Archive for February, 2019

Media Update 2/28/19

February 28, 2019


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I have been a big fan of Spider-Man comics since I was little. The idea that anybody could be under that mask was an important thought even at a young age. When Marvel kind of ruined Peter Parker with the One More Day storyline, I was excited when they created first Miles Morales and then Spider-Gwen. Both are fresh new takes on Spider-Man while staying true to the basic principles of the mythos. The movie is mostly an exploration of Mile Morales, the young Brooklyn boy with both Latino and Black heritage. He struggles with going to a private school when he really connects to the street culture he grew up in. When he gains powers, he struggles with yet another burden. The movie explores his relationship with his family (mostly his Dad and his Uncle) and how each person we are raised by effects who we are. The Peter Parker in the movie is the best version which is the one with the dad bod who has seen just about everything. Gwen Stacy (aka Spider-Woman) is as much fun as she was in the comics. We also get appearances from Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker. A lot of praise has to be given to newcomer Shameik Moore who had to literally introduce himself at the Academy Awards. Except I already knew him from The Get Down. The rest of the cast was superb but he had so much heart that it would be difficult not to fall in love with the character. The movie is funny as well and includes quite a few easter eggs and references for comic book fans. I wholeheartedly recommend this.


Umbrella Academy

I am a sucker for retro “mystery man” type of superhero stories. This is about a team of young superheroes who have grown up into dysfunctional adults. They all have problems stemming from being both crimefighters and famous as children. The show is also full of a lot of weirdness. Besides masked hitmen, time travel shenanigans, talking to the dead, and otherworldly creatures, there are plenty of other weird things going on. Some of it is funny and some of it is tragic but it is all entertaining. The grown-up kids are played by Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, and Aidan Gallagher. There are also great performances from Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, and Adam Godley. The show is wonderfully strange and I never know where the plot is going to go. I recommend it a lot.


Astroboy

I never really watched the anime but I always saw pictures from it in magazines and online. When I was looking for a movie to complete this week, I was originally gunning for Battle Angel Alita but I did not get out to the theater to see it yet. Then I realized that I had not seen this movie yet and it definitely formed a good theme. This was a surprisingly good movie. The movie follows a little robot boy who goes on a quest that involves robot rights and economic disparity. I really liked the world building of the movie. They created two very different worlds that still worked together well. I also really liked the art design and especially the character designs. It also has great voices from Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eugene Levy. They all played characters that were instantly clear, fully formed, and entertaining. I especially loved Freddie Highmore (Astroboy) and Kristen Bell (Cora). Although, it should come as no surprise that I adored Kristen Bell once again. The movie was pretty deep and endearing for what looked like a throwaway PG animated movie. I recommend it.

Music of the Week:
While She Sleeps – ELEPHANT

Cardi B & Bruno Mars – Please Me

Jennifer Hudson – I’ll Fight

Alex Lahey – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Blackbriar – Arms of the Ocean

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Young Heroes”
– I finished The Punisher Season 2
– I finished Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1

Interview Questions 16

February 25, 2019

You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people. Who would you choose and why?

Alive

Mick Foley

I had been a fan of his through the years through his relationship with the World Wrestling Federation. When he sailed off the top of the Hell in a Cell cage, I knew that I would always remember him. When I read his autobiographies, I learned what a kind and intelligent man he was. He was such an engaging storyteller and he was so passionate about his art but also the truly important things in life. When I was down and lonely up in New Jersey, battling against depression, I picked up that first autobiography again and I wore it to pieces re-reading it in my car. In the years that have followed, I have come to appreciate his passion and goofy sense of humor and I think he would be really fun to talk to. I could listen to him tell stories for days and I feel like he would be interested in what I have to say too. I feel like there are few celebrities who actually give a damn about the common man but Foley always felt grounded.

Aubrey Plaza

I was first introduced to Aubrey Plaza when my brothers convinced me to watch some Parks and Recreation episodes. I was instantly interested in her as she played a quasi-goth, sarcastic crazy person on the show. As the show continued, the character evolved and so did Aubrey Plaza’s career. However, she has spent a lot of time playing weirdos and psychos on screen. Even when she is at her worst, she still had a magnetic charisma and it was impossible not to like her. Then, for the first time, I saw her get interviewed on Conan. She was so loveably awkward that I instantly felt like I had found a kindred spirit. She may be an actress but she also projects a shyness and she often sounds like I feel like I sound like when speaking in public. She has the craziest stories and gets up to some serious hijinx with her friends so I would love to hear all about it. I also think that she is pretty laid back and would be fun to hang with.


Neil Gaiman

I learned about Neil Gaiman far too late. I mean, it’s never too late to find an author you love but I feel like I would have loved to read his stuff when I was younger. Still, my first real introduction to Gaiman was reading The Graveyard Book and I was instantly hooked. His aesthetic mixes the dark and the light together like some of my favorite pieces of fiction such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Addams Family, and so many others. I started to consume anything I could get my hands on. I watched the Coraline movie, read the book, and then moved on. I started to read Sandman which I had previously passed up because I did not really get it. Now I get it. I really get it. I read American Gods and I had not realized how much deeper I could fall in love with Gaiman’s writing. I feel like I could talk to Gaiman for hours about our favorite bits of folklore, mythology, and legends. We could also talk about the craft of writing and fun stories about Americana and fun stories from his homeland. He is a great writer but does not come off as arrogant and seems like he would actually be interested in what I have to say.

Dead

Harpo Marx

When I discovered the Marx Brothers, I felt like I found something that was tailor made for me a lifetime before I was born. The clever wordplay, the slapstick humor, and the visual gags were relentless and I fell in love. Harpo Marx (real name Arthur Marx) was the quiet one, relying on prop humor and mime to tell his jokes on stage and screen. Even so, he won people over with his winning smile, his contagious exuberance, his zany sense of humor, and his unexpected skills as a harpist. Still, Groucho got all my love as the quick-tongued rascal who always had the best comebacks. Much like Mick Foley, that all changed when I read Harpo’s biography. He had so many crazy stories. He gave incredible insight into vaudeville, Broadway, and early Hollywood. He explained so much about his brothers and how much of that came from his parents who were characters as well. He dropped out of school in the second grade and yet he ended up in the legendary “Vicious Circle”, the Algonquin Round Table which was one of the greatest collections of literary minds at the time. He was such a surprisingly wise man but was also a good listener and I feel a great kinship with him.

Carrie Fisher

I cannot count how many friends that I have had through the years who were wisecracking women. Carrie Fisher is legendary for her insightful yet funny quotes about her life and her career. She became famous for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars but she was way more amazing than that. She was an advocate for mental health issues, having been through her own struggles which included depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction. She fought through the stigma and sought to help others with their demons. She was also a prolific writer not only writing books about her life but also punching up endless Hollywood scripts for little to no credit. On top of that, she saw so much in her life. She married Paul Simon and had Harrison Ford as a lover. She is so intensely interesting that she would be such a perfect dinner guest. Her unbridled enthusiasm and cutting sarcasm would be a lot of fun to have around in a quiet setting.

Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers was one of the kindest men in the history of our world. From all reports, he did not have a single mean bone in his body. When he was a small child, he was very sick and spent a lot of time alone in bed. It was here that he learned the power of his imagination. He created whole worlds in his head and entertained himself without the aid of television. He was religious without being pushy about it. He embraced the kindness of Christianity rather than the endless contradictory texts that others get hung up on. He suffered from imposter syndrome and constantly questioned himself and ended up stronger because of it. He was not afraid to broach difficult topics and he got deep and made it fun instead of scary. He was also a proponent of puppetry and make-believe. I think I would love to talk to somebody so intelligent, insightful, and beautiful. I do not think there is a single topic we could not discuss honestly and intelligently and still have a lot of fun together.

Fae and Away

February 23, 2019

Tabitha elbowed Keyli in the ribs, hard causing the much smaller girl to yelp in surprise and pain. Keyli wondered why her new friend would attack her in the middle of a busy street market but she looked down and realized that she was starting to let her glamour fade. Her luminescent white skin was starting to show through the illusion. The two of them had rubbed her skin with dirt and dumped mud in her hair to try to hide her true faery nature. She ended up kind of looking like a bog witch. However, the disguise could only do much to hide a being such as a faery. She focused on reapplying her illusion and she once again looked wholly unappealing and average. She breathed in deeply and kept following Tabitha through the crowd.

“Are you doing alright?” Tabitha asked, drawing close. She reached out to adjust the hood of Keyli’s cloak, making sure the faery stayed covered.

“I am alright,” Keyli said but was unable to put much feeling into it. “At least there is some intriguing nature around here.”

“It’s called a market,” Tabitha said. “Farmers come here to sell their wares.”

“Sell? Like with money?” Keyli asked. “So mortal.”

“We can’t all trade in favors and deals,” Tabitha said. “Would it help your mood if I bought you something?”

Keyli looked around at the stalls and eyed a row of pigs hanging by their feet from hooks and her eyes slid into inhuman shapes. “Flesh,” she whispered.

“Oh geez,” Tabitha said. “Put those away. We should get a room and let you rest up.”

“Fine,” Keyli said.

Tabitha pulled out her money pouch and the two of them started to shop.

Nearly an hour later, the two of them were sitting in a room in an inn. Keyli had a side of bacon in one hand and a turnip in the other hand. Neither was cooked. She was taking bites out of one and then the other in turn. She had already consumed more than Tabitha thought would fit into her slight frame. She was still filthy but she looked a lot more relaxed and happy. Tabitha was trying not to watch her eat since the faery’s mouth moved unnaturally. It was both terrifying and mesmerizing. She peeked through the curtains for a few moments and then checked her weapons. It was a calming ritual from the old days. It had been a long trip already but it felt even longer than it had actually been.

“I am finished eating,” Keyli announced. “Thank you so much for the ‘produce’. May I bathe now?”

“I told you,” Tabitha said. “We need to keep a low profile. Besides, you’re a faery. Don’t you like being so close to nature? How much closer can you get than being covered in dirt?”

“That’s racist,” Keyli said. “The fae are not attuned to all of the elements. All fae draw strength from life the same as mortals. However, a water fae like me draws strength from water as well. I am not an earth fae. I don’t draw strength from dirt.”

“Alright alright. Sorry if I offended you, your majesty,” Tabitha said. “I guess we mortals just don’t understand the fae like we think we do.”

“That’s a true statement,” Keyli said. “The ignorance of mortals is legendary among my people. It makes you easy to trick. And yet you and your friends decided to steal a faery anyway.”

“I didn’t steal anyone,” Tabitha said. “You came willingly against your father’s wishes. We’re risking a lot just bringing you from the Faewild.”

“I had never been to the mortal realm before,” Keyli said. “It seemed like a fun chance to take.”

“Remember the deal,” Tabitha said. “You promised you could unflood my home town.”

“Indeed. The challenge sounded simple but intriguing,” Keyli said, her lips curling into a wicked smile. “Almost as intriguing as when you kissed me.”

Tabitha could feel her face go beet red. “You kissed me!” Tabitha spat out. “I have a husband. You knew that when you kissed me. I’m still angry about that by the way.”

“And yet I believe you enjoyed it and here we are alone,” Keyli said. “As if you planned it.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Tabitha said. “We planned it this way because I’m the best at navigating and hiding in plain sight. The others are running interference so that we can get the job done before your family comes to take you back.”

“So brave to face down my family,” Keyli said. “I don’t think they’ll murder your friends or your husband.”

“They had better not,” Tabitha said. “They’ll pay if they do.”

“I’m sure they would,” Keyli said. “All of those weapons look deadly. Have you ever killed a faery before?”

“I haven’t,” Tabitha admitted with a shrug. “but I have killed many people and things before.”

“A bloody past?” Keyli asked. “Tell me.”

Tabitha hesitated but then shrugged. “I was an assassin in a former life,” Tabitha said. “The Red Hand of Behrel. I killed a lot of threats to the Kingdom to protect everyone.”

“Why did you stop?” Keyli asked. “Too much blood?”

“No,” Tabitha said. “I never did stop killing but I met my husband Dero and I asked for my release. I decided to wander the world with him to seek adventure and protect people without borders. We met friends along the way.”

“And this current adventure?” Keyli asked.

“I heard that my hometown had been devastated and I vowed to fix it if I could,” Tabitha said.

“So you sought me out,” Keyli said.

“Actually no,” Tabitha said. “My friends and I ended up in the Faewild by accident and then we stumbled on your court. That’s when the idea came to me.”

“I don’t know how I feel about being an accident,” Keyli said with a pout.

“If you save my town,” Tabitha said. “We’ll do our best to win you some freedom from your family.”

“That does make me feel better,” Keyli said. “It’s a deal.”

Media Update 2/21/19

February 21, 2019


BlacKkKlansman

I really need to see more Spike Lee movies. His movies are controversial but always have a powerful message and I have appreciated what I have seen so far. This may just be his most commercially accessible movie dealing with the true story of cops who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. At a time when law enforcement was focused on the Black Panthers, the Ku Klux Klan’s recruitment was seeing new surges. Organizations like that never truly go away because the hate and ignorance never go away. The movie also explores how groups like this are able to infiltrate law enforcement, the media, and other positions of power in order to further their agenda. Some of that is weeded out but the roots remain and the poisonous plants eventually grow back. The movie also explores the Black Panthers, the Black Power movement, and various leaders (such as Kwame Ture) in the black community and the ongoing civil rights movement. John David Washington was great as a rookie black officer (the first in Colorado Springs) who is discovering the Black Power movement for the first time. He outsmarts the KKK at every turn. Adam Driver plays his partner, a Jewish undercover cop who acts as Washington’s avatar in the KKK. Laura Harrier is fun as a hardline Black Power activist who helps to educate Washington’s character. Topher Grace plays David Duke perfectly, so sure of himself yet falling on the sword of his own arrogance but still suffering no consequences. I definitely recommend this movie.


Bohemian Rhapsody

I have been a fan of Queen basically since I was in diapers which was about the midpoint in the original line-up’s run. Queen is one of those bands that has something for everybody. They were so innovative that most people can find at least one of their songs that they like. The band had a frontman in the extremely popular but wildly controversial Freddie Mercury. However, the other members Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor all had equal parts in the success of the band. The reason why they had so many songs with different sounds is that all four members wrote songs and brought them to the group. This movie explores that story. The story of their rise, their falling out, and their return. It also focuses on the life and struggles of Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek played Mercury beautifully, showing him as a complicated man with complicated issues. For the most part, the movie is a lot of fun and pretty inspiring. However, the movie comes out as kind of biased. It glosses over a lot of Freddie’s life and suppresses his homosexuality a bit. It also inaccurately hangs a lot of the band’s problems on the two people who can no longer tell their side of the story, Mercury and his ex-lover Paul Prenter. They also massage the facts to make Mercury look worse than he was in real life. This is really unfortunate and I hope one day a better movie will be made about Freddie Mercury. However, this movie was still great and I had a lot of fun with it. I still recommend it.


The Favourite

This movie kind of threw me a bit. The movie is a bit of historical fiction set during the days of Queen Anne’s rule over England (in the early 1700s). She is played by Olivia Colman in a very honest way that is very un-glamorous yet very endearing. She is in the middle of a lesbian relationship with Rachel Weisz’ character Lady Sarah, allowing Sarah to control England through their relationship. When Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) appears at court, it becomes a battle of psychology, sexuality, and power dynamics between the two of them. The strength of the movie comes from scenes between Colman, Weisz, and Stone with so much dialogue that has hidden meanings and subtext. At first, I did not think I really cared for the movie. The pacing is a bit slow and the dialogue is a bit formal. However, two days later I realized that I remembered the entire plot and I began to appreciate the movie better. While there is no evidence that any of what happened in the movie actually occurred, it is really just a good setting for the particular power dynamics on display. Also, it is a good reason to break out all of the beautiful period dress and elaborate make-up and hairstyles. The movie is a bit strange but it is also pretty interesting. I recommend it with the caveats that I discussed above.

 

Music of the Week:
ELUVEITIE – Ategnatos

OOMPH! – Im Namen Des Vaters

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Snow Tha Product – Gaslight

While She Sleeps – THE GUILTY PARTY

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Award Season Catch Up 2019”
– I finished The Magicians Season 3
– I finished The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I started watching The Punisher Season 2
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

February 18, 2019

WILPW

14 – Favorite Promo


Cactus Jack is Going Away for a While – Mick Foley

Mick Foley will always be one of my favorites. He has proven himself to be a very thoughtful and intellectual performer, one of the best thinkers in the business. His autobiographies show a wealth of knowledge and an aptitude for ring psychology. In 1998, Foley was in the midst of The Three Faces of Foley. He was cycling between three personas Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. He had just had a run as Cactus Jack, battling for, winning, and losing the tag titles with Terry Funk. This promo was about how he felt betrayed by the fans. Cactus Jack was Foley’s most resilient persona, capable of taking the most physical abuse. However, the point of the promo was that the fans had turned their back on Cactus by ignoring the effort he and Funk had put in, in favor of flashier stars like Steve Austin and Degeneration X. It was part of Foley’s turn toward darkness and his eventual alliance with Vince McMahon. Foley delivered his promos with the gravitas he had learned from studying greats like Jake the Snake, Robert Fuller, and so many others. Foley had a natural ability to embody the character he was playing, practically believing that it was real. This is the style of acting taught at the college I went to, first popularized by Sanford Meisner. “To live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.” The promo was delivered with appropriate gravitas and mentioned a lot of the roster which opened up a lot of possibilities going forward. It also blurred that line between reality and fantasy as Mick dropped a lot of his real life once again into one of his promos. It was sad and furious at the same time and it showed that the character meant business while others were just playing around. It hit hard and told a great story.


No More Divas – AJ Lee

Recently, Women’s wrestling in the WWE has been getting better and better thanks to an influx of new talent and a general change in philosophy. Stars like Moolah and other women put the brakes on talent in the division in exchange for flash and comedy. That was carried into the 2000s where the women’s division became the “Diva” division, further shifting away from athleticism and skill. Meanwhile, in Japan and in the independents, women were wrestling the same style as the guys and people loved it. Something had to be done. AJ Lee was a breath of fresh air. She had grown up as a huge fan of the business and she knew in her heart that she could do everything the guys did. When she finally got her chance, she was not that great but she worked at it and she got better and better until she was awesome. While others were fine with stagnation and mediocrity, AJ called for equality. The current WWE women’s division is called the “Women’s Revolution” then this promo was the equivalent of the Boston Massacre. This was the first event on the main roster that made people sit up and realize that they deserved better. It made people realize that women’s division matches did not have to be bathroom breaks where plastic little princesses pulled each other’s hair and slapped each other’s faces. The reaction to this promo would eventually be a call to arms for the NXT superstars who would revitalize the division and raise the bar.

15 – Favorite Feud/Rivalry


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

A lot of WWE fans of my generation fall into one of two camps: Bret Hart fans and Shawn Michaels fans. I was part of the latter group as I liked the younger, flashier star who was small like I was and he was funny too. When Stone Cold Steve Austin came onto the scene, everybody sat up and took notice. He was a cold-blooded sociopath who spoke his mind and stood up to everybody and anything in his way. He was billed as a good guy but he was plowing through people I had no passion for. At the same time, Bret was whining about being screwed by Austin at the 1997 Royal Rumble. Austin had been eliminated from the match but the referees had not seen it so Austin took advantage and won the match. Bret had a point, he had been screwed but instead of doing something about it, he just whined and threatened to walk out. This eventually set up the perfect feud between the two. On one side was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was a sociopath but he was proactive and always did exactly what he promised. He was vicious but America was ready to get behind that aggression. On the other side was Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was good but had failed to back up his boasting for too long at the time. He was finally ready to actually do something about his complaints and vent his frustration in a big Wrestlemania match against Austin. The two were set for a submission match which was Bret’s specialty but Austin had that never-say-die spirit. In the end, Austin did not give up and passed out from pain and blood loss, allowing for Bret Hart to become a villain and Austin to become a hero of the people.


Becky vs. Charlotte

As I mentioned above, the women’s division has been great lately, delivering more good content than bad. As I type this, Becky Lynch has become one of the hottest and brightest stars in the WWE. She has even eclipsed many in the men’s division which has led to her labeling herself “The Man”. Leading up to Summerslam 2018, she had decided that enough was enough. She was through being nice and letting people pass her by. She had been the first Smackdown Women’s champion and she vowed to win it back by any means necessary. This led to a confrontation with her former best friend Charlotte Flair. Charlotte is a second generation pro-wrestler and therefore is wrestling royalty. She had previously lorded this over the division, letting her success and fame darken her soul as she held onto her belt. She seemingly left that all behind and turned over a new leaf but everybody knew that it was still inside of her. Becky had enough of the facade and obliterated her so-called best friend, choosing the championship over friendship. Becky stood victorious, finally beating her friend and earning her place in the sun. Then Becky was briefly injured, putting her career on hold for a little bit. In the meantime, Ronda Rousey had a match with Charlotte and finally beat the facade away, revealing the old Charlotte once again. Now, Becky and Charlotte are set to face each other once again, both of them have embraced their dark side in order to be at the top of their game. The crowd is behind Becky but Charlotte has a great big match record. It will be really fun to see what happens next.

16 – Favorite Manager


Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman has been in the professional wrestling bit for a long time. He first snuck into the nightclub business in New York City, becoming a publicity photographer. He then got into the wrestling business by once again leveraging his photography skills. But more than that, he always had the gift of gab. He has apparently always had great skill in running his mouth both inside and outside of the business. In World Championship Wrestling he turned himself into an obnoxious “Hollywood agent”-type manager who formed The Dangerous Alliance. He then helped created Extreme Championship Wrestling and became basically a cult leader of this underground company, a sort of CBGB for pro-wrestling. In these latter days, he has often acted as a mouthpiece or stand-in for his clients in the WWE. Instead of calling himself a “manager” he calls himself an “advocate”. He finds loopholes and argues for clients like CM Punk, Cesaro, The Shield, and Brock Lesnar. He gives spellbinding promos which are especially good to have when other people in a feud are not as good at talking. Brock Lesnar has especially benefitted as he has never been the greatest on the microphone. Also, Heyman has some of the best skills at getting fans to want to punch his face while still cheering his appearances.


Vickie Guerrero

Vickie was the wife of Eddie Guerrero, a guy that delighted fans for decades. When Eddie died at a fairly young age, Vickie showed up once again on television and she gained a bit of a following. It is a testament to her skills as an actress that she was able to get fans to hate her. If somebody had told me that fans would boo the widow of one of professional wrestling’s greatest, I would have questioned it. She made herself into a vain and shrill character who basically did everything wrong. She threw tantrums, she ogled younger men, she interrupted everyone’s good time, she disrespected the legacy of her own husband and cheated liberally. When the spotlight was not on her, she used sheer personality to put it back on her. The only mistake they made with her was that they had good guys start bullying her based on her appearance instead of her personality but there was a lot of that going on during that time period. Even today, fans recognize her catchphrase of “Excuse Me!” and it still puts a shiver in my spine. I am so glad that she could help to carry on the Guerrero legacy.

Reap

February 16, 2019

20180315_081252.jpg

Lopita put the final touches on her graffiti as she sat on the stone of the train platform. He was late, he was always late and Lopita was always bored. As a free-roaming spirit, she had never been bored but she had been drafted to the Reapers. She enjoyed all of the prestige but none of the responsibility but one did not always get to choose their afterlife. Fugitives were punished and she had to serve out her sentence by preventing other fugitives from escaping. Of course, that meant that she was deployed with one of the most annoying senior operatives.

“I thought I told you to stop vandalizing mortal property,” Ren said. “it’s beneath us.” Ren stood there in the sunlight like a shadow. He was tall and thin and impeccably dressed in a suit. Even though it was August, he was wearing a heavy leather duster. The dead did not have to worry about the weather. He also wore a pair of round spectacles that looked like they were a very antique style. He had a very serious look on his face and a Reaper badge on his belt buckle.

“Like they’ll even know what it means,” Lopita said. “If I have to be a Reaper, I have to represent.” Lopita was a completely different picture in style from Ren. She wore a tattered hoodie and jeans with the cuffs completely frayed. She had fashioned two belts across her chest in an x which she used as makeshift holsters for her multitude of daggers. She also wore no shoes. She also had shockingly pink hair.

“How about you focus on the mission instead?” Ren asked. “We have a squad of fugitives down the rails and they aren’t going to catch themselves.”

“Hey,” Lopita said. “I’ve been here for a while now. Maybe if you dressed down I wouldn’t always be waiting for you. It’s awkward just hanging out in places like this.”

“Why?” Ren asked. “They can’t see you. Only the most sensitive among them can even begin to sense you.”

“Still, I guess social anxiety persists after death,” Lopita said.

“Ridiculous,” Ren said. “Let’s move out.” He hopped off the platform and started to follow the rails south. Lopita sighed and stood up and hopped down to follow him.

“I still don’t understand why we have to rain on their parade,” Lopita said. “They’re probably harmless. I was harmless.”

“I told you,” Ren said. “The longer a spirit is unmoored from reality and does not go to their rest, the bigger chance they have of going crazy. Also, they could be recruited by demons.”

“Ooh,” Lopita said. “I have met demons before. They’re totally unsavory. Very rude.”

“And dangerous,” Ren said. “Always be on your guard.”

As if on cue, a screaming blur came out of the trees, lunging for Lopita. Ren grabbed his tie and it magically extended, wrapping itself around what turned out to be a woman. He held her fast as if she was the dog on the end of a leash. The woman’s hands had grown into impossibly long claws and she was foaming at the mouth. Ren locked eyes with Lopita and nodded. Lopita ducked low and came in with two daggers, spinning around her fingers. She plunged the daggers into the woman repeatedly until she faded away to blue sparks.

“Corrupted,” Ren said. “I’m willing to bet they’ve all lost it. This won’t be pretty.”

“Shit,” Lopita said. “I guess I’m happy I didn’t end up like that.”

What seemed to be bullets rained down on their position. Ren gestured toward their source and his coat formed into a shield as he ran for cover. Lopita merely blinked out of existence and reappeared on the branch of a tree, looking for their attacker. The shooter shifted their attention and she had to blink away again as the bullets ravaged the tree she had been standing in. Meanwhile, Ren had pulled his own handgun. He focused and pieces filtered out of his coat and attached themselves to the gun until it was a sniper rifle. He whirled and fired once and there were no more shots fired but only for a moment. A man rushed out of the woods firing bullets from an oversized arm.

Lopita blinked behind him and brought two daggers across his back in an X shape. She grinned as he turned but then she blinked away again. That gave Ren the time to change his gun again into a shotgun. He ran and slid to the man’s feet and fired up into his center mass, ending that fight in another shower of blue sparks. Ren fastidiously wiped the sparks from his clothes as they straightened themselves up. Lopita blinked to his side and they both scanned the treeline.

A towering woman stepped out of the brush and roared like some sort of alien beast. She charged like a rhinoceros and Ren fired again. The bullets ricocheted off of her skin in all sorts of directions and Ren and Lopita barely dodged the charge. The rhino woman circled around for another charge. Lopita ran toward her before Ren could grab her. Lopita baseball slid between the woman’s legs at the last moment and plunged a dagger through each of the woman’s feet, fixing her in place suddenly. Ren’s gun had been shifting again and he pointed it and shot a grenade at the woman nearly point blank. This time, the gun worked and the woman was blown into another batch of blue sparks.

“Is that all of them?” Lopita asked as she retrieved her daggers from the ground.

“I think so,” Ren said. “The home office said there were three signatures. We put down three out of three.”

“You think so?” Lopita asked. “It sounds like we did it. Come on, be happy for once. We were totally awesome.”

“Those souls weren’t supposed to be that old,” Ren said. “They shouldn’t have had power like that.”

“So I’m gonna guess that this just got more complicated,” Lopita said. “I thought this would be an easy day.”

“Nothing’s easy until you get to head to the afterlife,” Ren said. “And I have a hunch that something very wrong has happened around here. Something demonic.”

Lopita sighed. “Peachy.”

Media Update 2/14/19

February 14, 2019


Russian Doll

Last week I heard really good things about Russian Doll and after I saw the trailer, I knew it was something I wanted to watch. I’ve loved the star Natasha Lyonne since I first saw her in Detroit Rock City and I have glimpsed her in later works like But I’m a Cheerleader, Antibirth, and Orange is the New Black. She really transforms herself in this show. She is a cynical woman on her 36th birthday when things start to get weird. She is so good. She may be sarcastic and cynical but she is also endearing, a grounded woman who is trying to figure her life out while alternately also doing anything else. What made her journey even more interesting to me is that the show takes place on her 36th birthday which I recently had. She is supported by a great cast of actors who I really loved. Everybody who pops up was an interesting character who you get to see different facets of each episode, bit by bit. A special shout out to Rebecca Henderson who is just such an interesting character, an old artsy lesbian with an even older soul. I am only three episodes in and I am so interested to see where it goes next. The time loop in the show is more of a mystery than in most time loops stuff I have seen and I want to learn all about it. I definitely recommend this show.


Happy Death Day

Blumhouse Pictures has recently become a force to reckon with on my horror movie radar by producing such movies as Get Out, Halloween (2018), and Upgrade. I cannot deny there popularity with other horror franchises that I am not a fan of like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and the last 3 M Night Shyamalan films. So, they are kind of hit and miss but the trailer for this movie looked like a great mix of horror and comedy. The weight of the movie rests on the good writing which is irreverent but actually also both scary and touching. The movie would not have been nearly as good as it was without the lead Jessica Rothe who is so much fun whether she is being the bad guy or the good guy. She is backed up by Israel Broussard who is a grounding presence, a good guy who I could definitely empathize with. They are in turn backed up by an ensemble cast of college students who are fun to either like or hate. I actually expected the movie to be more bloody but they focused more on the characters and the situation for both comedy and humor instead of gore. The movie also felt like a good tribute to horror movies as it had enough twists and turns that made me wonder how it might end. I am intensely interested in what the sequel might bring this week (though I probably won’t see it until later). I definitely recommend this movie.


ARQ

Like Edge of Tomorrow, this movie tries to come up with a science fiction reason for the time loop. Of course, the reason for the time loop does not matter as much as the intricate plot and action. As the plot evolves, the characters act like they are in a chess match, trying to out-think each other but also the time loop itself. I found the mechanics of the time loop way more interesting than anything else in the movie. Sometimes it is just fun to watch a movie where I have no idea what is going to happen next. I am still trying to digest certain parts of the movie, especially the end. The movie stars Robbie Amell, the lesser known Amell brother but he did a great job here. He was very likable and believable as a mechanic trying to be a scientist but always falling a bit behind. Rachael Taylor (who I loved in Jessica Jones) is the other lead and she is great as the smarter, more cunning woman stuck with Ammell. The scenes between the two are really enjoyable to watch. I recommend the movie as it was enjoyable and it made me think.

Music of the Week:

Blue October – Hate Me

Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – My Shit

In This Moment – Call Me

The Sidh – Iridium

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Again!?”
– I finished Glitter Force Doki Doki
– I finished The Assassination of Gianni Versace
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– 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

Interview Questions 15

February 11, 2019

Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful?

My first choice would be lightning. Lightning is a strong destructive power, a deadly blast of pure electrical power moving from the ground into the sky. It is the equalization of charges between the sky and the ground during a storm. Because it happens so quickly and its danger, getting a good look at lightning can be tough. I love seeing high-speed pictures of lightning, showing each unique twist and turn as the electricity finds its path. Of course, there are also the nature-made glass sculptures that occur when lightning hits the sand called Fulgurite.

I love the moon. It does not matter what phase the moon is in, I think it always looks beautiful and I will always be fascinated by it. The crescent moon is an iconic image but the full moon is always amazing. Whether it is Blood, Super, Harvest, Wolf, or Blue the moon is captivating. It is much better than the sun which is too bright and too hot while the moon glows a more subtle and gentle light. Obviously, pop culture is fascinated with the moon as well from the Dreamworks logo, Kubo and the Two Strings, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Finally, I would pick the ocean. There is nothing like sitting and watching the waves lapping at the beach. The sea is vast and beautiful and totally humbling. It is always a complete sensory overflow as I watch something so big that it drops below the horizon with the curvature of the Earth. I smell the overwhelming salt smell of the water. In different parts of the world, it can be a gentle blue-green and other parts it can be a crystal blue. On top of all that, it is yet another thing that could easily destroy me with sheer force.

If you were offered the position of mayor of your city, would you take it?

This is actually a difficult question as Baltimore has a recent history of really bad mayors. Three mayors ago we had a mayor who had to resign because she was caught stealing gift cards meant to go to charity. Her replacement was ineffective and ended up bungling Baltimore’s biggest set of riots in a long time. Under her watch, two buildings burned and she stayed largely silent during the crisis. There are even rumors that she fled the city. The mayor we have now is almost comically screwing things up, continuing a pathetic status quo. So, it is easy to have the impulse to claim that I could do a better job. Baltimore is a mess and every day there seems to be some new fiasco or scandal. I would not want the job. Charm City will always be in my heart and will be my home for the foreseeable future but I am not a politician. It takes a certain kind of insanity to want to be a leader like that and I do not want to tempt myself with the corruption others have fallen to so easily.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

I feel a great kinship with wolves. Obviously, it is one of the reasons that I picked my moniker for this blog. Wolves are like dogs but better. They are wild and free but also banded together with others of their kind. Running through the fields and forests with a pack, feeling strong and fast. My senses would be alive in ways that they never could be as a human. I could smell for miles and hear the slightest sound. Of course, I might become color blind but I would have intense night vision which is a tradeoff I would definitely consider. I would be faster and more tireless than I am as a human and I would be more comfortable out in the elements.

After the obvious, I would probably pick a hawk or falcon. I would be a predator, high up in the food chain. My vision would be beyond what a human could even imagine. I would fly faster than any human has ever gone without the use of machines and I would not have to fear falling. Birds of prey are also more solitary birds as opposed to birds that flock together. I am definitely somebody who does not fear being alone. Having to depend on others can be tiring although not having that support can be dangerous. I think the exhilaration of flight would make up for it.

Finally, I might just want to be a raccoon. Now, stay with me here. I know that raccoons are often detested by people because of their meddling with trash but it would be so fun to be an urban animal. Raccoons are very smart, able to get into a lot of containers that people would think are secure. They also have incredibly dextrous and sensitive hands, able to do more complicated handwork than you would think. Frankly, raccoons just look really cool. The little mask, the ringed tail, the big bushy bodies that are surprisingly agile. I just always liked their aesthetic.

Fallout

February 9, 2019

Eliryl Glorytree was fidgeting a lot and it was beginning to bother her roommate Promise Truename. The two had roomed together for quite a while now and Promise could tell things about Eliryl without even looking. She turned her head to focus her attention on Eliryl in hopes that Eliryl would get whatever it was out of her system.

“Everything is different now,” Eliryl said. “I hate it.”

“Well,” said Promise. “It’s not every day that your school blows up or most of it anyway.”

“Enough of it to send us to this new school,” Eliryl said. “At least I still have you as a roommate.”

“Because you made your parents bribe New Moon to make it happen,” Promise said. “Otherwise, I would be out on the street.”

“And I got them to transfer your scholarship over from The White School,” Eliryl said. “You’re welcome. If you had rich parents, you would have done the same for me.”

“If I had parents,” Promise said. “Thanks for the reminder. What are you complaining about, anyway? This place is a lot like our old school. Besides, you weren’t hassled like I was.”

“That was unacceptable,” Eliryl said with an exceptionally frowny pout. “I told them to leave you alone. There was no way that you were involved in the accident. It was all Violet’s fault. We know that.”

“We know that but I’m a tiefling so they assume I’m a criminal by the way I look,” Promise said. “It’s not my fault that I’ve got demon blood. I don’t even have a connection with that heritage. I didn’t know my parents.”

“I know,” Eliryl said. “It’s still an absolute tragedy. I do feel for you. They should not have discriminated against you. I told them to stop it and that you’re with me.”

“Well, not with me with me,” Promise said.

“Oh Gods no,” Eliryl said. “My parents would literally die on the spot.”

“Thanks for that,” Promise said with a scowl.

“No offense,” Eliryl said “I’m also I’m not into that sort of thing. Girls. I’m not into girls whether they have horns or tails or whatever.” Eliryl looked frantic, she went to great pains to show that she was no longer prejudiced even though she stumbled over her words sometimes. She had been in the beginning but Promise had been patient and educated her in a painstaking process. Promise knew that, in the beginning, Eliryl had done everything she could to get a different roommate but had given up when it was not possible. She had acted like she was doing Promise a great charity when accepting the situation and that false kindness had eventually given way to real kindness and genuine friendship.

“Relax,” Promise said with a smirk. “I’m just messing with you. I know you have my back and I’m not actually attracted to you either. I’m not attracted to people who aren’t attracted to me.”

“Well,” Eliryl said. “That’s a relief. I wouldn’t want you to suffer the pain of unrequited love.”

“Thank you,” Promise said. “What I’m more worried about is our classmates. I’ve heard stories of things happening to people. Strange things.”

“What sorts of things?” Eliryl asked. “I’m usually the gossip expert.”

“Some of our classmates have experienced changes after the accident,” Promise said. “Access to new spells, new innate abilities, physical changes, and all sorts of strange effects.”

“Physical changes?” Eliryl asked. “Is that what happened to Delilah Bramblewood?”

“No,” Promise said. “That was just puberty. At least, I’m mostly sure it was.”

“Mostly? Hmm,” Eliryl said. “Well give me an example of one of these ‘strange things’ then.”

“The Hobkill twins have been given a strange new form of Shadowstep,” Promise said. “They can change their bodies to shadow. They can hide in people’s shadows. I’m worried because they were close to the blast. Who knows what further effects the fallout could have?”

Eliryl shivered. “You mean I could, like, grow a third eye tomorrow?” she asked.

“As always, your priorities are well placed,” Promise said. “but you’re also not wrong. Magical fallout is literally unstable magic that is hard to study. You could grow a literal third eye, or a figurative one, your hair could fall out, you could become a copy of me. Anything is possible.”

Eliryl shivered again and waved her hands frantically as if trying to dispel Promise’s words as if they were invasive pipe smoke. “Please stop scaring me,” Eliryl said. “I like me as I am. I like there only being one of you. You’re unique. I mean, maybe I would consider a third eye as long as it was perfectly centered. It would be a bit exotic and I could still cover it with a hat.”

“Uh huh,” Promise said. “Always the pinnacle of style.”

“I was taught to always put my best foot forward,” Eliryl said with a shrug. “It’s practically a Glorytree motto at this point. I’ve taught you a thing or two.”

“Mostly against my will,” Promise said. “but I have to admit that you’ve been helpful.”

“You’re welcome,” Eliryl said. “So what do we do about these magical revelations then?”

“Well, first thing we need to do is get ourselves checked out,” Promise said. “There’s a doctor who specializes in more magic-based conditions in town.”

“Alright,” Eliryl said. “I could send for my family’s doctor but I feel like we’re trying to keep this quiet for the time being.”

“Exactly,” Promise said. “Nobody’s talking about this for a reason, they want it to go away. They’ll make us go away if we make too much noise. Permanently.”

“Definitely not my preference,” Eliryl said. “I prefer life over death. Then what do we do after that?”

“We need to find Violet,” Promise said. “She knows better than anyone what happened. Maybe she can help figure things out.”

“She was expelled, Promise,” Eliryl said. “Drummed right out the door. I saw them load her onto a carriage and send her away.”

“She still has to be somewhere,” Promise said. “Maybe if we tried a sending. We could arrange to meet with her.”

“Alright,” Eliryl said. “Do the sending, then.”

“Alright,” Promise said and folded her legs under her carefully and placed her hands on her knees and closed her eyes. The spell was still new to her and it took a lot of concentration. She took a deep breath and then sent her message out into the ether, intending it to go out to Violet Teagarden like drops of water sliding down a string.

She sent out her thoughts, trying to adhere to the limits of the spell while still being gentle with her subject. “Violet. It’s Promise from school. We miss you here. We were wondering if you wanted to get together and talk about what happened.”

What came back was as if several people were talking over each other and none of it was coming through. Only at the end of the garbled mess did the voices all speak the same line. “I don’t know what happened.”

Promise was so shocked that she nearly fell off of her bed, grabbing the bed post for balance as she blinked back to awareness. She managed to focus on Eliryl after a few moments. “Something is wrong. We have to find her.”

Media Update 2/7/19

February 7, 2019


Velvet Buzzsaw

When I heard about this movie out of the Sundance press, it was the first time in a while that I really wanted to see a Sundance film badly. The movie synopsis I heard takes a right turn right in the middle of it. This is a quirky drama about art, commercialism, and art critics. It is also a horror movie. When a painter dies penniless, his art is snapped up to be sold to rich people. Except the paintings have dark spirits attached to them. It is a seriously trippy movie from start to finish. It has a lot to say about the over-commercialism of art and how much we should value critics, especially those who profit heavily from putting down artists. There are so many good lines of dialogue showing exactly what’s wrong with parts of the art world. Then there are the trippy horror parts that are seriously troubling. The horror feels kind of cosmic and existential all at once. The visuals of it are fittingly beautiful and horrible. The cast is brilliant with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich all playing brilliant characters. The movie itself plays with art, leaving a lot of it up to the interpretations of the viewer. I definitely recommend it as it kind of blew my mind.


Incredibles 2

When I first saw The Incredibles, it was during a fairly dark period in my life and the movie was such a great mix of optimism, adventure, and comedy that it helped lift the dark clouds. When I heard about rumors of a sequel, I was excited. The first movie was a complete story (like many superhero movies) but I was interested where they would go next. This new movie takes what they made in the first movie and expands the world and the characters. All of the characters have a lot still learn and they get a chance to grow. The worry from trailers was that they would play Bob taking care of the kids for laughs and continue the sexist myth that men cannot be homemakers. Thankfully, they did not really go that route. They showed each of the characters stepping up within their new roles and learning to appreciate the experiences of their family members. We get to see more of the world, set in an idealized 1960s United States of America with no racism and only a little bit of sexism. The cast returns from the first movie but we also get newcomers Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener who were both great. This movie definitely exceeded my expectations but I should not have been surprised as Brad Bird has been working on getting the story right for close to fifteen years. I definitely recommend it as it was both touching and exciting.


The Last Dragon

I had heard and seen a bunch of memes from this movie but I had never actually watched it. Being a very white kid in the eighties, this movie just never fell into my path and it was not super popular when it first came out. Now it’s a cult classic. This movie is a mix of action and comedy that has led to such great movies like Big Trouble in Little China. This movie is a pastiche of culture from the seventies and the eighties. It also has pretty good acting from some relatively unknown actors. But mostly, this is a movie with countless funny lines in between good, poppy music and fight scenes. Basically, a young black man idolizes Bruce Lee and is on a journey to become a Kung Fu master (practicing Chinese Goju which is fairly similar to Lee’s Jeet Kune Do). Along the way, he befriends a television DJ named Laura and has to face off against the mob (basically) and a gangster martial artist. The movie was silly but also a lot of fun. I also consider it to be a better tribute to Bruce Lee than those awful clones of Bruce Lee. The stars, Taimak and Vanity never really broke into fame but they did a great job. Julius Carry is the ridiculous and wonderful villain Sho’nuff the Shogun of Harlem. The essential white villain is played by Christopher Murney as a pathetic rich man who is used to getting what he wants. Their respective goons are wonderfully goofy. There is even a weird cameo from William H. Macy. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Bebe Rexha – I’m A Mess

Aminé – BLACKJACK

The Sugar Highs – Kino

JINJER – Perennial

I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Do It All The Time

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Legacy”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– 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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