Friday, June 27, 2014

Penny Dreadful Review - Episode 2 - Seance

The next Penny Dreadful is hot off the presses. Have you got your penny?

Good. It's time for...


What Came Before? 

Well, it seems that our Dr. Frankenstein has been hard at work on his extra curricular activities. He's eager to pierce "the tissue that separates life and death." And it appears he's been inching closer and closer, until he's now finally succeeded.

"You know? Some nights it's like you're not even alive."

And there stands his creation. Bloody. Scared. Scarred. And, in need of answers.

"Daddy?I think I made a boom boom."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Horror Of...Writing in June


Well my effort to start reviewing Penny Dreadful weeks ago did not go to plan. I did want to find a way to start the reviews as the show started, and then by the halfway point...And here we are approaching the season finale.

Still, the first episode review is available now. For the next 6 episodes? ...I have a cunning plan.

I have wanted to think of ways to make reviews less a trek and more a jaunt. I've been working towards some brevity, but this is a chance to really work at cutting things down for quick turnaround. It may yet be a horrible disaster.

The plan is to address (until I have reason otherwise) key questions:

  • What Came Before? - How the last episode ended.
  • A Deathly Cold Open. - Does the episode have a cold open?
  • And Now! - Does the episode continue follow on from the ending of the last episode?
  • Enter Stage Right! - Are there any new outstanding characters to note?
  • To Smile and Smile, and Still... - Are there new baddies to notice or remember?
  • ...And Heard No More. - Are there fatalities to mourn this episode?
  • Revelations! - Are there any plot points we just have to remember?
  • Thoughts? - ...And the rest!

Yeah. I often feel the need to give things quirky names. It's not weird!

We'll see how that works. We'll also see if I can get anywhere near episode 7 of Penny Dreadful by Sunday night. Even if don't finish them all by then, I'll continue with this layout until the penultimate episode.

Also, I finally have finished the look at much of what leads up to Dracula (1931)... And between that and Penny Dreadful, I need a break from the vampires. So I will look at some zombies for The Horror Of... And to try and rap up June, and to start off July, let's go to the prom! ...Well, some schools actually run to the end of June (Good lord!). Also, I have no recollection of when prom occurs in a school year. So let's head to the Dance of the Dead! Woo!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Penny Dreadful Review - Episode 1 - Night Work

Another horror series? A show that will make use of various Victorian and Gothic settings, characters, and ideas? A penny dreadful motif? ...You have my attention.

Of course, they are now getting to their...season finale? ...So I am a little behind. As I mentioned elsewhere, I've had some technical, among other, issues. Still, if you haven't heard about the show, or are undecided on watching it, enjoy.

In case you've never come across the term before, Penny Dreadfuls were beloved pastime of Victorian London society. A penny each issue, they were a cheap and popular periodical of the day. They covered various lurid tales. Monsters preying on the citizenry. Murderers brutally killing God fearing families. Dark tales of the criminal life in London, from the thieves to the opium dens. The more dark and terrible the story, the better, as that brings people back looking for more. I looked a little at this in reviewing the origins of Dracula, and the penny dreadful tale of Varney the Vampire.

Penny Dreadful examples - the super natural Spring Heeled Jack and
murderous Sweeney Todd

As a source, they are quite rich. They have given us, or made us of such notables as Varney the Vampire, Spring Heeled Jack, and Sweeney Todd. The output of the penny dreadfuls were wide reaching. A developed fictional world taking advantage of these ideas is bound to be horribly fantastic.

Also, Victorian horror as a whole is a heady source. The works of Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stephenson, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Oscar Wilde, and others...What a menagerie! Maybe we'll get a bit from Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle as well?

But will it be fully taken advantage of?

The series has been created by John Logan. That may be a good or bad thing depending on your mood. He's written Star Trek: Nemesis, The Time Machine (2002), and Skyfall. He's also written Gladiators, Sweeney Todd, and Rango. It all depends on your love and hate for these individual movies. I can't say I hate any of them. But I do note that he's written a take on Sweeney Todd, a story that came from the Penny Dreadfuls that inspire this show. It shows a previous interest in the topic.

From the look of the show, this seems to be a labor of love. He even preemptively constructed a show bible for the story and character. There is some passion here.

But to be honest, when I did first see his name tied to this project, I was paused. But, maybe we shouldn't be too quick to judge.

Let's see what Penny Dreadful does to entice us to buy into this first chapter of their lurid tale.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dracula Rises from the News

It seems Dracula just can't keep out of the news. As good a time as any, I suppose.

For Sale By Owner, Crypt Newly Refurnished.

Dallas and John Heaton/Free Agents Limited/Corbis
Word is that Castle Dracula is for sale. It's a nice deal at around $80,000,000.

Granted, it's not the actual Castle Dracula, or rather we are talking about the very human Vlad Tepes. Also, it isn't the caste from which he ruled. Rather it's a castle where he was kept prisoner...allegedly.

Still, nice deal, especially as a surprise birthday present....Of course renovation and heating would kill you. So it'd actually be a horrible gift.

Dracula slept here, because this is where we buried him.

It also seems that they've found the final resting place of Drac...Vlad. It's in Naples at Santa Maria La Nova. Apparently the hypothesis is that while Vlad was imprisoned by the Turks, his daughter (a secret one) in Naples paid a ransom for his freedom. He then lived out his final years in Naples.

Trouble is, there's no actual evidence that this is true. Just speculation and interpretation. The historically accepted version of Vlad's fate is that he died fighting to retake his land of Wallachia.

This is all an issue with Dracula, or any notorious figure from history. So many tales emerge. So many claims. So many opportunities to make a tidy sum.

And Bran Castle is one of many spots in Romania that have become tourist spots. They've even tried and failed to get a Dracula Theme Park open. And now, Santa Maria in Naples is drawing in tourist.

It's enough to make Dracula roll over in his sarcophagus.

The Horror Of...Dracula Through the Ages - All of the Posts

"Hey! ...You aren't sleeping are you? I'm bored. Wanna
With a finish to the extended cursory overview trek into Dracula and his progenitors...that's a lot of words...I thought it would be nice to put them altogether in one post.

"Well I thought it was a good idea!"

From legends to Penny Dreadfuls to novel to Bela.
"How are you getting 4G here?"

I won't be updating this for the movies as I look at various Dracula movies. Of course that's why there's the Dracula label. This is also part of the look at Universal Monsters overall, started here.

"Damn it! Get to my movie already!"

Meeting of Minds: John Oliver and Dr. Stephen Hawkings

As if usually the case, adding a scientist to anything makes something better.

Try some Stephen Hawking with your John Oliver. Extended version even.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Horror Of...Dracula through the Ages - Beyond Books

Stoker's Dracula novel had it's day in the light, but it did not cement Stoker's place among writer's of his day. People shifted to other stories soon enough. While much of the public moved on from Dracula, it did stick in some people's head. It latched on. Dracula would not rest.

Dracula did not make the Stoker's economically comfortable. They struggled. Late in life Stoker had to try for grants to support his family. It wouldn't be until after Bram Stoker's death that the Stoker family would see real returns from Dracula.

It would take a new medium. Theater.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So how is it still okay to use some racial slurs?

I am always fascinated by how society deals with it's racism. Some parts advance, see where mistakes were made, and attempt recompense. Others get angry and talk about tradition or over sensitivity. And others just star ever harder into their smart phone and don't want to get involved.

We have activities that we wouldn't dare do, for fear of offense. We have words we won't say, knowing how disgusting they are...Though, even using the N-word or blacking up are things some white folk are completely fine doing. So people are just assholes.

Still, their are words and activities that maintain active support among a larger part of society, like co-opting other cultures for amusement. One culture that many people find no trouble "borrowing" from is the Native American culture (by which I mean the broad caricature of the many many cultures that predated European colonization of the Americas). Headdresses. Outfits. Dances. Props. Calls. Slurs.

Years back I remember when one issue among these activities arose. It involved the baseball team, the Atlanta Braves (which is in reference to Native Americans). They had a fan chant and hand action, the Tomahawk Chop. I remember a point in the 1990's when people were complaining about the fact a mocking cry and the act of whacking away with an ax is insulting to...the people you are trying to mimic. It's a faux-Native American dance/chant.

I actually thought, not paying a lot of attention at the time, that it had been done away with for at least the reason it is so damn tacky, if it offensive. But no, it is still around, along with those foam tomahawks.

That's not good.

But it pales in comparison to the football team of Washington D.C. the R-words. You know, we have a college football team called the Fighting Irish, and I have always looked at that as such a weird choice. But even that isn't an overt racial or ethnic slur.

Now some defenders say that the name was done in honor of a respected early coach. They say the phrase wasn't offensive back in the day. Some even say it isn't that bad know.

Guys? Take the damn offensive, insulting, tacky ass name off that team. Teams change names for lesser reasons than this. Show some social awareness. Show an ounce of compassion. Show you aren't this stupid a group of businessmen.

Get. A. Clue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Luke Skywalker meets the Joker

Mark Hamill is just an enjoyable guy. For me, the most fun with him has come from his work as a voice actor. He has really cemented The Voice of The Joker for a lot of people.

But if you've ever wondered what would happen if Luke Skywalker met the Joker...

I am also quite fond of a movie he once made years back, Comic Book: The Movie. (So, yes, this is partly an excuse to bring this movie up.) Hamill constructed a movie that allowed him to blend his own love of comic books with the combined talents of many of his friends and colleges in voice acting.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

On Father's Day

Spending time with dad.
On Father's Day we try and make an extra effort to remember, or connect with, our dads (or father figures/single moms/etc). Sometimes there isn't enough time in life to appreciate everything about your relation. Sometimes that relationship is a complicated one.

When you look at that relationship over your life, it is complicated. You start out strangers. You grow to admire and be in awe. Then you get credulous. If you have a good relationship you then grow to understand them, their flaws, their hidden assets, and the fact they are a being separate from you that made all those years of efforts for you.

Dads and moms (Though we are focused on dads today because. But that doesn't mean all of this isn't true for our relationships with them as well.). Parents. They go through a lot of garbage for us. Scrimp and save. Sacrifice. Re-prioritize. All for the sake of the next generation.

And I could go into the long list of reasons that biology and nature make those sacrifices occur. But it's like talking about the biology of love. Who the hell cares? Parents take those steps for us.

They get us through to adulthood, and they even still love us (Who knows why?). Even when you screw up. Even when you fight. Even when you push them away.

That is our bond, and it can mean so much.

From Louis C.K., a look at how special and worthwhile fatherhood is:

"I found out that I am a pretty bad father. I make a lot of mistakes. I don't know what I am doing. But my kids love me."
And I love my dad to.

Parenthood is not for everyone, but those that take on the epic quest, thanks.

That stuff you say? Yeah, it is obnoxious.

Sometimes people in a dominant group can become oblivious to some odious and tiring casual racism. It's tiring to deal with. Also it can be annoying to watch someone think they are being friendly, supportive, and positive in being like this.

So enjoy seeing things from the other side.

From Buzzfeed:

Frozen, How It Should Have Ended

The folks at How It Should Have Ended give fans a lot of enjoyment as they poke holes in a wide range of movies. It is all in good fun, and even when it's a movie I do enjoy a good deal, I can still laugh along.

But one recent release of theirs is particularly fun. So please enjoy "How Frozen Should Have Ended".

From How It Should Have Ended:

Am I the only one that kind of feels sad the Elsa isn't an X-Men suddenly?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th - Episode 9 - Root Of All Evil

Hmm. What day is today?

Thank you, convenient movie caption.

Oh, right! GTK

So that mean it's time to move on from boxing to gardening...Wait, that sounds iffy.

But it's Friday the 13th the Series, come on!

And this time we are facing

"The Root Of All Evil"

We've had creepy dolls and murderous scalpels. I am sure this month's cursed item will be great...

...a mulching machine...Really? You're killing me here, TV show from the 80's.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nostalgia - Network Movie Premieres, Trailers in Short

Sometimes us olden folk like some nostalgia. It's a homesickness for the past.

It's like when I was away from home in my first year of college. I had some VHS tapes of shows I'd recorded, and at times, there was a strange sensation on a low day to see ads and channel call letters from home. For moments you're home. (And if you need a refresher course on VHS and VCR's, please look here.)

But we can't go home to the past. We can relive it. We can get stuck in it. We can drown in it.

So let's do a quick toe dip, okay?

One thing that sticks somewhere in the back of the mind are ads. Different places and times take on ads and promotions in their own unique ways. We don't do things like we used to, for the better and the worse. And what can I say, I am a little bit of a sucker for old fashion hype.

Something that we used to have that has long become defunct is ABC/CBS/NBC having MOVIE PREMIERES. ...I mean, between Pay Per View, Netflix, Cable TV, etc...Why do it? No one is clamoring for it. Once though, most people just had the Big 3 Channels, and PBS and some small time local channels. Even when Cable TV became a thing, it wasn't that common. Most people couldn't afford, or didn't bother with, cable.

Antennas, man! That's the future!

So let's look back at the day of the BIG WEEKLY MOVIE PREMIERE ON THE TV BOX!!!

And among those that really liked to get in with a big show was ABC.

The World Cup and FIFA 2014...Not the video game.

The World Cup is about to start!

What's the World Cup? The greatest sports spectacle in the world. The meeting of national teams of football/soccer players who compete until one nation stands victorious!

It's the big time...outside the United States. ...Come on, America!

Still, it isn't without issues. It's run by FIFA, a massive multinational institution. And it pulls in a lot of cash.Some of it legit, some of it far from legit. (A lot of these issues are the same problems the IOC has.)

And they are showcased right now in Brazil. Around 3-4 miles around each stadium is more or less under the direct control and authority of FIFA; they are Fifalands.

In Brazil it's illegal to sell or have alcohol at a stadium. In Fifaland, it's encouraged and branded. Will that be happening in Qatar to in 2018?

In Brazil there are a lot of street merchants selling food and other items. In Fifaland, they are barred for miles around each stadium. So much for that financial return to those further down the Brazilian economic ladder. Not to worry those at the top are making a bundle.

In the 2014 South African World Cup a certain company produced a massive number of bright orange overalls for Holland fans, and the fans loved the garish representation for going to games. But that company was not one that paid to be present, so all the overall were banned and taken away.

Presidebt Rousseff defends Cup and
And this year in Brazil there has been a lot of unrest among people angry that in the midst of poverty and need in the country vast amounts of money are being spent for this spectacle. It is contentious. It's to the point that the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, had to come out and ask Brazilians to unite and support the World Cup.

It's a flawed and troubling process all around. It needs reform. It needs changes.

But...It's the freaking World Cup!!! And I want to watch! I want to celebrate the sport. I want to enjoy it.

And the Ents march.

Still, while I will watch, I want to be aware of the severe problems and injustice tied to it. We shouldn't hide from the problems in the things we enjoy. I want things to get better.

So if you want to laugh some, learn some, and get a little revved up...\

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Net Speak: Me Talk No Good. LOL

Is the language of the Internet killing society, language, literacy, and...stuff?

Probably not.

This may well just be part of language and social communication flexing, growing, and experimenting. Language needs to get taken out once in awhile and exercised. It's not the family silver.

So, yes, if you fret that language isn't used the way you like, you are a Margaret Dumont character.

From Critical Lit:

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Dressing up like other cultures. Really?

Wearing the skin of other races. Why do we do it? I know, for a long time it was no big deal to "us". Co-opting another culture for aesthetic, or amusement, was our thing. Throw on a mustache and a sombrero. Throw on a "Native Warrior" costume. Throw on some brown or black face paint and...wait, that's been B.S. for decades now (Yet I can point you to SO MANY examples from the last few years of privileged white asses doing black face.).

But people hem and haw about not mimicking and mocking other cultures still. Really, people? You did hear it's the 21st century?

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Climate Change Denialist and Their Denial

At this stage it should be getting hard to disagree about the impact of our treatment of the global environment. The negative changes are slowly creeping into place. Difficulties are growing. Tension slowly mounts.

But, hey...


Thursday, June 05, 2014

False truths in Astronomy, with Dr. Pamela Gay

From her talk at Balticon 2012 (Skeptics Track). Dr.Gay talks about some of the inaccurate and ridiculous claims about space, the stars, and our doom that we all end up hearing about in our day to day lives.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Hackers and Hollywood

We've all watched it for years. We've all seen how ridiculous it's gotten. But it seems writers in Hollywood are only growing less technologically savvy.

But computers are magic, aren't they? At least that's what my new computer keeps telling me...

From Cracked.Com:

TWIB's A Black Show

The team at TWIB have been working hard at expanding their brand and shows, while engaging with it's audience. In an effort to give Elon James White, the founder of TWIB, a heart attack, they've moved into producing a weekly TV show. A Black Show (#ablackshow). It's every Friday at 8 PM (PT) on the Free Speech network.

Like everything they do, it offers a look at politics and society, with a unique view and sense of humor. They also bring in a number of different voices to discuss topics.

Here's a little from the show, you can find more here. Also, if you can't see it on Free Speech TV, or miss it, they have the latest episodes available on iTunes.


Women, Rape Culture, and Boyce Watkins