Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Interview Questions 13

January 21, 2019


Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I would have to say George Takei who has since become even more famous. There used to be an amusement park near where I live called Paramount Kings Dominion which was affiliated with the film studio. I only remember going to the park once and it was with one of my best friends. Back in the day, my friends and I absolutely adored Star Trek. We religiously watched The Next Generation and soaked up what we could of the original series in a pre-Netflix world. We even studied the blueprints of the ships and talked endlessly about the world of the shows. So, it was no surprise that we attended a 25th Anniversary event at Kings Dominion. We stood in line to meet Mr. Takei and he was so nice when we got to the head of the line. He was very gracious when faced with two Trek nerds nervously gushing over the series. We noticed that he had a cast on his leg and he explained that he had had an accident but that he was doing alright. I don’t remember but he probably apologized for not taking pictures with people. That was fine, I got to meet Sulu in person and take a picture on the original series transporter pads. On a different wavelength, I would also make a mention of meeting Barbara Mikulski who was a US Congresswoman for forty years in both the House and the Senate. We met when I got to have lunch with her due to an auction my parents had won for charity. On the way to lunch, we also ran into Governor Donald Schaefer. Both of these people were voted in by hundreds of thousands of people so I would say they were also pretty famous.


What scene from a non-horror movie scared you as a child?

My first impulse is to say Ghost which I saw pretty young with my folks. There is a scene near the end where Patrick Swayze (the titular ghost) is fighting the villain (a non-ghost). The villain is halfway through a window when it breaks and a piece of the glass falls and he is impaled. That is pretty gruesome for a kid but then shadowy figures appear and drag Carl’s spirit off presumably to Hell. Those shadow monsters scared the heck out of me as a kid and increased my fear of death. It was also such a departure from the rest of the movie which was more of a comedic supernatural crime/romance film. However, I contend that that moment was supposed to be a horror scene. So I would also put forward the bee scene from My Girl. In the movie, a little girl is befriended by a nerdy little boy and over the course of a summer, they kind of fall in love. Long story short, the boy goes into the woods to retrieve a piece of jewelry the girl dropped and he is swarmed by bees and dies from an allergic reaction. This came so far out of left field that it shocked me. One time when I was a young kid, I was also swarmed by bees and it left an impression on me (but thankfully I was not allergic). The sudden death of a kid who was not unlike me (I was also sickly as a child) shook me.


If you could be on the cover of any magazine which one would you choose?

I think I would most like to be on the cover of Dragon Magazine which is the magazine put out by the offices of Dungeons and Dragons. It should be pretty obvious by now that I am a big fan of D&D and being on the cover of the magazine means that I would be responsible or connected to some of the content inside the magazine. It would be a dream come true to write for Dungeons and Dragons and join the likes of Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins as part of the creative team. Either that or I am being interviewed in the magazine because I did something of interest to the readers and fans of Dungeons and Dragons. I would join names such as Wil Wheaton, Matt Mercer, Holly Conrad, and even Joe Manganiello. In the same vein, I would not mind being on the cover of WWE magazine or any other Pro-Wrestling magazine. At this stage in my life I know I am never going to be a pro-wrestler but in an alternate future, I could stumble into being a manager. Being a part of something I have loved for over 20 years would be so amazing (which is why I once considered applying to be a part of their ring crew). Both are unlikely but never say never, I guess.

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Media Update 1/17/19

January 17, 2019


Venom

I was not expecting much from this movie since it felt kind of like an orphan to me since Disney (rightfully) took Spider-Man away from Sony. Instead, this movie made me realize how much divorcing the character from the Spider-Man mythos works. Venom started out as a Spidey villain but has since had a rich history of being an anti-hero. The past with the Spider books complicated the character going forward and the further he was away from Spidey, the more the character could shine. The strength of this movie comes from the connection between Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote. Tom Hardy is brilliant in both roles, As Brock, he comes across as a vulnerable and likable guy who is still kind of a dick. He is so relatable as a guy who lost everything and is struggling to move forward. As Venom, he is aggressive and really funny as a single-minded organism who is adapting to a new situation. The melding of the two characters as kind of a buddy film/superhero/horror story is the point of the movie. It is also a redemption story for both characters. Michelle Williams plays Brock’s ex and the more intelligent and more ethical counterpoint to Brock’s scrapper personality. She is a lot of fun and I was glad that there was no love story there. Riz Ahmed played the perfect corporate snake villain who was a great smarmy foil for both Williams and Hardy. Jenny Slate played a small but great role as a scientist. The movie definitely followed the modern superhero tactic of combining a superhero film with other genres. Here, they used horror stuff and a dark comedy similar but also distinct from Deadpool. I definitely recommend this one as it stands on its own.


Solo

I have loved the new direction that Star Wars has gone in. As you saw last year, I loved The Last Jedi and I also loved Rogue One the year before. I was somewhat skeptical about this one based on my doubts that the origin of Han Solo would be a compelling story. However, I was wrong. Because the previous movies had left these stories vague, they had a lot of creative freedom. On top of that, they hired one heck of a great cast. Alden Ehrenreich did such a good job taking Harrison Ford’s performance and building backwards while also making the role his own. Woody Harrelson was on top of his game as an ambiguous character and mentor to Han. Donald Glover was as brilliant and charming as always as Lando Calrissian and he took what Billy Dee Williams did and expanded on it. Emilia Clarke was great as Qi’ra and she really has grown a lot since I saw her last. Her character was really striking and I was left wanting to know more about her. Phoebe Waller-Bridge had a different take on what a droid is and provided comic relief. Paul Bettany was the perfect imposing asshole psycho villain without going over the top. I really liked this movie both on its own merits and as a prequel to a franchise I have loved since I was a kid. I definitely recommend it as it was exciting and fun.


Vice

I absolutely detested George W. Bush and his cabinet. At best they were screw ups and at worst they were war criminals and I kind of lean toward them being both. This movie is about the rise and retirement of Dick Cheney, the true power behind the throne during that presidency. Cheney has always been shrouded in some mystery which is evidently how he likes it. He does not talk much but his actions speak volumes for him. The movie kind of felt like somewhere between I, Tonya and The Death of Stalin. Christian Bale played Cheney from when he was thrown out of Princeton for drinking until Barack Obama was voted in as president. Bale absolutely transformed into Cheney and I really believed I was watching the man himself. The movie shows Cheney’s beginnings as a hard-hearted opportunist who played to win instead of trying to serve the public. I watched as he slowly let his heart turn completely to stone (though it was pretty rocky at the beginning). He turned his back on anybody who ever helped him and he smiled while doing it. The one potential soft spot in his heart is later completely stamped out for political expediency. That moment also paints his daughter (and current member of the House) Liz Cheney as a monster as well. The wonderful Amy Adams plays Lynne Cheney, his right-hand woman and perhaps the driving force behind his greed. Special shout out to Sam Rockwell as Bush Jr. and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld. The movie seems exceedingly well-researched but beyond that it was both entertaining and horrifying. The dark humor was like a worm that made me laugh despite my growing horror at learning new information. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Weekly Music:

Poppy – Play Destroy feat. Grimes

Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (Feat. Bantu)- Familia

Murmur – Funeral of the Hunt

King Tuff – Psycho Star

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Dark Origins”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I started a new job so I watched far less stuff

 

 

 

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

January 12, 2019

27 – What lore in Dungeons and Dragons are you most fascinated by lately?

Lately, I feel like I am most fascinated by the lore in Sigil since it is so mysterious to me. I feel like not a lot of people focus on Sigil since it is potentially incredibly dangerous and very abstract. Sigil basically feels like Wackyland felt in Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. It has a loose structure and a caste system but almost anything can happen there. It exists outside of the material plane, the inner planes, and the outer planes. It is its own thing and sort of a nexus of reality. Known as the city of doors, any door in the city can double as a portal to anywhere else. These portals need to be activated by a key but that key does not even have to be a physical object, it can be a word, a feeling, a spell, etc. Denizens of most any realm can randomly show up at any time either on purpose or completely by accident. I am still figuring out the society there as I have heard different podcasts approach it a little differently. It is at once wondrous and brutal as the diversity and exotic parts are beautiful but anything can kill you. There are also swarms of rats with psychic powers. At one point I was absolutely fascinated by the Lady of Pain. She is a masked god-like entity that protects and controls Sigil mostly through extreme violence and fear. Anybody who says her name or tries to worship her is horribly and painfully slaughtered by her. The idea of a goddess who kills any of her own worshippers is fascinating to me. She also never talks so people just had to figure all of this out through her violent actions and just hope that they did not somehow piss her off.

28 – What was the first time that you heard Dungeons and Dragons was ‘evil’?

Long before I actually played Dungeons and Dragons, I listened to a lot of comedy clips and watched a lot of comedy videos on the Ancient Internet. I was hanging out with a lot of older friends (as I do now) and they clued me into Dr. Demento, a radio personality who curated a large collection of weird comedy audio clips, most of which were songs. He was the guy who first discovered Weird Al Yankovic and helped him break into the business by sharing his early music. He also aired comedy sketches and one of them I stumbled upon was by a group called the Dead Alewives. Unbeknownst to me, I would later become a big fan of one of their members Dan Harmon who went on to create Community and co-create Rick and Morty. Anyway, they did a Dungeons and Dragons skit that parodied the idea that Dungeons and Dragons was somehow a dangerous activity for kids. The kids in the skit were just big dorks eating snacks and drinking Mountain Dew and making fun of each other. The point was that the game was far from the satanic recruitment device that people thought it was. This confused me. How could any game played with pen and paper be dangerous? It was theater of the mind and when the game ended, all of it faded away and people went back to being regular people. The idea that Dungeons and Dragons was dangerous was laughable to me and it continues to be laughable.

29 – First movie that comes to mind that you associate with Dungeons and Dragons?

Believe it or not, the first movie that comes to mind is something like Fast and Furious 7 or the Fate of the Furious. While the movies do not fit the setting of any Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have ever seen, the tone definitely fits. A lot of Dungeons and Dragons is over the top with people doing ridiculous things all of the time. Dominic Toretto and his gang are like any good Dungeons and Dragons party. Each member has different backstories, different specialties, and personalities. As members of the party die or change alignment, they are replaced by new characters. For a group of people who were at one point thrown together, they have a lot of intertwining backstories. The tasks that the party has to complete get harder and harder each movie as their skills and equipment also improve. It really feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the players are constantly rolling high and the Dungeon Master is rolling poorly. Still, they keep coming up with new amazing spectacles peppered with witty dialogue. On top of all of that, Vin Diesel is a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan and still plays now and then.

30 – What’s the single most important thing you have learned while playing Dungeons and Dragons?

I would say confidence. When I started playing tabletop roleplaying games, I was very skittish about it and shy. I stammered and froze up while I tried to translate my great ideas into actions and words that came from my character. More than that, the fear made it so my brain would often just not work and I would try to get enough out to make the Game Master move onto the next person. Still, somehow I found enjoyment from it. As I continued to play, I became more comfortable with myself and confident that my ideas were not horrible and that the people around me did not hate me. In fact, they are now my closest friends. I started to get more aggresive at the table and more likely to share my ideas and speak up. I also was comfortable enough to really “drop in” to my character. Instead of relaying what I thought my character might do or say, I was able to channel my character more directly. Recently, when I started to take new anxiety medication, I made even more progress. I feel more at ease throwing things out there and seeing where they lead. I am also braver about making the hard choices and shooting from the hip when I need to. Afterall, it is just a game and overthinking things leads to unhappiness for everyone at the table. I look forward to gaining even more confidence as I have now really adjusted to my medication and I feel more at peace with my surroundings.

Media Update 1/10/19

January 10, 2019


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Walt Disney Animation Studios has been really knocking it out of the park lately. It feels like they saw how good Pixar was doing and decided to up their game to keep pace. They started to make smarter, more enjoyable movies which is saying a lot since their library was already really great. One of the movies that convinced me of this was Wreck-It Ralph which was a sweet movie about finding your place in life and being at peace with the things you cannot change. It also cleverly explored the tropes of video games and applied them to actual rounded characters. So, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel and it was going to expand to the Internet, I was excited. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back as the two lead characters, this time exploring their friendship that was formed in the first movie. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch are also back in smaller roles but equally enjoyable as the first movie. We also got newcomers Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson who bring new energy to this new story. I felt like the movie was an accurate depiction of what the Internet is through the eyes of somebody who has no clue how it works. The Internet is insanity but it is also a very magical place and the movie showed off a lot of its different facets. The movie was very heartwarming from the beginning and some scenes (especially early on) reminded me of my own anxieties which I have worked to get better at. I recommend this movie wholeheartedly especially if you are a Disney fan since there are so many Disney references.


God Friended Me

So I was very wary of this show because of the title because it sounded like the name of a hokey Christian movie. However, my mom was watching it and I decided to sit with her and watch it since she spoke highly of it. I was pleasantly surprised. First, to reassure anybody who had similar fears, there is next to no actual Christianity (or religion in general) to be found. The show seems to be more like Person of Interest where a mysterious person (or entity, I guess) has programmed an artificial intelligence to cue the main character into helping people. They get a scrap of information each episode which leads them to find somebody who needs their help. The episodes I have seen, the help they deliver is not life-saving but it is life-changing, usually leading to a happier life and self-realization. In that way, it is less about “God” and more about zen and general philosophy. There is a central cast that works together to solve the mystery each episode and then the series arc of discovering who is behind the program. I think that the thing that really makes the show work is the interaction between the characters and the quirky people they meet. I have not seen much, but I liked what I saw. If you are looking for something easy to put on, I recommend this.


Halt and Catch Fire

So I had heard this title and it was not very alluring because I had no idea what it meant and without a descriptive title (or buzz) I was not going to be pulled in. Then the thing dropped on Netflix and I was curious and then I read that it was about developing computer technology in the Eighties which was a magical and wild time for computer technology. I decided to check it out but I ended up not really liking it. It felt a lot like Mad Men. There is a lot of slick dialogue and interesting characters but the show felt like it was infused with nasty, dark energy (just like Mad Men). No offense to fans of either show but both shows just felt too dark and uncomfortable for me. I thought the show was going to be full of the wonder and passion of discovering the cutting edge and trying to market it to the people. Instead, it was a lot of characters sniping at each other and angry yelling. Maybe the show got better after the first few episodes but I lost the desire to find out. Coupled with the fact that none of my friends or family have ever talked about watching the show and I was done with it. I do not recommend it unless you were a fan of shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Music of the Week:
DJ Format & Abdominal – We’re Back

The HU – Wolf Totem

Lessthanamonster – Honey Sweet Thing

AFI – Miss Murder

Miya Folick – Stop Talking

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Technology As Our Friend”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I started watching Lucifer Season 3
– I started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I got a PlayStation Classic
– I watched more My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

January 7, 2019

23 – Which is your favorite monster?

While it is not really in Dungeons and Dragons main purview, I really like vampires. Perhaps it is the goth kid and lover of Halloween that still lives inside of me. Vampires are so iconic and versatile but somewhat hard to fit into any old adventure. Still, I also really like that they are sentient monsters so their motivations can be explored and there is room for plenty of backstories. Most vampires are considered lawful evil by nature but that can easily be tweaked and homebrewed for more interesting storylines. I think of shows like Angel and Supernatural where a hero becomes a vampire and is able to stay good. Also, materials from other games like Vampire: The Dark Ages can be used to give more flavor to the character. Similarly, I really love the Hag. Having an old witch that trades favors or curses people like Ursula is a great toy to play with. They are also shapechanging characters with illusionary powers which brings up a lot of options. For example, having a coven of three hags like the beginning of Macbeth. They are too powerful for the party to take head on so they might have to do some errands for them at first or find a way to trick them. Basically, I have a soft spot in my heart for the creepier enemies in Dungeons and Dragons.

24 – What is a character outside of your comfort zone that you might play in the future?

I would really like to play a bard in the future. I know that I am an introverted person but, with the aid of my anxiety medicine, I feel like I am stronger than I used to be. I actually have a basis for a bard character that I may want to play in the future should it fit into what we are doing. A while back we did a one-shot set in a science fiction setting (which was not Dungeons and Dragons-based at all) but I played an android who was constantly handing out business cards and trying to drum up business while already on the job. If I were to play a bard it would be somebody like that. I think it would be fun to play somebody who is way into themselves and focused on their own branding. Maybe they will grow toward wanting actual respect instead of successful branding. Maybe instead they learn that fame is not what it is cracked up to be. Maybe they also learn the importance of teamwork and true friendship. There are many possibilities. If I were to be a bard, I would probably end up being from the College of Swords. If I was going to be an entertainer, it would make more sense to be a swashbuckler who entertains with feats of daring and action. I could also draw on stories from my brother’s experience as a fight choreographer in the character background. The thing I am stuck on is whether the character would be constantly rushing into battle or would actually be a bit of a cautious coward.

25 – What character have you been saving up to play in the future?

I always have a bunch of ideas in my head for what I could do in the future but the first one that comes to mind is the studious nerd wizard. Even though I have always been a good student, I have never been the A student who obsesses about studying and forgoes most other things. I have this idea in my head of a bespectacled young man who has studied magic hard and has been sent into the world to actually put it to practical use. Having lived in a theoretical world for so long, the real world would be jarring and it would be hard to find his nerve. I like the idea of a character knowing a lot of useful knowledge but never having had to use it and so there is a disconnect. Similarly, the character could be quite old. The character has spent a long time dicking around like Flynn Carsen in the Librarian. Having finally left academia, he is completely out of his element but still be supremely confident. I do not have much experience at that level of academia but I could draw on stories from my youngest brothers in his Ph.D. studies and also stories from other academics I have known. I also have not played any magic users yet in Dungeons and Dragons and I want to play with the complexity and versatility of a wizard. After the simplicity of playing a barbarian, I kind of want to play something where I have to worry about a lot of things at once. I guess that sounds kind of weird now that I have written it out.

26 – What was the first dragon your character slew?

After a long time idling in a small town, our cleric and druid revealed that they were being troubled by nightmare visions almost every night. Apparently, they had kept this a secret for quite a long time because it had not been so bad at first. However, the dreams had gotten worse and the dreams were threatening our party members’ sanity. The visions seemed to lead to a forest in the middle of nowhere that nobody had any experience with. When we arrived, we were confronted with an abandoned village and a sign that warned to stay away. This was when a lot of the party found out that my half-orc character did not know how to read. Of course, we were not going to heed some silly sign and we ventured into the creepy abandoned town. We fought a lot of plant-based creatures and my half-orc even got taunted by a tree and then, unfortunately, I rolled a one on trying to chop it down. It turns out that dragons in 5e have the innate ability to warp reality around them. Unbeknownst to us, a green dragon had taken residence in the town and slowly warped it into a poisoned wasteland. On reconnaissance, our druid successfully lured the dragon out of its lair which gave us a fighting chance. My character could not reach the flying dragon so I just hucked javelins at it the best I could, daring it to fight me. Instead, it nearly killed half of our party with its breath weapon and it was only a crossbow bolt from the rogue that brought it down. Of course, he brought it down on top of my barbarian’s head but I was still raging so it was fine. My character was so angry that he did not get the killing blow that he proceeded to slash at the dragon’s corpse over and over. Unfortunately, the dragon scale could have been used for our druid’s armor so… oops.

Media Update 1/3/19

January 3, 2019


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I like a good western (although not as much as my stepfather) so it was with great excitement that I heard that the Coen Brothers were returning to that genre. Their version of True Grit far outshines the original and their period pieces are always fresh and interesting. The Coen Brothers have had my love ever since I first watched Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? This movie felt kind of like a mix between the two movies. The movie has six stories that run a fairly broad spectrum of tones. From happy, to dismal, to heartwarming, to exciting, to sad, and on to scary there it felt like a story buffet. One of the things that I found they all shared was a certain dark comedy. Each story is pulled along at a good pace toward its inevitable conclusion. Of course, each story’s pace matches its tone so the darker tales feel longer and the happy ones feel quicker. However, this actually worked for me. All of the stories were compelling and all of the characters were interesting. With great actors like Liam Neeson, Clancy Brown, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Stephen Root, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, and Tyne Daly this is definitely an ensemble work. However, with the star power divided into six parts it does not feel too crowded at all. While I usually get turned off by darker movies, this one did not have that effect. I definitely recommend this movie.


A Serious Man

Some of the Coen Brothers films are not as well received, like Burn After Reading. I feel that since I had never heard about this movie before stumbling on it on Netflix, it was definitely not a huge hit. I would compare this movie with one of the Coen Brothers’ less popular films, Barton Fink. Like that movie, it is a character study where we view a character being pushed further and further out of their comfort zone. The movie is about a Jewish physics professor in the 1960s whose life starts to fall apart around him as he tries to navigate an increasingly bizarre set of situations. It stars a lot of relative unknowns because almost all of the characters are Jewish and the Coen Brothers wanted a departure from using their regulars. Pretty much the only exceptions are Fred Melamed and Richard Kind, two brilliant character actors whose names most would not recognize. The rest of the cast they did find are also excellent and special kudos go to the star Michael Stuhlbarg who later went on to become a bigger star with The Shape of Water, Doctor Strange, Call Me By Your Name and a lot more popular movies. He is a great character to follow. He is very sympathetic and likable so it is heartbreaking to root for him in his sisyphean tasks. I would also say that I felt some influences from other directors like David Lynch and Wes Anderson as there is plenty of quirky weirdness. I also recommend this movie.


Inside Llewyn Davis

This one was another character study. This one is also set in the sixties but follows a down and out folk musician in New York City just trying to scrape by and pursue his dream. Things have started to get desperate and it is literally just a slice of life story about a few days in linear time. Oscar Isaac plays the title and lead role and, although he is a little bit of a dick, he is really easy to root for. The other two major parts in the movie are played by Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake and they are also pretty likable. There is a history between all three characters and it is just fun to watch them interact. Also, thee is just so much fun folky music from a time where musicians were really starting to branch out. There are also great smaller parts from Adam Driver (yup they were in this together first), F. Murray Abraham and John Goodman. This movie has even less of a plot than A Serious Man but it is full of good actors just doing what good actors do. At the same time, it feels like a great little story about moving on with your life. I feel like watching both movies is a great contrast as they take place in the same decade but take place in completely different communities. I recommend this too.

Music of the Week:
The Killers – The Man

Pretty Vicious – Are You Entertained?

The Dollyrots – Walking On Sunshine

Deca – Mammon’s Mantra

James Chance and the Contortions- Designed to Kill

Weekly Update (Two weeks full!):
– This week’s theme is “Coen Brothers”
– I finished Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I started watching The Magicians Season 3
– I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– It’s a new year and I feel ready for it

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 4

December 31, 2018

19 – If you could choose any one spell to be able to cast once per day in real life, which would you choose?

In my life, I walk a lot. Until recently, I was working downtown and I took the train and walked to work every day and walked back at the end of the day. After that, I walked to the gym and back. I love to walk because it gives me more control than driving and it is good for me. Accordingly, I think I would pick a spell like Longstrider because it increases your movement speed by ten feet per turn. It would make it that much safer to walk to my destination and I could walk that much further on one of my walks. It also lasts a whole hour which is about the length of my longest walk. Similarly, I was also eyeing Misty Step. Walking in a city there are so many times where I am waiting to cross the street for a long time. This can make me antsy when I am short on time or closing in on being late for work. Being able to instantly appear on the other side of the street would be so awesome. Not to mention if I am in a tight spot, I can suddenly be up to 30 feet away. Yesterday (the 30th) I was in a big crowd and to suddenly be out of that crowd would be a blessing.

20 – What is your favorite legendary artifact or item?

Hands down it has to be the Iron Flask. The Iron Flask does not look like much but it is a very powerful item. It has the power to capture any being from another plane when you speak the command word. It basically turns you into a ghostbuster but you can bust way more than ghosts. The list of fun beings that you can capture with the Iron Flask is pretty long. Demons, devils, elementals, djinni, hags, planetar, and so much more can be trapped as long as they do not beat the wisdom save. The other part of the Iron Flask is that it binds any creature you catch in it to your will. If you catch something and speak the command word again, the creature will come out of the flask and it will obey your commands for up to one hour. There are so many uses for this. Horribly outmatched or outnumbered in a fight? You suddenly have a fire elemental who has your back. What if you need to know the plans of an archdevil who has a plan threatening a city? You can capture and command a devil to advise you how to outthink your enemy. There are just so many practical and story options that can be enhanced by a simple Iron Flask.

21 – What is your favorite dungeon type or location?

If I am understanding the question correctly, I would have to pick the Feywild. The Feywild is a crazy place. As the name would suggest, it is where the majority of faeries live and therefore it is infused with way more wild magic. Like the faerie legends of our world, the Feywild is incredibly dangerous. The plant and animal life are deadly, there is poison everywhere, the denizens are often actively trying to trick or kill outsiders, and the very landscape shifts around the players. It is very easy for players to get lost in the Feywild and that is so much fun because it gives the dungeon master so much control. It is an area where you can easily fit in fun side quests or dangerous fights without any collateral damage on the world they have created. In addition, when exiting the Feywild and going back to the material plane, the players can experience time dilation and/or memory loss. So it provides options for time travel and mindwipes. I think my second favorite location would be Sigil. Sigil is the City of Doors, an extraplanar location that is connected to literally everywhere else. As such it is a great big grab bag of every weirdo in any plane of existence. Any creature, race, or faction you can think of can possibly show up in Sigil. Like Feywild, it also provides a somewhat malleable and ever-shifting topography so it is really versatile as well.

22 – Do you usually like to take Ability Score Improvements or feats as you level?

I usually like to improve my ability scores because it helps more with crappier roles and improves overall stats. The last time I had the choice I leveled up constitution which made me heartier against things like poison and gave me a ton of hit points. As the tank, it made more sense than any feat. However, if I had been a more versatile character, it might have made more sense to take a feat. For example, a rogue with Dungeon Delver would have advantage on a lot of opportunities to detect traps and hidden doors which is often a rogue’s prime directive. I have thought if I played a monk that I would absolutely take the Grappler feat as a tribute to my love of professional wrestling. I also like the ability to be able to stop enemies in their tracks with the option to put them in the dirt to give the rest of the party an edge. I guess it all comes down to two things for me. The first consideration is always character. If it does not make sense for a character to take a feat story-wise then I will not take it. The other consideration is if I really want a fun new ability or edge to the character. So far, I have not taken a feat but that may change in the future.

Sorry

December 27, 2018

So, as you might expect, this past week was pretty intense. After the emotional blow of losing my friend Joe, I headed back to my mother’s place in West Virginia. I drove through a horrendous thunderstorm to get there. So, after a funeral and a stressful drive, I crashed hard. The next morning I was back at work wrapping Christmas presents both for myself and for other people in the family. That night the rest of the family arrived and suddenly there was controlled chaos. That chaos lasted from the 22nd to the 26th. Even with my anxiety meds, an introvert such as me was often overwhelmed. Still, it was much better than it has been in a long time. I worked my butt off washing dishes, helping people locate things in the house, and making sure Christmas went off without a hitch. I do love Christmas (not as much as Halloween) and I wanted everybody else to love it too. The good news is that it definitely went smoothly and everybody was happy.

As for myself, I tried to keep up my usual Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, I did my annual viewing of A Nightmare Before Christmas. As years go by, I appreciate that movie more and more. I definitely appreciated the Making Christmas song all the more after having a big hand in making Christmas for my family. Tonight (Wednesday the 26th) I traded presents privately with one of my brothers, my mother, and my stepfather. I like giving gifts face to face so I can get the full gift-giving high and we can both be happy together. I like to give gifts without lists so I can surprise people and I have a pretty good track record. I have had no complaints in the past ten years or so.

I am saying all of this because I am just a wee bit burnt out. So, there will be no Media Update this week. I have two rationalizations for this: 1) The aforementioned post-Holiday exhaustion and 2) it is my birthday in two days and it is a gift to myself. I have not skipped an edition of Media Update for years and I would love to continue the streak but I just will not force myself to do it. I am watching plenty of stuff, though, and I will tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, I will spend some quiet time with close family and relax a bit before Saturday’s post which will be the last one of 2018.

On a related note, thank you to everyone who read even a single post of this blog this past year. It was the biggest year for the blog yet and made posting my crazy ramblings even more fun. I hope to continue the fun next year and keep playing with words. Here’s to 2019 being a brighter year all around!

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 3

December 24, 2018

14 – What was your most epic fail in a game?

It was with my character Bron and it is a story about turning an epic fail into a success. Our party was hatching a plan to infiltrate the thieves guild hideout in Waterdeep. It was apparently their headquarters and training facility. It was decided democratically to split the party and have the rogue, the druid, and the bard actually do the infiltrating. The party did not trust my half-orc barbarian or the dwarf in full plate armor to do a lot of stealth. The cleric and the sorcerer were tasked with babysitting us and causing a distraction. The distraction we decided on was for us to be riding a carriage which would have a mysterious breakdown outside of headquarters. Our dwarf paladin would make a fuss and we would hopefully draw away some guards to allow our team easier passage. Our rogue who was also a tinkerer failed his roll on sabotaging the cart to lose its wheel. We rode around the block while we tried to think of what to do. My barbarian got bored with that and decided to jump out of the carriage and just hit the wheel. It was not the best plan but it fit my character’s lack of patience. The bigger problem with calling this audible was that the carriage was still moving and so he jumped out of the carriage and was promptly run over by said carriage. The good news was that we now had our distraction as my now bloody barbarian lay in the street hollering at the cleric. It was one of those moments where I slapped my forehead and then laughed and shrugged. There were quite a few of those moments with Bron.

15 – What was your most epic moment in a game?

It was kind of a small moment but it happened during our second dungeon crawl. My barbarian was not with the rest of the group because he liked them. He took the original job posting because he was itching to fight again. He wanted to be challenged and show his might and power to the world. He stuck with the party because they kept getting into interesting fights where he could show how tough he was. When we went into our second dungeon, a hideout for a criminal organization, we happened upon a wizard who was up to no good. Confronted by seven adventurers he thought discretion was the better part of valor and he tried to run away. My barbarian was the first to get close to him and he turned around and hit me with a suggestion spell and told me “fight your friends”. I rolled high and shook off the spell and grunted “what friends?” and kept up the pursuit. It drew a cheer from the rest of the party and it was an exhilarating moment even though I have to admit to being excited about fighting the other PCs. I actually won two successful saves against suggestion in that dungeon which was great for somebody with an 8 charisma. It made me feel great to be able to succeed on a roll I was weak at. A little later, the rogue failed the same check but worded as “stop your friends” so he got to use less lethal tactics. My barbarian did not know what less lethal means.

16 – What is your favorite mundane item?

I would have to pick the torch. A lot of backgrounds throw them in for free but you do not always need them. For example, two-thirds of our party have darkvision and can navigate dark dungeons pretty easily. However, our rogue and cleric are helpless in the dark and tossing around a few lit torches can do wonders to level the playing field. Also, my barbarian is mostly good for slashing and smashing things. There are definitely monsters we have come upon that required a different approach. For example, the slimes we fought reacted to slashing damage by splitting into two slimes. For once, my barbarian actually used his head and pulled out a torch and swung at the slimes to do fire damage. It must have been memories of his warlock warchieftain using fire spells in battle. Such bittersweet memories.

17 – What is your favorite magical item?

It may be simple but I am a sucker for the flying broom. Maybe this comes from the fact that I enjoyed Wizard of Oz as a kid and I am such a big fan of Halloween now. Also, Strix of Dice, Camera, Action has a flying broom and it has given her so many tactical advantages. It also worked to similar effect for Vex’ahlia on season one of Critical Role. As with the Wrath of Khan, once you start thinking of the possibilities of three-dimensional battle, you are going to do so much better. Being able to fly avoids traps, helps solve puzzles, and keeps you out of reach of enemies. A wizard can more easily drop a fireball behind a crowd of enemies without harming their associates but also without as much risk. The imagery is difficult to resist as well, a character zooming through the air on a magical broom while the rest of your party has to walk. It just has a cool factor that I find appealing.

18 – If you could learn one cantrip in real life, which would you choose and why?

Honestly, I would probably choose Prestidigitation. While there are plenty of cantrips that are useful in battle situations, I do not find myself in battle often. Where I do find myself is going into the office every day. To go to that office, I must be dressed well and look presentable. One of the key powers of Prestidigitation is to clean one cubic foot of material. This means that I can magically dry clean my clothes while they are still on my body in case of a spill or stain. For a bonus, another power you get with that cantrip is the ability to heat or chill non-living matter. So, I would no longer need a microwave at work. It also gives me the ability to mark an object or surface with a color, small mark, or a symbol. So, it would make explaining what color something was or what something looked like without just using my words. Beyond that, the other cantrip I was considering was Mending. Mending allows you to fix a break or tear in an object up to one foot in length. So if I drop a plate or a light bulb, I can fix it as if I never dropped it. Old family heirlooms would be safe forever from accidental damage. All sorts of uses.

Media Update 12/20/18

December 20, 2018


Mercy Christmas

Most people who observe Christmas as a holiday want to spend it with people who at least tolerate them. I spend every Christmas with my mother and at least one of my brothers and some combination of other family members. The one year that I had to work in another state while other people were back home celebrating was painful. So, I can understand somebody wanting to be loved on Christmas and jumping at any chance to be together with anybody on Christmas. In this movie, that feeling leads to bad things for our loveable hero. While this was a simple horror movie, it actually had a lot of heart. It is about family dynamics, office politics, and Christmas. It is also about cannibalism. It is obviously cheaply made but I could not help but like the actors involved as they tried their best on a low budget. That low budget did not impede a fairly good story and an interesting concept. The movie has a momentum to it that made it hard not to love by the end of it. The ending is chaotic and fun and totally earned and strangely fitting for Christmas. Remember, Christmas is as much about the family you choose as the family you are born with or marry into. I recommend this movie.


Red Christmas

I was attracted to this movie because it stars Dee Wallace, a veteran of so many horror movies. She was in both The Hills Have Eyes and Critters, both of which I watched for the first time this year. When I found out she was in this new Christmas movie, I felt I had to check it out. Ultimately, I am glad that I did. However, I was about to shut it off at first. By ten minutes in I kind of hated the family together on Christmas who would not stop bickering. Also, it was inexplicably set in Australia even though half the cast was not Australian. I stuck with it and it got better. Once the actual horror elements started, I saw that the family stuck together when the chips were down. Also, there were so many low key good elements to the movie. For one, I loved how they depicted panic with the camera shaking and going out of focus. I also liked Dee Wallace who was the shining star of the film. I also liked the action that kept guessing what was going to happen next. I feel that it is rare when I am too surprised by horror films anymore. The movie felt kind of like The Hills Have Eyes in that a defenseless family is caught off guard and besieged by a superior killer. The cinematography very much reminded me of seventies classics like Hills or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie kept me guessing here and there and was utterly brutal but kind of fun. I definitely recommend it as well.


The Elf

I find the whole tradition of the “Elf on a Shelf” to be really, really creepy. The concept of Santa always watching you is unnerving enough but to have something in your house watching, judging, and reporting is crazy. I always thought it was a natural subject for a horror movie and finally, somebody tackled it. Of course, they had to use a different doll because the official one is trademarked. However, this movie is plagued with problems. The acting is so wooden that I wondered if I was not watching a bad dub of a foreign movie. The plot makes little sense mostly because almost nothing is explained. They drop the viewer into the middle of a weird story without really giving any lore or explanation. The characters come up with some of it but the viewer is not shown how they come to these conclusions. The camera work is very shoddy and uninteresting as well which is sad. The actors’ audio is not properly recorded so the dialogue is muddled. Although considering the acting, that might be doing them a favor. The only thing I found interesting was the brief bits of puppetry or animation done with the doll. Except that the doll’s kills are not shown and instead we see them through jumpy, confusing camera shots from the doll’s point of view. It was a bit of a letdown and it made me hope that somebody else tries this concept again. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Gwen Stefani – Cheer For The Elves

The Dollyrots – Because I’m Santa

Lindsey Stirling ft. Sabrina Carpenter – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Aloe Blacc – Funky Ass Christmas

Fantasia – The Snow Is Falling

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Blood for Christmas”
– I finished Hilda Season 1
– I finished Happy! Season 1
– I watched more Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I started watching Designated Survivor Season 2
– Merry Christmas!
– RIP Joseph Van Tiem


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