Archive for September, 2019

Halloween 2019

September 30, 2019

Halloween 2019

I have been hard at work on this year’s offering to Halloween.  Each year I complete an event that continues throughout the month of October.  Of course, in my mind, October is synonymous with Halloween.  And so, I celebrate the holiday all month long.  I primarily do that by watching a ton of horror movies or horror adjacent movies.  All of these reviews are low on spoilers just like my Media Update posts.  If I like something, I want you to see it and enjoy it too.  There will also be some other good tricks and treats but this is the schedule that I have been able to nail down so far.

October 2 – The Gate (1987)

October 3 – Media Update – Made for TV Horror
– Dark Night of the Scarecrow – Salem’s Lot – Body Bags

October 4 – Shocker (1989)

October 7 – Pit and Pendulum (1991)

October 9 – Hereditary (2018)

October 10 – Media Update – Spooky Case Files
– Dead Heat – Wolfcop – Angel Heart

October 11 – Dead-Alive (1992)

October 14 – Us (2019)

October 16 – Blacula (1972)

October 17 – Media Update – Sequels Week 2019
– All Hallow’s Eve – DT 2: Personal Demons – Phantasm III

October 18 – Prince of Darkness (1987)

October 21 – Suspiria (1977)

October 23 – Little Monsters (2019)

October 24 – Media Update – Deadly XX
– Vamps  – Ginger Snaps  – Jennifer’s Body

October 25 – The Many Deaths of Ian Stone (2007)

October 28 – Fire in the Sky (1993)

October 30 – Dead Silence (2007)

And finishing up with a tribute to the year I was born

October 31 – 1982
– Q, The Winged Serpent
– Basket Case
– The Slayer

In Fear of Sundown Pt. 2

September 28, 2019

The Mayor, Deputy Wescott, and Ben Hoscut reconvened with the stranger in the back of the Sheriff’s old office. Word of the woman’s claims was already spreading through the town like wildfire. They shut the door on the townspeople but the damage had already been done. An exotic stranger had walked into a desert town and declared herself as the sheriff. Mayor Brown was especially irritated. In contrast, the stranger was completely calm but she had covered the tattoo up again. She moved with a lazy sort of swagger. She did not seem to notice that people noticed her. She glided along with a determined yet aloof manner. She stuck out like a sore thumb in the more reserved town of Sunwood.

“Who in the Hell are you?” Mayor Brown asked. “While we’re at it, how did you get our symbol?”

“Now be nice, Mayor,” Ben Hoscut said. “I don’t think she means any harm.” His voice was reassuring. He had kept his position on their small council based on his use of the symbol and his even-keeled determination.

“How do we know that?” Deputy Kyle Wescott asked. He had remained loyal to the old sheriff until the end and was still not at ease with all of this hocus pocus. The presence of the symbol was not a good sign, especially on an outsider.

“Maybe let her talk, Deputy,” Hoscut said. “Let’s start with introductions. We can be hospitable and civil at the very least.”

“My name is Afa,” the stranger said. “I come from an island far away. I’m sure you have never heard of it here in the desert.”

“My name is Ben Hoscut,” Hoscut said. “This is Mayor Brown and Deputy Westcott. We’re the leaders of this town since the incidents started happening.”

“We can be hospitable,” Deputy Wescott said. He walked over and grabbed a bottle of beer which the Mayor looked disapprovingly at. He set it in front of Afa. “Now how about that story?”

“Well,” Afa said. “Firstly, you called it ‘your symbol’. It is not your symbol. That symbol belongs to my people as well.”

“Did your people have the same problem?” Hoscut asked. He leaned in, very interested.

Afa smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know the problem you had here,” she said. “In our island village, people started to disappear without a trace save for some blood on the dirt or sand. We sent out search parties to find them. I lead one of them. We never found any of them.”

Westcott looked remorseful, pitying. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s the same problem. More or less.”

“While I never discovered any of the missing, I did discover something else,” she said. “I found a long-forgotten cave. There we discovered the symbol. We could not understand all of the symbols in the cave but when I touched this symbol, I felt like it would protect us. I guess I was right. I guess it protected you as well.”

“It has,” Hoscut said. “But it didn’t stop what’s still out there. Did you ever catch sight of whatever was out there?”

“Once,” Afa said, her eyes growing dark. “but only a glimpse. Really, all I saw were four bright eyes in the darkness. I heard something inhuman.”

The Mayor shuddered. The mood in the room had changed now that the three men believed that Afa was a kindred spirit of sorts. They had no idea whether they could really trust her but at least she had gone through the same fire they had. If she was telling the truth, of course. But why would she have that symbol? What would she gain from lying? Her words felt like the truth.

“Maybe we were too quick to anger,” Mayor Brown said. “Maybe you can help us figure this thing out.”

Afa nodded. “Where did you get the symbol from in the first place?” she asked. Her eyes burned with curiosity. “Maybe we can learn more from your source.”

The three men all looked at each other. One by one they nodded and shrugged. “We got the symbol from the Sisters,” Hoscut said. “They got the idea from a vision.”

“Who are these Sisters?” Afa asked she reached out and grabbed the beer and drank. “I want to talk to them?”

“We haven’t heard from them in years,” Mayor Brown said. “They’re probably dead.”

Deputy Westcott got a strange look on his face. “I remember my mother saying the same thing when I was a boy,” he said. “What’s that about?”

Afa stood and swept her coat back, exposing two onyx six-shooters. “Let’s go find out, shall we?” she asked with that same confident smile.

Deputy Westcott stood up. “Just because I’m backing you up doesn’t mean you’re the Sheriff,” he said. “With your permission, Mayor.”

Mayor Brown nodded. “I suppose it’s something,” he said. “We have lived in fear for a long time. Be careful.”

Deputy Westcott led Afa over to the Sister’s house. It looked quite ordinary. The Deputy knocked on the door and they waited for a long time. Westcott shrugged and started to turn away when Afa lunged at the door, slamming her foot hard into it. The door jamb cracked and the door opened inward. Before the Deputy could complain, Afa had slipped inside. When he followed, his mind could not immediately grasp what he saw. It looked a castle inside. A great big castle, much bigger than the house on the outside. Something was indeed strange here.

Media Update 9/26/19

September 26, 2019


Child’s Play (2019)

I have been a huge fan of the Child’s Play franchise since I first saw the original 1988 movie. The movie took an interesting concept of a child’s plaything becoming a murderer (or vice versa actually). When I found out that there would be a new sequel that was rebooting the franchise, I was a little worried. The original franchise was just getting interesting again. Thankfully, this new movie is a separate entity that takes a science fiction angle rather than supernatural. I love the new take on Chucky, a product of no wisdom but high intelligence. Also, no moral center, of course. Chucky is voiced brilliantly by Mark Hammill and the practical effects are so good. The real standout in the movie is Andy, played by youngster Gabriel Bateman who is already a horror movie veteran at age 15. His mother is played by Aubrey Plaza who does a really good job of playing the overworked mother who is also the fun mom, trying her best. This version was an interesting take with more of a thriller/slasher feel to it. It also involved the human characters more in the story. Andy being older allowed for him to have more agency in the movie and definitely informed where the story went. I definitely recommend it.


Life After Beth

I much prefer zombie movies when there is a gimmick to them, something that sets it apart from the normal zombie movies which are often just long slogs of despair. This is kind of like a zombie romantic comedy in the best way. A young man gets dumped by his girlfriend but that changes when she comes back from the dead. Aubrey Plaza plays the titular Beth and it is a role she was born to play. Plaza excels at playing weird/crazy characters and Beth is certainly an insane (but fun) role. She is joined by Dane DeHaan who is the protagonist and the boyfriend driven deep into insanity. John C. Reilly, Paul Reiser, Molly Shannon, and Cheryl Hines play their parents who are quirky and are also driven to insanity. There is also a small but great part for Anna Kendrick. What I love so much about this movie is how they treat zombies. Zombies are just as confused about their condtion as everybody else is and it is delightful. The movie has so many twists and turns that it was fun to see where things were going to go. It is definitely a quirky movie. I recommend although it is not for the squeamish.


The Little Hours

This is from the same director as Life After Beth and while it has different subject matter, it has a very similar energy to it. This movie is sort of a parody of The Decameron which I had vaguely heard of before (it’s basically Italian Canterbury Tales). The story is set at a convent which is presided over by a priest played by John C. Reilly. Among the nuns in the cast are Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci, Allison Brie, and Molly Shannon. Dave Franco plays a man on the run who tries to hide at the convent and the story then breaks into a farce as the three young ladies each interract with Franco. There are also cameos from Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman, and Paul Reiser. The story is wild and I could barely predict what was going to happen next. Part of that comes from the dialogue and much of the movie being a work of improv. The actors were given a loose outline for the movie but not a script and they just went at it. This movie shows how good each of the actors is at off the cuff, offbeat humor. There is not a dull moment in the movie and I was either laughing or crying out in surprise most of the movie. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Mandy Moore – When I Wasn’t Watching

He Is Legend – White Bat

Post Malone – Take What You Want ft. Ozzy Osbourne, Travis Scott

Blanco Brown – The Git Up

Mars Argo – Using You

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Aubrey Plaza”
– I started watching The Blacklist Season 6
– I watched more Marvel’s Agents of Shield Season 6
– I watched more How to Get Away with Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I watched more Lucha Underground Season 4
– I watched more Offhand Disney
– I watched more BTE
– I finished iZombie Season 5

Possession

September 23, 2019

“Don’t do it,” a little voice in Renna head said but Karen was not really listening. Her eyes looked unfocused as she finished tying the gnome to a table. She swayed a bit and her unnatural movements might have scared the gnome if the guy was awake. She finished securing his wrists and ankles and then she walked toward where the knife was.

“Please don’t do this,” the little voice said. “You don’t want to do this. This isn’t you!” Once again, Renna disregarded the voice and picked up the knife. Something made her mouth smile but it was not her. This was not like her at all. She was a healer, not a butcher. All of her oaths and faith seemed to be lost in a fog. She raised the knife and prepared to cut. It had to be precise.

“Do not do this!” the voice screamed. “You can stop. You can stop now.” Renna shook her head and started to lower the blade. The gnome, Calba Halfstone started to wake up. He saw the knife and started to try and scream and squirm. He could not get away and all he managed to do was slide the knife’s blade against his skin, marking it. It was not precise. Renna frowned. This would not do. She tried to refocus on making the correct mark. That internal voice was screaming wordlessly in fear and frustration. It was kind of annoying.

She drove her elbow into Halfstone’s face, trying to subdue him. The blow made a sickening noise but Halfstone did not stop moving. So frustrating. She briefly contemplated using the knife but that was not what the plan was. It was at this point that Renna heard and then felt music surrounding her. Such pleasant music. She felt herself begin to fade, dropping to her knees. The voice inside was elated, cheering wildly. As she unwillingly laid down on the floor, she heard the gnome yelling something about a necklace. Renna was wearing a necklace. Was there a connection there? Then she fell asleep.

She had no idea how much time passed but when she woke up Renna was tied to a chair. She squirmed, trying to get out but the ropes were too tight. She flashed back to Calba squirming against his restraints on the table and she was horrified. What had she done? Somebody removed her blindfold and Renna blinked as the harsh light stung her eyes. It was a little like a hangover. Standing in front of her was Nika Beltloud and Calba Halfstone. They were her friends but she felt guilt stabbing deep to the core of her being.

“Oh gods,” Renna said. “are you alright, Calba?”

Calba crossed his arms across his chest. He was bandaged cleanly. “I’ll survive,” he said. “It got pretty close there, though.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Renna said. “I don’t know what happened. I remember being taken captive by the Drow. Then I kind of remember being stuck down in a well and then I could see myself trying to hurt you.”

“It was the necklace they put on you,” Calba said. “It charmed you, filled you with a dark presence.”

“We’d release you but we’re waiting to see if it has fully left your system,” Nika said. “We don’t want to have to put you down again.”

Renna nodded. “I’m alright with that,” she said. “Keep me tied up. I’d be fine with staying this way forever.” A tear slid down her cheek.

“It wasn’t you, Renna,” Nika said. “We know it wasn’t you. We’ll make sure you’re better and then we’ll solve this Drow problem.”

“I hope this teaches you not to go off on your own,” Calba said with a smile.

Renna almost laughed but it came out half sob, half happy noise. “I was doing it to keep you two safe. The Drow are dangerous,” she said.

“See how that worked out?” Calba asked.

“We’re a team, Ren,” Nika said. “You can’t ditch us and we can’t ditch you. We’re stronger together.” She stroked Renna’s hair and Renna was grateful for the comfort.

“Where do we go from here?” Renna asked. She felt hopeful for the first time since she had been captured.

“We go to war,” Calba said. “We burn them down.”

Beastly Kingdom

September 21, 2019

The other day, I posted on here and lamented that when Disney’s Animal Kingdom was built, they decided to nix something called Beastly Kingdom. It had been planned as an area of the park dedicated to magical and fictional creatures. I have done a lot of studying recently and I have realized a few things. One, I have more details on what Beastly Kingdom would have been. It was actually two attractions based on good creatures (centered around the unicorn) and evil creatures (centered around a dragon). Two, I found out that Animal Kingdom was created because Michael Eisner was jealous of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This is disappointed. Anyway, I decided to create my own version of Beastly Kingdom as a ride/attraction. My version is based on the common thread in Disney Parks called The Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

The ride would be set on a river. The boats would float (naturally) but they would also be on hidden tracks under the water similar to The Jungle Cruise and other water rides in Disney parks. The boat would carry up to twenty people and would be sized to be comfortable. The boats would be styled as modern boats with chrome detailing. The boats are also decorated with symbols and drawings meant to mimic runic symbols. Each boat is decorated with a family crest with a large B. The boats are named after famous heroes like Siegfried, Perseus, Pecos Bill, Roland, and others.

The ride begins in the queue which is decorated to be welcoming with a smooth stone building with polished brick floors. Displayed prominently are large portraits. One of them is of two young kids, a girl and boy who are obviously twins. They are Penny and Kyle Beastly. They are proudly standing next to their parents Sadie and Karen Beastly. There is a picture of Aleister Beastly standing with Lord Henry Mystic, Charlton Taboret, Mary Oceaneer, and Dr. Albert Falls. There are portraits of other members of the Beastly family. Passengers are loaded into a small room with a large television screen on one wall. After a short burst of static, it shows Penny and Kyle Beastly in their office. (Really just a scrim with animatronic puppets similar to Henry Mystic behind it). Penny is facing the camera while Kyle is mostly focused on a laptop behind her.

Penny: Hello! My name is Penny Beastly

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Beastly

Penny: Welcome to Beastly Kingdom! Our family has been involved in the care and preservation of magical creatures for a long time. Since the late 1800s. It all started with our great grandfather Aleister Beastly who discovered the remains of a wyvern while on an expedition with the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Many of Aleister’s contemporaries sought magical artifacts.

Kyle: You know, like Lord Mystic and Dr. Jones.

Penny: And others wanted to explore destinations.

Kyle: Like Dr. Falls and Ms. Oceaneer.

Penny: Exactly! But our family was more interested in creatures.

Kyle: Ghosts were taken.

Penny: Right. No ghosts. No thank you. Our family seeks out and protects supernatural creatures. We only relocate them if it is absolutely necessary. The vast majority of creatures are very capable of keeping themselves hidden and safe. We relocate and protect those creatures negatively impacted by humanity.

Kyle: We’re basically a rescue but for really big and dangerous creatures instead of dogs and cats. Most of them are really intelligent too.

Penny: Kyle! Don’t scare our guests! Honestly, we’ve taken every precaution.

Kyle: It’s literally impossible to take every precaution.

Penny: Hush, Kyle! You’re going to be fine. You’re all going to have a great time visiting some fantastic creatures. Now calmly exit the theater and board the rides. Thank you.

Kyle: Good luck.

The monitor shuts off and the doors open leading to the dock where passengers board their boat. The boat starts up and moves to the center of the river before proceeding.

Guide: Welcome to your ride on our little river. The Beastly family artificially created this habitat to accommodate as many creatures as possible. Hopefully, we’ll be lucky and see most of our current residents. While we are in route, please keep your hands, feet, and the rest of your body safely in the boat. Do not engage in flash photography as it upsets some of our residents and there’s plenty of light out don’t you think?

The boat continues on a bit.

Guide: Now I’m going to have to ask you to keep a little quiet in this first section. If you look to our right, you will see a cave where we have an actual dragon. Dragons sleep most of the time and it is a really bad idea to wake them up. Relax, that fire is just how dragons snore.

The riders see a cave with smoke coming out of it and the occasional flare of light from a large flame. The boat glides by peacefully.

Guide: Alright. We’re good. On the left, you will see one of our Bigfoot. Bigfeet? Anyway, they were displaced by deforestation. They are mostly secretive creatures who would never harm a fly. The only reason I can think of that would bring one this close is their fascination with the faeries. Oh, see! He found some pixies. He would never hurt them but it is hard to resist those pretty lights.

In the shade, the riders see a bigfoot approach a large bush and reach out to it. The faeries light up like lightning bugs and fly away in multicolored lights and then vanish. The bigfoot looks out at the boat peacefully.

Guide: On the right, you can see signs of goblin culture. These little guys are our most antisocial residents. I don’t see any goblins around, though, so maybe we’ll get lucky and it will stay that way. Well, I spoke too soon. There they are. Remain calm, you’re perfectly safe. We did lose one boat before we figured out the protection runes but we have it now. Just let them tire themselves out.

The goblins lined up on the bank and some in the trees start throwing rocks which the riders can hear hitting the roof of the boat and can see them landing in the water. Nobody is harmed. The goblins screech at the boat. The guide shrugs and laughs.

Guide: See? All safe.

On the boats left, there is a large waterfall. The guide seems to notice something odd about it. Within the waterfall, huge eyes light up. A large sea serpent pokes its head through as it spots the boat. It dives forward into the water. After a moment, bubbles start coming up behind the boat, trailing it.

Guide: Well, that’s the sea serpent. Relax folks, it gets curious. It cannot harm us but it does look like it’s following us. Let’s see where this goes.

The boat shakes a bit as the serpent bumps it as it moves ahead of the boat. The sea serpent rises from the river in front of the boat and sprays a mist of water at the boat. The guide rotates the wheel and the boat turns sideways on the river and stops. Suddenly, in the chaos, the dragon flies overhead blasting fire and the serpent looks after it and then returns to the water.

Guide: Looks like our friend the sea serpent was scared by our dragon. I’m a little nervous about them both being out and about but the Beastly twins have assured us that we are perfectly safe. Let’s keep going, huh? Everybody alright?

The guide rights the boat and it continues down the river a little bit further. Gradually, beautiful singing can be heard from around the bend.

Guide: Beautiful music, huh? Those are our sirens. It’s rumored that they used to make sailors crash their boats but that’s just silly. We haven’t had any incidents like that here. I think they were just bad sailors.

The boat rounds the bend and there are some sirens sunning themselves on some rocks by the shore. They barely seem to notice the boat. Out of nowhere, a large bird appears in the air. It cries out and lightning comes from it and lands among the sirens. They scatter with a huge splash.

Guide: Looks like the thunderbird is not a big fan of their singing. Oh well. Alright, on the right we need to remain still. We do not want to disturb the gargoyles. They track their prey by movement but mostly stay completely still day and night. I’m sure you’ve even seen some of them in cities.

The boat glides by some rock outcroppings where gargoyles are perched. Their eyes slowly track the boat. Suddenly, a deer appears and then seems to run back the way it came. One of the gargoyles swoops after the deer. The faerie lights are seen again trailing the gargoyle.

Guide: Oh that poor deer! Run! It’s alright, the faeries will protect the poor girl.

The boat rounds the final curve and the riders can see the sea serpent at the shore of the river. Except, it is no longer interested in the boat. It is hissing at the dragon which is now clearly in sight, smoke coming from its nostrils as it calmly glares at the serpent and beyond at the boat.

Guide: That. That kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it? These two just need to get the aggression out of their system. Let’s just slide on past and go home before this gets a little too rowdy, huh? Well, thank you for joining me on this little trip. We got really lucky and saw some of our most awesome residents. The Beastly family gives their regards and wants me to leave you with this final thought. We need to consider our impact on the environment in this world. We not only impact our magical friends here but all of the non-magical creatures all over the planet and we hurt ourselves. We need to do better. Have a good rest of the day and come back soon to check out Beastly Kingdom.

The boat docks and the riders exit to the gift shop.

Media Update 9/19/19

September 19, 2019

Clown Warning

It Chapter 2

I read a lot of Stephen King when I was a preteen, often on vacations in the car, on planes, on buses, and on trains. I soaked up King’s words and one of his longest but most interesting books was It. I have only grown to appreciate the book more with age. This was the perfect ending to the current movie franchise. This movie combined the talents of the child cast from part one along with an all-new adult cast. The casting was absolutely perfect. I felt that the weight of the movie was mostly carried by Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain. Bill Hader is absolutely hilarious but also shows a vulnerability that I have not seen in him before. Chastain was the emotional force behind the movie and my fandom of her has always been well-placed. Of course, huge kudos to Bill Skarsgard who was absolutely terrifying (and hilarious) as Pennywise. The rest of the cast was brilliant as well. James MacAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, and James Ransome were also great. I really felt like the movie caught the spirit of the book without relying too much on getting it all out verbatim. In fact, I enjoyed that they stripped some of the fat out and focused on the main story. I also enjoyed that the movie had me both laughing and creeped out at the same time. It also made me shiver and it made me cry and then it made me smile. I definitely recommend it.


Killjoy Goes to Hell

Long-time readers know my love for Full Moon Pictures and I have come to love this franchise so much. Killjoy is a demon that is often summoned foolishly to exact revenge on people. Obviously, it always goes wrong. This movie continues the story from Killjoy 3 with the wisecracking homicidal clown returning once again. It also contains plenty of callbacks to the original two movies and manages to connect the franchise together better than it had been previously. This is a direct continuation of the plot from the third movie. Spoiler Alert: this is actually a court procedural movie which I absolutely loved. It was not something I expected to happen but it was an interesting method to allow a deep dive into the lore and villainous characters while also examining how Killjoy connects to Earth and Hell. Trent Haaga shines as the new Killjoy and the movie obviously hinges on his funny performance which is one part Pennywise and one part Beetlejuice. The other standout is Victoria de Mare who plays his girlfriend Batty Boop, a cross between Betty Boop and Harley Quinn. The movie is not really scary at all and is instead a slightly gory comedy. Still, it made me love the franchise more and makes me want to see the next in the series. I definitely recommend it even if you have not seen the previous three movies.


Klown Kamp Massacre

I picked this movie at random because the poster caught my eye and I am glad I chose it. It is a Troma film, a legendary independent movie house that created some of the grossest and dumbest movies in history. Still, every movie they have made has been so bad that it is good. I have previously reviewed The Toxic Avenger and Cannibal the Musical which were produced by their studio. This one is a parody of the classic slasher film with a twist. In a normal slasher, the villain would be a clown (for some reason). In this movie, the killer and all of the victims are clowns since it takes place at a sort of clown boot camp/summer camp. The movie is goofy as heck but is definitely somewhat endearing to me as a horror fan. Like most Troma films, this was incredibly gory but in a cartoonishly fun kind of way. I was actually pretty impressed with the character design as they made each clown fairly unique. While this movie is nothing special, it is definitely a fun little ride and is very trippy and strange. I recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Evil Clowns”
– I watched more Marvel’s Agents of Shield Season 6
– I watched more How to Get Away with Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more iZombie Season 5
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I watched more Lucha Underground Season 4
– I started watching Offhand Disney, yet another YouTube docuseries
– I watched more BTE

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Internet Presence

September 16, 2019

WILPW

Obviously, the world of professional wrestling preceded the Internet and existed without it for a long time. In fact, the way pro-wrestling used to work was because there was no Internet and the communication within the community was really slow. Promotions could run the same exact matches in every town without worrying about spoilers. Everybody was shrouded in mystery because it was hard to trade notes on rumors and scraps of information that people could get. Everything was divided into territories and you had to constantly reintroduce characters from across the country to people. With the advent of the Internet, the business had to change and evolve. They struggled with it at first with particularly embarrassing segments seen in old WCW and WWF pay per views.

Nowadays, things have advanced to a whole new level. Companies like WWE use services like YouTube to put out extra content that occurs during commercials or after events are over to further storylines or highlight characters. However, what I am interested in here is how individual performers can use the Internet to further their own presence and improve their careers. The first example of it happening that I can think of is Zack Ryder who created his own online show called Long Island Iced Z where he produced his own content and was allowed to be goofy. It forced WWE to briefly accept his Internet popularity and use him more on the actual television shows. Stars like The New Day (through Austin Creed) have used YouTube to get their brand out better when they felt ignored by the WWE.

However, what really sparked this post is that I recently started binging the YouTube show Being the Elite. BTE was created by Matt and Nick Jackson who are collectively known in the business as The Young Bucks. The two brothers had joined a group called The Bullet Club (thankfully they have abandoned this name) and created a subgroup along with Kenny Omega called The Elite. They created their show on YouTube at first as a travelogue as they traveled back and forth from Japan and across the United States. It allowed fans to see a filtered version of who they were in real life and it often included their friends as well. They started showing segments of them goofing off in their hotel rooms, backstage, or going out on the town. They also used the show to get their catchphrases and character quirks out into the world better.

 

At one point, the Bucks had gathered together a group of good friends that included Kenny Omega, Adam Page, Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, and Adam Cole. This is the point where they first started to further major storylines in the show. The Bucks and their friends were working across several separate promotions between New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and others. They used their YouTube show to knit together and flesh out their storylines between their various appearances. Their first major storyline was the infighting between Adam Cole and Kenny Omega who was the leader of the Bullet Club. It ended with them murdering Adam Cole which gave an in-universe explanation for his disappearance since Cole had signed with the WWE in real life. At that point, the show really took off as a travelogue, a sketch comedy show, and a platform for the furthering of storylines.

As time went by, new regular castmembers joined the show as they would regularly send footage to the Bucks to edit into the show. They added Brandi Rhodes, Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, actor Stephen Amell, Joey Ryan, and Flip Gordon. At some point, they even made a celebrity out of their translator/gopher in Japan who is named Masa. Flip Gordon, in particular, benefited from the show as he was new to the business and it allowed him to get his brand out there better. The show evolved further and they were able to solidify a lot of regular bits and running gags. I think my all-time favorite regular bit involves the members of So Cal Uncensored (Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels) who regularly talk about every town they visit is the worst town they’ve ever been to and how much they want to get back to Southern California.

More recently, the show was used to launch the largest independent wrestling show in history called All In which included a lot of storylines started on Being the Elite. They rode that momentum and left Ring of Honor and New Japan to start their own promotion called All Elite Wrestling. Backed by billionaire Tony Khan and TNT, they are poised to create a huge splash in the business. Sadly, this meant that they had to leave behind their friends Marty and Flip who are still signed to Ring of Honor and Joey Ryan who decided to stick with independent wrestling. The prevailing thought is that Marty and Flip will join them once their contracts are up. In the meantime, Being the Elite has been flooded with the future stars of AEW like Sammy Guevara, MJF, Britt Baker, The Librarians, Chris Jericho, and so many more. Television for AEW stars up on TNT in October and the Bucks still don’t know whether or not they will continue BTE. They and their friends are executives in the new company along with their on-screen performer duties so the show might have to end out of necessity.

Until then, it is exciting to see where the show goes and I continue to binge past episodes. I also need to watch some of the spin-off show The Nightmare Family (starring Cody and Brandi). If the show continues to stick around, it will continue to innovate and entertain. It has done wonders for the careers of its cast and introduced future stars to people who may have never heard their names. It is a positive movement on a medium that can be very negative.

Death and Rebirth of Love

September 14, 2019

Cappio placed Harro’s shield on his grave and wiped the tears from his face. He felt Annabel’s hand rest on his shoulder and it made the burden just a little bit lighter. He sniffled and then stood and finished wiping his face. He looked out over the hills of Harro’s homeland and then at Annabel and Zalania.  Zalania was hard to read because she was always wearing the mask from her home on the streets of Koshain. She also rarely talked. She usually let her fists do the talking. Annabel on the other hand was a picture of compassion, even though she was tall and willowy, she always looked motherly. She was a full three feet taller than Cappio and even had almost a foot on Zalania.

Cappio had worn his best clothes for the funeral. It just so happened to be a costume from his days as an actor. He rarely liked to dress up. In fact, most of their little crew rarely dressed up except for Harro. He rarely went anywhere without wearing his armor. He was a knight of renown before he had fallen in with them. After a while, Cappio had felt guilty about roping him into their criminal enterprises. Cappio was the conman, an ex-actor who had moved smoothly into telling lies for profit. He had convinced Zalania to accompany him as his muscle. She was a monk who had lost her way. Annabel was a street musician and mother of urchins. She had jumped at the chance for a better life and had sort of adopted Cappio and Zalania. She also brought along some of their urchins who often came in useful for schemes.

They had ripped off the noble who Harro owed allegiance to. Harro had pursued the trio, hoping to bring them to justice. He was like a wolf with a scent and would not let the trail go cold. He pursued them through three nations and even across the Crystal Sea. Then something happened that neither Harro nor Cappio had expected. When Harro arrested Cappio in the jungles of Oochar, the two of them had a chance to talk as they made their way. The two of them had fallen in love. Harro had seemed lost for a bit but forsook his master and joined the gang. When the fighting happened, Harro and Zalania were good to have around. Cappio used much of their take to show Harro the finer things he had missed while living under the heel of his master.

Life had been good, easy, and fun. Then something had changed. They got wind of a deadly plot from an evil cult and Harro begged the rest of them to help. The quartet was in the best position to do something and if they saved the day, there might be the biggest profit ever. Cappio had known this was probably not true but he also felt the tug of conscience and thankfully everybody else did as well. They had worked their magic and had stopped the cult’s ritual. Except in the ensuing climactic battle, Harro had been mortally wounded. They tried everything they could but Harro passed away. They had attempted a resurrection but it had failed. Cappio had to believe that wherever he was, Harro was happy and did not wish to return. He hoped they would meet again.

“What’s next for us, Cappio?” Annabel asked. “We have enough money left to be comfortable for a long time. We can take a break.”

“No,” Cappio said. “I don’t want to take a break. We’ve been living the easy life for too long.”

Zalania grunted and growled.

“What does that mean?” Annabel asked.

“It means that we should live by Harro’s example,” Cappio said. “We should be saving the world, not lining our pockets off of the idiot rich.”

“Why can’t we do both?” Annabel asked.

Cappio smiled for the first time in weeks. “Exactly!” he said, appearing almost like his old self for a fleeting moment. “Let’s save the world, shall we?”

“Where do we start?” Annabel asked.

“I have no idea,” Cappio said. “Maybe we should recruit somebody to help with that. We don’t have a lot of experience with this.”

“What do we need?” Annabel asked.

“Well, we do need more muscle,” Cappio said.

Zalania folded her arms across her chest.

“You are plenty strong, Z,” Cappio said. “We just need more. Maybe somebody magical, maybe somebody powerful.”

“I may know where to look,” Annabel said. “Do you want to go to Oskia?”

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been there,” Cappio said. “Let’s go.”

Media Update 9/12/19

September 12, 2019


The Family

I found out about Jeff Sharlet through the Ugly Dogs fandom. They named one of their dogs after Jeff and now I can see why. This documentary is an adaptation of Sharlet’s earlier work investigating a secretive cult known as The Family. The Family will tell you that they are not Christians, they are just followers of Jesus. In fact, they are a decentralized cult that hides behind a powerful name to influence all corners of government not only in the United States but globally. They were behind the anti-gay legislation in Uganda, union busting in the United States, and so many more hateful movements. The short docuseries touches on The Family’s creation, how they wormed their way into the halls of power, their hypocrisy, how they recently merged with Donald Trump and other conservative movements, and how they created the National Prayer Breakfast as a tool for lobbying. What may sound like a conspiracy theory is thoroughly researched and backed up by former members of the cult. I am currently watching horror movies in preparation for Halloween and this was way scarier. I definitely recommend it as this information should be had by everybody.


Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

I have been exploring older Hollywood lately so a movie like this, which is partly a love letter to the Sixties, is right up my alley. Of course, it feels like a fairly white-washed period piece without sexism or racism but that is the story they wanted to tell. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an aging movie star who is somewhat analogous to Steve McQueen among other stars. Unlike the stars he is similar to, he has only had moderate success and is on his way out and is struggling with that. His friend is played by Brad Pitt who is a former stuntman who now makes a living as DiCaprio’s driver and gopher. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie plays actress/model Sharon Tate as the specter of the Manson Family looms in the near future. Margot Robbie is so great as the bright-eyed, happy Tate who is just getting her career off the ground after being in Valley of the Dolls, Beverly Hillbillies, and The Wrecking Crew. As the story continues, the main characters interact with real people from history and other analogs. Much like Pulp Fiction, it feels less like a single driven story but a couple of intertwined stories that show off characters. I recommend it.


Going Clear

I have heard about the wrongness of Scientology for years now, ever since Tom Cruise became a famous practitioner and proponent. The things Cruise said infuriated me but my studies of the cult have since made me at least understand why he and others have said what they said. That is how Scientology is designed. The documentary covers the origins of Scientology and shows how it was the creation of L Ron Hubbard who went crazy as he was creating it and bought into his own lie. Upon his death, the cult launched into the stratosphere, utilizing Hollywood and marketing to make them rich and powerful. This documentary interviews several former members, investigators, and other key people as well as showing archival footage. Its goal is to expose how the philosophy of Scientology strives to create a prison of the mind for its members. It makes it so they will endure anything in order to stay in the church’s good graces and will even ask for punishment. It is an insidious bit of mind-warping psychology and this documentary lays a lot of it out. I definitely recommend it but I want to see the Leah Remini series now.

Music of the Week:
Gabby Barrett – The Good Ones

Grimes & i_o – Violence

Lil Nas X – Panini

Black Stone Cherry – Me and the Devil Blues

PVRIS – Hallucinations

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Cults”
– I watched more Marvel’s Agents of Shield Season 6
– I watched more Stargate Atlantis Season 1
– I watched more How to Get Away with Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more iZombie Season 5
– I watched more The Protector Season 1
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I watched more New Adventures of Monkey Season 1
– I watched more Lucha Underground Season 4

The Return of the Obra Dinn

September 9, 2019

I have been obsessed lately with playing a game called The Return of the Obra Dinn lately. I play it on the Microsoft Windows platform through the GOG (Good Old Games) app. I found out about the game by watching the early parts being played by Barry Kramer on Twitch. The game was developed and designed by Lucas Pope. It is his second commercial game after the highly celebrated Papers, Please. Like his earlier game, this game plays with your perceptions and completely submerges you into a world unlike your own. After watching some footage, I really wanted to play it myself because the game fascinated me.

The game is set in 1807 near the port of London, England. You play as an insurance adjuster for the East India Trading Company who is tasked with investigating a ship named the Obra Dinn. The ship was supposed to travel around the Cape of Good Hope but it disappeared in 1803. All sixty souls on board are unaccounted for. You are tasked with finding the fates of all sixty people who were on board. Some died, some disappeared, and some may still be alive somewhere. You are given a journal with a roster of names and three pieces of artwork with people’s faces on it. Every single passenger and crewmember is depicted in one of those drawings to help you match them up.

That is where things start getting weird. The East India Trading Company has also given you a magical compass. Now, I know some people are immediately thinking of the previous connection between The East India Trading Company and a magical compass in Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean franchise but it’s not that. This compass reacts to the remains of the deceased and transports the user into the moment of that person’s death. When you activate the compass, you are transported into a snapshot of a moment in the voyage of the Obra Dinn. You are immediately confronted with a grisly death in progress. It is often quite impossible to predict what you will be walking into next. Along with being inside the visual memory, you also get a short audio log of anything said directly before and after the death. A lot of this is automatically entered into your journal.

These are not only two-dimensional images either. They are three-dimensional environments that you can walk around in. You can peer at people’s faces and they will immediately be matched up with their picture in the drawings. This gives you your first hints on who they might be. You learn who people are from who people hang out with, what they do in crisis and downtime, and even where they sleep. You learn what happened to them by following the story from body to body, opening up more of the ship to really dig into what happened. It is a roller coaster of a story that I definitely do not want to spoil. Needless to say, it is an inspiring tale of fantasy and high seas adventure and intrigue.

From there it is a game of being a proper detective and using clues and informed guesswork to determine everybody’s identity and fate. As you get three fates correct, they are magically confirmed so that you know that you are making progress. At present I have determined 51 of 60 fates after playing for hours, running back and forth through memories for evidence and studying the journal. It feels so intimate being in such close quarters with these memories like you are part of their story. I am very close to completing the game but the last few puzzle pieces are hard to settle. Added to that, there is a sort of blacked out period in the journey that you can only get access to once you have submitted all but the last few fates. I eagerly await what horrible thing happened in that time period.

I definitely recommend the game. For those who are squeamish, the art style turns everything into a sketch style so the gore and violence are not photo-realistic. However, the deaths are still incredibly visceral, especially with the accompanying audio logs. The moment of reveal of each death can be horrific but most of the game is spent in quiet reflection, study, and observation to figure things out. The game has captured my imagination and I would love to see a similar game made in the future because I know that when I finish I will want more.


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