Archive for May, 2022

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Jerks

May 30, 2022

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“Hot Mess” Chelsea Green

Chelsea Green has played a hero before but I feel that she is at her best when she is an unbalanced and arrogant hot mess of a human being. Green excels at playing a character who is obsessed with both victory and love. She is unpredictable but often gets caught up in her own head which causes her downfall. I first became aware of Green when she left WWE last year and returned to Impact Wrestling. However, I realized that I had seen her before at the legendary All In pay per view. I was intrigued and I have gone back and watched a lot of her matches which led to making the above video. She recently married fellow wrestler Matt Cardona and is currently part of the Cardona Family’s reign of terror on NWA television. She is currently feuding with Mickie James after pretending to be Mickie’s friend. It was all a ploy to take Mickie’s belt and Mickie’s husband’s (Nick Aldis) belt. 

Maxwell Jacob Friedman aka MJF

As I write this, there is a lot going on with Max who is in the midst of contract negotiations with All Elite Wrestling. He no-showed a fan event but did show up for his advertised match yesterday. This is not about Max in real life, this is about the character. I first became aware of MJF when watching him in Major League Wrestling on YouTube. He was the leader of a faction called The Dynasty which was really just him and his rich friends (Richard Holliday and Alex Hammerstone). The group lorded their wealth over everyone and hid behind their lawyer (Holliday’s father). It was during this time that he came up with his signatures. He wore a Burberry scarf to the ring, he gave a knowing smirk, and he had the catchphrase “I’m better than you and you know it”. He moved to AEW and ramped up the character who has been a weasel from day one all while claiming to be “salt of the earth”. The biggest thing is that he is actually a good wrestler but he still stacks the deck against his opponents.

Britt Baker DMD

When All Elite Wrestling started (which basically happened at the All In pay per view), they needed somebody to build the women’s division around. They had plenty of talent but they needed a villain who could really rile up the fans. They decided on relative unknown Britt Baker who had some miles in the independent scene but had yet to really get her moment in the national spotlight. Like a lot of good wrestling gimmicks, they grabbed on to parts of her real life story. Baker legitimately works as a dentist. She performs in the ring and then flies back to operate her practice. In the ring, she is a legit badass and has been through many bloody matches proving her prowess and skill. However, as she stood in the spotlight, she became far too enamored with herself and arrogant. She recruited Rebel (who she keeps calling Reba) and Jamie Hayter as minions to keep challengers away from her. She is haughty and a little delusional in a comic sort of way.

Emi Sakura

Emi Sakura came to my attention through the excellent YouTube shows for All Elite Wrestling. However, I wish I had known of her long before because she is great. She has had a career for nearly thirty years but mostly in Japan. The bulk of her career has been spent in Japanese Joshi wrestling which is a particular style of women’s wrestling. Her long career has served her well as she has been honed into a finely tuned villainous wrestler. I mean, for starters, she comes to the ring in a crown and a cape often with an assistant (Lulu Pencil) who she constantly abuses. She acts like a stereotypical anime villain complete with the laugh, the comic fear reactions, and grandiose gestures. She is also yet another example of a villain who can back it up. Her strength and control continue to amaze me. Her double underhook backbreaker in particular is breathtaking. 

nZo FKA Enzo Amore

Now this one is controversial. Eric Arndt was accused of sexual assault. He was fired from his WWE job and kicked to the curb. However, the case was later dismissed for lack of evidence. Now, if Arndt did it then I would never defend him and I am not defending him here. Again, this is about his character. As Enzo Amore, he played a goofball villain (later turned hero) playing up the image of an Italian party boy turned wrestler. He certainly had the gift of gab as he constantly came up with lines that were both original and memorable. After his firing, he eventually reappeared in Major League Wrestling (who did their research, I’m sure). He seems to have lost a bit of that goofy nature and replaced it with real-life bitterness over his fall from grace. Now he still knows how to talk but he is also vicious in and out of the ring.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 2

May 28, 2022

When the portal opened, the guards that were on duty were dozing but thankfully, Jasmine and  Genie happened to be nearby. Jasmine moved into the shadows. Genie filled the ceiling of the chamber like a cloud of smoke and watched and waited. He was noisy and chatty by nature so stealth was not really his forte. However, he could bear it if it led to something dramatic. He watched as a meticulously groomed woman stepped through the portal. He could sense a lot of magic coming off of her. The smoke that was him swirled and slowly descended from the ceiling and formed into the Genie. He could be imposing if he wanted to be. Jasmine walked past him and stood in front. The message was clear, Jasmine had a lot of power backing her up.

The woman looked at Jasmine, then at Genie, and then back at Jasmine and she spread her hands slowly as if she was helpless. As if she had not just walked through a portal that required powerful magic to operate.

“We come in peace,” the woman said as gently and as theatrically as possible. “I mean you no harm.”

“That may be,” Jasmine said, her eyes narrowing slightly. “But you have appeared rather suddenly in the middle of the night.”

“Pardon me, your highness,” the woman said. “It is tricky to track the time of day in any given world. I was unaware of how late it was. I apologize if I woke you up.”

“How did you know that I’m royalty?” Jasmine asked. “How did you open the portal? I am going to need answers and quick.”

“Just say the word and I’ll come down like a hammer,” Genie said.

The woman looked up at Genie and tilted her head. “You might just be successful, djinn,” she said with a smile. “But I don’t want to fight. I am The Enchantress and I came to help you fight. I am aware of your station because I have been to this world before. I have been to many worlds mostly unnoticed.”

“You missed the fight, Enchantress,” Jasmine said. “The witch is in one of her own cells.”

“There is a greater threat,” Enchantress said. “If you allow it, I come bearing gifts. More heroes for the cause.”

Godmother appeared in a flash of light suddenly. “Enchantress!” she shouted. “What brings you here?”

“Her name really is Enchantress?” Jasmine asked.

“Her name is lost to time just like mine,” Godmother said. “Some of us are that old.”

“I am here to help, Godmother Hope,” Enchantress said.

“Your statement fills me with doubt,” Godmother said. “I know you. You are mischief incarnate.”

Enchantress nodded. “I am. I do not dispute this. I have caused problems in the past. Damage,” she said. “But I am scared. I am frightened down to the center of my being.” 

Jasmine, Genie, and Godmother watched Enchantress with neutral eyes. They let Enchantress twist in the wind for a bit.

“That is the only reason I would believe that you would actually help,” Godmother said. “To save your own hide.”

“And to save reality as we know it,” Enchantress said. “Something else is out there. These witches, this shuffling of the people, they were just distractions. The Chernabog has been unleashed and soon its presence will be felt throughout all worlds.”

Godmother’s eyes widened. “It can’t be!” she nearly shouted. “Those before us sealed it well.”

“Not well enough,” Enchantress said. “The end is nigh but we have entrusted the fate of each world to heroes before. We must do it again.”

“Heroes?” Jasmine asked.

“People like you, Jasmine,” Godmother said. “Like your Aladdin, Genie, the monkey, and even the parrot eventually. People with strong destinies and the courage to do what’s right. We may well need The Enchantress’ help although I am hesitant to trust.”

“I bring an offering to show I mean business,” Enchantress said. She pulled a wand out and held it up for Godmother.

“My wand!” Godmother called out, seizing the simple yet powerful artifact. “Where did you get this? This was lost when I was tossed from my world.”

“Some of the heroes I encountered recovered it from an incompetent witch,” Enchantress said. “I knew what it was and that I would eventually find you. So here it is.”

“A likely story,” Godmother said. “But I accept the gesture anyway. If you are playing a trick on us, it is a convincing one. I would rather fall for it than ignore your warning and endanger innocent lives.”

“So we’re trusting her?” Jasmine asked.

“I would not fully trust her,” Godmother said. “But it is not my decision to allow her passage. This is your world, Jasmine. You make the choice.”

“Then we let her and whoever she brought with her,” Jasmine said. “But we watch her. Let’s wake Aladdin and our other visitors. We need numbers right now.”

“I’ll go get them,” Genie said as he morphed into an alarm clock and floated off. 

Media Update 5/26/22

May 26, 2022

Corona Zombies (2020)

I had learned about this movie through reading Charles Band’s autobiography. The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the movie sounded absolutely crazy to me. Band and his crew struggled to film everything they had to in the three days as California was rapidly locking down. They created a story where Covid-19 rapidly mutated into a zombie apocalypse on several continents. They then bought some old footage from some zombie movies and spent the rest of the time dubbing over that footage with new dialogue, purchasing footage from real-life news feeds,  and then cutting the movie together. The movie was released amidst the maelstrom that was early 2020 while rumors were wild. It is not in the best taste but I feel that it parodies a lot of the misinformation rather than adds to it. It’s hard to walk that line, though. The movie is a meandering mess but it is fun to watch in its badness. I recommend this movie.

The Covid Killer (2021)

This movie came out a little later but it was obviously filmed during the quarantine in New York City. The mean streets of New York are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and while people are just trying to survive, a killer stalks the streets and it is up to one cop to end the threat. The movie takes place over what feels like months in 2020 so little changes are introduced here and there. There is even a scene where the police captain instructs the detectives about wearing masks and social distancing. They then don’t wear masks for the rest of the movie. So, it’s true to real-life cops. While this movie is not super professional, it does have a reasonably coherent plot and plenty of gore. What really impressed me that the movie has an original soundtrack most of which is rapped by Jay Doggs. It also weirdly uses sound clips from the movie Joker (2019) which did not really feel like it connected to anything. I do not recommend this movie except as a curiosity.

Covid-21: Lethal Virus (2021)

This is a movie that I found in my research but the movie actually tried to evade me, possibly from shame. On IMDB and Amazon Prime the movie renamed itself to simply Lethal Virus which was probably a marketing move to shorten the title and ditch the Covid references. In fact, the only reference to “Covid” is in the title sequence from a newscaster. In the far-flung post-apocalyptic future of 2021, a new virus has emerged which is turning people into zombies. The government sends a scientific delegation to the impacted area to stop the spread of the infection. This movie was probably made in 2020 and 2021 and involves a lot of rural, outdoors filming. This one has the best acting of the trio with there being some chemistry between scientist Loretta Hope and backwoods survivalist Christian Stamm. I think this movie was less interesting to me because it was not poorly made in a comical way. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

GIRLI – Hot Mess

Coi Leray & Nicki Minaj – Blick Blick!

BoyWithUke – Understand

Five Finger Death Punch – IOU

Mashup of the Week:

Oneboredjeu Mashups – Bitchrolled

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Covid Horror in Bad Taste”
  • I watched a ton of Twitch and YouTube
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 2
  • I watched more Cursed Films Season 2
  • I watched more Scream Queens Season 2

Rolling Stone Top 100 Project Pt. 15

May 23, 2022

84. James Taylor – Fire and Rain

In general, this has never really been my kind of music. Taylor is a bit too soft but I recognize his musical talent. I was obsessed with a punk cover of this song when I was a teen. I like the composition of it and Taylor’s guitar work is impeccable. I also always really liked the symbolism of this song. Fire and rain are such good terms for the bad times. Bad times are not all one thing. Sometimes they are the dreary and unrelenting drenching rain that freezes you deep so you think you will never be warm again. Sometimes they burn hot with a more sudden and immediate pain that leaves a scar forever. The song details the trials and tribulations in Taylor’s life and how he overcame them including the suicide of a dear friend, drug addiction, and the depression that came with fame and fortune.

85. Black Sabbath – War Pigs

It is hard to think of Black Sabbath without Ozzy Ozbourne and for sure Ronny James Dio had a lot of hits as their lead singer. However, this is the song that I keep coming back to when I think of the band. When I was a teenager, I was struggling to figure out my own philosophies. I had long discussions with a teacher about being anti-war. It really helped that Black Sabbath was teaching me about these corporate and political greedy pigs who do not care whether we live or die. It was during a time when I was embracing heavy metal and politics. I still had a long way to go but this helped. Aside from the lyrics, the driving guitar lives rent-free in my head forever. The driving beat just makes this sound like a very epic anthem.

86. Tupac – Hit ‘Em Up

This one is kind of sad as it was a diss track written by Tupac and his crew when they were sure that Biggie Smalls had ordered the hit that put Tupac in the hospital. Tupac thought this because Biggie had released a song called “Who Shot Ya?” right after the incident. It ended up being James Rosemond but Biggie and Tupac’s friendship was already shattered. Still, this is one of my all-time favorite rap songs. Tupac’s flow and lyrics are on point and just go together so well. Part of that is also the backing track which includes a great bass line provided by a sample of Dennis Edwards formerly of The Temptations. This track goes hard and is a bit shocking not only in how violent the threats are but also the believability of those threats being carried out.

87. Gram Parsons – Streets of Baltimore

My first reaction to this artist is “who?” because, although the name was vaguely familiar, I could not place it. Then I realized I was thinking of The Alan Parsons Project. This parsons is a country musician so it makes sense that I was not really familiar with his work. So, I started cruising YouTube to see what I could see, and low and behold, he wrote a song about my beloved Baltimore and I actually kind of recognize it. I am truly a sucker for any time that anybody mentions my hometown and current base of operations. The song is very catchy and speaks of Gram’s lover wanting him to take her to Baltimore City. One of the reasons that this song is familiar is that it has been heavily covered since Bobby Bare first sang it.

88. Miles Davis – Burn

Miles Davis had a long and influential career where he schooled the world on just how much a trumpet could do. He was a jazz musician but, like musicians, in his later years, he adapted and evolved. This track is absolutely an example of that as he played jazz fusion live on stage for charity. That guitarist? That is the legendary Carlos Santana. The fusion of jazz and rock definitely earns the name “Burn”. Davis was a true musical genius and everything he did shows that.

89. The Yardbirds – Over, Under, Sideways, Down

This is a band that I always recognize but I can never remember any of their songs even though they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was an absolute supergroup of musicians. This incarnation was led by Jeff Beck (later to be replaced by Jimmy Page) and his guitar work is excellent. The squealing riff he came up with is so unique and catchy. As are vocals by Keth Reif who uses a dark, deep voice kind of like a rockabilly Jim Morrison here. Steady drums by Jim McCarty who is the only one still in the band after all of these decades. This was written during a time when a lot of rock and roll was still heavily influenced by the blues and it shows. 

Suicide Squad: Emperor Joker (Movie Pitch) Pt. 2

May 21, 2022

Gotham City Streets

Task Force X walks toward their destination, trying to stay alert and quiet. They have paired up to walk in a rough column. Flag and Deadshot are taking point and sniping at each over who is the better shot. Flag asserts that he is the more successful. Deadshot says that medals don’t mean shit in the real world, real legacy is in the stories people can tell about you. Boomerang walks with Fauna Faust and Copperhead and tries to hit on both trying to make something happen. Both Faust and Copperhead argue over who gets to kill him and bond. 

Harley walks with Grundy and is pouring her heart out about the conflict over Joker. She loves Joker and wants this for him. However, she also notes that Gotham isn’t much fun anymore. She also has to worry about her head exploding if she doesn’t cooperate. At the same time, she wonders if cooperating and hurting The Joker would be worse than death anyway. It does not help to see his face all over those people’s faces. He is her world and she is sure that everything will be fine when they find Mr. J. He will know what to do. Grundy can barely get a word in but that’s alright as he couldn’t form the words anyway.

There is an ambush of Joker zombies who crawl out of the wreckage of shops on either side of the street. The fight is harder this time as the zombies are more feral but also have a more coordinated attack. Repeatedly, Harley is forced to fight while loudly complaining about having to fight Joker’s minions. Flag sees how badly the mission is going.

There is a roaring sound which they realize is the laughter of thousands of Joker zombies rapidly approaching. This prompts the team to run. Grundy and Deadshot want to stay and fight (Grundy out of stubbornness and Deadshot to die a glorious death) but Flag makes them run. They flee desperately with Harley shouting out for Joker to save her. He does not.

The Joker’s Throne Room

The three Jokers are frustrated that they have not found the remnants of the powers and confirm that there is resistance in the city. This perks up Joker who loves a challenge. He taunts Batman with the hope that he might be rescued. This sets all of the Jokers in the hall to laugh. There is no hope. He will put down any resistance and turn these rebels into his playthings. It is time to send his newest plaything to make sure of it.

The Iceberg Lounge

The team ducks inside of the bar and Grundy picks up the massive front desk and puts in front of the door and holds it as the Joker army pounds on the door. Deadshot jumps behind the bar and flips a switch and heavy metal shutters close off the club from the outside which allows Grundy to rest. Deadshot claims to have worked with The Penguin before. It pays to work with the bad guys, they know how to protect themselves. Deadshot, Boomerang, and Faust push a Joker zombie impaled by an umbrella off of the bar and start mixing themselves drinks. Copperhead is two years sober and does not want to ruin that. Harley grabs a bottle and drinks by herself in a corner.

Flag insists that even though they are pinned down, the mission must continue. The villains question why they should fight. Joker has already won. Flag appeals to their humanity, noting that it isn’t right to abandon Gotham and possibly the world to Joker. This is rejected. Flag appeals to their lives. The villains shrug and call his bluff to go ahead and activate the bombs inside of them. Flag threatens them with the detonator but to no avail. Flag brings up how they have been beaten and arrested over and over by the heroes. They have a chance to do what the heroes could not and beat this new Joker. The villains begrudgingly agree to the appeal to their egos.

Harley outright refuses to kill the Joker. She insists that she can talk Joker down and make this right. Faust gets in her face and asks her to name one time that Joker has ever listened to her. Harley sputters but is unable to bring up a time when her relationship with Joker was not one way. The others do not trust her and want to leave her behind. Harley gets mad and claims if they are going, they will need Harley. She knows Joker and she is going to prove what she says to them.

At that point, there is an impossibly loud banging on the shudders. Everyone is freaked out when fingers poke through a hole in the shutter and peel open a hole. A familiar S is seen through the hole and then the face of Supergirl can be seen but it is painted with a Joker smile. Super Jokergirl taunts Task Force X to come outside and play. Before Flag can stop her, Harley goes outside to confront the interloper. Harley shouts that she will not be replaced even by Supergirl. Supergirl speaks as if she is Joker and dismisses Harley’s jealousy. Joker berates her for being part of the team causing him grief. Harley insists that she came to be by his side. The Joker states that he does not need her and does not fear Task Force X. Most of all, he does not fear Harley Quinn. Supergirl grabs Harley and tosses her back through the hole and Harley hits a large sofa and hits the wall and blacks out.

Harley’s Nightmare

Harley wakes up face down on the sofa but finds that she is in a different room. A television blares to life and she sees herself with Joker. She is excited at first but she sees Joker repeatedly abandon her to be caught by Batman. She sees herself thrown into the same cell over and over. She sees former colleagues of hers at Arkham talking about her. They think Joker is a monster but Harley is just pitiful for what she has become. Pages from her calendar fall around her like snow.

The Iceberg Lounge

Task Force X desperately fights against Supergirl as she tears apart the club. Flag tries to assemble the team desperately for a coordinated attack but nobody can find Deadshot. Supergirl pins Flag against a wall and just as she is about to probably punch through his head, Harley shouts at her from the DJ booth. She cranks the volume which messes with Supergirl’s super hearing. Flag slaps a plastic explosive onto Supergirl and shoves her away. Boomerang sets off the explosive which sends Supergirl flying. Faust supercharges Grundy with magic and Grundy is able to go toe to toe with the Girl of Steel for the moment. Deadshot emerges and fires a shot into Supergirl’s chest. “Kryptonite bullet from the armory. Not much but it should hurt bad. Copperhead scratches Supergirl, making her dizzy with poison. Harley delivers the coup de grace with a baseball bat. “Did we just kill Supergirl?”

The team, bloodied but not broken, heads toward Joker Tower (formerly Wayne Tower). They fight their way into the tower where they find a small creature. Mr. Mxy says that he came to Earth to mess with Superman only to find that Superman was dead. When he went to mess with Batman instead, he was tricked and captured by the Joker. Harley convinces him to come with them to get his power back. Mxy agrees. On the way, Harley and Mxy have a talk about messing with people and causing chaos. Harley questions whether it’s worth it to mess with people if you’re not getting anything out of it.

They reach the top of the tower and find the Hall of Jokers. The three Jokers start to fight Task Force X and they are barely breaking a sweat holding off the villains. Harley confronts the real  Joker for abandoning her when she had given herself fully to him. He states that he does not need her anymore. “You never needed me, you needed Batman. You two deserve each other.” Harley points at Batman. “You broke your toy. Now you’re nothing without him.”

In that moment of doubt, Mxy seizes his power and starts to pull it out of the Joker. Harley spots Deadshot about to put a hole in Joker’s head and instead shoots Joker in the side with the gun that he gave her. Joker crumples to the ground, powerless but alive thanks to Harley. Joker claims that he is going to kill Harley but Harley smiles and dumps him. She goes to leave but looks back, a moment of doubt passing over her face before she walks away.

Amanda Waller’s Office

Waller’s technician informs her that the world has been put back together following the Joker incident. Joker is back in Arkham Asylum, Batman has been spotted patrolling Gotham, Supergirl is back in National City, Task Force X has been returned to Belle Reve, and Gotham’s dead have been returned to life. Nobody but Waller and her staff seem to remember what happened. Waller chalks that up to Mxy erasing people’s memories but was unable to breach Waller’s defenses. The technician shows Waller a note from Harley Quinn stating that she wanted Waller to remember that she owes Harley. Harley is in the wind and Waller decides to let her go free for now.

Casting:

Already Cast

Harley Quinn – Margot Robbie

Amanda Waller – Viola Davis

Rick Flag – Joel Kinnaman

Captain Boomerang – Jai Courtney

Supergirl – Melissa Benoist

New Cast

Deadshot – Jacob Anderson, Karl Urban, Shameik Moore

Fauna Faust – Stephanie Beatriz, Camila Mendes, Ramona Young

Copperhead – Aparna Brielle, Janina Gavankar, Dilshad Vadsaria

Solomon Grundy (voice) – Travis Willingham, Matthew G. Taylor, Paul Wight

The Real Joker – Bill Skarsgård, Ben Whishaw, Matt Smith

The Laughing Joker – Ike Barinholtz, Josh Ruben, Andrew Scott

The Serious Joker – Iwan Rheon, Noah Segan, Rami Malek

Batman – Nicholas Hoult, Anson Mount, Taron Egerton

Mr. Mxyplyk (voice) – Danny Devito, David Tennant, Sam Riegel

Director: David Ayer, Kathryn Bigelow, Michelle MacLaren

Media Update 5/19/22

May 19, 2022

Saturday the 14th

It was Saturday the 14th recently and Cody Meirick mentioned the movie and it had been on my radar so it was time to pull the trigger. This is a parody horror movie in the style of Airplane or High Anxiety. A family inherits a house but there is a book in the house that contains all of the world’s evil. The humor is immediately offbeat and understated but also absolutely absurd. Jeffrey Tambor plays a Dracula-like character with great dreamy deadpan delivery. Nancy Lee Andrews plays his vampire lover who is a little snarkier. The family is played well by Richard Benjamin, Kevin Brando, and Kari Michaelson. Paula Prentiss steals so many scenes as the suspiciously floaty mom. The movie never stops and keeps rattling off strange jokes. I recommend this movie.

The Collection

Tamara Chambers had this movie as a watch party the other night so I joined in. I had not seen the first movie but that did not matter as they do a great job recapping it. A grim and ingenious mass murderer and biological “collector” will stop at nothing to track his prey. Josh Stewart plays the haunted protagonist of the first film who now must face his fears again. Emma Fitzpatrick plays the scrappy young heiress who must now toughen up. Randall Archer’s movements are so good as the titular Collector. He is so creepy and communicates so much with just body language and his eyes. They are joined by a platoon of soldiers who are all great. This is an absurdly bloody action/horror movie but it is so ridiculous that it ends up being fun. I recommend this movie.

Fury

This had been on my radar for a while but I held off because Suicide Squad (2016) was so disappointing. Now that I am rewriting it (so to speak), I thought I would check it out. A tank crew tries to make it through World War 2 Germany with a new recruit. Brad Pitt is great, basically doing a version of his character from Inglorious Basterds. Michael Pena plays the snarky driver. Shia Lebouf plays the quiet and religious gunner. Jon Bernthal is awesome as usual as the animalistic mechanic. Logan Lerman plays the untested rookie, a typist turned tank operator who is well over his head. The strength of the movie is in the action and in the chemistry of the team as they try to stay sane and kill Germans. David Ayers is alright by me. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Tech N9ne – Face Off (feat. Joey Cool, King Iso & Dwayne Johnson)

carolesdaughter – Target Practice

Lights – In My Head (ft. Josh Dun)

Kendrick Lamar – N95

Mashup of the Week:

Mychael Helmz – Ghosts On Film

Weekly Update:

This week’s theme is “Snap Agreement to Recommendations”

I watched more Batwoman Season 2

I watched more Blacklist Season 8

I watched more Riverdale Season 4

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 1

May 16, 2022
Batman: Arkham Asylum

The game starts with Batman driving up to the legendary Arkham Asylum with The Joker strapped into the passenger seat. Batman hauls Joker into the Asylum and insists on accompanying the guards as they escort Joker to his cell as he thinks Joker allowed himself to be captured. Joker enjoys taunting both Batman and the guards even though he is strapped to a gurney Silence of the Lambs style. There are some electrical problems but they are brushed off as nothing. As you escort Joker, you find out that there was a fire at Blackgate Prison so a lot of prisoners were transferred to Arkham including Joker’s men. You descend into the bowels of Arkham where it is revealed that Harley Quinn is free and has taken control of Arkham’s security system. Joker has made a deal with a corrupt guard which has allowed him unfettered access to the asylum. They kidnap Commissioner Gordon and announce that there are bombs planted across the city that will go off should anyone try to enter the asylum grounds.

Batman chases after Harley Quinn first as she has Gordon captive in the medical wing. In fact, Joker’s men have captured all of the doctors and nurses in the wing. Batman must rescue them as he searches for Harley. Batman follows Harley’s trail to the morgue where he finds out that Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow is also loose. He turns a corner and finds Gordon violently murdered and slumped against a wall. Batman tries to contact Barbar Gordon aka Oracle to break the news to her but gets no answer. He is forced to move on to continue his pursuit of Harley and Joker as the walls seem to stretch and crumble around him. He enters the morgue proper and finds three body bags. He opens the first two body bags and finds his mother and father whose corpses blame him for their deaths. He moves to open the third body bag and out pops Scarecrow who hits him with concentrated fear gas which plunges Batman deeper into a nightmare.

Batman comes to in a surreal dreamscape as he is hunted by an impossibly tall Scarecrow. Batman must use stealth to navigate the gauntlet laid out for him and shine a light on Scarecrow’s avatar to return to reality. Shaken, Batman discovers that a guard’s body is where Gordon was and he can’t trust anything he saw while under the effects of the fear gas. With the actual Scarecrow nowhere in sight, Batman moves on to continue his pursuit, feeling that Gordon can still be saved.

Batman locates and temporarily subdues Harley but Joker releases Bane who is somehow even more juiced than he usually is. The fight is difficult and Batman must focus on removing the shunts used to pump Venom into Bane rather than attack the big man himself. Batman barely survives the ordeal as Bane chases him back up to the surface. Batman activates the Batmobile remotely and uses it to plow into Bane and launch him into the waters of the Gotham harbor, confident that Bane will survive. However, something was very wrong with Bane and Batman deduces that it is probably connected to Joker’s reason for returning to the asylum.

With Gordon finally rescued, Batman retreats to a small Batcave that he secretly installed under Arkham to restock his gadgets and use the computer to figure things out. He discovers that warden Quincy Sharp had hired Dr. Penelope Young as part of Arkham’s new research facility in an effort to cure the patients once and for all. However, Joker’s intricate plan started with manipulating Dr. Young into experimenting with Venom, eventually creating a plant-based hybrid called Titan. This new chemical, which caused subjects to gain enormous strength but also uncontrollable rage, was Joker’s plan to destroy Gotham and finally eliminate the Batman problem. However, Young finally realized that she was being played and refused to cooperate further which prompted Joker to return to the asylum and enact his plan there.  The plan is now clear Batman must prevent Joker from getting his hands on Titan and part of that is finding Dr. Young.

Batman begins to track Dr. Young and rescues hard-nosed guard Aaron Cash who rallies the rest of the still-living guards and gives Batman clues about Dr. Young’s whereabouts. Batman is momentarily sidetracked by another dose of Scarecrow’s fear gas which leads to him reliving his parent’s murder in Crime Alley. While tracking her further, Batman finds the Titan formula and burns it. He finds Dr. Young who has been taken hostage by Victor Zsaz in the warden’s office. After rescuing her, she reveals that she was trying to get another copy of the formula out of the office’s safe. When they open the safe, a Joker bomb goes off which instantly kills Dr. Young. What’s worse, is there are already completed batches of Titan and Joker has them already. 

Batman once again tussles with Harley Quinn in a lengthy battle. After capturing her and sealing her in a cell, he tricks her into revealing that Poison Ivy is being used to manipulate plants in the asylum’s botanical gardens to produce Titan. Batman heads that way to rescue her as she is an unwilling participant. She tells Batman that she can help produce an antidote to Titan but the rare spore she needs is located in the sewers under the asylum. Specifically, the spores are in the lair of Killer Croc.

 Batman descends into the sewers and is ambushed once again by Scarecrow. This time Scarecrow injects Batman with a pure liquid dose of his fear toxin. Batman and the video game itself have a breakdown in perfect fourth wall shattering style. The opening of the game is repeated but this time it is Batman who is strapped to the gurney and the player plays as Joker, escorting his foe to a cell. The villains are in control and Batman and his allies are now the inmates. Once again, Batman breaks through the illusion and finally gets to face Scarecrow one on one in a fair fight. This causes Scarecrow to flee and Batman watches Scarecrow get mauled by Croc before he can save the demented villain. 

Batman sneaks into Croc’s lair and must use stealth and patience to avoid Croc who is swimming in the water all around. In a very lengthy and tense sequence, Batman repels Croc by activating the shock collar still barely hanging on to the beastly man’s neck. Batman is able to synthesize one dose of the antidote before plants destroy his setup.

Batman returns to the botanical gardens to discover that Ivy has been injected with Titan, causing her to lose control and mutate. Batman fights the new monstrous version of Poison Ivy and is able to subdue her.

The Joker lays a trap for Batman and captures him. On the roof of the asylum, Batman and the Joker face each other. Batman is exposed to Titan while Joker gives himself a heavy dose. The two fight like gladiators with Joker succumbing more and more to the Titan as Batman resists. Batman eventually uses the antidote on himself before beating Joker with the classic Batman combination of gadgets, cleverness, and fists. With Joker defeated, the effects of Titan start to wear off on all those who were dosed. Backup arrives and the Joker is finally arrested for real as he is utterly spent by the battle and the toll Titan took on his body. Batman rushes off to stop a crime in progress committed by Two-Face.

Suicide Squad: Emperor Joker (Movie Pitch) Pt. 1

May 14, 2022

This movie would have taken the place originally occupied by David Ayer’s Suicide Squad which was released to middling success. It is inspired by a video by the YouTube channel Renegade Cut during their ruminations on the DCEU.

Gotham City

Harley is running through a warehouse and is pursued by Batman moving in the darkness like a shadow. He tells her she might as well give up as he has stopped The Joker’s plan. It’s over.  She declares that she’ll never give up when it comes to Joker and shoots at him to no effect and she is caught. As she is being led away by the cops, she locks eyes with Joker who looks away. She is hurt deeply.

Louisiana – Belle Reve Prison – Harley Quinn’s Cell

We start on a zoom-in of a wall calendar as Harley crosses out days in time-lapse. Months go by. She starts scratching out the pictures and tearing the pages out when a month has finished. The camera rotates to a close-up of Harley’s face as we see Amanda Waller approach the cell. Harley does a Hanibal Lecter impression which only gets a slight smirk from Waller. Waller taunts Harley over The Joker not coming to spring her from prison. Harley tells Waller to get to the point as she is in no mood to play. Waller needs Harley’s help to take on The Joker. Harley flatly refuses. Waller states that she has no choice and that Harley should think about how Joker has treated her and how this was her chance to step out from Joker’s shadow.

The team is gathered for a briefing. We get a roll call of the rest of the team roll call style Deadshot (Floyd Lawton), Captain Boomerang (Digger Harkness), Copperhead (Naavya Prasad), Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner), and Fauna Faust. We get Harley’s thoughts on each as she sits in the back of the room. Waller reveals that she holds paperwork to reduce the sentences of everyone who cooperates and survives the mission. If they refuse, she also has planted explosives in the base of their skulls and will not hesitate to execute each of them and start over. The team is rounded out by Solomon Grundy. In Harley’s words, a frickin’ zombie.

 Waller introduces Colonel Rick Flag who tells everybody that he does not care what they did in the past. He only cares about completing the mission. If everybody plays along, things will go fine. Waller reveals that the team will be heading toward Gotham. She shows footage of a Gotham City that is absolutely destroyed to the shock of everyone and a mix of confusion and jealousy in Harley. Waller reveals that the target is the Joker which makes everybody nervous. The Joker has come in contact with an extra-dimensional being and has become frighteningly powerful. He must be taken out before he becomes even more powerful and his madness and destruction spread across the globe. The mission is clear: Kill the Joker. Save the World.

Gotham City – The Joker’s Throne Room

The Joker paces back and forth while talking about his history with Batman before he turns and shoots Batman dead through the forehead. After a beat, we see more of the room and realize that there are actually three Jokers in the room. One is the “real” Joker that we saw earlier but there are two other incarnations. One is a giggling goofball a la Cesar Romero’s Joker and the other is more deadly serious. The Jokers talk about how boring it is to kill the Bat. There’s no challenge in it anymore. Joker waves his hand and the bullet falls out of Batman and he lives again. Chains snake down to ensnare the Bat and lift him up. The Jokers discuss whether they should summon up Robin or Gordon or somebody else to kill in front of Batman. But no, they’ve already done that. They need to find that little pipsqueak with all of the power so Joker can finish the job. Then he’ll have more tricks he can pull off. As we look around the throne room we see that there are many incarnations of Joker from throughout the comics, television, and movies in shadow as the audience.

Harley’s Dream

We see Harley’s origin story through her own eyes. We see her graduating from medical school.  We see her falling for The Joker as a psychiatrist. We see her struggle with her own mental health and eventually go with The Joker when he escapes Arkham. We see her baptism in chemicals. We see her and Joker side by side terrorizing Gotham. She is so happy.

Task Force X Transport

Harley is jolted awake on the plane. She watches the others with skepticism. The group chatters amongst themselves. (Except for Grundy who can barely form words). The villains start talking about Gotham City which only Captain Boomerang has not terrorized. Eventually, Harley tells the others the story of The Laughing Fish. This brings up the subject of The Joker. Deadshot brings up that “When supervillains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.” The others agree that nobody will miss the Joker when he’s gone but stop short when they see Harley’s angry face. She tells them off and stands up for “Mistah J”.

Alarms go off and rockets are headed toward the transport. The rear door is blown open and Harley runs toward the opening to shout that she is in the transport and that Joker should stop firing. It obviously does not work and the transport starts going down. Everybody rushes to grab their gear and parachutes before jumping out. No parachute for Grundy who does not make it out of the transport. 

Gotham City – Alleyway

The group lands in an alley and regroups and gears up. Harley pulls out the pistol that Joker first gave her and a baseball bat. They get coordinates from Waller and her team. Faust is shielding them from Joker’s powers but they will have to move fast. They see somebody digging frantically in the trash and Harley approaches. Everybody but Harley is ready for a fight. Harley taps the guy on the shoulder and he turns around. He has a crude Joker face and he laughs. The laughter attracts a hoard of similar Joker zombies. 

Captain Boomerang: “They’re like the bloody fish!”  

Waller confirms that they’re non-living. The Joker zombies attack and the team (sans Harley) combat the zombies. Deadshot makes it a competition with Flag. Grundy emerges through a brick wall and joins the fight having dug himself out of the wreckage of the transport and beelined for the team. The battle is fierce and everybody gets a chance to shine. Harley is frustrated and a little scared that she actually has to defend herself. The battle ends with her shaking one of the zombies and telling The Joker that she’s coming for him. It’s actually mostly a loving statement but there is just a hint of a threat there. Harley is starting to reach her limit but the team distrusts her.

Part 2 Coming Soon

Media Update 5/12/22

May 12, 2022

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I had heard some buzz for this movie and it became a rare movie that I would see in a movie theater. A proprietor of a laundromat gets sucked into a conflict that spans the multiverse. It is pretty much a movie that defies explanation. The movie stars Michelle Yeoh who does an excellent job balancing comedy, tragedy, and action. Ke Huy Quan had been away from acting for almost twenty years (he was in a movie in 2021) and he is amazing as the emotional core of the movie. Stephanie Hsu is mind-blowing as the troubled daughter. Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong do so much good work in more minor roles. The movie was amazing. It has a million blind-and-you’ll-miss-it references and jokes and yet it also made me cry. I recommend this movie.

Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

I was totally hyped for this movie for many reasons. First, I liked the first Dr. Strange and enjoyed his comic books. Second, the movie was getting heralded as Sam Raimi’s return to horror. Three, it included some of my favorite MCU characters and had a lot of potential for fun cameos. I was not disappointed. Basically, Stephen Strange must protect a young girl with amazing powers while unraveling a mystic mystery. Benedict Cumberbatch is back as Dr. Strange and he does even better with the role balancing comedy with incredible drama. Benedict Wong returns and is just as funny as usual. I am not spoiling anything by saying that Elizabeth returns and she continues to show such an emotional journey of Wanda Maximoff. Rachel MacAdams is given more to do in this one. Xochitl Gomez is a relative newcomer but she is definitely going places as she is such a great actress. I can definitely see why Raimi directed this one and he has come a long way since Evil Dead. I recommend this movie.

The One

I love supernatural martial arts movies and this is definitely an exemplary movie in that category. It had the perfect balance of humor, action, and a little bit of drama. Also, a ton of early 2000s Nu Metal. The story here is that a man is murdering other versions of himself throughout the multiverse to absorb their power. There is one left to kill but they are now equal in power. Jet Li plays the hero and villain and does a great job at distinguishing the two roles. Jason Statham plays a multiversal cop who is trying to stop everything from going down. Carla Cugino plays the clever wife of the protagonist who gets mixed up in everything. They did a really good job playing with what a multiverse would look like. The differences are often played for laughs, though. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Ava Max – Maybe You’re The Problem

Camila Cabello – psychofreak

Future – WAIT FOR U

Jamantha Greene – My Lamp ft. Mikey T

Mashup of the Week:

DasonRZ Mashups – Get Circus

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Into the Multiverse”
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 4
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 2
  • I finished What We Do In the Shadows Season 1
  • I started Scream Queens Season 2
  • I finished Nancy Drew Season 3
  • I watched The Galaxy Intruder (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Grizzly (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Treasure of the Amazon (Rifftrax Version)

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 14

May 9, 2022

78. The Stooges – Search and Destroy

Iggy Pop and the Stooges were progenitors of punk music and this song definitely shows it. The raw guitars and heavy distortion showed a willingness to push music outside of its comfort noise. The lyrics here also push people out of their comfort zone as they were inspired by news stories about the Vietnam War. The discordant yet rocking sounds definitely put me in mind of the subject matter. This kind of song inspired a lot of my favorites like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and Nirvana.

79. The Four Tops – Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got)

A true classic, that was actually another song recorded before the definitive version. The original version was recorded by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds about a year earlier which was just how things were done then, especially in the R&B genre. One thing about these singing groups is that it is hard to do research on the backing bands. The intro sounds like it could be strings (but it’s hard to tell) anyway it gives a bit of anticipation in the intro. The singing is in the spotlight here and Levi Stubbs does a great job leading while the others are in perfect harmony. 

80. Elvis Costello – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again

Yes, there are a ton of choices I could have made with really rocking tunes like Pump It Up, Radio Radio, or Watching the Detectives but I keep coming back to this recording. Technically, this is a Burt Bacharach song as sung by Elvis Costello. However, this recording is too charming not to mention. This comes from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me which is a really excellent soundtrack. Costello’s playful vocals mix really well with the soft horns and piano work. I also think the song has such good lyrics.

81. The Drifters – Under the Boardwalk

A song that my mom used to sing to me when I was a small child. This is a song that I will forever equate with summer and spending time in either Myrtle Beach or Ocean City, MD (the real Ocean City). I love the sort of swaying tone of the song which is both calm and catchy. I always thought that it was the perfect marriage of surf music and R&B. The song encapsulates a lot of what the summer feels like (even though it’s about a tryst literally under the boardwalk). The lead singer on this single was originally supposed to be Rudy Lewis but he died of a heroin overdose the day before the recording session. Johnny Moore stepped up to the plate in a major way and knocked it out of the park. 

82. Credence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

I was absolutely obsessed with this song for a long time. It got me through some days laden with depressive episodes. It became my unofficial anthem as I often sang it just under my breath as I did a lot of physical labor. It would make me excited instead of tired. Of course, this was a song that I also heard from a young age as my mom was into a lot of southern rock. The guitar riff will live in my head forever and the bouncy lyrics work so well with it. It does not hurt that the song is often used for the soundtracks for a lot of supernatural movies and television shows. It makes sense as it is a song about portents of doom and mysticism. 

83. Eminem – Without Me

There is a lot to choose from as I have been a fan of Eminem’s music since he first showed up. I have not always been a fan of Marshall Mathers but Eminem/Slim Shady is different to me. I like the urgent pace of this particular track. Eminem is a brilliant lyricist as he has a wide-ranging vocabulary and touches on so many parts of pop culture. This track combines a neat horn riff, Eminem’s lyrics, a sort of singsong riff, and actual backing vocals. The music video also includes the highly memorable sight of Eminem dressed as Robin as he acts like a sidekick to Dr. Dre.


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