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