Archive for August, 2019

Media Update 8/8/19

August 8, 2019


Hobbs and Shaw

I have been a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies ever since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was added to the mix in Fast Five. This is also when they seemed to find their formula of an ensemble movie with comedy, crazy action, and a little bit of drama. Recently, they decided to separate The Rock’s character Luke Hobbs off into his own attached franchise. Luke Hobbs is part of the Diplomatic Secret Service which is basically being an International cop. In this new franchise, he is forced to team up with disgraced British military man Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who became a mercenary. Both are tapped by the CIA to stop a bioterrorism plot. They are up against Idris Elba and team up with Vanessa Kirby. They do a really good job of separating the movie from the Fast and Furious franchise. While many of the events and character backgrounds draw from events in Fast 6, 7, and 8, they do not require you to know all of that. They highlight the important parts and provide new information to flesh these characters out. Part of that is infusing Luke Hobbs with Dwayne Johnson’s real-life Samoan heritage. The real draw of this movie is the unforgettable chemistry between Statham, Rock, and Vanessa Kirby and the incredible action scenes. There are also a couple great surprise cameos but personally, nothing tops Roman Reigns getting a moment in the spotlight. I definitely recommend this one and I cannot wait for the next one.


African Queen

I was way past due to watch this movie but sometimes it just takes a while to watch the classics. This movie is entirely filmed in Africa and set in Africa during the first World War. The star of the movie is Katharine Hepburn who is a British missionary in Uganda when Germany attacks, mobilizing resources and soldiers in their African territories against other European forces.  She is forced to flee with a Canadian steamboat driver, played by Humphrey Bogart, as they try to make it down river to meet up with British forces in the Belgian Congo. There are other people in the movie but what really matters is that ninety percent of the movie is the Hepburn and Bogart alone on a boat going down the river. A proper English gentlewoman and a roughneck smuggler who slowly get to know each other and change their lives for the better. The two must face off against not only the Germans but the elements, the local wildlife, and their own madness at different times. This could have been a really lowkey and depressing movie but they keep things light and fun. This makes sense as this movie was the inspiration for Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride.  It was also directed by the legendary John Huston. I definitely recommend it as an essential classic.


Split Second

I was searching for something else to watch this week and I stumbled upon this movie for free on Amazon Prime. With the recent passing of Rutger Hauer, I was in the mood for a crappy genre film. The movie is set in 2008 (which was the future then) in a London that is suffering from the effects of global warming. Much of the city is flooded and even passable roads have at least six inches of water. It makes for a messy, miserable city and probably still a possible future for London and other coastal cities. Rutger Hauer stars as a cop obsessed with tracking a serial killer that killed his partner ten years prior. He is a miserable bastard and has zero friends on the force and would always be extremely close to getting fired if he was not ‘the best’. He is partnered with Alistair Duncan, a bookish and intellectual detective who is a serial killer expert. The two begin the hunt for the serial killer anew by combining Hauer’s honed instincts with Duncan’s intelligence. The movie also stars Kim Catrall as the love interest of Rutger Hauer/Widow of his partner. Sometimes it is fun to watch a movie this cliched. It is like a science fiction film noir combo that really feels good. Rutger Hauer makes the film with his gruff charm. I recommend it. (Fun fact: This movie was written by the same guy who wrote the Fast and the Furious in 2001)

Music of the Week:
Brittany Howard – Stay High

Lizzo – Tempo

Bring Me The Horizon – sugar honey ice & tea

YUNGBLUD – Kill Somebody

The Highwomen – Redesigning Women

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Unexpected Pairings”
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more Defunctland and Yesterworld
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 3
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I finished Supernatural Season 14
– I finished The Flash Season 5

Snow White’s (Scary) Adventures

August 5, 2019

Recently, I have been watching shows like Defunctland and Yesterworld and I am starting to branch out from there to like-minded shows. All of these shows delve into the history of theme parks and their rides and attractions. They mostly explore those attractions that have been removed from theme parks. As I explained in my review of Defunctland, they explore things through business decisions, tactical decisions, and creative decisions. All of these decisions effect each other, obviously. It has been endlessly fascinating and has inspired me a lot in my own creative choices. However, it has also served another purpose. It has let me know in great detail that my memory was correct when I was scared by rides.

I have spoken before on a particular nemesis of mine when I was a little child but let us set the scene a little more. There was a time before my brothers when I spent a lot more time taking joint vacations with my mom, my uncle, and my cousin, Brantley. Brantley is the oldest of the cousins on my mom’s side and over time she became a sort of leader when there were eventually six of us. Early on, there were just the two of us though and she and I were fast friends. I remember in particular a visit to New York City together and a visit to Walt Disney World. The visit to the Magic Kingdom (aka the real happiest place on Earth) had a lasting effect on me even though I cannot remember a lot of it now.

Disney parks are an experience as many of the good theme parks are. When you enter, you are entering another world, a self-contained city of pure entertainment. There is so much to do that you could spend a week there and not finish doing absolutely everything. It has always been this other world that I have been interested in and not exactly the actual thrill rides. I do not remember riding Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or any of the particularly big rides. I know we went on some of the more sedate rides for sure. I vividly remember It’s A Small World and I am strangely not very annoyed by the song now because I was inoculated to it young. I think I almost remember going on the Jungle Cruise which seems like it would be a fun time. Journey Into Imagination is an attraction that has really stuck with me. I remember going on Pirates of the Carribean and getting scared while in line but once the ride started, I was enamored by the fun scenes unfolding in front of me.

When Disney created the Fantasyland section of the park, they wanted to adapt their movies based on popular fairytales. That is why the icons of Disneyland and Disney World are both storybook castles (Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella respectively). They ended up creating a bunch of rides based on Disney animated movies where the riders took the place of the main character of the movie. (Which ended up flooding the park with complaints). When I visited in the early nineties, one of those rides is the focus of this post: Snow White’s Adventure. While on the trip, at some point my mother and my uncle went off to do something. In order to occupy we children, we were put on one of the dark rides. How scary could Snow White be? Well, there is a reason why they changed the name of the ride to The Scary Adventures of Snow White in 1994.

The ride would not be so bad if they had simply followed the movie. Instead, they made it into a straight horror movie. Instead of only showing up once, the Wicked Witch (the Evil Queen in disguise) shows up tons of times. Her animatronic jumps out at the riders over and over, cackling with murderous glee. Among other things, she tries to offer the riders the iconic poison apple, tries to ram them with a minecart, tries to attack them head-on, and finally tries to smash them with a giant boulder. She is more like Wile E. Coyote than the sneaky witch she is in the movie. My little heart could not take it. The relentless witch and the ominous darkness of the ride sent me into full-on panic mode. I ended up covering my eyes and crouching down into the vehicle to make myself as small as possible. If I had even thought of coming back up for air, I swear I heard the witch cackle and call out “Don’t Cover Your Eyes, Sweetie!”

I swear that last part happened even though I cannot find it anywhere on the Internet. In fact, the first results in google are my own blog from a previous claim I made. Still, I have irrefutable and well-researched evidence that proves that the ride was scary. Many people have backed up those words and I have now seen plenty of footage. The witch was relentless and hilariously and needlessly aggressive. I look back and laugh now but I was pee-my-pants scared during that ride. I really believe that it was one of the formative moments that led to me being a fan of the Horror genre. Which is not to say that I was scarred by the experience but maybe somewhat inspired.

I do not blame the Imagineers who made the ride for making it scary. In fact, that was kind of a theme in Fantasyland. The rides there were scarier than the Haunted Mansion ever was. Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Flight were originally also pretty scary. It is alright to scare children a bit. A little darkness shows them about the world in a safe way. I also don’t blame my mother as she had no idea and was there to hug me afterward and assure me that it was going to be alright. I was in the sunshine and everything was safe. At least, safe from the Evil Queen and all the imaginary horrors that would become an obsession later in life.

The Cave Witch

August 3, 2019

In the morning, the town would burn the swamp witch. She was accused of poisoning the crops outside of town and leading several youths astray through her potions. Nobody knew quite who the witch was. Everybody else in the town of Canterstone had been born within town limits and had grown up there. Like many small towns, the citizens’ reaction to outsiders ranged from curiosity to distrust. Those tides could also change quickly and when magic was involved. The witch had just appeared one day on the outskirts of town in the woods. Nobody was quite sure when she had actually moved into the cave as a hunter had spotted odd smoke coming out of it one day and that was that. She had arrived, evicting an old bear, and set up a home and shop far from prying eyes.

Little by little, some of the townspeople came to timidly visit her cave. Some were merely curious and wanted to catch a glimpse of the witch. Others came to browse here wares and see what a witch could give them for a little coin. She had not been very interested in coin but seemed to be more interested in offering services for barter. While this was not unheard of in a small village, it was a bit peculiar for what was technically a shop. Local law enforcement also visited the little cave and shouted questions from the safety of the mouth. The answers they received were sometimes straightforward and sometimes less so. She claimed to offer only peace but her status as a mystery made people nervous. Children were told to stay away and they disobeyed as children are wont to do.

Then things had gone all wrong and the peace was broken. Some crops had withered unexpectedly, threatening the town’s food supply. So close to harvest was not the time to lose crops like that. The village had grumbled about it but the local druids had moved on and could not be called on to investigate. Suspicions grew as the farmers did not want to admit that they might have failed and ruined a bit of the harvest. After that, a few of the young people were found to be goofing off instead of doing their work for their families. The timing was off as people were already looking for an excuse. One of the wayward teens blurted out something about the witch in the cave and that was it. This outsider had turned against the town and it had to be stopped. They took her captive while she slept and then she was doomed.

They had tied her to a pole in the middle of the town and left her there. In the morning, they would pile firewood and kindling around her and send her to the Hells. She slumped against the pole bound and gagged and sadly resigned to her fate. She had no tricks to pull to get out of her punishment. Gavin Flintshade’s mind would not settle and sleep would not come so, while everyone else slept, he stepped out to watch the witch.

“I wish I could know whether you were guilty or not,” Gavin said.

The witch said nothing, being gagged. It was hard to gauge her expression as she was absolutely encrusted with dried mud and bits of grass and her long hair covered a lot. However, her eyes said enough. Her glare was at the same time angry and pitying.

“I don’t suppose I could ungag you?” Gavin asked. “Would you promise me no tricks?”

The witch seemed to consider this. After they had stared at each other for some time, the witch nodded. Gavin thought he must be crazy or bespelled for even thinking of doing it but he walked up and ungagged her. She spat from the taste of the dirty cloth that had been her mouth but otherwise made no moves.

“My name is Gavin Flintshade,” Gavin said.

“My name is Rina,” the witch said.

Gavin waited for her to finish before he spoke. “Just Rina?” he asked.

“I am only Rina now,” Rina said.

“You don’t seem too dangerous to me, Rina,” Gavin said.

Rina smiled, the mud cracking at the corners of her mouth as if it was a foreign expression for her. “Looks are almost always deceiving,” she said. “But I never meant any harm to this town or its people. I wished only to live in peace.”

“How many years have you lived out there?” Gavin asked.

“Many,” Rina said. “Many without incident.”

“Exactly,” Gavin said. “That’s what troubles me. That’s what makes me think the people here have rushed to judgment.”

Rina paused and thought of what to say next. “In the cities, they would have had some sort of trial,” she said at last.

“We’re not equipped for that here,” Gavin said. “and I don’t think anyone’s inclined to hear you out.”

“I beg to differ,” Rina said. “You are listening.”

“I’m just one person,” Gavin said.

“We are all just one person,” Rina said.

There was a long pause after that and then there was a crack of thunder and it began to rain. Gavin and Rina looked around at all the houses but nobody stirred or made a move to protect the witch from the rain. She was only going to burn in the morning, anyway. Gavin stood there struggling with his own conscience but as he watched, a transformation began to happen. The rain started to wash the mud from Rina and Gavin was not prepared for what he saw. The palest white skin came into view as the mud fell away. Her hair was revealed as a wig made of some sort of woven grass. This was no human. This was not even an elf. It was nothing Gavin had ever seen before.

“What are you?” Gavin asked, his eyes wide.

“You have never seen one such as me,” Rina said. “I am Drow.”

Gavin gasped. “I thought your kind was a myth,” he said. “Aren’t you supposed to have black skin?”

Rina shrugged. “We had jet black skin soon after creation but ages of life underground away somehow changed our skin,” she said.

“And all the vicious rumors about your kind?” Gavin asked. “Are any of them true.”

“I can only imagine what the humans and elves and other races have invented,” Rina said. “However, most of my kind are still bitter against the races of the surface. However, there are many like me who escaped to the surface for a more peaceful life.”

“And then it all got ruined,” Gavin said. “By my kind.”

“It seems so,” Rina said.

There was another long silence and then Gavin stepped forward and moved to cut the ropes restraining Rina.

“What are you doing?” Rina asked. “Don’t.”

Gavin looked up in surprise. “This is not fair,” he said. “I can’t let this happen.”

Rina shook her head and spoke some arcane words and disappeared and reappeared on the ground, the ropes going slack without her form to hold them in place. “It would be incriminating if they found the ropes cut,” she said. “Go back to bed, Gavin Flintshade. I will depart in peace.”

“Good luck,” Gavin said and backed away to go back to his house.

“Goodbye,” Rina said and disappeared into the night.

Media Update 8/1/19

August 1, 2019


Support Group for Men

When I saw this title, the ridiculous concept of Men’s Rights groups flashed into my head but I knew that a festival like this would not do something like that (unless maybe it was satire). Instead, this is about a group of guys who meet regularly to talk about their problems and their thoughts. They are comfortable with each other and things can get a bit deep and they try to be there to support each other. An unexpected visitor interrupts the meeting and changes it, sending all of the guys in different trajectories. The play examines masculinity, how we treat others, and how we treat each ourselves. The show was so good about putting a lot of positive messages about there about old school machismo, homophobia, gender identity, dating, age, mental health, and so many other issues men are presented with. Some of those topics are things that most men try to ignore but must be confronted with. The show deals with a lot of these deep moments with lots of healing humor. Which is to say that the show definitely takes important topics seriously but keeps things light and sweet to make the medicine go down. I definitely recommend it if you can find it.


Antonio’s Song/ I Was Dreaming of a Son

This was the one-person show of this year’s festival which is always interesting. A one-person show is often like listening to an audiobook. One person plays all sorts of different characters and must act out the whole show by themselves. This is a risky kind of play to write and perform because when it does not work, there is no way to get it back. It helps that this play was at least partly autobiographical. The actor, Antonio Edwards Suarez, was also one of the playwrights. He tells the story of his life from growing up in Brooklyn. He is the child of a Black man and a Latinx woman. He is stuck between two worlds but is also stuck in a world of gang violence brought on by toxic masculinity. The show is ostensibly about being caught in and trying to break out of a generational cycle of violence and anger. It is also about how creativity and the arts can help kids find who they are and who they want to be. It approaches defying traditional gender roles, cultural classifications, and trying to rise above where we should be. It is a really touching piece full of hope. Parts of it made me feel uncomfortable but that was obviously its intention. I also recommend it if you can find it.


Chester Bailey

I do not want to play favorites in this festival but I really, really liked this one and not only because I was able to meet and talk with its stars, Reed and Ephraim Birney. The show reminded me a bit of shows like Equus except that it was way lighter and smarter. The show follows a psychologist dealing with his patient in a mental hospital after a horrible accident. This all takes place during World War II when young men who were not overseas were embarrassed. Ephraim plays the patient, a young New Yorker who was struggling to find himself when one of the worst things ever happens to him. Reed Birney plays a snarky but highly insightful doctor who is dealing with his own personal problems when one of the most difficult cases of his career lands in his lap. The play has a lot of twists and turns and presents a lot of intriguing psychological problems. It does not dwell too long in tragedy but definitely has a dark edge. The show is told mostly in dueling monologues, sounding like journal entries from the characters told directly to the audience. The few scenes between the actors are charged with energy and definitely help drive the play forward. In this way, the show is kind of like two one-man shows that repeatedly collide. I definitely recommend it if you can find it.

 

Music of the Week:
Ashnikko – Hi, It’s Me

Dirty Heads ft. Rome of Sublime – Lay Me Down

Ferals – Gone

2 Chainz – Stay Woke Freestyle

Alice Chater – Hourglass

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “CATF 2019 Pt. 2”
– I finished Game of Thrones Season 3
– I finished Slasher Season 1
– I finished Losers Season 1
– I watched more How to Get Away With Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more Stargate: Atlantis Season 1
– I watched more Defunctland and Yesterworld
– I started Wynonna Earp Season 3


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