Archive for March, 2020

A Little Entertainment During Hard Times

March 30, 2020

The world is scary right now. Well, it has always been pretty scary but it is definitely more apparent right now. I know that we are all learning a lot about ourselves and the world around us while we’re trapped inside. For me, I have already learned that I am apparently “essential”. I am a paralegal and I am still going in to work so that we can continue to fight for our clients. I get anxiety each time I leave the house and relief every time I throw the lock on my front door in the evening. With all that’s been going on in the world lately, I thought I would offer up a bit more content. I thought I would point out a few shows and movies that you might not have been aware of.


The Frisco Kid
(Streaming on Amazon)

Do you like Harrison Ford? Do you like Gene Wilder? Of course, you do. They’re both brilliant actors who never really got a big head about their celebrity. Here, Harrison Ford was young as it was two years after the release of A New Hope. Gene Wilder was older and more experienced. He had just directed and starred in The World’s Greatest Lover. Their experiences really lend to their characters. Ford plays a young and roguish bank robber traveling west. Wilder plays a Polish rabbi who is journeying to set up a new congregation in San Francisco. Wilder’s dry wit plays well with Ford’s aw shucks nature. Wilder is no doubt the star here but a lot of the movie relies on the chemistry between both men (much like many of Wilder’s other movies).


The Unicorn Store
(Streaming on Netflix)

A movie I keep going back to, this might not have seen the light of day had it not been for the success of Captain Marvel. This movie was directed by and also stars Brie Larson. It has an all-star cast of Bradley Whitford, Joan Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is about a young woman who fails out of art school and must retreat to live with her parents. She struggles to connect to the normal world while dealing with the criticism of the world and her own inner critic. Also there are unicorns. The movie is such an uplifting look at finding your way in life and regaining your self-confidence and self-worth after a bad fall.


Wait Until Dark
(Streaming on Hulu)

For my fellow horror and suspense fans, you cannot do much better than this classic. I actually first saw this performed on stage but it is still pretty visceral on the screen. Audrey Hepburn plays a young blind woman who gets caught up with a couple criminals. Hepburn is really good at playing fragile yet tough. She is a master in the old style of movie acting which was more similar to live theater. The tension is maintained throughout and the plot still holds up as clever even after this formula has been used subsequently.


Journey to the West
(Streaming on Tubi)

The combination of comedy and martial arts has long been a great combination. This movie is an update of the Buddhist fairytale which has formed the basis of so many tales told out of Asia (Dragonball, The Monkey King, etc.) This story follows a non-violent monk who uses stories to quell demons. He is sent by the Buddha to obtain a set of scriptures in the West. There is a lot of good slapstick and wonderful martial arts wirefighting. The story kind of breaks down into three parts but maintains a great through-line.


Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
(Streaming on Tubi)

The original Dead Snow is about a bunch of Swedish medical students who get terrorized by Nazi Zombies out in the snow. That movie is incredibly tense and really smart and serious horror movie (with a little bit of comedy). However, you do not really need to watch that to get the gist of the sequel. The sequel is more of an action-adventure film where the protagonist of the first film tries to stop the oncoming Nazi Zombie invasion. It is schlocky, silly, and a whole lot of fun. It is nothing like the first movie but still a great way for the franchise to go.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 6

March 28, 2020

Even though everything hurt, everybody hurried toward the source of the plaintive cry. They pushed through weeds and charged through the fog and found a small clearing. In the center of the clearing was a little girl in chains which were staked to the ground. Tears were flowing down her face but it was clear that it was young Gwendolyn. It was easy to believe that this one was the real one. She trembled as she looked up at everybody, frightened and defeated. It broke Mariel’s heart and she knew she was not alone.

“Gwendolyn,” Asher said softly. “Your mother sent us to find you.”

“R-Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “What about the monsters?”

“We’re quite experienced with monsters, young lady,” Mariel said. “We’ll protect you.”

“Dimitri and Dina, help me pull these stakes up,” Luther said. He and the twins moved over and started to pull on the chains. The stakes stubbornly stayed in the ground and Gwen cried harder, shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Mariel kneeled down in front of Gwendolyn and took the young girl’s hands in hers. “Gwendolyn,” she said. “I know that you’re scared. This is very scary. However, this is your world.”

Asher kneeled down next to Mariel. “This is your story, Gwendolyn,” he said. “You hold all of the power here.”

“What?” Gwendolyn muttered. “I have no power.”

“That’s what I thought when I was your age,” Mariel said. “Then I went to an academy and learned magic.” She was proud of her upbringing from a powerless place to wield the forces of magic effortlessly.

Gwendolyn looked up at Mariel again, the first glimmer of hope returning to her eyes. “But I don’t know magic,” she said. “I don’t have any magic.”

“Magic is in everyone,” Mariel said. “Some do it like me and use words but some do it with their mind and heart.” She punctuated this by pointing at the girl’s heart which filled the girl’s eyes with wonder.

Ashe nodded. “Gwendolyn, you don’t have magic in here,” he said. “In here, you are magic. Just think it and it’ll happen.”

“Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “For real?”

“Just give it a try,” Mariel said. “Get rid of these awful chains first.”

The little girl closed her eyes and her shaky breathing slowed. There was a near-blinding pink light and then the chains were suddenly made of flowers instead of thick metal. She shrugged off the flowers and clutched one of the flowers to her chest as she stood up. Her tattered clothing became a princess dress even more spectacular than the one worn by the imposter back at the castle. She opened her eyes and suddenly everybody’s wounds were healed. She smiled so brightly that Mariel and everybody else could not help but smile. Even the usually unreadable Fern was smiling an enigmatic little smile.

“I really am magic!” Gwendolyn said and giggled. “I did it!”

Mariel and Asher stood up clapping. Everybody joined in on the applause and the landscape around them seemed to become more green and colorful. The area just felt happier which would not have made sense back in the material plane but here it made perfect sense. Asher started to play a tune on his lute and the little girl clapped and danced a little and sang along. It was great to see.

“Do you think you could help us get back up there?” Luther asked. “Help us save your friends and get rid of the bad thing?”

Gwendolyn faltered. “The bad thing is scary,” she said. “I don’t know.”

“Normally we’d do it for you, Gwen,” Luther said. “but we need your help. This is all yours. Your mother and father are waiting for you. We just need to get rid of the bad thing. For that, we really do need your help.”

“You know how to do it now,” Mariel said. “You’re so powerful.”

“You’re magic,” Asher said.

“And we’ll be right there with you,” Dimitri said.

“We’ve got your back,” Dina said. “Don’t even worry about it.”

Fern gave a weak thumbs up and a slight smile.

Gwendolyn brightened up again. “We’re going to get rid of the bad thing,” she said. “But how?”

“First we need to go back to the castle,” Mariel said. “Do you think you can handle that?”

“I think so,” Gwendolyn said. “What then?”

“One step at a time,” Luther said. “Trust us.”

Media Update 3/26/20

March 26, 2020


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I remember watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood when I was very small but the man has become more fascinating to me as I got older. The news that this movie was being made after the dynamite documentary released two years ago was exciting to me. Hanks is the perfect person to play the seemingly perfect Fred Rogers. I say seemingly because nobody’s perfect but Rogers was probably closest. The movie is about a reporter trying to do a story on Mr. Rogers while navigating his own rough life. Matthew Rhys is great as the struggling writer, just trying to figure it all out. Tom Hanks is great, of course, as the even-keeled dreamer Fred Rogers. The movie plays a lot on the chemistry between Rhys and Hanks and there is a lot of it. The whole concept plays off Fred Rogers’ real-life tendency to basically interview anybody who tried to interview him. The movie is not about Mr. Rogers but instead about the effect he had on people. The movie also really nails the aesthetic of the show. The puppets, models, sets, and costumes really take you right back to the show. This movie was such a sweet, beautiful respite after a darker week. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie.


The Banana Splits Movie

I find it hilarious that over a decade since the last Banana Splits content was released, they decide to make a horror movie based on the intellectual property. Then they actually got permission and cooperation. This movie was definitely written by a fan of The Banana Splits although there is a rumor that this was a discarded Five Nights at Freddy’s script. The premise is that it’s the last performance of The Banana Splits Show but the robot characters have other plans. Deadly plans. This is a fairly low budget horror movie but it has a lot of heart. Also, having children be present throughout the story made it far tenser than it could have been. The movie also gets really dark and bloody (although they cut away from a lot of the violence while lingering on the resulting gore). I got a similar sinking feeling that I got from watching Terrifier but more upbeat and less gory. The practical effects are really good and the suit acting is also really good. There are plenty of good people you want to survive and awful people who you’d rather see die which is a great mix for a horror movie to have. You will get the Banana Splits theme stuck in your head. I definitely recommend this.


Kidding

I had heard really good things about this show, a return to form for Jim Carrey. It is about a children’s puppet television show host whose son dies and his family starts to fall apart. He also starts to suffer from repressed depression and the division between real life and the unreality of his tv show persona. Basically, screw Jim Carrey because he’s an anti-vaxxer so we’ll move on. Frank Langella plays the host’s father and boss in a great, no-nonsense way. Judy Greer plays his ex-wife who is moving on without him. Catherine Keener is great as the sardonic sister who works as the puppet designer and builder on the show. The show is understandably dark and very adult. However, I felt that it was too dark. There is offbeat gallows humor but it is not enough. The show just feels incredibly flat and throws in nudity and fairly explicit sex for little reason. Carrey is super flat and not an interesting character because he just does not emote much. I could not make it past the first three episodes before I pulled the plug. I do not recommend this show.

Music of the Week:
CHIKA – No Squares

Kelly Clarkson – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

SOFI TUKKER – Purple Hat

Liz Phair w/ Material Issue – The Tra La La Song

Slipknot – Unsainted

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Children’s Television”
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 10
– I watched more GDQ VODs
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more Slasher Season2
– I watched more Ducktales Season 2
– I started Black Lightning Season 3
– I started Season 2 of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath
– I started Rizzoli and Isles Season 2
– I started watching Dirty Money Season 2
– I started watching Bojack Horseman Season 6

Blood Pressure

March 23, 2020

I have refrained from writing about the following because of anxiety and embarrassment. However, I realize that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I have been struggling with my mental health and my physical health for a long time. I do not like to talk about it but, now that things are getting better, I feel strong enough to talk about it. I have long suffered from anxiety which often overlapped with depression. This led me to me binging on bad food and hiding in my room when I lived in New Jersey. I did not really take care of myself but anytime that I got a little sick, I panicked. Homesick and depressed, my mental state deteriorated. I gained weight. When I got bronchitis, I panicked and thought that the problems from when I was 12 had returned and I was dying.

When I returned back to Baltimore from New Jersey, my mood lightened and I worked at a job that was very physically demanding so I lost weight and got stronger. After that was over, I got a desk job where I was once again not getting exercise. This job started out alright and I was happy to have found work. However, it was social work for the government and my generalized anxiety and social anxiety made it very difficult. I did not know how to deal with the phone and piles of work. I felt stressed all the time and I had migraines all the time. One day, I had a full-on panic attack and I rushed from the office to the urgent care center half a block away. I could barely breathe and my blood pressure was so high that they called an ambulance.

After a hospital visit and during a period of time away from work, I visited a doctor and was told that I had high blood pressure and anxiety. Something got stuck in my head and I was afraid that I had developed diabetes and that I would be blamed. Worse, I would have to deal with needles every day of my life. I started going to the gym but stopped going to the doctor. I did not want to know what was wrong with me. The medications my doctor gave me ran out but I did not go back to renew. I did no further tests.

I lived more or less normally, my weight fluctuating as I gave up on the gym and then went back. After my family went through a particularly rough encounter with alcoholism, my brother pushed me to get therapy. I went but got little out of it. My therapist left town to attend to her granddaughter and I did not find another. However, eventually, my brother suggested I visit a psychiatric nurse practitioner. He pushed the issue and I eventually gave in. This was the first time in my life that I was diagnosed with generalized and social anxiety. She took me seriously and I took her seriously.

She prescribed me Xanax and, once I adjusted to it, it was like night and day. The fear and anxiety I felt every day lifted. I felt more confident and I felt happier. I went back to the gym, realizing that I would stop going because I was anxious in public places. I would go back because I had heard that you could work off diabetes. I was told by my new nurse that I had troublingly high blood pressure and that, although I felt fine, I was definitely not. I found another doctor and they started to do tests on me. They could not figure things out so they ordered bigger scarier tests. I quit and walked away.

Recently, I switched my insurance to Kaiser Permanente and went in for a visit again. I was finally ready to accept whatever was coming to me. I immediately fell in love with the new set up. I was not visiting with a doctor who was a resident in med school who cared but did not seem to have time for me. Instead, I now have a doctor who speaks plainly with me and is super approachable. I can message him through an app with questions and he answers the same day. The big thing is that the laboratory is inhouse so I can just walk over and do bloodwork or whatever. It makes it harder to make excuses and avoid things.

I am now also on blood pressure and cholesterol medications and I am working with my doctor and the nurses to get my numbers down. I am starting to see improvement and I am sticking to the gym. (Historical note: My gym was closed due to Covid-19 last week). I have a blood pressure monitor at home which automatically sends my numbers to the nurses. I am doing a lot better and I am feeling a lot better and clearer. Best of all, my doctor finally shot down my old fear that I had developed or was developing diabetes. No diabetes. I’m doing pretty great, actually. I am also doing a job that I love and that leaves me with a lot more energy at the end of most days. So that’s how I’m doing.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 5

March 21, 2020

“I am going to go ahead and guess that you’re not Gwendolyn,” Luther said. “You’re who we came to see, though.” Mariel glanced over at Sir Buttonface and he was staring at the floor as if he had somehow gone to sleep on his feet. Thankfully, he was not present for this horrific sight of something wearing his master’s image eating a beloved baby unicorn.

The thing that looked like Gwendolyn grinned and then tilted its head back and actually cackled. “Obviously,” it said. “What tipped you off?”

“Um, the unicorn feast was a big one,” Dina said.

“I couldn’t resist,” the thing said. “Such innocence is delicious. I haven’t fed like this in ages.”

“What are you?” Mariel asked. “No no, we know what you are and why you’re here. Who are you?”

“Tsk tsk,” the thing said with a smile. “I know how this works. You do not get to know my true name. All you need to know is that precious little Gwendolyn was weak so I decided to move in.”

“Well,” Luther said. “It’s time to move out now. This is not yours.”

“It is now,” the thing said. Its voice changed back to Gwendolyn as it looked over at her loyal knight. “Sir Buttonface! Please remove these guests.”

Sir Buttonface slowly and sadly turned toward the party. “I’m sorry for this,” he said. He drew a giant ten foot sword and swung it in a wide arc at the party as hard as he could.

Luther pushed Mariel out of the way but caught a little bit of the blade on his shoulder. Dimitri quickly brought up his shield and stopped the sword swing, getting driven back a few inches. Dina took the opportunity to shift into hybrid wolf form, her claws grew and she circled around behind Buttonface. Fern waved her hands and vines grew from the floor to capture the giant teddy bear. Asher pulled out his lute and started to play a countercharm to see if he could somehow break the unnamed devil’s hold on this unreality. Dina lunged and shoved claws deep into the fluff of the teddy bear knight and then she backflipped out of the way. Mariel stood with righteous indignation and tossed a fireball which ignited right in the knight’s face. Burning stuffing and fur flew everywhere and the bear fell to his knees.

Unfortunately, the bear then stood up while he was still burning. The devil laughed as the burning bear started to attack again. Buttonface attacked with mindless savagery, his large size and strength made him more than a match for the combined forces of the party. Luther tried a knockout punch but was swatted into a wall hard by a burning paw. Mariel was picked up and tossed into Fern, the two of them tumbling to the ground in a tangled mess. The devil lashed out with hellfire at Asher, sending the bard into deep unconsciousness. Buttonface landed an overhead downward swing on Dimitri, driving him into the ground despite his shield. Dina tried to run for her brother but was stomped by the still-burning teddy bear knight. For good measure, Buttonface stomped hard on the others.

One by one, Buttonface picked each member of the party up and carried them to the edge of the cloud and tossed them off. They fell to the shadowy ground below. When they woke up, they saw that the landscape around them was dark and full of shadow and mist. They started to check their injuries. They were definitely in bad shape but they were all still able to stand. Their equipment, weapons, and supplies were all damaged beyond repair. They all looked up at the castle on the cloud and then looked at the ground below them.

“How are we still alive?” Dimitri asked. “I mean, I’m not complaining.”

“A reminder that this is a dream,” Mariel said. “Things do not always work out like they do in the material plane. However, I think our survival actually has a lot to do with Sir Buttonface.”

“How is that?” Dina asked. “He really kicked our asses. He tore us apart.”

“I think I see what you’re getting at, Mariel,” Asher said. “That devil told Sir Buttonface to ‘remove us’ instead of telling him to kill us. I think that the lack of specific language actually saved us this time.”

“Exactly,” Mariel said. “I suspect that Buttonface is a pure creation of Gwendolyn’s and therefore carries a lot of power in here. That devil has taken control of Buttonface and everything else in here.”

“Hopefully deep down, Buttonface is still loyal to Gwendolyn,” Luther said. “We need him out of the way so we can get our hands on that little devil.”

Then, from somewhere in the mist, there came a small pitiful sound. “Hello?” the voice said. “Is anybody out there? Please!”

Media Update 3/19/20

March 19, 2020


Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

After watching Going Clear, I knew that I had to watch this documentary season as I had heard it was really good. Scientology is a pretty frightening organization and having a really in-depth look at it is really important. The series follows former Scientology members, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder. Leah Remini was a celebrity member and an evangelist for the organization. Mike Rinder was all the way near the top as an Executive Director on the Board of the Church of Scientology International. They travel around the country and interview former members of Scientology about the horrible experiences they endured. They explore the structure of Scientology and the psychology of those still inside. Leah has a really good interview style. She is really warm but cuts to the heart of the matter. Mike usually hangs back and provides insight as a former man at the top. They interview two or three people an episode, slowly putting together a pattern of abuse. Their stated goal is to prevent Scientology from wrecking any more families. They also detail a lot of the history and structure of Scientology. I definitely recommend this fascinating and heartbreaking docuseries.


The Most Dangerous Animal of All

This four-part documentary series follows a man named Gary Stewart who was adopted who decides to look for his birth parents. After finding his birth mother, he starts to obsessively seek out his birth father. His mother warns Gary to drop it and everybody else connected tells him to drop it. Gary finds out that his father was an infamous pedophile who repeatedly kidnapped and married Gary’s birth mother. It was a famous child bride scandal called “The Ice Cream Romance”. It was a real tragedy and it showed how evil Gary’s father (Earl Van Best Jr.) was and how out of touch with reality he was. Gary fixated on this and one day he saw a sketch of The Zodiac Killer and decided that his father might be the Zodiac Killer. He took years to explore and research this idea, ruining all of his relationships through his obsession. He published a book with what looked like compelling evidence but much of it was debunked or partially debunked. It is a fascinating story of one man’s obsession, how buried history can hurt us whether it is unearthed or not, and the lies we tell to get to our goals. I definitely recommend it.


The Amazing Jonathan Documentary

I have been a fan of The Amazing Jonathan since I first saw him do a special on Comedy Central in the nineties. He felt a little like Penn and Teller but without the socially responsible messages. He was outrageous and hilarious and I instantly loved him. After seeing a few specials, he dropped off of my radar. He was pretty much exclusive to Las Vegas so of course I was not really going to see what he was up to. It turns out that he had some heart problems but was able to mitigate some of them based on exercise and diet. This documentary is about him returning to the stage for a handful of shows. However, suddenly things are not quite as they seem and things start to get weird. It is hard to know what is real and what is fiction. It should be expected, the director of the documentary used to work on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! which excelled at unreality and weird situations. This is not a traditional documentary but I think it really illustrates who The Amazing Jonathan is and the spirit of his career. I recommend it as well.

 

Music of the Week:
Otoboke Beaver – datsu, hikage no onna

Charlotte Lawrence – Joke’s On You

Orville Peck – Queen of the Rodeo

Avatar – King’s Harvest

Avril Lavigne – I Fell In Love With The Devil

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Misinformation”
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 10
– I watched more VODs of AGDQ and SDGQ events
– I started watching Frost Fatales VODs
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more The Good Doctor Season 1
– I watched more She-Ra Season 2
– I watched more Fosse/Verdon

Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2020 Theme Reveal

March 16, 2020

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

This is my sixth A to Z Blogging Challenge since I was convinced by a friend to start in 2015. It challenged me and caused me to get more serious about my blog and it eventually led to a steadier schedule and the ability to churn out a post less than two hours before my deadline. I was not sure if I was going to continue this year but I thought of a really fun theme. I started without a theme and moved onto loose themes. This year I am going full fiction. Not just any fiction, though. I am doing

Fanfiction

Fanfiction, for the few who may not know, is taking somebody else’s created work and molding and changing it to write your own stories with their tools. Fanfiction has been around for a long time but has gotten more mainstream press lately. Last year, the most prominent online community for fanfiction (Ao3) was awarded a Hugo, an important speculative fiction award. Like it or not but 50 Shades of Grey started as fanfiction of Twilight. More and more people are starting to figure out that fanfiction is legitimate in its own right even though marketing and selling it is tough.

Within fanfiction there are many categories and erotic fanfiction seems to be the most popular. This is not what I will be doing. This blog is fairly family-friendly and I want to keep it that way. I also have no interest in writing smut. I have nothing against it and I have many friends who read and write it. Good for them. So if you were worried about that, don’t. If you are disappointed about that then I apologize.

A bunch of the story ideas that I will be using were born from suggestions made on Twitter. I already have plans for playing in the worlds of Star Trek, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, The Witcher, Breaking Bad, and more. There are going to be some surprises. I am open to more suggestions. I have not remotely written everything and I need 26 different worlds to play in. Feel free.

So get ready for some fanfiction. Starting in April. Get Ready.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 4

March 14, 2020

The party stepped through the main gate and found themselves in a glass tunnel under what looked like fathoms of water. Sir Buttonface seemed nonplussed but all of them were absolutely astonished. They had traveled the world and seen many wondrous and horrifying sights but this was new. Fern and Dina pressed their faces to the glass and Mariel gently pulled them back. As she did, a mermaid swam by and waved and smiled at them. It was not like real sea people that Mariel and her friends had seen. The top of the woman was beautiful by human standards and the bottom was all fish but the scales shone like gems. She was absolutely magnificent. Then three more swam by, more graceful than anything in the world.

“They’re beautiful,” Dina said. “Super weird but beautiful.”

“Totally wild and free,” Fern muttered. “I want to swim with them.”

“Master Gwendolyn swims with them often,” Sir Buttonface said offhandedly. He was not even looking at them, he was just staring into space with a bored expression. “She can breathe underwater. Did you know that?”

“We didn’t,” Mariel said. “Has she swam with the mermaids recently?” She smiled and turned with wonder toward Sir Buttonface.

Buttonface turned to face her, his attention suddenly attracted. “Not lately,” he replied. “Master Gwendolyn has had other things to focus on.”

“Like what?” Luther asked. “She’s a little child. What does she have to do except for play?”

Sir Buttonface shrugged. “Law and order,” he said. “There is a threat to the kingdom.”

“Oh?” Luther asked. “What’s the threat? We can help.” He gestured to his compatriot’s weapons and armor. “We are adventurers. Fighters.”

“You’ll see,” Buttonface said. “Come. We’re expected.” He pushed open the next gate and kept walking.

Everybody looked at each other, exchanging worried glances. Still, there were few options other than following the teddy bear knight. Everybody tensed and continued.

They were led through the next door which revealed an indoor area that was covered with plants and grass. Prancing nearby was a couple of unicorns. Everybody stopped again. The unicorns were rainbow-colored and their hair seemed to be made of light and love. They moved like they were completely unencumbered by anything natural. They were beautiful otherworldly spirits in horse form. Mariel hardly noticed that her breathing had stopped. When she noticed she gasped and just could not stop smiling. She noticed Asher staring intently as well.

“I have always wanted to see a unicorn since even before my orphan days,” Mariel said. “I have never really known of them outside of the Faewild. I’ve never really wanted to risk it all by going there.”

“I have,” Fern said softly. Mariel and Dina glanced over at her and she shrugged and turned back toward the unicorns. That girl was a mystery.

“You’re a unicorn fan, Asher?” Mariel asked.

“My sister drew them endlessly when we were little,” Asher said. “She was absolutely obsessed. That obsession was definitely contagious and many nights I dreamed of unicorns. One of my first songs that got famous was about unicorns.”

“Really?” Mariel asked. “I don’t think I’ve heard that one.”

“It’s Unicorn in the Meadow,” Asher said. As he said it, the sound of music filled the air around them and an invisible singer seemed to circle around them. It was the song that Asher had just mentioned.

“That is one of Master Gwendolyn’s favorite songs,” Sir Buttonface said. “She has sung it often. That’s her voice.”

“We need to see her,” Luther said. “We want to help her.” He looked up at the teddy bear knight.

Sir Buttonface seemed to consider Luther’s request for a long moment. “She does not need your help,” he said. “I will still bring you to her. She will want to meet you.”

“Lead the way then,” Luther said.

“We have already arrived,” Sir Buttonface said.

They looked around and found that they were suddenly in a glittery pink room with white marble floors and accents everywhere. It looked like they were inside of a confection. A rich girl’s birthday cake come to life. On a golden throne was Gwendolyn. She wore a flowing silk dress with literal stars twinkling in the fabric. She wore an impressive silver and gold crown. She had a baby unicorn on her lap. As they all caught her eye, she smirked and leaned down and took a large bite out of the baby unicorn. She swallowed hard, multi-colored blood running down her chin as the baby beast squirmed. She tossed it aside and wiped her mouth clean.

“This is going to be fun,” the thing that was not Gwendolyn said.

Media Update 3/12/20

March 12, 2020


Knives Out

Rian Johnson really impressed me when I saw his breakout film Looper, a science fiction movie that was really innovative. He remained innovative when he delivered his take on Star Wars in the Last Jedi. When I heard that he was given a movie far away from toxic fandoms and it was a fun take on the mystery genre. When I saw the first trailers, I was all in. It has Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer all acting like they really enjoyed themselves and really put their heart into it. They are all hilarious and believable characters. Daniel Craig gets to really stretch his comedy and acting chops with a southern gentleman private detective. He is having so much fun in this role that it makes me wish he had stopped being James Bond years ago. The real star of the movie is Ana de Armas who plays the family nurse. She is so funny, sympathetic, and should be considered the absolute star of this movie. The movie was absolutely delightful. It had so many twists and turns that I was constantly surprised and overjoyed. I definitely recommend this movie.


Fosse/Verdon

I remember when I first saw the movie version of Cabaret and I was blown away. The music, atmosphere, choreography, and acting were all so good. It was an absolute game-changer for me as a young kid and the musical remains a favorite of mine. Bob Fosse was a legendary director and choreographer of musicals. He famously directed/choreographed famous musicals such as Sweet Charity, Chicago, and Pippin among others. He started in live theater and then eventually moved to feature films. He had a particular style. He did a lot of work on shows that were dirty, edgy, and sexual and he kind of became known for that. His third wife was Gwen Verdon, a legend in her own right that I was unaware of. She was an actress and dancer who was part of a lot of Fosse’s success. She had her own tumultuous and successful career including the lead roles in Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, and Chicago and then onto film. The show captures the darkness that wrapped around the lives of the two leads which constantly fought with the creativity they both definitely had. Sam Rockwell is great as the world-weary yet almost charmingly sinister Bob Fosse. Michelle Williams is superb as the successful yet emotionally floundering Vernon. Obviously, the strength of the show comes from their chemistry. I definitely recommend the show.


You’re Next

I had been hearing good things about this movie since it came out. I thought it looked a bit too snarky but I put it on my list. Since then, I have only heard more good things so I decided it was the perfect movie for this week. The movie is about a wealthy family getting together at their old estate when they suffer a deadly home invasion, actually more of a home siege. It is a little like the original The Purge but actually interesting. They really captured the terror of suddenly being exposed to death and violence. The star of the movie is Sharni Vinson who plays the heroine who seizes the moment and goes toe to toe with the deadly gang. Her arc throughout the movie is just so good starting as an anti-fascist college student and ending as a fierce warrior. The action was all really good. I am so glad that we are mostly past the days of torture porn and its excessive gore. Instead, we get the tension and suspense of a really good action movie mixed a bit with the horror genre. Every minute of the movie was so fun and I was drawn deeper and deeper as the movie went along. I definitely recommend it.

Weekly Music:
Caravan Palace – Miracle

Meg Myers – Running Up That Hill

虎落ブエ – Lordless Mimetown

Caravan Palace – Black Betty

Migos, Young Thug, Travis Scott – Give No Fxk

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Family Drama”
– I started Bojack Horseman Season 6
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 10
– I watched more VODs of AGDQ 2019/2020 and SGDQ 2019
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more The Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 2
– I watched more The Good Doctor Season 1
– I watched more She-Ra Season 2
– I finished The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 2

A Rose In the Snow

March 9, 2020

Jack made his way into the taproom of the Emperor’s Tailor and shook the snow from his cloak. The barmaid eyed the wood ax strapped to his back and whispered something to the bartender. Jack shrugged and tried to look harmless as he took off his cloak and hung it and the ax in its harness by the door. He did not want any trouble. Well, any more trouble. He had more than he knew how to deal with as usual. He had the best luck and the worst luck. That strange mix had made him travel out into a snowy night to this inn in the middle of nowhere on the border of two kingdoms.

He walked up to the bar and tried to look charming as he approached the bar and smiled at the barmaid. She rolled her eyes and walked off to deliver somebody’s drinks which left Jack with the bartender. Jack smiled again and leaned on the bar.

“I was told that I could find some sellswords here,” Jack said. “Is that true?”

The bartender grunted. “I don’t want no trouble in my inn,” the bartender said. Was he also the owner or was it a figure of speech? It barely mattered.

Jack put his hands up in a harmless gesture. “No trouble, sir,” he said. “Well, there is trouble but it is far from here. I have brought none of it with me. I’ll be traveling back to the trouble soon enough.”

The bartender gave him an unfriendly, impatient look. “Did you have a point?” he asked.

Jack nodded. “Yes,” he said. “My point was my original question. Are there sellswords here for hire?”

“Do you mean in general or are you looking for somebody specific?” the bartender asked indifferently.

“Uh yes,” Jack said. “There was one in particular that I was told would be able to confront the particular trouble I’m confronted with.”

The bartender sighed. “Who in particular were you looking for?” he asked.

“Ah, sorry,” Jack said. “I do tend to give less than straight answers. It’s an inherited trait. I am looking for the famous Rose Red.”

The bartender narrowed his eyes. “Are you serious?” he asked.

“Deadly serious,” Jack said. “I need her particular talents. I’ve heard the tales and I need her.”

“You’ve heard the tales,” the bartender said with a scoff. “So you know that her name comes not only from the color of her hair but also that she has worn the blood of her enemies.”

“That’s exactly why I’m looking for her,” Jack said. “She has a long, long list of vanquished monsters and villains. I have one more for her list.”

The bartender shrugged. “Don’t come crying to me if she breaks your nose,” he said. He knocked on the bar in a particular rhythm. “Knock like that on the door to the backroom over there.” He pointed.

Jack nodded. “If this goes well, I’ll order your finest ale,” he said.

“And if it goes poorly?” The bartender asked.

“I’ll order several of your cheapest,” he said. “But I’ll need a room either way.”

“I’ll have one prepared,” the bartender said. “Good luck.”

Jack nodded gratefully and headed to the door in question. He carefully knocked exactly as the bartender had indicated and waited. A woman’s voice from within yelled “Enter!” Jack pushed open the door and stepped inside, shutting the door behind him. The room was warm and full of smoke from the burning herb. There were two beautiful but hardened women sitting at the only table. They were empty plates and plenty of empty mugs scattered around. Both women were dressed casually, their cloaks and jackets slung over a chair near the fire. One woman had pure white hair and porcelain white skin. The other had scarlet hair and her skin was a darker brown. The barmaid was sitting on the lap of the one who had to be Rose Red and the two of them were in the middle of a deep kiss.

“I don’t mean to interrupt, Ms. Red,” Jack said. “but I have a business proposition for you.”

Rose Red pushed the barmaid off of her lap and pressed a coin into her palm with a smile. The barmaid left the room, giving Jack the stink eye. “And yet you did interrupt,” Rose said. “This had better be good.”

“Ah,” Jack said. “Should we not talk in private?” He glanced at the white-haired young woman whose eyebrow rose in response.

“Anything said to me can be said in front of my sister,” Rose said. “Out with it before I make you regret knocking on that door.”

“I need help with a giant,” Jack blurted out.

“A giant?” Rose asked. “I’ve never tangled with a giant before. What’s your name?”

“My name is Jack,” Jack said.

“Wait,” the white-haired lady said. “Jack? Giants? You’re not that Jack are you?”

“The one with the beans?” Rose asked with a smirk.

“That was my father,” Jack said. “His story has become somewhat exaggerated but he did steal from a particular giant and killed him somewhat incidentally. He died years ago but the giant’s family wants vengeance now. They would not only harm me and my mother but they want to level the entire town of Spriggin where I’m from.”

“Well,” Rose said. “Your father was a thief and probably deserved their revenge but you can hardly be blamed for his actions. What’s your plan, Beans?”

“I am putting together a team to accompany me while I parlay with the giants,” Jack said. “If that’s unsuccessful then I need fighters who can get the job done. I don’t want to further the cycle of violence but – ” Jack said, leaving the obvious unsaid.

“So you want me for your team do you, Beans?” Rose asked.

“The team really does not work without you,” Jack said.

“Flattery,” Rose said. “Will not get you as far as coin.”

“My father squandered a lot of his ill-gotten gains before he died but I have turned what was left into a thriving business,” Jack said. “I’ll pay your fee.”

Rose nodded. “It sounds like fun,” she said. “What do you say, Snow? Do you want to come with us?”

The white-haired lady shook her head. “I have a kingdom to get back to,” she said.

“Come now,” Rose said. “Leave the crown for a little longer. We spend so little time together these days.”

“Fine,” Snow said. “I’ll come with you. You may need my particular skills too.”

“You’re welcome to come too,” Jack said. “I’ll pay. Does that mean we have a deal?”

“We’ll draw up a deal when I’m sober in the morning,” Rose said. “For now, get the hell out and send the barmaid back in.”

“Right,” Jack said and headed for the door.


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