Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Media Update 8/15/19

August 15, 2019


Witness for the Prosecution

Another old classic that I had yet to see. I bought this movie for my mother since we have watched many of the ABA Top 10 Law Movies together. As with many of the movies I watch, I wish I had watched it sooner but it ended up perfectly anyway. The movie is about a defense lawyer in England played by Charles Laughton who is being forced to quit taking criminal cases because of his health. However, he is presented one last intriguing case. His client is Tyrone Power, a clean-cut guy who swears his innocence. Along the way, he must deal with Power’s enigmatic wife played by Marlene Dietrich. He also has to put up with his meddlesome but well-meaning nurse played by Elsa Lanchester. The movie is based on the work of Agatha Christie and so part of the movie’s charm is an almost film noir mystery full of intrigue. The other great part of the movie is the over the top wit of Charles Laughton, especially when he is battling Elsa Lanchester or making objections in the court scenes. Laughton is hands down the star of the movie but there is plenty to love. I definitely recommend it.


Megamind

I am still working my way through Dreamworks animated films as I have always been a Disney guy. I had heard good things about this movie as one of the underrated selections from Dreamworks. I have to agree. Will Ferrell voices an alien (Megamind) who is sent to Earth at the same time as an alien voiced by Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt’s character constantly overshadows Megamind which convinces him to become a villain in order to balance things out and get a reaction. In a parody of many superhero franchises, he forms a close bond between villain and hero. He is constantly kidnapping a reporter voiced by Tina Fey. He has a henchman voiced by David Cross. Jonah Hill plays Tina Fey’s cameraman. The movie parodies superhero films in a way that is not over the top or corny. Also, unlike many Dreamworks movies, there are very few dated references which makes this movie more timeless and easier to watch compared to other Dreamworks offerings. The movie explores why we do bad things and whether we can change and whether people will let us change. I recommend it.


The Bad Batch

I have still yet to see a Jason Momoa film that I have liked and once again I am disappointed. I thought that based on the movie having Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, and Jim Carrey in it, the movie might be fun. All three of those actors are incredibly charismatic. The movie stars Suki Waterhouse who is sent to a weird post-apocalyptic desert prison in Texas. She has to deal with a new world of criminals and cannibals with no law to protect her. Keanu Reeves plays the cult leader who controls the one safe place and Jim Carrey is one of his people. Momoa plays a wastelander, a man of few words. The movie was very pretty and well-shot but the script left me wanting. The movie is listed as a dark comedy but I saw no laughs and only darkness. It was not even interesting darkness. It was just brutality for brutality’s sake. I guess some message about how easily we can descend into madness. The usually charismatic actors and Suki were all apparently directed to be slow, plodding, and lacking emotion in their performances. More than that was the horribly slow pacing, long lingering shots of either something or nothing. Needless to say, I do not recommend this movie.

 

Music of the Week:
Amanda Palmer – Drowning in the Sound

Starcrawler – Bet My Brains

HAIM – Summer Girl

Ice Cube – Arrest The President

Halford – Undisputed

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Anti-Social”
– I finished Arrow Season 7
– I finished Glow Season 2
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more Defunctland and Yesterworld
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 3
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I started Star Trek: Voyager Season 4
– I started watching iZombie Season 5

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Talking Kings and Successions

August 12, 2019

Lately, I have been thinking about the Lion King a lot. It is not because of the recently released full CGI version in theaters right now. People are all up in arms about it but I will eventually see it and form my own opinion. Actually, I have been thinking about the original Lion King movie because the music is in regular rotation on my Pandora account. Well, really, it is just two songs. I had the cassette of the soundtrack when I was a kid. The movie came out when I was about ten years old. I played that cassette until it wore out.

The song I listened to the most was “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”. It is by far the most uptempo, fun song musically in the whole movie. The other song I listen to a lot now that I’m older is “Be Prepared”. I’ve felt that I love the villain songs more and more as I have gotten older. I still love both songs but recently I have realized they are kind of the same song from different angles. I will warn you that this post is now going to get a little political but not really specific to our current climate. Although, you can draw your own conclusions. Also, Lion King spoilers.

“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” is a song sung by young Simba as he plays with Nala. He sings the song mostly as a way to distract his chaperone, Zazu, the King’s advisor so that he and Nala can sneak away to explore the Elephant Graveyard. Zazu and the King have forbidden he go there but he cannot help himself. He sings about how excited he is to become King (leaving out the part where his father needs to die in order for that to happen). He thinks about how he won’t be pushed around anymore when he is in charge. He will be free from responsibility now that nobody will be in charge of him.

This is the short-sighted thinking similar to your average political candidate. Someone who is excited to have the glory of a leadership position but does not think of the burdens. I think this is obvious to most viewers. Simba has no plan on how he will rule as the only monarch in a large area of Africa. He is thinking of freedom and legacy and glory and no responsibility. Zazu and his father continuously try to rein him in. The King’s subjects join in the song but mainly because of fun and because when the prince sings, you join in.

“Be Prepared” is a song sung by Scar, the King’s brother and Simba’s uncle. He is the villain of the movie, heavily inspired by Claudius in Hamlet. The song is a literal command to his secret hyena army. He is telling them of his plan of regicide and succession. As soon as the King is dead, the hyenas need to be ready to protect Scar’s claim to the throne. Scar knows how people think about him and needs the extra muscle to support his new regime.

It is clear that Scar also has no clear plans on ruling the Pridelands. I mean, he certainly has sinister plans but no plans on how to rule efficiently. It is clear that he does not want to burn everything down (even though that is how it ends up). He wants fawning subjects and glory. He wants the easy life of luxury that only a successful monarch gets. When we find him later in the story after he has gotten what he wanted, he has screwed it up and has already descended into madness.

The thing is, at the time that both songs take place, neither Simba or Scar would have made good leaders. Obviously, Mufasa was a great leader and everybody was weirdly happy with his bloody rule as a predator over the Pridelands. However, Mufasa was not an option anymore as Scar and the hyenas had to go and kill him. If Simba stayed in the Pridelands and had been tapped to become King, he would have been out of his depth even with the help of his mother, Zazu, and Rafiki. This was actually explored in Kingdom Hearts 2 showing the events soon after the end of the movie where Simba has a crisis of confidence because he does not have the wisdom to lead. So neither choice was especially good and this is why rulers should not be murdered. As if Julius Caesar had not already taught us that.

Media Update 8/8/19

August 8, 2019


Hobbs and Shaw

I have been a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies ever since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was added to the mix in Fast Five. This is also when they seemed to find their formula of an ensemble movie with comedy, crazy action, and a little bit of drama. Recently, they decided to separate The Rock’s character Luke Hobbs off into his own attached franchise. Luke Hobbs is part of the Diplomatic Secret Service which is basically being an International cop. In this new franchise, he is forced to team up with disgraced British military man Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who became a mercenary. Both are tapped by the CIA to stop a bioterrorism plot. They are up against Idris Elba and team up with Vanessa Kirby. They do a really good job of separating the movie from the Fast and Furious franchise. While many of the events and character backgrounds draw from events in Fast 6, 7, and 8, they do not require you to know all of that. They highlight the important parts and provide new information to flesh these characters out. Part of that is infusing Luke Hobbs with Dwayne Johnson’s real-life Samoan heritage. The real draw of this movie is the unforgettable chemistry between Statham, Rock, and Vanessa Kirby and the incredible action scenes. There are also a couple great surprise cameos but personally, nothing tops Roman Reigns getting a moment in the spotlight. I definitely recommend this one and I cannot wait for the next one.


African Queen

I was way past due to watch this movie but sometimes it just takes a while to watch the classics. This movie is entirely filmed in Africa and set in Africa during the first World War. The star of the movie is Katharine Hepburn who is a British missionary in Uganda when Germany attacks, mobilizing resources and soldiers in their African territories against other European forces.  She is forced to flee with a Canadian steamboat driver, played by Humphrey Bogart, as they try to make it down river to meet up with British forces in the Belgian Congo. There are other people in the movie but what really matters is that ninety percent of the movie is the Hepburn and Bogart alone on a boat going down the river. A proper English gentlewoman and a roughneck smuggler who slowly get to know each other and change their lives for the better. The two must face off against not only the Germans but the elements, the local wildlife, and their own madness at different times. This could have been a really lowkey and depressing movie but they keep things light and fun. This makes sense as this movie was the inspiration for Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride.  It was also directed by the legendary John Huston. I definitely recommend it as an essential classic.


Split Second

I was searching for something else to watch this week and I stumbled upon this movie for free on Amazon Prime. With the recent passing of Rutger Hauer, I was in the mood for a crappy genre film. The movie is set in 2008 (which was the future then) in a London that is suffering from the effects of global warming. Much of the city is flooded and even passable roads have at least six inches of water. It makes for a messy, miserable city and probably still a possible future for London and other coastal cities. Rutger Hauer stars as a cop obsessed with tracking a serial killer that killed his partner ten years prior. He is a miserable bastard and has zero friends on the force and would always be extremely close to getting fired if he was not ‘the best’. He is partnered with Alistair Duncan, a bookish and intellectual detective who is a serial killer expert. The two begin the hunt for the serial killer anew by combining Hauer’s honed instincts with Duncan’s intelligence. The movie also stars Kim Catrall as the love interest of Rutger Hauer/Widow of his partner. Sometimes it is fun to watch a movie this cliched. It is like a science fiction film noir combo that really feels good. Rutger Hauer makes the film with his gruff charm. I recommend it. (Fun fact: This movie was written by the same guy who wrote the Fast and the Furious in 2001)

Music of the Week:
Brittany Howard – Stay High

Lizzo – Tempo

Bring Me The Horizon – sugar honey ice & tea

YUNGBLUD – Kill Somebody

The Highwomen – Redesigning Women

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Unexpected Pairings”
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more Defunctland and Yesterworld
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 3
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I finished Supernatural Season 14
– I finished The Flash Season 5

Snow White’s (Scary) Adventures

August 5, 2019

Recently, I have been watching shows like Defunctland and Yesterworld and I am starting to branch out from there to like-minded shows. All of these shows delve into the history of theme parks and their rides and attractions. They mostly explore those attractions that have been removed from theme parks. As I explained in my review of Defunctland, they explore things through business decisions, tactical decisions, and creative decisions. All of these decisions effect each other, obviously. It has been endlessly fascinating and has inspired me a lot in my own creative choices. However, it has also served another purpose. It has let me know in great detail that my memory was correct when I was scared by rides.

I have spoken before on a particular nemesis of mine when I was a little child but let us set the scene a little more. There was a time before my brothers when I spent a lot more time taking joint vacations with my mom, my uncle, and my cousin, Brantley. Brantley is the oldest of the cousins on my mom’s side and over time she became a sort of leader when there were eventually six of us. Early on, there were just the two of us though and she and I were fast friends. I remember in particular a visit to New York City together and a visit to Walt Disney World. The visit to the Magic Kingdom (aka the real happiest place on Earth) had a lasting effect on me even though I cannot remember a lot of it now.

Disney parks are an experience as many of the good theme parks are. When you enter, you are entering another world, a self-contained city of pure entertainment. There is so much to do that you could spend a week there and not finish doing absolutely everything. It has always been this other world that I have been interested in and not exactly the actual thrill rides. I do not remember riding Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or any of the particularly big rides. I know we went on some of the more sedate rides for sure. I vividly remember It’s A Small World and I am strangely not very annoyed by the song now because I was inoculated to it young. I think I almost remember going on the Jungle Cruise which seems like it would be a fun time. Journey Into Imagination is an attraction that has really stuck with me. I remember going on Pirates of the Carribean and getting scared while in line but once the ride started, I was enamored by the fun scenes unfolding in front of me.

When Disney created the Fantasyland section of the park, they wanted to adapt their movies based on popular fairytales. That is why the icons of Disneyland and Disney World are both storybook castles (Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella respectively). They ended up creating a bunch of rides based on Disney animated movies where the riders took the place of the main character of the movie. (Which ended up flooding the park with complaints). When I visited in the early nineties, one of those rides is the focus of this post: Snow White’s Adventure. While on the trip, at some point my mother and my uncle went off to do something. In order to occupy we children, we were put on one of the dark rides. How scary could Snow White be? Well, there is a reason why they changed the name of the ride to The Scary Adventures of Snow White in 1994.

The ride would not be so bad if they had simply followed the movie. Instead, they made it into a straight horror movie. Instead of only showing up once, the Wicked Witch (the Evil Queen in disguise) shows up tons of times. Her animatronic jumps out at the riders over and over, cackling with murderous glee. Among other things, she tries to offer the riders the iconic poison apple, tries to ram them with a minecart, tries to attack them head-on, and finally tries to smash them with a giant boulder. She is more like Wile E. Coyote than the sneaky witch she is in the movie. My little heart could not take it. The relentless witch and the ominous darkness of the ride sent me into full-on panic mode. I ended up covering my eyes and crouching down into the vehicle to make myself as small as possible. If I had even thought of coming back up for air, I swear I heard the witch cackle and call out “Don’t Cover Your Eyes, Sweetie!”

I swear that last part happened even though I cannot find it anywhere on the Internet. In fact, the first results in google are my own blog from a previous claim I made. Still, I have irrefutable and well-researched evidence that proves that the ride was scary. Many people have backed up those words and I have now seen plenty of footage. The witch was relentless and hilariously and needlessly aggressive. I look back and laugh now but I was pee-my-pants scared during that ride. I really believe that it was one of the formative moments that led to me being a fan of the Horror genre. Which is not to say that I was scarred by the experience but maybe somewhat inspired.

I do not blame the Imagineers who made the ride for making it scary. In fact, that was kind of a theme in Fantasyland. The rides there were scarier than the Haunted Mansion ever was. Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Flight were originally also pretty scary. It is alright to scare children a bit. A little darkness shows them about the world in a safe way. I also don’t blame my mother as she had no idea and was there to hug me afterward and assure me that it was going to be alright. I was in the sunshine and everything was safe. At least, safe from the Evil Queen and all the imaginary horrors that would become an obsession later in life.

Media Update 8/1/19

August 1, 2019


Support Group for Men

When I saw this title, the ridiculous concept of Men’s Rights groups flashed into my head but I knew that a festival like this would not do something like that (unless maybe it was satire). Instead, this is about a group of guys who meet regularly to talk about their problems and their thoughts. They are comfortable with each other and things can get a bit deep and they try to be there to support each other. An unexpected visitor interrupts the meeting and changes it, sending all of the guys in different trajectories. The play examines masculinity, how we treat others, and how we treat each ourselves. The show was so good about putting a lot of positive messages about there about old school machismo, homophobia, gender identity, dating, age, mental health, and so many other issues men are presented with. Some of those topics are things that most men try to ignore but must be confronted with. The show deals with a lot of these deep moments with lots of healing humor. Which is to say that the show definitely takes important topics seriously but keeps things light and sweet to make the medicine go down. I definitely recommend it if you can find it.


Antonio’s Song/ I Was Dreaming of a Son

This was the one-person show of this year’s festival which is always interesting. A one-person show is often like listening to an audiobook. One person plays all sorts of different characters and must act out the whole show by themselves. This is a risky kind of play to write and perform because when it does not work, there is no way to get it back. It helps that this play was at least partly autobiographical. The actor, Antonio Edwards Suarez, was also one of the playwrights. He tells the story of his life from growing up in Brooklyn. He is the child of a Black man and a Latinx woman. He is stuck between two worlds but is also stuck in a world of gang violence brought on by toxic masculinity. The show is ostensibly about being caught in and trying to break out of a generational cycle of violence and anger. It is also about how creativity and the arts can help kids find who they are and who they want to be. It approaches defying traditional gender roles, cultural classifications, and trying to rise above where we should be. It is a really touching piece full of hope. Parts of it made me feel uncomfortable but that was obviously its intention. I also recommend it if you can find it.


Chester Bailey

I do not want to play favorites in this festival but I really, really liked this one and not only because I was able to meet and talk with its stars, Reed and Ephraim Birney. The show reminded me a bit of shows like Equus except that it was way lighter and smarter. The show follows a psychologist dealing with his patient in a mental hospital after a horrible accident. This all takes place during World War II when young men who were not overseas were embarrassed. Ephraim plays the patient, a young New Yorker who was struggling to find himself when one of the worst things ever happens to him. Reed Birney plays a snarky but highly insightful doctor who is dealing with his own personal problems when one of the most difficult cases of his career lands in his lap. The play has a lot of twists and turns and presents a lot of intriguing psychological problems. It does not dwell too long in tragedy but definitely has a dark edge. The show is told mostly in dueling monologues, sounding like journal entries from the characters told directly to the audience. The few scenes between the actors are charged with energy and definitely help drive the play forward. In this way, the show is kind of like two one-man shows that repeatedly collide. I definitely recommend it if you can find it.

 

Music of the Week:
Ashnikko – Hi, It’s Me

Dirty Heads ft. Rome of Sublime – Lay Me Down

Ferals – Gone

2 Chainz – Stay Woke Freestyle

Alice Chater – Hourglass

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “CATF 2019 Pt. 2”
– I finished Game of Thrones Season 3
– I finished Slasher Season 1
– I finished Losers Season 1
– I watched more How to Get Away With Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more Stargate: Atlantis Season 1
– I watched more Defunctland and Yesterworld
– I started Wynonna Earp Season 3

#WeAreBaltimore

July 29, 2019

Lately, my hometown of Baltimore has been under attack. The President of the United States has lashed out at Baltimore because U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings criticized him. Elijah Cummings has been a major player in Congress’ investigation into the President and his staff. He had a lot of prominent moments in the hearing where Michael Cohen testified. He has now apparently made himself a target by speaking up against the man in the White House. I am still unsure about what that investigation will bring and how useful it is to the country. There are too many desperate conspiracy theories around for anybody to make real sense out of anything. Setting that aside, Trump obviously feels threatened whether this ends in his fall or not. He is lashing out from fear and ego and his target has been my city.

The thing is, Trump is not the only one attacking Baltimore. Many have been in the past few days and I am one of them. Now, I love Baltimore and my heart will dwell here for the rest of my days even if I moved on. However, recently yet another event has happened that makes me want to rail against Baltimore leadership. Keith Davis Jr. was recently framed by the police and the State’s Attorney’s Office and took the fall for a murder he most likely did not commit. However, that is not the only thing. Years ago now Freddie Gray died while in police custody and the new State’s Attorney Mosby tried the cops. She bungled it and they all got off scot-free. Three mayors in a row have now been plagued with controversy and scandal. Mayor Sheila Dixon stole gift cards intended for the needy at Christmas. Ineffectual Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made a bad deal with the Grand Prix and bungled the Baltimore riots. Mayor Catherine Pugh went back on many of her campaign promises and was eventually caught in an illegal bribery and ethics scandal. I do not even need to go into the Gun Trace Task Force which did not do any tracing and instead robbed and framed people like crazy.

It can be really easy to rail against this corrupt town. The police and most of the politicians are absolutely and thoroughly corrupt. The crime rate is high, the murder rate is depressing, we are never far from another riot, and the cops and politicians are very racist. On a semi-humorous note, Trump was not wrong about the rats. Baltimore has famously huge rats. And yet, I still hold out hope. There are still politicians that I trust somewhat. I trust Councilman Bill Henry because we were friends back when I was in high school and he proved himself to be a good man. I trust Councilman Leon Pinkett (who presides over my district) somewhat as I have seen him connect with locals over concerns. I trust Elijah Cummings because he is a progressive and has proven himself to be a decent man. Of course, this trust can always be revoked as soon as one of them does something wrong.

More than that, I believe in the people of Baltimore. The good people who I have met in person or talked to online. There are good people I have protested with or bitched about the city with. There are plenty of people who are not racist or ignorant and eventually people will see the light. Something has to give and then hopefully the citizens of Baltimore will wake up and things might change. But Trump has no right to rail against Baltimore because Baltimore is afflicted with the same sicknesses that the rest of the country has. Sicknesses like racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, capitalism, nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and so many more societal ills. These are problems that many politicians including Trump have no interest in fixing. These problems distract the populace from the real problems we need to face and allow their status quo to continue.

So yes, #WeAreBaltimore because I have pride in the 410 forever but do not let this distract you for long. There is plenty to protest and plenty to fix and we will not do it feeling outraged for a slight against by a moron.

Media Update 7/25/19

July 25, 2019


A Welcome Guest: A Psychotic Fairy Tale

The subtitle of this show is definitely accurate as this is definitely a weird show. It is not exactly Theater of the Absurd (which is hard to make sense of) but this was in truth an interesting fairy tale. The show is set in a post-apocalyptic United States which has been devastated by some sort of disaster but continues on. In the rubble, dormant weapons dumps left behind by the military sometimes detonate and take out whole cities. The government has clamped down on everybody and has imposed a sort of stable martial law in order to protect the rich from all of the homeless refugees. The homeless are assigned derelict buildings to live in. One family who has lived a hard but noble existence now has a neighbor for the first time and he is really weird. The show feels a lot like a modern fairy tale, with so many lessons and metaphors for our own daily life. The cast of this one was really great at comic timing, feeling a bit like a sitcom on acid while we watched their adventures. A special shout out goes to Wade McCollum who plays the title character. He is so good at acting almost like a cartoon, a madman in the style of Daffy Duck. It takes every bit of his physicality and his vocal range but he pulls it off beautifully. I definitely recommend this one.


Wrecked

Horrible things happen many times in our lives, especially if we live long lives. Sometimes those horrible things are caused by us and then we have to deal with that trauma but also the guilt of what we have done to others. These events have been amplified by the invention of the automobile. I think you know where I am going with this. In the middle of a bad night, a couple must deal with the horror of tragedy, their own relationship, their minds, but also some unexpected house guests. How long can you keep up appearances with everybody else when your world is detonating? How long can you keep up appearances with yourself? This show could have been really dark but it keeps things light. It definitely explores both dark and deep subject matter but the dialogue remains witty and reminded me a bit of Neil Simon. The show explores both the twists and turns our mind makes when dealing with reality. It also deals with relationships and what makes a good one and what people think makes a good one. This one felt almost like a Twilight Zone without any supernatural elements. It was definitely a journey and I felt so satisfied when it was all over and the dust cleared. I recommend it for sure.


My Lord, What a Night

In the late 1930s, famed singer Marian Anderson performed in Princeton, sponsored by a program for young black artists which she was happy to do to inspire the next generation. After the performance, she was barred from the whites-only hotel in town. Albert Einstein, who had attended her performance, invited her to stay at his nearby home. A lifelong friendship was formed between two people who seemed, on the surface, unlikely to be friends. The truth is that Albert Einstein was a fervent supporter of the American Civil Rights movement because of his experiences as a Jew in Nazi Germany. This play tries to imagine what that night must have been like, the meeting of two incredible people. It plays a little with history by also adding in Mary Church Terrell, the first president of the National Association of Colored Women, an activist, and a DC school teacher. Abraham Flexner is also imagined to have been present, a renowned college professor and education reformer. Ms. Terrell and Einstein’s activist spirits clash against the more timid philosophies of Flexner and Anderson. The show is funny and deep and explores humanity and the best ways to go about saving humanity from itself during some of the most pivotal moments in each person’s careers. I definitely recommend it as it has a lot of great messages and warm dialogue.

Music of the Week:
Wallows – Scrawny

Baby Goth – Mary

SonReal – Parachute

Lizzo – Boys

The Regrettes – I Dare You

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “CATF 2019 Pt. 1”
– I finished Game of Thrones Season 3
– I watched more How to Get Away With Murder Season 1
– I watched more Losers Season 1
– I watched more Slasher Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Defunctland and also the similar Yesterworld
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 3

Character Classes Pt. 3

July 22, 2019

Clerics

The holy messengers of the gods, clerics are agents of the church and the gods. Most clerics live to carry out the mission of the departed gods in the world they left behind. They channel the power of divinity to use magic. Because there are so many gods, there is a whole rainbow of clerics. Each cleric usually takes on the aspects and mission of their god. Thus they are categorized into different domains based on what the cleric’s life mission or specialty is. Those include Life, Light, Knowledge, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War. Many gods overlap domains so devotees can have different focuses on the tasks before them. Clerics also take on many different missions. Some become priests and clergypeople in cities and towns, others travel to spread the good word, and others seek out evil in various forms to destroy it. Different clerics also act differently. Some are evangelists, seeking to convert those around them to the will of the gods. Others are satisfied with simply providing a good example of what a good life can provide to people. Of course, there is such a thing as neutral or evil clerics who base their actions on the worship of the fallen gods. However, they tend to work in secret while good clerics work to make the world a better place in the public eye.

 

Paladins

Paladins are often the more force-based arm of the church. Like clerics, paladins are also in the service of gods but they are more often the stick than the carrot. The paladin is the picture of the knight in gleaming armor but they are many other things. They can look like many other character classes as well. There are few paladins who linger in stationary service, many heed the call to adventure. They have made an oath to their particular god to fight for truth and righteousness. Paladins are a shining example to other followers of the faith and while their personal strength is important, they also inspire strength from those around them. Most paladins are selfless, devoted to fulfilling their oath instead of their own worldly gain. Paladins attend schooling in both divinity and combat to learn the skills needed for the tough road ahead. Like clerics, Paladins also bring people closer to the gods and the church. However, they do it less through proselytizing than through being an example. They are literal symbols of their gods that walk the world with the church’s symbols on their gear.

 

Monks

Masters of martial arts, Monks have learned how to battle through feats of skill and athleticism. They do this by learning how to tap into inner reserves of energy called Ki. Ki is inner energy that comes through their minds and bodies from the very fabric of the universe. Monks are able to obtain this ability through monastic tradition and rigorous training of mind and body. The training of monks is mostly secretive and many legends have been created that most schools do not actively try to dispel. More than any other character class, monks are amazing at hand to hand fighting. Their rigorous training and strength of will make the vaunted nine points literal magical weapons. Monks are also proficient with exceptional and exotic weapons that others have rarely seen before. Monks journey on the road to adventure to achieve physical and spiritual growth. While monks are often raised apart from society in order to hone their great abilities, they also realize that the purpose of these skills is not for themselves. What is the forging and honing of a blade without using it for some purpose? Monks are not trained to desire violence (although some do) but obviously recognize its use in self-defense and for the good of the people.

 

Rangers

Rangers are trained to be hunters, experts at tracking and incapacitating or killing their prey. It is not uncommon for small villagers to have a few rangers around to keep the food supply up. Others work in law enforcement, sent to track down dangerous criminals on the run, lost in the wilderness. Others are leaders in monster hunts or in hunting down dangerous animals. Like some druids and barbarians, rangers are not as used to be among the people of the world as they are trained to roam the lonely wilderness. Rangers are trained to hunt both alone and with a pack of other rangers. Rangers also have an affinity for animals as they can also be trained to form an affinity. Rangers are also traditionally really good with bow and arrow and other projectile weapons. Rangers also do a lot of studying of their surroundings and the monsters they might face. They have what are called favored terrain and favored enemy. Favored terrain is often the land that the ranger was trained in and they know a lot about it that will help with the hunt. A favored enemy is the one type of creature the ranger has observed or studied the most and therefore they know a lot about how to hunt it and hurt it.

Media Update 7/18/19

July 18, 2019


Skyscraper

Unless he does something dastardly in real life, I will be a fan of The Rock for the rest of his career. I became a fan watching him act like a jerk in 1997 on WWF programming and he has only built his skill set ever since. What I went into this movie with was an expectation that it was a big dumb action movie. I received more than that. The movie is about a new, state of the art skyscraper built in China that is more than twice as tall as the Burj Khalifa. The Rock plays a security consultant brought in to sign off on the security system for insurance purposes. He gets caught up in the chaos of crime and flame. The movie is one part crime movie and one part disaster movie. While there is a lot of action, there is a lot of interesting mechanics having to do with building design, infrastructure, and computer science. This leads to a lot of action sequences for The Rock which also includes great fight scenes. There is also great drama in the movie, allowing the Rock to show off his acting chops which just get better. Neve Campbell plays his wife and gets to be a bit of action star herself with plenty of neat sequences (with two small children too). Chin Han is good as the enigmatic building owner. Roland Moller plays the perfect mercenary asshole villain. I went in knowing I would like this movie and ended up liking it even more. I definitely recommend it.


The Meg

I also really like Jason Statham. He has that rugged charisma that is hard to ignore even when he is being a jerk or a sadistic villain. This movie has been in development since the publishing of the book in 1997 and I had heard about many different treatments. Statham plays a deep-sea rescue expert who comes to the rescue at an oceanography station. What he and the cast of scientists must confront is the legendary Megalodon, a shark big enough to take down a T Rex and bite blue whales clean in half. Once again, this movie exceeded my expectations. The cast is so good. Statham is tough but a lot of fun, playing it a little looser and nicer than he usually does. Bingbing Li plays a marine biologist who gives Statham a run for his money as an action star. There is a great smaller role for Ruby Rose as a punk rock vehicles expert. Cliff Curtis, Masi Oka, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, and little Sophia Cal all have their moment to shine. Rainn Wilson shows up as the main comic relief as the rich boy backer who gets mixed up in all of the chaos. There is plenty of shark action and plenty of good character moments and I liked the twists the plot took. I recommend it.


The Art of the Steal (2013)

This is the only movie this week that was not a big-budget blockbuster. This one is definitely more of a heist movie in the style of a low budget Oceans 11. This is not meant as an insult. The movie stars Kurt Russell who is always fun as the laid back dude who just wants to have a good time. He plays a former getaway driver/conman who has now become a motorcycle daredevil. He gets summoned back into the game by his old crew and must unite his new crew with his old crew for the heist of his life. Jay Baruchel plays his plucky comic relief sidekick, an old school street thief. Matt Dillon plays his brother, the ‘face’ of the old crew who burned things to the ground and now is trying to make amends. Jason Jones plays the Interpol agent trying to track them down, an inept mess of a man who is almost a cop. He is joined by an art theft informant played brilliantly by Terrance Stamp all world-weary and snarky. The rest of the group are not as known but all three are fun character actors who add to the plan in their own way. The movie is not perfect but it has a lot of fun elements and dialogue and I liked the weird philosophical groove to the movie. I recommend it as well.

Music of the Week:
Fredo Bang – Dawg Gone

JINJER – Pisces

Kane Roberts – Beginning Of The End

Colleen Green – Maybe I’ll Get Hit By A Car Tonight

Jay Bovino & Hannah Sands – Hideaway

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Fast and Furious Franchise Alumni”
– I watched more Game of Thrones Season 3
– I watched more How to Get Away With Murder Season 1
– I watched more Losers Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I watched more Designated Survivor Season 3
– I watched more Defunctland

Character Classes Pt. 2

July 15, 2019

Fighters

The term ‘fighter’ encompasses a lot of types of people. Fighters are soldiers, guards, sellswords, farmers and much much more. Fighters are anybody who picks up a weapon and becomes skilled at using it. Fighters come from literally all walks of life and all social and economic backgrounds. There are academies that teach fighting styles all over the world that cater to the wealthy but also to those who wish to enter military or law enforcement fields. There are also plenty of fighters who learned through messy life experience. There are highly skilled and educated fighters but even they can be defeated by a fighter with heart and soul. Fighters basically break down into three categories which are champions, battle masters, and spell swords. Champions are those who rely on physical power and precision over skill. Battle masters are those who focus more on skill and strategy to help control the battlefield. Fighters are also not precluded from using magic as some have learned to imbue or accompany their weapons with magic similar to Warlocks and Wizards. Any weapon is very deadly in the hands of a fighter with or without magic.

Barbarians

Barbarian is kind of a loaded term that covers more than just the stereotypical barbarian. Those barbarians are people of the wild places who are often nomadic. Specifically, barbarians are those who have learned to harness the primal rage that every being has inside. They are able to tap into that well of rage to increase their strength, speed, and durability. There are generally two schools of this discipline. There are those who draw fully from the mind and soul of the barbarian, the so-called berzerkers. These barbarians’ skills are more physical-based. There are also those who draw from animal spirits called ‘totems’ that come from nature. The use of totems allows barbarians to channel aspects of animals to enhance their own skills. Barbarians are among the toughest of the character classes as they often live a rougher life which hardens them against the rigors they might face in battle. In other words, they know how to take a hit. In addition, ‘rage’ is not necessarily gibbering and raving anger although it can be. There is such a thing as cold rage and some barbarians experience intense joy when they unleash their rage.

Bards

Bards are usually performers of some type. They spend their life traveling the world and spreading their particular type of entertainment. Bards are people who are gifted with the magic of turning emotion and imagination into power. They are masters of swaying people to their cause in order to smooth the way forward. Of course, not all of what bards do is actually magic. Even without the use of actual magic, they can also help through sheer force of charisma. Bards are often the more charismatic members of a party of adventurers but that does not mean they are always the voice of the party. Bards come from many different backgrounds. They are actors, musicians, poets, writers, politicians, carnival performers, and so on. There are different classifications of bards (though bards can be hard to pin down) and these classifications are called colleges. The two most prominent ones are lore and valor. Bards of Lore are gatherers of information and more likely to take on wizardly aspects. Bards of Valor seek to encourage and inspire people with their tales and actions and their magic is more tied to actual physical violence.

Druids

Druids are those people who are attuned with nature. This is a deeply spiritual connection that often goes beyond any connection with the gods. This, of course, does not mean that druids are not religious but their power comes directly from nature itself. Druidic magic is passed down from generation to generation in an informal setting, often but not always through familial bonds. Druids have mastered nature-based spells that others find challenging. Their connection with nature usually means that they live in the wilderness, cut off from society but not always. There are such things as village druids who live on the outskirts of cities and villages and are sometimes consulted for healing, dealing with abominations, and other nature-based problems. Though rare, there are also urban druids who sometimes inhabit the sewers and green spaces in cities. Druids have a particular skill to change into wild animals that they have seen for various purposes, a power greater than a simple polymorph spell. Druids operate in societies known as “circles”. These circles allow people who live lives in the lonely wilderness a sense of community even if they live alone. Of course, druids can also easily talk to animals so they are never truly alone.


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