Archive for November, 2018

Media Update 11/29/18

November 29, 2018


Hurricane Heist

When my friends and I saw this trailer in theaters, a lot of them expressed their disgust but I noted at the time that it was made by some of the people who made the Fast and the Furious and the XXX franchises. The main one is Rob Cohen who directed XXX, The Fast and the Furious, and Dragonheart. So, if anything, I knew I was going to get some fun stunts and some interesting characters. I was not disappointed. The movie is about a group of criminals who use a hurricane as cover to attempt to rob a United States Treasury installation tasked with shredding old money to take it out of circulation. The heroes are an ATF agent, a meteorologist, and an ex-military mechanic. The bulk of the movie takes place in Alabama during a Category 5 hurricane (although it is kind of insinuated that it may be a Category 6). None of the actors were known to me (although the ATF agent was on Lost which I did not watch much of). That was kind of refreshing as I got to watch some new faces go about crafting a familiar story in unique circumstances. There is very little actual storm science actually used in the movie but what is there is interesting. I was also interested that they decided to put a much-needed climate change message about storms worsening as time goes on. It is a movie that very much does not get in its own way and it never felt like it dragged. The character development was interesting (and sometimes heartwarming) and the action was a lot of fun. I definitely recommend this one.


The Spy Who Dumped Me

I have loved Mila Kunis since That Seventies Show but I have enjoyed her more and more as her career has proceeded. I am a huge fan of her in movies like Bad Moms, Black Swan, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She has great comic timing and she has off the charts charisma. Also, Kate McKinnon was the best part of the Ghostbusters remake a while ago. Justin Theroux plays the titular spy and he is sufficiently rugged. There is also the wonderful Gillian Anderson as well.  The movie follows the ex of an international spy who is forced to carry out spy missions along with her crazy best friend. The bulk of the movie rests on the dialogue between Kunis and McKinnon. The dialogue felt a lot like a Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino movie. The characters get caught up in trivialities even in the middle of danger. This movie is very much in the style of fish out of water comedies where the people tasked with something, are way over their heads. I had a lot of fun watching this movie, it was not laugh-out-loud funny to me but it was delightful. The movie was directed and written by Susanna Fogel, a relative newcomer, and I look forward to seeing more from her. I definitely recommend this one too.


Game Night

This was not a movie that I picked but it was upsold before Thanksgiving dinner and so the majority chose it for a movie night. I am familiar with Jason Bateman through Arrested Development but not much else. He is just as good in this as he is in Arrested Development, basically playing the same character. Rachel McAdams is the other lead and she is even funnier than Bateman. Jesse Plemons plays a comic relief cop who belongs in a horror movie. Billy Magnussen plays an absolute idiot, paired with a very witty Sharon Horgan (who I would love to see in a better movie). Kyle Chandler is great at playing the cool but scummy older brother. The movie is basically a combination of The Man Who Knew Too Little and The Game. Like those movies, the twists were expected and it was fun looking for any evidence of what was real and what was fake. It has some clever twists and a lot of movie references but the comedy was kind of hit or miss. Overall, I liked it but it had so much potential if it had been just a little bit smarter. I would recommend it as a dumb movie to watch with friends.

Music of the Week:

Caballero & JeanJass – Dégueulasse

The Vitriots – I Don’t Wanna Watch The News

The Dig – Nothing in This Town

Rifflord – The Other Side

Baco Exu do Blues – Flamingos

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Zany Intrigue”
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 1
– I finished The Haunting of Hill House Season 1
– I watched more Hilda Season 1
– I watched more American Vandal Season 1
– I started watching MST3K Season 12
– I watched more She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2

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Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 3

November 26, 2018

Bahamut (God of Battle)
War Domain

Known both as the Stormlord and the Platinum Dragon, Bahamut was actually created by some of the gods in response to the emergence of some of the evil gods. They needed a champion to help defend the world from the more violent divine threats of the world. They created something based on the dragons they had seen roaming the land but empowered with the primal power of the storm and infused with a love for combat. He is depicted as a giant platinum dragon and as a winged knight based on what aspect people focus on. His followers are also varied. Some of them are ardent defenders, only seeking battle to bring peace or justice to the world. Some of them are just focused on his love of battle and are just looking for a good fight. Of course, there is also everything in between. In ancient times, he worked with Mala, Pelor, and Ioun to protect the world but also challenging other gods to friendly yet destructive fights. In the Final Conflict, he was instrumental in subduing the enemy before their eventual banishment, taking heavy damage. When it was time to go, he decided to have his own plane created Ysgard, a land for deceased warriors to endlessly battle and feast. His symbol is a lightning bolt.

Mala (Goddess of the Hunt)

Created a little later by the gods, Mala also loves battle but she loves the finesse of the hunt more. She is known as The Huntress. She lives for the thrill of adventure and was often relied upon to locate anything or anyone for the gods. She is not based on a dragon but is instead depicted as a feral woman with mottled gray and brown skin. During ancient times she often either hung out with Bahamut or hunted great beasts or tiny quarry. In the Great Conflict, she shot Gruumsh and Shar from behind with a bow and arrow, helping to turn the tide of the battle. When it was time to go away, she happily joined Bahamut in Ysgard where she can hunt as much as she wanted. She was also the leader of a group of warrior women known as the Freya who later became planetars in her service. Her symbol is the bow and arrow.

Akanay (Deity of Chaos)
Tempest Domain/Trickery Domain

Akanay is the genderfluid deity of chaos and tempest and has always existed outside of the continuity of good and evil. Akanay has never really supported either side but instead often made things stranger through altering reality or playing pranks on others. Not much is actually known about Akanay as they have never held a consistant form. They have often done things without claiming credit, letting chaos reign as people blamed each other. However, the only real enemies of Akanay are those who would spoil their good time. They dislike Pelor and to a greater extent, they absolutely hate Torog. In the Final Conflict, Ioun manipulated Akanay into occupying Torog. After that, the gods imprisoned Akanay in their own plane of chaos but their energy sometimes leaks into the other planes. Akanay has few worshippers and most of them are insane but those who do worship Akanay use a swirling whirlpool as their symbol.

The Children of Akanay

The Following deities fall under the domain of Akanay, the Chaos Deity because all three are hard to pin down and because there is some vagueness to them. Religious records are not clear whether or not anybody ever actually encountered these gods on the material plane. In fact, sometimes scholars wonder if Akanay made them up. Some other scholars theorize that they are merely aspects or alter egos of Akanay. It is not clear but still, the early elves wrote them down so they must have existed in some form or another.

Somnus (God of Dreams)

The lord of both dreams and nightmares, he is a hard one to pin down. He maintains the Plane of Dreams and most of the time his sleeping charges go where they will based on the currents of their minds and their hearts. However, he allows many gods to alter the trajectory and itinerary of various mortals in order to provide prophetic dreams or dreams of a divine message. A shepherd, he tries to keep the boundaries of people’s dreams separate. He also shepherds those who die in dreams to their true destination.

Lyssa (Goddess of Madness)

Born as the fire in the minds of early elves, Lyssa is rather harmless on her own. Like her patron, Akanay, she is just looking for a good time by shaking things up. She apparently did this by infecting those she met with various forms of mental disorders. She does not care about laws, society, or ethics in general. She is pure madness incarnate. Those who met her could not be fully believed but there is evidence that she existed. She was apparently caught and imprisoned in a cell somewhere in the Outland Plane. While she did not intend to be a villain, she was treated as one.

Sharess (Deity of Desire)

Both male and female and also everything in between, Sharess is desire incarnate. They are not “love” but physical lust and attraction instead. Also, to a lesser degree, Sharess is greed and envy. They are everything you want and therefore they proved to be far too distracting to mortals and gods alike. Sharess has no form of their own but instead is constantly shifting to attract those in their surroundings. Sharess was reportedly imprisoned somewhere. Nobody is quite sure where so it is impossible to verify. This has led to rumors that Sharess still walks the material plane or is perhaps traveling the planes at will. Or, again, Sharess never existed and is just a convenient excuse for previous drama.

 

Laverna (Goddess of Thieves)

Laverna is a goddess that was never spoken of in ancient times and has only appeared in the last few centuries. Many theories swirl around her existence. Some wonder if she is a new goddess, formed long after the others. Some think that she may have been around a lot longer but people covered it up. Yet more people think that she might have been made up by the thieves guilds which is where he legend is believed to have begun. She is known as Lady Luck, an enigmatic figure who plucks the strings of fate, doling out fortune as she sees fit. She is often depicted as a woman in rags, hidden by a long cloak with her eyes covered by a blindfold. She has no public temples but sometimes people might come upon a makeshift altar in an alley or other hidey holes. She is prayed to by thieves and criminals but she is also sometimes worshipped by the poor, hoping for her generosity. Her symbol is the question mark.

Thanksgiving 2018

November 24, 2018

Everybody is moving on toward Christmas but I am still recovering from Thanksgiving. I was told on Tuesday that my mother and I would be responsible for cooking the feast for twelve guests. While I have helped with cooking before, I had never taken on so much responsibility for such a big meal. We also had none of the ingredients needed, including the all-important turkey. What is a guy to do in the semi-wild territory of Shepherdstown, WV two days before Thanksgiving? I decided to drive to Walmart, sure that they would be least likely to be out of the supplies I needed. I got to the Walmart in Spring Mills, expecting it to be swarming with people and picked over. It was actually pretty sedate but there was definitely a lot of people in full shopping mode. I made my way through the aisles, trying to figure out where everything was. I got a 24-pound turkey, probably a little too big but oh well.

After hauling the stuff to the car, I drove home feeling like a conquering hero. I usually just do the dishes, something that I am happy to do but I am nervous about cooking for other people. I live alone and I usually only cook for myself. I like it but I do not really have any idea if other people would like it. I was comforted by the fact that my mother would be my partner in crime in the endeavor. I went back to work on a case I was doing paralegal work for, proofreading and checking a complaint that was about to go out. I did not give Thanksgiving another thought until I put the turkey out on the back porch to make sure it would thaw out on time. Of course, it has gotten to below freezing here every night this week.

On Thursday, I got up in the morning with my mother and we found that the turkey was just a little frozen inside. We agreed to change the cooking time and I was relieved that we had gotten up so early (8 AM). We watched the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade as we checked on the turkey, saving everything else to cook later. We sat down to watch a movie (Ocean’s 8) and that is when my poor, tired mother fell asleep. I picked up the ball from there and tin foiled the chicken and, after the movie was over, I lept up to make everything else. Gravy, green beans, stuffing, biscuits, and the turkey itself. Thankfully, the potatoes and sweet potatoes were covered by our guests. It was my first time keeping tabs on so much at once but everything came in on time. I kept my head down as we took our seats but apparently I did not screw it up and people liked the dinner.

All of that is to say that I was really too busy and then tired on the day to actually think about Thanksgiving. As I went to bed, I was just thankful that nobody had hated the food and that things went off with very few hitches. I slept the sleep of a conquering hero, having done something that many people do every single year. Still, it was a big deal for somebody as insecure as me. Everybody went home happy and we got the dishes done and I ended the night watching Deadpool with my brother. Introducing somebody to one of my favorite movies is one of my greatest joys so I went to bed happy.

So, I was thinking about it all today. I am thankful for my family who supported me in the kitchen the same way they support me year round. I am thankful that I was able to finish my work in time to have a peaceful holiday. I am thankful that I am getting plenty of work in the legal field, getting to know lawyers and paralegals in the Baltimore area and establishing a reputation. I am thankful that I went to a psychiatric nurse this year and got a prescription for Zoloft and I have been able to manage being around people better. I am thankful that I quit sugar earlier this year. I am thankful that I have committed to the gym, working out like it is my second job. I am thankful that I have started going to the doctor again to get my health under control. I am thankful that I have decided to be happier. Lastly, I am thankful that my creative juices are still flowing so that I can keep writing here which makes me happy.

Media Update 11/22/18

November 22, 2018


She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

I remember watching a lot of He-Man back in the day, but I look back at it now and it was not very good. The original She-Ra was much the same, dirt cheap animation with bare-bones stories designed to sell toys. A lot of eighties cartoons were like that. We did not know any better. However, there has been a big wave of rejuvenating these old properties by giving to good storytellers. They gave She-Ra to a woman named Noelle Stevenson who I knew through the various comic books she has worked on and also through her connection to Critical Role. She is a proven artist who knows how to create things that people care about. Here, she took a stiff eighties cartoon and infused character and heart into it. She also loosened up the art style to make something that is really fun to watch. The show takes the original source material and adds to it and twists it. None of the characters are perfect and there is no annoying comic relief. The show basically works like a magical girl show, with Adora having to deal with both being herself and being She-Ra. People love She-Ra but some people don’t like Adora. I am really interested to see where the story goes because there are a lot of fun moving parts and the art is gorgeous. I definitely recommend it.


Castlevania (2018)

I remember playing Castlevania as a kid both on the NES and on the original Gameboy. I kind of hated it because they were too difficult to have fun with. Still, I loved the lore of the games and the mechanics of the gameplay. I have since seen some gameplay and artwork from later games and I continued to really like the world of the games (much like the Metroid series). When I heard about a new cartoon coming out, I gauged my interest and decided I was not that interested. However, I heard rumblings that the show is really good and those reports were not wrong. The show is short. The first season is four episodes so I breezed through it. The show is about Dracula vowing to basically burn Wallachia to the ground after his wife is murdered by the church. Opposing him and the church is Trevor Belmont, the last of the Belmonts, a family sworn to fight monsters. It is a pretty bloody and brutal show that adheres to the world of the show but expands on it. Stuck between a corrupt church and a horde of monsters, Belmont has few allies and that seems to be the way he likes it. The animation is fluid (and graphic) and the voice acting is really good. I recommend this one as well.


Tombraider (2018)

I never really played any of the Tombraider games nor did I ogle over Lara Croft like many in my age bracket did. I did once play a demo for one of her games and enjoyed it but it just was not what I played on PlayStation. I preferred games like Spyro and Final Fantasy VII. Still, I enjoyed the Angelina Jolie Tombraider movies for their campy 90s action qualities. However, when I heard about this movie based on the revamped Tombraider games, I was curious. So, on a lazy Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I decided to check it out. For starters, Alicia Vikander is a great actress and she brought a lot to this role of a young woman of privilege who lost everything and has a chip on her shoulder. She is opposed by Walton Goggins who has been a sleazy bad guy in a bunch of good things that I have seen. Dominic West plays Lara’s father with the right amount of heart and gravitas. The movie kind of drags in places but it is a fairly interesting romp through archeology. There is a lot of action and not as much acting but I suppose those who played the games expected as much. I recommend it but don’t expect so much.

 

Music of the Week:
North American Pharaohs – Suzy

No Buses – Girl

BREGMA – MILK ft. Jahmed & Thunderous Knight

Kill The Silence – Memories

Joshua Surgeon – No Time For Work

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Childhood Revamped”
– I watched more of Designated Survivor Season 1
– I watched more Hilda Season 1
– I watched more The Haunting of Hill House Season 1
– I watched more Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 7
– Happy Thanksgiving!

Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 2

November 19, 2018

Asherah (Goddess of Life)
Life Domain

Known as the Queen of Life, she is often depicted as a woman with four wings and five eyes. She was the kindest and least destructive of the original deities, preferring to talk to people, meditate or heal the damage caused by others. In the final conflict between the gods, she was instrumental in restoring the forms of Kord, Azrea, Lathander, and Sylvanus when they were nearly routed and overcome. While she herself is peaceful, she understands that physical intervention is sometimes needed in order to protect others. Her followers are often healers or those who choose to protect those who cannot help themselves. Her temples often double as centers of healing, tranquility, and sanctuary in both urban and rural settings. Her followers are not as preachy and usually let their actions lure people into their lady’s service. She resides in the material plane of Avalon in a simple cottage. Followers often use the dove as her symbol.

Azrea (Goddess of Death)
Death Domain/Grave Domain

Known as the original Goddess of Winter, many believe that Azrea killed the original god of death in order to seize his domain for herself. The other gods decided to let this aggression go unchecked since she turned out to be a more benevolent death god than Nerull had been. She is now sometimes known as the Raven Queen. She views death as a kindness, a reprieve from suffering usually reserved for those who reach a certain age. Death is a necessary part of the cycle of existence and at least a kind hand is guiding that force now. She also remains vigilance against the undead magicks promoted by Nerull, locking them into an eternal conflict. Her followers seek to facilitate funeral services, eradicate necromancy and its creations, and guide souls to their eventual destinations. In reality, Azrea was the denizen of an ancient civilization which was decimated by one of Nerull’s experiments. She seized what power she could and, through a miracle, used it to attack and kill Nerull. At that point, she was accepted by the rest of the pantheon after she pledged her allegiance to them. She is usually depicted as a heavily cloaked woman with a bone-white bird skull mask. She resides in her own plane called the Farplane which is a waystation to various eternal resting places, often conversing with souls to pass the time. Her symbol is the raven.

Ullur (God of Winter)

He is known as the Winter Lord, he is often depicted as a massive silver-skinned man with one massive eye and long light blue hair all over his body. He is known to not be very sociable but not evil, he just enjoys his solitude. He could be listed as neutral. Originally under the domain of Sylvanus, he left his service to convene with the like-minded Azrea. Still, there was an understanding between him and Sylvanus about the need for Winter. During the Great Conflict, he often fought by her side. In the end, he willingly left the material plane and made his home in the Elemental Plane of Ice. His symbol is a snowflake.

 

Sylvanus (The God of Nature)
Nature Domain

He is known as Father Nature, a mountain of a man whose form keeps changing based on his mood and his needs. He is very hairy but some of it is hair, some is fur, and some of it is vegetation. He and his entourage built the material plane and Sylvanus populated it with his and Asherah’s magic. He created animals, plants, and most of the other living things on the Material Plane. He spent a lot of time exploring the Material Plane and examining his and others’ handiwork. The other gods would lose sight of him for days, weeks, sometimes months as he faded into the wild (it was mostly wild at that point). In the Great Conflict, he used his power to change shape to battle the opposing gods. When he left, he passed through the barrier and created the Feywild and he has not been seen since. His followers are naturally often druids or barbarians. His temples are not often traditional temples. They are either open-air altars in clearings or are set up in already enclosed places like caves. His symbol is a wreath of vines entwined with a stag’s antlers.

The Four Elements

These four are the blue collar workers of all of the entourage of the gods. When the gods were formed, they quickly realized that their purpose was to build the material plane. They worked together with Sylvanus to put it all together after Lathander brought light to the material plane. Umberlee is the Lady of the Sea, she once enjoyed roaming the depths and often upset early sailors unless they warded her off with prayer and offerings. Geb is the Lord of the Earth who spent much of his time walking his creation which caused earthquakes. Akadi is the Lady of the Air and she once flew everywhere and people grew to worry when they saw her shadow for high winds usually followed her. Kossuth is the Lord of Flame but he lay dormant beneath the surface and people feared him emerging. All four eventually agreed to leave the material plane, enticed by the four Elemental Planes. Those planes are playgrounds where each can control their element as they wish. With their departure, their creation was allowed to operate on its own, growing and changing for the first time in eons.

Chauntea (Goddess of Farming)

Legend has it that she imparted her love of vegetation and animals to the first elves who, until then, could only hunt and forage. She taught them how to farm and allowed the first of them to settle and the no longer nomadic elves started to create culture and civilization. These methods were also taught to gnomes and dwarves who adapted the practices for their underground civilizations. Chauntea often wandered through orchards eating produce, squished her feet in the mud of the fields, and stopped by to pet the livestock. She was one of the most peaceful and least-feared gods to encounter before the Great Division. Her symbol is a shepherd’s crook crossed with a pitchfork.

RIP Stan Lee

November 17, 2018

I was rocked when I heard that Stan Lee died four days ago on November 12, 2018. I had to spend a bit of time getting my thoughts together so that I could do this right. I could not let a great man pass without saying a little something. So here are the thoughts that have passed through my head in the past few days.

I was a huge fan of comic books growing up. I loved them so much that I walked three miles to a comic book store and blew my allowance on a small stack of them. I bought both Marvel and DC (while some of my friends preferred Image). However, when I read them, I did not often think about who was making them. All I thought about was who was selling them and how I could get them. So I really did not know who Stan Lee was. I would have been impressed had I known his name because he created a lot of the characters I liked and was one of the godfathers of the modern age of comics that I enjoyed so much. Little did I know but he was a fixture on the letters page at the back of most comics but I usually skipped that while I grabbed another story to absorb. When I got a bit older, I started to read those pages and learned about Stan’s infamous No-Prize. It was the prize he (and the Marvel editors) gave out to fans who spotted continuity errors in Marvel comic book fans. A little fun smartassery pointed toward the nitpickier side of fandom. It was also a reminder that comics are just supposed to be fun and not taken so seriously.

However, the first time I really started to become aware of Stan Lee was watching a little VHS called Pryde of the X-Men. It was an animated television pilot released in 1989 (a magic year for me) for an X-Men cartoon show that never materialized. I thought it was awesome but it only spawned the one double episode pilot and the famous X-Men arcade game. (Fun Fact: Wolverine was given an Australian accent in the pilot which is a bit eerie now). I remember well how Stan narrated that first episode. That was the first time that I heard him use the phrase “true believer” and it really resonated with me. As somebody with a vivid imagination and a strong suspension of disbelief, that was a great description of what I am. He brought me right into the story and his voice could barely contain the excitement he had for the story that was about to unfold. Of course, 1989 Stan Lee probably had no idea how many shows and movies would feature he and his friends’ creations. He had to have been excited to see the X-Men clash with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in animated form.

So, years after Pryde of the X-Men, in the 1990s, I started to become more aware of authorship as I started to create my own worlds in my head and on the page. I became more curious about behind the scenes of comic books. I bought books to try and learn how to draw them but I just never took to visual art as much as the written word. I ended up collaborating with my friends on comic books since one of my best friends could draw and loved to do so. As I said, I started to look at the letters page. I also started to look at who was drawing the comics I liked and who was writing them. I started to look for them at the stores like I looked for directors and movie stars at the Blockbuster Video. As I got older, I became better at picking comics that I really liked, not just what was hot at the moment. As a result, I became a bigger fan of comics creators. When I saw interviews with a lot of these creators, they mentioned Stan Lee as their inspiration. He was the grandfather. He was one of the sources on high. He and Jack Kirby practically created Marvel with their own blood, sweat, and tears.

Now, the first time I saw Stan Lee was when I watched the movie Mallrats made by Kevin Smith. In the movie, he has his first live-action cameo, giving advice to a lovelorn and desperate comic book fan. In that cameo, he describes the characters he created being a reflection of what he felt inside at the time, a mirror to his emotions. Of course, later he did cameos in live action movies of his properties. One of the first cameos was actually my favorite since it was so pure. He appeared in Spider-Man (2002) as a man in the crowd. In a scene where Spider-Man is fighting against Green Goblin, he saves a little girl from being crushed by debris. The man who became famous for writing heroes finally got to act out being a hero. It was such a great moment to see a writer get to actually be in his own work. This sparked a chain of cameos in live-action movies leading more casual fans to lean over in theaters and ask “who is that?” which allowed fans to explain and spread his legend.

Of course, getting to be a hero in the movie was probably a thrill but Stan did not just write heroes, he was a hero. It is obvious from the outpouring of grief and respect following his death that he touched so many lives. He was one of many who inspired me at a young age to not only read but to write as well. His affable nature made comic books more accessible and fun, knowing that the people who made them did not take themselves too seriously. His legacy will continue and it is as unlikely that he will be forgotten as Shakespeare, Stephen King, or Jim Henson will be forgotten. He left an indelible mark on history and fiction that will stand as a monument to him. He also left marks on the psyches of those who consumed his stories and carried them in their hearts. Count me among them. He lived to the ripe old age of 95 so I will not see Stan Lee cameos and feel sad. I will smile and remember what he gave me and what he gave the world.

Media Update 11/15/2018

November 15, 2018


The Breakfast Club

Yes, I have never actually seen this movie (or I saw it when I was really young and cannot remember). However, I figured it was time to finally watch it after watching a D&D one-shot mixing Breakfast Club with Harry Potter. I am more of a John Waters fan than a John Hughes fan but I recognize that they tackle similar themes from different directions. The movie is about teens starting to discover themselves and be comfortable in their own skin. It is also about them recognizing that they are not all that different. The movie plays with the standard school stereotypes that were even around when I went to school. Emilio Estevez plays the jock, Anthony Michael Hall plays the nerd, Judd Nelson plays the burnout/class clown, Ally Sheedy plays the weird girl, and Molly Ringwald plays the perfect girl. The movie is basically full of conversations between the five of them, allowing very different people to mingle during Saturday detention. When I was in school, I remember times like these where we were forced together with people we would never talk to. It was awful but it was also interesting and I remember those people well. I recommend this classic if I am not the last person to watch it.


In Bruges

This was yet another movie that I had on my list for forever and never got around to watching. I even have the DVD but never watched it just because there is so much to watch. And yet again, this is a movie that I wish that I had watched earlier. This movie is very much in the tradition of movies like The Imposters, Hot Fuzz, and Snatch. The movie is about two Irish hitmen who are sent to the sleepy little town of Bruges in Belgium to hide out. It is a movie about hitmen but very little of that is actually done. The movie is more about people and relationships and a whole lot of dialogue. That dialogue is offbeat and very funny but some of it is also pretty deep. The movie rests on the backs of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson who are such a good duo together, a hitman odd couple who banter incessantly. The female lead is played by Elizabeth Berrington who plays off Farrell beautifully, ending up playing a more dominant character than Colin. Ralph Fiennes plays their boss, a man of principle and no-nonsense in a nonsense world. There is also a small part from Jordan Prentice who gets to play a dickhead Hollywood actor partying it up in Europe. The movie is funny but it also has a heart and the craziness is matched by some deep moments (some of which end up being funny too). I definitely recommend this one.


Designated Survivor

I had watched a few minutes of this show months ago and thought it seemed good enough to follow up on. People who follow this feature know that I have watched a bunch of these types of shows before. I have never really been a fan of Keifer Sutherland, mostly because I disliked the writing on 24. So, the only real experience I had with him was in Metal Gear Solid 5 which is not saying much. Watching this, I realized that he is a pretty good actor. He plays the part of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. When the President, the Vice President, The Cabinet, and Congress are all killed during the State of the Union, he becomes the new acting President of the United States. It is fun to see the bottom member of the highest rung of government suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Sutherland plays it human, making sure we feel everything along with him. I would compare it to West Wing if it was mashed up with Blacklist. There is the struggle to rebuild the Federal government after a tragedy and there is also the mystery of who was behind the attack. So it is one part political drama and one part police procedural. They do a lot to make those two parts work together. There is also a strong supporting cast who I am interested to get to know. I recommend this one too.

Music of the Week:
Indigenous – You Turn My World Around

Wherewolf Therewolf – Praise the Sun

Devastate Me – She Makes War

Chali 2na – Change The World

The Murder Capital – SOMA x O’Hara’s Sessions

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Turning Point”
– I watched more of The Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I finished Daredevil Season 3
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 7
– I watched more Hilda Season 1
– I watched more American Vandal Season 1

Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 1

November 12, 2018

Alright, I have rethought my campaign setting’s pantheon a bit to be more inclusive of creation. Of course, I have once again almost completely disregarded lore that I have not seen or experienced myself. My goal was to make this world my own with DnD’s 5e mechanics. Below are the corrections and elaborations needed to worship in my setting. We will start with the ‘good’ gods.

The Three Brothers of the Sun and The Sister of the Moon
Light Domain

Lathander (God of the Morning Sun)

Known as the Morning Lord, Lathander is the most positive of the Brothers of the Sun and that is reflected in his followers. His followers are very enthusiastic and often evangelical about their religion and often spread their Lord’s gospel to and fro. Their main message is one of hope as each day dawns after even the longest night. His followers seek to pull others from the darkness and use their faith to rekindle hope in others. Although the siblings of light are technically all the same age, Lathander is often depicted as acting and looking like the youngest brother. He is depicted as having shining golden skin and shining yellow hair. He was the one who urged his siblings to bring light to the multiverse, allowing the creation of the material plane. He spent a lot of his time delivering sermons of hope and fellowship to the earliest denizens of the world. However, when the final conflict came, he eagerly picked up his sword and fought as hard as the rest of the gods. Like other gods, he retired to Avalon taking up the east wing of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the rising sun, beams of light stretching forth.

Pelor (God of the Midday Sun)

Known as the Shining Soldier, Pelor is most interested in fighting the good fight among his brothers. His followers often hold justice and the vanquishing of monsters in the highest regard and make such ideals their goal. This is the church of the sun which is most likely to spawn adventurers, traveling the world in order to right wrongs and vanquish evil. When the sun is high, shadows run in fear. He encourages clerics and paladins to go forth under his banner in order to make the world a better place, eschewing personal glory for the glory of all. In urban settings, his followers might be involved in law enforcement. His temples sometimes double as law enforcement or military headquarters. Pelor appeared to many like he was the middle brother, putting himself out in front only to shield his siblings. He was reportedly hard to look directly at as he often shone like the sun as he walked the material plane. This was fine as he really only showed up to trounce evil and then departed again. In the final conflict, he led the charge against the evil gods with his grand mace lit up like a beacon. Like other gods, he retired to Avalon where he decided to live in the tower of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the full sun, fire on its rim.

Arrah (God of the Setting Sun)

Known as The Twilight Scholar, Arrah set himself up to be the border between the light and the dark. His followers are constantly vigilant for whatever darkness might threaten the world. They tend to be more strategic people, thinking through their problems more like a chess game than an all-out brawl. His temples are often partnered with temples to Ioun and Azrea. His followers know better than many that all good things must end but all hardship will end one way or another as well. He was always the quieter, more thoughtful brother and is often depicted as being the oldest and wisest of the brothers. He is often depicted as being more bronze colored and less shiny than his siblings. He often walked alone on the material plane, examining what his brothers had missed or studying their wake. He sometimes had long discussions with Lona, Ioun, and/or Azrea. In the final battle, he, Ioun, Lucia, and Oghma drew up the battle plan. When it was time to leave, he chose to retire to Avalon where he took up residence in the west wing of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the setting sun.

Lona (Goddess of the Moon)

The quieter sister of the three brothers of the sun she is known as the Watcher in the
Night. She watched peacefully over the night but would spring into action while her brothers slept if need be. Her ways are more subtle, akin to a classic rogue archetype. While not as forceful as her siblings, she has a quiet, subtle magic of her own. She is depicted as a pale woman with shining pupil-less eyes. She often had long talks with Ioun and often spoke with Sylvanus’ followers as well. She often spent her nights drinking tea either alone or with whoever happened upon her. Sometimes, she would preside over the Court of the Gods at night in place of her brothers. When it was time to leave, she chose to live with Ioun and her retinue in the Eternal Library but she does visit her brothers on occasion. Her symbol is the crescent moon but some worshipers use other phases.

 

Ioun (Goddess of Knowledge)
Knowledge Domain

Known sometimes as the Knowing Mistress, Ioun is tapped into the collective knowledge of all things on the Material Plane. She delights in keeping tabs on all of creation and waits in anticipation for creation to surprise her. She is rarely disappointed. She especially became interested in magic as it poured into the world before she departed it. She is interested in wizards and witches in particular as they are just as studious as she is. Her followers are often curious, studious, and observant. In ancient days she would travel the world interviewing people and observing events. In the great conflict, she wielded awesome and terrifying magicks and designed the spells that sealed all of the gods away. Her temples are often schools or libraries. She lives in the Eternal Library in Avalon, rarely leaving as she reads and stays in her observatory. Her symbol is an open eye.

Lucia (Goddess of Memory)

One of the librarians of the world, she is known as the Memory of the World. She spent much of her time cataloging the world to make sure that the absolute truth was written in stone. In the final battle, she used her encyclopedic memory to help plan for the final battle. When it was time to leave, she leaped at a posting in the Eternal Library and her home and office is in the Non-Fiction section. She spends her time meeting with Ioun and Oghma where she struggles not to correct Oghma’s stories. She loves them both with all of her heart. She appears as a studious, serious looking woman. Her symbol is a book.

Oghma (God of Imagination)

The other librarian of the world, he is known as the Story of the World. He spends much of his time writing wild stories and listening to the stories invented by the storytellers of the world. This is not all that different from what he did before the Final Conflict. In that conflict, he used his vast imagination to inspire the plans for the final battles. He spends his time regaling Ioun, Lucia, and Lona with stories and trying not to add embellishments to Lucia’s histories. He appears as a wild-haired man with a goofy grin. His symbol is a pen.

The Shield of Tau Pt. 3

November 10, 2018

Jace arrived at the central city square before his time and so he was waiting when the Shields of Tau emerged to set up the trial. The others who would be trying out arrived around the same time. The Shields wordlessly unlocked and opened a trapdoor and everybody walked down a set of stairs. Right before Jace was about to descend below the level of the square, he looked around for a friendly face but he saw neither Lita nor <A>. The trapdoor clanged back into place behind them as they descended toward the Pit of Trials. They were brought into what looked like an ancient armory.

“My name is Captain Cahrn,” a man in armor yelled, his voice echoing in the small stone space. “Choose your weapon wisely.”

Jace looked over his options. There was just about everything a fighter might want, really. There were several different flavors of swords, spears, halberds, shields, daggers, axes, hammers, and everything you could conceive of to slash, pierce or bludgeon a foe. Even though all of those weapons were relatively cheaply made, Jace was definitely wowed. He had grown up loving weapons and here was a room full to the brim. He started walking through the room, putting his hands on all of them and feeling their heft.

“Would you hurry up?” Cahrn said to nobody in particular.

Jace hurriedly picked up a shield and a sword and moved to line up near the door. The shield and sword was not the most exciting choice but it was a classic. More than that, it was the iconic pairing that Jace had fallen in love with when he and Lita had been rescued from the blink dogs. Whenever he thought about protecting the people of the Empire, he imagined himself using a shining shield and a wickedly sharp sword. He had no idea how that imagined reality would match up with his true future but he was definitely ready to give it a shot. Or at least, he was as ready as he was going to get.

They shuffled through a door into the next area. Jace counted five others who were trying their hand at this. There were two women and three men. Jace did not recognize any of them but in a city the size of Tau that was not so strange. They were led to a caged-in area and beyond was a bigger cage, a huge circle. It was the trial pit itself and at the top of it, Jace could see the sun filtering down and he could hear people gathering to watch outside. The Festival to Kord was a big yearly holiday in Tau and the Shield Placement was the biggest event so the crowd was very boisterous. It was a completely different atmosphere from the tension down in the pit as the fighters waited their turn. One by one Jace and his fellow applicants drew lots to see who went first. Jace drew second and started to prepare himself as he watched a young blond man enter the pit.

As the man stood there, a door opened on the other side of the cage and a crag cat leaped out, white and furry. The blond immediately dodged that first attack and tried to maneuver to a place to sink their spear into the cat. The two opponents began combat in earnest, both of them moving fast around the cage as the crowd gasped or clapped above. The crag cat would lunge with tooth and claw and the young blond man would try and dodge and counter. The crag cat was too nimble to be caught by such a simple plan. Fear started to sink in as Jace realized that the cat was toying with its prey. Unless something changed, the cat would win. A few moments later and his suspicions were confirmed as he watched the blond accidentally roll his ankle and succumbed to the claws of the crag cat. Shields rushed into the cage and tried to clear the cat from the body but the cat dragged the body back through the door while the Shields pursued it.

After a beat, Jace got the signal that it was his turn. He took a deep breath and walked into the cage. He saluted the crowd above and he tried to look for Lita. He could not spot her but knew that she would be somewhere in the crowd. He trained his eyes on the opposite door and tried not to look down at the bloodstains. It was time for his future to begin and he would let nothing get in his way. He swung the sword, trying it out again, and made sure the shield was securely strapped to his forearm. He listened to the countdown and then the door began to open but instead of one beast, there were two small ones. He knew these beasts all too well. It was a pair of blink dogs.

For a moment, Jace flashed back to the day one of his friends was killed by blink dogs. It was the first day that he had swung a weapon at another living thing. The horrible moment that had solidified his dream to forge himself into becoming a protector, a true Shield of Tau instead of just a kid pretending to be one. The memory of that promise pushed through the trauma and he felt his resolve become as iron as he gripped his sword tight. He did not wait for the blink dogs to get their bearings, he lunged forward. They both lunged at him but he fended off one with the shield and grazed the other with the sword. The one that was cut suddenly blinked away and Jace worked hard to calm himself. The dog suddenly reappeared in the air above Jace, trying to dive down onto him. He swatted it hard out of the air with the shield.

It was at this point that the other dog lunged at his feet, forcing him to step aside and plunge his sword into the thing’s back. The dog yelped and struggled but was unable to free itself and passed out, bleeding profusely. Meanwhile, the first dog had teleported to the other side of the cage. It growled defiantly at Jace and Jace glared back at it in return. He flicked the blood from the sword which caused the dog to charge in a rage. Jace charged the dog and he saw as the dog failed to teleport again and instead tried to bank right to circle around. Jace spun and struck at the beast, injuring its paw and causing it to stumble but keep moving. As the dog lunged one last time, Jace stabbed it in its throat, putting it out of its misery. The crowd cheered and the door opened and Jace was summoned to leave.

Media Update 11/8/18

November 8, 2018


Hilda

I was raring to tackle this show as soon as Halloween was over as I had heard a lot of good things about it. It looked like Gravity Falls meets Adventure Time and that is a good starting point in explaining what the series is. It is an offbeat British fantasy series set in a world where fantasy creatures are everywhere and are known to the public. The show stars Hilda, a little girl who has spent a lot of time growing up alone with her mother in the wilderness with only fantasy creatures to befriend, many of which do not talk. Her pet is a deer fox (a fox with antlers) that does not talk but has a lot of character. The regular cast also includes her mother who supports and believes in her daughter a hundred percent which is refreshing for a television parent. There is also a tiny bureaucratic elf named Alfor who is there to study the ways of humans. The show covers Hilda and her mum having to move into the big city to start a new life. The fantasy stuff is really great but the bits about Hilda’s relationship to her mother and to her surroundings is very grounded. The humor is very cute, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes surreal, and sometimes just straightforward. However, there is also a touch of sadness to the show as Hilda talks to creatures and people whose lives are not perfect and learns life lessons through her new friends. I definitely recommend it as it is a very imaginative show.


A Wrinkle in Time

I never read this book when I was younger, unlike friends who are a bit older than me. I have always heard it mentioned as a top book in the fantasy/science fiction genre. When the trailers came out, I was definitely reeled in by the all-star cast. The big names are Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha_Raw, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Pena. The adults are mostly there as guideposts for the three kids to work off of. The absolute star of the movie is Storm Reid who is just an absolute joy to watch. She is so complex for a child actress and she absolutely nailed the part of an older teenager starting to figure out who she is. She has been in movies like Sleight and Twelve Years a Slave before but this is her first major role. The movie was kind of confusing at first as I thought it was science fiction but there is very little of that in the movie. The movie is more a touch of science fantasy (which I prefer) with a lot of philosophy and existentialism. Once I let go and stopped trying to overthink things, the movie was good food visually, mentally, and emotionally. The movie tackles a lot of big concepts like good/evil but it also tackles more relatable issues like adoption, abandonment, bullying, and mental health. It is ultimately a very uplifting film and every piece of the movie worked well together. I definitely recommend it but let the movie wash over you and just enjoy yourself.


Mary and the Witch’s Flower

This is the first Studio Ghibli film that I have seen that was not directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. Well, actually it is from a lot of the old production staff from Ghibli in a new company called Studio Ponoc but it obviously has the same beautiful style. Earlier this year I finally watched Kiki’s Delivery Service, a brilliant film about a young witch coming of age. This movie definitely felt like a spiritual spinoff to that movie even though it is an adaptation of a 1970’s fantasy novel. The movie follows Mary, a young girl who hates her red hair and feels absolutely alone and useless. I think most of us have felt that at some point in our lives. By chance, she stumbles upon the world of magic and is suddenly involved with witches. The movie also reminded me a bit of Little Witch Academia (and by extension Harry Potter), both tales of a modern young person unexpectedly stumbling into the world of magic. Like the two animated examples above, the movie is beautifully animated with Mary herself feeling like such a real character. Once again, these people do such a good job with building the world although they obviously picked great source material as a foundation. Studio Ponoc is just as good as Studio Ghibli was at mixing comedy, drama, horror, and action into something wonderful. I definitely recommend this movie as it lives up to its heritage wonderfully.

Music of the Week:
Jim Wilson – Centre Core Never More

Jon Benjamin – I Can’t Play Piano Pt. 1

Coven – Wicked Woman

Avatar – Paint Me Red

The Clouds Will Clear – In Cycles

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Trippy Rites of Passage”
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more American Vandal Season 1
– I watched more Daredevil Season 3
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 7
– I watched more The Haunting of Hill House
– I finished watching the Curious Creations of Christine McConnell


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