Archive for December, 2021

Media Update 12/30/21

December 30, 2021

Critters 3

Critters is by far one of the best of the multitude of Gremlins knockoffs. The franchise has a great mix of comedy, horror, and action. The creatures also feel far more menacing than the Gremlins. This time, the alien Critters go urban for the first time and attack a rundown tenement apartment building. The tenants must band together to survive a full assault. Don Keith Opper returns as the goofy Charlie, a character from the first two films. The star of the movie is Aimee Brooks who plays a plucky tomboy who cares for her family and her fellow tenants. This is Leonardo DiCaprio’s first feature film and he plays a somewhat entitled but brave rich kid. The rest of the cast is full of great character actors who provide comic relief and Critter bait. I continue to enjoy the beautiful puppets. I recommend this movie.

Weedjies! Halloweed Night

Full Moon Features definitely developed a love of weed in the 21st century. They also really like the Ouija board (all this time it is a Weedjie board). In a rundown hotel in Las Vegas, a group of college kids tries to throw a Halloween party. The party is interrupted by creatures from beyond in a deadly game of hide and seek. The movie is naturally super goofy with dumb humor but somewhat likable characters. Also, I enjoy any movie with puppet monsters and this movie has some nasty-looking ones. It was good mindless fun. I recommend this movie if you like low-budget horror.

Prison of the Dead

Another Full Moon Features film. Five young people in a paranormal society gather at an ancient prison when they awaken some undead executioners. The movie cast is full of unlikeable people who make for good horror fodder. It is a good excuse to show guys in good horror makeup chasing around dumb yet arrogant people. I like the camera work and, as I mentioned, I like the design of the undead threats. I recommend this movie for some simple fun.

Music of the Week:

TOKYOPILL – Metadata

Fruitfly – Reeling

Crocodylus – Social Climber

Infinite Monkey Theorem – A Trip I Never Should’ve Taken

Mashup of the Week:

Samuel’s Mashups – How Far I’ll Go Under the Sun

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “My Birthday”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Elementary Season 7
I watched more Titans Season 3
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 12
I watched Stitches (Rifftrax version)
I started watching Legends of Tomorrow Season 6
I started watching Blacklist Season 8
I started watching Locke and Key Season 2
I finished Stargirl Season 1
I finished Hawkeye Season 1

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 7

December 27, 2021
  1. Madonna – Beautiful Stranger

A little later in Madonna’s career but honestly this is the one I decided to pick because it is the song that I used to listen to over and over. I originally heard it off of the Austin Powers 2 soundtrack (an absolutely great soundtrack). It is a fast-paced and upbeat song with a lot of throwback instrumentation which sounds like a mix of disco and psychedelic pop. There is even some nice flute in there which I would not have expected from Madonna previous to this. I love the way Madonna’s vocals kind of give a feeling of winding and swaying. The song is a throwback to stuff like Jefferson Airplane and Love.

  1. Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman

I have a distinct memory of singing along to this song with a babysitter when I was very young. When that initial drum beat and super recognizable guitar riff hit, it always gets my toe tapping. Orbison’s voice is so pleasing as he croons out this song. It is a song where Orbison fawns over a beautiful woman who is passing by. For a song about hitting on a woman in public, it is a very respectful song. Orbison makes his offer and is perfectly willing to walk away if the answer is no. I also love Orbison’s little interjections like shouting “Mercy!” and giving off a playful purring growl. Apparently, the idea for the song was inspired by Orbison’s wife not needing money when she went out because of her good looks.

  1. John Lennon – Starting Over

I fully believe that John Lennon was a musical genius and was responsible for a lot of great songs when he was in the Beatles. I am not as fond of his solo career but there is a lot of great stuff to pick from. His most famous solo songs are too slow and dreamy for my tastes but this song is a lot of fun. It is also the last single released during his lifetime. It was actually born from Lennon trying to write two other songs (“My Life” and “Don’t Be Crazy”) and he managed to distill them into this song. It is a wonderful love song at a time when he was really enjoying his partnership with Yoko and is really nice. Each time he sees his love, it feels like the first time. I love the simple rocking beat and an almost rockabilly vocal style.

  1. David Bowie – Magic Dance

There are so many songs that I could have picked because I have loved David Bowie since the very first track of his that I heard. I found this selection to be difficult but I eventually went with the track that I love to hear over and over. It also happens to be the song that he sang with bucket loads of Jim Henson puppets. This song was written for the movie Labyrinth (one of five) and the lyrics are mostly silly and fun nonsense. It was designed as a simple dance song for a scene where Bowie’s character is trying to cheer up a crying baby. It is a goofy song but I absolutely love it especially for Bowie’s smiling performance. That is how I always want to remember David Bowie.

  1. Simon and Garfunkel – Cecilia

Apparently, this song was born from a spontaneous moment of joy. At a party, Simon, Garfunkel, and Simon’s brother randomly came up with the rhythm and decided to record it so they could play with it. Somebody grabbed a guitar and joined in. They later went back to that recording which in turn inspired the writing of this song. They looped the original recording and then kept adding elements until they were satisfied. The song’s lyrics have a double meaning. They refer to a lover who is causing the singer pain with her indifferent behavior but also joy through her amorous behavior. It also apparently refers to St. Cecilia of the Catholic canon of saints who is the patron saint of music. They are imploring St. Cecilia to not disappear on them when they need inspiration.

  1. The Doors – People Are Strange

Apparently, the origin of this song is from a very depressed Jim Morrison going on a walk and coming back with the initial lyrics for the song. His depression was apparently replaced with euphoria. The song is a song of the feeling of alienation by outsiders (or possibly people on LSD). Jim Morrison’s signature bluesy voice is really great in this track (as with most of his tracks) and has a haunting lilt to it. I absolutely love John Densmore’s twangy guitar that feels often like it is wandering around.

Festival of Gifts

December 25, 2021

The city of Kante was covered in decorations for the Festival of Gifts. Extra torches and lanterns were strung up everywhere, making the city bright and warm even at night. Red, Gold, and White ribbons and cloth banners were hung everywhere. Statues in honor of the sun god Lathander and the demigod Tall Winters had been placed in prominent places. People were in the markets buying food and gifts for their loved ones or bustling off toward the temple district to make offerings to the lords of light to bring back the sun during the darkest and coldest part of the year. There was a lot of love and good cheer flowing through the city.

Sabina was indifferent to it all as she shuffled through the city. Sure she had tied some tinsel to her horns but that was more to blend in than actual celebration. She was wrapped in a patchy yet warm fur coat and a big furry hat. The coat was a little long for her so that the hem of it trailed across the wet pavement. Yet she pulled it off gracefully, moving effortlessly through the crowds. Nobody even realized that she had a knife slipped into the sleeve of the coat. They were so distracted that they did not notice that knife flashing in the torchlight as she liberated people’s coin purses. However, now her night was over and she headed home.

She slipped into an alleyway and sidled up to a nondescript doorway. Hardly anybody would have noticed the minuscule writing in Thieves’ Cant. She tripped the secret catch on the door and it popped open safely. Opening the door incorrectly would have locked it completely with twelve different deadbolts. At least it was better than the door had been in her youth. The mechanism had been potentially deadly back then. She stepped into the small room and brushed off what snow she could. The rest had melted and she felt uncomfortably damp and cold.

The room was empty except for a table and a mirror. She headed straight for the mirror and stepped through it and felt the surface of the mirror tugging at her a bit before she made it through. Then came the disorienting feeling of the teleportation enchantment a little bit like standing up too quickly after waking up. She was face to face with a huge portrait of Laverna, the Goddess of Luck. She smiled when she saw the portrait. It meant she was home and home meant warmth and relaxation.

“The real reason for the season,” a voice behind her said. “Our Lady Luck.”

Sabina turned to see the one-eyed visage of Jole. Out in the world, Jole was a lieutenant in the city’s law enforcement but secretly he was part of Sabina’s found family. He fed the thieves information and in turn profited off of their scores. He was so rarely in their subterranean hideout out of necessity. Still, he did manage to come around now and again to connect with his friends.

“What are you doing here?” Sabina said. She tried to act cross but could not fight back the smile from her lips.

“Busy night, eh?” Jole asked. “Out plucking your fair share from the revelry?”

Sabina frowned. “Don’t tell me that somebody saw me working out there,” she said. “I’m too quick. Their eyes can’t be trusted. How could they accuse somebody of that during the holiday season?”

Jole laughed. “Nobody saw you as far as I know,” he said. “I just assumed that’s what you would be doing. Looks like my hunch was correct.”

“You’re a very good detective,” Sabina said sweetly. “Sorry for acting so hostile right away.”

Jole shrugged. “I’m not down here often and almost never unannounced. To answer your question, I wanted to wish you and yours a happy Festival. I just happened to swing by when nobody was home.”

“Nobody?” Sabina asked and snapped her fingers three times and a small kitten crawled out from hiding. “Diamond is hardly nobody.” She took off her coat and hat and felt a lot better. She dumped her sack of coins into the bin before bending down to pick up the cat. “I’m sure she’ll forgive you.”

“A weight lifted off of my heart,” Jole said. “Forgiveness is good for the soul.”

“It is,” Sabina said although there were moments in her life that she felt she could not forgive. She pushed those invasive thoughts from her mind just as quickly as they came. “Happy Festival to you too. May the light return to us all.”

“Amen,” Jole said with a smile. “I brought you a gift.”

“Me?” Sabina asked and she was thankful that her red skin would hide her blushing.

Jole stuttered slightly. “Not just for you,” he said. “I brought everybody gifts.”

Sabina smiled. “You’re a very generous man,” she said.

“But I am glad that you were here when I came to deliver them,” Jole said.

Sabina smiled and smoothed her dress a bit to keep her hands busy. “Well, I do love a present.”

Jole held out a small package wrapped in colorful cloth. “Hopefully you love this one.”

She quickly opened the package and gasped at the silver pendant necklace that she found. “It’s beautiful, Jole,” she said and wished she had gotten him a gift in return. The Festival was not over yet so there was still time. “I love it. Would you like to stay and have a drink with me?”

“I would love nothing better,” Jole said with a smile that only made Sabina’s smile brighter.

Media Update 12/23/21

December 23, 2021

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

My mother and I watched this on a whim. The story follows a magazine columnist who has lied about her idyllic family life in the country for years. Now she has to produce her fictitious life or be proven to be a fraud in front of her fans, her boss, and a war hero. The movie stars Barbara Stanwyck as a clever yet desperate writer. She is great at providing both comedy and tension at the same time. Dennis Morgan plays the strapping young war hero and is appropriately charming. Character actors Una O’Connor, Robert Shayne, SZ Sakali, and Sydney Greenstreet provide a lot of comical misunderstandings. The movie is a farce with Stanwyck and her accomplices struggling to keep all of their plates spinning and keep up the charade while constantly being challenged. It is a fun holiday romp. I recommend this movie.

Princess Switch 3

I have been in love with this franchise since the first one and they just seem to get better and campier as they go. This movie follows the further adventures of three identical characters played by Vanessa Hudgens. She is such a delight in each of her roles but I especially love her Lady Fiona Pembroke who is the centerpiece of this story. Everybody returns from the first two films and everybody gets a chance to shine again. The major new character is played by the charming Remy Hii who is just a lot of fun. Will Kemp is a perfect holiday villain, a wealthy entitled asshat for sure. The movie is a great adventure that shows off Hudgens’ acting skills once again. Also, so many great costumes. I recommend this movie.

The Cheaters

Another movie watched on a whim with my mom. This is the story of a formerly rich but now bankrupt family trying to trick money out of a wealthy relative. Another comedy of errors, this movie has the family scrambling to put on a show. All of this is complicated by the true star of the movie, an alcoholic ex-actor played by Joseph Schildkraut. He is an enigmatic character The family is delightfully out of touch as played by Eugene Pallette, Billie Burke, Anne Gillis, Ruth Terry, and David Holt. Ona Munson is appropriately doe-eyed and lovely. The movie is a nonstop tale of teaching rich people to actually care for once. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Kallico – Light It Up (Fa La La)

Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas

Lindsey Stirling – Christmas C’mon

The Dollyrots – Santa Baby

Mashup of the Week:

Andy Rehfeldt – Last Christmas Angel of Death

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Christmas in Disguise”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
I watched more Titans Season 3
I watched Santa and the Easter Bunny (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Star Wars Holiday Special (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Last Shark (Rifftrax Version)
I started Elementary Season 7

Movie Pitch: Wild Wild West (2023)

December 20, 2021

I was considering doing a series of movie pitches. I have a lot of random ideas about movies and I had fun doing the Movie Poster project. This is an extension of that. Most of the movies are going to be sequels or remakes because if I have an original idea for a movie then I am writing the whole script. The movie being remade is not necessarily bad, it just means that I have an idea that I want to get out.
And with that, I present my ideas for a remake of

Wild Wild West

We begin the movie with Jim West and Artemus Gordon already working together. They are a formidable force as Secret Service agents under Ulysses S. Grant. It is an uneasy time in the United States as efforts to come back after the Civil War are underway. Many American cities in the South are ravaged yet rebuilding. Slavery has ended and America is just starting to learn how that works. It is a new era for the United States but ghosts of the past still haunt the newly rejoined country.

We begin in media res with West and Gordon on a mission in Montana Territory. Their wagon thunders down a trail and we see several rough customers in their own wagon are looking nervously back toward the duo. Artemus Gordon angrily complains about Jim West blowing their operation but they have no time to discuss the matter. Gunfire erupts from the baddies and Jim returns fire as Artemus tries to drive. After a wild and dangerous chase. both parties exchange gunfire from behind their respective wagons. Artemus deploys a flash grenade gadget which allows the pair to get the drop on the goons and arrest them.

Cut to a dining establishment where the boys are meeting with an envoy from head office. They relate that, although the operation was a bit shaky, the two were able to apprehend the Canadian nationals who were trying to establish a smuggling route. Washington will be able to interrogate the prisoners and bring the matter to the attention of the Canadian government. The day is once again saved. The two are now being tasked with dealing with a more internal threat. There are rumblings of a separatist militia forming from ex-Confederate soldiers to reignite the fight. They need to investigate and put a stop to this new threat. They accept, obviously.

Back on their train, West visits Gordon in his lab. West apologizes for how the last operation went down and Gordon accepts the apologies. They do not have to understand each others’ methods if the methods ultimately work. Gordon feels like he does not get as much credit as action hero Jim West but West dismisses the notion.

The two then must engage in an operation investigating a plantation in Georgia. The Smith Estate has been recently rebuilt but still bears the scars of being burned down during Sherman’s March. It is heavily fortified and high walls surround it. Going undercover proves a challenge for both men. Brash and confident Jim West must stay under the radar as a black man in the South. Artemus Gordon must use his chameleon skills to go undercover in the very belly of the beast. There they discover a plot by the charismatic Doctor Loveless to kidnap and replace politicians to transform the USA into their vision of paradise. The two discover that the first target is a collection of northern Senators visiting New Orleans.

Due to sabotage from the Loveless gang, the pair arrive late to the kidnapping attempt and fail to prevent it. During the fight, Emily James, a Senator’s daughter acquits herself well but is also overwhelmed and kidnapped.

Frustrated, the two must go back to the Smith Estate and exfiltrate the Senators. Artemus’ disguises and gadgets get them in and they make it to the cell where the politicians are being kept. However, the arrival of the duplicates complicates things and the pair must team up with a Senator’s daughter to defend the politicians. With the place now in chaos, Dr. Loveless must be apprehended or, if necessary, killed. Gordon tells West to go on and he will remain behind to protect the Senators. West tells Gordon that he can’t do it alone and needs his partner. The Senator’s daughter remains behind to protect the politicians.

The pair tear through the Estate. Jim West uses expert marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat skills. Artemus Gordon uses a combination of gunplay and his trademark gadgets. The two corner Loveless but in the heat of battle, Loveless escapes to fight another day. Loveless’ lieutenant has Jim West dead to rights but Gordon is able to distract him so West can deliver the death blow.

In a debriefing with President Grant, West gives a lot of the credit to Gordon and the two seem to be on the same page again. Loveless may have gotten away but his plot was foiled and they will grab him when he appears next. Grant introduces them to the newest member of the Secret Service, the Senator’s daughter.

Characters:

Agent Jim West played by Lakeith Stanfield – Formerly of the Army. Jim West is a strong action hero who favors the straightforward approach. He is still finding his place as a black man in one of the highest-ranked positions in law enforcement in the country.

Agent Artemus Gordon played by Taron Egerton- An actor before he was a soldier. Artemus Gordon has a flair for the dramatic and disappears into his undercover roles. He also comes up with the team’s gadgets.

Emily James played by – The daughter of Senator James. She is highly intelligent and has studied law enforcement extensively. She is highly enamored of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and also tales of gunfighters of the Old West.

Doctor Tiberius Loveless played by Daniel Craig – A wealthy confederate backer. He is charismatic and has garnered a loyal following in the shadows of reconstruction.

Possible Directors: Ryan Coogler, Rian Johnson, Antoine Fuqua, Patrick Hughes

An Easy Favor Pt. 2

December 18, 2021

When Hawthorne woke up the next morning, Art was already up and getting ready for breakfast. He pressed a scrap of paper into Hawthorne’s palm as they shook hands which Hawthorne tried not to react to. Hawthorne discreetly slipped the rolled-up paper into a compartment in his cybernetic arms, one that was small enough that it looked like an anomaly on X-Ray, and therefore it had never been searched. Hawthorne’s sister, Mars, had built all sorts of tricks into his cybernetics, most of which had been shut off after his arrest.

“Give her my best,” Art said with a grim smile on his face. Art really did not show a lot of emotion, so this was a lot for him and Hawthorne regretted leaving him behind again. He would definitely do this one thing for Art. They were not exactly friends but they had somehow almost become family. Art had been there after the death of Hawthorne’s sister when nobody else gave a damn. “Don’t forget to watch your ass and don’t you come back here, right?”

“Don’t worry,” Hawthorne said with a smile. “I’ll be good.”

“You don’t have to be good,” Art said. “just don’t get caught.” He let out a single barking syllable of a laugh and headed off to breakfast. Neither of them had said goodbye. He hoped Art would keep himself out of trouble but he had a feeling that trouble would not leave the old guy alone.

Hawthorne was led off to eat his breakfast in private to prevent any problems before his release. One more meal of nutritional paste which was designed to be healthy, taste decent, and keep the prisoners regular. He was definitely looking forward to a real meal once he got into the city. After breakfast, it was time for the usual multitude of scans and medical examinations that came from living in prison. The final stop was the property window where he was handed back his watch, a pocket knife, and clothes he had not seen since his arrest. He had been loaned a suit by the penal system for his sister’s funeral, one of the few good things the system did for him. He also received a datapad with which to check in with his parole officer. After he got dressed, it was finally time to make that walk through the gates and into the back of a waiting taxi.

He finally relaxed as the taxi pulled away from the prison gates. In that moment he realized that he had not really relaxed the whole time he was in prison and it had taken its toll. He leaned against the window a bit and looked out at the scenery as it went by as if he had never seen any of it before. His eyes drank it all in. Of course, he realized that his criminal career had not been exactly restful but it had been side by side with his sister as his partner in crime. Both of them had been addicted to the rush but they had also been proud of something they had built together. He never saw himself as the bad guy but maybe it was time to really go straight. He did not know if he had the heart to start pulling jobs without his sister’s razor-sharp intellect anyway.

The taxi headed south down Route 83 on its second level and past both beltways and into Baltimore City proper. He found himself smiling as he saw all the familiar sights of his hometown. He rolled down the window so he could smell it. It was fantastic. The cabbie gave him a curious look but he did not care. He was free. His heart truly sang at that thought. There were days and even weeks in prison where he wondered if he would ever be free and here he was smelling exhaust, taco trucks, and the faint smell of the sea through a cracked cab window. Very few things could have made him happier at that moment.

Media Update 12/16/21

December 16, 2021

Elves (Nisser)

Sometimes, it is really fun to watch fictional horror about people too dumb to live. This is one of those stories. A Danish family from the city decides to spend their Christmas vacation on a remote island that does not see many outsiders. A dangerous secret is unleashed. You can probably guess what it is. The main family is ridiculously dumb and gullible like they are characters from a cautionary fairy tale. Of course, the locals are not much smarter. Still, it is an interesting suspenseful tale that makes allusions to the importance of ecology. I liked the folklore and some of the world-building. Some of the characters were really fun to watch. I recommend this show.

A Boy Called Christmas

I absolutely love world-building and I love different takes on folklore. The past two years I got it from The Christmas Chronicles but this year it is this movie. This is the story of a young boy who travels northward to find the fabled Elfhelm. The titular boy is played by Henry Lawfull and he hits just the right tone of optimism without being too sugary sweet or annoying. Stephen Merchant is excellent as his sidekick, a himbo as only he can play. Maggie Smith is an excellent narrator with a dry sense of humor. Sally Hawkins is darkly villainous but compelling. Zoe Coletti is absolutely insane and I loved her. The special effects are really interesting and they work well with the character designs.

Santa Inc.

I have had a weird experience with this show. I was very close to tapping out after the first episode because the show leans on a lot of tired “adult animation” tropes. Namely, there are a lot of raunchy sex jokes and jokes about drugs. I looked at the reviews on Twitter and saw a lot of anti-semitic bile being spewed and decided to give it another shot out of spite. Basically, it is Succession done in the North Pole. Sarah Silverman stars as a female elf who has been number 3 at the North Pole for years but now wants to make a play to be Santa’s successor. She is a lot of fun in the role and has a lot of heart. Seth Rogen plays a dundering Santa from a long line of Santa’s where the role is passed down as a corporate position. There are a lot of colorful characters but I specifically want to shout out Gabourey Sidibe and Leslie Grossman who play the main character’s best friends. The show is growing on me and there are not that many episodes. I actually recommend this show.

Music of the Week:

Run The Jewels – A Christmas F*cking Miracle

The Sweaterettes – Ugly Sweater Time

The Bodega Brovas – Covid Christmas

TERRORVISION – Our Christmas Song

Mashup of the Week:

MashupChuck – Spiderwebs This Christmas

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Elves of the North”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
I watched more Titans Season 3
I watched more Young Justice Season 4
I watched more Stargirl Season 1
I started Bob’s Burgers Season 12
I finished Elementary Season 6
I finished Chucky Season 1
I watched Cat-Women of the Moon (Rifftrax Version)

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 6

December 13, 2021
  1. The Who – Behind the Blue Eyes

I definitely went through a period where I was obsessed with this band. When I was an angsty teen, this was absolutely my jam. It made me feel things. This was during a time where I would have claimed that Squeeze Box was my favorite The Who song. As I started to come to grips with my anger management problems, I often clung to this song and tried to reassure myself that I was still a good person. Those were dark days, years really. I really like the shift between the soft and growling vocals and the instrumentation is, as always, top-notch. At some point, I really fell in love with songs that start slow and simple and then break out into full gear shortly after. This is the first such song that really took hold of me.

  1. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

I was definitely a huge fan of Nirvana and was at just the right age to be absolutely devastated by the death of Kurt Cobain. I really love most of their songs so it feels kind of weird that my favorite is the one intentionally made to be different from their usual. Cobain intended the song to be a pop song and in his words, he was trying to “rip off The Pixies”. Cobain brought the vocal melody and the guitar riff to the band. Bassist Krist Novoselic said it was “ridiculous” and Cobain made the band play it for an hour and a half almost as a punishment. As a result, the band worked together and it was one of the few songs to have the writing credited to all three members. The vague mumbling lyrics somehow speak of what it feels like to be a teenager. It was all three members firing on all cylinders.

  1. Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line

Another musician that I instantly loved from the very first song which makes choosing my favorite song incredibly difficult. That is the problem with this challenge, of course. The more I love a band or artist, the more difficult it is to choose. Cash was more or less my introduction to country and rockabilly (only two of his genres). The chord progression of the song is actually inspired by listening to guitar backward on a tape recorder so something actually came of listening to a song backward for once. Originally planned to be a slow ballad (which I probably would have dismissed) Cash was convinced to make it more uptempo. The result is a song vowing loyalty with a bit of an edge to it. It feels like there is a concealed aggression to it. Cash’s signature baritone is on display here and feels so good. The song has the usual train rhythm of Cash’s repertoire.

  1. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – I Second That Emotion

Written based on a slip of the tongue from Robinson, this song ended up really great. It is definitely one of the preeminent examples of Rhythm and Blues. In it, Robinson sings to a young woman who likes stringing men along, telling her that if she changes her mind and is looking for something real, he is up for it. The lyrics are pretty nice considering a lot of love songs pour it on thick. This one comes off as patient and accepting of the situation, a great example of setting and respecting boundaries. The song does not need much instrumentation because of The Miracles voices’ backing up Smokey. Their voices fit together so well from years of working together and knowing each other.

  1. The Everly Brothers – Wake Up Little Suzie

I started looking up Everly Brothers songs because I could not name a single one despite knowing that I had heard them. As I read the titles, the song memories started flowing and I fired up YouTube to listen to a few to make my choice. When I read the title of this song, I could hear the vocals in my head. What I did not remember was the guitar riff which sounds similar to (and may have inspired?) The Who’s I Can See for Miles. This song really bops along and the brothers’ voices and guitar really flow together. It is definitely a great example of upbeat, uptempo 50s rock songs with a little more twang to them.

  1. Neil Young – Southern Man

A controversial song for sure. As the child of a proud South Carolinian, I sided with Lynyrd Skynyrd in the famous feud. I grew up south of the Mason-Dixon and it stung a bit to be talked down to by a Canadian musician. However, my mother also taught me about the everyday racism she experienced growing up in rural South Carolina. She saw things that terrified her and learned from seeing other people’s evil and ignorance. So eventually I saw that Neil Young was right, he was just clumsy about it. You cannot paint the whole American South as racism as many know right from wrong and regret our shameful past. The guitar work is so great with Danny Whitten stepping in for Nils Lofgren. Meanwhile, Lofgren played piano for the very first time and knocked it out of the park adapting a style similar to an accordion.

An Easy Favor Pt. 1

December 11, 2021

A loud alarm sounded as the cell doors slid closed in Cell Block 4. Of course, the bars were holographic as a forcefield actually responsible for keeping prisoners in. Hawthorne took a deep breath, feeling grateful to have made it through another day. His last full day. He was fully expecting to start something. You didn’t make it through four years at New Lincoln Penitentiary without expecting a ruckus usually right when you did not want one. Thankfully, things had been relatively peaceful and he had been allowed to just work out for a large part of the day. He had been taken off of work detail rotation due to his imminent departure so they had not known what to do with him. That suited him just fine.

“So, tomorrow’s the day, huh?” Art asked with a lopsided grin. The lopsided grin was mostly because his face had been rearranged too many times before Hawthorne started protecting him. Art was a lifer and, at his age, that term could probably be used literally. “Gonna miss you big bear.” There was humor in his face that did not fully reach his eyes.

“If I could take you with me, I would,” Hawthorne said. “You going to be alright in here?”

“Probably not,” Art said, again half-joking. “but I’ve had a hell of a ride.”

Hawthorne nodded. They had never really talked about it but he had always gathered that Art was old school mob, a rarity among the gangs and factions in New Lincoln. Art had a punchable face but Hawthorne swore there were actual reasons for attacks on him. There was something shadowy out there that wanted Art Bayley dead. Hawthorne suddenly wanted to say something but nothing seemed sufficient. No words would be enough.

“Oh, don’t you go worrying about me, kid,” Art said. “I’ll be alright. I just wanted to ask you for a favor if I could. I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important.” This was true. When Hawthorne had first saved Art from a beating, Art had simply told him to let him die. Hawthorne was not exactly about to do that and Art had eventually warmed to the assistance.

“Go ahead, old-timer,” Hawthorne said. “I won’t make any promises but you’ve earned at least a favor.”

“Smart ass,” Art said with a grin that almost had half the teeth it was supposed to have. “It shouldn’t be that hard. You just have to make a little visit for me.”

“A visit?” Hawthorne asked. “Where would I be visiting?” He was now a little doubtful but it was not a no go yet.

“The where would be Baltimore,” Art said. “That’s easy, right? That’s where you’re from, right? But more important is the who. I want you to check in on my daughter, Carter.”

“Is she in trouble?” Hawthorne asked. He was a little suspicious at that point. His probation definitely limited contact with any criminal element and he had never picked sides before. He was proud that he had never joined a gang and he had kept his circle tight. He was not about to throw in with the mob but if this was genuinely a family thing and not a Family thing then it would probably be alright.

“I don’t think so,” Art said but he glanced away as he said it. “She’s a smart girl. She’s fine but I haven’t seen her in forever and I just want to make sure she’s alright.”

“I guess that’s something I could do before I settle in,” Hawthorne said. “I was already heading toward Baltimore but I’m not sure I’ll stick around. A lot of memories.”

“Understood,” Art said. “This wouldn’t take but an hour at most. Just don’t scare her, big guy.”

This was actually a cause for concern. Hawthorne was born big and he had grown up even bigger. He was nearly seven-foot-tall and ripped. He had had body modifications due to some injuries and a lot of him was made of polymer and metal. Thankfully, his face was still intact but he definitely had to work sometimes at being non-threatening.

“I’ll try my best,” Hawthorne said. “How does she know I actually came from you?”

“Hound,” Art said. “Tell her I said ‘Hound’.”

Media Update 12/9/21

December 9, 2021

Silent Night, Deadly Night (Unrated Version)

I realized that I had only seen the movie from this franchise that all of the memes were derived from. This series is kind of the father of modern Christmas Horror (passed down from Dickens, of course). I was surprised by how well the movie was put together. It is an origin story of a killer. Not somebody who is fundamentally evil but is mentally and emotionally scarred until they snap. Everything about the movie feels stilted and awkward but that actually serves this kind of movie well. I really credit the editing in this movie because we get a lot of the story and character insight from flashes of early footage. The main actor, Robert Brian Wilson, is so good at showing what a horrible cocktail of extreme PTSD and other mental problems looks like. Danny Wagner and Jonathan Best do a good job as the same character at a younger age too. I have to give a lot of credit to Lilyan Chauvin as Mother Superior, an interesting morally gray character. I recommend this movie.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!

Skipping ahead to the third installment, we get a much wackier story. The Santa Claus Killer is in a coma but a connection with a young psychic woman restarts the nightmare for everybody. Horror Legend Bill Moseley plays the infamous killer and gets to really ham it up in the role. The movie tries to make the franchise into something like Halloween 5 which came out the same year. It actually works and it is kind of nice to move away from trauma and mental problems to gravitate toward something more fantasy-inspired. Samantha Scully plays the blind and psychic protagonist and does a lot with very little. It is interesting that she was only in three other movies since she was pretty good. The movie ends up being a pretty tight story. I recommend this movie.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

I skipped ahead again because apparently, the fourth movie does not have much to do with Christmas so I tucked it away for later. The fourth and fifth films have nothing to do with the first three as they tell standalone stories. This one is about a mother and her child who must contend with a mystery involving killer toys and an eccentric toymaker. In fact, they leaned heavily on the mystery element of this one. The first part of the movie wanders a bit as the viewer is left to guess what exactly is going on. About halfway through, the movie suddenly kicks into a higher gear and becomes awesome. The innovative kills in particular were very entertaining. Of note is the appearance of Mickey Rooney as “Joe Peto”. Brian Bremer was super great as “Pino”. The movie ends up being gorier than the three movies preceding but also more creative than a simple slasher movie. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Bombay Beach Revival – Merry Christmas

Jobii – Merry Had a Little Christmas

We Are The Union – I’m Working Retail For Christmas

Geraldine Quinn – Every Single Christmas

Mashup of the Week:

There I Ruined It – We’re Not Gonna Take It

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Naughty!”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
I watched more Titans Season 3
I watched more Young Justice Season 4
I watched more Elementary Season 6
I watched more Chucky Season 1
I watched Star Wars Holiday Special (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Bermuda Triangle (Rifftrax Version)
I watched ROTOR (Rifftrax Version)


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