric Alexander. The pairing was a little questionable as it looked a little racially motivated but I was sad to see that short-lived team break up. Lately, he has been teaming with No Way Jose on NXT which makes a bit more sense as they are both fun-loving, party guys.

James Ellsworth just got officially signed to Smackdown Live and I am happy about it. Ellsworth became a viral sensation when he got stomped by Braun Strowman but went into that match with determination. Before then his main claim to fame was being in a local tag team called Pretty Ugly and he was not the Ugly one. He has since gotten two wins over the WWE Heavyweight Champion in two very funny matches. I am very interested to see where his character goes next. Will he remain a jobber or will he start to build to something else?  After listening to his interview on Talk is Jericho, I want to see more from this humble yet confident man.

Aztec Warfare

I love battle royales. I have been a big fan of the Royal Rumble since its inception and Aztec Warfare is actually an improvement on that concept. I like that only pins or submissions can cause eliminations which gets rid of a lot of the awkward jockeying for position and clinging to ropes. Lucha has been really good for me this season. I love the way Lucha weaves all of their storylines together and makes them collide in this one match. Everybody was gunning for Matanza but it always felt like the Cueto brothers were always ten steps ahead of the roster. That is why it was so shocking when Matanza lost the title and maybe even turned on Dario. Sexy Star leveraged the allies she made and her own fighting spirit to win the top prize in the company. I thought that Joey Ryan would at least be safe from Matanza this year but unfortunately, he ran afoul of Mil Muertes instead.

It is still shocking to me that Prince Puma and Ivelisse were not actually in the match but it just makes their stories more of a surprise going forward. As far as I know, only Mil Muertes is the only person on the roster to come back from the dead but maybe Prince Puma will be the second. A lot of people have (kayfabe) died on the show including Konnan, the Disciples of Death, Mr. Cisco and also Big Ryck. Hell, Big Ryck’s skull was part of Mil Muertes’ throne in Season 2. I love the unpredictability of Lucha Underground and how storyline threads hide for a long time before popping up again. I mean, we got a bona fide appearance of the Black Lotus Triad during Aztec Warfare. So much happened and so much can happen in the future. I’m excited.

NXT TakeOver Toronto

While I do not keep up with NXT as much as I should, I really enjoy the energy of the show and seeing both fresh faces and familiar faces from the indies and other companies. I watched a few episodes leading up to checking out the latest Takeover and I loved what I saw. The Dusty Classic Tag Team Tournament was absolute awesomeness. Every team that I saw was awesome and had good energy and good ring psychology. The final match between TM 61 and the Authors of Pain was awesome, even with the somewhat silly stipulation of Ellering dangling over the ring. It was excellent but it was overshadowed by the two out of three falls match between DIY and The Revival which pretty much stole the show.

Asuka vs. Mickey James was great. As great as it was to see Mickey back in a WWE ring, they kind of treated her like she had just been sitting on the couch the whole time. She was very over in TNA and, among other places, has been killing it in Maryland Championship Wrestling lately. Of course, Asuka has been an amazing addition since she first debuted and remains undefeated. I absolutely loved “Glorious” Bobby Roode (and his amazing entrance) going up against “Ther Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger. I remember Roode from back when I watched TNA and Tye has worked hard for this new push. Finally, Shinsuke Nakamura is a force of nature and his entrance blew Roode’s out of the water. The match between a “Kodiak bear” and a “rabid dog” was a great story and both Samoa Joe and Shinsuke would have deserved that championship.

Survivor Series

I have loved the build to this year’s Survivor Series. I know a lot of people have said that it does not make sense to see rivals having to be on the same team but I like it. Lucha Underground is the king of strange bedfellows tag teams making kidnapping victims tag with their kidnappers and other crazy teams. People have remarked how weird it was to see people who hated each other, working together. Why would they do that? Because their boss told them to. Besides, all of those rivalries paid off and became either strengths or weaknesses. AJ Styles accidentally got Dean Ambrose eliminated. There was a callback to Ellsworth’s short lived rivalry with Braun Strowman. Sasha and Charlotte could not work together and Charlotte blasted Bailey after their win. The women’s division match was great and possibly opened up at least one new storyline. The men’s division match was great and there were a lot of surprises. Most importantly, we might have seen the end of LOL Roman Wins and a reemergence of the Wyatt Family as a credible threat. Even so, my favorite match was actually the tag team match because I have never seen such a fluid 20-man tag team match. I really liked the pay per view and I am excited to see the fallout from it and the now unpaused storylines.

Felix Graham: Osaka Adventure 11

November 19, 2016

Felix Osaka

Felix, Makoto and Jun ran from the warehouse and out onto the street. A few of Daisuke’s troops were lying on the street, obviously injured. It looked to Felix like they were mostly stable but that was diagnosis at a glance. The dragon was lying on its side and was not moving. Then Felix’ eyes caught sight of a human body, lying on the pavement with smoke still coming off of it. There was a small crowd of Sentinels crowded around the body. Felix was already running in that direction when he heard Jun call out.

“Father!” Jun yelled as she started running as well.

Felix realized the man practically still burning on the streets of Osaka must be Daisuke Inoki. Thankfully two of his Sentinels grabbed Jun and held her back and let Felix past. The red cross on his bag was very helpful for making it clear that he was a doctor. Felix could see how bad it was now that he had gotten closer. He knelt down and started to check Daisuke out.

That was when the dragon started to move. Felix went to get up to try and protect his patient somehow, even as a human shield if it was necessary. Makoto was already moving toward the dragon. Before it could go anywhere, she drove her staff into its eye. Blood drenched Makoto and the dragon started moving again. She turned toward Felix.

“Heal him!” She barked at Felix.

Felix turned back to his patient and extended his willpower. He reached for the well of power where his healing came from. The well was dry.

“I have nothing left! I couldn’t carry any potions on the stupid plane, either. We need to get him to a medical facility so I can treat him!” Felix yelled at Makoto who nodded grimly.

“Arrange that!” She yelled at a nearby deputy who started running for their vehicle, pulling out their radio. “I fear he will not make it, Doctor.”

Felix was about to argue with that statement when Jun elbowed the two deputies holding onto her and rushed to her father’s side. She fell to her knees and embraced him with tears sliding quickly down her cheeks.

“Father!” She cried out again.

Felix kept checking his vital signs. “Jun, please. I need to work. If you don’t move he’ll die,” Felix said. It was necessary to hurt her to save the patient. At least, that’s how Felix felt at the moment and it was not a moment for second guessing.

Instead of moving, Jun started to glow softly. That soft blue light extended to Daisuke slowly. Felix recognized what that magic was. It was a deep, untapped well of healing magic. He blinked and checked vital signs again and noticed Daisuke’s heart beat was getting steadier. The burns were now healing quite quickly. He stood up and looked at Makoto in surprise.

“She’s healing him!” Felix said in surprise.

“The world is full of surprises,” Makoto said in her familiar flat tone but she had a small smile of relief on her face which was mirrored by Felix. Ren had helped May out of the warehouse and they were witnessing it as well. They were lit by the now pulsing blue glow of Jun’s healing light. Everybody was touched by it. Felix briefly pictured that part of his own story when he saved hiss sister.

* * *

So many things happened once Daisuke Inoki stood up again. The scene was cleaned up as everybody was moved to the hospital’s secret floor. Everybody seemed to be OK. Still, Felix found himself floating from room to room and checking on everybody. This is why Felix found Jun sitting alone in a waiting room.

“How are you doing, Jun? I find nobody asks the healer how they are,” Felix said as he entered the room.

“Everything is going to change now,” Jun said, looking down at her hands. “I have always worked to develop my father’s strength in myself. My father has so much strength to bring evil to its knees.”

“There are different kinds of strength, Jun. He was helpless before you brought him back from the brink. That is not weakness.” Felix said. He briefly wondered if Jun had thought he was weak.

“It is just that I have trained so much in martial arts,” Jun said. “I don’t know what to do.”

“That time was not wasted,” Felix said. “You know that martial arts teaches discipline and focus which are both things a magic user needs. Besides, nobody is telling you that you have thrown your last punch. I took oaths to do no harm which I take very literally. You may be a different kind of healer.”

“So what do you think my path forward is?” Jun asked. Felix felt that her humility and search for a new truth was a good sign.

“I can’t tell you what to do. I can only tell you what I would do. My cousin May is a great person to know in the area and Makoto’s little team could use a healer when I go home. If nothing else, I think May would be glad to lend an ear to you. I am also only a phone call or an e-mail away. Most importantly, I can see how much you value your father’s guidance. You need to talk to him,” Felix said.

“Yes. I believe there is wisdom in that. Do you think that I am a Legend now?” Jun asked.

“Do you think you are?” Felix asked. He knew the answer and, from her smile, he knew Jun knew it as well.

“Yes. Something my father never quite achieved,” Jun said with a satisfied smile. “I will make my family proud.”

“I think that is a good attitude to have. I think you’re going to do a great job,” Felix said. He had great faith in Jun. She had impressed him in such a short time. He had seen residents in hospitals with less nerve and way less fortitude.

“I have much to do,” Jun said. “Will I see you again before your vacation is over?” she asked as she stood. Felix got the message.

“Sure. We should all have dinner together before I leave. Your father is invited too.”

“I would like that. I will ask my father,” Jun said. She looked ready for what came next and Felix envied her for it. He held out his business card and Jun took it.

“See you later, Jun,” Felix said.

“I will see you again, Doctor Graham.”

“Call me Felix.”

“Felix,” she agreed and smiled.

Felix walked from the room and turned right and walked down the hall. Makoto was standing there with her arms folded. Behind her was May and Ren. May was wearing a big grin while Makoto and Ren were neutral as usual.

“The magical terrorists have been thwarted, Doctor. We found a lot of explosives in that warehouse that could have been used to hurt more people. We also found hostages that have been treated and released. We would not have been able to do this without you,” Makoto said.

“So, do you want to do some sightseeing now?” May asked.

THE END
(of this tale, Felix’ story continues in the current campaign I’m roleplaying in. I will probably write more stories as well)

 

Media Update 11/17/2016

November 17, 2016


Westworld (2016)

Everybody has been raving about this show. I never read the book even though I devoured Jurrasic Park when it came out. I also never saw the movie from the Seventies but I cannot imagine a movie being able to handle the complexity of the show. I had always heard that Westworld was just “Jurrasic Park with Cowboys” and I have realized that this is a criminal oversimplification. When you are manufacturing humans for a theme park, there are going to be a lot more themes than “Playing God” and “Human Overreach”. The show asks a lot of philosophical questions about what it is to think, feel and what it is to be human. The show plays with memories and perception of reality. The guests in Westworld are playing a game and it is really interesting to see the different ways people game in a more realistic way. I have played a few MMORPGs and a lot of the guests’ behavior is very familiar. I am four episodes in and there is an amazing deeper story unfolding. All of this deep, thoughtful stuff has a great layer of Western action on top which makes it all the better. The acting is really great with a whole cast of people I do not recognize with great stars like Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Evan Rachel Wood tossed in as well. The show is dark but it draws me deeper and the first season is only ten episodes long. I cannot recommend this one enough, steal an HBO Go password from your friend if you have to.


The World’s End

I felt like this week was the time to finally finish the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Each movie in Edgar Wright’s trilogy is similar but each has a different energy. Shaun of the Dead is a goofy parody of zombie movies. Hot Fuzz is a parody of gun-happy action movies. The World’s End is a parody of science fiction alien invasion movies. Yet, they all have central messages that get echoed as the trilogy goes along. Friendship is important. You have to grow up eventually. You can never go home again. Free will is a great gift but it has to be used responsibly. Somehow, Wright snuck meaningful messages for our lives in three genre films. This was a great end to that trilogy. As usual, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are great as arguably the two central characters. We also get all the old regulars from the first two films returning in sometimes different roles but all of them are great. This felt like the most expensive film of the trilogy but that might be because everything looked so good. Part of that can probably be attributed to how much Edgar Wright has learned as a filmmaker. This movie also seemed to be better written which is saying a lot considering the other two are so good. This one did a better job of establishing backstories for each character and creating a world around them. I definitely recommend it. It is very strange but it has a great message, I think.


Screamers 2: The Hunting

I was thinking about what movie would be best to watch to finish out this week and I was a little stumped. I wanted to make the theme a good one and just watching any old science fiction movie felt like it would be a cop out. I did not really want to watch Ex Machina or The Stepford Wives so I kept thinking. Then I remembered that I had already watched Screamers, a movie adapted from the work of Phillip K. Dick that had robots posing as humans in it. Then I looked it up and found that there was a sequel. Then I found out that the sequel has Stephen Amell in it and I was sold. Once again, we have a somewhat schlocky sci-fi action movie with a lot of fun bits. This is a cheap sequel to a cheap movie but I still like the combination of Tremors, Aliens and Invasion of the Body Snatchers that this movie seems to represent. While the movie is cheap, waiting fourteen years to make a sequel means that this movie has much better digital and practical effects. Obviously, Stephen Amell is the best part of the movie after the Screamers themselves and they could have used more of him. This was before his rise to stardom thanks to Arrow. Some of the plot points are really dumb but I kind of enjoy B-Movies. I only recommend this if you have seen the first one and you love cheesy sci-fi movies with bad writing.

Music of the Week:
Ninja Sex Party – Cool Patrol

The Weeknd – Starboy ft. Daft Punk

Thomas Rhett – Star Of The Show

Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles ft. Gucci Mane

twenty one pilots – Stressed Out

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Robots That Look Like Humans”
– I started Season 2 of Galavant
– I started watching Dice, Camera, Action (a Wizards of the Coast stream)
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I started watching Lucifer Season 2
– I caught up on Lucha Underground

Scary Rides

November 14, 2016


This is where the haunt takes place. It is actually an abandoned section of the city.

My experience with the Nevermore Haunt was an interesting one. The experience was amazing as those kinds of experiences always are if you let them. I do not want to go into detail about what happened inside the haunt just in case some of it is used again next year. My first reaction even before going through was pride. I love any sort of fiction that has to do with Baltimore and journeying through a pastiche of Poe’s Baltimore was attractive even if I was going to get the bejeezus scared out of me. While I waited in line with my brother, we heard a lot of thunder and a lot of screams from inside the haunt. Every so often, we would hear the door from the lobby into the haunt slam behind the next guests to walk through. It brought up memories.


There are so many great videos out there if you do not have the money to actually visit parks.

I have a somewhat interesting history with rides and attractions. I explained in the The Houses That October Built review that I have a fascination with both rides and attractions. I have studied video, narratives and behind the scenes photos for a lot of haunted house and theme park attractions. However, I never liked actually going through these things as a kid. I was a nervous kid. Maybe it was caused by always being the smallest kid growing up or maybe my vivid imagination just would not let me take the risks. Mentally, I knew there were very few real risks but emotionally I knew I was in great danger.


Just as disappointing and disconcerting as most experiences with Scooby-Doo

Roller coasters were never my thing. The rush was never really attractive to me but I understand if other people like them. I remember being goaded into riding The Scooby Doo! coaster at Kings Dominion as a smallish child. I believe it is now called the Woodstock Express. I remember dreading the whole thing as we waited in line. This will become a theme in this post. We got onto the ride and I did not enjoy myself in the slightest. I was frightened and shaken and when the ride was over, I got a nosebleed as I started out the exit. I would associate this nosebleed with roller coasters for a long time. When my brothers became obsessed with The Big Bad Wolf coaster at Busch Gardens, I always abstained. When it came to the Shipwreck Falls ride at Adventure World, I was happy to watch it splash down instead of riding it.


This does not make me anxious now. It calms me.

I love Disney World. I have never been to Disney Land or any of the overseas versions but Disney World was a magical place for me when I was a little boy. It was also a very frightening place at times. At a certain age, everything is real to you which even includes animatronic characters that are created to look fake as all heck. In fact, I did not even have to encounter any animatronics to actually be scared. I remember standing in line at The Pirates of The Carribean long before Johnny Depp was actually that big of a movie star. This was the OG Pirates ride and the lobby was like walking into a cavern full of lamplight and the sounds of chill but vaguely dark music. I got scared just waiting in line because the place was enclosed and the anticipation of going on a ride scared me. We almost did not go on the ride but we eventually did and I enjoyed it even if it did make me nervous.


Putting this here to remind you how terrifying childhood can be.

The strongest memory I have of being afraid of rides is pretty ridiculous. I was a small child but even if I was not, I would not be ashamed and I would own the memory. I got scared on the Snow White ride. It was during a trip to Disney World with my mom, my uncle and my oldest cousin. My uncle and my mom clearly thought that they could catch a short break by putting my cousin and I on a baby ride for a few minutes. So she and I climbed into a little car and went into the Snow White ride. It did not take long for me to get overwhelmed and eventually I was covering my eyes and waiting for it to end. I clearly remember the witch crying out “Don’t cover your eyes, sweetie!” and I believed then that I was going to die. She could see me. She could see me and she was displeased with my behavior.


Kids these days, their rides don’t threaten to steal their souls.

As a side note, I did some research while looking up some of the attractions for this post. I feel a little better knowing that the ride is actually called Snow White’s Scary Adventures though it does bring up interesting questions about where my mom was. I know she had the best intentions. I think I rode the pre-1994 version and in retrospect, I am glad that I had my eyes closed because the ride does end with the Witch (fictionally) killing the guests with a giant gemstone. I feel a little vindicated about being afraid of that ride even if it is full of statues and good voice acting. While the experience did scare me, it actually probably sparked my interest in the way things are put together and probably led to me being a better artist.

Felix Graham: Osaka Adventure 10

November 12, 2016

Felix Osaka

The warehouse was dark and combat was rough and dangerous. Blades were swung, blows were struck and magic was thrown this way and that. Felix found himself scrambling out of harm’s way just as often as he headed into danger to heal a wounded companion. Time and again he was defended by May who would not let any of these wolves in sheep’s clothing touch her cousin. The whole team was fiercely fighting the group that used to be animal rights activists. Felix was glad for their protection and knew that Osaka was glad for it too even if most of them were not aware of it.

At the same time, Felix was feeling more like a legend than he ever had. This is why he had left Sub-Hopkins. He had heard the call to heal and he had just known he was meant for field work. Here he was, facing off against some group of monsters in Japan, almost around the world from his home. They were fighting monsters in human skin inside while there was still a vicious looking dragon outside. Felix could still hear it fighting against Sentinel Daisuke Inoki’s forces as the building shook every so often.

One by one, the Oni fell. Remarkably, Makoto’s team was showing restraint and none of the enemy looked like they were getting killed. It was hard to tell at a distance and not knowing the monsters’ biology but they was still some vague motion and what could be interpreted as breathing. There were plenty of once formidable warriors in the fetal position on the floor in a darkened warehouse. Makoto’s warriors stood firm and steady thanks to Felix’s magic and their own skill and valiant stand.

Finally, there was only one Oni left standing. Well, she was not quite standing and was instead down to one knee. Her face was a grisly crimson mask from a cut on her forehead. May had the point of her sword pressed against the woman-thing’s chest. There was pure hate behind the Oni’s eyes while May was surprisingly absolutely calm.  May was inspiring to Felix, but she had been since they were kids.

“Go ahead and slaughter me, human!” The woman yelled. Her voice was strangely both sibilant and toned a bit too deep. May stayed as still as a statue, keeping the point of her massive sword in that threatening position.

“Human? Then what are you, creature?” Makoto asked.

“That is immaterial.” She replied, her gaze sliding to the side for a moment.

“And if we were curious?” Makoto asked. Felix was definitely curious and he knew the others felt the same way.  There had to be some sense to be made after a terrorist attack like these creatures had committed.  Answers made healing easier and they also made future defense all the more possible.

“Stay curious.” The creature spat blood and grinned.

“Maybe we should slaughter them like she asked,” May said.

“It does not matter. Go ahead. These mundane humans we are wearing are long dead already. They are just convenient disguises for my kind.” The woman-thing said.

“Your kind is finished. You will not endanger this country anymore,” Makoto said.

“The Council of Dragons is larger than those assembled here.” The woman-thing hissed.

“Council of Dragons? What’s that?” May asked. Felix could see practical Makoto taking a mental note and he did the same.  Felix thought about the dragon that was outside and the possibility that this Council meant there were more of them somewhere out there.  He thought back to the dragon encountered in Cockeysville, the one that had triggered is own awakening as a Legend.  What if there were people controlling that dragon and what if there were even more dragons out there?  The thought was chilling but there would be time to discuss it later.

The thing did not respond this time. Instead, the thing moved almost imperceptibly fast and threw a wicked little knife into May’s chest. Ren let an arrow fly but it was too late. Every Oni’s body suddenly burst apart like a water balloon and dozens of things flitted out of the warehouse. Makoto was already at May’s side. The creatures were gone and there was now only one pressing thing that mattered.

“Get ready, Doctor!” Makoto shouted as she gripped the knife’s handle. Felix nodded and Makoto braced her foot against May’s shoulder and pulled the knife out. Blood poured from May’s chest but Felix poured his magic in. He kept pushing back against the tide and he felt the wound begin to knit closed. The veins and arteries began to carry blood and muscle and tissue crept back into their appropriate places. May began to breathe again, her eyes blinking wildly. Ren was cradling her and she clung to him.

“Ren! Felix!” She managed to choke out.  For once, she looked so fragile but Felix knew that it was more mental than physical.  He had healed her almost back to full fighting form but she would need her rest before jumping back into the fight.

“You’re alright now, May. Try and relax for a moment,” Felix said with an exhausted smile. Ren and May smiled back, grateful.

“I shall take care of her,” Ren said. “Maybe you should go and check on the dragon.”

“He makes a good point. Let’s go.” Makoto said and pulled Felix to his feet. She led Felix and Jun outside.  Felix hoped they would not have to face the dragon as the battle inside had been dangerous enough.

Media Update 11/10/2016

November 10, 2016


Galavant

I had seen ads for this show when I first got into Once Upon a Time and since they were both on ABC I mistakenly thought they were connected further. I never watched it while it was on television and that seems to have been a trend because it was canceled after two seasons. What attracted me to it when I saw it show up on Netflix is Timothy Odmundson of Psych and Supernatural fame. While he may not be a big star to you, he is an actor that I am always glad to see. The show is a musical adventure following a knight down on his luck and trying to regain his former glory and take out the king who stole his lady love away. Every episode is a mini-musical with plenty of comedy and the lyrics kind of stray into the adult territory. The show definitely does not take itself seriously and while it seems dumb a lot of the time, it is very charming. Legendary composer Alan Menken does all of the music and Tangled lyricist Glenn Slater does all of the lyrics. The songs are all great and the choreography is often simple but really fun. The strength of the show is Omundson as weak-willed King Richard but we also get a brilliant Mallory Jansen as Madalena, Galavant’s now ex-girlfriend. The rest of the cast is absolutely on point and we actually get a great performance out of Vinnie Jones and a guest spot from Weird Al. I definitely recommend this and so do the critics since both seasons got 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.


Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

I know that this movie was walking on some sacred ground for a lot of people. While I was not part of the initial craze (I was too young), I definitely picked this movie up later in life. I own the movie on DVD but it is obviously not the same experience as seeing it in theaters. There is no way that this movie could ever live up to the original experience of seeing the original movie with its iconic performances and otherworldly weirdness. Frankly, these days we have become much more accepting of LGBTQ issues and there is no way this movie could shock and delight like the original. Of course, this was created as a television event to pay tribute to the original and that was so clear while watching this. For instance, they added a framing device of the movie being shown at a theater in the style of the famous midnight showings. There are so many little winks and nods to the original series that I could not help but smile a bit at the homage. I really liked the new performances at least from a vocal performance point of view. Beyond the singing, the performances are more like a high school performance of Rocky Horror but whatever. Of course, most people praise Laverne Cox’ performance and rightfully so. She is absolutely electric. Overall, it is a little too sanitized and too slick but I still found it fun. The only thing they improved from the original is that the cast is more diverse. I recommend it for those looking for a fun little movie but are alright with a little remake.


Footloose

This is one of those movies that I had not seen but I feel like I knew what it was about. The widely known premise seemed strange to me. A town that outlaws dancing sounds more like a fairytale than a famous movie from the 1980s. I have been curious to actually watch it since it was mentioned heavily in Guardians of the Galaxy. I had only seen the one big famous solo Kevin Bacon scene. The movie is weird because immediately the town that Kevin Bacon has moved is full of assholes. I hesitated to use that word but that is what they are. The adults are all very pissy about music and anything rebellious or different being shunned. The kids are very brazen about indulging in everything that their parents have banned. They make a big deal of comparing Kevin Bacon to David Bowie and I have to admit he has the hair and the build down if not the spectacular voice. Of course, the highlight of the movie is the music. There are some great eighties standards but there was surprisingly a little bit of metal. None of the characters except for Kevin Bacon and Chris Penn are likable. John Lithgow is not supposed to be likable and he is a very welcome break from the teen drama.  I would not recommend it and you should just listen to the soundtrack.

Music of the Week:
Die Antwoord – Banana Brains

Kurtis Blow – America

Korn – A Different World

Kehlani – CRZY

Garth Brooks and George Jones – Beer Run

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “The Power of Music”
– I started watching Lucifer Season 2
– I started watching Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2
– I continued watching Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I started Dark Matter Season 2
– I continued watching The Get Down

Random 41 Questions

November 7, 2016

A friend of mine posted this questionnaire on Facebook but why would I waste this on Facebook when it seems like a quality questionnaire.  Besides, it has been over a year since I have really posted anything on Facebook and I still do not feel like breaking that streak.  I was going to do another round of interview questions but instead, you get this because it was fun to do.

1. Are you named after someone?

Not that I know of.

2. When is the last time you cried?

My grandmother’s funeral. I talked about it here.

3. Do you like your handwriting ?

Yes, it is horrible and hard for other people to read but it is uniquely mine and I love that. I can slow down and concentrate and make it look presentable but also uniquely mine. I tend to type anything really important. My handwriting is really fast and that accounts for it being chicken scratch.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

Rare roast beef. I like it so rare that blood is practically coming out of it. Over the last couple of years, I have learned to appreciate rare meat more when it is safe to do so. There are certain places that I would never order rare meat from and others that nail it completely.

5.Do you have kids?

Nope. I would never say never but it does not look like it is in the cards for me. Still, I am young and anything could happen in the next couple of years. Kids make me nervous but lately, there have been some kids that I am related to that have changed my mind a bit.

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?

I think so but it would probably be hard. Like most of my friends, I would have to be alright with not seeing me for long periods of time. I am an introvert and I tend to go into my house and hang out instead of seeking people out to make plans with them. I also tend to think my friends are busy or unwilling to do anything so I do not want to bother them. I will almost always come when called, though.

7. Do you use sarcasm?

I use sarcasm but I try to do it only as a function of comedy. If you are trying to make the people around you laugh, then it is definitely appropriate. If you are being sarcastic to hurt somebody then it is toxic behavior and kind of a dirty move. I try not to be bitter and I definitely do not like confronting people coming from a negative headspace.

8. Do you still have your tonsils?

That is a good question. I do not remember them being removed but I am fairly sure I do not have them. I probably have them still, right? You don’t just forget getting your tonsils removed, right?

9. Would you bungee jump?

I might. I have been doing things lately that scare me. I have gotten better at interacting socially and I went through a haunted house even though I was scared. Being scared of something and doing it anyway is exhilarating. I would have to not be given too much time to think and I would need the right mix of friends or family to go with me. I had the chance when I was a teenager and I did not do it.

10. What is your favorite kind of cereal?

Lucky Charms. I know it is bad for me and it turns most people off but I love a bowl of Lucky Charms floating in whole milk. It is a great mix of sweet and grain and the milk tends to dull the edge of the sweetness. I do not eat them much these days. (Not sponsored by Lucky Charms)

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

I do not. I know you are supposed to but I just kind of slip them off. I have never had them fly off and not untying them every time has not been a problem. I do untie my dress shoes but I am paranoid about scuffing or damaging them in any way.

12. Do you think you’re strong?

I feel like I am only physically strong when I do not stop to think about it. I have lifted things and endured things that would have given me pause had I actually planned it out. I can lift a good amount of weight but I do not train with weights. I prefer to exercise by walking instead.

13. What is your favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

For a long time, my favorite has been Mint Chocolate Chip because I love the way those two flavors go together. My favorite brand of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream is Turkey Hill. I discovered the Turkey Hill brand while I was living in New Jersey near the Pennsylvania line. It is so creamy and soft and delicious. Lately, I have also renewed a love affair with Vanilla. If I had the option to add a little Hershey’s chocolate syrup then Vanilla is my favorite. (Not sponsored by Turkey Hill or Hershey’s)

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?

Their respect for other people. Specifically, I look at how people deal with people that they disagree with. Those that shut down people with opposite or different opinions are not people I really want to hang out with. There are too many people I have met who like to dominate the conversation by being a brick wall and maintaining that they cannot be wrong and nobody else can be right.

15. Red or pink?

Red. However, as I have explored gender studies a bit more, I have gained a new appreciation for pink. Growing up, I liked a lot of boy stuff and a lot of girl stuff and pink was persona non grata for boy stuff. Now, I realize how much bullcrap that aversion to pink is. I still have to go with red as a horror movie aficionado.

16. What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?

My depression. Depression lies and it can cause all sorts of nonsensical and harmful thoughts to enter my brain and that leads to bad decisions. Every year I get a better grip on it but it still tries to worm its way into ruining everything. The darkness is never far off.

 

17. What color pants and shoes are you wearing now?

Tan shorts and no shoes. I do not wear shoes in my own home.

18. What was the last thing you ate?

I cooked up a little cheesy omelet to take the edge off my hunger and I will probably cook up something else to join it. Earlier today I had a crabcake sandwich for lunch at the Ravens game. It was so good.

19. What are you listening to right now?

I am watching Game Grumps on YouTube. It is basically like listening to a podcast of two guys talking while watching them play a video game. I have stuck with these guys for over a year and met a few of the staff members in person. It is just a good, down to Earth show that is only ten minutes long.

 

20. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

I would hope blue. Blue was always what I used to color the water in pictures and I really like water. I grew up in Baltimore and anywhere in Baltimore is not far from the water.

 

21. Favorite smell ?

Cooking in general. Baking bread is a more specific favorite especially if it is some sort of sweetened bread. Cooking meat, especially steak is also a favorite.

22. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

My mother, arranging meeting up to go to today’s Ravens game.

23. Favorite sport to watch?

American Football. I like the tension being ratcheted up with each progressive down and I love the running, passing, kicking and tackling skills involved. I also like that watching it usually involves eating stuff like hot wings, potato skins and mozzarella sticks. I love the Ravens and have loved them since they rolled into town from Cleveland.

24.Hair color?

Black.

25. Eye color?

Black.

26. Do you wear contacts?

No. I always just shuddered when I thought about sticking my finger in my eye.

27. Favorite food to eat?

A good bacon cheeseburger. It is a meal that I have had at more restaurants than I care to try and count. It is a hard meal to really screw up but when it is good, it can be amazing. It is also something I can easily make myself.

28. Scary movies or happy endings?

Scary movies. We just came off October and anyone who reads my blog or talks to me during October knows that I am a Halloween devotee. Horror has so many cool yet dark visual motifs that set my imagination aflame and make me want to create. I like happy endings and the two things here are not mutually exclusive but if I had to choose, I would go with horror movies.

29. Last movie you watched?

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. It was really fun and way better than it has any business being.

30. What color shirt are you wearing?

Purple. Go Ravens!

31. Summer or Winter?

Winter. I love the cold.

32. Hugs or kisses?

Hugs. I only kiss people and get kisses from people I am romantically involved in and right now that is nobody. I am also not really a hugger and more of a handshake kind of person but I will break that rule for the people I care for the most in this world.

33. What book are you currently reading?

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Manual. I want to be a Barbarian.

34. Who do you miss right now?

Friends who I have lost touched with and friends and family who are dead.

35. What is on your mouse pad?

I use a trackpad and not a mousepad. However, I do have a Doctor Who one.

36. What is the last TV program you watched?

Galavant. It is really good, you guys. I will probably be talking about it on Thursday.

37. What is the best sounding noise?

Genuine laughter when I am in on the joke. When I am having fun with people and joking around, laughter just cascades over me like a rain of pure happiness. I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh when I can.

38. Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

This is a difficult question. On the one hand, I was raised as a youth to respond to the question “Who is the greatest singer in the world?” with “Mick Jagger!”. On the other hand, the Beatles have a more varied and interesting catalog of songs. I think I will have to go with the Beatles.

39. What is the furthest you have ever traveled?

Paris, France. I went there when I was thirteen with my mother and we had an excellent time even if I was a little cranky and angsty from jetlag. I saw so many things that I had only seen on postcards and experienced a culture somewhat alien from my own.

40. Do you have a special talent?

I have a really good memory for story elements. I can remember a lot of trivia from pop culture concerning plot points, character names and such. This extends into my life as I am able to remember the narrative of my life and the stories people tell me pretty well.

41. Where were you born?

Baltimore, Maryland at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


susanne matthews

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the eye of the beholder

(a place where beauty is found)

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