Archive for May, 2019

Media Update 5/30/19

May 30, 2019


John Wick 3: Parabellum

The John Wick series caught me off guard when it first came out and I was instantly enamored of it. I have been a Keanu Reeves fan since Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and he has only gotten better with age. The John Wick franchise is the best of both worlds when it comes to action movies. If you want to tune out and watch awesomely spectacular action scenes then this movie accommodates you. If you want a whole world and tons of lore that you can explore and read deeply into, this movie is also for you. I have seen both reactions based on what that person chose to see in the movie. I am a huge fan of both sides of the coin. The fight scenes in this movie continue to be innovative and surprising. The movie is full of them. There are excellent martial arts scenes and there are gunplay scenes that are absolutely insane. Also, the movie dives into a hidden world behind our own. Each movie continues to peel away layers and there are still new layers underneath. Keanu Reeves is so good. This feels like the role that he has evolved to fit in perfectly. The movie also has an all-star cast each at the top of their game including Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, and Anjelica Huston. I am looking forward to what further sequels will yield as the next movie is already scheduled. I definitely recommend it.


Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

A few months ago, I watched the latest documentary on Ted Bundy and I was fascinated since it was not something I lived through. At the time, Netflix was advertising a controversial movie (this movie) which would dramatize parts of the Ted Bundy story. The main complaint was that they cast Zac Effron as Ted Bundy and Effron is a well known hunky and adorable actor. I felt like people were missing the point. The insidious part of the Bundy story was that he was so handsome and charismatic that people dismissed red flags and let him kill way longer than a less attractive person would have gotten away with. This movie focused on Ted Bundy and the woman who fell in love with him. As women were turning up dead, Ted Bundy was dating and then became engaged to a woman who already had a daughter. Elizabeth Kloepfer (in the movie they used her pseudonym of Liz Kendall) stuck by Bundy even after he was accused (and after she reported him the police as a possible suspect several times). In the movie, they play all the big moments of the story and it is hard not sympathize with Liz as she tries to navigate a relationship as her world keeps crashing down. Part of that is how well Lily Collins portrays a fragile and complex character based on a real complex person. Zac Effron is amazing and unnerving as Bundy, acting like a smiling shark. The movie also follows him trying to use his time in law school to work on his own cases and appeals. It is a fascinating movie that encapsulates the weird position that Elizabeth found herself in during an entirely weird and terrifying case.


Highlander: The Raven

The Highlander series is so strange. It has a long history of disjointed sequels to a pretty good fantasy movie. At some point, they sort of rebooted everything by creating a television series that I remember watching a bit of. In the late nineties, this show was created as a spinoff. The premise of the show is that an immortal thief named Amanda has led a long life of crime and adventure. Now she is bored with it all and seeks atonement by helping to solve crimes. Coincidentally enough, most of the crimes involve immortals somehow. Still, I found the concepts interesting. At least they did not introduce the concept of immortality and then forget it. Each immortal has spent their infinite life differently but each seems stuck in a loop, a sort of limbo. It is an interesting contrast to Amanda’s search for change and meaning. Still, Elizabeth Gracen does a great job with the character. Paul Johannson plays an ex-cop that works with Amanda to solve crimes. He is alright but, as you might see in the trailer, he is kind of bland. The show is late nineties as heck and feels kind of like the production values of shows like the original Charmed. I liked it well enough but I do not really recommend it. It also only went one season because the stars hated each other and nobody watched.

Music of the Week:
Interpol – Evil

Czarface X Ghostface Killah – Mongolian Beef

Lord Of The Lost – Loreley

Ava Max – Sweet but Psycho

Don Broco – Greatness

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Killers”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Tuca and Bertie Season 1
– I started watching Game of Thrones Season 2
– I started watching Arrow Season 7
– I started watching Riverdale Season 3
– I started watching The Flash Season 5

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Developments in Development

May 27, 2019

So, while I have been off at work, a lot has been happening in my neighborhood. It is interesting to me because nothing much happens in my neighborhood because it is so out of the way. Nestled between Hampden and Druid Park, my little world is often overlooked by just about everybody. However, I have lately dealt with the neighboring Woodberry Community Association. Community Associations are double-edged swords because they can provide a sense of community but they are also rather exclusionary. I feel like the ones I have dealt with are unfairly prejudiced against renters, seeing them as subhuman and more people to be watched and feared than cared for. At least, that is what they say about their tone.

The big hoopla around here is that a lot of land in the area got new owners and they had development on their minds. This caused a lot of conflicts right away because people fear change and renters. New apartment buildings were the plan and there was a lot of pearl-clutching over the possibility that they could be low-income housing. The thought that less fortunate people might have a place to go to convenient to the Light Rail was unthinkable. But I’m probably being unfair to some of these people. Some objected to the destruction of buildings that had been there for centuries. I am all for historical preservation but that only extends to places where things of note happened or particularly pleasing architecture. The buildings they were trying to protect ranged from dilapidated to downright ugly.

I went to several meetings to observe people (and a lawyer) try and figure out how to halt or alter the development plans. To be fair, they had a solid legal footing for holding the developers and owners to a limited amount of construction. They remained deadlocked for months and months as both sides attended committee meetings and tried to sway the government to their side. This kind of bureaucracy is kind of fun when you are on the inside but watching from the outside is mind-numbingly boring. Especially when you can see the benefit to both sides. It is like watching horse racing when you do not have a bet in. I even attended a somewhat secret anti-developer meeting to see what was up.

The latest event changed everything. There are two stone houses that I used to walk by when I took daily walks before I returned to the gym. They are on the way to my polling place down the street. They always looked ancient and were probably there since at least the 1800s. However, they also looked like crap. They were overgrown with plants and neither had been in use for anything for quite some time. They were just houses to me.  They were probably used before the mill burned down as housing or storage for something. Just after I left for work the other day, bulldozers came and plowed them both to rubble. This was way before anything had been agreed to. Cue the pitchforks and torches.

The local residents leaped into action and contacted our local city council member. By the time the council member got there, the buildings were completely destroyed. Still, he got a stop work order put on the site and the resident’s ire turned toward the developers. The first to falter were the architects of the new development. They disavowed the action, claimed ignorance of the plan, and announced that they had resigned from the project. The developers, feeling the heat, did the same and announced that they were done with the project leaving the owners standing alone. Now, the owners will probably sell the property and the whole process will start again. And they wonder why nothing ever gets built in Baltimore.

The Tailors

May 25, 2019

When Lyda Penrose laid her hand on the boy’s head and cast Greater Restoration, she had expected the prince’s eyes to clear and maybe she would get a bewildered smile. Instead, as divinity channeled through her, the Prince’s flesh sizzled and his eyes went bright orange. Apparently, there was no disease in him to cure. The problem was much worse than that. At that point, the devil in the boy revealed itself and the rest was hellfire, blood, and chaos. In the melee, Cinda Karpon, Caleb Wolfspell, and Jo Penrose were lost, possibly caught or killed. Lyda, Maeve Penrose, and Ratha had made it out of the palace but only because Ratha had picked up the two sisters and run with them. The three of them found a cave to hide in as they caught their breaths.

“We have to go back for them!” Ratha yelled.

“We know,” Maeve said quietly. “But we need a plan.”

“We just can’t leave them back there!” Ratha yelled. “We’re the Tailors!” The rage that powered her looked like it was just about to explode again. She was dangerously close to losing control in a small, enclosed space.

“We know!” Lyda yelled, a rather uncharacteristic move for the young cleric. “Our sister is up there. Our friends are up there. We know.”

Maeve put her hand on Lyda’s shoulder gently. “Lyda’s right,” she said. “We need a plan. If you calm down, I think I might have one.” Both sisters watched as Ratha slowly calmed down, releasing that spirit of rage into the air.

“You really have a plan?” Lyda asked, turning back toward her older sister. She had remained cloistered in a temple for years but she had always thought of her older sisters and how much she looked up to them. Even when she found out one of them was a thief, she was still proud.

“Your surprise wounds me, sister,” Maeve said with a mock offended look. “I cased the palace.”

“You cased the palace?” Ratha asked.

“Yes,” Maeve said. “I case every building before we enter it if I can manage it. It’s purely for tactical purposes, of course.”

“I would never suspect wicked intentions, sister,” Lyda said. “You promised to reform for our little group. For the good of the realm.”

“My criminal days are behind me,” Maeve said, holding her hand up as a mimicry of the oath she had solemnly given her sisters a year earlier. “I only use my powers for good now. It’s your influence, naturally.”

“So what’s the plan?” Ratha asked, interrupting verbally and physically with her tall imposing form. She was getting excited again and that made the sisters a little nervous.

Lyda took a deep breath and held up a calming hand. “Relax and save your strength, Ratha,” she said. “If my studies have taught me anything, it has taught me that devils do not kill people outright. Devils like to corrupt if they can and only kill if they fail. If somebody is still useful, there is no wisdom in killing them.”

“And our friends can hang tough,” Maeve said. “I believe in them. We’ll drive the devils out and save our friends but we will do it together. To do that, we’ll need your rage focused for my plan to work.”

“Um,” Ratha said. “Of course but what do you need me to do?” She looked at Maeve with childlike wonder and it suddenly hit the sisters once again how young the huge woman was.

“When we reach the end of the tunnel, I need you to plow through whoever or whatever is in our way,” Maeve said. “We’ll back you up. If we can get to our friends, we will have a fighting chance. Who knows what else will be imprisoned, maybe some potential allies.”

“I can do that,” Ratha said. “I swear it.”

All three of them nodded. The question about what to do if their friends were already dead or turned was left unsaid. They could not afford to think about it much less voice it. They had been together as adventurers for a year and they were more of a family now. The three Penrose sisters had grown up together, grown apart, and then had come back together to save their hometown. Now, they were stronger than they had ever been before and they were not about to give up on each other now.

The three of them slowly climbed their way around the steep cliffs that surrounded the palace. They made their way to an ancient passage around the back of the palace walls that had been built in Elven times and long forgotten. There were five complicated locks for Maeve to pick but her training under The Scythe had prepared her for these sorts of moments. After a long tense time, she tripped the locks and Ratha yanked the doors open and they climbed in, grateful to be away from the cliffs and the ravine below. They made their way down the tunnel and as they reached the end of it, Ratha summoned the Stormlord’s spirit of rage once again and charged forward.

Media Update 5/23/19

May 23, 2019


Tuca and Bertie

I was a big fan of Bojack Horseman when it came out but it did take a little while to get into. Bojack is definitely darker and usually takes a more depressing turn. This show is from one of the creative forces behind Bojack, Lisa Hanawalt, but now she gets to get her own show. This show is similar to Bojack but it has more of a joyful energy. It stars Tiffany Haddish as courageous, loud, yet unfocused Toucan Tuca. The other star is Ali Wong as the intelligent, creative, yet anxious Songthrush Bertie. Bertie lives with her boyfriend, the nerdy Speckle the Robin played by Steven Yeun. They all live in the same apartment building in a world where anthropomorphic birds live. It is a much cartoonier world than Bojack’s satire of Hollywood and often kind of feels like an acid trip. But it also approaches real-life anxieties and situations but this time with a more feminine message. Haddish and Wong work so well together, their chemistry is on another level. The characters are such perfect foils for each other. Tuca needs Bertie to rein her in and Bertie needs Tuca to coax her out of her shell. The show is so funny and so real that I am definitely hooked on it. I look forward to each episode, where with Bojack I kind of dreaded it even though it was so good. It has such happier energy. I definitely recommend it.


Wine Country

This movie was born out of a friend group to Wine Country out in Napa. Normally, that would be uneventful but the friend group was made up of ex-Saturday Night Live castmembers and writers. Amy Poehler plays a Type A personality who has planned the weekend down to the last second. Rachel Dratch plays the friend who is turning 50 on the trip and is rethinking a lot of things. Ana Gasteyer plays a woman who is a food company executive who is stuck in work mode too much. Maya Rudolph is a woman who just wants to have fun because she is avoiding thinking about something. Paula Pell (a writer on SNL) is a woman who thinks of others more than herself. Emily Spivey (a writer on SNL, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and also this movie) is a writer who is just miserable in life. All of them come together on a disastrous weekend that threatens to destroy their friendship. They are all joined by characters played by Tina Fey and Jason Schwartzman. The movie gets fairly dark but it has a lot of great comedic writing and the stars are all seasoned comedians. By the end, I was really happy that I had watched it and there were definitely some good laughs to be had. I recommend it.


Dead to Me

This one is dark. This is a show about a two women who meet at a grief group and form an unlikely friendship, bonding over what they have lost. Christina Applegate plays a realtor who is righteously angry and depressed after her husband was killed by a hit and run driver. Linda Cardellini plays a goofy woman who works at an assisted living center and is dealing with her own stuff. The friendship blossoming between both women is really fun to watch and the chemistry between them is really great. Their dialogue is sharply written and feels like people I have known during hard times. There is a lot of gallows humor that helps carry the show forward while things are very dark. The show is a lot about grief so it is a pretty sad show as one might expect. The show also stars James Marsden as Cardellini’s ex-husband in a very tricky situation. Under it all there is a mystery that I think I have solved but I am interested to see if I am right. I will probably continue watching this in small doses as it is pretty heavy. I recommend it as well.

Music of the Week:
Iggy Azalea – Sally Walker

The Browning – Optophobia

Ezra Collective – What Am I To Do?

Jade Bird – I Get No Joy

Ariel Posen – Angeline

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Gal Pals”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Losers
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3

 

 

The Confidence of a Child

May 20, 2019

I almost completely forgot to talk about this story because Mother’s Day was a long (but good day). For Mother’s Day, I went with my mom to the Orioles game because we are both diehard fans. We are also not fairweather fans as it was pouring rain when we went down there. This was actually the second Sunday in a row that we tried to go to an Orioles game. The Sunday before, we tried to go to the game and it was also pouring down rain. Spring in Baltimore where it only rains when you want to be outside (and all the time). We waited under cover for an hour eating barbecue sandwiches from Boog’s and then they announced that the game was canceled and we were ushered out. We ended up eating nachos at Dempsey’s and just had a chill and chilly day.

The next weekend, on Mother’s Day, my mother only asked for one thing and that was to try again. I was definitely game for it and neither of us got our hopes up. This time there was a two and a half game delay but we were happy to just sit and talk while the rain came down. We ate chicken tenders from Boardwalk Fries, a place that I had not been to in years and years. (Mostly because I have not been to a mall in forever). Mom gets cold easily so we moved around a lot, going from our seats to go browse stores. It was just a really chill time in one of the coolest places in Baltimore. Finally, the game started and we got to watch a game that the Orioles actually won. It felt like the kind of day that was meant to be. We ended the game back in Dempsey’s having some good food (with a really distracted server but we were in too good a mood to care).

But that was not the story I wanted to tell. While that in itself was a pleasant story, I had another one in mind when I started this. I tend to ramble sometimes. That was all backstory for one of the weirdest stories that has happened to me and luckily my mom was there to witness it. At one point in our day, we went to the Team Shop somewhere around home plate. The store is a little alcove where you can step in and buy Orioles merch. It feels like a Hudson News but all orange. They had run out of the largest size of the big orange blanket because it was cold and wet and everybody had the same idea except they had it before my mom. While we were waiting for them to restock, my mom and I were standing next to the wall of hats and chatting.

Out of the blue, I felt something hit me square in the back and then drag down my spine. It was a soft something. I turned around to see a little kid with a giant orange foam set of talons. A foam finger that actually looked cool. I was not mad since the little guy had not hurt me but when I turned around I expected his eyes to bug out as if he had mistaken me for his older brother or dad or something. Instead, he just stared at me like “What? Yeah, I scratched you with my claws.” Before Xanax, I would have been more weirded out and would probably have gotten angry as my anxiety levels raised. Instead, I was like “Whoa, little dude.” The kid just peered at me and then pointed at my hat. I was wearing a blue WYPR hat which I had gotten for donating to the local NPR affiliate that I had listened to for over two-thirds of my life.

So, the kid points at my hat and says “Didn’t they go out of business?” and I blink and tilt my head to show how confused I was. “No, I’m pretty sure they’re still going,” I said. My mom chimed in with “They’re a local NPR station, they still exist.” The kid furrows his brow and says “No, I’m pretty sure they went out of business.” I was absolutely floored by the confidence of a small child who was absolutely sure and stuck to his guns when challenged. I was a much meeker child and I would have backed down immediately. My mom counted with “You might be thinking of WJHU which did go out of business a while ago.” I looked at my mother and then the kid. Only later did I realize that WJHU went out of business well before the kid was born. I have no idea what the kid was thinking as he got bored and walked away. I still wonder about it but it is a mystery I will never solve. Still, I have to admire the kid’s chutzpah.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 8

May 18, 2019

29 – Favorite NXT Entrance


Velveteen Dream

I have to choose Velveteen Dream here mostly because his entrance is pretty much different every time he enters anywhere. When he first showed up on the NXT scene, he was just a scrappy young guy who seemed to really like Prince but it was clear that his personality was ten times bigger than he was. Over time, his power seemed to accumulate and grow. He seemed to gain power over any arena’s lighting and sound by sheer force of charisma. He has used this to accentuate his appearances in ingenious ways. He has also used it to the detriment of his opponents. He was able to turn off a spotlight on Matt Riddle and move it to himself during a promo. During a series of taped promos for a five-way match, he countered Aleister Black’s fading the screen to black by snapping his fingers and making it bright purple instead. He is constantly thinking of controversial costumes to wear to the ring in order to draw deserved attention. He has dressed as performers from the past and has also worn clothes specifically to mock his opponents. He currently often has big muscled men carry him out on a couch to the stage, a couch which is also draped with beautiful women. You can watch his big, patriotic entrance from TakeOver: New York above for probably his biggest and best entrance yet.


Aleister Black

Kind of a cheat seeing as how Aleister Black is now on the main roster but I could not resist. The Halloween fan in me loves Black because of his inscrutable occult atmosphere and the martial arts and anime fan in me loves the way he moves. Black’s entrance is similar to the Undertaker’s entrance without going over the top with it. When I first saw the epic vampire sit up move, I lost my mind for a bit. It is easy to see how the trick is done but it still looks really badass. He also often has dozens of lit candles surrounding the stage for big matches which gives a really cool ambiance. Throw in some dry ice and you have a spooky entrance that also rocks because of his epic theme music. Also, at some point when they show his name up on the big screen, it is at first written in a font that reminds me of Enochian before it morphs into English. As the metal music pounds through the arena, he keeps his cool and stares with intensity at his opponent and readies himself for absolute carnage.

30 – Favorite NXT Entrance Music


Keith Lee – “Limitless”

I am a big fan of wrestlers who perform their own ring themes whether they are good or bad. Keith Lee made a name for himself by being nerdy, big, and quick. The rapping here is great along with the chorus of singers exhorting us to “Bask In His Glory”. It immediately tells you what Keith Lee is about. He thinks highly of himself but he definitely deserves to. He also shows how fun he is through wordplay and vocabulary. I have this song on rotation as one of my alarms to wake up to because it is just so fun. It is also a lot of fun to sing along to and the production value makes me have hope for how much they are going to invest in this obvious superstar.  He has been away for some time but I cannot wait to hear this theme ring out on NXT television again.


The Undisputed Era – “Undisputed”

When Adam Cole burst on the scene and recruited Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly to form the Undisputed Era, they needed a kickass theme to show they meant business. It starts with their initial mission statement which was their desire to “Shock the System” and take the place over. The slow grind of the guitar really sells the swaggering arrogance of the team and their usual smug and slow entrance. They take their time coming to the ring and this song is great for that without being boring. The guitars also allow Kyle O’Reilly to air guitar using his title belt (when he has one). A lot of people were not sold on the weird vocals throughout the song but the team really sold them by adding gestures in their entrance to accentuate them and give the song and themselves more character. Adam Cole’s smug smile as he points to himself on the “Boom” just immediately says so much about his character. They are fun assholes and this song definitely helps show that.

Media Update 5/16/19

May 16, 2019


The Dark Crystal

This is one of those movies that I felt like I had seen but as soon as it started rolling, I knew that I had not. This is a shame as I am a huge fan of both Jim Henson and Frank Oz. However, while the concept was created by Jim Henson, a lot of credit also goes to Brian Froud and David Odell. From what I have read, Henson and his wife came up with the story while snowed in an airport hotel. He brought that to Odell who was able to put it all into a screenplay. Meanwhile, Henson had fed his early concepts to Froud who acted as the designer for the movie. Everything in the world of the movie sprung from the conceptual drawings of Froud. His visionary artwork created unique characters and a wonderful new world. The story is about two young creatures called Gelflings who must prevent the Skeksis from conquering and possibly destroying the world. The work he did here is what he would later do with Labyrinth. The difference here, in my opinion, is that this is a simpler and more beautiful story. This is a complete world of fantasy with no humans in a world foreign to us. It is a world of two people adopted into different cultures, using their different learned skills to save the day. I definitely recommend it unless I am the last person alive who had not seen the movie.


The Lego Movie Part 2

When the first Lego Movie came out, nobody expected it to be any good. It sounded like a cheap movie created to cash in on something most of us were nostalgic about. When the movie actually came out, it surprised a lot of us. It definitely surprised me in that it was so good and original and yet did reference a lot of things that I grew up loving. This movie continues in that vein, allowing the characters to grow a bit and explore their world more. This time equal time is given to both Lucy (played by Elizabeth Banks) and Emmet (played by Chris Pratt). Since the two are separated, they are allowed to be the heroes of their separate (yet intertwined) stories. Their story is about how sometimes we should change but also sometimes we should not lose the good parts of ourselves. Will Arnett is back as Batman, a minor but hilarious part. Alison Brie, Charlie Day, and Nick Offerman all return with smaller roles but just as funny as the first one. We get the new appearance of Stephanie Beatriz who adds a lot of dry humor to the movie. What really makes this movie feel new, though is the addition of Tiffany Haddish who infuses the movie with a different vibe which is important to the story. It also has more upbeat pop songs. I definitely recommend this one too.


Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

I remember reading the Goosebumps books when they first came out as they were all the rage at one point. That is part of the reason why I watched the first Goosebumps movie because it looked like a nostalgic walk through the world of the book series. It definitely was and I liked it a lot mostly because of Jack Black’s performance as Slappy the Dummy and RL Stine himself. They created a world where all of the books could exist in our world by literally bringing all of the old books alive. This movie instead more or less pulled the characters into a Goosebumps book. This movie actually felt more focused than the first film because it more or less had a central villain. It felt more like the Goosebumps books that I read long ago. Instead of following Jack Black, it followed a new cast of kids who had to combat Halloween itself. I am also kind of a sucker for stories where Halloween magically becomes real. Mick Wingert takes over as Slappy and, if you do not recognize the name, he is famous for taking over for Jack Black as he also took over the role of Ping from Kung Fu Panda. The movie stars Madison Iseman as the older sister who stands up for her little brother and the whole town. Jeremy Ray Taylor is the little brother (who also appeared in IT Part 1). Finally, there’s the fast-talking friend played by Caleel Harris. There are also great small roles from Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell and a cameo from Jack Black which connects this movie with the first one. Besides being more focused, I felt like this movie was creepier than the first one. It definitely had some creepy moments that stuck with me while still keeping things fairly light and family friendly. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Vic Mensa – Rollin’ Like A Stoner

Bebe Rexha – Last Hurrah

FLETCHER – Undrunk

Hunt the Dinosaur – Destructo

Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Nostalgia”
– I finished Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Doctor Who Season 10
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Losers

Interview Questions 18

May 13, 2019


Pick a superpower: Flight or Invisibility?

This question was recently asked in the movie Shazam. Basically, I have read that it is an indicator of whether somebody wants to be in the background or in the spotlight. I can see why that is but I feel like the question is flawed. I often prefer to be in a support role and therefore in the background. Every job I have ever had has put me safely in that role while allowing me to stand out when I want to stand out. Invisibility would offer a guaranteed shot at that kind of thing but physically. I could appear and disappear at will and choose when people see me. That would be great but I cannot think of many uses for it. Now that I am no longer in theater, I have no reason to sneak around. I do not wish to use a superpower for crime either. Flight, on the other hand, would allow me to travel faster than walking or even driving. That seems of more use to me. I could lower my carbon footprint and travel would not be as much of an issue anymore. However, if we are talking about crimefighting, I would choose invisibility. It would allow me to catch criminals unawares and hide my face so that nobody could figure out my identity.


Batman vs. Spiderman: Who Would Win?

I have been a fan of both of these heroes since I was little so it is hard to choose between them on the basis of popularity. Interestingly enough, both characters’ paths to becoming heroes started with the death of a loved one. Batman went on a long journey around the world, training from masters on how to be good at basically everything. He learned martial arts, escapism, and how to be a brilliant detective among other things. Spider-Man was a young high school kid who got bitten by a radioactive spider and he gained superpowers. Spidey had to learn a lot of skills on the job and slowly cobbled together the skills to save the day. Over the years, both got really good at being superheroes. Initially, I thought that Spidey would win. He has a scientific mind and has super strength and agility. Basically, his trump card in a fight like this is his spider-sense which is basically a warning signal that goes off in his head that alerts him to imminent danger. I thought that would be the deal breaker but Batman has a history of creating plans that account for everything. He would simply set off that alert over and over in several fake-outs until Spidey did not know which way was up. Either that or he would come up with something that jammed spider-sense and take Spidey out when he was clueless. In any version of the characters, Batman has the edge on experience and forethought. Spidey usually relies on having fast reflexes but acting often beats reacting.


If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

This is actually a difficult question because the question is left vague when it comes to the rules. If I could bring a laptop and a device for an Internet connection, I would definitely bring that. I could still connect to the world and I could easily do research while writing. Though, that probably is not within the intended purpose of the question. Besides, the Internet connection would probably end up being more than one item. Also, there’s the whole power issue for the laptop. Unless it’s all magical. But, if we are bringing magic into the equation, I would simply bring a portal back to my house in Baltimore and a magic wand capable of telekinesis. That way I would have an island getaway and the wand would help me build a structure. Again, this does not seem to be the intention of the question. The real-life answer ends up being a bit boring but practical. I would bring a pencil and a ream of paper. I would write and write until the pencil ran out and then I would hope to burn some wood for charcoal and write some more. Boring yes but I can entertain myself for hours through writing and dreaming. The rest of the time on the island would be spent building a structure the old-fashioned way.

Speak to the Dead

May 11, 2019

Kerel waved her hand over the dead man’s face and gripped her holy symbol tight and focused her thoughts on a simple prayer. Her prayer to Asherah had no words but instead was more of a feeling, a feeling of certainty and faith that was always deep inside of her. She closed her eyes without realizing and when she opened them, the dead man’s jaw cracked and shifted and something resembling life entered the man’s eyes and he almost seemed to glare at Kerel. It coughed hard and dust and other things came up as their throat cleared. She blinked and then backed off a bit and tried to offer a smile.

“Sorry for you waking you, sir,” she said. “We just have a few questions.”

The corpse looked around, its eyeballs hesitating slightly in their sockets as if to ask who ‘we’ was.

“Oh,” she said. “They’re in the other room. They think this is creepy.” Sabin was a fighter and he was really only comfortable with what he could control at the point of his sword. Kobal was enigmatic and he claimed that he would merely distract from the experience. Carissa had disappeared as soon as they had arrived in the village. Kerel hoped she was behaving herself.

The corpse stared at her blankly as if it was already completely bored. Kerel took a deep breath so that she did not rush things.

“They’re not wrong,” Kerel said. “I never really liked this ability. Father Harun always insisted that it was very useful. It is but it never gets more comfortable.”

The corpse continued to stare blankly.

“Anyway,” she said. “Let’s begin. Who or what killed you?”

She studied the corpse’s face. The young boy was largely untouched by wounds and that is why the four of them had been summoned to this village to assist. The corpse seemed to think about that for a moment. Kerel knew from experience that the dead found it difficult to access their memories of life. It probably had to do with the barrier between life and death. She had to remember that this was not the young man who had died, this was an avatar used to briefly connect with his soul in the afterlife. This was not necromancy, it was just necromancy-adjacent.

“It was the Witch of the Woods,” the corpse said. “A magic spell stopped my heart.”

Kerel frowned. That did not sound good at all. Her parents had always been distrustful of magic-users so her experience until recently had been minimal. Witches were often more unpredictable than wizards. Witches were often wild and lawless. At least, that is what mother always used to say.

“Who is the Witch of the Woods?” Kerel asked.

The corpse hesitated less this time. Its momentum was starting to pick up. “She is known,” he said. “The Witch of the Woods has been there since as long as we can remember.”

“Hmm,” Kerel said. She wondered if that meant that the Witch was an elf or something else long-lived. Hopefully, the Witch of the Woods was not immortal. “Why did she kill you?”

“She has my sister, Laessica,” the corpse said. “I was trying to rescue her.”

Kerel gasped. “She has your sister?!” She yelled and then immediately cursed. She only had five questions and she had just blown one.

“Yes,” the corpse said without hesitation. Kerel could not be sure but it seemed to have an almost mocking tone. It was probably her imagination. She took a deep breath.

“Where is the Witch of the Woods?” Kerel asked.

“In a dark cave beneath the Blackened Woods in the forest north of the village,” the corpse said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kerel asked.

The corpse was silent, its eyes starting to cloud over. Kerel sighed.

“Five questions asked, five questions answered. I send you back to your rest and thank you for your time,” Kerel said. She let go of her holy symbol and the corpse was no longer animated. She took a beat and then walked back outside into the open air of the village. She immediately felt many eyes upon her. Eyes filled with hope and curiosity. Many of them were citizens of the village, trying not to appear like they were watching. Thankfully, she had managed their expectations by letting them know she could not resurrect the boy. It was still early days on her path.

“So,” Sabin said, sheathing his sword. “Did you get the information?”

“I really wish you would accompany me on these sessions,” Kerel said. “It was lonely in there.”

Sabin shuddered. “No thank you,” he said. “Such things are beyond me.”

Kobal stood from where he had been sitting on the porch. “It is easier for you to focus when you are alone,” he said. “Many feet disturb the puddle and the reflection is no longer clear.”

There was a beat. “What?” She asked, her face scrunched in confusion.

“Never mind that,” Sabin said. “What did you find out?”

“Well,” she said. “He was killed by the magic of a Witch of the Woods. She kidnapped his sister so she’s still out there. She might be immortal?”

“That’s just great,” Sabin said. “We’ll let her taste my blade and test that rumor.”

“First we need a little more information,” Kerel said. “We need to ask about the Blackened Wood.”

“I know where it is,” Carissa said from up on the roof of the cottage. “Follow me.”

Media Update 5/8/2019

May 9, 2019


Fighting With My Family

I am a huge fan of the WWE (through good times and bad) but WWE Films has been fairly hit and miss. This is the kind of movie that was absolutely in their wheelhouse. It is a docudrama on the WWE career of Paige (real name Saraya-Jade Bevis) who was part of the Knight pro-wrestling family in England. The company had access to Paige herself and a lot of the players involved in her career because most of them are employees and ex-employees. Paige helped change the way women are viewed in wrestling by becoming the Anti-Diva and this is more or less her real-life story. The story is absolutely great, filled with humor and heart. Florence Pugh is perfect as Paige, capturing her passion and sense of humor. Nick Frost plays her father and is funny as usual but he also plays a good man with rough edges. Lena Heady plays Paige’s mother, a professional wrestler who is proud of her daughter’s meteoric rise. Jack Lowden plays Zak, Paige’s goofy brother who also tried out for the WWE but did not make it in but was always supportive of his little sister. The Rock plays himself, offering some of the best advice in or out of wrestling “Don’t be the next me, be the first you.” I knew a bit of her story but it was really interesting to see it played out dramatically. Part of that is that it was written and directed by Stephen Merchant, the creator of the Office. It is probably the best pro-wrestling movie made so far. I definitely recommend it, even to non-wrestling fans.


Shazam!

The DC Comics movies lately have been so bad that they had to basically rethink everything. They seem to have finally given up on attempting a shared universe like the MCU which is a relief. They are going back to the drawing board to make better standalone movies. I felt like this was the best DC film in a long time (maybe 11 years). Shazam was the perfect property to start this shift with as it has always been very cartoony and goofy, to begin with. The movie starts a little grim but eventually (like Wizard of Oz) suddenly there is color and humor and fun. First, Mark Strong is a great choice to play Sivana, an obsessed villain who gets to play the straight man to a lot of the zaniness. Zachary Levi and Asher Angel play the title character. I found it really fun that Angel played a world-weary teenager while Levi got to act more like a kid. The supporting cast of Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, and Jovan Armand gave the movie more heart and grounded the hero in ways that we have not really seen with DC yet. The movie also surprised me a lot but in the best ways. DC needs more movies like this and Wonder Woman, stories that make sense and grow organically from character. The effects were also great and the cinematography was clear and not as muddy as past films. I definitely recommend it.


Stargate: Atlantis

I was a big fan of Stargate since the movie came out. When I found out about the television series, I was intrigued but it took me a while to check it out. When I did, I found that I really loved it. It had a lot of heart, great characters, and good stories. It scratched the same itches that my favorite Star Trek series touched. When it finally ended after so many but still too few seasons, I was sad. I watched (and loved) Sanctuary because of Amanda Tapping’s involvement. Stargate Atlantis had already come and gone when I finished Stargate SG-1 and I had no way to catch up with it. So I was hit by Stargate Universe instead and that was disappointing. Recently, Amazon Prime had Atlantis so I decided to check it out. The series takes an all-new cast (some of which were regular guest stars from SG-1). The show felt like an extension of the SG-1 series but with room to grow away from that main series and explore a few different but similar concepts. The cast is really good at what they do which is episodic science fiction. Unfortunately, I only got a few episodes into the first season before Amazon Prime yanked the show for some reason. I definitely recommend it if you can find it and if you can, let me know.

Music of the Week:
Stitched Up Heart – Lost

G-Eazy – I Mean It

Courtney Barnett – Everybody Here Hates You

Lizzo – Tempo

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Blood And Rockets: Movement I

Weekly Update:
– This week’s update is “Into a New World”
– I finished Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3
– I watched more Losers
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I started Supernatural Season 14 (and I’m halfway through already)
– I started Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3


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