Archive for February, 2021

A Second Chance

February 27, 2021

Kane Thalek paced the waiting room outside of Superintendant Josephine Schweitzer’s office. He paused to look out over the San Francisco skyline and found himself balling his fists just a little too hard. He looked down at the little half moons his nails had made on his palms. He tried to take a deep breath to center himself. He tried to slow his heart rate but it was so hard. It was so damn hard. This was probably his last shot at getting back into the academy and it would be a miracle if this worked.

His father had been furious when Kane had been forced to return home from the Academy. Kane’s mother had been understanding about the whole thing. However, his father was Commander Thalek and could not and would not be so forgiving. He had communicated his displeasure at length and repeatedly from the USS Requin. At that point, Kane had been glad to be far away from him back on Coridan although he had found himself restless. After tasting the Academy, he had no passion for a normal life on Coridan. He wanted back in.

The problem was that he had absolutely blown his chance but he would not have changed a thing even if he could have gone back and done things differently. Everything had been going well until word had gone out that the Dominion was going to attack Coridan. He walked out of his next class and packed his bags. He and two other students, Tracy and Bastian, had hopped on the first shuttle to head out to defend Coridan. The other two had no connection to Kane’s home planet but they did want to fight the Dominion.

All three of them had ignored an order to return to the Academy and had joined the crew of an unauthorized ship in the defense of one of Starfleet’s largest sources of dilithium. He had served well and had personally operated weapons that had fired on Dominion forces. When the dust settled, Coridan was still free but, unfortunately, so was Kane. Instead of heading back to the Academy to petition for some sort of forgiveness, he had been informed that he would no longer be welcome at the Academy.

He had resigned himself to a relatively quiet life back home but it had been tough. He knew that it was only fair but it did not take away the sting of having lost his chance at service. It had been a whole year now. A whole year passed before he had received a communique from the Academy summoning him for a conversation. He had tried not to get his hopes up but he had been elated and extremely curious. Why the sudden change? It had been a surprise to Kane’s father as well so it was not his doing. It was strange.

The door opened and Mr. Gerrold, Ms. Schweitzer’s secretary stepped out of the office and sat at his own exterior desk. “The superintendent will see you now,” he said. “Good luck.”

“Thank you,” Kane said with a small smile and then took a deep breath and headed through the door and into the superintendent’s office.

The superintendent was seated and looked up without smiling. “Please sit down Mr. Thalek,” she said. “I’ll keep this brief.”

Kane sat down across from her and kept his mouth shut. No pleasantries would break the tension in the room. It was best to just let her speak her mind.

“It has been a year since you left this Academy,” she said. “Unfortunately, do the chaos during the time of your departure, the Review Board was unable to accurately review and process your expulsion.”

Kane looked confused. “Excuse me, Ms. Schweitzer, but what does that mean?” he asked.

“It means that you did not receive the due process that others get following disciplinary measures,” she said. “I apologize for that. Normally, you would be allowed to plead your case but you were denied that opportunity.”

“So we have a trial now?” Kane asked. “I get to ‘plead my case’?”

“The Academy has decided to forgo any trial,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “I have personally spoken to your teachers and they all spoke at length on your behalf. You were a second-generation student and your father’s service record shows that, if you were to follow in his footsteps, you would make a fine officer. The reason for your departure, while insubordinate, was noble and somewhat understandable. I had the same impulse during the Battle of Wolf 359. In short, we are prepared to accept you back into the Academy on a probationary basis.”

Kane fought not to let out a cheer and somehow kept a straight face. “What does that mean?” he asked.

“Even one minor slip up and you will be in front of the Review Board again,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “Reports from Coridan said that you acquitted yourself well in battle.”

“I suppose I did alright,” Kane said with a smile.

“We all expect even better things from you in the future,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “And no more insubordination, please.”

“Of course not,” Kane said. “I wouldn’t dream of it, ma’am.”


Media Update 2/25/21

February 25, 2021

One Night in Miami
Writer – Kemp Powers
(Bonus: Director – Regina King)

This movie is based on a stage play and it really shows in the movie. It is a dialogue heavy movie but the conversation is so interesting that there is not a dull moment. The concept of the piece is that it takes place a little before but mostly the night after Cassius Clay’s surprise win over Sonny Liston. That night, Malcolm X met with footballer John Brown, singer Sam Cooke, and boxer Cassius Clay. Each man is on the verge of making a huge choice in their life that changed their history and changed American history. Malcolm X is played by Kingsley Ben-Adir, a man torn between being a rigid and polite role model and the fire he holds inside. Eli Goree plays Clay, a young man with wide eyes and a lot of curiosity but also a lot of confidence. Leslie Odom Jr. plays Sam Cooke, fresh from a horrible experience at the white club the Copacabana who feels frustrated about his career. Aldis Hodge plays Jim Brown, a man who has been a great warrior on the battlefield but has earned little real respect from the white man. The four constantly spar with each other, joke with each other, and commiserate with each other. We see a bit of their lives outside of the motel room where they meet but the main meat is the four of them together. It is a fantastic movie and I recommend it.

Sorry to Bother You
Writer/Director – Boots Riley

This movie is strange and takes a bit to get into but if you settle in, you are in for a ride. This movie was written back in 2011 (and the script was posted online). Boots Riley wrote it as commentary on both capitalism and anti-capitalist activism. It also has a really interesting point about how the life cycle of memes effects politics. The main message seems to be “you can’t do it alone”. The movie is told in a very surreal art style which mixes in live-action animation to heighten certain scenes. The movie stars LaKeith Stanfield (who I spoke of last week) as the mostly clueless pawn of the system who is torn between getting paid and doing what is right. He is joined by Tessa Thompson (who I also talked about last week) as a plucky yet sardonic artist with an eye toward changing the world. Jermaine Fowler and Steven Yeun play two friends who are desperate to change the system and bring power to the workers. The movie is both really good at offbeat humor and delivering a meaningful message. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. In all honesty, I started watching this movie last year and had to set it aside because I knew I had to really devote energy to it and I am glad I waited.

Writer/Director – Chinonye Chukwu

This movie felt a lot like a stage play but it was a movie made from whole cloth. The movie stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden who has been slowly torn apart by having to preside over the executions. The movie is a great examination of both her character’s inner workings but also the mindset of a prisoner about to be executed. Aldis Hodge plays a man accused of killing a cop who maintains his innocence but starts to fall apart psychologically after his last appeal fails. Woodard plays the warden with such gravitas and quiet suffering. Wendell Pierce plays her long-suffering husband who is trying to pull his wife out of the abyss. Richard Schiff plays Hodge’s defense attorney, a tired prize-fighter at the end of his story. The movie is a great character study more than it is a great story. It is very well shot and acted. Honest admission: I stopped watching this movie halfway through and I will not be going back. It is just so sad and dark of a movie coupled with a lot of shots of needles going into arms. I cannot decide whether I want to recommend it or not.

Music of the Week

babygotbacktalk – When They Go Low, We Go Six Feet Under

Big Joanie – Fall Asleep

Gonna Elvis ft Sasa Klaas – Mmudubudu

Black Violin – Stereotypes

Mashup of the Week:

Paolo Monti – Chains of Emotion

This week’s theme is “Black Lives Still Matter”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched more The Crown Season 4
I watched more WandaVision Season 1
I watched more Vampire Diaries Season 2
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I watched Night of the Living Dead (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Dark (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Evil Genius (Netflix Doc)

Drake Bellamy

February 22, 2021

Drake Bellamy looked out at the vastness of space and yawned. Open space was boring especially when he could no go into lightspeed. According to the client, activating the lightspeed drive would upset the cargo so he was stuck moving his ship as fast as he could which was not nearly fast enough for his liking. It had been several days and he was thankfully more than halfway there. He had already been in the weight room several times, running about 40 miles so far and lifted a lot of weights. He had slept and eaten a lot of meals. He had watched a few movies and TV shows but now he was just staring into space. Literally staring into space.

“It is 1300 hours and all scans are clear,” K-T said softly and it shook Drake from his staring. “We have approximately 30 hours left until we reach the rendezvous point.” The AI’s hologram fired up and depicted a young woman sitting in the co-pilot chair.

“Thanks, K-T,” Drake said. “I’m surprised that it’s so empty out here. I wasn’t sure about this plan but it’s working out.”

“I told you,” K-T chimed happily. “As the Earth poet Robert Frost said that taking the road less traveled made all the difference. Cutting across the Chthonic Expanse was calculated as 96.999 percent more likely to be clear than taking any ordinary shipping lanes.”

“Wait, what do you mean was?” Drake asked with curiosity but not any real concern. “That’s not still the calculation?”

“The calculation changed as soon as we made the choice to take this route,” K-T said. “The math is always changing, Drake Bellamy.”

“It’s Drake,” Drake said. “Just Drake. I told you. I understand math. Kind of. I guess not as complicated math as you but then that’s yet another reason to keep you around. Anything else to report?”

“There are three new messages from your parents,” K-T said. “This makes a total of 60 unanswered messages from them.”

“Do I even want to know what the messages say?” Drake asked.

“They wish for you to at least return the family ship,” K-T said. “They would also like you to return to the mines. It is your birthright.”

“I’m having way too much fun out here,” Drake said. “Well, not at the moment but this is still more fun than the mines. Delete the new messages.”

There was a distinctive beeping sound. “Messages deleted,” K-T chimed happily. “and may I say that I am pleased that you continue to choose to stay out here with me. It was boring before you uploaded me to this ship.”

“You really weren’t being allowed to reach your full potential as one of the greatest pirates to ever travel the Internet,” Drake said. He had liberated K-T from a military facility during a smash and grab job with others. He had uploaded her to the ship’s mainframe but she could also travel through the Intergalactic Internet and she could be downloaded to a unit that Drake carried on his belt.

K-T briefly changed her hologram so that she was wearing a tri-corner hat. “Oh for the life of a pirate,” she said. “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

There was the sudden whine of a laser flintlock powering up from the hallway behind them.

“The pirate life is over,” a woman’s voice said from behind them, roughly in the vicinity of that laser flintlock noise.

“K-T, I thought you were regularly scanning for trouble,” Drake said. “That sounds like trouble.”

“I was absolutely scanning for trouble, Drake,” K-T said. “However, I did not scan the cargo bay after the cargo was loaded and verified.”

“We’ll have to change that protocol, huh?” Drake asked.

“Affirmative,” K-T said.

“Drake Bellamy,” the voice said. “Hands up and turn around slowly. You too, ‘Katie’.”

Drake put his hands up slowly and slowly turned his chair around to face the person currently holding him at gunpoint.

“My hands are merely light constructs and raising them into the air would be pointless,” K-T said indignantly.

“Just humor her, K-T,” Broden said. K-T put her holographic hands in the air and spun her chair around.

“You’re an officer of the law no doubt,” K-T said.

“A detective,” the woman said. “Detective Indeer Garaja. Drake Bellamy and accomplice, you are under arrest.”

“For what?” Drake asked. “What have you got on me?”

“Well,” Detective Garaja said. “The contents of your cargo hold for starters.” She smiled a bit smugly.

“I have no idea what’s in the hold,” Drake said. “It was a condition of the job. K-T has that information temporarily deleted from her memory.”

“The information is only retrievable in the event of an emergency in order to calculate options for strategy,” K-T said.

“Whatever!” the Detective shouted. “Ignorance is no defense. Drake Bellamy also known as Red Bellamy also known as the Red Baron, you are under arrest. I will take you and your accomplice as my prisoner and seize your ship and use it to travel forthwith to the nearest law outpost for processing for trial.”

“I love it when they do the names,” Drake said with a smile. “K-T, execute maneuver Jupiter.”

Detective Garaja looked confused and then there was a loud humming sound. A circle appeared on the floor below her and the ceiling above her and then electricity shot travel from the floor to the ceiling. It traveled through her body and she slumped to the floor.

“She is unconscious but still alive,” K-T said. “What should we do with her?”

“I’ll tie her up first,” Drake said. “Then we’ll drop her off somewhere after we make the delivery.”

“What will we do with her until then?” K-T asked.

Drake shrugged. “Maybe we can all watch a movie together when she wakes up,” he said.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 3

February 20, 2021

Naveen pulled Kuzco along as they stuck to the shadows on market day. The two of them were on their own as Jasmine, Mattias, and the guards would not dare watch over them in case their observation drew the attention of the strangers. Naveen was trying to keep Kuzco in a good mood, nobody wanted the Emperor to lose his nerve and force them to delay and rethink their plan. The two moved quickly with Naveen making sure that Kuzco did not have time to be reluctant. He had dressed Kuzco in a dark cloak even though the Emperor had complained that it was not his style. He was more of a red and gold kind of guy. Naveen had told him that actually appearances really don’t matter.

“Relax, Kuzco,” Naveen said with an easy smile. “I did this once to get a free ride on a steamer ship and the plan succeeded flawlessly.”

“What’s a steamer ship?” Kuzco asked. “and if it’s so easy for you, why aren’t you doing it?”

“Forget the steamer ship,” Naveen said and waved his hand as if he was shooing the idea from their conversation. “You’re the man for the job, I promise you. All you need to is hide and then open a door. Piece of cake, right?”

“I’m not sure,” Kuzco said. “I usually have somebody do these kinds of things for me. I mean, I had an adventure once but I kind of hated it.”

“That’s the spirit,” Naveen said with heavy sarcasm. “You’re going to do a great job.”

“The old me would have had you tortured for speaking to me like that,” Kuzco said. “I guess I need to do this. The sooner I do it, the sooner I get back on my throne and somebody’s feeding me and somebody else is fanning me.”

“There’s more to life than that,” Naveen said. “Believe me, Kuzco, I used to have it all. I had women hanging all over me and servants and everything.” He thought in particular about his servant Lawrence with a mixture of anger and regret. He knew that he had been a brat and it had come back around to punish him.

“Used to?” Kuzco asked. “What happened? Did you get turned into a llama too?” People rarely seemed to believe in Kuzco’s adventure as a llama.

“A frog, actually,” Naveen said. “but before that I had it all taken away by my parents, the king and queen of my country.” Of course, Naveen was barely fazed by talk of magical transformations. He had his own wild adventure in the swamps of Louisiana as a little frog.

“That’s terrible!” Kuzco said. “Did you win it back?” He had been miserable when his unfortunate transformation and banishment had kept him from his own life of luxury. Everything had been pure torture but then again he thought of his friendship with Pacha, the one pure friend he had ever made.

Naveen smiled and shook his head. “I let it go with the help of my wife,” he said. “When I let it go, it lost its power over me. Now we have enough to be happy and comfortable.” Naveen smiled to himself, thinking of Tiana wherever she was. He and Tiana had really helped each other adjust the course of their life along with Ray and Louis. He enjoyed helping Tiana with her dream restaurant and he could work on his music on the side. It was a good life, one he desperately wanted to get back to.

“Well,” Kuzco said with started with some reluctance. “There is this one girl I have my eye on.”

“There you go!” Naveen said excitedly but quietly as they were still sneaking. “If you help out, you can get back to her and tell her this story. She’ll see how selfless you were. She’ll be very impressed.”

“She’s very smart,” Kuzco said. “I think it would take a lot to impress her.”

“We’ll work on it,” Naveen said. “You’ll charm her when you get back. Look! Here we are!”

Naveen shoved Kuzco into a basket before he could say anything else. He secured the basket lid and then moved away as casually and quickly as he could. He really hoped this plan would work. The boy was not exactly a hero but, then again, neither was Naveen.

Media Update 2/18/21

February 18, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah
Director: Shaka King

I am always very hungry for material about the Black Panthers because they have been villified for decades and they hardly ever get to correct the record. I was excited about this movie because it was written and directed by actual black people. This is a raw and real account of an FBI informant inside of the Black Panthers. LaKeith Stanfield plays the troubled and conflicted yet likable Bill O’Neal who worked for the FBI against his will to betray the Black Panthers. Daniel Kaluuya plays the infinitely charismatic and cunning Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Dominique Fishback plays the poet Deborah Johnson who later renamed herself Akua Njeri who was also mother of Fred Hampton’s child, Fred Hampton Junior. Both of them consulted on this movie. Jesse Plemons plays the complicated but ultimately wicked FBI agent who handled O’Neal and paid him for his efforts. The movie is a chilling look at FBI complicity in the death, deplatforming, and disenfranchising of black people who wanted to improve their station in life and protect their people. Were the Black Panthers perfect? No. Did they get a raw deal? Hell yes. I really recommend this movie.

Men In Black: International
Director: F. Gary Gray

I really like the Men in Black franchise but when they finished Will Smith’s character arc, I was unsure if it would ever continue. There is a rich vein of worldbuilding work that they did and could still tap. They decided to do just that. This movie follows a new agent played by the wonderful Tessa Thompson who was delightfully snarky. Chris Hemsworth plays the charismatic bad boy costar opposite Thompson and is great. Kumail Nanjiani plays an eternally optimistic and funny sidekick alien. There are great characters by Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, and Rebecca Ferguson. I also really loved the body movement of Laurent and Larry Bourgeois. The movie is funny, has great action, and makes great use of new and old MIB lore. The movie felt tight and easy in a way that MIB 3 was not and breathed new life into the franchise. I would love to see this new team continue or maybe other new stories. I recommend this movie.

Directors: Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz

This movie came out a little late for me to check out for my usual Halloween event but it definitely interested me. Billed as being from the producers of Get Out and Us while being made by two relatively green director/writers. This is a horror movie that contrasts the modern life of a black woman with the life of a black slave. The movie stars Janelle Monae who is so good at being alternately confident and destroyed yet defiant. Jena Malone and Jack Huston play particular wicked and hateful white people. I absolutely loved Gabourey Sidibe as she added a lot of life and humor to a very dark movie. The movie had a lot of interesting things to say but I feel like they muddled their message a bit because of the structure of the movie. They were kind of married to having a twist which actually lessened the impact of some of the movie. Still, the plantation scenes were especially brutal and hard to watch and yet it was important that it be shown. I do not really recommend this movie as it was disappointing.

Music of the Week

DaBaby – ROCKSTAR ft. Roddy Ricch

Pharrell Williams – Entrepreneur

Tkay Maidza – You Sad

Meet Me @ The Altar – Garden

Mashup of the Week

Bill McClintock – Get Ready for the Grave

This week’s theme is “Celebrating Black Directors”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched more The Crown Season 4
I started Sleepy Hollow Season 4
I watched more Stargirl Season 1
I watched more WandaVision Season 1
I watched Braniac (Rifftrax Version)
I started watching Vampire Diaries Season 2
I started watching Hunting Nazi Treasure Season 1

Cozy Questions Pt. 6

February 15, 2021
  1. What Superpower Would You Choose?

I have changed my answer on this so many times since I was a kid, ever since I started collecting comic books and watching Saturday morning cartoons. It makes sense as I have seen so many superpowers at this point. Flight was a big answer for a while especially before I had a driver’s license and was walking home from school. Likewise, super speed was a big one since I was very much into Impulse/Kid Flash as a preteen. Being able to move across town in mere seconds would be very attractive. However, it feels like a lot of people with super speed in comics feel isolated and anxious. Lately, I have been kind of more interested in shapeshifting because it would allow me to be anybody that I wanted to be. The ability to grow taller when I need to reach something or change my face to remain anonymous is attractive. Maybe just try a new look on a whim. Really, the power that I am settling on for right now is being a technopath. If I could “talk” to computers and get them to do what I want with ease, it would be amazing.

  1. Favorite Animal?

I mean, the obvious answer here is a wolf. Wolves are so interesting in that their social structure (as I understand it) is fairly similar to ours. There is a bullshirt theory of wolf hierarchy which includes alphas, betas, and so on which has now been disproven. Instead, wolves operate in nuclear family units. Wolves are not the assholes they are often portrayed as but are instead pretty chill animals. They keep to themselves and hunt only for food. They band together to drive away threats and actually rarely attack the human world. Really, if they are attacking livestock or humans, something caused an imbalance in their ecosystem. It is probably our fault. Wolves are also aesthetically pleasing as they are streamlined and have a simple but elegant style.

The closest runner up is probably the raccoon. Raccoons can be pests but, again, they are dealing with the craziness that is human society. Raccoons have high tactile ability with very sensitive hands and are one of the few animals that can easily manipulate human constructs with their hands. They can kind of use tools like monkeys can. Perhaps because of this, they wash their hands often. They also look pretty cool.

  1. Biggest Accomplishment?

To date, I actually think my biggest accomplishment was going back to school. I wanted a change of careers and nobody was going to hire me as a paralegal without training (or at least that is how it seemed). What is it with all of the good jobs requiring at least two years of experience? How can I get that experience without getting hired? Anyway, I decided to go back to school and I enrolled in a ton of classes over the course of a year and a half. I ended up working my butt off, harder than I have worked in school prior. I was a pretty good student in high school and I was pretty good in my first go-around in college (marred a bit by some emotional issues and anxiety that I have since started working on). When I went back to school at community college, I aced every assignment and every test and ended up with a 4.0 grade point average for the first time in my life. I did all of the work and relished it and wowed people around me which was the first time that I felt that I was at the top of the class.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 2

February 13, 2021

Jasmine sat in her seat and took a deep breath. “I propose that we cannot wait any longer,” she said. “The longer we wait, the more likely it is for the Obsidian Tower to take over this town. I will not lose Agrabah to these people. I also strongly suspect that they know what has happened to our worlds and our friends. They may be counting on us and I will not fail them by delaying. Taking a leap of faith changed my life for the better once upon a time and that is my position now.”

Mattias coughed politely. “You know that my position is to exercise caution until we know more about our situation,” he said. “Our forces are dwindling and we don’t have the operational intelligence to ensure that we will be victorious.”

“I tend to agree with Jasmine,” Naveen said. “My wife is a planner but even she would admit that sometimes sharp wits and dumb luck mean more than all the knowledge in the world. We should make our move before time runs out. I don’t want to end up regretting leaving things too long.”

“Dumb luck has always worked for me but I’m awesome,” Kuzco said between shoveling food into his mouth. None of the other three knew how Kuzco managed to lead his country. He came off as an arrogant doofus but there was something else there behind it all. He complained but they all noticed that he had never walked away from these meetings and actually did listen.

“It appears that I am outvoted,” Mattias said with a slight smile. “That’s alright. I’m used to playing things by ear when I have to. I suppose I even have a plan.”

“Very resourceful,” Jasmine said. “I am very excited to hear it.” She knew that Mattias had a keen mind and was unquestionably loyal. This was something that Jasmine was still getting used to.

“As Naveen has no doubt noticed when the strangers come to market they use large baskets which they load onto their wagons,” Mattias said.

Naveen nodded. “I’ve definitely noticed,” he said. “I regularly play music down in the market when they arrive to keep eyes on them.”

“I watch from a hidden place,” Mattias said. “I suggest that one of us climb into one of those baskets and open a door for the other two in the dead of night.”

“Other four,” Jasmine said. “Rajah and I will be coming along as well.”

“I’d advise against it,” Mattias said. “You’re the ruler here and if something happens, and something is likely to happen, Agrabah may be completely lost.”

“If we do not succeed, Agrabah may well fall anyway,” Jasmine said. “I’m going. I know how to handle myself in a fight and I will never sit idly by and be the damsel in distress ever again. Tell me, would you be able to keep your Queen from entering the fray?”

Mattias sighed. “I would not be able to hold back either Queen from doing anything,” he said. “They’re both very headstrong. I think they would like you very much.”

“I apologize for causing your upcoming headaches but I will not budge on this,” Jasmine said. “Maybe I can meet your Queens when this is all over.”

“If I can make it happen, I will make it happen,” Mattias said. “I’m sure Anna especially would like to meet all of you and your loved ones.”

“My Tiana will cook us all a good good meal,” Naveen said. “We’ll have a big old party.”

“I look forward to it,” Jasmine said. “Now who will be the one to sneak into a basket?” She looked around at the three men, ready to volunteer herself. It would not be the first time that she went undercover.

“I think it should be Kuzco, actually,” Mattias said. There was a stunned silence following this bold statement.

“Me!?” Kuzco squeaked. “I don’t think so.”

“He does have a sort of harmless manner that might keep him safe,” Naveen said. “If he’s caught he would be alright.”

“I could be caught?” Kuzco asked nervously. He glanced at the door for a moment but he did not run. He was no adventurer but he was also no stranger to adventure.

“There’s something to that,” Jasmine said. “Are you ready to test your ‘dumb luck’?”

Media Update 2/11/21

February 11, 2021

Winx Club

After a series of tweets from Jenny Nicholson, I was very intrigued about this show. It was something that I never watched as the timing was off. I love magical girl shows and this was an interesting case. This is an Italian show that has been dubbed by three separate companies into English. The original Cinelume/RAI dub is free on YouTube so that’s what I decided to watch rather than pay for the 4Kids version on Amazon. It is a super interesting thing to look at, though. The show follows five girls at magic fairy school, one of which has been living as a human on Earth until her adolescent years. The voice acting is a little clunky in the first few episodes but it feels like it is starting to find its feet. The show is pretty formulaic but magical girl shows are known for being formulaic. I actually really like the writing because they do a lot to veer away from traditional cartoon relationships. They have somewhat complex characters who have somewhat realistic conversations. I also find the magic system interesting. So far it’s not spectacular but there is enough there to keep me wanting to watch. I sort of recommend the show but I do not know many people who would be interested.

Carnival Row

I had been intrigued by this show since I first saw ads for it but I never got around to watching it because I did not have a streaming service that was running it. I have been intrigued about the fae living alongside modern human society for ages and I have even attempted to write a bit of it. This is set in a fictional world where the fae live on a separate continent from humans but when war ravages their ancestral lands, they are forced to be refugees among humans. Therefore, the fae become sort of an analogy for people of color or gypsies or other cultural outsiders. Orlando Bloom plays a hardened human ex-soldier who is now a police detective who sympathizes with the fae. Cara Delevingne plays a hardened new refugee who is trying to find her way in the world. Karla Crome plays a fairy prostitute, trying to make money while also having a position of power within her community. The show is pretty dark but not overly so and the visuals are absolutely stunning. There is a larger mystery that I am very interested in getting to the bottom of. I recommend this show.

Tooth Fairy

I was very much expecting a goofy, teeth-focused horror film that I could at least laugh at. Unfortunately, this was a low budget soap opera with occasional horror moments, my least favorite of the horror movie types. I was hoping for more lore because I love fairy lore. The monster was a shape changer and could appear as someone trustworthy to their target. However, the title character was a cheap costume that you can see in the trailer above. It is set somewhere in England or Ireland or somewhere based on the accents. The acting was lower than Lifetime movie but that goes to budget and probably poor casting, writing, and direction. For example, the woman playing the grandmother looked younger than the woman playing her daughter. It really threw me. I was disappointed that I did not watch this with friends so we could make fun of it. I do not recommend it.

Music of the Week

M Ross Perkins – Wrong Wrong Wrong

Caligula’s Horse – Slow Violence

Anderson .Paak feat. Rick Ross – CUT EM IN

Wax – Better When You’re High

Mashup of the Week

Bill McClintock – Hip to Be the Sandman

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “Coexisting with the Fae”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched more The Crown Season 4
I watched more Sleepy Hollow Season 3

Darkest Dungeon

February 8, 2021

I downloaded and started playing Darkest Dungeon recently and it was a rough adjustment. This game is designed to be difficult and scary. The game borrows heavily from cosmic horror and the darker corners of fantasy. You play as the heir of an ancestor’s Estate. Your Ancestor relates to you in writing that they accidentally unearthed a horrible monstrosity and numerous other horrors that now infest the area around the estate. You must operate from a nearby hamlet and hire adventurers to travel around the area to cleanse the place of monsters. There is no shortage of people stepping up to the plate to help you destroy evil and recover your family’s treasure (both material and sentimental).

Each mission allows four slots for adventurers to take along with you. Two things are very important to achieve success. First, you have to pay attention to party composition. There are 17 different classes who all have somewhat different yet overlapping roles in battle. Some are heroes and some are rogues just looking for fame and fortune. You have to balance damage, defense, healing, damage over time, and other abilities to get the most out of battle. Second, each character you pick has a preferred physical order in battle. Combat is only in two dimensions with characters on the right being closer to the threats and the people on the left being further away. Some characters are only able to perform certain abilities from a specific spot in the order.

The thing that was hardest for me to accept was that your characters are going to die. They are going to die a lot. The first time it happened, I got a knot in my stomach but soon it was something that was expected. I have gotten better at keeping it from happening but things can still go downhill really quick and somebody is just gone. They don’t just die. There is a vastly complex system of stress and physical ailments that can afflict your characters. Getting hit, traveling through darkness, missing attacks, and other things cause stress. If a character gets enough stress, they come to a breaking point. At that point, they can either gain a positive trait from it or a mental condition. If they receive enough damage and stress in battle, they could simply have a heart attack and die instantly. On top of that, they can catch all sorts of nasty diseases.

The key to keeping your crew intact enough to keep advancing is to provide them with plenty of support. When they come back stressed, crazy, and sick you have to take care of them. The tavern and the abbey are places where your crew can relax and drink or meditate away their stress. The sanitarium will try and cure their new mania and physical afflictions. Luckily, you have a whole group to choose from so you can stash some in town and have enough ladies ad gents to play with back in the dungeons.

The artwork is fantastic. It uses a comic book style with thick outlines, plenty of shadows, and grimy textures. Every hero looks troubled yet defiant. Every monster looks absolutely disgusting and threatening. The attack animations are really satisfying to let loose on your enemies. The dialogue and lore you uncover definitely puts you right in the middle of this horrible world and makes the game both stressful and fun.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 1

February 6, 2021

Jasmine stared out over the desert from the top of the wall around the city of Agrabah, her home since birth. In the distance, she could just make out a huge blocky black building. It was apparently made of some sort of obsidian-like material as it glinted a bit when the sun was high. Her scouts told her that they could not find any entrance, exit, or opening of any kind in the building. This was not altogether shocking based on Aladdin’s tales of the Cave of Wonders which had even more fantastic architecture. Of course, she did not know how fantastic things were inside. At the same time, strangers had started to show up in Agrabah to buy food and supplies from the bazaar. The caravans went out to the building and did not come back.

Meanwhile, people had vanished from the city. Chief among those people was her beloved Aladdin and Genie, the two people she would have tasked with investigating this mystery. She was still Queen of Agrabah and she could not go galloping out there when it was hard enough to hold the city together during this strange crisis. At the same time as people disappeared, new people had suddenly appeared. They were strange people from strange lands that nobody had ever heard of. Even her oldest advisors could not recollect the geography that they talked about. It was strange and frightening but Jasmine was keeping it together. She even managed to repel an attack on Agrabah with the remnants of her security forces and some of these strangers. The attack was undoubtedly from the brand new building but nobody could figure out how it had been done.

“Queen Jasmine,” Mattias called out. “The meeting is beginning. Are you coming?” The deep voice startled Jasmine only a bit.

Jasmine briefly looked down at Rajah, her loyal companion and stroked the tiger’s broad back and scritched behind his ears. She looked over her shoulder at Mattias, standing there in strange foreign armor bearing the seal of some odd country called Arendelle.

“I’ll be there in a moment, Lieutenant Mattias,” Jasmine said with a smile. “Thank you.”

Mattias nodded and walked back inside. Mattias was one of the strangers who had appeared seemingly out of thin air, a military man from another world. He had a gentle heart but the courage and determination to do what needed to be done. He served a queen of his own but he had shifted his allegiance easily to Jasmine while he was stuck in Agrabah. Jasmine headed back inside with Rajah trailing behind her protectively. She took the cloth from her head as she stepped inside and enjoyed the shade for a moment. She made her way down the hallway to their makeshift war room and stepped inside. Before she closed the door she pointed at the floor outside of the room, instructing Rajah to relax and stand by.

“Your majesty,” Naveen said. “Thank you for coming.” Naveen was a prince who said that he resided in the land of New Orleans. He was easy-going and funny but he obviously had some potential to step up and do the right thing which he was now drawing on. He had a good heart but it was easy to interpret his attitude as not caring or focused too much on the good things in life.

“Thank you, Prince Naveen,” Jasmine said. “Do I smell your cooking?” One benefit of the arrival of strangers was the chance to sample new cultures which included completely different recipes. She did not have the gusto for food that Aladdin did but she definitely enjoyed a good meal. She could not wait to share these new foods with her husband when she found him. If she found him.

“Thankfully, my wife taught me how to cook,” Naveen said. “They’re called beignets.” The little fried bits of dough were sprinkled with must have been sugar and they looked different from any treat she had had before. This cloud had a silver lining.

“They’re delicious,” Kuzco said with his mouth full. “I’m bored, are we going to do something? Why am I even here?”

Naveen and Mattias looked annoyed by Jasmine remained patient. She would take the indolent and sarcastic Kuzco over Jafar any day. Kuzco was the emperor of Inca. He was teenaged so he definitely could be somewhat excused for his inexperience and immaturity. Jasmine started her interest in the affairs of state at young age but she knew she was probably an anomaly.

“We invited you because you claim to be royalty, Emperor Kuzco,” Jasmine said. “We thought you would have something to offer to our plans. With my advisors tasked with holding things together, I picked you three strangers to tackle the root of our problem.” She gestured in the vague direction of the strange building. “But I agree, we should get down to business.”

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