Archive for March, 2021

Video Game Lore: The Super Mario Dating Scene

March 29, 2021

The other day, I was writing about Bowsette and I realized I had more to say about Nintendo. It is not exactly a meme but is instead about the ongoing lore of the two biggest properties that Nintendo controls. Those properties are the Mario games and the Legend of Zelda games. This is going to get pretty nerdy and does not really mean anything but it is something that I have grown to like contemplating sometimes. I suppose it is the writer in me. Anyway, I want to discuss specific parts of both of these franchises. Both have a ton of lore but, to varying degrees, both franchises require their fanbase to fill in a lot of the gaps.

The Super Mario Dating Scene

As most video game nerds will point out pushes up glasses, Mario first showed up in Donkey Kong. In that game, he tries to save his then-girlfriend Pauline from the giant ape Donkey Kong. Fewer people remember that Mario was actually the antagonist of Donkey Kong Jr. who was just trying to rescue his dad from Mario’s who kept his old foe in a cage. Mario would eventually end the generational feud by befriending Donkey Kong the 3rd. At this point, he had broken up with Pauline. Side note: Mario eventually met up with Pauline in Super Mario Odyssey where she is the Mayor of the democratic kingdom of New Donk City.

Anyway, Mario would go on to team up with his brother Luigi and the two would pretty much be inseparable from then on. Well, unless one of them was kidnapped and the other had to save their brother. Mario and Luigi first got involved with Princess Peach when rescuing her the first time Bowser kidnapped her in Super Mario Bros. They would go on to have a routine of rescuing Peach whenever Bowser kidnapped her in pretty much every game. They eventually met Princess Daisy, a princess of far off Sarasaland (exclusive to the Nintendo Game Boy). At that point, people figured that Luigi did not have to be a third wheel and the two princesses and two plumbers could double date.

However, Nintendo has always been pretty coy about these relationships. Official word is nestled in little easter eggs and ambiguous scenes in spinoff games. Notably, when Mario saves the day in many of the games, he is rewarded by Peach baking him a cake and not giving him a kiss. If he does get a kiss, it is the same chaste cheek kiss that his brother Luigi gets. It seems a lot of people read too much into Mario and Peach’s relationship and Daisy x Luigi as well. In fact, while Mario and Peach (and Bowser) seem to be inextricably linked by fate and politics, Mario and Peach do not act like a couple.

This apparent disconnect between fanon and canon caused a big ruckus from the MRA folks. In Super Mario Odyssey, Mario spends the whole game trailing after Bowser, Peach, and Bowser’s wedding planners as Bowser tries to prepare to marry Peach whether she wants to or not. Mario finally catches up at the wedding chapel on the Moon where he soundly beats Bowser Punchout-style. At the end of the game, Bowser and Mario both offer Peach flowers but she rejects both of them and leaves them both stranded on the Moon. Finally, a definitive statement (possibly?) that Peach may not be into Mario. More importantly, it was a great message to MRA types and young impressionable boys that helping out a woman does not mean that she is obligated to date you.

Time will tell if they ever go all in on the relationship or whether the four remain platonic friends who like to hang out and play sports together.

Bonus: This awesome music video from Starbomb where Luigi makes a play for Peach.

This got long so tune in for part 2!

Undead Reckoning Pt. 8

March 27, 2021

The train chugged on toward its destination and Clarity had pulled out a book and a notebook and expertly balanced both in her lap. She would read from the leather-bound book and then write something in the notebook every so often. Since she had retreated into academia, it left Talbot to his own devices again. He stared past her out the window again and watched the scenery go by. Vegetation was becoming more and more sparse as they headed out toward the desert. Nobody quite knew why the desert had become so dangerous. The desert wasteland had been home to strange mobile rifts of chaotic magic, rumored to be cracks in reality itself. This happened long before Talbot had been born.

Lately, magic experts were reporting that the chaotic energy in the desert was slowly abating. The area was slowly becoming safer or at least as safe as a normal desert could be. Many had started to explore the area and some settlements had sprung up to support explorers and mining operations. The area was largely lawless as the Queen’s government had not yet asserted full control over the region. They had been left very unprepared for the expansion since they previously knew that people feared entering the dangerous desert. Talbot knew that this necromancer that Blackrance insisted on pursuing was out there in that desert with the rest of the criminals. It was the only logical place to start amassing power with a forbidden yet showy skill like that.

The train pulled into Fallshield Station which was not much of a station after all. Still, Talbot and Clarity had arrived at their destination. Talbot stood up and grabbed his pack and his rifle and slung them over his shoulder. He reached back to offer a hand to Clarity who clasped his hand and used it to stand up and follow Talbot into the aisle. Talbot handed her bag carefully.

“Well, Mr. Hawkwing we have arrived,” Clarity said. “you’ve been such a good travel companion so far, would you like to accompany me as we look for Lord Blackrance? It would be silly to separate to seek out the same man. No?”

“You make perfect sense to me, Ms. Havenwood,” Talbot said. “Ladies first, I’ll watch your back. These frontier towns can be rough.”

“Well, go ahead and be intimidating, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said. “They would only bother me because they know not how dangerous I can be.” She smiled in a way that made Talbot believe that she was a formidable magic practitioner and had the guts to harm if necessary. Maybe she was suited for adventure out in the desert.

Clarity led the way off of the train and Talbot followed close behind. Once they were out he walked beside her, blinking in the bright sunlight to get his bearings. He was grateful that he had brought along his wide-brimmed hat. Clarity’s hat had an even wider brim and a large ornate bow as well. She certainly stood out in all of the dust. He had never been to Fallshield before. It had been a military base dedicated to protecting the border of the desert but a little town had grown after the border had become more relaxed. There was still danger out there but the military was letting people take that risk onto themselves.

As the few people who had gotten off of the train cleared away, Talbot spotted a halfling lingering who spotted them and headed their way.

“Are you waiting for us, young man?” Clarity asked. “Clarity Havenwood, at your service. This is Talbot Hawkwing.” Talbot tipped his hat to the man.

“Titus Mapleburrow, at your service,” the man said. “I’m Lord Blackrance’s valet.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” Clarity said. “It’s nice to know how thoughtful Lord Blackrance is.”

“Can we speak to him?” Talbot asked. “Where is he?”

“Lord Blackrance has not arrived himself and has been delayed slightly,” Titus said. “However, you are both expected. I’m to convey you to the local hotel. Rooms are already waiting for you. I have a stipend for your food and drink as well.”

“Lord Blackrance thinks of everything,” Clarity said. “Thank you, Titus. Lead the way.”

“Of course, miss,” Titus said and turned on his heel to walk down the platform toward town.

Media Update 3/25/21

March 25, 2021

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

This definitely felt like a solid 1980s horror movie. Movies like this are often tonally all over the place, goofy one minute and dead serious the next. There’s a lot of emotional whiplash. The story mashes together imagery from coal mining and Valentine’s Day. The movie takes advantage of a relatively large ensemble cast as the town of Valentine Bluffs is stalked by a killer. Paul Kelman was good as the troubled yet good-hearted boy. Neil Affleck is good as the hot-headed local guy who is the leader of the pack. Lori Hallier is great as the plucky but confused good girl. A special shoutout to Keith Knight who plays the lovable goofball who often acts as the group’s peacekeeper. There are a lot of great scenes between the characters between the horror parts. The movie is largely bloodless and lets you imagine the deaths which is pretty effective. I recommend this movie.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

I had this on my radar for a while because the director and screenwriter have both worked on some fun schlocky horror stuff. (Drive Angry, Scream the TV Series, Dracula 2000, Jason X) So basically, we’re dealing with guys who love horror and are not just in this for a quick cash grab. The movie has a lot of the same characters as the first movie but updates it and steps up the carnage. It also focuses on fewer characters, dealing directly with interpersonal conflict. The movie stars Jensen Ackles as the loner hometown boy who has been gone for a long time. Kerr Smith plays the angry Sheriff trying to solve the latest killings. Jaime King is good as the small-town good girl all grown up. There are definitely shout-outs to the original but it is difficult to compare the two as they have different mission statements. This one focuses more on the mystery and also has a lot of very gory but creative kills and ups the body count. I recommend this movie.

Dagon

This is an HP Lovecraft-inspired movie so I went in expecting it to be trippy and I was not disappointed. Basically, a bunch of tourists are stranded on an isolated island in a foreign country and the townspeople are not what they appear. This movie goes from zero to a hundred extremely quick and then never lets up. A lot of the tension from the movie actually comes from the physical and vocal acting from the human monsters. It really added to the strange and troubling atmosphere throughout. The main actor was Ezra Godden who is really good as the put upon geeky guy who is forced into impossible situations. The movie is directed by the legendary Stuart Gordon who has a history of Lovecraftian movies (Reanimator, From Beyond, Castle Freak). I definitely recommend this one too.

Music of the Week

REI AMI – SNOWCONE

Carly Rae Jepsen – Want You In My Room

THE AGONIST – As One We Survive

Metro Station – Shake It

Mashup of the Week

MashupChuck – No More Tears Of A Clown

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “RNG Horror Podcast No. 9”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
i watched more Elementary Season 4
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I finished WandaVision
I finished The Vampire Diaries Season 3

Meme Tracer: Bowsette

March 22, 2021

I was reminded today of the story of Bowsette which happened almost three years ago now. It is really fun to watch things catch fire on the Internet so quickly. This is why I love memes so much because they are a fun game to play with the rest of the Net but also kind of fun to trace.

In September 2018, Nintendo revealed to the world a new concept connected to New Super Mario Bros. U for Switch. Though, to understand it (as much as you can understand it) you would have to go back to Super Mario Bros. In that game (the third to feature Mario), they introduced Toad (the character and the species). The little mushroom-headed guy was a loyal subject of Princess Peach. You could first play as one of the Toads in Super Mario Bros. 2. He became a well-known character and his race appeared in every game after that, often getting huge roles. He was once again playable in spinoff games such as Mario Kart, Mario Strikers, Mario Tennis, Mario Party, and so on.

Eventually, Nintendo wanted to create a new variant of Mario Kart called Mario Kart Double Dash. The conceit of this version was that the cars would be driven in teams including a driver and a weapons specialist. This would allow for co-op play where two players could control the same car as well as drive separate cars. Nintendo obviously wanted iconic teams for people to choose from. Teams included Mario and Luigi, Princesses Peach and Daisy, Bowser and Bowser Jr., Wario and Waluigi, and Yoshi and Birdo (see note). They wanted to include Toad but he did not have an established partner. Now, up until this point, Nintendo insisted that Toads were nongendered beings. They just were Toads. However, instead of just making the team be two Toads of different colors, they decided to create Toadette.

As you can see, Toadette was a new clearly feminine form of Toad who could join them on adventures. She never really showed up outside of Mario Kart and other party games but she was always around. A hyper pink, eternally optimistic character. Very cute. Her art was everywhere and the fans embraced her pretty much immediately just like every Mario character ever. However, flash forward to New Super Mario Bros. U in 2018. Remember I mentioned it earlier? They revealed a new item called the Super Crown. The Super Crown was introduced solely because Toadette would be a playable character in her first “course clear” Mario game. The purpose of the Super Crown would transform Toadette into Peachette, a transformation which sparked a lot of new theories about how Toad culture worked.

The Super Crown transformed Toadette into a character very similar to Princess Peach (and sort of like Princess Daisy). Does that mean that if you took off Princess Peach’s crown she would transform back to a female-gendered Toad? Is the Toad sociological/biological situation similar to bees? There is one Princess and only a few other females as backups to rule over the genderless masses? It boggles the mind. Nintendo has not really gotten into any clear explanations. We are left to speculate.

Anyway, an artist known as Ayyk92 seems to be the first to wonder what would happen if other characters got a hold of the Super Crown. Namely, they posited that if Bowser touched the Super Crown, he would genderbend to Peach-like character named Bowsette. Bowsette is a little buffer than Peach and generally wears a black strapless dress with spikes on it. Bowsette retains Bowser’s horns and spiked tail but mostly looks like a sassier, edgier Peach.

Artist Credit: poderosoandrajoso on DeviantArt

The Internet seized on this new concept and fanart of this new unofficial character flooded DeviantArt and other corners of the Web. Notably, the original comic (seen here) depicts Mario and Bowser both giving up on ever dating Peach and Mario decides to date Bowsette instead. This followed the actual canon attempted wedding to Peach by Bowser in Mario Odyssey. Artists also started to give the Super Crown to other Mario enemies creating new characters like Bulette, Booette, Goombette, and so on. The Internet is a wonderfully weird and creative place.

A Quick Note on Birdo:

Birdo was a character that first appeared as an enemy in Super Mario Bros 2. As you can see, Birdo is decidedly coded as feminine what with the bow on her head and being bright pink. However, in the manual, it said that Birdo is a “male who thinks he is a girl” and would prefer people to call them “Birdette”. In all later references, Birdo is referred to as female leading many to continue to think of Birdo as the first transgender video game character. Birdo has a similar silhouette to Yoshi (a dinosaur friend of the Mario gang) but is an entirely different species. So, it is kind of weird that they were paired together in Mario Kart Double Dash.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 6

March 20, 2021

Jasmine, Naveen, and Kuzco stepped back with Jasmine and Kuzco hugging their arms close to their bodies against the sudden gust of cold in the space. Naveen nervously ran a hand through his hair. Mattias stepped forward, seemingly unafraid, and reached to help Queen Elsa to her feet. He helped her up gently but authoritatively, a man of service for sure.

“Your majesty,” Mattias said. “You have been held captive. Are you alright?” He was protective, almost instinctively keeping his body between Elsa and the others standing outside of the cell.

“I’m fine,” Elsa said politely and Mattias instantly withdrew his support and Elsa stood steady. “Is my sister here?”

“Not to my knowledge, your majesty,” Mattias said. “We have both been transported magically to a foreign land. One that I had never heard of. Apparently, they thought you dangerous enough to actually imprison you.”

“That was a smart choice,” Elsa said with a sarcastic smirk. “Who did this?”

Mattias shook his head. “We haven’t really figured out who they are yet,” he said. “We fought them but they have not identified themselves yet. They are clearly not friendly, though”

“They will be held accountable whoever they are,” Jasmine said. “I promise that, your majesty.” Jasmine stood as tall and as regal as she could considering she was an inexperienced warrior who had just been through the wringer. She did have a lifetime of experience standing with her father and she could strike a pose with the best of them.

“Mattias, why haven’t you introduced us?” Elsa asked with a slight smile. She stood a little straighter, drawing on her own royal training.

“My apologies,” Mattias said. “Queen Elsa, this is Jasmine, the ruler of this desert kingdom Agrabah. Behind her is Prince Naveen of New Orleans and Emperor Kuzco of Inca.”

“It’s actually ‘former queen’ but let’s dispense with the honorifics for a while until we’re out of this,” Elsa said. “Do we have a deal?”

“I like you already,” Jasmine said. “Are you sure you feel alright?”

“I’m sure,” Elsa said with a smile. “It’s nice to meet all of you and I’m grateful for the rescue. Agrabah, New Orleans, Inca. I have never heard of these places but let’s set that aside. If these people are threatening Northuldra and Arendelle, they will answer to me. To us.”

“Agreed,” Jasmine said. “Nobody invades Agrabah.”

“Yes, I agree as well,” Naveen said. His face was kind but his voice was stern, something nobody was used to in the short time that they had known Naveen. He almost always had a joke. To hear him being this serious was jarring.

“What about all these other cells?” Kuzco asked. “Shouldn’t we free them too?” He gestured around, master of the shortcut at work.

“Yes!” Elsa said. “Fortunately, I know what happens when locks freeze. We’ll free them all.” She suddenly looked much stronger than she had looked after standing up earlier.

“I assume that we will find only allies in these cells,” Mattias said. “At least, I hope so.” He seemed less than completely sure but he trusted Elsa with his life and she obviously felt the same. Besides, it was a logical assumption to make. If these people would imprison Elsa and held malicious designs for Agrabah, the other prisoners would at least be more likely to fight their captors than their liberators.

“We’ll have to take our chances,” Jasmine said. “We can’t handle them on our own. We have to rescue our loved ones.”

“I agree,” Elsa said. “Anna is out there somewhere and there will be no mercy for anybody who gets between us.”

An involuntary shiver ran through everybody but Elsa. She slowly walked past them all and into the hallway of cells.

“I checked,” Kuzco said. “This is only one hallway. There’s a lot of them.”

Elsa seethed with anger for a moment and her footsteps were outlined in ice for a moment. “Let’s open that big one on the end first, shall we?” she asked through clenched teeth. She pointed her palm toward the door at the end of the hallway and ice flew from her hand and slammed into the rough metal. The door shuddered and then large cracks started to form in the metal. Finally, the doors expanded, shuddered, and fell apart. The hallway briefly filled with mist.

Suddenly, a blue blur moved through the mist and enveloped Jasmine. Everybody drew their weapon but Jasmine waved a free hand even as she floated off the ground.

“It’s alright!” she yelled out, tears of happiness flowing down her cheeks. “It’s just my friend Genie.”

The blue man turned to look at everyone else. “Hey everybody,” he said. “Are we having a party?”

“More like a fight, Genie,” Jasmine said. “I’m so glad we found you. We need your help.”

“You name your wish,” Genie said. “I’ll make it come true.”

Media Update 3/18/21

March 18, 2021

Coming to America 2

I enjoyed the original Coming to America, directed by a favorite director of mine, John Landis. It was a very fun fish out of water story about African royalty trying to navigate America. Doing a sequel decades later makes sense as it gives time for the characters to change and find new perspectives. This movie catches up with Prince Akeem as he becomes King Akeem and is under pressure to find a male heir. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall return to their roles along with many from the original movie. They are joined by the addition of Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Jermaine Fowler, Tracy Morgan, Kiki Layne, and Nomzamo Mbatha. Mbatha and Kiki Layne are particularly good. However, I found this movie to be a bad sequel and a very strange and surprisingly joyless movie. Part of that was the writing for the characters played by Leslie Jones and Jermaine Fowler. Part of it was that the movie just felt strangely cruel. It put a lot of emphasis on what felt like the wrong parts as well. It just felt like a really bizarre movie. I do not recommend it and I bailed on the movie halfway through.

Guns Akimbo

I love Daniel Radcliffe’s career. He got all of that Harry Potter money and now is able to pick the craziest independent movies to star in. This one is no different. Radcliffe is very funny as a computer programmer who gets drafted in a real-life violent video game. Samara Weaving plays his main opponent and is delightfully funny as a psychopath. Ned Dennehy is goofy and good at playing an over-the-top bad guy. Natasha Liu Bordizzo is cute and charming as the only normal person in the whole movie. There was even a really funny appearance by Rhys Darby. The movie is nonstop interesting, funny, and exciting. It has a lot to say about Internet culture, what makes a person a person, what makes life worth living, populist underground movements, and so much more. This movie is absolutey insane in some of the best ways. Radcliffe really shines as an everyman who gets elevated to a totally different character. I definitely recommend this movie.

Ponyo

Hayao Miyazaki is a brilliant filmmaker who just so happened to choose animation to succeed in. I still have yet to watch all of his movies but I am slowly working my way through them and I could not resist with this week’s theme. This is a modern fairy tale of a goldfish who wants to be a human girl and the human boy she befriends. That is a gross oversimplification of the plot. The animation is so beautiful. Every single character comes through with such life to them that they are almost more human than human. I watched the English language version which has a fabulous cast and Studio Ghibli always does a good job with it. The cast includes Noah Cyrus, Frankie Jonas, Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, and Cloris Leachman. The movie fills me with such joy and it has so many relatable moments with characters I loved spending time with. I absolutely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Bear Ghost – Necromancin Dancin

Angie McMahon – Pasta

Selena Gomez – Look At Her Now

Internet Money – Somebody

Mash up of the Week:

Elysian Sounds – Phantom of the Chopera

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Fish Out of Water”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
i watched more Elementary Season 4
I watched more Vampire Diaries Season 2
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I started watching Allen v. Farrow

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2021 Theme Reveal

March 15, 2021

Honestly, I did not think I was going to do this again this year. I have a brand new job that just started two weeks ago and I am DMing a D&D game. However, I thought about it and I would love to do it. I always get a rush from it and it has spawned some content that I have loved to create and I am even still working on a fanfiction piece that started less than a year ago.

My Theme Reveal:

Fanfiction!

I enjoyed writing fanfiction last year so I thought I would do it again. I’m planning some interesting stuff and I am starting to get really excited about it. I have never been less sure that I will complete the challenge but here we go!

First post is April 1st. Each day’s story title starts with a different letter of the alphabet (in order, obviously). We’ll see what shakes out of my strange imagination.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 5

March 13, 2021

Jasmine, Mattias, and Naveen walked slowly and carefully down the hallway of the mysterious building. Jasmine had a scimitar, Mattias had his short sword and shield, and Naveen had opted for a wooden staff. Naveen had never really seen combat, at least not in his normal human form. Jasmine had been caught off guard before so she had received some training from her husband Aladdin and the palace guard but she had no experience. Mattias had both training and experience so he led the way. He insisted it be that way and Jasmine and Naveen had not argued.

It was not long before they were tested. They came upon some dark-armored ruffians and the combat was hot and heavy. Mattias set them up and left it to Naveen and Jasmine to finish the job. Mattias’ shield saw a lot of action and it was standing against the punishment very well. To his credit, Kuzco actually caught up to them and tried to fight a bit too although the effect was somewhat comical. Whether he was motivated by fear of being left alone or had suddenly found his courage, it did not really matter. The other three were great to have at least one more person. They slowly fought their way through the hallways but it became clear that their enemy would soon bring the full weight of their force against them. That is when Kuzco told them about the air ducts in the place.

They snuck into one of these ducts and ended up in a small storage room. They caught their breath for a bit. Jasmine tied her hair back into place. They all breathed hard.

“We need a plan,” Jasmine said. “We’re doing great but we can’t last.”

“Agreed,” Mattias said. “but we still don’t know the layout of this place.”

“The solution is simple,” Naveen said. “What they don’t want us to see is what they are guarding the most. Predictably, this is the center of the building.”

“Very smart,” Mattias said. “We’ll have to sneak as much as we can.”

“Allow me,” Kuzco said. “If there’s an easier way of doing things, I’m the one who will find it.”

“Lead the way, Emperor,” Jasmine said with a smile. “We’ll follow your lead.”

They went back at it, sliding through ducts, darting across hallways, and climbing up and down stairs. They kept to the shadows and only clashed with guards when necessary. They almost felt refreshed compared to the earlier tiring combat. Kuzco was doing a great job of leading them on the path of least resistance. He was actually a bit inspiring in his cowardice.

It seemed to take forever but they slowly made their way through the maze-like structure. They finally slipped past a large contingent of guards and stumbled into an entirely new section deep in the building. It looked like there were what looked like prison cells. Jasmine had fought to reduce such cells in her own kingdom because of the inhumane treatment witnessed by Aladdin. They got closer and none of them recognized the first few people they looked in on. The people in the cells looked like they were asleep and when Jasmine banged her scimitar against the bars, they did not wake up.

“These people,” Jasmine said. “Most of them don’t look like they are from Agrabah. They look foreign.”

“Who knows how many worlds were affected by this,” Naveen said. “We need to wake them up.”

From down the hall, they heard Mattias cry out. “Queen Elsa!” he nearly screamed, sending the rest rushing toward him. “This is Queen Elsa. We need to get her out. If we get her out, she could get everyone else out. Trust me.”

“Of course we trust you,” Jasmine said.

The four of them scrambled around until Kuzco found a strange crystal embedded in the wall next to Elsa’s cell. They tried to figure out how the crystal worked. Finally, Mattias plunged his sword into it and there was some sort of magical discharge. The cell shook and then jerked open and they rushed in. Slowly, the white-haired queen started to wake up and Jasmine suddenly noticed that she could see her breath. Elsa’s eyes glowed bright blue and Jasmine was very afraid. They all backed off. Elsa rose to her feet, shaking with anger.

“What happened?” she asked, voice still and tense.

Media Update 3/11/21

March 11, 2021

Channel Zero

I have been wanting to watch this show for years but I finally got back into a creepypasta mood and decided to go for it. I remember when Kris Straub first published Candle Cove and I was intrigued by a whole six episodes devoted to a few paragraphs of source material. They did a really good job hitting all of the notes and fleshing out the story a bit. A mysterious and terrifying children’s show has come back after decades and it is once again driving children to violence. The show smoothly adapts the intentional clunkiness of creepypasta and keeps the existential dread alive. The show casts some kids who are very good at being creepy little goblins. The visuals are very creepy, especially the puppets which are pretty much how I imagined they would be. The show also adds some very memorable new visuals that add to the story instead of take away from it. Paul Schneider is really good at playing a child psychologist trying to solve a mystery while slowly being unhinged by the demons of his past. Fiona Shaw is very good at the troubled mother of two twins who went wrong. I recommend this show.

Beware the Slenderman

I decided to watch this documentary and it had enough of an effect on me that I had to comment even though I rarely comment on documentaries. This is a documentary on the Waukesha stabbing incident that was inspired in part by the creepypasta known as Slender Man. Two young girls stabbed a third young girl and nearly killed her to appease Slender Man. The documentary does a really good job of exploring the Slender Man mythos and why it may be attractive to young preteens, especially girls. It explores how creepypastas proliferate and does a really good job of equating the Slender Man mythos with the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It also explores a bit about schizophrenia and how it can blur the line between reality and fantasy. Where it fails is focusing too much on the dad of one of the perpetrators and his troubling parenting style. He blames iPads for his daughter’s actions instead of her mental illness and seems to run his house like a prison. It was troubling. Anyway, it was a pretty good take on the run up to the trial hearing that decided whether the teens would be tried as adults or juveniles. I recommend this documentary.

The Rake

This is a low-budget movie about creepy pasta monster, the Rake which is a wendigo-like creature. The movie focuses a lot on the psychological effect of the creature and how it spreads like a virus through the survivors of its victims. The movie was not great but I expected that. I mainly went into it to explore the lore of the monster and see what the special effects look like. It also dealt with mental illness and trauma fairly well (for a bad horror movie). The pacing was slow and the drama between the characters was a little annoying but it was all worth it for the special effect at the end. I do not recommend this movie but you can watch it for free currently on Tubi and you can fast forward to the last ten minutes. Just sayin’.

Music of the Week:

The Offspring – Hit That

Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter

Pup – Sibling Rivalry

Within Temptation – Supernova

Mashup of the Week:

DJ Bahler – Le Petit Mort

Homestar Runner

March 8, 2021

In 2003, when I was in college, Macromedia Flash was flourishing and it was everywhere on the Internet. It officially died seventeen years later and it was the sad, slow end of an era. During that time in the early 2000s, I stumbled upon a website called Homestarrunner.com. I do not remember how I got on there but once I found it, you could not keep me away. I was glued to it from 2003 until deep into the 2000s. The site was the home of a series of animated shows that followed a cast of outlandish characters created by Matt and Mike Chapman aka the Brothers Chaps.

The character whose name was on the site was Homestar Runner, an ignorant but well-meaning athlete who wanted the whole cast to like him. All of his Rs became Ws and he was a precious idiot. However, Homestar was quickly overtaken by the popularity of the character of Strongbad. Strongbad was kind of designed as the villain of the cartoons. However, his gruff voice, crazy violence, and sarcastic and behavior found a fandom. Maybe because Strongbad was so pathetic and was constantly getting the run around from everybody in his life. Eventually, the lifeblood of the site became Strong Bad Emails aka sbemails. Strong Bad would get in front of his computer and insultingly answer emails from actual fans which would launch him and the rest of the cast in some sort of hijinks.

I waited with bated breath for each Strong Bad Email to be released and also loved any other cartoon they put out. They slowly created and honed their own little world over years. I even bought the first hundred emails on DVD. Pretty soon, the little cartoons I watched were making their way into popular culture. A reference made it into the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was finally into something on the ground floor and still there when it became popular. It was a great feeling.

I have some ideas on why Strong Bad resonated with me. He was part of a trio of brothers. His brothers are poet Strong Sad and jock Strong Mad. I was one of three brothers so I knew how annoying they could be but also how fun it was to sometimes team up. He said a lot of the things I wanted to say to people as an angry yet creative and anxious young man. He expressed himself right or wrong and even though he was “the bad guy” he was still able to get the people around him to work with him. His friendships were like my friendships, very few but undyingly loyal.

The site eventually took a hiatus because the Brothers Chaps got hired by mainstream outfits like Disney and Cartoon Network. I felt good for them and loved shows like Gravity Falls and Yo Gabba Gabba but I missed the old Homestar gang. Luckily, they were eventually able to end their hiatus and have continued to occasionally make new cartoons even up to the current day. They love their fans and it shows. I also recently got a hold of their video game Strong Bad’s Game for Extremely Attractive People which is a series of point and click adventure games starring Strong Bad and all of the rest.

The cartoons of Homestar Runner had a profound effect on my sense of humor and were definitely one of the reasons why I embraced surreal humor. I still catch myself repeating jokes from the Emails. I often will use Homestar’s delivery of the word “crapface” when I realize I made a mistake instead of just using the word “crap”. The other day while DMing my first session of Dungeons and Dragons, I referenced Strong Bad’s anti-virus software “Edgar the Virus Hunter”. It will be a series that I will most likely carry with me for the rest of my life and something I gladly revisit often now that most of it is uploaded to YouTube now. I hope the series continues to find new audiences because it is definitely worthy of a strong fandom.


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