Archive for January, 2022

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: “Hangman” Adam Page Pt. 3

January 31, 2022

Kenny Omega had defeated Jon Moxley for the title at the Winter is Coming on December 20, 2020. The two had had a long and storied rivalry in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling. Their bloody rivalry had included Mox brutalizing Kenny Omega, causing damage to his confidence and ego. He needed a win and the two had a long and violent match. It ended with Kenny Omega winning with the help of his longtime friend and fellow Canadian Don Callis. Callis and Omega tried to frame the win as an accident at first but it was clear that they had conspired to cheat together so Kenny could be crowned AEW Heavyweight Champion. Callis took over The Elite as their manager s “the invisible hand” who had guided Kenny’s career from the start.

Omega became corrupt under the guidance of Callis and the Elite grew, bringing in old friends Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Callis spread through the group like a sickness, making them overconfident and more prone to cheating to win. They faced down anybody remotely good in AEW and remained victorious. Still, they had become a shadow of the dominant faction they had once been. They were the Patriots, hated in tainted victory. They feuded with Mox, the Death Triangle, and Eddie Kingston in some chaotic matches. Omega and Callis started to claim that nobody could beat them.

The Dark Order had become true friends and supporters to “Hangman” Adam Page. Their spokesman, Evil Uno, started to make public challenges. He would say that their friend Page could beat Omega and that the Dark Order would equalize the Elite’s numbers advantage. They were interested in a fair fight for their friend. Hangman would berate his friends telling them that they should not make challenges on his behalf. He was pursuing the Heavyweight Title but anybody could see that he was worthy if he just believed in himself as much as The Dark Order believed in him. Finally, they convinced Hangman to make the challenge himself.

After negotiation with Callis, it was decided that Hangman and the Dark Order would face Omega and The Elite in a five-on-five tag match. If Hangman’s team won, Hangman would get to challenge Omega for the title and Evil Uno and Stu Grayson would challenge The Young Bucks for the tag titles. If they lost, Hangman would be placed at the bottom of the rankings and would have to fight his way back up the ladder again. Hangman and the Dark Order made an entrance and fought a match befitting their heart and fortitude. However, the Elite cheated again and Hangman fell short again. Cheating or no, the opportunity he had fought so hard to believe in had slipped through his fingers.

Hangman told the Dark Order that he wanted to be alone again for a while to think. He did not blame them for the loss but he needed to collect himself. Members of The Dark Order reacted differently to this statement. Eventually, those differences caused a rift and eventual Dark Order civil war as the group’s frustrations boiled over. During this time, a lot of The Dark Order saw a lot of growth in their characters. The strife between factions continued until the anniversary of their leader Brodie’s death. At that point, Brodie’s widow and his oldest son convinced the group to get over their differences and reunite as friends.

Meanwhile, Hangman had disappeared and it was known that he had taken time off to reflect but also for the birth of his first child. He took a good long paternity leave instead of playing into The Elite’s plan of making him fight back through the undercard. His family was more important. However, somebody else decided to believe in “Hangman” Adam Page and this time it was All Elite Wrestling. They awarded him the final spot in a ladder match for an opportunity at the AEW Heavyweight Championship battle. The Hangman that returned was full of love not only for his friends and family but also for himself. He finally fully believed in himself.

Hangman started a campaign of revenge against his old friends in The Elite with the help of his new friends in The Dark Order. During a Halloween episode, the Dark Order pulled off an Ocean’s 11-esque trick which allowed Hangman to sneak attack The Elite, gaining momentum for his upcoming title fight. AEW Full Gear pay per view was the date. This was the perfect event for this match to happen for two reasons. It was the one-year anniversary of the last Full Gear which was the last time that Omega and Page had wrestled one on one where Omega had won. The name of the pay per view was also born from a joke that Hangman had originated on YouTube.

The championship match was not easy. Both competitors and their allies had brought everything they had to the battle but in the end, it was one on one. Page poured all of his heart into the match and refused to lay down for his old friend, Omega. They traded so many blows with Callis trying to cheat at every turn. Page had an answer for everything and he was doing it without The Dark Order. At the end of a long and brutal match, Page had Omega dead to rights with his signature Buckshot Lariat. The Young Bucks jumped up on the apron to interfere but they looked into their old friend’s eyes and decided to let him have it. This left Hangman to call The Dark Order to the ring to celebrate. A feel-good ending to an almost three-year storyline.

An Easy Favor Pt. 5

January 29, 2022

Hawthorne tore into the meatball sub as he sat on the bed in his room. It was the first non-prison food he had had since his sister’s funeral and he nearly wept at the taste of it. He had to stop himself from wolfing the whole thing down right away. He took his time, meticulously eating and tasting the meal and trying to remain present in the moment. He had also bought an iced tea and a coffee. He had had coffee in prison but it was pretty close to mud. This was sub shop coffee but it was about twenty times better than the stuff in prison. He had not had iced tea since before the trial.

He had the blinds open on his window so he sat and stared out as the sun went down in Baltimore City. People were coming home from work or going out but Hawthorne felt so disconnected from it all. He was out of prison but he had not really reentered society. He was forbidden from contacting most of his friends and he did not really have much family anymore. The few he knew of would not want to talk to him. He was looking forward to meeting people and possibly making some new human connections but he knew that it would be rough going as well. He was an ex-convict and most people would not respond well to that.

He hoped that his new boss would be agreeable. He knew that he could be a good hand around a parts shop but he would be hard-pressed to make a good impression. If things went poorly, work would not be a happy place to spend time. Hawthorne had no choice but to try to be optimistic that he could win his boss and coworkers over. He wanted to have a good life but he knew that a lot of people would want him to be miserable. The stigma of prison would never go away as long as he lived. It was not like society was going to change anytime soon and he could not hide his past.

It started to rain outside and he stood up to watch everybody scurry around. A few well-prepared people deployed umbrellas. It paid to be prepared. It started to pour and even the umbrella users started to hurry and soon only cars were on the street. The sound of the rain was peaceful and Hawthorne took several deep breaths as he let the sound fill his being. He had been the muscle between him and his sister but he had always been the more contemplative. Mars had never wanted to stop and think. It gave her anxiety to stand still. Things would be a lot more peaceful without her.

He watched as a single person in a long raincoat walked down the street as if the rain did not bother them. They were tall and thin and walked with ease. That person stopped in front of the halfway house and looked up and. for a moment, Hawthorne could have sworn that she could see him. The girl had an eyepatch over her right eye and her left eye had a fierce wildness to it. It took Hawthorne a few moments to remember that the window was built with thick one-way glass. Still, her look had unnerved him and he hit the button to close the metal shutters. He could still hear the rain.

He walked back to his bed and sat down to finish his sandwich. In the morning, he would use the free day to track down Art’s daughter. He would give her the message and then he would move on unless she wanted to talk about her dad a bit. He did not have a lot to offer but he could talk about how Art was inside and how he was as a cellmate. After that, he would grab some groceries so he could cook a bit over the coming week. In the meantime, he was starting to get very tired. He would go to sleep soon and hope that he had no bad dreams.

Media Update 1/27/22

January 27, 2022

Peacemaker

I have enjoyed John Cena since he first came on the scene. I watched his whole pro-wrestling career (until I dropped WWE for all of its scandals). His first forays into acting did not exactly go well mostly because he was given subpar projects. I knew he had the charisma to succeed and he finally started to do that with Trainwreck. Since then he has picked a lot of great projects and I was happy to see him in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. He hits it out of the park even more in this spin-off show. The show is really great at combining comedy, drama, and action in such a strange and refreshing way. From top to bottom it does such a good job. The co-star of the show is Danielle Brooks who plays Amanda Waller’s daughter. Jennifer Holland, Freddie Stroma, Chukwudi Iwuji, Steve Agee, Robert Patrick, Annie Chang, and more make up a stellar cast. I can’t wait to see where this goes. I recommend this show.

Kim Possible (2019)

I used to watch the animated show and I appreciated the mix of goofiness and action. People were down on this live-action remake but I feel like it did its best to capture the feel of the original while being its own thing. I would compare it to the goofy strangeness of the Scooby-Doo live-action adaptations. The weight of the movie rests on Sadie Stanley who has Kim’s easy optimism down. Sean Giambrone is doing a goofy voice to imitate the cartoon but he still captures Ron Stoppable’s dim-witted charm. Todd Slashwick is great at portraying the pathetic villainy of Drakken. Taylor Ortega plays the delightfully snarky Shego. Issac Ryan Brown plays a cute and likable Wade. Clara Riley Wilson plays a new character who is adorkable. The rest of the cast is made up of small parts from Alyson Hannigan, Patton Oswalt, Michael P. Northey, and a surprisingly tough Connie Ray. I recommend this movie.

Injustice

The video games and the attached graphic novels were really good, doing that whole DC Elseworlds thing. This takes it in an incredibly dark direction with things going about as bad as you can imagine (kind of like Apokolips War). I was amazed at how daring it got, actually. The movie is not very long but it is an adaptation of the early cutscenes of the first game but with some more dramatic twists. There is such fabulous voice acting in this (including some of my faves Laura Bailey and Gillian Jacobs). I recommend this but it is not for the faint of heart as it is a hard R.

Music of the Week:

Wet Cigarette – Being Gay is Good for the Environment

PARTY CANNON – I BELIEVE IN DANI FILTH

Tha God Fahim X Your Old Droog – Charles Barkley

BULLRIDER – POINTLESS PICTURE

Mash-up of the Week:

jashups – Do The Hustle Without Me

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Big Screen, Small Screen”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more AGDQ 2022
I watched more The Mentalist Season 3

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 9

January 24, 2022
  1. Run DMC – King of Rock

Run DMC had a pretty distinctive style that I would describe as bombastic and forceful. While some rappers embrace the harmonies of their poetry, Run DMC deliver their rhymes like slam poets, making you hear every single word. Probably more than most groups, they helped to bridge the gap between rap and rock and therefore the mainstream. The blending of the two is commonplace now but they collaborated with Aerosmith and the WWF. In fact, this song was later remixed for the WWF stable D Generation X. I love the beginning of this song as the MCs trade words. The rest of the song hits hard as a great brag and boast rap song. The guitar and drums add a great background that does not distract from the great rhymes.

  1. Elton John – I’m Still Standing

This has become a very personal song for me. In my life, I have suffered from anxiety and depression but I am still here and this song has always given me the strength to carry on and has allowed me to reflect on the good things. Part of it is how joyful Elton sounds as he sings instead of being angry and spiteful. We should cut away the bad parts of our lives with joy and not dwell in anger (if we can). The music video is a must-see. It is such a bouncy and fun song with great lyrics. I am happy to see the song getting more love in pop culture lately sung by Taron Egerton in both Rocketman and Sing. Still, Elton John is always best at this song and nothing can top his energy.

  1. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek

They did not have the most descriptive name but The Band definitely inspired a lot of other bands. This song definitely scratches that Southern Rock itch that I was born with. It also feels a bit like Hank Williams. I am always amazed at bands that have the drummer as the lead vocalist because I played drums and it took all of my concentration just to hit the right beats. The song feels really comfortable, talking about having a good time on vacation from the hard work of being a truck driver. I like how the lyrics wind and turn. Interestingly, one of the verses has the characters in the song commenting on Spike Jones, another great musician. I like when bands do that, paying tribute to other great acts.

  1. Pink Floyd – Money

I am not the biggest fan of Pink Floyd which I think is fair because their experimental sound made them kind of a polarizing group. I may not have liked their slower or more out there songs but the band was always interesting no matter what they were doing. This song is my favorite mainly for its rhythm which is immediately set up by the sound of a cash register and other sound effects used like an instrument before a guitar takes over. I also really love the lyrics as an anti-capitalist. “Money is a crime” resonated so much with me at a very formative time in my political evolution. The song was the band’s exploration of their own feelings about socialism which they ultimately rejected in favor of honestly pursuing a material life.

  1. Queen – Killer Queen

There was one point in high school when I was listening to a lot of Queen. Like many people of my generation, I was formally introduced to the band through the movie Wayne’s World. Greatest Hits was one of the first albums I ever bought with my own money saved from doing chores. I used to listen to that album a lot in the hallways at school and I fell in love with every single song. However, while friends might borrow the album to recreate the Wayne’s World scene, my favorite was always Killer Queen. I fell in love with the playful dynamics in Freddy’s vocals and the bouncy instrumentals. I also loved the description of this woman in the song and I liked imagining what she might be like.

  1. The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man

This is a song that I have heard on the radio at least a thousand times in my lifetime and it never gets old. I can recognize it immediately from that initial guitar riff. From there the rhythm picks up and never slows down. It is a perfect driving song that just so happens to be about traveling. It is that romantic view of the drifter, the man who never stays in one place for too long. The guitar work is just so great and feels like sunshine. It is all the more impressive knowing that guitarist Dickie Betts is both playing and singing lead vocals at the same time. Lyrics that sound a bit like an American folktale. Just an all-over good song.

An Easy Favor Pt. 4

January 22, 2022

Hawthorne waved his data tag near the panel on the door and he heard the deadbolts release and he pushed the door open. He set his bag down and stretched, hearing a slight creak of metal in his shoulder. He really needed maintenance but he did not really have the money for it. He would have to save up his money after he got a job. He thought about hosing himself down but almost as soon as that thought entered his head, the data tag started beeping loudly. It was so loud that he was glad that he was in private and would not annoy anybody nearby.

“Stand by!” the device chimed almost cheerily. “Incoming call from Sergeant Callum.” The voice sounded like an old school phone menu voice. Hawthorne could not tell if it was recorded or synthesized voice. He idly wondered if there were voice options on the data tag. If there was a more soothing option, it would make calls a little better.

Hawthorne looked at the device on his wrist and sighed. He was kind of tired yet keyed up from his encounter downstairs and was in no mood to talk to his parole officer. However, he had no say in the matter and he had a feeling that his parole officer could reach him no matter where he was and what he was doing by design. He was resigned to make something of his second chance which meant putting up with his parole officer no matter what. The data tag whirred to life and a hologram started to form. A tall, lanky man with a gray push-broom mustache and a shaved head. Not what Hawthorne was expecting.

“Inmate report in,” Sergeant Callum said. It was direct but not hostile. The man stared hard at Hawthorne, his body language giving away nothing. He was all business much like Erinyes had been downstairs. It was the kind of attitude that subconsciously made Hawthorne stand up a little straighter.

“Inmate 1159261181514 reporting in,” Hawthorne said. It was something he had said hundreds of times over the course of serving his time. The numbers would be burned into his brain forever even though he was usually referred to as the truncated ‘1514’. Few people had used his name but he had repeated it in his head to keep a hold of it and hope that he would use it again.

“By reporting to your quarters, you are officially released,” the Sergeant said with a slight smile. “You’ve earned your name back, Hawthorne Cassidy.”

“Thank you, sir,” Hawthorne said. “I appreciate it.” He felt a weight lift off of him that he had barely realized was there. He was free. There were plenty more hoops to jump through but he was free and out in the world. He would be whole again.

“I hope you do, Cassidy,” the Sergeant said. “Don’t make the Department of Corrections regret releasing you. That’s my one and only rule. I succeed at my job when you succeed at your rehabilitation.”

“I get it,” Hawthorne said. “I mean that I understand. I want to go straight, I have no desire to commit any more crimes. I just want to live my life.”

“I hope that’s a genuine statement,” the Sergeant said. “For now, I’ll believe it is. I’ll be doing regular check-ins with you and I will be in communication with the house staff and your boss.”

“Yeah I have to get myself one of those first,” Hawthorne said. “I’ll start looking for work first thing in the morning.” He was not looking forward to the job hunt process. Part of what had made crime so attractive was not having to go through that process.

“No need,” the Sergeant said. “I have a job lined up for you already. A local auto parts shop put in a request for somebody with muscle and I volunteered you. The guy gets back into town day after tomorrow so you can use tomorrow to do a little food shopping and settle in. I’ll send the address to your data tag. You’re also due a few credits to start you off with some food. There’s a sub place a few doors down from where you are.”

Hawthorne was taken aback. “Thank you, sir, I frankly was not expecting this,” he said. “I was expecting to deal with a hardass.”

“Oh, I can be hard if I have to,” the Sergeant said. “Don’t make me stop being nice, neither of us will enjoy it. I gave up being mean when I left the service. Help me help you.”

“You’ve got it,” Hawthorne said. “A Cassidy is true to their word. I’ll do my best by you.”

Media Update 1/20/22

January 20, 2022

Billions

I have been a fan of Damian Lewis for quite a while so this show has been on my radar. The show is largely about the clash between a US Prosecutor and a hedge fund manager. The show is about investigating financial crime and the crazy world of finance. Damian Lewis is fantastic in a villainous role, bringing his usual intensity to a really well-written character. Paul Giamatti is, of course, brilliant as the show’s heavily flawed protagonist. Maggie Siff plays a really interesting character in the middle. I also really like Condola Rashad as a clever and charismatic investigator. The show’s dialogue is so good, right up there with West Wing or Better Call Saul. The chess game laid out is intensely interesting and I find myself really curious about the next moves. I recommend this show.

Succession

This show is really being hyped up lately so I decided to see what the fuss was about. The show follows a family who works for their father’s telecommunications company. It feels like it is depicting what would happen if Walt Disney was still alive (and all of it happened decades later). The show is full of detestable rich people who snipe at each other and react to the rest of the world like aliens. In that way, it is probably an incredibly accurate portrayal of the rich and why we rightfully hate them. I get a really sick feeling in my stomach watching this show. Brian Cox is great as the old war dog of a father. Kieran Culkin plays a perfect prick. Jeremy Strong plays another neurotic rich boy. Sarah Snook plays a queen bee and perhaps the most likable (not saying much). I struggle with whether to recommend this. It is good but it makes me feel sick.

Agatha Christie’s Crooked House

I like a good mystery but my experience with Christie has been mixed. This is a pretty solid tale of a young man who is invited by an ex-lover to investigate the murder of her wealthy father. The house is teeming with wealthy, cold-blooded sharks with plenty of means and motive to kill the deceased. I can see how this story might have influenced Knives Out a bit. The story seems to be set in the late Forties (when Christie wrote the original story). Max Irons plays the young detective, dogged in his search even if he might uncover painful secrets. Stefanie Martini is great as the enigmatic yet wild ex-lover. Christina Hendricks is so good as an ex-dancer clearly modeling her performance on Marilyn Monroe. There are also great performances by Glenn Close, Terrance Stamp, Gillian Anderson, and so many more. I came into this movie with somewhat low expectations but I really liked it. I recommend this movie.

Milk Me – Scrappy Doo

Kerosene Heights – tired of me

J.R. Kensington – 4:00

Milli Smoke – Losing My Head

Mashup of the Week:

Enamay Llebpmac Mashups – This is Radioactive

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Eat the Rich… with gravy”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I started watching AGDQ 2022
I watched more The Mentalist Season 3
I watched more Marvel What if…? Season 1

Movie Pitch: The Warriors 2

January 17, 2022

Thirty years after the great summit and the night The Warriors were hunted. Those Warriors who survived made peace with the other gangs (except for The Rogues, of course) when they were exonerated for any role in Cyrus’s death and endangering the proposed peace. Those members have grown The Warriors based on the fame and focus achieved on that night. Peace reigns in New York as Cyrus had dreamed but for how long?

Members of The Warriors are summoned by Caleb, the younger brother of Cyrus and successor to Cyrus’ position as president of the Gramercy Riffs. Those members include Wolf, Cutter, and Ruby. Once they arrive, they are pulled into a meeting with Caleb and representatives of the city’s top gangs who were similarly summoned.

New York is in trouble. Caleb introduces those present to Violet, a young woman who was kidnapped by rogue elements within the city. That mystery is still being investigated. The more immediate problem is that Violet’s wealthy family is likely to blame the gangs of New York. They need to get Violet back to her family before they rain holy hell on New York and ignite a war between the Feds and The Gangs. Caleb assigns members of the Baseball Furies, The Savage Huns, and The Boppers to the mission (Ace, Sun, and Cole respectively). He also assigns a young man who ruffles the feathers of The Warriors, the son of a member of The Rogues (Viper). No objections are accepted and the team is set.

The journey toward uptown immediately runs into trouble when the group is attacked and forced to abandon the train. The group is divided, The Warriors blame Viper for leaking their mission but the others argue to give Viper a chance. After Viper single-handedly stops a second attack, the Warriors relent and agree to continue on the mission. Along the way, the group is attacked by a mysterious masked group. In Central Park, the team splits up when Ace and Cutter stay behind to fight off the villains to give the others a head start. They are not sure whether the two are alive or dead which puts everybody in a dark mood.

Viper and Wolf argue constantly as the main group struggles through the City. Ruby tries to keep the peace but is worried about her brother, Cutter. Sun and Cole threaten to leave unless the group can come together. Ace and Cutter travel separately and try to catch up after a wild battle. After several more skirmishes, the masked gang is revealed to be members of Violet’s father’s security team and rogue Feds who want the war. They believe the Feds could win that war and purge New York of the Gangs for good. Viper saves Wolf’s life in the resulting skirmish before Ace and Cutter arrive as calvary with a bus. The group travels toward Westchester before reaching a final fight with the masked gang. Ruby teams up with her brother and finds new respect for Ace. Wolf and Viper team up and work well together finally.

Violet’s father is overjoyed at her return and agrees to call off the war. He respects The Warriors and their allies but questions how long the war can be held off. The gangs have grown in the last few decades and have overwhelmed the NYPD. It is only a matter of time for conflict with The Feds. Before the Warriors ride back home, they make Viper a member and celebrate.

Characters/Possible Actors:
(Contingent on not using unknowns which may be preferable but also harder to market)

Wolf – The de facto leader of the squad with a chip on his shoulder. Son of Ajax.
—- Colin Ford, Asa Butterfield, Jaeden Martell
Cutter – The cooler-headed member who usually balances Wolf. Brother to Ruby.
—- Julian Dennison, Zachary Arthur, Chandler Riggs
Ruby – Younger member of The Warriors with less mission experience. Sister to Cutter.
—- Shahadi Wright Joseph, Amandla Stenberg, Isabela Merced
Ace – Battle-hungry member of the Baseball Furies.
—- Brec Bassinger, Yvette Montreal, Alyvia Alyn Lind
Viper – Unaligned to any gang. Son of a member of The Rogues.
—- Andrew Matarazzo, Tanner Buchanan, Dylan Minette
Sun – Quieter member of The Savage Huns, annoyed at all the drama.
—- Rohan Chand, Alan Trong, Ki Hong Lee
Cole – Stylish and capable member of The Boppers. Hits on the ladies until he gets serious.
—- Coy Stewart, Alex R. Hibbert, Bjorgvin Arnarson
Violet – Young rich girl caught in the middle of a deadly conflict.
—- Dafne Keen, Ella Anderson, Brooklyn Prince

Possible Directors: Gareth Evans, David Leitch, F. Gary Gray, James Gunn

The Summoning

January 15, 2022

Life as a knight of Lamora was not as grand as one would think. It was a day of summoning at the castle of Lord Urnar, one of the greater lords of Lamora. Zelia woke well before dawn and she had to find somebody to help strap her armor on. She was familiar with the castle and its staff but she had to find who might be available. The meeting she was summoned to was to happen before breakfast so Zelia got waylaid in her search passing through the kitchens. Breakfast smelled so good that she could not resist a bit of a preview tasting. She flagged down Onelle of the kitchen staff and then spent time leaning against a counter and eating a biscuit with ham and cheese, watching the workers as she did. She spoke a bit at Onelle but the young woman was busy and Zelia had to repeat herself often. She did not mind.

After eating, there was still plenty of time to get ready but Zelia did not have all day. Zelia had to take her leave from the kitchens and resume her search for somebody to armor her. She physically dragged young Arne out of bed. He was a good lad but he had a tendency to be a bit lazy sometimes. The boy complained at being roused from bed but stopped when Zelia gave him The Look. It never failed. The boy straightened up and saluted.

“Knight of the Iron Hand,” Arne said. “How can I assist you?”

“So formal,” Zelia said. She had known the boy a little before being knighted. “I need somebody to help me with my armor. Follow me.”

“Lead on, lady knight,” Arne said.

Zelia turned and walked back toward her quarters with Arne following behind. After a few moments, Arne set to work. The sleepy boy struggled to strap the pieces of armor to her body. She grew impatient.

“Boy, you had best wipe the sleep from your eyes and get this armor on straight,” she said firmly, trying to keep most of the crossness from her voice.

“Yes, m’lady,” Arne said. “I’ll try, m’lady.” The boy’s almost painful politeness softened her bad mood. He was pitiful.

“You had best stop blushing as well,” she said with a soft smile. “You would think you had never seen a woman’s body before.” That only made the boy blush more.

“You know, that’s entirely possible that that’s the case,” Anneslie said. “What woman in her right mind would show him her delights?”

Zelia glanced over at the beautiful Anneslie, Knight of the Golden Bloom. She was standing there in her own armor, ready for the summoning even earlier than Zelia had wanted to be. Perhaps that was a sign of a more experienced and accomplished knight.

“I have so seen a lady!” Arne shouted, turning to face his accuser but then he immediately backed down. “Begging your pardon, Lady Anneslie, Knight of the Golden Bloom.” He cast his gaze down at the floor in contrition and embarrassment and saluted.

“Relax, little fish,” Anneslie said with a laugh. “No need to stand on ceremony. Return to your normal duties. I’ll take over here.”

It was Zelia’s turn to blush at the thought of the older woman touching her.

“You will?” she asked Anneslie and then turned toward Arne. “Go about your business, we’re fine here.”

Arne bowed and left quickly, leaving behind a sudden silence between the women. Anneslie worked in that silence comfortably while Zelia’s gut turned itself in knots. Anneslie expertly assembled Zelia’s armor and tightened the straps tightly. Finally, Anneslie finished her ministrations.

“There,” she said. “The Knight of the Iron Hand in all of her glory.”

“You do good work,” Zelia said and fought back a blush to establish eye contact with Anneslie. “You should put on my armor more often.”

“You’re very silly,” Anneslie said with a smile. “I’ll see you downstairs.” Then the Knight of the Golden Bloom left the room abruptly.


Zelia looked up above the fireplace as she entered the meeting room and her gaze lingered on The Sword of Storms which was also known as The Sword of Heroes. As the story went, the sword could only be held and wielded in times of great chaos and need by somebody pure of heart. If the sword allowed itself to be held, things were in a very dark place. The last person to use the sword had been a scholar who had been subsequently elevated to the role of knight before his death years ago. Zelia dragged her eyes away from the sword and moved quickly to her seat, the chair bearing her emblem.

“Knights of Lamorra,” Lord Urnar said, his voice loud and commanding. “You do yourself credit to drop everything to report here in the name of the Queen. I do not summon you lightly. I brought you here to deal with a threat worthy of your talents which our scouts have brought to my attention. I will cut to the chase. Goblin bands are threatening the nearby lands in several locations. We need you, good knights, to eliminate this threat. You will ride out after breakfast. You are dismissed.”

Zelia blinked a bit at the abruptness but stood up in order to head toward the breakfast table. She looked for Anneslie but felt herself get dizzy and then, as she reached for her chair to steady herself, her vision went black.

Suddenly, she came back to herself and she was standing on her feet, grateful that she had not fallen down in her dizziness. She felt a weight in her hand and looked down. It was the Sword of Storms. Smoke was drifting in from another part of the castle but nobody else was visible. What had happened? What did she do?

Media Update 1/13/22

January 13, 2022

Encanto

I will always be there for Disney Animated films and the Internet was abuzz with excitement about Encanto. i needed to jump on watching this movie before I was spoiled and I am so glad that I did. This is such a delightful movie. From top to bottom, the movie is funny and really pulled at my heartstrings. I always grew up thinking I was the odd one out and I definitely felt jealous of my siblings. However, I later realized that we are all weird and all have our strengths. Much of the movie’s strength comes from its extremely entertaining yet touching and relatable musical numbers co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Germaine Franco. They worked together to craft a style suited to the non-specific Hispanic setting and to fit the characters. The entire cast is fantastic but Stephanie Beatriz really shines as the movie’s lead and provides so much heart. I recommend this movie so much because I love it.

The Addams Family (2019)

I remain a huge fan of the Addams Family aesthetic. I watched the original show a bit but I fell in love with the Addams franchise with the 1991 film and its sequel. I was unfamiliar with the original cartoons at the time but I have seen a few since then. This movie’s style seeks to emulate Charles Addams’ original cartoons. As such, it also manages to be even more cartoony than previous incarnations. This is not a bad thing, just an observation that animation allows for more sight gags. The movie also does not try to retread ground already covered by previous entries. The movie gives each Addams something to do with their own story arc that fits into the whole. Voices by Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, and more really add to the fun. Throw in a great soundtrack done on Lurch’s organ and I got a great movie. I recommend this movie.

SurrealEstate

I saw an ad for this show while I was streaming Chucky off of the SyFy app. The idea of a show where real estate agents explore different haunted houses was interesting to me. The show follows a real estate agency that specializes in “metaphysically engaged” houses. Nobody believes them but they have a reputation of getting full price for houses with damaged reputations. Considering my obsession with the Stambovsky v. Ackley case, this show sounded right up my alley and I was right. Unfortunately, the show was both released and canceled in 2021. The show is full of unknowns as this is a Canadian show but they are all great. The show mixes drama, comedy, and horror in such a great way. I recommend this show.

Music of the Week:

Termanology & Shortfyuz – Salsa Moves

Royal Blood – Typhoons

Saweetie – Best Friend

SLIMEX – Offline

Mashup of the Week:

M3rt Mashups – Blinding the Habit

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Magical House”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I started watching The Mentalist Season 3
I watched more Terriers Season 1

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 8

January 10, 2022
  1. Van Morrison – Moondance

If you had asked me years ago who Van Morrison was, I would tell you what the average person might tell you. “Oh, you mean the guy who sings that song for weddings?” Referring, of course, to Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” which is unfortunately played for brides of all eye colors. I also used to think of him as the “other Morrison” since I like The Doors better. All of that aside, I have been a huge fan of “Moondance” since I first heard it. It is from Morrison’s third album when he was hitting his stride. In this song, Van Morrison shook things up and pushed toward a more jazzy feel. The song just founds so happy and inviting. It also leans heavily into Morrison’s mysticism and Irish poetry.

  1. Sly and the Family Stone – You Can Make It If You Try

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a positive and uplifting message. With lyrics like “You Can Make it if You Try” and “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down”, how can I not smile and feel a little better about myself? I love the way the song is sung with the band singing together and separately almost on every other line. The instrumentals really groove and I love the guitar work and rhythm. This is actually a re-written version of a Gene Allison from the late 50s. In 1969, the titular “Sly Stone” Sylvester Stewart rewrote the music to give it more funk and changed the lyrics making it almost entirely a new song. It is clear that the band is having a lot of fun with the song and that is just infectious.

  1. Public Enemy – 911 is a Joke

Public Enemy was such a great moment in rap history at a time when the genre moved on from rambling lyrics to try to actually have more of a message. A lot of their songs spoke of a culture that I was getting to know as a kid as I was exposed to Black culture in Baltimore. Even as a white kid, I was dissatisfied with our society. This song talks about how Black people cannot call 911 because poor Black neighborhoods are neglected by ambulances and city services. In a lot of ways, 911 is still a joke. A really bad joke. Bad response time aside, rising prices make ambulances a very last resort and endanger people of all races but especially people of color. The song is performed solely by Flavor Flav (without Chuck D) which makes it a bit of a rarity.

  1. The Byrds – Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)

Most people know this song from the cover that Jimi Hendrix did a year later. While I like Hendrix’s version, I think I like this version just a bit more. Of course, this version is also a cover like a lot of songs in the fifties and sixties when everybody seemed to glom onto a song. It is faster-paced and a little more unhinged. They gave it more of a garage rock feel which I love. I love the trademark jangly guitar caused by Robert McGuinn’s custom tuning of his guitar. I also love David Crosby’s vocals that feel like he is just going all out. Everybody seemed to give this song their own spin.

  1. Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart

Another song that is technically a cover, Janice Joplin took this one from Erma Franklin (Aretha’s older sister) although Franklin is on record of saying she did not recognize the song as the same as hers. Part of that is that the instrumentation and vocal arrangements are different. Another big part of that is Joplin’s signature wailing delivery which almost feels angry here. In fact, Joplin’s goal here was to “shout [pain] out of existence” The guitar work sounds both bluesy and psychedelic. It was her biggest success during her lifetime, later eclipsed by the posthumous release of “Me and Bobby McGee”.

  1. Patti Smith – Gloria

Another cover! This is a cover of a song by Van Morrison (remember the wedding guy?) but arguably Patti Smith made it even more famous by reinventing it. I am sensing a theme here. Patti reworked the song for the new punk rock age. She rewrote the song to mix the sacred and the profane, the religious and the sexual. Stuff that Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Madonna would do later in the 80s. I love the twangy guitar work in this. Patti’s punk rock vocals feel really good as well. The song feels right at home with bands like The Runaways or The Doors.


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