Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Horror Of...End of the Year Night, Hogfather Part 1

Christmas is passed now. But the holiday season does persist, despite claims otherwise. So, out here, amongst the snow,  ice, and...geese, I can't help thinking about the wintry traditions we all spring from, and the year that's ending.

It's the year's end. Why? Because it's December? Why is it in December? Because we named the month that, and we currently use a 12 month system of dating. But is now really the end of the year? (And why do I sound like I'm high?) Other cultures have different days for the year's end. (Chinese New Year is a month away. Rosh Hashanah is months off.) But most of the world celebrates today. It's semi arbitrary.

So does it really matter? The geese here don't care. Your dog won't care about tonight...until you screw up it's sleep plans.

But we do care. We are out gearing up to spend the night with family, dressing up for parties, getting the kids rested up to make it to midnight. It seems to be important. Even if the exact day and second aren't optimal, we don't care. When the clock hits 12, people will cheer.

It's a tradition we globally embrace. It wouldn't destroy us if we didn't. But what if it could?

Suppose we consider a story where a loose of tradition, and belief put all in jeopardy?

A book turned into a movie/miniseries.

Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some final Christmas thoughts from Christopher Lee and Captain Picard

Something to close out the day, though the season shall continue. Thoughts from the great Christopher Lee. And a singing plea from Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Christopher Lee's Christmas Message


Captain Picard gives the order, Let it snow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Horror Of...Christmas Night, 3 Shades of A Christmas Carol

Christmas is almost passed. The night is here and with it the ghosts of the past, presence, and future. But it is cold, and the snow still blows. So it's time to get in and huddle down, awaiting morning. Enjoy some potato or a bit of mustard, then get tucked in.

So it's time, as the night comes, to enjoy some more Christmas horror. A Christmas Carol. I know, most don't think of it like that. But it is a ghost story. A haunting. A tale of a man that does evil deeds, that is forced to face his fate.

So let's consider 3 playful takes on the old story.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Horror Of...Christmas Night, Rare Exports

Hello, from the dark and frostbitey days of the year! ...Gosh, it's cold. So. Cold.

The snow is falling, the cold winds have come, and night falls so swiftly. And then we put up lights outside, and bring trees in the house? Why? Maybe it's to keep safe from what is outside.

Maybe it is because we secretly dread that Santa Claus will be coming to town tonight.

Well, to argue on that side, we have Rare Exports, a 2010 Finnish movie, that has garnered a much deserved cult status.

It started out back in 2003. At the time a Finnish production company, Woodpecker Film, created a short film. It took place in Lapland (in Finland), and functioned through voice overs (which was an easy way to create new vocals, and spread online).

The result is a rare and strange treat. Rare Exports, Inc.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th - Episode 2 - The Poison Pen

We come to Friday the 13th again.

As such, let's return to Friday the 13th: The Series.

We've already looked at the pilot. So we've been introduced to Jack, Mickie, and Ryan. They've been stuck with an antique shop that's responsible for spreading numerous cursed items, which are meant to corrupt people and lead to the gruesome deaths of others.

So now they have to act to get all the items back to the store, and locked away.

Each episode you'll have to see what dark item they will have to face the power of. This time it's all in the name.

This episode is called:

"The Poison Pen"

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Review - Episode 9 - Sanctuary - "We've replace Abbie Mills normal crime scene with a haunted house. Let's see if she notices."

Last week we had our awkward Maury Povich experience with the Horseman. Thankfully there was no pregnancy tests to be found. This week may not be so fortunate.

We return to Sleepy Hollow with a Haunted House tale. Not an anthology story, what with the tight season the show has, it keeps us firmly in the mysteries of Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane. While we had a focus more in unwrapping the mysteries of the Mills in earlier episodes we are a little more focused on Ichabod now. And with this episode we learn just a bit more about his and Katrina's connections.

It's an interesting episode. I am all for a good haunted house. But being trapped in the house, and that being the main focus of the episode, makes the story rather straight forward. They run around. They evade attack. They find secret passages. It's fun to watch. Just not interesting to have lain out in brief.

But that part of the story is not alone. In the midst we get revelation. It comes with Abbie getting visions and ghostly support. Through this, she leads the way to safety, and reveals things from the past that Ichabod was not privy to.

We also get a B-Plot, with Jenny wandering around the sheriff's office, and pestering Irving. It offers more insight into both characters, but not the best use of them. So let's look at these threads that come together to make this tale of spectral woe.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Trailers in Short: Sword and Sandals Edition - Hercules and Pompeii and Sons and Badassdom, oh my.

Let's head into a coliseum. And let's fight some gladiators, even if it's ancient Greece. Grab your sword and join the Quest of the 4 Trailers!

Swords and sandals! A genre of movies that has been pleasing for decades. And they are still with us. Hercules Lackluster Journeys. Milo Versus the Volcano. Young White Man With A Destiny 7. And, the Zeno's Paradox of potentially awesome comedies.

The major regret to have is that these aren't badly dubbed over Italian movies.

The Legend of Hercules

I see this ad and for a bit at the start I think I'm watching a trailer for Ryse: Son of Rome. At the minimum, it looks like a video game.

But, Hercules. A boring Hercules. I can't help noticing how little speaking time he has, compared to other characters in the trailer. And, it's a prequel of sorts. Hercules gets to learn of his origins. Then he gets his powers...and a lightening whip? And let's not get into the Samson parallels going on.

Still, if you know anything about sword and sandal movies, you know that a lot of them are Hercules B-Movies. Sadly, I'm not even getting a cheesy fun feel from this movie. Those older movies may have often not used the greatest actors in the role, but they found ways to make it all fun. The actors had a charm to them. This seems more serious. And if you want to go deep into the character, you need an actor and script that can do the job. This movie could be painfully bad. Or, a good sleep aid.


So let's see...A put upon gladiator. A young woman constrained. A nasty fiance. Young love. An attempt to escape a looming disaster together...This is Titanic on a volcano, isn't it?!

Hey, you get some Kit Harington, from Game of Thrones, forlornness thrown in.

Trouble is that I have watched too much scientific analysis of what happen when the volcanic release started hitting the city. It was stages of nastiness. Realistically, everyone staying that long is screwed (in many gruesome ways). And don't bring up TARDIS's...Screwed.

Still, it might be ridiculous fun. Racing a volcanic avalanche. Sword fight in burning ruins. Disaster scenes. Mix in the romance, it may be just your popcorn flick.

This might not be of the sandal variety, there are plenty of swords and grime in...

Seventh Son

Jeff Bridges is finding a couple of niches isn't he? Old Fighter. Mentor.

The idea comes from a children's fantasy book series, The Wardstone Chronicles. We get our old time warrior, an apprentice, and an evil force (played by Julianne Moore -- Always a plus.). Plus we get a host of evil minions.

This could be an Eragon. Or a Season of the Witch. A Dragonslayer. Or a Prince of Persia. And depending on how you feel about those movies, that's good or bad. The series is supposed to, at least at the start be about a guy coming of age and finding his destiny...eh.

It may all depend on Jeff Bridges saving the day, and the movie experience.

and, finally, and again,

Knights of Badassdom

Yeah, Putting this up again. Why is this stuck in ownership fights? Let's get a release already!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Giving Everyday - Supporting Media - Shilling Shockers, Citizen Radio, and TWiB

Previously, I noted some excellent charities to support. (And I hope you considered them.)

I have also wanted to point to some media that could use some support as well. It's always awkward to me, to put things like this forward. It feels like it comes down to advocating for business. I end up feeling this way even if they try and be altruistic, or are just plain fun.

But being so fun and useful, I do want to see them succeed. So I thought I'd note a few here, and let you see if you are fans, or interested in getting to know them better.

Media to know:

Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers

If you haven't seen me say it before, see it now. This is my favorite Horror Hosting show. It's been on 8 seasons so far, and now they are looking for financial support for a 9th.

The show follows the witch, Penny Dreadful, her husband Garou, a werewolf, and their friends, Dr. Manfred Von Bulow and Luna 13. as they watch bad old movies. They offer a lot of interesting insight and humor, and make for a hexcellent. evening's entertainment.

Now it's with Indiegogo, so if you are interested in helping them, be mindful of that system's rules. I am hoping they do get the funding they require, as I would love to see another season of the show. And, if they reach a secondary goal, they will finally be releasing a CD of music they've produced for the show. I've been hoping they'd do this for years now. (They've made some lovely fun songs for the show.)

Citizen Radio

On the more serious side (though with plenty of insightful cutting humor), Citizen Radio. The podcasts of Citizen Radio are free. But the show operates exclusively on donations from listeners, and the blood, tears, and sweat of Allison Kilkenny, Jamie Kilstein, Penny, and Dangles (Well, the last two mostly draw blood, and cause tears.). They pride themselves on their independence. But it also means that they need the support of fans and listeners.

They do a daily (Monday through Friday) show looking at the world around us, informing and advocating. They discuss issues and news. They go out into the streets to get stories. They also do interviews with the likes of journalists, thinkers, and news makers. Jeremy Scahill to Lindy West to Noam Chomsky. And they are rudely funny, with a touch of cat crazy (See Penny and Dangles.).

They are passionate and driven in their work. And if you like their efforts, and can afford it, they are worth investing in.

TWiB - This Week In Blackness

TWiB is another story of people covering news and society, and bringing a sense of humor to the reality around us, one podcast at a time. Led up by Elon James White, the team at TWiB put out a number of shows, from This Week in Blackness to Sportsball to We Nerd Hard. There is a variety of great programming.

They do a lot of good. They offer an underheard voice. And they create engaging conversation for you to be drawn into. And, like Citizen Radio, TWiB can bring in interviews you will likely not hear anywhere else.

But they can use support to maintain their quality of work, and take it to new levels. Also, they are moving their operations, and building a new studio. They are in the midst of plans to update there productions, and expand into more video production. They need support from listeners.

So, I hope if you do like any of these endeavors, and are in a place, financially, to help, you consider it. They all seem decent people making the world a bit better. And, if anything, their work is worth you getting to know.

Also, for Citizen Radio and TWiB, you can donate your Twitter and Facebook accounts. This means you agree to an occasional tweet/post promoting their shows on your account. I know for some that isn't desirable. But what it comes down is, at most, a single tweet a day promoting the podcasts. It's a minimal way to support them out.

Oh, Krampus Night Alright

Thursday night was the Night of the Krampus. It's no Night of the Demon...it's better.

I'll be honest. I had not heard of the Krampus before I saw it on the show Venture Brothers. And I was pleased to learn that it was actually a real concept, and a popular one to boot, in some parts of the world.

Krampus in Austria
Yes. The Krampus is still with us. And it's even something people dress up as, like Santa Claus.

There are even parades.

The Krampus is meant to be a demonic looking being of central Europe. It acts to terrify children, as a lead up to St. Nicholas Day (No, it's not Christmas. It's December 5th). Sometimes he swats at kids with branches. Most of the times he's covered his chains and bells, tinkling away. You can hear him coming for you. And, as the story sometimes go, he'll carry off bad little kids to their doom.

The Krampus (adults eagerly dressed up in furs, horns, scary masks, bells, and chains) will travel around a town, welcomed into businesses and even homes, searching for bad children.

In some cases he'll appear with St. Nicholas. In others he's met by a Jesus figure.But in some places, the Krampus is a lone figure to celebrate. And it is a celebration. Libation. Winter laughs. And wishes to make it to the next Spring.

The character is an ancient one, going back to pre-Christian Europe. (In some cases it's seen as a child of the Scandanavian goddess Hel) He is a shaggy goat horned fellow, looking for the booze, and kids to punish. And as a figure it's spread through Central Europe, even in some spots in North America.

For a time, once Christianity arrived, the Krampus was pushed back against (like many pagan figures and celebrations). Through the Inquisition, it was suppressed. But, finally, it was embraced and made part of the festivities (like many pagan figures and celebrations).

It adds a nice texture to the Christmas season. Santa brings good kids gifts. Krampus goes out and brings bad kids punishment. A balance.

May the Krampus not come for you this cold night.


I changed the night in question to Thursday...It's late.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Trailers in Short: From Frank to Reich

Time for some more trailers. Frankenstein fights...something. Keanu Reeves leaves me troubled. Tarzan finds a new dimension. Mr. Peabody should ground Sherman, for the sake of time. And, Robert Reich has something to say.

I, Frankenstein

What...? Bat/Bird people. Fancy blades. And an Eckhart Monster?

But I don't want to judge on his appearance. And I've seen reserved takes on Frankenstein's Monster before. But I see this ad and think, "What am I looking at?"

What is this? It looks like one of those movies that has the odds on of being really bad. But, it could be ridiculously good. It could even be a competent fantasy tale. But...what? Is this some angel/demon war? ...What?

Now I do know that this is based on a comic book story. But this trailer...Everything about this trailers has me thinking that this movie has to start with a long string of text setting things up, or a long bit of narration. So much to lay out.

But, hey, you get some Miranda Otto. Always a plus.

47 Ronin

Oh, good. Keanu Reaves is playing a savior again. This time he's saving Japan.

That's a bit factitious. But he's playing "the half breed", who is needed to help the Ronin in their quest to save their land (..Japan, part of Japan...eh.). And, it isn't necessarily a historic land, it's magical, with strange creatures, and witches, and other beings...That make it more palatable?

Now, I don't know if Reeves is partly Japanese, but the movie stretched here is to justify his part. And it means bypassing all the Japanese (or actors from other parts of Asia) actors that could have fulfilled the role. And the hurdle the movie makers have given me is making me struggle with even the trailer.

The 47 Ronin come from a great legendary tale of Japan. It's sad that it seems so hard to bring a version, even a fantastical one, to US audiences. ...Of course, the movie could also be a huge mess. I just couldn't get passed Reeves to consider that.

Tarzan 3D

A Tarzan animated movie. Well, the first thing that pops into my head when that's said is the Disney one. It just sticks with you. Still, that doesn't seem like an argument against this. The animation in it might. Being this realistic looking is tricky (the whole realism curve), and in a movie full of action it's very tricky.

The one thing that almost interests me is the magic meteor rock. That brings a feel of the old pulp stories of Tarzan. But it stays on the more mundane side. It's an animated movie. Just go all in. Meteor rocks. Ancient immortal lizard species. Lost civilization. Go crazy...Not like they'll get to make another Tarzan movie.

(I will say though, that having him found by apes at an older age makes some sense. An infant would not have survived...Is being more realistic a plus with Tarzan?)

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

By all rights I should instantly hate this movie. Mr. Peabody and Sherman come from a world of short and simple cartoons, meant to fill out "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show". Those types of concepts are tricky to expand out into a movie. And many cartoons don't get translated well to modern designs or writing. The path to the cinema is scattered with failed ideas and movie bombs.

BUT, of the different shorts from Bullwinkle, this one has the best shot. I mean, would we want a movie following that Victorian era elderly racist explorer? No.

This could be fun...It just has all those bad movies it follows...Maybe I'll catch when it's on TV someday.

Inequality For All

Robert Reich is always interesting to listen to. And this movie follows him and the issues in the economy. The topic is important. It seems like an interesting movie, and I do need to catch.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Giving Everyday - Giving to good causes

Today is called by some Giving Tuesday, a counter to the consumerism, and just a reminder to invest in bettering the world around you. There are many places you can give money. Or time. Or moral support.

One such choice is the Salvation Army, a Christian organization. They spread out earlier and earlier each year. Ringing bells. Giving you expectant looks. And they do some good work. They can and do help people. And, people out there ringing away, are people that get hired for the season for a small wage.

But they are also not friendly to gay people. It's part of their religious tenets. Workers have been turned away for being gay. And there are stories of gay people being refused shelter. It isn't a representation of the whole group. But there are question marks in their policy. They say they are trying to do better, but how much is yet to be seen.

They have also run into other issues. Past treatment of union families. A large number of child abuse cases in Australia. And questions of mismanagement in some areas.

And, as it is, I would prefer to give to organizations that will not be funding religious efforts or antigay efforts. I like to find groups that are apart from that messiness.

So, as an alternative, let me suggest some of the numerous organizations out there that are more secularly focused, and not limiting where or how they aid.

Groups to support:

  • Amnesty International - They campaign for the human rights of people around the world.
  • Direct Relief - This organization works to improve health and lives of people affected by poverty, or emergency situations.
  • Doctors Without Borders - Made up primarily of health care facilitators, they operate in 60 countries, helping people dealing with disasters and violence. 
  • Engineers Without Borders - Support local efforts to work on development projects.They work on projects including, drinking water access, sanitation, and roads.
  • Feed America - The organization works to help feed those in need of food. They do this with food banks. (And with the cuts to SNAP, they are in desperate need.)
  • Goodwill - This organization works to give job training, employment, and other services for the disabled.
  • Humanist Charities - Tied to the American Humanist Association, it offers aid in matters of health and welfare via a humanist approach.
  • Madre - An international women's human rights group that addresses the wide range of issues affecting women in local communities.
  • Planned Parenthood - Health care providers, educators, and advocates for health care access and knowledge. They work to guarantee a right to make one's own informed reproductive decisions. Also, to ensure those in poverty to have access to support. They also are at work on a global level.
  • Red Cross - A well known organization, it does good work on disaster relief, producing almost half of the United States' blood supply, and offering training on health.
  • UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund - They focus on children's interest around the globe. They work in many areas, including immunization, education, and emergency relief.

Not as direct, but important, the fighters for free speech and privacy.

More groups:

Monday, December 02, 2013

Celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who: By pen and maquette.

It's still the 50th Anniversary of the Doctor. So, be sure to enjoy people's hard work to celebrate and share their love.

A short animation for the anniversary, enjoy the passage of the Doctor through the decades, from one face to another. It is quite lovely. Enjoy.

And then there's Doctor Puppet. I have noted it before, but it uses stop motion to take the 11th Doctor on an adventure that brings him in contact with his previous selves, and leaving them in growing peril. It's cute and interesting to watch. (There are 5 episodes at present.)
The First Episode - The Red X

The Second Episode - The Conjunction of Eleven

And, the Making Of, with Alisa Stern. (There are a total of 4 parts at present.)

Part 1 - From Script to Screen

Part 2 - Puppets are Cool

Saturday, November 30, 2013

From the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon

From the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon, here are all the hosting segments from between the movies. Enjoy some more Joel. And enjoy the ending when the family gets back together.

I hope Shout Factory is motivate to do this more often. At least every Thanksgiving. I could go for more streamed marathons, particularly if we can get some of the crew together to host them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Horror Of...Mockingbird Lane

Thanksgiving. And what goes with that? Family. So what better than to watch something about a macabre fam...No, it's not the Addams Family...

Anyway, I am talking about the The Munsters. The Munster family. Specifically, the recent remake Mockingbird Lane.

The Munsters
The characters were first brought to life in 1964. A black and white sitcom, it ran until 1966. It took vampires, Frankenstein's Monster, and a wolf child, then placed them in a somewhat conventional family drama. That was the key. They were like most sitcom families, but they were horror based figures. It became a long beloved show, locked in people's memories.

Munsters Go Home
Following the show, an attempt was made to bring the show to theaters, with Munsters Go Home. And the actors would return to many of the roles off and on, like in The Munsters' Revenge, in 1981.

The Munsters Today
A continuation of the series was made in 1987. The Munsters Today. The family gets placed in suspended animation for twenty years and reemerges. Yeah. This exists. It did star John Schuck and Lee Merriwether, which is interesting unto itself. It lasted for 3 seasons.

Here Comes The Munsters
Then in the mid 90's more attempts to restart the show occurred. First was the TV movie, Here Come the Munsters, Then, the next year, there was The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas. In both, completely new casts were used.

I bring all this up, because knowing is half the battle. Also, to remind people that the idea of continuing or rebooting The Munsters is not new.

So, a few years ago NBC decided it wanted to restart The Munsters. To bring this about, they hired Bryan Fuller. Fuller is well known for his work on a number of other shows. Wonderfalls. Dead Like Me. Hannibal. Pushing Daisies. (He also worked on Heroes and Star Trek: Yoyager, but I won't hold that against him.) Making Pushing Daisies alone means he deserves a shot, and plenty of respect.

I mean, Pushing Daisies!

But I think, sadly, most everyone judged and condemned the idea of this show before it was even made. And the fact Fuller said he was going to modify the characters only turned people hostile.

I hope I can get you to reconsider.

First, the show was renamed (like we've seen with many new takes on older ideas). It was called Mockingbird Lane, the name of the street they live on.

Thanksgiving with Boris Karloff

Is your Thanksgiving not Thanksgivingy enough yet?

Add some Boris Karloff, some songs, and Johnny Appleseed.

May prove a curious experience.

The Horror Of..Addams Family Values, In Short

It's Thanksgiving, and what's better to watch then the Addams Family? Come on! Family. Fun. The promise of death.

Ah the sequel to the 1991 movie. The first movie was a fun experience. It did remake the old televison series, but unlike some other movie remakes, it successfully brought the ideas back to life and enhanced the earlier work by incorporating in more of Charles Addams (the creator of the Addams Family in published cartoons) ideas.

The sequel brings back the family.

Trailers in Short - Sherlock, Noah', and some more Doctor Who

Time for some more trailers. It's almost time for the return of Sherlock. Will the Ark float? And the day of the doctor may have passed, but what of the Christmas of the Doctor(s)?


It's almost time for Sherlock to return. And Watson has a mustache? Maybe that's why Sherlock took his time coming back, having second thoughts. But I'm ready for it to be back.

REBLOGGING: Thanksgiving. More than thanks, giving.

It's Thanksgiving again...Or as the stores call it, Pre-Christmas.

And I'm reblogging a previous Thanksgiving post looking at issues people face. If only those issues weren't ever present.

And they grow. As annoying as people find getting people to race out the next day to "sales". Business has decided that this was too generous. Yeah. Apparently they take the first part of "The Christmas Carol", throw away the rest, and pass it around Wall Street. It's like they take being called misers as a compliment.

So, this year, many stores will be opening in just hours.

This means many couldn't travel to visit family. In fact, they likely are getting ready to head into work to prep for 6 o'clock openings. And some are actually open right now! Thanksgiving used to be sacrosanct, like Christmas. You just didn't force workers to come in on this day. It was a societal promise. Not now. You are expected to work, take your meager wages, lose time with family, and make rich people even richer.

I have nothing against choosing to have a place open on Thanksgiving. It can be necessary. But the idea was supposed to be extraordinary. And usually the boss would make the sacrifice, or workers would get extra money in recognition.

Worse, the one way this could be fought against, people just refusing to go to the stores...That isn't going to happen. We'll see, but I expect a rush come the end of Thanksgiving Dinner. Everyone racing off; I would like to be proved wrong.

These workers are paid amounts that leave them in poverty. They are pushed onto food stamps and mediaid, AND NOW, they have to work today, and not have time to be with family and friends. More hours of subpar pay, and a chance to be cursed out by a line of people pissed off that the last of the "doorbuster" was sold. It's such a wonderful day, huh?

What can you do to help? What can you give to make things better?

Thanksgiving. More than thanks, giving.

Thanksgiving is upon us...in the Americans...North America...United States. Okay, we Americans are having our Thanksgiving holiday.

And you know what that means. Having a good meals before we head out later that day to line up to shop. Sadly, no joke there.

That is what it is for many of us. Others like to get some time off (unless you work retail, and you're resting before going to work Thanksgiving night -- or afternoon, at Wal-Mart) Or, to complain about Thanksgiving being horrific.

Now, it is true that the relationship between Europeans colonizers and native peoples in the Americas tended to be less than ideal...Okay. They tended to be dark passages in the annals of history. And we can never let what resulted be forgotten, despite some wanting to brush it over.

But there are some positive lessons to learn from those early years. Even today.

But first...

Okay. Back to my point.

Giving thanks is an old tradition. For the US, we draw back to the Plymouth colony for the holiday. From the start, the English settlement of Plymouth struggled. They were out of there depths. They couldn't get the crops to grow. They were getting sick, or dying. Some local tribes didn't care for the colonial interlopers. And the colonist stole from the food stores of some of locals. Not a good start. A bad lot. You can imagine what modern conservatives would say of them and call them if they could see them as they were.

We too often get a nice weird image of guys in big hats, all in black, with lots of buckles. They seem to all be tall and barrel-chested. And then they invite the Indians over for a party, because that's just how awesome they were. No. The colonist didn't dress like that. And they weren't clean, healthy, and hearty. It was a tense and dark time. Things were grim.

But...They were helped. The Wampanoag tribe gave them food during the first rough winter. They were taught fishing techniques, and which crops grow best in the local ground. Plymouth was struggling and dying. Many colonies before had been attempted. some died out, some were abandoned. Their fate was not certain. But the local society around them lent a hand to them. It fed them. It trained them. It bolstered them at the point of greatest need. They got their asses saved.

So now, as we gorge ourselves and prep to show in this time of Thanks Giving, let's remember and learn from the aid and support given to our national ancestors (the white ones) by those natives (also out national ancestors) 400 some years ago.

No, they didn't just build it.

No, they weren't lazy because they needed a leg up.

Now though, we can continue the good that was done that year. We can consider and plan today how we will continue to pay forward the good spirit and intentions of that time. How can we feed those in need? How can we teach those in need? How can we bolster and aid those in need?

We can ensure the Affordable Care Act moves forward. We can ensure a social safety remains intact (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, and on down the line). We can pull back from war. And we can remember those in need, acting to be sure they have a chance to succeed.


The latest data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that 47.1 million Americans relied on food stamps in August – the highest number yet. 

Since 2007, participation in the food stamp program has skyrocketed, increasing by 70 percent. The cost of feeding the approximately 44.7 million Americans who relied on food stamps last year cost the US government a record $72 billion. 
Also, in the wake of the first Thanksgiving, on reservations, poverty approaches 1/3, and 4% of food stamps go to Native Americans.

 More SNAP data.

Infographic: The face of the food stamp recipient

But it is a joke to some.

Fox Pundit Jokes Food Stamps Could Be A Diet Plan

Sadly, for some, helping out your neighbors is ridiculous. From conservatives that see much of the country as lazy or looking for hand outs, to wealthy people eager to avoid any investment in society.

Or, investing in the well-being of their employees.
Restaurant chain experiments with more part-time work to avoid Obamacare costs

And they do this despite the positives for the economy and the business that will come from this investment.


Take time to appreciate the good things you have in your life. Thank those that helped you, and were their for you.

Then think about giving, how we can all give to those in need.

Some more thinking on Thanksgiving with John Fugelsang, hosting The Point:

Thanksgiving Streaming

It's Thanksgiving. And what better way to celebrate it than with bad movies? And thankfully people on the Internet have that handled. Movie marathons!!!

Right now, they've begun the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon. It's being hosted by Joel Hodgson.

It isn't clear what the schedule is for this. So catch it while you can. Currently, they are showing Space Mutiny.


But that isn't all. Tonight at 8PM CST/9PM EST Midnite Mausoleum will be doing a marathon of their horror host show.

Yet another way to avoid talking to the relatives.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Review - Episode 8 - Necromancer - "Ichabod. I am your..."

It's late, but...yeah it's late in coming. Let's hope for a Thanksgiving miracle with Episode 9...That's a thing, right?

This week's episode closes out the attempt to contain the Horseman.

It's been a three episode run. We've learned about Ichabod's history. We've got to see Ichabod's flight from the Horseman by horse. We've brought our heroes into the open and united.

"...I think he's trying to sing a
Meatloaf ballad."
And, now, the Horseman has been humbled.

So what's next? ...Ah. What do you do with him? When they tried to get rid of his skulls, it proved seemingly impossible. And the Horseman seems hard to keep down.

And now they are relying on magic candles (holding him in place, and keep others out) and the electrical supply to their UV lights...not to mention those bulbs. But they seem kind of transitory.

....Really, this feels like a ticking time bomb.

I know this is just me, but, based on some different movies and shows, I'd fill the room with quick drying cement. But that's probably a mad idea to me.

"You better not leave me hanging, Ichabod. We're going to
fist bump, or I'm going to deck."
Still, he's down for now. And Abbie wants to have a moment, so she engages Ichabod in a fist bump. He has no idea what to make of it. (He should just be glad it isn't the 90's and he's teamed with a bro. It'd be all High Fives and chest bumping.)

But they need to figure what to do now. He can't go to prison. He can't die. But Ichabod has an idea. Question him. Question...the headless guy? (Abbie? Punch him for me.)

Meanwhile we see the forests outside Sleepy Hollow. Two hunters are out, when a horse appears. A white horse...Is this becoming a Rob Zombie movie? No! It's the Horseman's horse, and it's doing the whole Lassie thing. One of the hunters approach it and then pulls out a phone.

"No, the horse isn't explaining. It's mostly
complaining about back pay."
Then the hunter begins talking in German (German baddies! Again!). Seems the Hessians are being activated again. The Hessian than turns around and shoots his fellow hunter.

Meanwhile, Ichabod has a plan to find a way to communicate with the Horseman. Undead Andy. Searching around the underground, they find a place they think Undead Andy has been nesting. And soon they are rifling through his stuff, looking for answers or information. As they search through, Ichabod finds an ancient tablet. It has a magic symbol on it, and also Egyptian hieroglyphics.

"Oh god! Stop reading my diary!"
This is when Undead Andy chooses to pop up. He's frantic to find them there. Not pleased at all. No doubt he's scared that they've found his doll with Abbie's picture on it.

They explain that they've come looking for him. He hates the idea.

Then Ichabod posits that Undead Andy is a necromancer. The tablet Ichabod found is about communicating with the dead. And he figures that Undead Andy has been acting as a go between for the Horseman. So he has the ability to be the Horseman's mouth and voice.

Undead Andy really hates this. He explains that he is in the thrall of Moloch. He has no control, when Moloch commands him. So he could turn on them at any moment. He says he doesn't want to, but he knows that he is a liability. Only bad can come from them relying on him.

Finally he agrees. They approach the room, and Undead Andy warns them once again against what they plan. But the Horseman awaits his moment on the stage. So they pat him down, to be assured he's no threat, and take him in.

And, title sequence! Really, 15 minute in before the title. I respect that.

Monday, November 25, 2013

MST3K at 25...Movie Sign!

With us since 1988, Mystery Science Theater has hits 25th Anniversary of making us laugh and come together around the playful jibing of bad movies.

It's come a long way, starting on a small station up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Hmm, early days.

They made the most of sets and material they had, and Joel's love of puppetry.

Then they sat in front of bad movies and took their best shots at them.

And then the show evolved. They eventually found themselves picked up by one of the up and coming Comedy Cable Networks (luckily the one that survived -- one that would become Comedy Central), and they upped their game. Some people left the show, some came on. They tightened up the comedy some, planning out the jokes more for the in movies segments. Also they updated the puppets, sets, and opening. But the heart of the show remained. And it's sensibilities that grew out of being based in the upper Midwest held. (As someone living in the Midwest, many of the regional jokes hit home for me, making me feel all the more welcomed.)

And it would continue to grow and change.

 I came across the show first when I was off at college (I may or may not have gone to the University of Minnesota and roomed with Peter Graves.). MST3K had been on a little while, but Comedy Central wasn't as widely available then. This show a revelation. I was at a low point, and this show helped bolster me. It was a unique experience. A smart experience. And the handful of episodes I recorded that year were dear to me, until I finally got access to more of the show.

It would open with a title card and the words, "Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show. Reel 1." And we were in. Back to the Gizmonic Institute. (Later, down in Deep 13. yadda yadda yadda At Castle Forrester.) And then shot into the not too distant future

This movie stinks.

Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank were hatching an evil scheme...
 And he used those special parts...

Satellite of Love

The show got many upgrades, but it's core was there. Bad movies. A wide range of jokes (from the juvenile to academic). And a friendly light air. 

Sure you had the Mads. Sure they had evil experiments. But nothing was serious. It was two hours where you were part of the experiment, and given license to snark.

You had skits and short pieces. From Joel becoming a farmer to taking family pictures to Christmas gift giving to making baked goods to Mike's ongoing issues with the ship's nanites...and that time he was put on trial for multiple charges of being a destroyer of worlds.

Ah. Good times.

Now in the Joel era there was also the Invention Exchange, mostly excuse to have fun with props, always something to look forward to. This was phased out after he left the show.

"What do you think, sirs?"

Another tradition was Viewer Mail. Through the end of the Comedy Central era they read letters from fans at the end of the show. It was a nice tradition, reminiscent of the world of TV they came out of. In fact a lot of what made MST3K what it was came from the Horror Hosts shows, and other like shows found across the country in small media markets. The fact they created a format that took them nationwide is a credit to all involved.

The show was a televisual gem. Some like to get into fights about Joel (the original host) and Mike (the second host), or the KTMA years versus the Comedy Central years versus the SciFi Channel years. I don't. Each era, and host, brings it's own value. And each era and each host is a part of a proud history of this show and phenomenon.

Yes, things changed. Yes, a member of the Satellite of Love was introduced. Yes, the Mads came and went. And, yes, the show came to an end.

Yes, the Mads came and went. And, yes, the show came to an end. 

But it always seemed to happen on their terms. And they have left us a legacy of laughs, memories, and an unquenchable need to mock bad movies.

Some many great and weird moments. We should all just remember to share them. Keep circulating the show.

And with Turkey Day almost here, it's a great time to do that. Or, just enjoy a marathon of the show on your own. But remember, there are online spots all over you can join in, and even an official marathon with Joel.

So gorge yourself...on comedy.

It's the 25th Anniversary! Enjoy it.

Also, remember that the comedy didn't stop there. It would not die. The people behind the show did continue on.

If you can find it, there's Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett's Film Crew series of shows. (It was sadly short lived.)

And now, they are working at Riff Trax, pumping out the comedy on various movies and shorts. Sometimes they even riff live (Like this December, when they will be returning to a favorite, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.) Being in a theater with other fans can be quite edifying.

And then there's Cinematic Titanic, which has been made up of Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Josh Weinstein, and Frank Conniff. They produced a number of movie riffs, and then started a tour. Sadly, I understand they are ending their run. But it was great while we had it, and I can only hope we night see them work again in the future.

So, we have a number of outlets through which to enjoy their comedic toil.

And I hope you all take advantage of them. Turn down the lights, and just relax.