Archive for January, 2021

Undead Reckoning Pt. 7

January 30, 2021

Talbot tried to keep his face passive but knew he was failing at it. “Fallshield?” he asked. “I’m getting off there as well. What brings you to Fallshield? It is not really a bustling academic town.”

“I received a job offer that I hope will be able to fund my research,” Clarity said with a pleased smile. “I am very pleased to take a few risks in order to pave the way for the advancement of magic.”

“Your family can’t fund your work?” Talbot asked. “I don’t mean to pry but I gather that your family is fairly wealthy.” He had a sick feeling in his stomach about where this young lady was headed and he felt he had to make an effort to head her off at the pass.

“Again, a little forward,” Clarity said with an indignant little sound punctuating her objection. “If you must know, my family is not as well off as we have been in the past but that is not the issue. I want to be self-reliant so I can make my own decisions and get out of the shadow of my family.” She seemed to let out more than she would have since she was so miffed.

“I don’t mean to offend, Miss,” Talbot said holding his hands up a bit in a placating gesture. “I just suspect that we were summoned for the same thing by the same person and I feel that it may be too dangerous for you.”

“So it is too dangerous for me but not for you?” Clarity said. “I can take care of myself, Mr. Hawkwing. Besides, Lord Blackrance has a very good track record for his expeditions.”

“I didn’t mean to comment on your readiness in the face of danger,” Talbot said. “I just wanted to offer a word of warning. For my part, I am planning to turn Blackrance down. My fighting days are behind me but he paid enough for me to tell him no to his face.”

“That’s actually rather forthright of you, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said, starting to calm down. “I am sure we will be lacking for whatever specialty you might have brought to the table.”

“I was a soldier,” Talbot said. “I suppose I’m a bit of a crack shot.”

“Oh!” Clarity let out in a bit of squeak. “My guess is that you were supposed to do the deed.” She said that last bit with great solemnity and a knowing glance.

“Do the deed?” Talbot asked. “I am not sure I catch your meaning.” He was sure that he actually did understand but wanted her to say it. It was part of why he wanted to turn down the job. He could not look at her as he waited for her answer and instead looked past her and watched the scenery go by through the window. The vegetation was gradually dying out as they headed toward the desert.

“You would be the executioner,” Clarity said. “Since you can pull the trigger. I mean, I have never killed anybody.” There was deathly silence after she said that as if everybody in the train car was holding their breath.

“And I have,” Talbot said with a nod. “but I don’t want to anymore. I laid down my rifle. In fact, I sold it in a pinch. Blackrance found it and sent it back to me.” Talbot gestured up toward the luggage rack where his old rifle was wrapped in cloth. The word ‘executioner’ had brought up memories of that fateful battle where he had shot and killed eleven magic users on his own. He could still see their faces when he closed his eyes.

“Perhaps fate is trying to tell you something, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said. “Perhaps you must go on this adventure because you cannot escape it.”

“I don’t believe in fate, Ms. Havenwood,” Talbot said. “I do believe that it was money that brought my rifle back and not fate and I’ll leave adventure to those who are actually seeking it.”

“Suit yourself,” Clarity said. “We’ll see if Lord Blackrance can persuade you.” She smirked as if she had possibly won something.

“I doubt it,” Talbot said. “I have a life to get back to.”

“Your life is what you make of it, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said. “If you want to return to your quiet life that’s your choice but a greater calling is out there.”

“We shall see,” Talbot said.

Media Update 1/28/21

January 28, 2021

WandaVision

First, this show reminded me how much I hate sitcoms in general. Of course, I really think that is the point of the early parts of this show. This show follows newlyweds Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) and Vision who have arrived in a small picturesque town straight out of a fifties sitcom (and then a seventies sitcom). Of course, everything is not as it seems. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany return as the title characters. Olsen switches seamlessly between comedy, drama, and horror. Bettany is so charming and feels like a throwback to vaudeville. The show feels like it is quickly evolving (I just finished episode 3) and the acting evolves quickly with the plot. It has a “happy horror” feel to it like Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, Firefly Funhouse, or Welcome to Nightvale. The supporting cast, made up of Kathryn Hahn, Emma Caulfield Ford, Jolene Purdy, David Lengel, and more really add to the chaos but it’s mostly Bettany and Olsen’s chemistry. I am excited to see where this show goes but the first two episodes were rough to get through. I recommend this show.

The New Mutants

I had been excited for this movie but delayed watching because A) I had trouble getting access and B) I had heard that reshoots ruined it. I should not have hesitated. This is the last official Fox Marvel movie. The premise of this is that it combines the superhero genre with the horror genre, something that has not been done much yet although it does have some parallels in Stephen King’s works. This follows five of young mutants stuck in a hospital until they figure out their powers. Something starts to stalk them all. Great formula for a horror movie. Blu Hunt stars as Danielle Moonstar who is easy to follow as the main character and plays damaged really well. Maisie Williams plays Rahne Sinclair and she is a really pleasant light in the darkness. Anya Taylor-Joy is both fun and aggravating as the always unstable Ilyana Rasputin. Charlie Heaton plays the loveable bumpkin Sam Guthrie and Henry Zaga plays the dimwitted but nice Roberto DaCosta. Rounding out the cast is Alice Braga as Dr. Reyes (presumably Cecilia Reyes) who does a great job at being both sinister and warm in equal measures. The movie works as a great horror movie with superhero elements. I recommend this movie.

Helstrom

I am not as familiar with the comic book version of Daimon Hellstrom aside from his relationship with Patsy Walker. I was interested in what Marvel’s foray into non-superheroic comics would look like. The Hellstrom families were never quite the level of the X-Men or the Avengers but remained on the periphery. This show feels like what I wished The Exorcist tv show was. The show follows Daimon and Ana Helstrom (sic) as they deal with the fallout from their infernal father’s plans for Earth. It plays as more a supernatural detective show than a comic book show. Tom Austen is charming and troubled as Daimon while Sydney Lemmon is guarded and snarky as Ana. They are joined by Elizabeth Marvel as a young nun initiate who is learning how to navigate the world of exorcisms and battling the forces of Hell. June Carryl annd Robert Wisdom are so good as the respective mentors of the siblings, an older generation arming the devilish twins with weapons to fight their own father. It is a slow burn of a show but there is plenty to sink your teeth into. I recommend this show.

Music of the Week:

Nas – Ultra Black

Kesha – Tonight

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – No Prey, No Pay

Haim – Now I’m In It

Mashup of the Week:

DJ Cummerbund – Mundian To Bach Nu

Weekly Update:
This week’s team is “Magical Marvel”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I started watching Night Stalker: Hunt for a Serial Killer
I watched The Beast of Bray Road
I watched The Haunting of Dice Road
I watched Hauntings Across America
I watched The Mothman of Point Pleasant

Cozy Questions Pt. 4

January 25, 2021
  1. What Are You Most Grateful For?

My creativity. I would have truly lost my mind a long time ago if I did not have the ability to write and create to help me work through things and center myself. I just let stuff pour out of me and it feels so much better afterward. The fact that people actually read it (and I love you wonderful people) is secondary to the fact that I absolutely have to write or I will explode. I am also really thankful for my friends and my close family. I got really lucky not to have grown up in too toxic of an environment. I ended up being fairly normal because I was loved and learned to love in return.

  1. Dream Job?

I think my dream job does not actually exist fully. The closest thing would probably be a research librarian, hired as a troubleshooter to research tricky quests for knowledge. If we are talking a real dream job, I would love to do this for magical artifacts like in The Librarian or Warehouse 13. That would require magic being real so that is not possible. In the meantime, I love being a paralegal because I get to research and write and solve puzzles every day.

  1. Do You Believe in Aliens?

I would be a fool to discount the existence of aliens somewhere in the universe. Our universe is so vast that the odds are in favor of intelligent life being out there somewhere. Where is it? I have no idea. I actually really do not want to know. We have enough trouble with our own planet that adding some sort of possible interference from outside is scary to me. As such, I do not really believe that our planet has been visited by any alien race. No evidence has been substantiated and a government cover up seems to be unfeasible at this point. Something big would have come out by now. I could be wrong but I remain skeptical that we have had any close encounters. I was absolutely terrified of it when I was a kid but realized it was poppycock as I got older.

  1. Favorite Sport?

I am not really a sports guy but I would say that my favorite sport to watch is American Football. The game is fast-paced and hard-hitting and generally fun. Part of it is that the Baltimore Ravens have been such a great source of entertainment for my hometown. For the last 20 years, the team has been an absolutely fantastic franchise that is easy to support. Currently, Lamar Jackson’s team is so much fun to watch and my interest has definitely been refreshed. My only misgiving is that American Football causes a lot of injuries. They are working to mitigate this but even so it can be very difficult to support.

  1. How Do You Relax After a Long Day?

Ideally, I do a workout, take a hot shower, play some video games and/or write, and eat a good meal. Different things definitely release different kinds of stress. If I am anxious and hyped up, a workout burns off a lot of the excess energy. Video games and television allow me escapism to temporarily forget my worries and let my unconscious mind work on them for a while. A good meal warms my belly and the tasty flavor makes me momentarily happy. A hot shower relaxes my muscles and lets me transition to home life. As a bonus, I take my anxiety meds which take the edge off of the end of the day.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 3

January 23, 2021
  1. Monster

The Beast of Calla Flats hounded the rural areas of Calla for decades before people figured out that it was actually a pack of direwolves that managed to keep from getting caught for generations. They are not really wolves but look vaguely wolf-like and are the size of a small pony. They are not to be messed with.

  1. Trends

The poorer ladies of the capital of Calla basically invented a new fashion trend when a few of them sewed together dresses from strips of leftover cloth creating a sort of rainbow dress. Eventually, rich women had them made from finer fabric and with more embellishments.

  1. Music

The music coming out of the Court of Bards outside of Paika has become more complex and upbeat. The invention of the guitar has made for interesting new compositions alongside the lute. The musicians of Ganarastav have started to spread the previous obscure popularity of the hurdy-gurdy.

  1. Traditional

Yearly, the capital of Paika holds a parade with dragon floats, music, and dancing. Many people wear costumes inspired by dragons. There are carts of food in the streets as people celebrate the anniversary of the death of Carragon.

  1. Lost Arts

People have largely forgotten the practice of archery outside of martial arts schools. With the advent of guns, many were eager to leave bow and arrows and crossbows behind.

  1. Priest

The Priests of The Musician are often born performers and their services are often at least partially a concert. They encourage others to join in and create a joyful noise. Priests in Ganarastav are more somber and speak in long sermons.

  1. Sacred

The temple of Calla has on display a simple walking stick that is purported to have been handled by The Wanderer. It is a venerated and holy object. Many people in back alleys have been known to sell “splinters” of this stick.

  1. Ostracized

Some races continue to be ostracized despite ongoing activism and efforts at education to try and change it. The orcs, the dark elves, the goblins, dragonborn, and tieflings are among those who are often villified. The dragonborn of Calla were largely forced to live in the dangerous wastelands.

  1. The Youth

The young people of Calla generally attend school for basic language, reading, arithmetic, civics, and history. Many also receive training in some sort of trade as they get older. Upper class kids often must study to take over from their parents. Some go off to study magic.

  1. Conflict

A continental conflict arose among the nations of Calla, Paika, and Florana. The drow elves rose from the depths and demanded their place in the sun and were prepared to take it by force. The war between the drow and the light elves tore all three countries apart in a civil war before both sides compromised.

  1. Celebration

Most lands celebrate the new year as the snow thaws and the spring flowers start to appear. The New Year’s Festival celebrates renewal and new life.

Media Update 1/21/21

January 21, 2021

Soul

I have been a fan of Pixar since they premiered their first feature film in 1995. Toy Story made me consider a job in animation for a short while as a teen. The company has a lot of hits and very few misses. When I saw advertisements for Soul, I was absolutely excited because people of color are still underrepresented in Disney fiction. This movie also corrected a lot of earlier mistakes by actually hiring on writers, consultants, and eventually a co-director who experienced and therefore understood black culture. That way they could tell a truly nuanced and authentic story and they succeeded. Jamie Foxx stars as a music teacher who is questioning his life. Tina Fey plays an unborn soul who has grown cynical. Graham Norton plays a hippie with a strange mystic background. The cast is rounded out by brilliant performances from Angela Bassett, Questlove, Richard Ayoade, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Donnell Rawlings and more. It is such a poignant story about what we do with our lives and how our plans change when life happens. I have heard people say that this was “Mid-Life Crisis: The Movie” but it is so much more. It is about culture, love, creativity, desire, and so many other things. I definitely recommend this movie.

Trolls World Tour

Dreamworks feels to me like it has more misses than hits but they are starting to pick things up in the past few years. Trolls was a movie that completely took me off guard. I was expecting a fun poppy movie (pun intended) with colorful animation and good music. The movie ended up being smarter than I expected. Trolls World Tour was a repeat of that phenomenon but to an even greater magnitude. This movie was way heavier than I thought it would be and had a great message. Ana Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return to anchor the movie again and are given a lot more to work with as it relates to emotional depth. Ron Funches returns with a much expanded role. Newcomers Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Clarkson, and Kenan Thompson really knocked it out of the park as new characters. Rachel Bloom plays the antagonist and does great as a heavy metal goddess. A special shout out to legends George Clinton and Mary J. Blige for rocking small but very important roles in the movie. The movie also displays more of a musical range as Pop is joined by Funk, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Classical, Techno, Yodeling, Reggaeton, KPop, and even Smooth Jazz. It makes for a very interesting soundtrack which is mostly made up of good covers. I recommend this movie.

Over the Moon

Glen Keane has been an animator since the seventies and particularly worked for Disney on legendary projects like Beauty & The Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Frozen and more. He recently left Disney and this is first time in the Director’s chair. He was joined by Audrey Wells, Jennifer Yee McDevitt, Alice Wu, and John Kahrs to create an authentically Chinese and human story. The movie follows a young girl played by relative newcomer Cathy Ang. She does such a great job of portraying a vulnerable yet headstrong preteen girl. Another relative newcomer plays a lovably annoying young kid who she is thrown together with. She has great chemistry with her family played by John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Sandra Oh, Margaret Cho, and Kimiko Glenn. They all give such warm performances that I wanted to hang out at their dinner table. Ken Jeong plays a lovable yet fairly annoying goofball (really a Dreamworks staple). Finally, the great Phillipa Soo plays a headstrong woman who is hiding vulnerability and she is so, so good at it. The original songs are all very beautiful and/or catchy. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Aunty Donna – Chuffed (Dad Song)

Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood

Phillipa Soo – Ultraluminary

Seven Lions Feat. Runn – Calling You Home

Mashup of the Week:

Oneboredjeu – X Gon Give It To Ya Maybe

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “Loss and Music in Animation”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
Special Shoutout to Jenny Nicholson’s 2 hour and 30 min video on The Vampire Diaries
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I finished watching Numbers Season 5
I watched City of the Dead (Rifftrax Version)
I watched House on Haunted Hill (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Hideous Sun Demon (Rifftrax Version)

Hypnospace Outlaw

January 18, 2021

As the trailer above illustrates, the basic premise for Hypnospace Outlaw is what if somebody in 1998 had invented technology to allow people to surf the Internet while they sleep. Two brothers, a programmer and a money guy, put together a company called MerchantSoft that creates a device and platform to create webpages and send emails while dreaming. This is called Hypnospace and it quickly becomes the new fad despite rumors that the new technology might not be safe. With the surge in traffic, you are tapped to act as an “Enforcer” which is bascially a content moderator. You are given categories of content which is against the terms of service and must be elliminated. You mark things for review and are given Internet bucks for correct selections.

You start pretty easy with the mission to enforce copyright violations. You go after the older generation of Goodtime Valley who have decided to stamp everything they own with popular comic strip character Gumshoe Gooper. You earn no friends as you basically break all of their JPGs because of their harmless violations of the rights of the cartoonist’s estate. During this phase you spend a lot of time getting to know the cast of characters in your jurisdiction. You also need to learn (or in my case relearn) how to navigate pre-2000s webspace.

Next on your todo list is stamping out harassment in the Teentopia section. A lot of it boils down to a feud between two teenagers named Zane and Corey. The two are merciless about mocking each other even though your detective work finds that the two are not as different as they seem. Zane is an ultra-edgy dude who draws comics making fun of Corey while Corey creates the Zane Sucks Club. It is really a pleasure to squash these squabbling fools.

You then are tasked with tracking down illegal software dedicated to extralegal commerce. Basically, a couple third-party businesses are using a banned form of currency called Capacash. These businesses have locked their paysites behind passwords or otherwise hidden their sites. In order to find them, you actually have to infect your set up with adware which creates popups that send you these sites.

After that it is on to more serious business as you must track down the source of a virus which is causing shock images. Since it is a teen who is behind it, the images are actually quite tame. Still, the virus is really annoying people on the platform and you have to track it down. You descend in the world of Tim who is a wannabe hacker who unleashes a virus in order to win back his ex-girlfriend.

You are back at it again when you must go after a bit of “malware” created to provide a speed boost to people’s surfing. It works but it is unauthorized and creates an annoying pop up. In order to track down the program’s source you have to infliltrate an unlisted section of Hypnospace created by disgruntled Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Video Games, Techie, and Comic Book fans. They are disgruntled because they have been brushed aside by MerchantSoft so that they could focus on the mainstream (forgetting that nerds and geeks were the backbone of the Internet at the time). This investigation leads to the firing of a MerchantSoft programmer who is the ringleader.

You then have to get to the really serious business of illegal downloading and uploading of music files. You need to stalk through a file sharing service called FLST. Every user has their own FLST site which works much like platforms like Napster and Kazaa. This is an underground solution for what was fomerly an official service that ran into too many legal problems. You start nailing these criminals and eventually find out that the head of MerchantSoft is engaging in a lot of this activity. Reporting Dylan Merchant pisses him off and you get fired.

Because of the continued chaos of traffic of New Year’s Eve, you are somehow rehired. Tim the Hacker is back at it again with another desperate attempt to win back Tiffany. This time he has created a virus called the Y2000 Mindcrash Attack which warns users of an imminent attack by Tim. The virus can only be shutdown if Tiffany performs a certain input into a webpage. The problem is that Tiffany seems to be nowhere around so you have to do it for her to save the rest of Hypnospace. You have to investigate more of Tim and Tiffany’s lonely corners of Hypnospace in order to solve the problem. Even when you succeed, Hypnospace still crashes which fries a lot of people’s brains leading to injury and death.

Flashforward to the “Present Day” where you are recruited to join four other members of the Hypnospace Archival Project. The project is tasked with cataloguing and saving what is left of Hypnospace. However, you are secretly tapped to instead carry out two investigations. The first is to prove that MerchantSoft knew the dangers that the technology posed. The second is to locate an admission of guilt from MerchantSoft that they caused the crash which harmed or killed people. You discover a hidden hacker collective existing on unlisted pages. They were trying to expose MerchantSoft and one of them managed to store a lot of evidence. It turns out that the year 2000 update from MerchantSoft actually caused the crisis. They cast blame on teen hacker Tim who was sent to prison for the remainder of his teens and was left with great remorse over his actions. This leads to a public confession from MerchantSoft and a proper memorial for the deceased.

The game is absolutely a fun parody of the Internet around the time complete with broken code and a lot of the goofiness of the Internet when it was truly the Wild West. They did a lot of worldbuilding by creating a lot of original content. I am especially impressed by all of the original music created for the game. You get both full songs and little commercial jingles which are all delightful (even the annoying ones). The game is entirely point and click and involves detective work and puzzle solving. It is a great game.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 2

January 16, 2021
  1. Pets

In the magical wastelands of Calla, dogs became interesting due to the cracks in reality bending their physiology. They grew in size and sprouted tusks and spikes. Despite their fierce appearance, these so-called Desert Dogs have often been tamed by the Dragonborn who were able to settle in that chaotic location.

  1. Bazaar

The mysterious Night Bazaar of Kanna Island is by invitation only. This works because Kanna Island is a Dwarven-made island that actually moves from place to place. Magical assistance is needed to navigate to its location. The finest chefs, exotic weapon dealers, the best fences, and more frequent the Night Bazaar and exchange goods. No paperwork is exchanged to help with the secrecy and bad deals are punishable by death.

  1. Monument

In the central square of the capital of Paika is a stone statue honoring the legendary hero Rylan. In actuality, everybody knows that this is actually Rylan herself. She was turned to stone during her last battle to defend the city. Clerics and wizards could have easily figured out a way to change her back but there were also several poisoned arrows sticking into her when she turned to stone. Knowing she would die either way, they decided to spare her that final pain.

  1. Legend

As hinted at earlier, the story of the death of the black dragon Carragon is often told in pubs and over campfires. The story goes that the mighty adventurers fought long and hard to defend Castle Paika from the dragon. Rylan was able to blind the dragon but this was not the final blow. The final blow was accidentally struck when the dragon tumbled into the battlement where the bard Piotr was standing and he fell onto the dragon. In desperation, he tried to find purchase with a sword he barely used and killed the dragon.

  1. Demon

Demons, like their counterpart Devils, are only able to create change in the mortal plane with assistance. They do this by tempting and corrupting mortals and tricking them into summoning them to the mortal plane. They seek to destroy and conquer and hard to vanquish once they have gained purchase in reality.

  1. Funeral

In the deserts of Calla, the Dragonborn took to dismembering their dead and placing the remains on tall rocks to feed the birds. It was believed this would help their souls soar to the afterlife.

  1. Subculture

The cult of the Light Beyond the Door worships a previously unknown god and seeks to open the door to let the light in. Many of them hide their affiliation in order to infiltrate other corners of society and to hide their unpopular beliefs. Many believe that this is a dangerous cult that might be worshipping a demon or devil or something worse.

  1. The Poor

The poor are often the salt of the earth, the miners, the farmers, the peasants, the shopkeeps, the working class, and so on. Most lands do not have homeless and the only people who live out of doors are the rangers and the druids who wish to. The wealth gap is not so big but it does exist in most lands.

  1. Feast

The most feasts of the year happen on Hearth Day which is in the very depths of winter. It is a day to remind people of warmth and fellowship. It is spent with family either the one you were born with or the one you found. The motto is: “Nobody goes hungry on Hearth Day”

Media Update 1/14/21

January 14, 2021

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun

I had never heard of this Australian comedy group before so I did not know what to expect beyond the above trailer. Whatever they were doing looked fun but I had no idea what I was really in for. The show is legitimately insanely funny and it is one of the rare comedy series where I legitimately did not know what was going to happen next and was blindsided repeatedly. Each of the six episodes gets a theme and a series of sketches follow that theme at least tangentially. Broden Kelly, Mark Bonnano, and Zachary Ruane are the three rambunctious guys who are equally at home being zany as they are being each others straight man. As they throw on different personas they change in unexpected ways. They are really good at parody, satire, and surreal humor. They also have a host of guest stars like Ed Helms, Michelle Brasier, Kia Stevens, Weird Al, Karan Soni, Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Thompkins, Antony Starr, Ronny Chieng, Kristen Schaal and more. The boys are almost always on screen and dominate the show, of course. I cannot recommend this show enough.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me

If you know me in realspace, you would have heard me rave aout the podcast with the above nname. It is a comedy advice show where the three McElroy brothers (Justin, Travis, Griffin) dispense horrible advice to half-serious questions from listeners and insane questions from Yahoo! Answers. This show is an extension of that while putting the zany yet awkward comedy stylings of the boys on screen. Each episode is devoted to answering a single viewer question. They get the question and then they run around their hometown of Huntington, WV to try to research the problem or try to prove something to themselves and each other. The three brothers have chemistry not only from growing up together but also from being on a weekly podcast together for several years. (Also, two of them worked together for Polygon). The show also features their father Clint McElroy, a DJ for a local Country station who tries to give them advice. It also introduces the comic stylings of the Mayor of Huntington, Stephen Williams. The boys often visit him to get permission for some stunt or another and he does a really good job of keeping up with their improv comedy while getting in a few lines of his own. I recommend both the podcast and this show.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

I was a fan of the View Askewnaverse and I own a lot of the movies on DVD. I was a big fan of Kevin Smith but I feel lately that I have parted ways with what he is doing. Still, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back still has a place in my heart. This movie was a callback to the heyday of Kevin Smith’s career from his present day. It had cameos from a lot of Smith’s old friends and coworkers and his family. The movie attempts to tackle what it is to be middle-aged and a father. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith return as the main characters and they have a lot of the same chemistry as they always did. Harley Quinn Smith (Smith’s daughter) plays Jay’s estranged daughter and really proves that she is taking this acting thing seriously. She is surrounded by delightful original characters played by Aparna Brielle and Treshelle Edmond. Cameos appear from Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and a few new additions. The movie was alright as a shot of nostalgia but lacked the quality of the movies it is calling back to. It also winked too much at the audience to focus on actually entertaining. I do not recommend this movie except for huge fans.

Music of the Week

Missy Elliott – Why I Still Love You

Poppy – I Disagree

FiSHBORN 『夜を抜けて』

Nasty Cherry – Win

Mashup of the Week

Angel Munoz – Boys Bringing Sexyback (Lizzo/Justin Timberlake Mashup)

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Them Boys”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched Rollergator (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Sharkado 2 (Rifftrax Version)
I watched A Talking Cat!?! (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Terror at Tenkiller (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Ator the Fighting Eagle (Rifftrax Version)
I finished Numbers Season 6
I finished Marvel Agents of Shield Season 7 (and thus the series)

The Swarm (1978) – Spoiler Review Pt. 2

January 11, 2021

When we left off last Monday, I was talking about loose plot threads and padding.

  1. Patty Duke is Single and Pregnant

Early in the movie, we hear a recording of the soldiers who were attacked on the base and one of them is bragging about his girlfriend who he is about to propose to. He mentions that she is pregnant and working as a waitress. We actually meet her later and visit her throughout the movie as she struggles with grief and then the chaos around her. She is about to get on the doomed evacuation train when her water breaks and she is brought back to the hospital where she has her baby and starts to fall in love with the head doctor there. It is kind of a sweet story that shows the aftermath of a death in the military but it also has zero impact on the movie.

  1. Maybe Eat Something Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda plays an immunologist whose main contribution is to figure out the lethality of the bee’s venom. He tries to develop an anti-venom throughout the movie after they find living bee subjects. Out of nowhere, late in the movie there is a plot where we find out that he is working so hard that he is not eating meals. He is lightly chastised by Caine who tells him he will get him any meal he could want. At that point, Fonda decides to test the anti-venom on himself. In a very long and tense scene, we watch as Fonda suffers the pain of the venom and then injects himself with the experimental anti-venom. He dies when his vital signs go out of control, proving just how deadly the bees are. He does the test on himself because he correctly reasons that human volunteers for trials would be hard to find on short notice. Except, shouldn’t he have eaten a meal before carrying out this test? He injected himself at his most tired and hungry. No wonder he died.

  1. Richard Chamberlain Goes Boom

A brief thing but Chamberlain plays a scientist who is sent to a nuclear power plant to convince them to shut down and join the evacuation of the path to Houston. They hem and haw over it and the bees end up causing the plant’s destruction leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths (which are only related to the viewer on a news ticker). How much padding is in this movie when a nuclear explosion is a footnote?

  1. Lee Grant Action News

We briefly follow a reporter played by Lee Grant who has been assigned to the Flower Festival and ends up in the middle of a bigger story. She has very little impact on the story except as another body out dodging the swarm during the big Maryville attack. She also has a big scene where she interviews Caine but Caine refuses to comment and they move on. Another great waste of time.

  1. That’s a Big Bee

A small point but in two separate scenes we see a victim of the bees (the boy and Ross) hallucinate a giant bee while suffering. It is a very silly element as you see what looks like a bee the size of a Buick hovering in the air grooming itself. A lot of time is spent on these two scenes. I wonder if they would have been less silly if the victims instead hallucinated that the swarm had gotten into the hospital. That would have been terrifying.

Overall

My mother and I really enjoyed this movie even though it was very, very goofy. A lot of the acting was very good or at least better than it had any business being. I also want to note how ruthless this movie was. There are so many scenes where the bees kill a lot of people including little children. There are several times in the movie where it feels like they should have filmed more takes. For example, Caine is a great actor but sometimes when he was shouting he was unintelligible. Ross delivers a scream in one scene which ended up being comically bad (although really good lung strength). The script needed a bunch of revisions to tighten it up and the various plot threads should have been tidied up and made to actually tie together. However, I feel like that would have made the movie less enjoyable. It is a great B-Movie because it was so bonkers and I would not have typed this much if it was a tight, serious science fiction movie.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 1

January 9, 2021

This is a Twitter challenge where I did some worldbuilding for the world of Undead Reckoning, Thistlewhite Manor, and Hearth Day.

  1. Origin

The world of Aofa was created by primal forces, guided by the will of the gods. The gods worked in congress in those days and put their whole being into creating a place for all races to thrive. The seas formed first and then the air and then the ground rose from the seas. The original gods then all contributed to the sun and the twin moons. Each god was then given a portion of Aofa to shape to their heart’s desire. The gods came back together to brainstorm the creation of the thinking peoples of the world and created many races together. Some got bored and created animals, monsters, and so on.

  1. Weekends

Weekends are only mostly important in most cultures in Aofa. All lands have agreed to an eight day week with the last two days being the weekend. For example, in the land of Calla, rural areas do not care much for the weekend as their livelihood generally does not care what day it is. In larger towns and cities, leisure time is often granted on the weekends. In both locales, temple services are usually held on the weekends.

  1. Technology

The biggest advance in technology was the creation of the firearm. Suddenly, a world of sword and sorcery was introduced to a tool of instant destruction. Guns were invented through a mixture of engineering and magic and the enchantments needed to create a working gun limits their proliferation somewhat. Still, they are quite common in the more dangerous parts of the world.

  1. Heirloom

The Sword of Strings also known as Dragon’s Bane and Piotr’s Blade was the legendary weapon that struck the final blow on the dragon Carragon. The blade was revered and passed down through the ages until it met its own demise while repelling demon attacks in Ganarastav. The remnants of the sword were eventually melted down to form a rifle of some renown.

  1. Emblem

This is the national emblem of Ganarastav. The gray represents the snowy fields that cover the land for half of the year. The purple represents the amethyst crystals charged with magical energy that are mined there. The wolves are the national animal of Ganrastav and also represent the faith and trust its people have for each other. The diamond knot represents the land’s thriving textile business due to the thick wool their sheep and goats produce.

  1. God

It is said that the gods were all slain by the Moonset Riders not long ago but it is also said that no god can be truly killed. When their time is at an end, they simply transition to another form. The gods are formless beings but it is said that they can take on earthly forms to walk among mortals. The God of Calla is known as The Wanderer because of his love of adventure and exciting tales. The God of Paika is known as The Musician because they so love music balancing art and precision in equal measures.

  1. Ritual

The funeral rites of Calla are to carefully wrap the body in cloth strips, douse the whole thing in oil, and set it on fire. The hotter and brighter the body burns is usually thought to mean a better afterlife. They do this because they are deathly afraid of the undead and do not wish for their dead to return to threaten the land. The ashes are often given out to those closest to the deceased but the majority are scattered.

  1. Secrets

Nobody knows who the Face Thief is. Nobody knows anything about them except that they kill people and literally take their faces. The theory is that they take the faces and are able to somehow use them to take on the appearance of those that they have killed.

  1. Ruler

The current ruler of Calla is Queen Fiona but the crown’s power has faded in years. In more recent times, many duties have been relegated to the newly formed parliament. The Queen, an elf, is able to provide her long years of experience but there are many more people to pick up the day to day slack. The Queen has the final word but is not often asked about routine happenings.

  1. Ceremony

The Heartbond Ceremony often leads to what is commonly called marriage. There can be a number of participants in this ceremony. Each participant puts their hand on the Binding Stone. If their intentions and faith in each other is true the stone will mark them with a magical tattoo which signifies the bond they have formed with their loved ones.

  1. Fairytale

There is a really good story about the adopted Ganarastavian Princess who, being born a tiefling, sought a way to become human. She and her lover went on a lengthy quest to obtain this goal. They made new allies and new enemies and turned the kingdom upside down. In the end, they reached their goal. However, when the spell was cast the Princess’ lover turned into a tiefling. Many lessons were learned that day.


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