Archive for November, 2020

Ten Things Video Games Taught Me About the Apocalypse Pt. 1

November 30, 2020
  1. Don’t Be Too Picky About What You Eat – Fallout Franchise

The Fallout franchise takes place in an alternate United States that has gone through a nuclear war following an invasion from China and they suffered heavy casualties. Each game takes place in one of the 13 commonwealths that the USA has been divided into. The first two games are set in the Republic of California, the third is in the DC area, the fourth is in Boston. Spinoffs take place in Las Vegas and West Virginia. Your character travels through rural areas, suburbs, and cities. All of which suffered or are still suffering from heavy radiation. Therefore, almost everything you eat and drink adds to the radiation affecting your body. On top of that, you have to defend yourself from mutated wildlife most of which you can then eat. Eating giant cockroaches, giant rats, bears, and such is not only the new normal but encouraged in order to survive. Fruit and vegetables can sometimes be found but a lot of people subsist on canned and boxed junk foods like Salisbury steak, sugar bombs, and tons of soda all of which actually heal you. In the apocalypse, you no longer can be too picky about what you eat and drink. You are going to have to survive so dig into all of that disgusting food and follow it up with some radiation medicine.

Mutations build character.

  1. Keep a Good Inventory of Your Weapons and Ammo – Metro 2033

The Metro 2033 franchise takes place in a post-apocalyptic Moscow following a nuclear war which brought upon nuclear winter. Because the Earth’s surface has become highly radioactive, humans are forced to live underground in the metro tunnels of Moscow and the surrounding areas. Stations are held by different factions including Stalinists, Nazis, and other more rational Russians. You have to fight the people stuck underground just as often as you fight the mutated animals above and below. So, it makes sense that you will be toting around a gun to end whatever threat you are facing. Rarely can you talk your way out of trouble. Even pacifists have reason to keep weapons and ammo around because, in this setting, ammo doubles as currency and a good weapon can be exchanged for contract work. There is a mechanic where you can either use or save military-grade ammo so you can use your currency in a tight spot. In more ways than one, having a handful of bullets could keep you alive.

  1. Keep Moving – Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Red Dead Redemption is a traditional cowboy tail about traveling the wilderness and saving the West while seeking personal revenge. The follow-up downloadable content unleashed zombies on the same setting. You have to travel across the same lands again, this time in search of something that will resolve the zombie apocalypse. Anything that dies rises up as a zombie which includes people, horses, bears, wolves, and everything else. The first thing I realized when I started playing is to keep moving. Zombies can be fast and can surround you quickly. Zombies are not relegated to just the towns, human zombie hordes rove randomly through the wilderness as well. If you stay still too long, you will die. Luckily, you should have your trusty horse nearby. At least, it is one of your trusty horses as you will go through a lot of them. They can easily be used as a distraction to get away from a horde. Of course, when you reach for your horse it may also be a zombie and may not react to your commands. Keep moving or get bit.

  1. Where A Mask – Last of Us

The Last of Us is set in the United States after the collapse of society due to an airborne fungus called Cordyceps. It is based on the very real fungus that usually targets insects and mind controls them into being fungus carriers and spreaders. Joel and Ellie must make it across Massachusetts in hopes that Ellie’s immunity to Cordyceps could mean a cure or vaccine for the rest of humanity. Those infected by the fungus lose rationality and become hyper-aggressive. Infected eventually lose sight but gain the power of echolocation and hardened armor. Besides being quiet and keeping your distance, the only way to protect yourself from inhaling the fungus is to wear a gas mask. Well, the dead are safe from the fungus as it needs a living host to establish a parasitic relationship. Pulling on your mask may be the only thing that keeps you alive sometimes. There are probably going to be a lot of things in the apocalypse that we just should not breathe.

  1. Don’t Be Too Shocked By Things – Nier Automata

The world of Nier: Automata takes place long after an apocalypse that wiped out human beings and a subsequent alien invasion. The only real remnants of human society are androids in an organization called YoRHa who mimic humanity to remind other androids about human supremacy. They are locked in a constant war with a sort of machine empire. Previously, more or less a mechanical threat, the machines reveal that they are learning human culture and behavior and have birthed their own androids. Things get really weird from there. The machines form a cult and go absolutely insane. You witness a lot of this cult-like behavior including sacrifices, machines preying on and torturing androids in sadistic ways, and a full-blown robot orgy boss fight. Things get even more existential from there as the protagonists and some pacifist machine allies try to navigate increasingly chaotic times. The point is that you do not really have time to sit and gawk at what the world has become. You have to keep moving or you will be the next casualty.


Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 7

November 28, 2020

Anna and Aladdin hurried across open ground toward what was deemed the most likely place to find fireworks. They had opted to go on this mission since most everyone else was occupied or too valuable to be risked. Anna had gotten a taste for adventure after helping to save her kingdom twice, she was enjoying the thrill far too much. Aladdin was used to sneaking around but he was glad to be doing something proactive. He was glad to have a plan instead of winging it and holding out until somebody thought of something. Both of them wished Mulan could have come along but nobody wanted to risk the most competent soldier China had left on a mission. They had backup not far away but Aladdin had insisted on a two-person team because it was stealthier.

When they reached the wall, they both pressed against it and looked up at a nearby cliff. Merrida was up there with her bow ready to go if need be for cover fire. If one knew what to look for, they could spot a tuft of red hair blowing a bit in the wind. There was also a small group of soldiers at the base of the cliff that would be signaled when Aladdin and Anna found the fireworks. Anna pulled out a rope with a hook and tossed it up the wall and pulled it so it would latch onto the top of the wall. It was something that Rapunzel had briefly tutored her in and something she would find more exciting if they were not in mortal danger. The two of them started to climb and slipped easily over the top of the wall.

Inside the wall was a group of warehouses and Anna half expected to spot the fireworks out in the open. Unfortunately, this was not the case and everything was very tidy. While their mission was not simply achieved, the place did look and feel deserted. Hopefully, this was a little pocket of the land that the army of monsters had ignored. Fireworks sounded like magic and maybe they could turn the tide in this fight. For the first time it gave everybody hope again and this mission was worth it if only for that. Aladdin walked to the first door and started to pick the lock.

“Wow,” Anna said, clearly impressed and not a bit judgemental. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“Once a thief, always a thief,” Aladdin said. “I did a lot to survive before Jasmine made an honest man out of me.”

“I can’t imagine you were all that bad,” Anna said. “You seem like you have a good heart. Believe me, I have become a good judge of character from horrible experiences.” The lock opened and the two of them slipped carefully inside.

“I did what I had to in order to survive and that’s it,” Aladdin said. “All I did was not starve.” He was not ashamed of his past. Agrabah was changing under Jasmine’s leadership and the theft he had committed would not be something future generations would be forced to do.

“You kind of remind me of my husband, Kristoff,” Anna said. “It sounds like you two might get along. He grew up in the wilderness and talks to a reindeer.”

Aladdin was about to be offended when he thought of something. “I guess I do talk to a monkey,” he said. “It’s actually a fair comparison.”

“It’s fun to be strange,” Anna said. “My best friend is a snowman named Olaf. Of course, he can actually speak my language.” She was teasing a little but Aladdin already knew that their little makeshift group was full of strange people. Normal people do not end up on adventures.

They slipped in among the boxes of the various warehouses, searching for the fireworks based on the drawings that they had been provided. They were very careful but fortunately the place was quiet. The monster army had no use for the things in these warehouses. Anna and Aladdin did each pick up a sword. Anna grabbed up a wooden pot lid.

“To use as a shield,” Anna said with a smile and a shrug. “Mattias has been teaching me combat lately back home and I have gotten used to using a shield.”

“I’m no great sword fighter,” Aladdin said. “I’ll just have to wing it.”

Anna gasped. “Wait,” she almost yelled. “Are these the fireworks?” she asked. She looked excitedly at Aladdin who hurried over.

Inside the box were long red cylinders with pointy tops with little strings poking out of the other end. “That matches the drawing,” Aladdin said. “I think I’ve actually seen these things in action before. Didn’t know the name. This should be really exciting.”

“Let’s signal the others,” Anna said. “We can’t carry all of these boxes by ourselves.”

“Yeah let’s do it,” Aladdin agreed.

Media Update 11/26/20

November 26, 2020

Blood Simple

This is the Coen Brothers’ first movie which they were able to both direct and write. It is a simmering crime movie with a small cast. John Getz plays a quiet but reckless bartender who gets into trouble for sleeping with the wrong woman. Dan Madaya plays the paranoid bar owner, a rich man who thinks he can buy anything. Frances McDormand plays a somewhat mousy but extremely likable woman who gets mixed up in things. Finally, M. Emmet Walsh plays the corrupt and silly private detective who acts as comic relief and to move the plot along. The movie is an interesting character study about what happens when a single act of violence eventually drives everybody crazy. It is a brilliant movie especially with its use of silence. There is a 14 minute sequence without any dialogue and it is the best. The movie is amazing for a first attempt and really just a good movie period. You can see how Frances McDormand was going to become a superstar actress even then. I recommend this movie.

Miller’s Crossing

This is a straight up neo-noir film about a clash between the Italian and Irish mobs during prohibition. Gabriel Byrne plays a straight shooter and strategist behind the throne of the largest mobster in town who gets mixed up in a lot of intrigue. John Turturro plays the Jewish gangster who sparks the whole conflict and he is so likable and weaselly. Albert Finney plays the big shot Irish mob boss. Jon Polito steals every scene he was in as the hot-headed Italian gangster with a bit of a Napoleon complex. Finally, Marcia Gay Harden plays the fickle love interest, a classic femme fatale in a noir story. The movie is a classic gangster story with that layered story that the Coen Brothers do so well. I would liken it to movies like No Country For Old Men, Burn After Reading, and a little of The Big Lebowski. The story has a lot of good twists and turns that I was not expecting. Nobody comes off as a hero but you meet a lot of interesting characters. I definitely recommend this movie.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

This is definitely a weird movie and the Coen brothers like to ocassionally make this kind of movie. It is similar to Barton Fink and A Simple Man in that we follow one character as he tries to navigate increasingly chaotic events. Billy Bob Thornton plays the main character, a very low key and taciturn barber who wants to get ahead in life. Frances McDormand plays his spitfire wife who is a social climber. James Gandolfini plays her boss, a gruff but nice man. John Polito plays a travelling salesman who has the gift for gab. Tony Shalhoub plays an eccentric defense attorney who has a motormouth. A pretty young Scarlett Johansson plays a na├»ve young girl. The story moves pretty slowly but at some point it gains momentum and kicks into a higher gear. I really loved Thornton’s monotone performance as it was an interesting choice and he also narrates the movie like a film noir piece. The movie is also in black and white and feels like a throwback to earlier cinema. I recommend this movie with the caveat that it is weird and moves slowly at first.

Music of the Week:


Qveen Herby – ALL THESE HOES

Surfaces – Bloom

French 79 – Hometown

Killer Mike – Reagan

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “The Coen Brothers Period Pieces”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched more Doctor Who Season 11
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Young Justice Season 3
I watched more EVIL Season 1
I watched more The Haunting of Bly Manor
I watched more Agents of Shield Season 7
I watched more Cults and Extreme Belief Season 1

Cozy Questions Pt. 2

November 23, 2020
  1. Dogs or Cats?

While I appreciate the love and energy of dogs and my brand is based on wolves, I am totally a cat guy. I have ADD so I really need a pet that is going to be cool with not interrupting me all of the time. Cats are a lot like me in that sometimes I want to be alone and sometimes I want to eat and then there is a small sliver of time that I want to spend with other people. I have anxiety as well but cats pretty much handle their own business. I like the idea of being around an animal that is calmer than I am. It makes me think things may not be as bad as I think they are. Cats are also kind of funny to me as they are constantly just doing weird things. The other day I came down the hill to drive my car to work and there was a guy taking pictures of my car. I picked up the pace, ready to ask this guy what his deal was when I spotted that he was actually taking pictures of a cat regally perched on my car’s roof. The guy taking pictures was embarrassed but I assured him that it was alright and that I actually felt bad about shooing the cat so I could get to work.

  1. What’s Your Dream Holiday?

My ideal holiday would be pretty solitary. I would want to be holed up on in a bungalow on a private beach somewhere warm and sunny. It would be far away from people so that I could go out and swim without being anxious about seeing anybody. I would not need a whole lot of rooms as I would be alone. I would want a big shower to rinse off the seawater and sand whenever I needed to. I would want a big kitchen to make my own food and a grill outside. I would want a high-speed internet connection and two computers, one for gaming and one for surfing and writing. I would take a notebook out onto the beach for writing while I’m not swimming and then I would type things up back at the bungalow. I would want to be somewhat close to restaurants so I could get food out but still be hidden away.

  1. How Many Kids Do You Want?

Zero. No offense to those who have kids (my mom has three) but I am fine on my own. I am aromantic and there are enough kids in the world. I do not desire to add any more nor do I want to carry on my lineage.

  1. Favorite Weather?

My favorite weather is actually when it is raining in the fall. The rain is so calming and I love to either watch it coming down or hear it coming down as I start to go to sleep. I have suffered from migraines in the past and I have always been light-sensitive. I really appreciate when the sun is hidden away by clouds and everything just calms down. Also, I never mind going for a walk in the rain as long as I have an umbrella and there is something a little thrilling about getting out there when almost everybody else has scampered inside. Second to the rain is when it is snowing out. It has a lot of the same pluses but unfortunately has the added risk of being out in the freezing cold and possibly slipping and hurting myself. Still, I have had some great adventures on snow days. Finally, third place goes to overcast days, of course.

  1. What Would Your Last Meal Be?

That is certainly a tough question as I am not too picky on food. I love spicy food but it can be rough on my stomach but I suppose if it is my last meal, I do not have to worry about that. I think my ideal last meal would be a smothered steak and chicken burrito with guacamole and sour cream on the side, oven-roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower, and garlic bread. Perhaps instead a angel hair pasta with shrimp, crab, and scallops, green bean casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes. I would definitely break my dessert rule and I would probably go with a big chocolate milkshake. I would probably explode near the end of the meal but it would be worth it.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Hawaii Pt. 7

November 21, 2020

When they rejoined Maui on the surface, Lilo and Stitch were approaching carrying some brown bags in a box. When Adam raised his eyebrow and glanced at Moana and Maui, Moana smiled in response. She led the way over to a small table surrounded by chairs in the open air outside of the little bungalow that Adam had woken up in. The three of them sat down and Adam noticed that Maui had the same trouble fitting into his chair that Adam had when he was in Beast form. He had some sympathy for the big guy.

“It’s called ‘takeout food’,” Moana said. “Lilo brings it to us sometimes.” Stitch grunted at that. “and Stitch helps, of course.”

“It’s from the restaurant my sister Nani co-owns,” Lilo said. “Authentic Hawaiian cuisine.”

“Food almost fit for a god,” Maui said with gusto. “Island food is the best food especially when somebody cooks for you.”

“She feels bad for you guys,” Lilo said. “She’s a little annoyed that I keep taking in strays all the time.” Lilo was obviously a little girl who spoke her mind no matter what.

The three sitting around the table all looked at each other. Adam felt a little awkward being a burden. He could see that Moana felt the same. If Maui was bothered by Lilo’s words, he did not really show it but he did momentarily look away. Maui reached down and grabbed the box of food and placed it on the table. He ruffled Lilo’s hair roughly which caused Lilo to giggle and slap his huge hand away.

“I told her that we have to help people when they need help,” Lilo said. “Besides, I used Jumba’s credit card to rent this place and get you groceries. Maybe you’re just part of the family now.”

“Ohana means family,” Stitch said. “Family means nobody gets left behind.” The statement seemed to hold a lot of weight. Adam was flattered but he also hoped that if he became family, it would be distant family. He hoped he would be reunited with Belle again and he had a lot of people who depended on him back in France. Still, this place called Hawaii was a paradise compared with other places to be stranded in. Perhaps if they resolved whatever magical chaos was happening on the island, a way home would appear.

“That’s very sweet,” Moana said. “Thank you, Lilo. Thank you, Stitch.” Moana had a good heart and it reminded Adam a bit of Belle. It was that same strong will that had pulled Adam from the brink and had set him on this path to redemption.

“Same goes for me, kid,” Maui said as he started tearing the paper bags apart and laying the food on the table. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome!” Lilo said with a big smile. Maui and Moana glanced at each other knowingly for a moment.

“Yes, thank you Lilo and Stitch,” Adam said, remembering his manners. “Thank your sister for us as well. We’ll repay you any way that we can.”

“I will,” Lilo said. “We gotta go to dance class. I’ll be back. Good luck saving the world.”

“See you later,” Moana said. “Go have fun.”

“Bye bye!” Stitch yelled.

“Leave everything to us,” Maui said with a confident wink.

Lilo and Stitch walked off back toward their home. They all started to eat their food. It was hot and tasty and nothing like anything Adam had ever had before. His kitchens had always cooked good food but it was the finest French cuisine. This was all so foreign to him. From watching Maui and Moana, the food must not have been as foreign to them.

“She is a really good little girl,” Moana said. “She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. The odd one out and interested in the unknown.”

“Where did you and Maui come from?” Adam asked. “I’m curious what it’s like.”

“I come from the island of Motunui,” Moana said. “It’s kind of the same as here but a lot fewer people and they have a lot more things. Still, there are some similarities between our cultures which makes me wonder. I went out to sea one day to right a wrong which is why I met Maui.” She gave Maui a pointed look.

“What can I say except ‘I’m sorry’?” Maui said. “I’m from the same world as Moana but I’m not tied to one particular island. I was born a long, long time ago. The Gods made me into what I am today and I’m humanity’s protector.”

“At least, you’re supposed to be,” Moana said.

“I’ve seen the light,” Maui said in what felt almost like his version of earnestness. “I’ve left behind my selfish ways.”

Moana looked doubtful but smiled anyway.

“What about you, furry?” Maui asked, turning to look at Adam. “What’s your story?”

Media Update 11/19/20

November 19, 2020

Doctor Sleep

When I read and then saw The Shining as a kid, I never thought there would be a sequel nor did I want one. It was a chilling tale filled with ghosts and mental illness. However, I am happy to report that I was wrong and that this was a pretty good movie. Set decades after the Overlook Hotel incident, the movie follows Dan Torrance and a little girl named Abra . The movie does a deeper dive into what it means to have the Shining and the different things you can do with it. This really felt like it was trying (and succeeding) to marry the plot of The Shining to The Dark Tower series. Director Mike Flanagan was able to accomplish a balancing act by making the movie a sequel and homage to both the movie and the book. He also cut a lot from the book that was a little too weird and simplified the story a bit. Ewan McGregor is great as the grown up Danny Torrance, struggling with the negative traits he inherited from his father. Kyliegh Curran plays a bright young girl who is in much the same position as Danny was with even more potential. Many scenes are stolen by the villain played by Rebecca Ferguson, probably one of the most dynamic performances in a Stephen King adaptation. I recommend this movie.

Castle Rock

When I heard about this show I was intrigued because it is not actually an adaptation of any one Stephen King book or story. This show takes a lot of the characters (or their relatives) from different books and stories and drops them in the familiar setting of Castle Rock, Maine. It feels like an extension of King’s writing in the same way that the TV show Haven was. It takes a lot of the concepts from earlier works and continues the Stephen King extended universe. Andre Holland plays a death row criminal attorney who returns home after a strange childhood event. Bill Skarsgard plays a strange mystery person who is the central mystery of the first season. Melanie Lynskey plays a reclusive woman with psychic abilities who convincingly plays a little crazy. Scott Glenn plays retired sheriff Alan Pangborn (from Needful Things and The Dark Half). Jane Levy plays the younger sister of Jack Torrance (from The Shining) and she is snarky. The show does a good job of invoking the feeling of King’s works and sliding into that world. I recommend the show although it moves fairly slowly.

‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

I decided to watch this because it is apparently somewhat connected to the show Castle Rock. This was a television miniseries but the version I watched on Shudder was without commercial interruption and was basically a three hour movie. In this, a writer returns home to write about an evil house in his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. Something evil is arising in town. Like a lot of King works of this type, the movie has a huge cast of small town characters who all somehow meet each other. It somehow works organically. David Soul plays the inquisitive writer (a common King character) who is at the center of the mystery. James Mason plays the incredibly sinister villain, a very charismatic figure. A young Lance Kerwin plays the nerdy horror-obsessed teen who gets wise to things early. The movie is a fun take on a familiar story with a lot of tropes that would become prevalent in the eighties. I recommend this somewhat goofy adaptation.

Music of the Week:

Halestorm – Do Not Disturb

Avril Lavigne – I Fell In Love With The Devil

Masego – Queen Tings

Lil Tjay – 20/20

the tenth – I Saw A Ghost

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Stephen King Deep Lore”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched more Doctor Who Season 11
I watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Young Justice Season 3
I watched more EVIL Season 1
I finished Harley Quinn Season 2
I watched the Rifftrax versions of Breaker! Breaker!, Star Games, Dark Future, Trucker’s Woman and Attack from Space.

Cozy Questions Pt. 1

November 16, 2020
  1. How do you drink your tea?

I don’t drink tea. The few times I tried it, it did not really float my boat. Iced tea tastes absolutely horrible to me. Maybe some day I will try some hot tea again to confirm whether or not I like it. Maybe something like mint tea would go over better. I like mint. In the past I would have put a ton of sugar in whatever I might try but I largely quit sugar a couple of years ago as a step toward better health. I had become dependent on sweets and now I have them maybe once a year (usually my mom’s birthday cake). So now I would eschew the sugar but I would probably pour a bunch of milk in (something I also have cut down on). I always wanted to like tea and coffee because it is so common and tea is so genteel and fancy to me.

  1. Favorite Dessert

Before I quit sweets, I had a bunch of favorites. I have always been a real sucker for chocolate and something as simple as warm chocolate chip cookies really float my boat. I love the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and marshmallow and there are a lot of good candies that combine these tastes. Reese’s cups have become sort of a running joke in my family because my stepfather hates the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter so it usually a good gag gift for him. As I got older, I felt like my palate became more sophisticated and I would have to say that my favorite dessert is actually a good cheesecake. These days, I like a good low sugar, high protein vanilla Ensure or yogurt.

  1. Favorite season and why?

I used to love summer because I was a kid and it meant school was out and I could go have fun at summer camp, with my friends or brothers, or visit the beach. However, as I got older I realized school was not so bad (it was largely the students I disliked) and eventually summer was no longer an escape. One thing I realized was how much I loved the Fall. The one thing I hated about the Summer were the insects and the heat. In the fall, all of the stinging and biting insects start fading away and I do not have to sweat like a pig. Also, I have always loved Halloween which is contained in my favorite month of October. With a comfortable climate, nature becoming more colorful, and all of the spooky times, I will forever love Fall.

  1. What Cheers You Up?

It depends on just how badly I am feeling and what type of bad mood I am in. I suffer from anxiety and mild depression so I do need a little pick me up now and again. I guess the first thing that lightens my mood is staying on top of my medication and getting good exercise but that is kind of a boring answer. Neither is a cure-all. Sometimes watching a good comedy can really do it for me. One of the reasons why I am constantly watching new movies is because watching something new often helps to shake me out of a funk. Music is a big tool. When I am feeling down a good mix of poppy, up-tempo music can really get me going. I am particularly fond lately of The Descendants franchise music. However, sometimes I am feeling anger and I need to listen to heavy metal. That is probably why I love Baby Metal so much. Also, calling my mom on the phone can sometimes help shake some anxiety. Same goes with writing, it helps me focus my mind and push away some of the bad thoughts.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 7

November 14, 2020

Belle was absolutely in love with the library when she walked into it again. It reminded her of her library back in Adam’s castle a bit. That made a lot of sense seeing as how they were both royal libraries. Still, it was always stunning to walk into a huge room filled to the brim with books. It had a very particular smell and feel to it that you never saw anywhere else. Although she was still lost, she still had a giddy feeling deep inside. She could not wait to start absorbing all of the text, all of the stories contained in that room. This was a whole new world to Belle. There had to be stories here that she had never heard before. She wondered for a moment if she could take some of these books back to her world. Would she even get back to her world?

“Can I help you?” a redhead stood up from the book she was reading and put her hands on her hip. She blew a stray strand of hair out of her face. “Oh! You must be the new researcher.”

“Yes, my name is Belle,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.” She held out her hand and Ariel took it graciously although a little awkward as if she did not really know a lot of protocol. Belle only knew how to act in a palace based on the books she had read and some instruction from Cogsworth.

“Thank you for lending a helping hand,” the woman said. “My name is Ariel.” Ariel’s blue eyes shone brightly as she displayed a winning smile. She acted like such a statement was no big deal.

“Oh!” Belle exclaimed. “This is your castle.” She had remembered Aurora saying the name Ariel the night before even though a lot of that was a blur.

“Mine and Prince Eric’s but right now it belongs to all of the refugees until we beat Ursula again,” she said. “but you’re here to help with that.” Ariel was definitely excited although Belle could tell that she had not really slept well in a while if at all.

“Ursula?” Belle asked. “Aurora mentioned her name but I still have only a few thoughts about what’s going on.”

“Ursula is a sea witch,” Ariel said. “She and I both come from under the sea and she tried to trick me and take over my father’s kingdom but we beat her in the end. She was supposed to be dead but now she’s back. I confirmed it last night.”

“How did you confirm it?” Belle asked. “If I understand correctly she’s under water, right?”

“My father’s spell allows me to turn back into a mermaid when I touch the water if I choose it,” Ariel said. “I snuck down and did some spying last night. I also brought back a prisoner.” As soon as she said this, a crab scuttled from behind a stack of books.

“It is definitely Ursula,” the crab said in a thick accent. “I was up close and personal with her horrible face. I thought she would eat me.”

“Belle, meet Sebastian and Sebastian meet Belle,” Ariel said. “Sebastian is my father’s most trusted advisor. Belle is a princess.”

“Your highness,” Sebastian said with a little bow which caused Belle to blush. “A pleasure to meet you. Forgive my hiding, the last time I was in this palace, it did not go well. I’m feeling a little exposed.”

“Nobody is going to try and eat you, Sebastian,” Ariel said with a little giggle. “Tiana has been informed that you are off the menu. In fact the castle has stopped serving seafood altogether.”

“Thank you, your highness,” Sebastian said as he scuttled off.

“So we’re dealing with somebody coming back to life,” Belle said. “It obviously has to be magic and I don’t think it was Ursula who cast the spell. I wasn’t really there but I have to assume that it wasn’t an ally to Ursula because she would have called on them to fight you during the first coup.”

“Is there anybody from your world that could pull off a resurrection?” Ariel asked. “It sounds like it would be a crazy big spell.” This was an understatement, Belle believed.

“Not that I know of,” Belle said. “but there are so many different worlds represented here, one of them might know something.”

“That’s very smart!” Ariel said with enthusiasm. “We’ll have to question the likely prospects. That may be a task for Milo to tackle.”

“So we’ll tackle the books and the others will handle the interviews,” Belle said. “It’s a plan.”

“I like this new direction,” Ariel said. “but we still need to find a way to counter Ursula’s mind control magic. Maybe the professor will have some luck on that. Let’s dig in?”

“Please,” Belle said. “Reading will help me find some balance here.”

Media Update 11/12/20

November 12, 2020

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Ever since it was announced that Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House was getting a second season with an all new story, I was jazzed. I had no idea at the time that the new series would be adapting one of my favorite ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw. Like Hill House, Bly Manor takes the original story and adds more elements full of psychological and existential scares. It also adds creepy children, a horror movie staple. It expands on the story with some things that were only alluded to in the original story without spoiling the mystery and magic. Victoria Pedretti really shines as the American au pair who might be a bit out of her depth. Child actors Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and Amelie Bea Smith are super interesting as kids and play the weirdness with a great balance. The staff takes a bigger role with T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, and Amelia Eve being a really welcome part of the cast. They each add warmth and life to a very isolating story. I definitely recommend this mini-series.


I really love stories about investigating potentially supernatural things where there is a balance of true believers and skeptics. Of course, in the real world this is silly since the supernatural does not exist but in fiction it definitely can. The show stars Mike Colter as a catholic priest in training who has been tasked by the church to investigate claims of miracles and possession. He hires two people to help him out, neither of which are true believers. Katja Herbers plays a forensic psychologist who Colter tasks with investigating the motives and inner workings of the people they encounter. He also hired Aasif Mandvi as their tech guy who works from an angle where anything can be faked through technology. They are opposed by a strange man played by Michael Emerson who seeks to muck up their investigations and lives. The show definitely does a good job of providing interesting mysteries. I recommend this show.

Killing Eve

This show is fairly simple in construction but leads to complex, interesting drama. Sandra Oh plays a MI-6 analyst who is tasked to track down an unknown female assassin with no official acknowledgement from the rest of the organization. The psychopathic young assassin played by Jodie Comer finds out about the investigation. A lot of the show is carried by these two and their interactions with the other characters and their interaction with each other without actually meeting (at least as far as I have gotten). Sandra Oh is great at being kind of a curmudgeonly, awkward yet highly intelligent investigator. Jodie Comer is great at being an absolute psycho while still being so interesting and charismatic. The show has a lot of good dry humor and intrigue. The supporting cast does a great job of helping to move the plot along and interact with the two leads. I recommend this show as well.

Music of the Week:

Little Dragon – Another Lover

PRIZM – Disco Biscuit

Adanna Duru – Doll

Planet Sun – Flowers In My Bed

MarthaGunn – We Don’t Need Each Other

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Investigation into Cruelty”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched more Harley Quinn Season 2
I watched more Doctor Who Season 11
I watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Agents of Shield Season 7
I started watching Young Justice Season 3
I started watching Cults and Extreme Belief Season 1

SteamWorld Dig 1 and 2

November 9, 2020

I had previously written up something on the other half of the SteamWorld games because I have become a huge fan of the franchise. I do not have a Nintendo DS so I cannot play their first game, SteamWorld Tower Defense. I want more and apparently, a sixth game is coming out eventually.

SteamWorld Dig

On its surface, this is a fairly simple game. It is currently the only SteamWorld game with a male main protagonist. You play as Rusty, a cowbot newly arrived in town to work the mine. You travel down into the mine to dig up precious metals and gems which are sold to the town (presumably to be sold farther afield). Earning more money allows you to unlock and purchase new gear to travel farther down. The gameplay feels a lot like an update of titles like Mr. Driller or DigDug. Eventually, you need to start gathering pieces of a mysterious foreign technology in order to continue updating your gear. You travel deeper than anybody had ever gone before and discover a strange place far more advanced than the world above. It is fascinating because we usually think of “aliens” appearing from the skies, not the depths of the planet.

Eventually, you find what appears to be a technological fortress of sorts which turns out to be a prison. In that prison is an advanced AI called Voltbot which is a lost part of the advanced hive mind known as Vectron. You have been collecting Vectron technology which has slowly corrupted your systems. In desperation, you must do battle with Voltbot to end the threat to the town and the world above. With just a little bit, the game does a really good job of creating a whole world in just a tiny microcosm of a game. Like most SteamWorld games, it is pretty short but infinitely replayable. The game has a lot of the dry humor of the other games in the series and Rusty is a likable protagonist.

SteamWorld Dig 2

This game picks up not long after the end of SteamWorld Dig but instead follows Dorothy, a young NPC from the first game. She alone seems to be worried about Rusty who has gone missing following the climactic battle at the end of the first game. Dorothy was the kind cowbot who bought gems and materials off of Rusty. She has since taken up the pickaxe in order to try to find Rusty. Meanwhile, mysterious earthquakes have started to rock the area. Dorothy moves on to a bigger town and agrees to mine for the town to get permission to go searching for Rusty deep underground. Like the first game, you collect precious materials to sell in town so you can get upgrades on your gear. The gameplay is similar but adds a lot of interesting platforming and puzzles.

This time, Dorothy is smart enough not to collect and use pieces of Vectron as news has spread of that particular danger. However, she instead has to deal with new threats. There is now a doomsday cult deep underground that prays to Vectron and would gladly resurrect the technology if they could. They are behind the earthquakes as part of their twisted devotion to the remnants of Vectron. You actually befriend a rogue piece of Vectron who acts as your guide (and appears in DLC for SteamWorld Heist). For the first time, you also have to deal with humans who have formed a small settlement underground. They are distrustful of all cowbots so dealing with them is an uphill battle. The game is a lot more fleshed out than the first game and the gameplay is a lot more fun.

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