Archive for September, 2017

Media Update 9/7/2017

September 7, 2017


Kong: Skull Island

I have seen every version of King Kong to date (including vs. Godzilla). I remember the last one in 2005 and I remember liking it because the characters felt more fleshed out. This one was even better. This is yet another reboot of King Kong but this time it is set at the tail end of the Vietnam War. John Goodman plays an explorer looking for access to vast caves full of giant monsters. He and his group are accompanied on an expedition to Skull Island by a photojournalist, a mercenary tracker, and a group of soldiers fresh from Vietnam. This version plays out more like Heart of Darkness with giant monsters which was a really refreshing take on things. Spoiler: There are no scenes set in New York City and there are no scenes where a wide-eyed female character entrances King Kong. Instead, we just watch the characters try to survive in an environment twenty times more dangerous than the jungles of Vietnam (during the war). They brought out some excellent actors which especially includes John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly. The movie is tense but interrupted with good moments of comedy. I definitely recommend it.


Shin Godzilla

The last Godzilla movie I watched was the awfully boring 2014 American version which I could not even finish watching. I have fond memories of watching Godzilla movies but mostly for the Godzilla action. My favorite is actually Godzilla vs. Biollante which is a good movie where Godzilla is still a threat to Japan but he takes on a giant plant monster. When I heard that there was going to be a new Japanese reboot and that it was critically acclaimed, I decided I should check it out. When I was a kid I was bored by all the parts in between the actual Godzilla parts but that is not true anymore. This movie was definitely inspired by the recent tsunami that hit Japan and the resulting nuclear fallout from the Fukushima and how the problem was approached. A lot of the movie focusing on the frustrating bureaucracy as Japan tries to figure out how to best approach the Godzilla problem. Another huge theme is how the government fails to listen to the scientists until the last minute. The Godzilla parts are probably the best I have seen, a great blend of practical and computer generated effects. The acting in between is really believable, well-paced, and interesting which was a huge contrast with the 2014 version. I definitely recommend it.


The B. F. G.

I have talked about how I read the entire works of Roald Dahl at a very young age. The BFG did not make as much of an impact on me as the other books so I could not remember a lot of the story. The movie is about an orphan girl trying to navigate the world of giants with the help of the only friendly one. The movie is absolutely anchored by Mark Rylance who breathed depth into the Big Friendly Giant and his odd way of speaking. He is joined by Ruby Barnhill who is very cute and did a great job playing off of Rylance. The movie’s plot takes more than half the running time to actually kick in. It wanders and meanders for a long time as they set up bits of exposition and allow their main characters to bond. The actual plot really starts in the third act. It annoyed me at first but the movie is so charming that I eventually forgave it. It is a touching Disney adaptation of the dark yet endearing Roald Dahl. It is directed by Steven Spielberg and who does endearing better than him? I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
K.Flay – Blood In The Cut

Jason Charles Miller – You Get What You Pay For

The Sisters Of Mercy – This Corrosion

Summer Camp – Pink Summer

Roxanne Shante – Have a Nice Day

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Giants Attack”
– This morning I will be going in to get some of my wisdom teeth taken out
– I finished White Collar Season 5
– I watched more Riverdale Season 1
– i watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I watched more Glitter Force Season 2
– I am so very much into Critical Role and Dice, Camera, Action now

Summer Camp Pt. 2

September 4, 2017

(Oops this was supposed to post weeks ago.  Pretend I posted it before Part 3. Happy Labor Day!)

The other major summer camp I went to was Camp Shohola up in Greeley, Pennsylvania. The camp is situated on Lake Greeley and down the road a couple miles from actual Shohola, Pennsylvania which always confused me a little bit also for reasons I will get to in a minute. This was my first taste of real independence. Mom and Dad and my brothers were all a four-hour drive away and none of my other relatives were any closer. It was my first shot at being out there ‘on my own’ and I jumped into it with wild abandon. Not that I hated my folks at all but I guess I needed a little bit of space. I was given the option to go to summer camp for four weeks or eight weeks and I chose eight. I know my mother was astonished but my folks agreed. I was off to the wilds of Pennsylvania near the New York border.

When I arrived, the grounds seemed so big and they were. They were huge. While we were not far from the road, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. I was introduced to my cabin. That was a big adjustment. It was the first time that I had shared a room with other people aside from motel and hotel rooms on family vacations. It helped that our cabin banded together pretty quickly. I was such a good kid but it was cool to hang out with a bunch of tricksters and jokesters. It definitely added new elements to my young personality to be able to break the rules and test the boundaries. I have fond memories of all of us lying awake in our bunk beds late into the night. Our bunk counselor usually went over to the staff lounge or elsewhere until later in the night which was the norm. There were assigned patrols that watched the cabins to make sure we did not get too out of control. We definitely drew the ire of the patrol now and then. I especially remember pulling out my camera and flipping on the bright flash and just setting it off in pitch blackness to blind my bunkmates.

The food was delicious. I remember looking forward to meals a lot because there was always plenty of food and the cooks were dead set on making each meal delicious. They knew they were catering to over a hundred boys of various ages and they never got into exotic territories. Meals were always a flurry of passing of platters and pouring of drinks as we all devoured meals like sharks. For each meal, there were assigned ‘biddies’ which meant that you had to go to the dining hall early and set your assigned table. It taught me that setting the table was not really that hard and not the arduous chore that I thought it might be. Plus, I learned how to carry eight mugs at once. Every Sunday we got ice cream at the end of lunch and if your bunk had won that week’s cleanliness award, you got two scoops instead of one. It was a much sought after prize. We also had a weekly visit to the canteen where we were alotted one soda and one candy bar. I often traded my candy bar for another soda.

From early on I was way into waterfront activities. I have always loved to be in or near the water. I guess that goes hand in hand with growing up in a city like Baltimore. I was never a big fan of structured swimming because I find laps tedious and exhausting. Instead, I loved to sail. Our camp had little two-person Sunfish sailboats. A friend of mine and I worked really well together in those boats and we actually won quite a few races that first year of camp. Of course, in order to sail I had to do an enormous amount of laps without touching the H dock to prove that if the boat went down, I could still swim back to camp. I hated it so much but in the end, it was worth it and I completed the test each year so I could sail, canoe and raft.

Yes, I said raft. The camp was very good at getting us out on trips every so often. They organized trips that you could sign up for so you could escape the routine now and then. I went rafting on the Yough<>, I went hiking at High Point State Park (in Jersey), I went to musicals, I went to ballgames and so many more things. That is not to say that I did not love a lot of the activities actually on camp grounds. Camp Shohola was the first place I ever fired a gun in Riflery, learning to respect the power of firearms. It is also where I happily fired bow and arrows and learned that I was pretty good at it. I may not have gotten jazzed over stuff like soccer but I loved the geekier sports. I even got to do horseriding regularly and I really enjoyed it. It was scary at first but I felt powerful and tall for the first time in my life on the back of a horse.

On rainy days, we were chased inside to a big barn of a building with a movie screen and plenty of floor space to sit on. I do not remember them ever showing us any movies in that place, though. I remember them showing a lot of sports highlight movies, I suppose as an effort to continue the sports mindset despite the rain. I remember them showing a lot of compilations of football (soccer) goals. The volume was turned low as most of the commentary was in Spanish anyway (which I was studying at the time). Impressive soccer goals are really fun to watch but I remember seeing those videos enough that I got bored. As long as we stayed calm, we were allowed to talk amongst ourselves. So I would find somebody I knew and we would just hangout and have a chill time. It was a little boring but sometimes it is good to be bored.

I have a lot more to say about Shohola so tune in next Monday for the end of Summer Camp for the year. (Just in time for school to start!)

The Symbol Pt. 2

September 2, 2017

“You!” Victoria yelled out as she jumped from the stool she was sitting on and backed up. She slipped some iron knuckles onto her hand. She stroked some runes along it and it suddenly blazed with a bright white light and there was a crackling sound in the air. She also ripped her blouse from her shoulder and placed her palm on the family protection symbol.

“Whoa!” Solantria yelled out. “I mean you no harm!” Her eyes looked panicked for a moment but her face slowly calmed and a warm, charismatic smile formed on her lips. The words made no sense but they did sound nice to Victoria’s ears. Almost comforting.

Victoria shook her head. “Bullshit!” She went to take a swing at the demon with her blazing white fist. Solantria barely stepped back and out of the way.

“I swear it, Victoria,” Solantria said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to prove it to you.” She had her hands up in her best attempt at placating Victoria.

“You killed six of my family members!” Victoria yelled out. She poured will into the symbol on her shoulder.

“Oh shit,” Solantria said before she was repelled and she hurtled out through the door and tumbled into the street. She got up and steadied herself before taking a breath and counting to three. She calmly walked back into the tavern. “That was well over two centuries ago. I think it’s almost three. I’ve changed.”

“The Heathrow family will never forgive you for those deaths,” Victoria said. “I will use everything in my power to end you.”

“Um, I’m immortal,” Solantria said with a smile. She still had her hands up.

“Then I’ll do what I can to make this a very bad night for you,” Victoria said, her eyes narrowing.

“I need your help,” Solantria said. There was a long silence. Very carefully, she reached over and grabbed her glass of whiskey from the bar and downed the whole thing. She kept her eyes on Victoria the whole time.

After a few moments of stunned silence, Victoria actually started laughing despite how angry and afraid she was. “You need my help?” She asked. “You know what I say to that? Suffer.”

“I need your help to save the world,” Solantria said. She sat back on the stool and poured herself another glass of whiskey. Another confused and stunned silence came after that statement. Victoria’s brain seemed to halt for a moment or two.

“What?” Victoria asked finally.

“I need you to save the world. With me,” Solantria said. She sipped her whiskey and smiled. “It’s kind of imperative at this point. It’s also getting rather urgent.”

“I don’t believe you and, even if I did, why would a thing like you want to save the world?” Victoria asked. “Everybody knows demons live in one of the Hells. Just go home.”

“Have you ever been to Hell?” Solantria asked. “It’s brutal and boring. Brutally boring. Besides, I’ve grown quite fond of this world over the last century. I have my reasons for wanting to save it.”

Victoria scoffed at that. “My family’s greatest enemy is asking for trust and yet it keeps secrets. It’s almost funny.”

“Can you not call me an ‘it’?” Solantria said with a pout. “I may be a demon but I am all woman.” She punctuated that with another sip of her whiskey.

“Tell me your secrets,” Victoria said, completely unamused. She still had her hand on the family symbol, ready to repel the demon again and again.

“All of them?” Solantria asked and then tilted her head back to let out a laugh. “That would take more time than we have. More to the point, after the sordid business with your family ended with my humiliation, I would not dare show my face in any Hell. After a decade, I left my grudge against your family behind me and started to explore this world. For once, my focus was not on the deal but was instead on pure exploration. I had a lot of fun. I grew attached to this world. I changed.”

“Wait,” Victoria said. “You don’t want to kill my family?”

“Did you notice I haven’t shown your kin my face for a long time?” Solantria asked. “It’s not just because of that symbol. Oh and nice tattoo by the way. It is because I decided to drop the issue. Neither side was blameless but I definitely overreacted. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” Victoria asked. “My parents raised me with stories about how you might come back one day. I had to sleep with the light on until I was fourteen. I had nightmares. Actually, I still have nightmares. And you’re sorry?”

Solantria looked embarrassed and said weakly. “I’m very sorry? I had no idea how badly I had affected you. Maybe even ‘infected’ would be a better word. I really am sorry for that. I was born among beings with no conscience. In fact, the one I have grown is still pretty new to me. What can I do to make it up to you?”

“Nothing can be done now,” Victoria said and then she sighed and took off her spectacles. She rubbed the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes for a moment. She replaced her glasses and eyed the demon quizzically. The immortal centuries must have been rough on Solantria, she did not look as majestic as Victoria had imagined. She just looked more ordinary than Victoria had always imagined after studying the sketches her ancestors had drawn. “However, you said earlier that you need my help to save the world.”

“Yes!” Solantria said excitedly, a dazzling smile forming on her face for a moment before she turned it down a few notches. “I consulted with a seer who told me that I needed to go to Heathrow’s Victory to start my quest and here you are. Victoria/Victory. Get it?”

“I get it. I’m recognized by several academies and universities as a very intelligent woman so I definitely get the not so subtle wordplay there,” Victoria said.

“Will you help me?” Solantria asked. She looked hopeful and sincere to Victoria.

“I don’t think I could ever help you,” Victoria said. “However, I may be willing to help our world.” She paused and looked around. “Wait, did you do something to my bartender friend?” She looked suspiciously at Solantria.

“Oh, of course not,” Solantria said. She pulled a small stone out that kind of looked like the top of a sundial. “The enchantment on this stops time for those I choose. I gave him a break.”

“Unfreeze him,” Victoria said. “Unfreeze him and I will consider your proposal. Meet me at my apartment tomorrow afternoon.”

Solantria smiled and pulled out a small cloth bag and set it on the bar and it made a little jingling sound. “For the whiskey.” Then she held out the little stone sun dial. “And this as a sign of good faith.” She put the stone on the bar next to Victoria and walked out of the tavern.

“Here’s your sausage, Victoria,” <> said with a smile and set down the plate.

Victoria swept the stone off of the bar and then pocketed it. She took a sip from her glass of whiskey. She did her best to cover up her shoulder quickly. “Thank you, so much.”

“What happened out here?” He asked.

“Just somebody with sticky fingers,” Victoria said. “I encouraged her to pay up.”

“Are you alright?” He asked, a concerned look on his face.

Victoria took another sip of whiskey, eyeing the empty glass still on the bar. “I will be.”


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