Archive for July, 2021

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 7

July 31, 2021

With the help of Genie and Elsa, the locks on the cells opened much more easily. Jasmine let them do the opening and was one of the people who comforted and helped the prisoners adjust to being conscious again. There was no way of telling how long people had been left in suspension in these cells. She woke up a young woman named Namaari who raged desperately until she was reunited with her girlfriend. There were two little boys named Luca and Alberto who looked like fish one moment and then like humans the next. An impossibly muscular man in armor named Hercules. There were five fairies of various sizes. Three were dressed in blue, one in green, one in red, and one who was tiny enough that it was hard to see her clearly when she lit up. They were assembling a small army

Jasmine found a box nearby and climbed up onto it to get her head above the crowd. “Everybody, please listen!” she called out. Nobody turned toward her.

Genie turned his thumb into a whistle and blew into it, letting the shrill sound echo through the cavernous space.

“Thank you,” Jasmine said, her ears ringing a bit. “I’m glad that you are all free. We will figure out some way to get you all to where you belong. For now, you are in the middle of a desert outside of my home, Agrabah. I am Jasmine. We need to clear out this facility and stop these people. I recommend that we apprehend and not kill these people. Please. Those who can fight, scour the building. Those who can’t, please find someplace out of the way. Everybody keep an eye out for some sort of magic to get us home.”

Everybody started to move in a more orderly manner. Jasmine hopped down from her box and picked a direction to head in herself.

“Jasmine,” Genie said, floating beside her. “Don’t you think you should rest? Leave the heavy lifting to the rest of us. You’ve earned it.”

“Thank you, Genie,” Jasmine said. “but I won’t rest until I get Aladdin back.”

“Al’s missing?” Genie asked. “Say no more. We’ll find him together.”

Jasmine walked down a hallway while Genie floated. They turned a corner and there was a very angry hooded woman standing there.

“You!” the woman yelled. “You’re one of the people who ruined things here.”

Jasmine’s eyes narrowed. “And who might you be?” she asked. “The warden of this prison perhaps?”

“My name is Mother Gothel,” the woman said. “All prisoners belong in their cells. We’ll see if we can find you one.”

“That will not happen,” Jasmine said. “No more cages and I will not be taken prisoner again.”

“Then you will die,” Gothel said and produced a knife.

“Genie,” Jasmine said with a calm smile forming on her lips. “Apprehend her.”

Genie smirked and cracked his knuckles but before he could act, Gothel pointed at him and he evaporated. Jasmine was stunned but was forced to get over it quickly as Gothel lunged with the knife. Jasmine had brought her sword and raised it to block the slash. She then thrust her shoulder into the older woman to push her back and took two big steps backward to create distance. The two circled each other. Jasmine could sense that Gothel was not a practiced fighter when it came to a straight-up physical fight. She was a magician and judging by her anger she was used to being in control. Being caught off guard had made Gothel unbalanced and unpredictable.

Gothel lashed out again and again. Suddenly, Jasmine lost her footing and tumbled to the stone floor. She lost her grip on the sword, sending it sliding out of reach. This was a painful reminder that Jasmine was also not really a seasoned fighter although she was quickly learning. Gothel approached rapidly, a decidedly evil laugh starting to echo through the room. Jasmine raised her hand as if to ask for mercy she knew that would not come. With a flash, a blue sword formed in her hand and she blocked Gothel’s shot, much to both of their surprise. The sword dissolved and the blue stretched up Jasmine’s arm, making it enormous and muscular. She punched Gothel and the villain was out like a light.

Jasmine’s arm returned to normal and the blue smoke stretched and grew into Genie’s form.

“Sorry,” Genie said. “it took me a bit to pull myself back together but you did great, kid.”

“Thank you for the assist, Genie,” Jasmine said. “It looks like there are some scattered papers and journals here. Let’s gather them up and bring them back to the others. There may be some clue to the magic for traveling beyond our world.”

“I’ll carry, you lead the way,” Genie said, starting to scoop everything up carefully.

Media Update 7/29/21

July 29, 2021

HBomberguy

His real name Harris Brewis and he is a video essayist on YouTube. My favorite video that he does is called “: A Measured Response”. They are longer videos responding to some strange point of view in an increasingly unhinged nature as the ignorance he is facing drives him mad. He has recently tackled anti-vaxxers, flat earthers, the war against Christmas, and more. He also does deep dives into television, movies, and video games, explaining how he feels and analyzing them. At this point, he is also famous for being one of AOC’s guides to the Internet and the world of livestreaming. He once hosted a stream that resulted in AOC and many other celebrities saying “Trans Rights”. I recommend this channel.

Lindsay Ellis

I have been a fan of Lindsay’s for a long time but I kind of lost touch with her stuff until more recently. She was great back when I first found her but she has developed into someone even more entertaining and educational to watch. She does a lot of deep dives into how media works and comes from a film studies direction. She breaks down a lot of entertainment and is so well-researched. She is an author so she is also well-equipped to view things from both a creator view point and a consumer view point. She breaks both simple and complicated topics down in a very digestible form. She is also really funny. I recommend this channel.

Sarah Z

I found this channel very recently when I was curious about one of her topics. Sarah mostly does essays and deep dives about fandom and fanfiction topics. She feels quite a bit like an anthropologist explaining a world that I have never really been involved with. Although, I have gotten into writing a lot of fanfiction lately and I am fascinated to hear her takes on that. She comes from a place of experience with both fandom and fanfiction and has a past that excites her but also sometimes embarrasses her but she never pulls her punches. She has a writing partner who helps to balance out her research and gives her another set of eyes to look at her topic. On top of that, she is Canadian and some of her pronunciations make me smile. I recommend this channel.

Jenny Nicholson

It is hard to pin down what Jenny does. The answer is that Jenny does what Jenny wants to do. She does beat by beat movie reviews where she breaks down the problems she has with the writing. She reads bad fanfiction out loud and comments on it. She does deep dives into franchises like The Land Before Time or The Vampire Diaries. She does a random crafting video where she makes a stuffed fur-bearing trout. She does videos talking about theme park experiences. Through it all, she is wonderfully weird and delightful to listen to. I recommend this channel.

Music of the Week:


Post Nebbia – La Mia Bolla

Zane – SIMMER

Wooze – Witch Slap

Luis Ake – Liebe

Mashup of the Week:

Rev Jragon – Mighty Morphin Jewel Runners

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “YouTube Video Essays”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Forensic Files
I watched more SGDQ 2021
I watched more Nancy Drew Season 2
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 2
I watched Heist Season 1
I started watching Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes

Genshin Impact

July 26, 2021

I have been playing this game on mobile and I have meant to talk about it. Now that they have recently added both a lawyer character and a warrior poet, I feel like it may be time. A lot of people thought that Genshin Impact was just a clone of Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. In all fairness to those people, the game does have several similarities. The animation style feels similar although the designs are a bit sharper. The hack and slash style of combat feels somewhat similar on the surface. Both games also use a glider for transportation. Still, I feel like they were able to make their own thing.

The game takes place in the fantasy land of Tevyat, a magical place. You play as an outsider, an interdimensional traveler. You choose whether you play the brother or the sister. Your sibling and you are attacked by a godlike figure and are separated. You are joined with a cute little impish character named Paimon who names herself your guide to Tevyat. In Tevyat, heroes are chosen by fate in intense moments. They are granted gems called Visions which grant elemental superpowers. Those powers are divided into seven elements: Pyro, Hydro, Electro, Anemo (wind), Dendro (plants), Cryo, and Geo (Earth). Your main character is able to use elemental powers without a vision which is strange.

You are almost instantly swept up in a crisis in Mondstadt, the City of Freedom. Mondstadt is a land that seems to be inspired by a pastiche of European cultures. It became the City of Freedom when it liberated itself from the nobility that ruled it. Now the city seems to be governed and managed between four groups. The church, the Favonius Guard, the Winery, and the Adventurer’s Guild. They worship a god of wind who is missing but there is a bit of a dragon problem. Luckily, you resonate with the power of wind and quickly make friends with the defenders of Mondstadt. Together, the dragon problem seems a bit easier to handle. You go through many missions to help to purify the dragon from corruption rather than kill it, winning the hearts of Mondstadt.

Your search for your sibling leads you far afield and you end up crossing into the land of Liyue, a pastiche of Asian cultures. You start getting involved in things when you witness the death of Liyue’s God of Geo. You start learning more about Liyue which is the City of Contracts and thus a more rigid and formal society. Liyue is ruled over by a combination of human bureaucracy and a group of demigods. You start ingratiating yourself with both groups and figuring out how they can help you. Along the way, you find yourself combatting the enemy forces from a land called Snezhnaya (probably based on Russia). You help save Liyue from a massive attack from Snezhnaya and forever ingratiate yourself to the people of Liyue.

That is kind of where the story is now. There is more investigation into your sibling and their connection to a sinister cult but that is really just getting started. The game is kept busy with constant updates of events and new characters. The game is a “gacha” which means you are constantly rolling the dice for new characters and upgrades. You can pay to get ahead but I play completely free. A lot of the gameplay derives from assembling a team of four characters. Combat strategy comes from combining their elemental strengths for more damage.

My current favorite characters are:

Razor – A young man who was literally raised by wolves and gained an animalistic Electro Vision to protect his adopted family. He wields a great sword and speaks in broken English since he mostly speaks wolf.

Qiqi – A zombie girl who spends everyday trying to keep her body and mind from regressing into true death. Her day job is at a pharmacy. She uses a sword and heals with her Cryo Vision.

Yanfei – A legal advisor who acts as a constant champion for the people of Liyue by using her vast knowledge and keen observational skills to settle disputes in favor of the vulnerable. She uses a Pyro Vision and hurls fire with the help of her spell focus.

Barbara – A nun/idol of Mondstadt who heals with the help of her music and her Hydro Vision. She is somewhat naive but caring and optimistic and is in high demand.

Starfleet Adventures: Dragons of the Deep Pt. 1

July 24, 2021

(I had this idea as part of the backstory for my Star Trek character for a pulp series of Starfleet Adventures. The idea is that a somewhat underground publisher would take advantage of hunger for adventure stories and would create fictional accounts of Starfleet ships sort of like pulp novels or cheaply made procedural shows)

Captain L’ara, sat in her ready room and looked out over the vastness of space and she was bored. Space was mostly boring. As a Federation Captain, it was her job to find the interesting parts. The exciting parts. The crew of the USS Forrestal had just been through a harrowing adventure against a Tholian threat but L’ara was already itching for more. She knew that she was not alone in that. She picked up and started to brush her fur absent-mindedly. She sipped her coffee and felt the sip buzz through her and her tail swished from side to side. She hit a button on her desk.

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 2270,” L’ara said. “The Tholians are definitely not as tough as advertised. After some repairs, the Forrestal is back on mission. Starfleet contacted us to check in on the Adora IV colony in the Atrea sector. Apparently, they have failed to respond to any communication for days. We’re the closest ship fit to check on them. Rumor is that they had some difficulty with Klingons a while back. I anticipate a fight. I’m ready. We’re ready.”

There was a beeping noise from the ship’s internal communication system and L’ara quickly stopped the recording. She would get back to posterity later.

“Bridge to Captain L’ara,” Lieutenant Yolen said over the comm system. Yolen was a rather dispassionate Denobulan but was a good pilot and he was cool in the face of certain danger. There was nobody else that L’ara could want flying her ship.

“L’ara here,” she responded. “How can I help you, Lieutenant?” She sipped more of her coffee. She had a hunch she knew why she was being contacted but it was more fun to ask.

“We are approaching the colony,” the Lieutenant said. “We will be entering orbit of the planet soon.”

“Acknowledged,” L’ara said, barely keeping the purr out of her voice. Something was happening and the boredom was over. “I’m on my way to the bridge.”

A few moments later, L’ara walked on to the bridge. Everybody stood up when she entered and that still gave her a thrill. She waited a bit before she let them sit down again. She looked around the bridge and noted that Commander Sakazaki was not present. That was a bit strange as L’ara had left him in charge of the bridge before heading off to her ready room. He was supposed to be there and in charge in her absence but he was not there. She guessed that was why Yolen had contacted her.

“Ensign Statlander,” L’ara said, glancing at the young and beautiful Yutan communications officer. “Hail the colony.”

There was a pause as Statlander attempted communication, pressing buttons and speaking into her headset.

“No response, Captain,” Statlander said. “I’m not reading any broadcasts on any frequencies at all.”

“They should be transmitting a navigation beacon, right?” L’ara asked. She knew she was right but, once again, it was more fun to ask.

“You’re right, Captain,” Statlander said. “There is no reason that the beacon should be off.”

At that point, Sakazaki walked onto the bridge. “Sorry I’m late, Captain,” he said. “I had a lingering injury that needed tending to in Sick Bay.”

“More like a nurse that needed tending to,” L’ara said with a smirk. “You’re my second, Commander. You’re supposed to be here when I’m not.” L’ara knew for a fact that Sakazaki had his eye on Nurse Cassidy. Everybody on the ship probably knew it.

The easygoing Sakazaki suddenly looked nervous. “I can only apologize, Captain,” he said. “It won’t happen again.” Sakazaki was a lot like L’ara. He was always up for fun and adventure. Still, Sakazaki was a Starfleet officer and his Captain was bearing down on him.

L’ara laughed. “I’m just teasing, Commander,” she said. “You’re just in time. Grab a phaser, we’re going down to see who we need to shoot to get this colony back on its feet.”

“It’s been a while since I mixed it up with Klingons,” Sakazaki said with excitement. “I’m ready.”

Media Update 7/22/21

July 22, 2021

Luca

I am always up for a Pixar movie and I was overjoyed to see another original property instead of a sequel. The sequels are not bad but when Pixar brings something brand new, it never fails. This is a story of sea monsters mingling with Italian port life. I immediately loved the character designs and humor. The movie’s core is made up of the interactions between the main characters played by Jacob Tremblay, Emma Berman, and Jack Dylan Grazer. As usual, Pixar’s writing does not create any character or element that is not used. Every character delivers. Special shoutout to Saverio Raimundo who plays an excellent villain. As usual, I laughed and I cried and I was sucked in for the entire running time. The movie really felt like Pixar’s salute to the works of Hayao Miyazaki. I recommend this movie.

Space Jam 2

The original Space Jam was quite a movie and although it is not seen as “good”, it was definitely enjoyable. I was skeptical when a sequel was announced. When I saw the first trailer, I was in. LeBron James as an actor is charming and fun and his energy is definitely infectious. Cedric Jones plays his son and is great as a young man struggling to find his way in the world. Don Cheadle is such a good insane villain and is always entertaining to watch. Of course, there are all of the classic Looney Tunes characters who are not only nostalgic but iconic. The story of the movie felt way more fleshed out than the original and I ended up liking this one better than the original. The humor was very meta but very Looney Tunes as well. I recommend this movie.

Gunpowder Milkshake

Of course, the title of this one intrigued me when it dropped on Netflix. When I saw the cast, I really wanted to check it out. This movie is about a young assassin who must protect a small child while surviving an onslaught of evil men. The movie stars Karen Gillan as the cold but funny killer. Lena Headey plays her assassin mother. Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett play some badass women. Paul Giamatti plays the same wisecracking, sarcastic guy he usually plays. I have to give kudos to child actor Chloe Coleman who does a great job playing a scared but excited little girl in the middle of chaos. The soundtrack is absolutely a list of bangers with mostly classic rock. The fight choreography is absolutely awesome with plenty of innovative sequences with a mix of gore, excitement, pathos, and comedy. It felt a bit like a lighter, female-led John Wick. I would love to see more like this. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Akintoye – Overload

DHÄRÄ – Yuri Gargantuan

SIMONE ISTWA – Kiss Everyone

Angel – Miedo

Mashup of the Week:

Doug Ferguson – Smoke Is On The Heart

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Teamwork”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Forensic Files
I watched more SGDQ 2021
I watched more Nancy Drew Season 2
I started watching Doom Patrol Season 2

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

July 19, 2021

When I am at work, I like to have a little something in my ear while I work. I have ADHD and sometimes it really helps to have music or talking coming through my headphones. This usually means listening to visual essays on YouTube but lately, I have also rediscovered one of my favorite things from my childhood. I have been watching and listening to episodes of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego after watching the DefunctTV episode on it. It brought back so many memories that I was drawn to binge episodes. Luckily, almost all of them are on YouTube.

The game show was based on the computer game franchise from Broderbund Software. Since the games were educational, they wanted the game show to be educational too. They took the first step when they contracted out the production to two PBS affiliates. They decided if they were going to do the show, they were going to do it right. Since the show was based on geographic knowledge, they went to great lengths to keep their information up to date. Since this was during the early to late nineties, there were a lot of changes in the world. Borders could change overnight but they kept up with it with meticulous attention to detail. Only once in the show’s history was their information wrong and in that instance, a contestant still got the right answer. They later invited that contestant back to the show to make it up to them.

They made the best choices when casting the show. The host was Greg Lee who had previously hosted shows on Nickelodeon and was a prime candidate for keeping things light, keeping things moving, and being really good with kids. Watching him with the child contestants can be really fun and sometimes touching as he is really supportive. They doggedly pursued actress Lynne Thigpen who played The Chief and was also the announcer for the show. Her soothing yet commanding voice balanced Greg’s playfulness and in later seasons she got to sing.

Speaking of singing, it would be insane not to mention the inclusion of the acapella group Rockapella who were present for every moment of the show. They provided all of the show’s music, sound effects, and the kicking theme song. They also sang clues to contestants in parodies of popular songs which they often had to come up with the day of shooting. However, they did even more than that. They were basically a repertory cast for the show, playing multiple roles in comedy sketches designed to give clues to contestants and break up the action of the show a bit, allowing the contestants and audience to breathe for a moment.

The show itself was a fast-paced barrage of geography and comedy. I think the thing that drew me into it the most was the theming of the show. Greg was the Acme Senior Agent in charge of Training Recruits. The contestants, called “Gumshoes”, were trainees for a global detective agency and were being given a chance to catch Carmen not with violence but with intelligence. The whole thing had a vague film noir feel kind of like the Dick Tracy movie but mixed with the zany energy of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. The show was constantly kept interesting by including geography from just about anywhere in the world. At the same time, there was music, comedy, animation, and so much energy.

The show worked in three rounds. The contestants would first learn who the crook of the day was and what they had stolen. The crooks were all fully animated characters with punny names (like Sara Nade) or references to other properties (like Nimoy the Alien). The first round would then begin with the contestants answering multiple-choice questions with cards behind their podiums. During the Lightning Round and The Chase, contestants would have to buzz in and try to answer correctly first in order to score points over their opponents. At the end of round one, the contestants would be given a final question which they would have to wager points on. After the round, the two highest-scoring contestants moved on.

Round two took place in whatever location which was the final answer of Round One. For example, round two once took place in my hometown of Baltimore. The contestants would face a board with the names of landmarks of the location. They would then play a memory game where they would take turns trying to reveal the loot, the warrant, and the crook in that order. At the same time, they would learn things about that city’s landmarks. Once the sequence was complete, the winner would get to send the crook to jail. The crook would then rat out mastermind Carmen Sandiego giving the winning contestant a chance to catch her. Before they did, they would get to write down a location for their family to vacation at should they win.

The final round was a mad dash as Greg Lee would shout out the names of countries, cities, or bodies of water as the contestant ran across a giant floor map to place markers on the appropriate places. If they succeeded in getting ten markers placed before the time limit was up, they caught Carmen and won the vacation of their choice for their family. Whether the final contestant won the bonus or not, they still got the honor of shouting “Do It Rockapella!” which launched the aforementioned banging theme song. So, in honor of this tradition, I will finish with my own “Do it Rockapella!”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 9

July 17, 2021

Talbot and Clarity followed Titus through the dusty yet bustling town of Fallshield. Apparently, a mining company was in the midst of shipping some new workers through the town out to the desert. A new mine was opening up in the southern area and therefore a lot of equipment and personnel needed to get out there before the families followed. Thankfully, the hotel that Lord Blackrance had selected seemed to be away from all of that. It was suddenly a lot quieter as they approached the hotel.

“Lord Blackrance had me acquire all of the rooms at this particular hotel to avoid any conflict or disruption with the miners,” Titus said. “Otherwise, rooms would have been difficult to come by.”

“Lucky for Lord Blackrance,” Talbot said. “It seems like he thought of everything.” He tried to make that sound sarcastic but was not sure he had pulled it off.

“Lord Blackrance has a way of being several steps ahead,” Titus said. “You’ll see.”

“I’m sure I will,” Talbot said. “I aim to have several words with Lord Blackrance when he arrives. Until then, I suppose I’ll look at whatever room he has provided. I’ll take my leave with your permission, Miss Havenwood.”

Before Clarity could answer, there was a loud thumping that shook the room slightly and some dust drifted down from the ceiling. It was obviously somebody or something big moving around in the room above the lobby. Shouting could be heard from above between two people and then some weird scratching sounds. Talbot could not make out any words but there was definitely a conflict happening.

“Sorry, ladies and gentlemen,” a young woman almost shouted. “A little disagreement with a guest about the rules against keeping pets in the hotel. We’ll have it sorted soon.”

“I could go help them handle it, miss” Talbot offered. “The guest sounds pretty big.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the woman said. “Welcome to the Lonely Bell. My name is Agatha but you can call me Pepper. Seeing as how you’re here with Mr. Mapleburrow, I assume that you are guests of Lord Blackrance.”

“You are correct, Miss Pepper,” Clarity said. “Clarity Havenwood. A pleasure to meet you, of course. Have my boxes arrived?” Talbot’s eyebrow rose a bit on the mention of boxes. Had she had things shipped ahead to this small town? It looked like she had packed light but maybe Talbot had misread the situation. He certainly thought it was impolite to ask her about it now.

“They certainly have, Miss Havenwood,” Pepper said. “I have taken the liberty of placing them in your room for your inspection. There are quite a few.”

“Well, one has to be prepared for anything,” Clarity said. “May I have my key, Pepper? I must freshen up before meeting Lord Blackrance.”

“Of course, Miss Havenwood,” Pepper said and pulled out an iron key with a ribbon tied to it and handed it over. “First on the left. Mr. Mapleburrow knows where it is.” She gestured vaguely toward the large staircase which she obviously had no intention of climbing while the argument was happening upstairs. Smart girl.

“I suppose you must have a key for me,” Talbot said. “Talbot Hawkwing is my name. Nice to meet you, Pepper.” He tried his best smile. Since leaving the military, he had had to work at being personable again and he knew that he could come off as formal and stern. He had also spent a train ride talking to Clarity Havenwood whose formal language was practically infectious.

“Ah yes,” Pepper rifled through her collection of keys. “Sergeant Hawkwing. You have the other room at the top, across from Mr. Seneca.” Talbot got the feeling that Pepper was fighting the urge to salute. He would have brought up once again that he was no longer in the military or a sergeant but he decided to let it slide. That was really a conversation better had with Lord Blackrance.

“Mr. Seneca?” Talbot asked instead. “Who is that?”

“One of our party,” Titus said, cutting off Pepper which was instantly a bit of a red flag in Talbot’s eyes. “You’ll meet him soon enough but don’t worry about it for now. He asked to not be disturbed and I am inclined to respect that.”

“I have never wanted to disturb anybody,” Talbot said. “So I am inclined to agree with you. I wouldn’t mind shutting my eyes for a bit to clear my head.”

“Follow me, then,” Titus said. “Lord Blackrance should arrive by dawn. However, dinner will be soon. Listen for the bell.”

“We will,” Clarity said, ending her polite silence. “Neither of us would dream of being so rude to be late to dinner. Isn’t that right, Mr. Hawkwing?”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, Miss Havenwood,” Talbot said. “Lead the way Mr. Mapleburrow.”

Titus nodded and started to lead the way up the stairs. As they reached the second floor, Clarity muttered some words and made a gesture at the noise coming from behind the door at the end of the hall and there was silence in the hallway. Clarity smiled proudly and then unlocked her room and slipped inside before shutting the door firmly.

Media Update 7/15/21

July 15, 2021

Black Widow

This is a movie ten years in the making. That is when Scarlet Johannson first played the character of Natasha Romanoff. Since that time, people have been crying out for a Black Widow film as she was the only female superhero character in the franchise at the time. The crumbs that have been dropped since Avengers (2011), were very interesting and it made me want to see more of Natasha’s world. This movie is an origin movie without being an origin movie and it could not have been made ten years ago. Johannson has grown so much into the role and really made it hers with gravitas and comedy. Florence Pugh is a breath of fresh air to the franchise, just as funny and strong as Johannson and the perfect partner for her. David Harbour largely plays comic relief but he is really good at that. Rachel Weisz is so good at being just iconic and oh so interesting. The story is really good and confronts a lot of difficult emotions that the franchise had to earn through years of good storytelling. I recommend it completely.

Loki

Disney+ has been killing it with their Marvel shows so far. I never know what to expect and I am always more than pleased with the surprises that I find. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki continues to be a revelation of a character. He is written and acted so well that it is virtually impossible not to be entertained by him. I was surprised by how good Owen Wilson is in this considering how many bad movies he has been in but he does commit fully. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a great character. Look, I do not want to talk about this too much. One more, Sophia Di Martino is damn near perfect. Alright, that’s it. I recommend this show.

Tenet

I know that I do not fully understand this movie but I really enjoyed it. I feel like this movie is almost impossible to really spoil because it is more about the journey than any destination. Like Interstellar, it plays with concepts of time travel but in ways that reminded me more of Inception. This movie felt like a more finely honed version of the concepts explored in Inception and Interstellar and I enjoyed it more. John David Washington is a very strong lead character. He plays a combination of a suave secret agent and a fish out of water in such a seamless way. Elizabeth Debicki has such raw emotion in her performance that it was fascinating. Robert Pattinson completely and utterly won me over as a great actor so much that I want to seek out more non-Twilight stuff that he has done. Of course, Kenneth Branagh is superb as the villain. My mind was reeling throughout the movie but there were so many awesome moments from both a technical and storytelling perspective. I went in feeling that I might not like it but I recommend it now.

Music of the Week:

Jacob the Horse – 12 Miles

Stiff Richards – Got it to Go

Kenta Kofot – Kom Igen

Bus15 – Marta

Mashup of the Week:

Dilly Tante, Jiko Sama – Mona Lisa, Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “Looking into the Past for the Future”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched Crytal Lake Memories
I started watching Forensic Files
I started watching SGDQ 2021
I need to do a YouTube rundown or ten because these creators deserve shoutouts

#FreeBritney

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 8

July 12, 2021

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke got his start in show business without having to go too far as he became a radio DJ in his hometown of Danville, Illinois in the 1940s. He eventually joined up with a performer named Phil Erickson and they formed a mime act. Their act involved lip synching to records in nightclubs on the West Coast. After that, the two of them shot over to Atlanta in the Fifties where they created a television show where they did a more original act with comedy skits and music. In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Dick made a splash on Broadway where his fusion of music and comedy were successful. He originated the role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie which won him a Tony award. He started to make comedy appearances on television, guesting on several shows. He then achieved even greater fame by starring in the Dick Van Dyke show as part of a contract deal with CBS and in partnership with Carl Reiner. He won several Emmy awards on that show. He went on to work heavily in television for the rest of his career. He appeared in plenty of movies most memorably in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke would be perfect for the Muppet Show because of his mix of comedy and music. At the time, he was not only vastly talented, he was also somebody who had a lot of experience creating his own things. He also had worked with animation which would give him a leg up working with the Muppets. On top of all of that, Dick can be maudlin and serious when he needs to be without getting too dark.

Cold Open: Fozzy and Pops warmly greet Van Dyke as fans but Kermit snubs him.

Guest Arc: Kermit and Dick Van Dyke have an old feud over Kermit’s resentment that Van Dyke got famous and Kermit did not because Kermit was left out to dry. Eventually, Dick apologizes for not being a better friend and they make up.

“I’ve Got Your Number” (Cy Coleman) with Annie Sue
“Easy Street” (AR Jones) with Rowlf
“Put on a Happy Face” (Adams/Strouse) with Kermit https://www.youtube.com/embed/8RPw9IE53ok

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was born in her family home in Memphis, Tennessee in the heart of a very musical part of the United States. Her mother was a piano player and vocalist which obviously inspired Aretha. Her family moved to Detroit, the home of Motown during a very formative time in music history. She started her own musical journey in church shortly after her mother’s death singing hymns. She was inspired by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Marvin Gaye (who her sister dated) to move into more commercial work in soul, r&b, pop, Motown, jazz, and more. However, it was in the late sixties where she really started to catch fire and started to churn out hits that she would be remembered for like “Respect”, “Think”, “Chain of Fools”, and more. She elevated herself from a singer to a musical goddess and a legend in her own time. She was often looked to as an inspiration for countless musical acts

Aretha would bring a sense of greatness to another season of the Muppet Show. On a personal note, she was one of my favorite singers to listen to when I was a teenager. Her appearance in Blues Brothers showed that she had a sense of humor and her musical talent would definitely drive an episode. She is very personable and I would have loved to see her interact with the cast.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give the warning but Animal is there to feed Aretha chocolates. Unfortunately, he’s a bit too aggressive.

Guest Arc: Beaker has finally had it and wants to quit working for Bunsen Honeydew. Kermit brings in the Queen of Respect to not only guest but help teach Bunsen to be a little nicer so he can keep Beaker around.

Guest Acts:
“Respect” with Miss Piggy
“Think” with Sweetums
“Jump to It” with Camilla and the Chickens https://www.youtube.com/embed/KSTIsZULYmY

Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf got through a troubled childhood in Dallas, Texas where he was cast in high school theater productions and learned that he could sing. He used his inheritance from his mother’s death to move out to Los Angeles where he immediately started his music career. He started a band called Meat Loaf Soul after a high school football nickname. The name stuck with him. Their very first gig was opening for Van Morrison. They changed their name to Floating Circus and opened for The Who, Grateful Dead, The Stooges, and more. He got cast in the Los Angeles cast of Hair which boosted his career and then ended up in the Broadway production of the musical. He started performing in cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show in the original LA cast and acted in the movie as well. Around this time he started working heavily with Jim Steinman whose music would come to help Meat Loaf define himself as a unique rock and roll musician. He released album after album and even started a bit of a film career in the 1990s.

Meat Loaf would be great for The Muppet Show because I have often thought of him a bit like a human muppet. Whatever he has done in life, he has played it to the hilt and done his utmost to entertain. His songs are epic performances and his stage presence and voice are legendary. His movie roles in Spice World, Fight Club, and Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny show that he does not take himself too seriously. He would be a great foil for the cast.

Cold Open: Meat Loaf rides into the theater on his motorbike when Kermit goes to complain, Piggy greets him happily.

Guest Arc: Meat Loaf arrives on the Muppet Show to woo Miss Piggy who looks like she might leave the show. It is all revealed to be a scam to make Kermit jealous.

“Bat out of Hell” with the Electric Mayhem
“You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” with Miss Piggy
“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 9

July 10, 2021

The wagon full of fireworks had made its way quickly yet stealthily toward the palace. Anna was driving again. Merrida was reclining on top again, under a cloth. Aladdin, Rapunzel, and Mulan were inside. Everybody was tense. There were a couple of times where they had to hide the cart to avoid patrols. They were all tense as they traveled but they remained safe. There was another contingent sneaking their way with another load of fireworks to a ridge near the palace. They were the distraction force and Mulan’s contingent of foreigners was the main infiltration force. The soldiers on the ridge were under strict orders not to risk too much but Mulan could see that they were tired of hiding. It was time to fight. This plan had put hope back in everyone’s eyes.

Mulan and her group stayed under the cover of a half-destroyed lean-to until nightfall and then fireworks were suddenly raining down on the Imperial City. The monsters did not know what to do and there was a great noise of confusion. Anna got the horses moving again and the cart rushed at speed toward the gates. The monsters had not noticed their cart yet. Anna goaded the horses to go faster and everyone grabbed hold. Merrida and Anna looked at each other as they braced themselves. The horses ran at the gate and managed to burst through, kicking their powerful hooves forward and only hesitating for a moment. Everybody on that cart took a deep breath and waited to see if the fireworks would set off. They did not.

Anna looked ahead of them and saw a swirling purple smoke and then that smoke started to take the form of a massive dragon. Merrida started to aim her bow but Anna caught hold of it and shook her head. The dragon was too big for that. Merrida banged wildly on the top of the cart and scrambled to the front of the cart with Anna. They started to get ready to unhook the horses as they hurtled toward the dragon. Inside the cart, Mulan supervised the lighting of fuses for the fireworks. At the last minute, the horses ran free and the dragon lunged at the cart. The cart exploded in the dragon’s face, sending it screaming at the sky. The dragon’s face was burning and, for the moment, it seemed like it was enraged but blinded.

In an alleyway, Mulan’s team sat and caught their breath. At the last moment, they had tucked and rolled and run away in the confusion. They sat and smiled at each other, eyes wide with amazement. They were thankful that not only had their plan worked for the moment but they had also survived it. The courtyard of the Imperial City was now burning but it was a small price to pay. Everybody got back to their feet and took stock of themselves and made sure they all still had the proper amount of limbs. They were satisfied that they only ended up lightly singed and it looked like the monsters were still very interested in the fireworks coming from the ridge.

Mulan’s team started to creep through the shadows toward the palace. Aladdin in particular was really good at it from all of his experience as a thief in Agrabah. The normally bubbly Anna and Rapunzel were both deadly serious and everybody remained quiet as they made their way. They hoped to not use their weapons for as long as possible. If they were fighting, they were getting slowed down and if they were too far from their objective, they would never make it. Therefore, stealth was key and everybody understood that. They were a pretty intelligent bunch of seasoned adventurers. They had all been through a lot and this was just one more thing they had to do. Still, it felt like the biggest thing they had ever faced.


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