Archive for January, 2019

Media Update 1/31/19

January 31, 2019


Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

I was pretty young when Ted Bundy was executed (spoiler, I guess?) but as I grew up, his name was thrown around a lot. Bundy was not by far America’s first serial killer but he was part of a new wave of killers who changed the way law enforcement worked. He repeatedly crossed state lines and then moved across the country with a compulsion to kidnap and kill young women. He was good looking, he was charismatic, and many who knew him never would have believed he was capable of the horrible acts he committed. Yet, he did do those horrible things. There is truckloads of forensic evidence, a witness who pointed him out of a lineup, and he was sentenced to death in more than one jurisdiction. This documentary charts Bundy’s inexplicable success as a killer as he hid in plain sight and he lured many women to their deaths. However, it also tells a couple of other stories. It tells the story of two journalists who actually got in to see Bundy and had him explain why he did what he did while he was on death row. It also tells the story of the law enforcement agents and the lawyers who helped bring him down. It tells the story of his loved ones who were fooled into accepting the mask. It tells the story of his victims. It does not glorify Bundy. It details how he did it but it also tears his layers away and shows him for the monster he was. It is a disturbing documentary but a fascinating study of the media, human nature, law enforcement, abnormal psychology, normal psychology, the prison system, and how a courtroom works. I definitely recommend it.


American Crime Story 2: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

I was a big fan of the first American Crime Story (the story of OJ Simpson) which was a story I kind of remembered. This season was definitely covering a story I really had no idea about. I could probably count on one hand the fashion designers I can name. Back then, that number would have been zero. If the death of Gianni Versace was big news when I was a kid, I did not hear it. It probably goes to show how people in the nineties were afraid of gay culture that they did not really want to cover this. Or I’m wrong and this was all over the media. Either way, this season (and I’m currently on episode 5) is fascinating. It is not really about the death of Versace although that is a big part of it. Really, it is a study of his killer Andrew Cunanan who was a spree killer who often posed as a gay escort. It is also a look into the way gay culture and counter culture worked in the nineties. More importantly, it is a look in how a killer like Cunanan was actually protected by the way many gay people felt forced to hide large parts of their lives because of prejudice. Darren Criss is brilliant as Cunanan, an unhinged chameleon of a man. Some might compare Cunanan to The Talented Mr. Ripley but Cunanan bought every lie he told and the multiple lives he lived in his head seemed to warp him. The rest of the cast are each compelling as various victims, loved ones, and bystanders in a very twisted tale. It makes me excited to see what else they can do. I also recommend this.


Manson Family Vacation

The title of this one kind of irked me when I first saw it but it actually ended up being a good movie. The movie is really about the relationship between two estranged brothers who reconnect just as one of their lives is changing. The background of the story is one brother’s obsession with the Charlie Manson murders. He has a dogeared copy of Helter Skelter, knows every detail by heart, and can recognize the crime scenes by sight. And yet, the movie still ends up being pretty funny and touching. Part of that is that it never uses the Manson stuff as comedy fodder. It is always used as a disturbing thing that happened and the victims are respected and the horror is preserved. All while we see footage of Manson, learn details of his crimes, and even learn about his attempted music career. The story between the brothers has heart and their scenes together are the point of the whole movie. Jay Duplass plays the straightlaced brother who is successful and happy with a family. Linas Phillips plays the more artistic, more charismatic brother who has never seemed to get his life together. The push and pull between the brothers feels very familiar as I have been both brothers at different times in my life. I am the weird brother and I am the hardworking brother. It is a strange juxtaposition of seeing this story of two brothers with a backdrop of the twisted reality of the Manson Family. I also recommend this quirky movie.

Music of the Week:
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

Pkew Pkew Pkew – 65 Nickels

Slothrust – Double Down

Paul McCartney – Who Cares

Battle Tapes – Valkyrie

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Charismatic Killers”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4

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Interview Questions 14

January 28, 2019


What famous artist, dead or alive, would you want to paint your portrait?

My favorite painter in history would have to be Claude Monet. I just really liked his color palette and his impressionist style. Except, I know him more for his landscapes and his paintings of places, not people. I do not think his style would be what I would want for myself. I think of somebody like Vincent van Gogh whose style is similar but a little more in line with what I would want. Aside from that, van Gogh is somebody I have definitely felt a kinship with because of his experiences with depression and mental health issues. I feel like he could do a great job and the experience would certainly be interesting. The other way I could go is a more realistic artist who would just paint me in painful detail like Norman Rockwell or John Singleton Copley. Except I would probably not go this direction, due to my background as a total nerd, I would go with a comic book artist. I think of all artists I would go with either Chris Riddell or Alex Ross. Riddell’s style is not as realistic and more ethereal while Ross does more realistic depictions. If I had to choose one, I would probably go with Riddell because he fits my goth sensibilities. After all, he has collaborated with the awesome Neil Gaiman many times over.


What is your favorite season?

Hands down, my favorite season is Autumn. I used to hate it because that was when school started back and it would be time again for classes, homework, and awkward social situations. However, once I got beyond school, I really learned to love the season. I had always embraced certain elements of it. As I have stated repeatedly, I am a huge fan of what is arguably the biggest holiday of the fall season: Halloween. During the season, the light begins to die and the night grows. I have been more of a night owl for a long time and I feel my second wind when night falls. Speaking of light, one of two Daylight Savings days occurs in November. While I absolutely hate the practice, at least the one in November is when we gain an hour which means either an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour I get to stay up. One of my oldest enemies are bees and other stinging insects, as fall goes on those insects go away and become less aggressive. This led to a lot less stress as Autumn began in earnest, especially when I was a kid having lunch on the playground. Finally, I really hate the heat of summer and that fades in Autumn to a really nice middle ground temperature that is really pleasant. Not too hot and not too cold and at most you need a light jacket which makes going out all the easier.


Would you dress in drag for $25?

I saw this question while poking around the Internet for interesting questions to answer for this and I was struck by this question. My first reaction is that this is a really homophobic question and it really is. I would have no trouble wearing a dress, makeup, and all of the traditionally female accouterments. Your skin does not burn on contact with clothes just because they are thought to belong to the other gender. Additionally, you are not any less of a man if you wear women’s clothing. If your manhood is threatened by what you wear or do, then you did not have much to begin with. I would actually like to wear a dress now and then. I am all about comfort and a dress seems to have more airflow than pants or shorts. I get a little overheated sometimes so it feels like that would be a bit more comfortable. I have tried makeup before for theater and I did not really like it. Part of that was that I was afraid of it still being there the next morning at school and getting teased about it. The other part was that it felt weird to have something on my skin that just stayed there. Still, I have always admired the art of makeup. In the same vein, jewelry has always been of interest to me but I do not wear it personally because I do not often wear clothes that would show it off. I did wear a ring for a little while and I like necklaces and bracelets. However, while I like the look, I would not get anything pierced. I kind of draw the line at the unnecessary use of needles. Which is just a personal hang-up since I really do like piercings on other people.

Banished Pt. 2

January 26, 2019

“Our story?” Random asked, pausing to think about it for a moment. “Well, Kris’ story is simple as far as I can tell. Kris isn’t much for talking. Right, Kris?”

“Talking boring,” Kris said and grunted and then started to walk off a few paces. They started to pull pieces off of a dead tree to keep busy.

“Anyway,” Random said. “As far as I can tell, Kris’ tribe got into a big fight with some interlopers. They don’t really like interlopers here.”

“What are interlopers?” Katelyn asked. “Also, where are we? I can’t believe I didn’t ask that yet.”

“The jungles of Oochar,” Random said. “This is all tribal land more or less belonging to the unknown amount of tribes of the land. Interlopers are people from outside who walk in and get violent or act like they own the place. Getting rid of them is one of the few things the tribes always agree on.”

“So they attacked Kris?” Katelyn asked.

“Or the other way around,” Random said. “Either way, Kris got messed up in the fight and it left her a bloody mess. At least, I assume from the, uh, physical scarring. I wasn’t there myself. All alone with no proper healer, Kris was left to fend for themselves. Which is a real credit to Kris as it can be really dangerous around here.”

“How do you lose somebody that big?” Katelyn asked, gesturing toward an oblivious Kris.

“My guess is that it happened when Kris was still young but yeah, there’s a lot there I don’t know and quite a bit that Kris probably doesn’t know.”

“Mysterious,” Katelyn said. “So that just leaves your story.”

“My story?” Random said with a somewhat theatrical flair. “I don’t think you would find it interesting.”

“I might,” Katelyn said. “Just tell me your story already.”

“But it’s so, so boring,” Random said with a sly smirk and a few bats of her eyelashes.

“You’ve successfully whetted my appetite,” Katelyn said, hands on her hips. “Out with it.”

“So, I was on the deck of the pirate ship The Stormeater,” Random started.

“A pirate ship?” Katelyn asked. “You were a pirate?”

“Yes and no,” Random said with an ambiguous hand gesture. “I wasn’t and then I was. Basically, I was kidnapped by pirates in my early teens and my parents took so long paying my ransom. By the time it was paid, I had decided that the pirates treated me better than my family and I decided to reject my birthright and join the pirates.”

“Interesting,” Katelyn said. “It’s a little hard for me to swallow seeing as how I have never had that kind of money to reject but whatever makes you happy.”

“It was kind of a spur of the moment decision that I rarely regret,” Random said. “Unfortunately, we ran afoul of the navy.”

“Aren’t there, like, several navies?” Katelyn asked.

“Yes,” Random said. “I have no idea which one it was. The point is that their boats sank ours and I nearly drowned. I woke up with Kris holding me upside down to get the water out of me and we have been friends ever since.”

“When did that happen then?” Katelyn asked.

“Three months ago,” Random said. “Frankly, I’m getting bored of wandering the jungle.”

“Itching to get back to the pirate life?” Katelyn asked.

“I don’t know,” Random said. “The way it ended last time, I’m hesitant to go back on the water. Besides, it wouldn’t be the same without my friends.”

“The ones that originally kidnapped you,” Katelyn said.

“Yes,” Random said. “but you didn’t know them like I did. They were nice to me.”

“Are you sure they aren’t out there somewhere?” Katelyn asked.

“I have a feeling none of them made it. The boat was absolutely wrecked when I last saw it,” Random said. “But I have been wrong before. Still, even if somebody else survived, I think I’m done with the pirate’s life. I’m ready for new challenges.”

“Hmm,” Katelyn said with a smile slowly creeping onto her face. “Do you think Kris is looking for new challenges?”

“I think so,” Random said and then turned toward Kris. “Hey, Kris! Are you looking for new challenges?”

Kris looked up from a bit of bark they were grinding into the jungle floor with their foot. “Always!” Kris yelled and gave a broken smile and then went back to what they were doing.

“Well, that settles that,” Random said. “What did you have in mind?”

“Revenge,” Katelyn said. “I need to get back to Sigil and take revenge on my ex-partner and investigate whether the third member of our trio was in on it.”

“Alright,” Random said. “that all sounds like fun. Besides, I get to see this Sigil place. How far away is it?”

“Well, that’s the problem,” Katelyn said. “It’s not a matter of distance. Sigil is not on this plane of existence so the only way to get there is through a portal. Maybe a plane shift spell would do it. Maybe some more obscure stuff.”

“That sounds complicated,” Random said. “Can’t we just go back the way you came? Wouldn’t that be easier?”

“I would need a key to do that and I have no idea what it would be,” Katelyn said. “Where’s the nearest magic expert?”

“Uh, well,” Random said. “I know some magic but I’m not an expert. Most of the magic users in these parts are more ‘shamanistic’ and they’re also hard to pin down.”

“So, what you’re telling me is that we have a long walk ahead of us?” Katelyn asked.

“To the border of Oskia,” Random said. “That place has a ton of magic and there’s bound to be somebody who can lead us in the right direction.”

“I suppose there’s no time like the present to get going then,” Katelyn said.

“Well, you still look pretty banged up from your fall,” Random said. “I’m not sure you should walk too far yet.”

“I don’t want to wait another moment,” Katelyn said. “I need to get to this Oskia.”

“I have a thought,” Random said. “How about we strap you to Kris’ back so you can rest a bit while we travel?”

“Um,” Katelyn said. “Is that safe?”

“I already have the harness made,” Random said which was met with a questioning look from Katelyn. “I got bored out here.”

“Strap me in, I guess,” Katelyn said. “Wait. Did you see a sword out here? I’m pretty sure I tumbled through the portal with it.”

Random looked around and then pointed. “There it is! Sticking out of the ground,” she said. “Lucky it didn’t stick into you.”

The sword was indeed sticking straight up out of the ground as if somebody had placed it there. It was fairly fancy as it was the sword that Katelyn performed with and had rarely used to draw blood. She walked over to it and grabbed the handle and slowly pulled it from the earth. The blade seemed to be covered with a dark purple viscous substance.

“Disgusting,” Katelyn said and tried to wipe off the gunk on a nearby tree. “I hope this stuff doesn’t corrode the blade.”

“It looks fine to me so far,” Random said. “Let’s get packed and head out, alright?”

“Sure,” Katelyn said. “We have a long way to go.”

Media Update 1/24/19

January 24, 2019


Carmen Sandiego (2019)

I remember playing Carmen Sandiego games on our family’s Intel 286 computer and loving the adventure of learning about geography and history by chasing criminals. Later, I religiously watched the game show and the original cartoon which continued the playful feel and education of the game. (Plus it introduced the wider world to Rockapella). So I was excited when I learned that they were doing another cartoon, especially with smarter reboots like My Little Pony, She-Ra, and DuckTales. I was not disappointed. This version reframes the whole way we have looked at Carmen Sandiego in the past. She is still an International thief extraordinaire but she is opposing VILE instead of leading it. She is using her thieving skills (and linguistic and cultural knowledge) to steal from the bad guys for charity all while evading law enforcement. There are great nods to earlier incarnations. The goofy names and criminal personalities are back from the games and the game show. Zack and Ivy are back from the cartoon but now they are assisting Carmen instead of chasing her. She even has a hacker on her side nicknamed “Player” which is cute. The characters are so great and so much deeper than the previous cartoon (which I thought was good, for the record). Gina Rodriguez plays Carmen, as a younger, idealistic and ambitious criminal who is also funny and likable. Finn Wolfhard voices Player and his talent continues to increase as he ages. There are a host of other great voice actors such as Liam O’Brien (!), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Kari Wahlgren, Troy Baker, and more who add to the world. I definitely recommend this one.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While J. K. Rowling is a little bit problematic, she did create an amazing world to draw from and I love getting lost in the minutiae of it all (unless it’s about wizards crapping themselves). I am actually really glad that they decided to continue the Wizarding World franchise by going back in time instead of continuing Harry Potter’s story. This way we get to meet a lot of new characters and meet a lot of characters before they become background characters in the books. Additionally, the central message of the movies so far is that kindness and cleverness trumps violence and bureaucracy. The main part of that is Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Newt Scamander, an idealistic and kind man who only wants to do what is right. He is joined by Dan Fogler who plays the everyman sidekick to Newt and brings comic relief but also grounds the story a bit. Katherine Waterston plays the strong-willed female lead who is a wizarding cop in the US. Her sister is played by Allison Sudol who also brings some comic relief and a slightly different perspective. There is also Zoe Kravitz who plays a wizarding cop pulled between two different worlds. There is a lot to digest in this movie and it kind of feels like their version of The Empire Strikes Back. It also ends abruptly and left me wanting more which is probably exactly what they were going for. In that way, it felt a little incomplete as a stand-alone movie. Still, I would recommend it if you liked any of the Harry Potter franchise.


Green Book

I heard a bit of the criticism for this one before watching and I agree with it and it was useful information going into the movie. The movie is about a black professional piano player who hires a white driver to drive him on a concert tour from the midwest and down into the deep south. The main theme of the movie is something I have actually pushed for which is the idea that exposure helps destroy prejudice. Which I still believe is true but it is an oversimplification. Still, the movie is definitely worth seeing even though its historical accuracy is questionable at best. The story in the movie did happen but many believe (and I happen to agree) that the writers softened the movie to make it more palatable to white viewers. The movie is told from the perspective of Tony Vallelonga, an employee of the Copacabana who rubs elbows with the Mafia often. He later went on to be a professional actor. However, he gets offered good money to drive Don Shirley on his concert tour. The movie is more or less about Tony’s journey in confronting his racism and his anti-intellectualism. There is a subplot about Don Shirley being caught between the world of wealthy whites and poor blacks in the sixties. The actual historical Green Book is not really talked about much which is a shame. There is an argument to be made that the movie could have been improved by making Shirley be the main character but we did not get that movie. Tony is played by Viggo Mortensen and he did a really good job. He comes off as an asshole but over time some of his edges get worn down by exposure and education. Mahershala Ali was so good as Don Shirley, so serious but with a wry sense of humor and a smile that felt so good because it was withheld often. The acting was in no way a problem in this movie as everybody knocked that out of the park. The central story was actually really good and it did address a lot of issues we are still around today even if the movie kind of skimmed over them. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Masked Intruder – No Case

Sympotico – Therefore I Am

BHAD BHABIE feat. Tory Lanez – Babyface Savage

A Perfect Circle – So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

TWICE – LIKEY

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Travelling”
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3

Interview Questions 13

January 21, 2019


Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I would have to say George Takei who has since become even more famous. There used to be an amusement park near where I live called Paramount Kings Dominion which was affiliated with the film studio. I only remember going to the park once and it was with one of my best friends. Back in the day, my friends and I absolutely adored Star Trek. We religiously watched The Next Generation and soaked up what we could of the original series in a pre-Netflix world. We even studied the blueprints of the ships and talked endlessly about the world of the shows. So, it was no surprise that we attended a 25th Anniversary event at Kings Dominion. We stood in line to meet Mr. Takei and he was so nice when we got to the head of the line. He was very gracious when faced with two Trek nerds nervously gushing over the series. We noticed that he had a cast on his leg and he explained that he had had an accident but that he was doing alright. I don’t remember but he probably apologized for not taking pictures with people. That was fine, I got to meet Sulu in person and take a picture on the original series transporter pads. On a different wavelength, I would also make a mention of meeting Barbara Mikulski who was a US Congresswoman for forty years in both the House and the Senate. We met when I got to have lunch with her due to an auction my parents had won for charity. On the way to lunch, we also ran into Governor Donald Schaefer. Both of these people were voted in by hundreds of thousands of people so I would say they were also pretty famous.


What scene from a non-horror movie scared you as a child?

My first impulse is to say Ghost which I saw pretty young with my folks. There is a scene near the end where Patrick Swayze (the titular ghost) is fighting the villain (a non-ghost). The villain is halfway through a window when it breaks and a piece of the glass falls and he is impaled. That is pretty gruesome for a kid but then shadowy figures appear and drag Carl’s spirit off presumably to Hell. Those shadow monsters scared the heck out of me as a kid and increased my fear of death. It was also such a departure from the rest of the movie which was more of a comedic supernatural crime/romance film. However, I contend that that moment was supposed to be a horror scene. So I would also put forward the bee scene from My Girl. In the movie, a little girl is befriended by a nerdy little boy and over the course of a summer, they kind of fall in love. Long story short, the boy goes into the woods to retrieve a piece of jewelry the girl dropped and he is swarmed by bees and dies from an allergic reaction. This came so far out of left field that it shocked me. One time when I was a young kid, I was also swarmed by bees and it left an impression on me (but thankfully I was not allergic). The sudden death of a kid who was not unlike me (I was also sickly as a child) shook me.


If you could be on the cover of any magazine which one would you choose?

I think I would most like to be on the cover of Dragon Magazine which is the magazine put out by the offices of Dungeons and Dragons. It should be pretty obvious by now that I am a big fan of D&D and being on the cover of the magazine means that I would be responsible or connected to some of the content inside the magazine. It would be a dream come true to write for Dungeons and Dragons and join the likes of Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins as part of the creative team. Either that or I am being interviewed in the magazine because I did something of interest to the readers and fans of Dungeons and Dragons. I would join names such as Wil Wheaton, Matt Mercer, Holly Conrad, and even Joe Manganiello. In the same vein, I would not mind being on the cover of WWE magazine or any other Pro-Wrestling magazine. At this stage in my life I know I am never going to be a pro-wrestler but in an alternate future, I could stumble into being a manager. Being a part of something I have loved for over 20 years would be so amazing (which is why I once considered applying to be a part of their ring crew). Both are unlikely but never say never, I guess.

Banished

January 19, 2019

Katelyn stumbled and tripped and it was only then that she realized that she was on top of a hill. She started to tumble down the hill, as an alien landscape flew by in a blur. A string of curses flew out of her mouth as she tucked and rolled, trying to protect her body from the fall. She felt her body hit several hard objects but thankfully they were only glancing blows and each hit drove the breath from her body, leaving her gasping for air as she rolled to a stop. She ended up on her back looking up at the sky. Well, it would have been the sky if it were not for all of the trees. She had no idea where she was but she had never seen trees before. Well, she had seen them in books and at the gallery but had never seen any in person. She decided to rest for a moment as there did not seem to be any danger close at hand.

“Is dead?” A deep voice asked. Katelyn tried to move her head to follow the sound but winced at a literal pain in her neck.

“She moved,” A female voice said. “I would think that means that she’s alive.”

“No eat?” The deep, gravelly voice asked. To Katelyn, whoever it was sounded disappointed.

“I keep telling you,” the woman said. “people don’t really taste very good. Are you really that hungry?”

“Always,” the gravelly voice said.

“Fair enough,” the woman said.

Katelyn sighed. “Can you show yourselves?” She called out. “You can actually talk to me and not just about me.” Katelyn was used to being the center of attention but this was not the same.

Two heads popped into her field of view and if she felt up to moving, she might have tried to scramble away. What she saw was a half-orc with a broken-looking face and a red-skinned demon. Her mind tried to make sense of things but for a moment her eyes just went wide. Then she realized that the demon was actually a tiefling, one who had demon energies in the blood. The woman was neither good nor evil inherently. Still, strangers were not to be trusted.

“Are you alright?” the woman asked. “It sounded like you took quite a fall.”

“You think?” Katelyn said with her best withering glare. “I feel about as bad as I look.”

“Pretty,” the Half-Orc said.

“Kris is right,” the woman said with a roguish smile. “you are quite beautiful.”

Katelyn blushed. “You’re not so bad yourself,” she said. “Are you a good tiefling or a bad tiefling?”

The woman grinned. “Only time will tell,” she said. “For now, we mean you no harm. What’s your name, stranger?”

“I’m not sure I should give it,” Katelyn said. “Why should I trust you?”

“That’s fair,” the woman said. “Let me put it this way: Can you move? If the two of us walk away right now, will you survive?”

“I guess that’s also fair,” Katelyn said. “I guess I’m just a little touchy, I just got betrayed by my one of my partners and I’m a bit suspicious at the moment.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll go first,” the woman said. “This is Kris and my name is Random Starfire.”

“That’s quite an odd name,” Katelyn said.

“It fits,” Random said. “I like to keep them guessing.”

Katelyn looked up at Kris. “And what’s your family name?”

“Just Kris,” Kris growled with a blank look in her eyes.

“I don’t mean to be rude,” Katelyn said. “but are you a boy half-orc or a girl half-orc?” She gave her best smile which Kris did not respond to.

“Kris is just Kris,” Kris said and looked away. “No flirt.”

“Sorry,” Katelyn said with a little laugh. “It’s a natural defense mechanism. My name is Katelyn Brandywater.”

Random was going to say something but she was cut off by Kris. “Don’t drown,” Kris said. Before Katelyn or Random could respond, Kris grabbed a bottle of viscous red liquid and overturned it into Katelyn’s mouth. She swallowed hard over and over, trying not to drown just like Kris had said. The liquid tasted somewhat spicy and bitter at the same time but not altogether unpleasant. When Kris pulled the bottle away, Katelyn found herself licking her lips as an afterthought.

“What?” Katelyn managed to ask.

“A healing potion,” Random said. “Sorry about Kris’ bedside manner but just relax and let it do its work.”

Katelyn closed her eyes and felt her bruises, cuts, and broken bones start to heal. She felt warm all over and she let out a contented sigh. She did not feel back to perfect condition but she felt a lot better and she slowly sat up and started to make sure all of her parts were still attached. Everything was still in place so she pushed herself to her feet and brushed herself off the best she could.

“My thanks,” Katelyn said. “Now I can properly introduce myself. My name is Katelyn Brandywater of Sigil. Actress, sword fighter, and all around performer extraordinaire!” Katelyn bowed with a flourish and rose back with a smile and just a touch of dizziness.

“Sigil?” Kris grunted, giving Random a questioning look.

“Search me,” Random said. “I’ve never heard of it myself.”

“It’s the City of Doors out there on the planar sea, so to speak,” Katelyn said. “The important part is that it was my home where I performed with my troupe. That is, until I was tricked by a woman I thought was my friend. She nearly killed me.”

“Didn’t,” Kris said with a shrug.

“Yes,” Katelyn said. “I suppose that’s the right way to look at it.”

“Kris and I are survivors too,” Random said. “It’s really the best kind of person to be.”

“Really? Katelyn asked. “What’s your story?”

Media Update 1/17/19

January 17, 2019


Venom

I was not expecting much from this movie since it felt kind of like an orphan to me since Disney (rightfully) took Spider-Man away from Sony. Instead, this movie made me realize how much divorcing the character from the Spider-Man mythos works. Venom started out as a Spidey villain but has since had a rich history of being an anti-hero. The past with the Spider books complicated the character going forward and the further he was away from Spidey, the more the character could shine. The strength of this movie comes from the connection between Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote. Tom Hardy is brilliant in both roles, As Brock, he comes across as a vulnerable and likable guy who is still kind of a dick. He is so relatable as a guy who lost everything and is struggling to move forward. As Venom, he is aggressive and really funny as a single-minded organism who is adapting to a new situation. The melding of the two characters as kind of a buddy film/superhero/horror story is the point of the movie. It is also a redemption story for both characters. Michelle Williams plays Brock’s ex and the more intelligent and more ethical counterpoint to Brock’s scrapper personality. She is a lot of fun and I was glad that there was no love story there. Riz Ahmed played the perfect corporate snake villain who was a great smarmy foil for both Williams and Hardy. Jenny Slate played a small but great role as a scientist. The movie definitely followed the modern superhero tactic of combining a superhero film with other genres. Here, they used horror stuff and a dark comedy similar but also distinct from Deadpool. I definitely recommend this one as it stands on its own.


Solo

I have loved the new direction that Star Wars has gone in. As you saw last year, I loved The Last Jedi and I also loved Rogue One the year before. I was somewhat skeptical about this one based on my doubts that the origin of Han Solo would be a compelling story. However, I was wrong. Because the previous movies had left these stories vague, they had a lot of creative freedom. On top of that, they hired one heck of a great cast. Alden Ehrenreich did such a good job taking Harrison Ford’s performance and building backwards while also making the role his own. Woody Harrelson was on top of his game as an ambiguous character and mentor to Han. Donald Glover was as brilliant and charming as always as Lando Calrissian and he took what Billy Dee Williams did and expanded on it. Emilia Clarke was great as Qi’ra and she really has grown a lot since I saw her last. Her character was really striking and I was left wanting to know more about her. Phoebe Waller-Bridge had a different take on what a droid is and provided comic relief. Paul Bettany was the perfect imposing asshole psycho villain without going over the top. I really liked this movie both on its own merits and as a prequel to a franchise I have loved since I was a kid. I definitely recommend it as it was exciting and fun.


Vice

I absolutely detested George W. Bush and his cabinet. At best they were screw ups and at worst they were war criminals and I kind of lean toward them being both. This movie is about the rise and retirement of Dick Cheney, the true power behind the throne during that presidency. Cheney has always been shrouded in some mystery which is evidently how he likes it. He does not talk much but his actions speak volumes for him. The movie kind of felt like somewhere between I, Tonya and The Death of Stalin. Christian Bale played Cheney from when he was thrown out of Princeton for drinking until Barack Obama was voted in as president. Bale absolutely transformed into Cheney and I really believed I was watching the man himself. The movie shows Cheney’s beginnings as a hard-hearted opportunist who played to win instead of trying to serve the public. I watched as he slowly let his heart turn completely to stone (though it was pretty rocky at the beginning). He turned his back on anybody who ever helped him and he smiled while doing it. The one potential soft spot in his heart is later completely stamped out for political expediency. That moment also paints his daughter (and current member of the House) Liz Cheney as a monster as well. The wonderful Amy Adams plays Lynne Cheney, his right-hand woman and perhaps the driving force behind his greed. Special shout out to Sam Rockwell as Bush Jr. and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld. The movie seems exceedingly well-researched but beyond that it was both entertaining and horrifying. The dark humor was like a worm that made me laugh despite my growing horror at learning new information. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Weekly Music:

Poppy – Play Destroy feat. Grimes

Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (Feat. Bantu)- Familia

Murmur – Funeral of the Hunt

King Tuff – Psycho Star

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Dark Origins”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I started a new job so I watched far less stuff

 

 

 

Pekko Atlas Pt. 2

January 14, 2019

pekko

Triele
Humans 46% Half-Elves 24% Elves 10% Dwarves 12%
Half-Orcs 5% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Triele is divided into four large regions with a central, land-locked seat of power and wealth. To the north are cold wildlands with mountains and cliffs on the northern and western coast. The northerners do not fit into civilization very well but they are loyal to the Kings of Triele. To the south are the majority of the farmlands, which feed the country and trade with Ukresh. To the west are the lands where there are predominantly merchants and crafters. To the east is a region of magic users and a center for raising a military and thus many schools exist there. The central capital city is where most of the wealthy reside. The King of Triele lives there and rules with absolute power. Curiously, the citizens of Triele have little use for money among each other and only deal with currency with foreign powers. They have developed an internal trading system that fulfills most of the needs of everybody. Therefore, the jewels and gold go to the capital.

Ukresh
Humans 35% Half-Elves 21% Elves 15% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 7% Half-Orcs 5%

Is ruled with absolute certainty by King Murat who lives in the castle-fortress in the Ukreshi capital. The royal family rarely leaves the capital and prefers to let their agents carry out their will throughout the land. These local lords have great leeway outside of the commands of the royal family and some use this to subjugate the people of Ukresh. Upsetting the king (or the lords for that matter) is completely unwise, as they have absolute power to punish the citizenry and often use it. This is also known as a land that birthed the traditional idea of witches. Covens of witches inhabit the wilderness against the government’s wishes. As a result of their rural upbringing, a witch’s looks range from rustic to absolutely filthy. Many villages rely on these witches and will ally with them in secret to protect them from the government in exchange for healing and magical favors. Also, the King has ordered tight security for the borders of the land which often makes things more difficult for trade caravans coming from Triele.

Astala
Elves 25% Half-Elves 21% Humans 19% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 3% Half-Orcs >1%

Astala is ruled from the Star Island far to the north and no army has ever made it that far north. In fact, most foreigners have never traveled that far north as it is cold there and most of the trading is done on the southern borders. In the southern parts, merchants are everywhere and most of them learn sign language in multiple languages as a means to communicate secretly with each other. In the far north are the hearty tribes who protect the capital and have often shipped out to fight Astala’s wars. In many places, there are hearty farmers who have to work hard to grow food in the northern land. There are also great hunters and magic users all over. Then there is the poison plains to the east, which are impassable and forbidden. There are some who live there, twisted creatures that are known as Drow but little contact is made with them.

Kuma-Jo
Elves 27% Half-Elves 23% Humans 21% Halflings 10%
Tieflings 7% Dragonborn 6% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 2%

Kuma-Jo has been ruled over by an Emperor (or Empress) since the days after the sundering of the continents. Many royal families have come and gone but the sanctity of the royal house of the empire has always been preserved. So has the code of honor that has been passed down from the honored ancestors of modern Kuma-Jo. The signature armor and weapons have not changed over the ages and their style has only been honed and refined as the years went by. The code of honor is very important to the warriors of Kuma-Jo (and the civilians too) much like the knights of Shera. Much of the culture of the island is dictated by ceremony and adherence to it (at least for outward appearances) is very important. Still, those who buck tradition are not necessarily outcasts but they do not quite fit into the culture as well. Local lords rule over divisions of the island and each is required to swear fealty to the empire and each new ruler.

Kusura
Elves 20% Half-Elves 20% Humans 15% Halflings 15%
Tieflings 13% Half-Orcs 12% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 1%

Kusura is fairly well known as the land of ninja assassins and there are many schools there where natives and some foreigners are taught the art of stealth and the silent kill. The schools each have a guild family as their patron which fund the school and decide the curriculum. These guild families rule the island nation by a council with a ruling figurehead. This ceremonial figurehead is decided by an annual test of skills that involve a champion put forward by each guild family. These guild families are also pretty strictly divided by race, each using their racial traits to aid their specialties. The guild families rarely cooperate with each other, preferring to keep private and cooperation is something that should cause alarm. Each family takes contracts and hires out their ninjas for riches or political favors. As one would expect, the island is eerily quiet and outsiders often find themselves intimidated by the deathly stillness practiced by every single denizen of Kusura.

The Crumbs
(The racial and cultural makeup is too varied and mysterious to be measured by any reliable census)

The Crumbs are a series of uncharted islands that stretch between the East and West Continents. They are called as such because people claim that the two continents were once one continent and they were broken in half like breaking a loaf of bread. Of course, all of the inhabited islands have names but nobody has bothered to chart them. There are so many islands that it is hard to navigate all of the channels and most people don’t bother and simply go around through the waters to the south. It is rumored that the pirate factions have maps or special magical artifacts that help to navigate the Crumbs in order to hide from the various naval forces of both continents. There are also indigenous people on certain islands but they tend to be pretty isolated from the rest of the world due to the difficulties of getting in and out of the Crumbs.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

January 12, 2019

27 – What lore in Dungeons and Dragons are you most fascinated by lately?

Lately, I feel like I am most fascinated by the lore in Sigil since it is so mysterious to me. I feel like not a lot of people focus on Sigil since it is potentially incredibly dangerous and very abstract. Sigil basically feels like Wackyland felt in Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. It has a loose structure and a caste system but almost anything can happen there. It exists outside of the material plane, the inner planes, and the outer planes. It is its own thing and sort of a nexus of reality. Known as the city of doors, any door in the city can double as a portal to anywhere else. These portals need to be activated by a key but that key does not even have to be a physical object, it can be a word, a feeling, a spell, etc. Denizens of most any realm can randomly show up at any time either on purpose or completely by accident. I am still figuring out the society there as I have heard different podcasts approach it a little differently. It is at once wondrous and brutal as the diversity and exotic parts are beautiful but anything can kill you. There are also swarms of rats with psychic powers. At one point I was absolutely fascinated by the Lady of Pain. She is a masked god-like entity that protects and controls Sigil mostly through extreme violence and fear. Anybody who says her name or tries to worship her is horribly and painfully slaughtered by her. The idea of a goddess who kills any of her own worshippers is fascinating to me. She also never talks so people just had to figure all of this out through her violent actions and just hope that they did not somehow piss her off.

28 – What was the first time that you heard Dungeons and Dragons was ‘evil’?

Long before I actually played Dungeons and Dragons, I listened to a lot of comedy clips and watched a lot of comedy videos on the Ancient Internet. I was hanging out with a lot of older friends (as I do now) and they clued me into Dr. Demento, a radio personality who curated a large collection of weird comedy audio clips, most of which were songs. He was the guy who first discovered Weird Al Yankovic and helped him break into the business by sharing his early music. He also aired comedy sketches and one of them I stumbled upon was by a group called the Dead Alewives. Unbeknownst to me, I would later become a big fan of one of their members Dan Harmon who went on to create Community and co-create Rick and Morty. Anyway, they did a Dungeons and Dragons skit that parodied the idea that Dungeons and Dragons was somehow a dangerous activity for kids. The kids in the skit were just big dorks eating snacks and drinking Mountain Dew and making fun of each other. The point was that the game was far from the satanic recruitment device that people thought it was. This confused me. How could any game played with pen and paper be dangerous? It was theater of the mind and when the game ended, all of it faded away and people went back to being regular people. The idea that Dungeons and Dragons was dangerous was laughable to me and it continues to be laughable.

29 – First movie that comes to mind that you associate with Dungeons and Dragons?

Believe it or not, the first movie that comes to mind is something like Fast and Furious 7 or the Fate of the Furious. While the movies do not fit the setting of any Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have ever seen, the tone definitely fits. A lot of Dungeons and Dragons is over the top with people doing ridiculous things all of the time. Dominic Toretto and his gang are like any good Dungeons and Dragons party. Each member has different backstories, different specialties, and personalities. As members of the party die or change alignment, they are replaced by new characters. For a group of people who were at one point thrown together, they have a lot of intertwining backstories. The tasks that the party has to complete get harder and harder each movie as their skills and equipment also improve. It really feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the players are constantly rolling high and the Dungeon Master is rolling poorly. Still, they keep coming up with new amazing spectacles peppered with witty dialogue. On top of all of that, Vin Diesel is a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan and still plays now and then.

30 – What’s the single most important thing you have learned while playing Dungeons and Dragons?

I would say confidence. When I started playing tabletop roleplaying games, I was very skittish about it and shy. I stammered and froze up while I tried to translate my great ideas into actions and words that came from my character. More than that, the fear made it so my brain would often just not work and I would try to get enough out to make the Game Master move onto the next person. Still, somehow I found enjoyment from it. As I continued to play, I became more comfortable with myself and confident that my ideas were not horrible and that the people around me did not hate me. In fact, they are now my closest friends. I started to get more aggresive at the table and more likely to share my ideas and speak up. I also was comfortable enough to really “drop in” to my character. Instead of relaying what I thought my character might do or say, I was able to channel my character more directly. Recently, when I started to take new anxiety medication, I made even more progress. I feel more at ease throwing things out there and seeing where they lead. I am also braver about making the hard choices and shooting from the hip when I need to. Afterall, it is just a game and overthinking things leads to unhappiness for everyone at the table. I look forward to gaining even more confidence as I have now really adjusted to my medication and I feel more at peace with my surroundings.

Media Update 1/10/19

January 10, 2019


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Walt Disney Animation Studios has been really knocking it out of the park lately. It feels like they saw how good Pixar was doing and decided to up their game to keep pace. They started to make smarter, more enjoyable movies which is saying a lot since their library was already really great. One of the movies that convinced me of this was Wreck-It Ralph which was a sweet movie about finding your place in life and being at peace with the things you cannot change. It also cleverly explored the tropes of video games and applied them to actual rounded characters. So, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel and it was going to expand to the Internet, I was excited. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back as the two lead characters, this time exploring their friendship that was formed in the first movie. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch are also back in smaller roles but equally enjoyable as the first movie. We also got newcomers Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson who bring new energy to this new story. I felt like the movie was an accurate depiction of what the Internet is through the eyes of somebody who has no clue how it works. The Internet is insanity but it is also a very magical place and the movie showed off a lot of its different facets. The movie was very heartwarming from the beginning and some scenes (especially early on) reminded me of my own anxieties which I have worked to get better at. I recommend this movie wholeheartedly especially if you are a Disney fan since there are so many Disney references.


God Friended Me

So I was very wary of this show because of the title because it sounded like the name of a hokey Christian movie. However, my mom was watching it and I decided to sit with her and watch it since she spoke highly of it. I was pleasantly surprised. First, to reassure anybody who had similar fears, there is next to no actual Christianity (or religion in general) to be found. The show seems to be more like Person of Interest where a mysterious person (or entity, I guess) has programmed an artificial intelligence to cue the main character into helping people. They get a scrap of information each episode which leads them to find somebody who needs their help. The episodes I have seen, the help they deliver is not life-saving but it is life-changing, usually leading to a happier life and self-realization. In that way, it is less about “God” and more about zen and general philosophy. There is a central cast that works together to solve the mystery each episode and then the series arc of discovering who is behind the program. I think that the thing that really makes the show work is the interaction between the characters and the quirky people they meet. I have not seen much, but I liked what I saw. If you are looking for something easy to put on, I recommend this.


Halt and Catch Fire

So I had heard this title and it was not very alluring because I had no idea what it meant and without a descriptive title (or buzz) I was not going to be pulled in. Then the thing dropped on Netflix and I was curious and then I read that it was about developing computer technology in the Eighties which was a magical and wild time for computer technology. I decided to check it out but I ended up not really liking it. It felt a lot like Mad Men. There is a lot of slick dialogue and interesting characters but the show felt like it was infused with nasty, dark energy (just like Mad Men). No offense to fans of either show but both shows just felt too dark and uncomfortable for me. I thought the show was going to be full of the wonder and passion of discovering the cutting edge and trying to market it to the people. Instead, it was a lot of characters sniping at each other and angry yelling. Maybe the show got better after the first few episodes but I lost the desire to find out. Coupled with the fact that none of my friends or family have ever talked about watching the show and I was done with it. I do not recommend it unless you were a fan of shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Music of the Week:
DJ Format & Abdominal – We’re Back

The HU – Wolf Totem

Lessthanamonster – Honey Sweet Thing

AFI – Miss Murder

Miya Folick – Stop Talking

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Technology As Our Friend”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I started watching Lucifer Season 3
– I started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I got a PlayStation Classic
– I watched more My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1


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