Posts Tagged ‘Supernatural’

Interview Questions 9

June 19, 2017


If you could live in any TV home, what would it be?

This is a hard question because is it asking about a house or a household? I guess I will approach both questions to cover my bases. Which television house is easily answered since I have just been binging a certain show about a pair of brothers who kill monsters. I am talking, of course, about The Bunker from the later seasons of Supernatural. The Bunker is a protected underground lair created by the United States chapter of the Men of Letters, a group of people who researched monsters and magic for centuries. With the American chapter all dead, the Bunker just sits idle. I would love to have an underground lair hidden away from people with Internet access and a library of books about magic and monsters to read into to. Household means that I would be sharing a house with the fictional characters that usually live there. That question is a lot more difficult because those fictional characters already have an established organization. I would probably love to rent a room at the Dietz home after the end of Beetlejuice. Lydia is pretty cool, there are cool ghosts, and the Dietz parents are starting to mellow out. Magic and mystery without the danger.


What fictional character do you wish you could meet?

This one is also difficult. Most of the really cool fictional characters are often surrounded by danger. I would love to meet The Doctor or The Winchesters but they are constantly surrounded by world-ending danger. I do not need that in my life, I have enough drama. Likewise, I would love to meet Deadpool but he is himself dangerously erratic and I would not want to even be in the same city as him. The same goes for a lot of other unstable yet interesting people such as the Gorillaz, Fergus Crowley, and Frank Underwood. I do not want to go into such an unstable situation that my life or well-being might be at risk. I think I would most like to meet somebody nice, interesting, and who has done and seen amazing things. That would be Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl. Sure she’s surrounded by crazy things all the time but she tends to unfailingly protect those around her and she has an enormously positive attitude. She has met (and beaten) Galactus and Dr. Doom (twice). She knows the Avengers. She hangs out with heroes and normal people. She has a habit of turning villains into heroes (or normal people). That would be my choice hands down.


Which Disney universe would you most like to live in?

While the main characters in Disney worlds are often put in danger and life-altering situations, the background characters are usually pretty safe. Of course, there are always exceptions like Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, and Finding Nemo/Dory. It is not like I wanted to live in those universes anyway since they are low-technology with the denizens just trying to survive under political systems that are mostly gone now. Aladdin is one of my favorite movies but there is still poverty, disease, and danger from corrupt politicians or overzealous guards. That leaves out potentially fun places like Atlantica, Motunui, Corona, and Arendelle. Of course, I am trading away one of my dreams of magic being real which is hard to give up but all of the worlds with magic tend to be pretty unpredictable. I am including The World Without Magic (which later gets magic) from Once Upon a Time (an ABC/Disney joint so it counts) because bad things happen every five minutes there. My choice would have to be San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6. A city where American and Asian cultures have fused and technology has advanced to awesome but mostly stable levels. The higher technology would feel a lot like magic (thanks, Mr. Clarke) and I would not have to answer to a feudal system, just the usual stupid American politics.

Legally Haunted: Stambovsky v. Ackley

April 14, 2017


Our childhoods warp us all.

There are many things that I think I have made abundantly clear on this blog that I love on this blog. I am here today to talk about two of them. The first is the supernatural. I am a skeptic so I do not actually believe that much of the supernatural actually exists. Unexplained phenomena are just things waiting to be explained by science. However, I still love fantastic stories for the great fiction that they are. Ghost stories are particularly epic and can vary on a spectrum from touching to terrifying. Even the most benign stories used to chill me to the bone until it dawned on me that all of the stories were unproven. Still, it is still fun to suspend my disbelief and get a little scare now and again.


I mean, I learned more law from this guy than my folks.

The second thing that I have gotten into more recently is the law. I am currently very close to getting a paralegal certificate at the local community college. My parents are both lawyers and so I grew up just outside of the legal profession. You see, anyone in the legal profession really cannot talk about their cases too much due to confidentiality issue. Also, it is probably best not to talk about such things in front of children as a lot of cases are either boring or inappropriate for kids. Now, I am facing the same thing as I work on an internship. So, you will never see me tell stories on here about my work and that is probably for the best anyway. However, that does not count for famous cases that I was not involved in.


I mean how can you tell that it’s haunted. That’s profiling.

When Karen Ackley and her family moved into their house in the 1960s, they were warned by neighbors that the house was haunted. She was pretty sure, after her own observations, that there were three ghosts haunting the house. One was a Navy Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and the other two were Lord George and Lady Margaret who lived in the 18th Century. She brought in two of the usual charlatans (who I will not publicize) who confirmed her suspicions that the place was haunted. The hauntings mostly centered around experience Ackley’s daughter and grandkids had but there were one or two reports from Ackley herself and the man who would marry Ackley’s daughter. Ackley specifically wrote a piece for Reader’s Digest detailing, among other things, that the ghosts gave gifts to the children. These gifts disappeared later.


Who you gonna call? A lawyer!

Later, her family sought to sell the house and they did so to a Jeffrey Stambovsky. To his horror, he found out that the house he had just signed a contract to purchase was haunted by poltergeists. In any fictional world, he would hire some Ghostbusters to just clean the place out and have the Ackleys pay for it. In the real world. you apparently go to court. He filed for an act of rescission which is, in this case, a request for the courts to revoke or cancel an agreement. He wanted to back out of buying the house because he felt that the Ackleys owed him a duty to inform him of the poltergeists before he moved in. The argument was that the law should not compel performance of a contract that is not fair and open. By concealing the information about the ghosts, Ackley tainted the contract by not acting good faith. The dissenting opinion talked about the doctrine of ‘caveat emptor’ which is ‘let the buyer beware’. They insisted that Stambovsky should have done his research but the majority opinion granted the cancellation of the contract.


It was the biggest case of its kind since State v. Stantz, et al.

Nevermind that this whole ‘haunting’ was mostly made up of stories from children or adults who were breathing in paint fumes or were half awake. The New York courts had ruled that ‘haunted’ was an actual condition for real property to have. However, thankfully, at no point do they speak as if ghosts are a known thing that actually exists. The ruling is based on the bad reputation that calling a house haunted causes. Once you get past the Ghostbusters and Shakespeare quote in the opinion, the actual opinion is more about whether a seller should be able to get away with concealing information. The court held that taking advantage of a buyer’s ignorance is distasteful and should not be able to be hidden behind a doctrine like caveat emptor. It was a decision that helped promote fair dealing in the real estate market in New York. So now you know!

Redcross Pt. 8

March 25, 2017

Redcross

“A metaphorical key?” Marion asked. She pushed her glasses up in front of her eyes. “We are practical people, we deal in things we can observe. We leave metaphor to the poets.”

“I’m not so sure, Doctor,” Warren said. “I always enjoyed a little poetry before bed.” He smiled and Sarah could not help but smile too.

“Maybe not metaphorical, but maybe not a key you can hold in your hand,” Sarah said.

“That sounds like a riddle. What is a key you cannot hold, Sheriff?” Warren asked with a smile. Marion shuddered at that smile and Sarah was instantly reminded that Marion and Warren were feuding and that most people found Warren creepy.

“Please explain yourself, Sarah,” Marion said. “It is getting very late and I need the comfort of my own bed. What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about secret messages,” Sarah said. “Back in the big city, my friend Suzette and I passed secret messages. They were only visible at night. It was a special ink.”

“Interesting but what does that mean to us now. Sarah?” Marion asked. Sarah knew she was getting impatient.

“I think I get what the Sheriff is getting at,” Waren said. He accented the word ‘sheriff’ to remind the good doctor that she should be using the correct honorific. “Let my height be of use for once.” He reached up to the window and pulled the thick shutters open. Moonlight flooded the room from the small window there. Sarah’s stomach tightened as Warren pulled the sheet off the body. All three of them gasped as the moonlight touched the skin and images started to glow.

“How did you know that would happen?” Marion asked.

“I am as surprised as you are, Doctor,” Sarah said. “The special ink we used is nothing like this. That glow is actually kind of beautiful.”

“Yes, I suppose it is,” Marion said. She leaned in to study the glowing markings more closely. Sarah was struck by how close the woman could get to a dead body that was really starting to smell. “Some sort of tattoo. Well, a lot of them anyway and they used a special ink.” She looked over her shoulder at Warren and Sarah. “It’s a working hypothesis anyway.”

“Seems like a good one, I think,” Warren said. “As good as any I can think of at the moment, at least.”

The three of them stood there trying to make sense of the images on the skin. Sarah had no idea what she was looking at. The glowing kind of made the edges of the images fuzzy which made it hard to tell what the symbols were or what they meant. Sarah looked at Warren and Marion and she guessed the two of them were having no more luck with the symbols. It was not like she fully expected the two of them to use expertise outside of their field to solve the mystery but they were the smartest people Sarah knew. Just as she was about to give in and tell them to call it a night, Sarah saw something.

“Hey look,” she said. “There’s that pesky key.” Sarah pointed at an image that looked like an old key on the man’s forearm. As she did, the image started to glow brighter and then it started to move. Before Warren could pull Sarah’s hand away, the image itself reared up from the skin and caught Sarah’s finger. She stared in absolute shock as the thing snaked its way up her finger. The sensation was like ants crawling just under her skin. She was afraid to move. Finally, the key centered itself on her palm and the sensation stopped.

“What the hell was that?!” Sarah shouted and Warren put a comforting hand on her shoulder. It helped but only a little bit.

“I would like to revise my hypothesis,” Marion managed to get out. “I have limited experience with tattoos but I do not think they can do that. Are you alright, Sarah?”

“I think so,” Sarah said. “It didn’t hurt and it seems to have stopped but now I have this thing on my hand.”

“And this man was killed for having the key,” Warren said. “That puts a target on your back, Sheriff.”

“Don’t scare the girl, Warren,” Marion said.

“My dad didn’t raise me to scare easy,” Sarah said. “If anybody is going to have the key, it should be the Sheriff. We Redcrosses can take care of ourselves.” She reached down and touched the butt of her gun for a little bit of comfort. There was somebody or something out there that wanted this glowing key.

“Well, that is definitely true. I didn’t mean to imply that you’re defenseless, Sheriff.” Marion used the correct honorific. It sent a clear message.

“We are just worried because there is still so much we don’t know, Sheriff,” Warren said. “This looks like magic.”

“No such thing,” Marion said.

“I’m not so sure about that, Doctor,” Sarah said. “I just stole a dead man’s tattoo.”

“It’s late. We should look into this again tomorrow,” Warren said. He looked tired. Marion looked very tired too. Sarah could only guess at how tired she looked too.

“I must insist that you stay with me tonight, Sheriff,” Marion said. “That way I can observe you if this ‘magic’ affects your health adversely.”

“I can handle myself, Marion. But I’ll let you know if anything comes up,” Sarah said.

 

 

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Other Media

October 29, 2016

I was wondering what to do with this last Saturday before Halloween. I know I wanted to do a WILPW segment because I have not done one in a while. I was wondering what would be a good topic so I sat and had myself a think. I mean, I have already written a post about the Undertaker and another one about spooky performers or gimmicks. I thought about doing a segment on vampire wrestlers to match up with Monday’s theme but there are really only four or five of them. Maybe I will let that one simmer a bit longer and come back to it next year. Instead, let’s talk about Beyond The Mat and representation of sports entertainment in other media. By Beyond the Mat, I mean the episode of Supernatural and not the well-known documentary that led to a career resurgence for Mick Foley. This is going to be more spoiler-y than most of my reviews because I feel like it.


Shawn Harley vs. “The Hangman” Larry Lee

We start off immediately with a shot of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin before his most recent white hot Intercontinental title run. Of course, Miz was not playing himself or his WWE character. He played “Lightning” Shawn Harley, a rookie in the Top Notch Wrestling promotion. His character struck me as kind of Dolph Ziggler mixed with pre-sober Shawn Michaels. He is a young, promising talent who is a bit of an asshole backstage. The Miz has been on fire this year and this episode definitely has a bit of that Miz magic. I can think of few other performers suited to be ambassadors on the level that he has been. Plus, every single opportunity he gets in Hollywood just feeds his gimmick. The bigger his gimmick’s ego gets, the more of a treat he is for fans.


The Hangman’s unprofessional attitude pisses off Harley.

Anyway, the Winchester brothers are pulled into investigating Top Notch Wrestling when bodies start turning at each stop of their tour. At first, we are led to believe that it is Miz who is killing people. However, we know that he would just get Maryse to do it. The Miz faces an unprofessional oldtimer named The Hangman who gets hanged after their match. The brothers decide to attend the funeral to honor their dad. It turns out the Winchesters are huge marks for Top Notch Wrestling. Their father, John, used to bring them to shows when the three of them were not otherwise busy killing monsters. It really is a shame that none of this was mentioned in the previous ten and a half seasons. Even a shot or two of Dean watching an old wrestling tape in the Bunker would have been cool. Still, it’s cool that the brothers enjoyed sports entertainment.


Gunner Lawless makes his way to the ring.

The two have not really kept up with the product but Dean’s hero is an oldtimer named Gunner Lawless. Gunner is kind of a mix between Kevin Nash and The Undertaker and is played by a good stunt man. Anyway, the bodies that have been found have a symbol carved into them that indicate the soul has been stolen. Soul stealing was kind of a running theme in Season 11 so the boys are wary but think it is a demon. It has to be connected with one of the wrestlers on tour. Though if this was ECW, I would suspect Sign Guy. Cane Dewey? That monster!

The original Cane Dewey promo for those who are uninformed.

At one point, Shawn Harley spots Gunner meeting backstage with a suspicious man and overhears this man reminding Gunner what he owes him before giving him a packet of some kind. It looks like a steroid drug deal so Harley calls him out on it in front of the rest of the roster in the dressing room. Steroids used to be a rampant problem in the industry and, if you pay attention to headlines, they are still a problem. It was nice to see it addressed even if it was a little clumsy.


The crossroads demon himself.

However, we find out that Gunner has not been using steroids. He has gotten his longevity in the business from a deal with a crossroads demon. Crossroad demons have been part of the show since the first season. IT was nice to revisit the whole “deal with a devil” bit from way back when. When Harley (The Miz) gets too close to figuring out the truth, the demon urges Gunner to kill him. We get a great scene where Miz is begging for his life while tied to a chair. Gunner kills him anyway and we will never know if “Lightning” Shawn Harley would have won the belt. Dean and Sam burst onto the scene and are almost taken out by the Crossroads demon. At the last moment, Gunner pulls a face turn and takes the demon out. As the Hell hounds close in, looking for Gunner, he decides to take his punishment and turns down Dean’s offer of assistance.


The Winchester Brothers taking in a live show.

I really liked the plot of this episode. Finding out about normal things that John Winchester did with his boys is always great. Those kids had a hard childhood and knowing they had fake heroes similar to the ones I had is a great thing. In fact, at one point Dean gets a chance to play around in a ring. He takes a moment to strut and Wooo! like the Nature Boy and does a quick Macho Man impression as well. I do not know if Jensen Ackles is or was a wrestling fan but it was believable. In addition, Dean’s FBI alias for the episode is Agent Roussimoff which was Andre the Giant’s real last name. These details were really appreciated.

Woooooooo!

It is also neat to see the southern mythology of the crossroads demon mixed with a form of entertainment that draws a lot of its roots from the American south as well. It was also interesting to see the juxtaposition of the world of pro-wrestling and what the Winchesters do on a daily basis. Sports Entertainment, as we have discussed, has kayfabe which is the “fakeness” of the business. At the same time, Sam and Dean fight and kill things that everybody knows are fake but are actually real. I felt the whole mix of “fake” and real stuff very interesting.

Stitches (2012)

October 17, 2016

Clowns. Why did it have to be clowns? Well, it is because I picked this movie because I have always found clowns to be pretty damned scary. When I visited the Ringling Brothers circus with my folks when it rolled into downtown Baltimore when I was little, I was always pretty excited. I mean they had all sorts of tumbling and flashy stuff going on. They also had lions running around doing what I assumed was normal lion stuff. The lions at the zoo were always just lounging around so I never was super excited by them. Here they were jumping through hoops of flame. The clowns always made me wary. They circulated into the crowd before the show and even as a kid I did not like that attention. Something about them made me nervous. They were fine doing their act in the middle of the ring but if they came near me I squirmed. Now, clowns seem even more out of place to me and even scarier. I am fascinated by them but, thanks to Batman and horror movies, I see them more as cool and creepy villains rather than the joyful creatures they are supposed to be.

I wanted to do a clown movie this year. This is the third year I have done reviews around Halloween and the first year I covered a messed-up film called Clownhouse. So, if I was going to do a clown horror movie, the obvious choice was to do the recent horror movie called Clown. However, that was produced by Eli Roth and he is kind of a cancer on the horror genre so I did not want to have a bad time. Instead, I wanted to review the movie Killjoy from Full Moon Pictures. It turns out my brand new copy of all of the Killjoy movies (and all of the Puppetmaster movies) got lost in the mail so it will have to wait until next year. Do not worry, I will be discussing some Full Moon Pictures movies later this month. So, I went back to the drawing board and found this movie on Netflix. I was sure that it was not going to be hard to find another clown horror movie I had not seen yet and the internet does not disappoint. So, we get a more recent horror film that hopefully will fill my nightmares with clowns once again. At least they are better than the than the nightmares about high school.

I was not expecting what this movie would be at all. The first thing that I did not expect is that it is Irish and filmed in Ireland. One of the things I love about Netflix and about this project is that it has opened me up to new opportunities in foreign films. That means that there was almost automatically nobody in this film I would recognize and ends up being the case. This is great because I love diving into a movie full of unknowns so I can go in with no pre-conceived notions. The actors in this movie are all pretty young, especially since most of them are supposed to portray sixteen-year-olds. This is perfect because teenagers are one of the preferred demographics for supernatural killers in horror movies. The acting was good in kind of a punk rock, All Cheerleaders Must Die kind of way. They end up portraying high school as I remember it, petty and emotional but mostly harmless in the end.

When I read the description, I was prepared for a clown that comes back from the dead to kill the kids at the birthday party where he accidentally died. At best, I was hoping for a ghost clown that would haunt them or an undead clown who would savagely murder them. What I got was something somewhere between those two options. It was like Pennywise the Clown if Tim Curry had been directed to be scary. Another comparison I could make is Freddy Krueger if he had been a party clown instead of a Christmas sweater-wearing janitor and was a little more literal. I was not ready for the movie to have so much lore and world-building when it comes to clowns. The movie creates this whole weird occult conspiracy in the first few minutes that I could never have expected in my wildest dreams. The movie used elements from a lot of horror movies I have seen to create something entirely new and scary. The way the villain moves and the unique and terrible deaths they concocted for him are definitely very memorable as well. Most of his victims were decent people for teens and definitely did not deserve to die.

Overall, this was a dark horse of a horror movie just like Horns and The Babadook from last year. This is especially funny since the movie was originally supposed to star Daniel Radcliffe right after Deathly Hallows. The movie is definitely pretty scary but it has kind of a punk rock sense of humor to it as well. That punk rock quality also extends to the violence, though. This movie does not pull any punches with how cruel the deaths are. The practical effects and other special effects are exceptional and that means that the gore is very graphic and disgusting but in a good way. At one point, Stitches delivers a tagline of ‘This Clown Isn’t Funny’ and he’s right. However, he is kind of funny in an extremely dark, offbeat kind of way because he is just amusing himself. In that way, he would probably get along with Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray. It was a great movie and I definitely knew how much it had gripped me when I had to watch something happier directly after so I could breathe again. With all the clown sightings lately, I definitely enjoyed being scared by one that could not actually hurt me. I definitely recommend it.

The Hackette Family

June 18, 2016

Patrick’s family had walked these woods in western Maryland for generations. They had defended them during the War for American Independence and every opportunity since then. Patrick’s sister, Dawn, had once paid for a genealogist to come in and shake the family tree to see what fell out. The guy had joked that the family must have been cursed to die in battle. There was more than enough evidence for that theory. Men and women up and down the family line had died of unnatural causes. Most of those unnatural causes had been brutal and bloody. The truth was, the family was constantly in battle but they had never left the United States since the late eighteenth century.

Since arriving in the new world, the family had been blessed and cursed with sight beyond sight. The things most people dismissed as myths, legends and optical illusions were the things Patrick’s ancestors had killed with sword and musket. Through the years, they had kept the fight a secret. So the family had fallen to bears, wolves, gators, snakes and once a pack of rabid gophers. Anything but the actual creatures that killed them. It was not something you discussed in polite company and definitely not with some insensitive genealogist making bad jokes.

“What do we have, Al?” Patrick asked his cousin. She stood hall with a wide-brimmed hat, a thick canvas coat and a big sniper rifle.

“We’ve got three Beauregards holed up in Roscoe Hollow,” Allison said. She spat on the ground after which was sometimes her take on punctuation. Beaus were the family code for the wolfman creatures that showed up periodically. They were among the most intelligent of the creatures they faced on a regular basis.

“We’re the only ones available right now?” Patrick asked. He was not really worried, just curious. He climbed into the driver’s seat of the side by side that was parked in front of the cabin. Alison climbed onto the back and hooked her rifle onto the roof so it would not bounce around so much.

“Furble infestation in the southwest,” Alison answered. She banged on the roof to let Patrick know that she was braced and ready for him to drive.

“Damn,” Patrick said, “We got the lucky assignment then. Those things are annoying and deadly. We just got the deadly ones.” He gunned the engine and they were off toward the Hollow in the northeast of the forest. Patrick trusted Alison more than just about everybody else. One day he would be in charge of the family and he wanted Al as his right hand. She was a keen mind and a crack shot.

The drive was short but before they got there, they had to get out and walk. There were too many roots and it was darker under the thick foliage. Patrick went first after clipping a machete and a pistol to his belt. Al followed with her rifle swinging back and forth and a hard look in her eyes. The Hackette family was nothing to mess with. They did not raise any pushovers.

The two of them crept through the brush, trying to be as quiet as possible. The Hackette clan could just feel these creatures when they were near and Patrick could definitely feel them in that moment. He unfocused his eyes and tried to scan the terrain like a normal person scanned a word search. If he looked too hard he would miss these cunning beasts and they would devour him and Al before they could utter a sound. It was a dangerous job fighting these things but nobody else was going to do it. If they did not thin their numbers, the beasts might spread to other areas and make their presence known. They could murder untold amounts of people without anybody being the wiser.

Suddenly, one of the beasts used itself as a furry missile and tackled Al. She and the beast flew together for a few yards but she was able to roll free and clear of the thing’s terrible claws. Patrick drew his machete and met another one coming from the opposite direction. The machete sank into its side and the thing yelped with inhuman pain. Patrick tried to draw the machete against the wound but the thing pulled away.

Another lunged at Patrick but a shot rang out from Al’s rifle and the thing’s skull exploded into a fine mist and a jigsaw puzzle of skull fragments. That made the other two think twice about their aggressive behavior. They did not think long about their pacifism before they were after the cousins again. Patrick swung his machete and dueled with one of them while the other had Al scrambling for higher ground. Patrick was having a hell of a time with his opponent dodging and weaving but finally, the machete struck gold. In this case, gold was a fountain of blood as the Beau gave up the fight.

The final beast tried to run and Patrick almost felt sorry for it as Al lined up her shot. That shot echoed through the woods as the bullet hit the Beau right in the center of its spine. It slumped against a tree and then hit the ground. Patrick reached for a canteen to celebrate.

Redcross Pt. 6

May 14, 2016

Redcross

It was about dinnertime when Sarah got back to her office. She had to search around for more signs of those ugly rag men who had blown the mine. She wished she had tied the unconscious one up when she had the chance. Her nerves had been a little frayed after the explosion and the gunfight. She had allowed her curiosity and Roy Simmons to distract her. It made her mad as Hell. She was mad at the murderer, mad at the men at the mines and mad at Roy Simmons too. Most of all, she was mad at herself for not handling things right.

Of course, she had never dealt with an actual murder mystery before. She had also never seen anybody like those things at the mine before. She had also never seen anything like the carvings at the mine or that type of stone either. It had certainly been a red letter day and Sarah was frustrated and dog-tired as she hung up her hat. She unbuckled her gun belt and hung it up as well. She took out her pistol and carried it over to her desk. It was time to do a little maintenance and cleaning to make sure she was ready for another firefight. To say that another firefight was an unwelcome phrase was a bit of an understatement.

“Sheriff Redcross? Are you here?” A tiny voice asked as the door opened with a jingle of the bell. It was only the fact that her gun was half taken apart that saved Holly Dawson from getting shot. Sarah thought she had locked that door but she realized she was tired and distracted enough to have forgotten.

“Oh! There you are. Sorry for intruding,” Holly said. She glanced at the lamps around the room. Most of them were off. There was a little desert finch on Holly’s shoulder and it looked almost as curious as young Holly.

“Oh sorry, Holly. I haven’t turned the lights on yet. I just got in,” Sarah said. She checked her pocket watch. “Oh, I guess it was already twenty minutes ago. It’s been a long day, Holly.”

“I can imagine, Sheriff. You do so much for Essex,” Holly said. Her voice was soft and if you did not know her, you might think she was shy.

“Can I help you, Holly?” Sarah asked.

“Oh! I was just wondering if you were hungry.” Holly said with a sweet smile. The bird hopped back and forth on her shoulder, strangely silent this whole time. Sarah’s stomach grumbled and she hoped it was not loud enough to hear. Holly was carrying a dish.

“I wouldn’t turn down food kindly given, Holly. You didn’t have to bring that over, though. You know that, right?” Sarah asked with a smile. She pushed her gun forward on her desk so that Holly could set the dish down.

“Oh yes, ma’am but I remember that you used to bring your father dinner from our house,” Holly said as she set the dish down. Holly Dawson’s family had indeed helped feed Sarah and her father not too long ago. They were friends with everybody in town and Holly’s dad ran the general store. Holly herself was a quiet girl with an affinity for birds and she had always been eager to please.

“Angling for a deputy job, Holly?” Sarah asked with a sly smirk on her face. She was teasing, there was little chance of that. This was confirmed by the blush and flustered look on Holly’s face.

“No, of course not, Sheriff. I really just want to cook someplace someday,” Holly said. She was still blushing furiously and the finch was starting to get excited. Sarah decided to give her a break.

“But seriously, Holly, I’d like to thank you and your family for the help you’ve given my family. You’re always welcome here as long as long as I don’t have somebody in lock up.” Sarah said.

“I suppose that’s a deal, Sheriff,” Holly said with a satisfied little smile.

“I won’t even hold you to it. I won’t expect you.” Sarah said. She needed to make that clear.

“Understood, Sheriff. I’ll be here when I can. I need the cooking practice,” Holly said.

“What’s for dinner tonight then?” Sarah asked.

“Rabbit stew,” Holly said.

Sarah dug in and was quiet for a long time while Holly watched her eat. Sarah truly felt at peace after a few moments. She really loved the food but she also made a conscious effort to make little happy noises. Holly was standing right there and it seemed only right. Halfway through she pulled out a bottle of sasparilla. She was done way quicker than she thought she would be.

“That was delicious, Holly. Boy, you are an amazing cook. Best in town but don’t tell your mother. How do you do it?” Sarah asked.

“The proper seasoning is really the key to a good meal. At least, that’s what I think.” Holly explained.

“Wait, did you say ‘key’?” Sarah asked.

“I think so. Did I? Why do you ask, Sheriff?” Holly asked. The little finch on her shoulder cocked its head.

“Nevermind, Holly. One day I’ll tell you the whole thing but for now, I have to play it close to my vest.”

“I understand, Sheriff. I’ll try to keep my curiosity in check.”

“At least you’ve given me the whisper of an idea. If it works out, maybe you’ll earn that tin star yet.” Sarah said and winked at the girl.

Gender Moments in Television

April 8, 2016

So since today we’re supposed to examine the letter G, I thought Gender was a fun word to look at. I was thinking about this post since early February when the thoughts were sparked by an episode of Adam Savage’s Still Untitled podcast. Gender is hard to write about as we get a little stuck in our ways but the good news is that things are slowly changing. High profile shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black are doing their part to shatter gender stereotypes and ignorance. However, I decided to think up some more subtle examples woven into more mainstream shows. These are things people might not even notice right away but may open cracks for more knowledge and open-mindedness to worm its way past heavy defenses.


Jessica Jones does not use feminine wiles

Some of you may already see where I am going, some of you might wonder and some of you might already have had your minds blown like mine was. Jessica Jones is a great show that is subtly feminist in its equal representation of females. We could go back and forth on polarizing interpretations of the main villain portrayed by David Tennant. We could talk about how Jessica Jones and Patsy Walker are way tougher than women are usually portrayed. We could also talk about how Frank Simpson is threatened by Patsy and Jess’ strength. All of these are great depictions of gender as it really is in the world. However, let’s look at what’s not there. At no point in season one does Jessica Jones use her feminine wiles to get her way. She uses brawn, she uses brains and she uses connections but she never uses her sexuality. I don’t mean to say that it would be bad if she did but it’s an interesting thing to think about.


Charlie coached in seducing a guy by Dean Winchester

I love Supernatural but at its heart it is literally a show about bros constantly trying to save the world from magical threats. It follows Sam Winchester who is a fairly enlightened guy who is pretty respectful when it comes to differences and connected to the world. His brother Dean is a little less connected and tends to yearn for the 1970’s as he looks for earthly pleasure in the forms of booze, women and pie. While the combination sounds like The Odd Couple meets The X-Files it’s not exactly cut and dry. Under Dean’s surface, there is a deeper human being and Sam isn’t really as saintly as he often appears. My favorite episode of the whole series is The Girl with the Dungeons & Dragons Tattoo which guest stars Felicia Day. In the episode, Dean assumes that Charlie (Felicia Day) can get by a guard by flirting with him but Charlie reveals that she is gay. So, Dean talks her through flirting with a male using what he knows he likes. It’s just an awkward moment where both characters realize things about their identities.


Perry Saturn, Loser Wears a Dress

In the sports entertainment world (otherwise known as pro-wrestling) is a real but also fictional world where people fight physical and technical bouts for money in front of crowds. In this world image is everything because the outcomes and storylines are fictional but the pain can be real. You have to make the crowds interested in each match or they will be pointless to put on without earning money to pay all the costs involved. So, some intelligent promoter thought up using match stipulations to drive up more interest in matches that might need a little help. World Championship Wrestling came up with a lot of weird ones. People who lost matches had to leave the company, be people’s manservants, change group affiliations and so on. When Perry Saturn went up against Chris Jericho at Souled Out in the loser had to wear a dress. This was meant as a humiliation punishment but it turned out that Perry Saturn liked wearing a dress and didn’t see it as a punishment. Wearing women’s clothes isn’t a sign of weakness.


Castle is constantly rescued by Kate Beckett and is alright with it

There are too many of these moments to count. Castle is a show about Richard Castle, a murder mystery writer who suffers from writer’s block and eventually becomes a consultant to Detective Kate Beckett. The show has a lot of fun moments in it that are pretty human and there is a lot of drama to follow along with enough comedy to light the way. Kate’s evolution has little to do with her sexuality and more to do with her emotions as a human being, a police detective and an orphan. Castle, on the other hand, starts the first episode as a flirtatious, stubly alpha male who has questionable tendencies toward eligible females. Through the series, he comes to respect Kate better and respect himself better through her eyes and the eyes of his daughter. One thing that does occur from episode one is that Castle has no problems being rescued over and over by a woman as well he should not. Honorable mention goes out to Life and Psych as two more examples of tough, feminine characters who are fully accepted by their peers.


Officers Blubs and Durlon declare their love

Gravity Falls is a cartoon about twin twelve-year-olds who are sent to live with their Great Uncle for the summer in a small Oregon town. The town of Gravity Falls is filled to the brim with weirdness. There are supernatural creatures and magical spells and eldritch multi-dimensional beings that do all sorts of horrible (yet sometimes funny things). The show also has a whole cast of characters who are exaggerated but share a lot of moments that resonated with my life and, by looking at the fandom, I was not the only one so impacted. Two prominent side characters are the town’s only police officers, Officer Blubs and Officer Durlon. They are ignorant, lazy and crazy but, in the end, they do their job and help defend the town the best they can. Starting early it was hinted that they had a very close relationship but I always assumed they were friends. Then they started saying things that could be interpreted as making them more than friends. In the second to last episode they finally clearly declare their love as they embrace. I have to accept it as canon now.

Top 11 Christmas Episodes

December 20, 2015

Top 11


11. Scrubs – My Own Personal Jesus

Probably last on the list because it leans heavily on the belief in God and the low production values. It largely deals with how hospitals are one of the worst places to be during the holidays. In the emotional parts of our lives, it can sometimes bring the worst of us bubbling to the surface. A young Catholic surgeon loses his faith while on call on Christmas Eve. He feels he has been proven wrong in his assertion that God watches over all of us. In the end, his faith is restored and we’re reminded that even if you don’t believe in God, you can believe in people. The subplot has plenty of comedy about dealing with people you don’t like but coming together anyway. It’s a welcome balance to the sad but uplifting main plot.

10. Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park

Alright, this one is only this low on the list because half of it is a Jurrasic Park/Innerspace parody. That plot has little to do with Christmas besides taking place inside a homeless man in a santa suit. The title characters (and Jon Oliver) are busy dealing with the strange problem inside Ruben. While all of this is going on, the rest of the family is playing host to Steve’s parents and trying to get along during the holidays. The family in Rick and Morty are pretty disfunctional. They’re perhaps the most disfunctional family I’ve seen in fiction that still stays together. Steve, the father, decides to disconnect his family from electronics for the holiday so they can connect with one another. He’s not prepared for the consequences of his action. The episode teaches that sometimes our family can annoy us and drive us crazy, especially around the holidays. That’s ok. It’s very normal.

9. Futurama – XMas Story

While the episode is largely silly, like most Futurama episodes there’s a deeper message involved. The surface story is about how a Santa Claus robot has gone crazy in the year 3000 and will murder anybody after sundown. Naturally, this is because its naughty/nice processing unit has been damaged. However the episode more expertly deals with two characters who are feeling lonely on Christmas because they have no family. Both of them fail to see that they can always fall back on their circle of friends because friends are our extended family. They also tackle the folly of being selfish especially around the holidays. There’s also a mostly subtle message that possessions are fleeting and no thing can take the place of a kind thought.

8. Boston Legal: Loose Lips

Now, I’ve only seen the first season of Boston Legal but it’s definitely got cynical edge to it that you might think would clash with Christmas. The thing is, beneath that cynical and bitter surface, Boston Legal has heart and that especially applies to its star, James Spader. His character likes to pretend he has no heart and that he’s the villain but in the end he often does the right thing in spite of himself. Christmas is all about that sometimes. Christmas can be the one time all year where we stop ourselves and do the right thing. Not because we’re supposed to but because we realize we want to be good just like Ebenezer Scrooge did. The secondary plot has to do with a confidentiality dilemma when a doctor’s patient may be planning to kill somebody. The main plot is much more Christmas-y and has to do with a Santa who was fired because it was discovered that he cross-dresses on his off hours. The main plot starts kind of comedic but ends up being pretty touching and features one of those good mall Santas.

7. 30 Rock: Ludachristmas

30 Rock was a clever show that was always funny but every episode devolved into insanity unless it already began insane. This is one of those episodes that starts with a lot of crazy concepts and premises and just runs with it. There’s weird amnesia, crazy alcoholic christmas and paper shredders that are easily mistaken for a photo scanner. There is a clash between those who just want to have fun with those who would dictate how you should celebrate Christmas. In the end, maybe it’s not such a good idea to meddle in how other people celebrate as long as they’re responsible and safe. The main story hammers home how everybody’s family is pretty crazy so there’s not much point worrying about the grass looking greener on the other side. It’s best to just live and let live most of the time.

6. Bones: The Santa in the Slush

Bones has always been a good show. Some of my scientist friends might have problems with it but I’ve liked the show because it has compelling characters and stories with a lot of heart. Even the worst episode of Bones is head and shoulders above a lot of other stuff on television. The show has had a long run so it has a lot of holiday episodes to choose from. I had to go with The Santa in the Slush because of the interesting imagery of the episode. It starts with the discovery of a murdered mall Santa and the mission to discover who could do such a thing. Now, these days its popular to depict mall Santas as alcoholic jerks who are just faking it for cash. However, I love a good story about a true mall Santa who loves kids and is sticking it out in the trenches as a true foot soldier for the North Pole. We all want to believe in magic. Whether it’s the magic of Santa or the magic of human kindness, we all want to believe. This is a good story that shows that there are people out there who really believe in humanity and what’s right in the world.

5. Supernatural: A Very Supernatural Christmas

Brothers have history together. I lived in a house (several in fact) with my brothers for 18 years and then spent holidays and some summers with them. Granted, we never had the history the Winchesters had but we went through a lot of stuff together. Even in moments where that’s not being directly dealt with that is the major undercurrent of the show. So how do two guys who grew up experiencing Christmas in motels on the road view the holidays? Both Sam and Dean have had a taste of normal Christmas but that’s gone for them. The episode also deals with various mytholigies that surround Christmas. Some have been forgotten and some were appropriated for use by Christianity. It’s a fun but creepy look at those myths coming to life.

4. Veronica Mars: An Echolls Family Christmas

Since this episode occurs in the first season, Veronica is very much separated from the friends and family (minus her dad) that she used to celebrate with. This isn’t necessarily a happy episode, especially for one set at Christmas. That’s fine as the holidays are not always so happy and problems don’t just magically stop during the holidays. This episode primarily focuses on the Echolls family’s dysfunctional problems. There is a more lighthearted whodunit trying to figure out who stole the poker winnings from the last poker game with Veronica taking great pleasure in shaking down the rich boys (even her ex). In the main plot we have a much more dangerous mystery that includes cheating, stalking and holiday parties. It foreshadows a lot of stuff later in the series. It’s a good dysfunctional look at the holidays because we’ve all experienced that at one point or another.

3. Leverage: The Ho Ho Ho Job

When your main cast is a bunch of ex-criminal vigilantes who no longer have any family connections, you don’t really expect to have a Christmas episode. However, from its inception, episodes of Leverage are about restoring hope to the hopeless and defending the defenseless. Most of the characters are loathe to get into the Christmas spirit but all they need is a little push from the suddenly cheery orphan thief to try and stop a holiday heist. They take the case of a mall santa who may as well be the real man in red. In the end the crew and even some of the villains embrace the season. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t delve into the somewhat dark histories of the characters but does show them getting a little light in their lives.

2. Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

It was hard to pick just one Doctor Who Christmas episode but I managed to whittle it down eventually even though I could probably do a separate list. British shows tend to run a little dark around the holidays and Doctor Who is often not an exception. This one starts with a mother taking her kids to the country for the holidays while trying to keep it secret that their dad recently died. While there is a horror/science fiction plot at work, there is a bigger discussion on the nature of the collision of happiness and tragedy. The Doctor does his best to heal this broken family and in the end I was so filled with joy that I cried.

1. Community: Comparitive Religion

The first season of Community was like a force of nature when it showed up. It was a little more cynical and bitter as the characters were still feeling out their relationship with one another. Still, by Christmas at the end of their first semester they had grown into a tight group that genuinely liked each other despite all of their flaws. However, sometimes it is the people with the best intentions who can cause the most pain. Shirley is a devout Christian and chooses to impose her will and control over her non-Christian friends using motherly guilt. The episode features a pretty even-handed look at how many different cultures in the United States celebrate Christmas because it’s fun and not because they’re Christians. In the end, everybody learns that family means togetherness and that’s way more powerful than any religion in the world. It manages to achieve this message without putting anybody’s beliefs down and isntead preaching peace and the ability to live and let live. It’s a violent but strangely joyous way to celebrate the holidays.

The Key – Part 10

November 28, 2015

The Key

Robin stumbled through the darkness. It seemed to be an apartment building but all of the hall lights were out. She had tried to open the door she had entered but there was no handle on the inside. She had bruised her shoulder trying to bust it open by force. Now she was walking down the hallway, desperately trying to get back out so she could find R. She tried to use wall to her left as a guide as she walked. She jerked her hand away as the wall felt strangely crusted with grime. Why couldn’t things just be normal? Who had brought her there?

All of the doors looked the same. In the dim light from her upraised lighter, all of the doors looked gray with odd wooden doorknobs she had never seen before. The walls of the hallway were gray too whether from paint or grime or both. There were no numbers on the doors either. Robin had no idea how long she had been walking. Her eyes were drowsy and her legs were starting to ache. No matter which hallway she turned, everything looked the same.

The whole thing was making Robin angry but it felt like trying to start a campfire in a rainstorm. No matter how angry she got, she felt even more tired. She thought about just lying down on the floor and starting again in morning. That idea made her extra angry. How ridiculous was this building if she couldn’t get out of it? There had to be more bullshit magic at work here. She felt a surge of fear and anger at that thought. The really weird stuff found her when she was alone. Her lighter went out.

A light flickered to life over a doorway ahead. Robin walked down the hall to approach it and basked in the light for a moment. She was a nightowl but near absolute darkness had a away of making anyone love the light. Well, at least for a moment. She balled her right hand into a fist and hammered on the door hard. The sound echoed down the hallway in a way that Robin just didn’t like. She looked down the hallway to see if the sound had roused anything. Not one door stirred in the darkness.

However, the door directly in front of her opened up and a middle-aged, attractive woman stepped into the light. She was wearing pink lingerie or maybe red lingerie that had faded. She had make up on for a night out but obviously no plans on going anywhere.

“Can we help you?” The woman asked in a reedy yet seductive voice.

“Only if you know the way out.” Robin answered as she backed up a half step.

“Of course we know the way out. How else would we go into the world?” The woman replied with a sickening grin. Robin had a sinking feeling in her gut.

“Can you” Robin started before changing her mind “No. Will you lead me out of here?”

“We can and we will not. Please go away from our door.”

“You keep saying ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘our’. Is there somebody in there with you?” Robin asked. She leaned to the side to try to look past the woman and into her apartment. She had no success.

“Of course there is.” The woman said and smiled. The skin near her right eye started to throb and something black appeared in the corner of her eye. Then tiny appendages sprouted and stretched that little black object. Suddenly a small spider had pulled itself free from the woman’s eye and crawled across her cheek and into her hair. “There’s lots of us in here.”

Robin did not wait for anything else and instead turned and ran. Immediately she found herself falling down a set of stairs she swore wasn’t there before the door opened. She reached out and caught hold of the railing and stopped her descent. She stood and realized she was at the bottom of the stairway. Ahead of her was a long, long set of steep stairs. She looked back up the stairs she had fallen down and saw the woman approaching at a brisk pace. Robin turned again and climbed the steps as fast and hard as she could, trying to get away.

About halfway up, Robin chanced a look back over her shoulder and saw the woman was far too close for comfort. She tried to move faster but a couple of steps later she felt the woman slam into her back and she fell forward. Instead of hitting the steps, Robin felt like they were both tumbling through the darkness for a long time. The landing was sharp and Robin was no longer expecting when it happened. Impossibly, they were at the bottom of another stairwell and Robin was in water.

“Time for us to kill you.” The woman said and this time the sound was both raspy and reedy and terrifying. The woman grabbed Robin’s neck and used the grip to push Robin’s head under the water. Robin barely caught her breath and tried to hold onto it as the woman squeezed her neck under the water. It felt like ages that she was under as she struggled against the iron grip of the woman’s fingers. Eventually, she was pulled from the water roughly. Robin felt that now familiar otherworldly energy welling up deep inside. “Why won’t you die?”

Robin grunted and sputtered but glared at the woman. “Just give it to me already. Just give it to me. I want it!” She yelled the last as if it had been an incantation. The woman wretched and gagged above her and a giant spider emerged from the woman’s throat and through her open mouth. She leaned down and Robin tried to shake her head, to get loose but it was no use. The spider crawled down and into Robin’s mouth and she gagged herself but it went all the way down. There was intense burning deep inside of Robin and she shook and trembled as the woman let her neck go.

The burning sensation started to surface toward Robin’s shoulder and Robin tore at her shirt to expose the skin. She looked down and saw the spider there in tattoo form but it was moving as if it was struggling to get free. Robin touched it and it shied away from her fingers or at least it tried to. She focused on the thing and very slowly it stopped moving. She looked at the woman, slumped against the wall and saw something of stunned relief in the woman’s eyes. A black mist spewed from every pore and again the mist or smoke screamed with an otherworldly voice.

Robin looked around, feeling a little dizzy. She realized she was sitting in the middle of an alleyway and the woman wasn’t moving in front of her. Nervously she reached to check the woman’s pulse and it wasn’t there. The woman wasn’t breathing either. Robin was way too tired now. She found herself drifting off as she leaned on the wall across from the woman.


susanne matthews

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