Adventures with MoviePass – February 2018

Hey all!

June got away from me with finally GETTING MY MASTER’S DEGREE and all. I just got back from the Mythmoot conference, which doubled as my Master’s graduation ceremony. If you’d like to watch me give the welcome at graduation, along with watching the entire ceremony, you may do so at the link. There are also videos of the presentations, special speakers, and more of the Mythmoot conference on Signum University’s Twitch channel as well.

Anyway, onto what you’re really here for–my long-awaited mini-reviews of the movies I saw in the theater in February 2018. Per usual, BOLO for the SPOILER WARNING should there be any major spoilers, but overall, I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free.

The Greatest Showman – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to musicals. I always enjoy them when I watch them, but they aren’t usually at the top of my list of things to watch. That being said, several of my friends wanted to see The Greatest Showman, and me being the extrovert that I am, am hard-pressed to decline an invitation to an evening of fun with my buddies. Also, my personal head canon of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) dancing and singing while being the ringmaster of a circus is the perfect X-Men Musical Circus AU I’ve been waiting for.

There are several things I enjoyed about The Greatest Showman. The music was phenomenal. All the songs are catchy and the choreography was quite entertaining to watch. I admit to getting chills upon first hearing, “Never Enough,” (performed by former The Voice contestant Loren Allred), and being particularly moved by “This is Me.” One of the things that increased my respect for Zendaya (who I already enjoyed as MJ in Spider-man: Homecoming) was learning that she did all of her own trapeze stunts in the film. The cinematography was stunning. I particularly enjoyed how lighting, shadow, and color were used in the film. Even in scenes that didn’t take place at the circus, these elements helped to give each scene a big top-type feel. I also enjoyed the overall theme–stay hungry, but don’t lose sight of what you already have. This was a nice contrast for me since this was the musical team behind La La Land, which had great music, but had a troublesome theme in my view.

If I have one complaint about The Greatest Showman, I’ll say that the story fell a little flat for me. Part of this is because I’m not interested in venerating historical figures who weren’t actually good people in real life. Take a look at P. T. Barnum’s actual history to learn a little more about who he really was. Or, if you’d like to take a more comical look at history, check out the Honest Trailer for The Greatest Showman.

All that being said, I know a lot of folks enjoyed The Greatest Showman, and that’s certainly your prerogative to do so. However, if I want to enjoy it again, I’ll probably just stick with the soundtrack.

The Shape of Water – My favorite movie from 2017 is The Shape of Water. Guillermodel Toro’s response to a childhood obsession with Creature from the Black Lagoon for me is the ultimate sort of fan wish fulfillment possible. From the standpoint of someone who has obsessively engaged in analysis and creative response to film/television/literature/story my entire life, thinking about The Shape of Water from that perspective, if you’ll forgive the pun, blew me out of the water. However, the film does much more than engage in a bit of childhood wish fulfillment. I will try to keep my thoughts brief, but I could go on for hours about this film. If you’d like to dialogue with me more about the film, leave a comment and we’ll talk.

I will also give the caveat that The Shape of Water is not for everyone. Be advised that there is nudity and sexual content. However, the overarching theme and the way that particular theme is conveyed is worth discussing, especially for me as a Christian.

First of all, there are no bad actors in The Shape of Water. I had never seen Sally Hawkins in anything before and she completely melted my brain with her ability to convey emotion with no spoken dialogue. Her Oscar nomination for best actress was well deserved. Michael Shannon as the villain, Richard Strickland, was positively despicable. Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Stuhlbarg all performed their supporting roles magnificently as well. The brilliant character actor Doug Jones, one of the kindest actors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, gives one of his finest performances, also with no spoken dialogue.

Secondly, The Shape of Water offers up a sort of magical realism type of fantasy/science fiction tale. It is conveyed majestically through the cinematography and particularly its use of color and water. Water is often displayed visually in different manners to convey different ideas or themes–boiling water, bath water, the river, rain, etc. The darker sea green hues that color many of the scenes throughout much of the film give an underwater feel. The film’s use of music, as well as the concept of film/the theater really speaks to Hawkins’ character and del Toro’s response to Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Finally, the questions raised by The Shape of Water are what ultimately make this my favorite film of 2017 and has solidified the movie in my top 10 favorite films of all time. These questions are “What does it mean to be made in the image of God?” and “How do we treat people who are in the minority, be it racially, sexual orientation, politically, or ability?”

[What follows contains the dialogue of a powerful scene. Consider this your SPOILER WARNING].

There is a scene where Michael Shannon’s character (Strickland) is sizing up Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer’s characters (Elisa and Zelda). The dialogue is as follows.

STRICKLAND: [to Zelda and Elisa] Let me say this up front: You clean that lab, you get out. The thing we keep in there is an affront. Do you know what an affront is, Zelda?

ZELDA: Something offensive?

STRICKLAND: That’s right. And I should know, I dragged that… filthy thing… out of the river muck in South America all the way here. And along the way we didn’t get to like each other much. Now. You may think, “That thing looks human.” Stands on two legs, right? But – we’re created in the Lord’s image. You don’t think that’s what the Lord looks like, do you?

ZELDA: I wouldn’t know, Sir. What the Lord looks like.

STRICKLAND: Well, human, Zelda. He looks like a human. Just like me… Or even you. A little more like me, I guess…

If there was ever a scene that made me utterly despise a character more in a film, I can’t think of one. As a Christian, the fact that a supposed “christian” or “God-fearing” person would ever think or utter those things is beyond deplorable and angering to me. If a viewer is skeptical of Strickland’s character at that point, there is no doubt afterwards that he is evil and irredeemable. The deep offense of this line of dialogue though is effective in highlighting the film’s main questions I mentioned earlier. The film ultimately answers those questions with its finale–all those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and respect. What is even more fascinating to me about this film is that del Toro would describe himself as somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, yet the more of his films I watch, the more Christian themes I find (see most notably Pan’s Labyrinth–another fairy tale for adults).

[/SPOILER WARNING]

The Shape of Water really made me consider how I treat and view those different from me. Do I see them has someone created in the image of God, or do I think of them as different or “other” from me and therefore somehow less? It is a question worth asking and something to keep at the forefront of the mind.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – I have long been fascinated by reboots, sequels, and adaptations. I initially thought Welcome to the Jungle was another needless reboot, but then after reading a little more about it, learned it was actually a sequel. I was still a little confused about why one of my favorite childhood films, Jumanji, needed a sequel, but I really liked the cast (I have a love for The Rock that I can neither explain or deny), so I figured, why not? Also, from all accounts, it was supposed to be pretty funny and I’m never one to turn down a good laugh.

The film did not disappoint on the laugh front. One of the things that I really liked about it was the way the film changed the Jumanji board game into a retro game console that was a hybrid of an Atari 2600, a Sega Genesis, and a NES. The change fit perfectly for the time period. What I also liked was that each of the video game characters fit a mid 90s beat’em up adventure game stereotype. There’s a bold adventurer, a comical sidekick, a brilliant but clumsy scientist, and the tough and beautiful female adventurer dressed like Lara Croft. The film did a great job highlighting the problems with each of these stereotypes. My one take away from the film was that I left the theater feeling like I had just watched a play-through of a mid 90s adventure game on Sega Genesis. As a self-diagnosed retrophile and nostalgia addict, that alone made Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle worth seeing. Definitely check this one out for an all around fun popcorn movie.

Black Panther – While I’ve been a Marvel fan from the time I was very young, I’ll confess that my knowledge of T’Challa, the Black Panther, was quite limited before this film. However, by the end of the film, I’d found my new favorite Avenger.

Black Panther tackles many different and hard issues in a very delicate and nuanced manner. It is an origin story that breaks the mold of a traditional superhero origin story. It tells the story of a hero who must deal with the ramifications of a less than perfect familial past while also balancing the nuances of responsibility in running a nation with more power and advancements than others.

There are so many things that are worth discussing about this film–its handling of race, colonization, isolationism, family heritage, the many different portrayals of women, its villain, and more. It is difficult to discuss these things at length because 1). I am not a person of color and do not feel qualified to comment on many of these things, 2). I want you to watch this film yourself. I will however say a few things about the topics I feel somewhat qualified to address.

First, one of the things I adore about Black Panther is its many different portrayals of women. There’s not one particular type of woman figure–you have a mother, but not just a mother, a Queen. You have a brilliant and witty scientist who also happens to be a Princess, a warrior, an advocate who fights for the rights of those in need. It is so refreshing to me, as someone who’s never wanted to be the damsel in distress (give me a sword or a lightsaber any day), to see women who are like me in some way on screen. There are lots of different types of women in the world, we should be seeing more than one type reflected on screen. What I especially love about this film is that none of the male characters are diminished by any of these powerful females. Everyone has their own strength to bring to the table and they all work together for a common good.

Second, Erik Kilmonger is my favorite Marvel villain. He is a villain to which you can relate. He is someone that perhaps given a different set of circumstances, maybe he would have made different choices. Maybe he would have been someone like T’Challa. Michael B. Jordan truly brought out the intricacies of the character. While Kilmonger isn’t wrong about the injustices he’s seen and experienced, his method is one of violence, while T’Challa seeks to be peaceful.

Finally, I think what is the most important to me about Black Panther is the matter of representation. Something I have done my entire life is process my emotions through the lens of fictional characters. When I met Brienne of Tarth, I really wanted to weep because I felt like I’d finally met someone that told my story. I know how powerful that was for me. I love that so many other people got to experience that too.

There are so many things to unpack about Black Panther that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface here. It is rare to find a superhero film so multilayered and complex. This one is worth watching and worth discussing.

Honorable Mention: Get Out – I wanted to bring up Get Out for a few reasons. While I didn’t get to catch this one in the theater, I did stream it on HBO. Get Out to me, brings out the best parts of both The Shape of Water and Black Panther. It asks the same question as The Shape of Water–“What does it mean to be made in the image of God?” and it treats with the nuances of subtle and less than subtle racism that Black Panther does.

[SPOILER WARNING]

When the big reveal is made about the true nature of the Armitage family, I couldn’t help be think of Henrietta Lacks. If you’ve not heard of her, check this out. While different situations entirely, the principle is the same–removal of cells/DNA without consent for the purposes of genetic advancement.

[/SPOILER WARNING]

I was discussing Get Out and The Shape of Water with a friend around Oscar season. We were both fearful that Get Out might not get a fair shake for best picture because of the way it chose to highlight racism, but also because of its genre. It made me think about how both films essentially asked the same main questions, but Get Out was a science fiction horror film and The Shape of Water was a modern-day parable wrapped in the trappings of magical realism. Neither genre has ever gotten a fair shake outside of the technical realm, but particularly the horror genre. Only 6 horror films in the history of the Academy have ever gotten nominated for best picture, including Get Out, and only one has won the award, The Silence of the Lambs. So really, does best picture really come down to your genre preferences? It’s something worth considering. It’s also interesting to me to think about The Shape of Water through the lens of a parable. Parables function to highlight moral questions, which The Shape of Water does beautifully. Parables, also for many, can make a hard lesson go down easier–a spoonful of sugar and all that jazz. Maybe that’s why it won over Get Out. I don’t know. I don’t claim to understand the Academy. But what I do know is that Get Out is incredibly important and not to be missed. It’s a film you can sit and chew on for a while. It’s also one worth discussing. Add it to your short list if you’ve not seen it yet.

There you have it. Those are the films I got to see in the theater in February. My March list is a little shorter. I saw Black Panther a second time (this was before MoviePass changed to their 1 viewing per film policy), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Ready Player One. I won’t be covering Black Panther again unless I think of something I’d like to add to this review. Thanks for reading!

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Adventures with MoviePass – January 2018

If you talk to me for more than 2 minutes, you will know that I’m quite passionate about TV/film/storytelling in general. If I’d not studied lit, there is a high likelihood that I would have studied theater. I love the work that goes into telling a good story on screen and on stage, so when I signed up for Moviepass at the end of last year, I knew I’d be getting my money’s worth. While Moviepass has recently updated their terms, no longer allowing users to see the same movie multiple times, (a point of contention for many users and myself), I have enjoyed being able to see movies that I might not have taken a risk on in the theater, as well as trying some films that might not normally be my cup of tea. [Read: Not superheroes, not science fiction, not fantasy]. I’m going to do some mini-reviews of each film I’ve seen in the theater. Herein follows my  mostly spoiler-free thoughts on the movies I saw in the theater in January 2018. I will be sure to note if I say something spoilery, so make sure you are watching closely for the SPOILER WARNING! Stay tuned for updates for the rest of the year as well!

Lady Bird – In the earlier part of 2018, I made an effort to catch most of the films that were nominated for the major categories at the Oscars. I was able to see a good handful in the theater and caught at least one streaming (Get Out). I have some friends that really appreciated Lady Bird, so I wanted try to catch that one while I could. It only had a few limited showtimes the week I saw it, so I figured it was on its way out of the theater. It stuck around for a few more weeks after that. I didn’t know much, if anything, about the film when I sat down to watch, but I can say that I enjoyed it. The film takes place in the 2002-2003 school year, which is the year I graduated high school. I can attest to its accuracy in terms of style, costuming, decor, and overall feel. I went to see the film with a friend that is 6 years younger than me, so I had a great time pointing out all of the fun retro-ish stuff to her.

[The next paragraph will contain some less than detailed discussion of plot points, but some folks may consider it spoilery enough to denote a SPOILER WARNING].

Lady Bird is unlike any other coming of age story that I’ve seen. It’s a story that focuses not just on a young woman growing into her own in adulthood, but of a young woman who comes to appreciate her roots too. Upon first viewing, I wasn’t quite sure to do with the ending. It felt abrupt to me. I didn’t get the resolution that I wanted. I recently watched Lady Bird again. Perhaps it was because I knew what to expect, but I didn’t think it ended so abruptly the second time around. If any of you out there had a similar experience with Lady Bird, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

[/SPOILER WARNING]

I went into this film only knowing of Laurie Metcalf’s work. I love her and could listen to her talk all day. While I came for Laurie Metcalf, I stayed for Saoirse Ronan. This was my first time watching any of her work. Ronan made me laugh, surprised me, frustrated me (her character, not her acting), and brought a smile to my face. She was completely believable in the role, truly selling me on her acting ability. Her performance in Lady Bird has made me want to check out her other work. Greta Gerwig was also not on my radar. Lady Bird is semi-autobiographical for her, which I find intriguing. This is not normally a film I would choose to watch, but I am trying to broaden my horizons. Check this one out if you’re into solid female performances, drama, humor, and coming-of-age stories.

I, Tonya – Everyone I know that saw I, Tonya before I did left the theater raving about it. This is one I wish I had gotten to see more than once in the theater and it is definitely a film I want to own. I feel the need to preface this review by saying the following. I think a common misconception about this film is that it set out to venerate Tonya Harding for what occurred between her and Nancy Kerrigan. That’s simply not the case. In this film, the viewer gets Tonya’s story from multiple perspectives and is left to decide for themselves what to believe. What I enjoyed the most about I, Tonya is that I left the theater having felt the entire gamut of emotional responses I could have to a film. I had laughed, I’d felt fear, I’d felt anger, sadness, confusion, pity, and more. I would have to sit down and think for a long time to recall any other film that has done that to me. There are probably only 5 or fewer films that have made me feel that way. I think the film is worth seeing for that reason alone. However, if you need another one, the cinematography in this film is absolutely killer. The way the camera follows Robbie during her routines really places the audience in Tonya’s skates. I also loved how well the film broke the fourth wall during its storytelling. It created a nice splash of levity, which I enjoyed. The film also used paneled shots, which for me, made me feel like I was reading a comic book about Tonya Harding, but also allowed the viewer to see different characters’ perspectives. It was a good choice for a film like this.

Margot Robbie–I cannot say enough good things about her performance in this film. The best actress competition was quite stiff this year and it is a HARD choice for me to say who I enjoyed more–Sally Hawkins or Margot Robbie. I feel like I can’t choose! (The only film in that category that I did not get to see was The Post, but good grief, it’s Meryl Streep! That’s stiff competition any day of the week). Margot Robbie absolutely steals every single scene in this film. There is a little wink and a nod to Harley Quinn fans in the film as well, so be sure to watch for that. I missed Suicide Squad and as I understand it, she was the only redeeming part about that movie, so I’ll eventually get around to that one, if only to see her performance. The rest of the cast was impressive as well. It’s hard to go wrong with Sebastian Stan, but Allison Janney as Tonya’s mother was so impressive, it will be hard for me to watch her in anything else without thinking of her role in this film.

The biggest lesson for me in I, Tonya was one that is even more relevant today than it was in the early 90s when the events of the film occurred. The media has the ability to lionize or demonize a person with one news report. The responsibility of the media to give the facts without spin is something that cannot be ignored. In the political climate of today, along with the 24-hour news cycle, I, Tonya brings a relevant and important message to all of us–consider all sides, then choose what to believe for yourself.

If you’d like to hear me prattle on about I, Tonya, you should watch the film first then contact me directly so I can give you some more in depth thoughts. I, Tonya and The Shape of Water are my two favorite films of 2017, so I have much to say about both of them. I should also note that I, Tonya did receive the R rating, so there is some brief nudity as well as a truckload of f-bombs and other colorful language. If that sort of thing is offensive or problematic to you, you might want to fast forward or watch via your favorite filtering service.

Those are the two films I saw in the theater in January 2018! I’ll be posting my thoughts on February’s films in the next week or so. As a quick preview, you’ll be getting my thoughts on The Greatest ShowmanThe Shape of WaterJumanji: Welcome to the JungleBlack Panther, and an honorable mention for Get Out, which I streamed via HBO.

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Happy Alien Day!

Greetings to you from LV-426!

If you were to sit down and talk with me about my favorite films, Ridley Scott’s original Alien would make my top five. Heck, it might even be my number one. This list is constantly in flux for me, but that one stays in my top 5 consistently. There are lots of things about this film that keep it in or near the top for me. Here are a few.

  • I am continually amazed by how much horror is conveyed while the Xenomorph stays in shadow and is never fully revealed until the end.
  • Ripley is a heroine that is not only strong and powerful with a will to live like no other, she is also compassionate towards her crew. She’s such an interesting character and was quite different from the way most females were portrayed at the time. (I could write you a whole other post about the influence of Star Wars and Princess Leia on this film and Ripley, but I’ll save that for another day).
  • Alien is rooted firmly in the science fiction and horror genres, bringing forth the best elements of both.
  • The cinematography is gorgeous. I was fortunate enough to see both Alien and Aliens on the big screen in 2016. If you ever get the opportunity to see it on the big screen, do it. It’s totally worth any effort you make to do so.
  • The film has influenced other films and television shows I love, notably Stranger Things.

I could go on and on about all the things I love about Alien and the other films of the franchise, but I’ll be saving that for another day. Which day you ask? How about next Thursday, May 3 from 8:30 – 10:30 PM ET with Kat Sas & Curtis Weyant from Kat & Curt’s TV Re-View and Dominic Nardi of NardiViews?

I’ll be joining these fine folks for a discussion on Alien for the next Mythgard Movie Club. Register here to get a reminder e-mail and link about the discussion. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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I’m Back!

Flying the Falcon

For those of you who’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing the past year, it can be summed up in just a few words.

FINISHING. MY. MASTER’S. DEGREE!

I finished in September and my life got really full after that. After a bananas end to 2017 and a high-flying start to 2018, I’m back, and hopefully more consistently.

Things you can expect from me this year?

  • Movie Reviews – I’m the proud owner of a Movie Pass card and have gotten the opportunity to see several great films this year. I’m planning to write about what I’ve seen thus far this year, highlighting my favorites.
  • Cosplay – One of the things I started doing consistently around the middle of August last year was exercising. Partly to take better care of myself (self-care is not my forte), but honestly, my main motivating factor was to be able to cosplay as Brienne of Tarth from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Brienne is my favorite character in all of fiction (for reasons that will take me an entire post or two to fill) and I absolutely adore Gwendoline Christie as both an actress and a human. I plan to eventually cosplay all of Gwen’s characters. I will never be as tall as Gwen, as she’s literally a foot taller than me, but I could be buff, and so my journey to better health has begun. I’ve lost around 30 lbs. and built more muscle than I thought I could have. I feel myself getting stronger every day and I’m very happy about that. I’ve already started cosplaying Gwen’s characters, dressing as Miranda Hilmarson

    Miranda Hilmarson–this one also got liked by the Top of the Lake Official Account

    from Top of the Lake: China Girl for Halloween (which was Gwen Approved–she liked my tweet with my costume pics) and having jokingly described myself as “Modern AU Brienne of Tarth” as I carried around my replica of Oathkeeper at the Renaissance Festival and to Geek Girl Brunch. BOLO for more descriptions of my adventures in cosplay this year.

  • Book Reviews – I have been a very, very naughty writer and am horrifically behind on reviewing author friends’ works. I am lucky to have very forgiving friends. I’ll be catching up on those this year too.
  • Speaking Engagements/Podcasts/Interviews – Now that I am done with my M. A., I want to talk to you about all the cool things I learned getting there–I already have had the privilege of speaking about Harry Potter to larger audiences. I also now specialize in a lot of other things, namely Stranger Things, adaptation, and geek culture as it was the topic of my M. A. thesis. Basically, if you want to hear me geek out about just about anything, I’m your gal. If you’d like me to come speak to your group, on your podcast, or guest post/be interviewed for your blog, please hit me up on the contact form.

Thanks for sticking with me. See you around!

Modern AU Brienne of Tarth

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Stranger Things Season 2 Trailer Analysis

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST SEASON OF STRANGER THINGS! IF YOU’VE NOT WATCHED, DO THE RIGHT THING AND GET THEE TO NETFLIX!

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If you follow me anywhere on social media, you know that I’ve been freaking out about Stranger Things since July. It was definitely my favorite show from 2016. I am a somewhat passive football fan, so the highlight for me during the Super Bowl was the Stranger Things trailer. I’ve been waiting with bated breath for any news of the next season, particularly a release date. I got my wish! If you’ve not seen it yourself, here’s the trailer.

Here are my initial thoughts and breakdown of the trailer.

  1. Eleven is back! I think we all knew she would be. The first time I watched the show, I thought she had snuffed it, but was then skeptical at Hopper’s visit to the woods in the final episode. On a recent rewatch, I happened to notice that a hole started opening up in the demogorgon as she was sending him back to the Upside Down. I had initially thought she blew him up and went along with him. I’m quite happy to be wrong about that. 
  2. It takes place during Halloween week 1984. The teaser image of the boys, minus Will in Ghostbusters garb signals that this is post-June 1984. Also, if you look closely, you can spot the date on the surveillance TVs. Are they at Hawkins lab? I’m certain that’s Will on the table. In addition, I can’t imagine a scenario other than Halloween as an accepted reason to wear Ghostbusters get-up to school. will-season-2
  3. Will the Wise can see things. One of the more disturbing images in the trailer is the juxtaposition of the monster drawing and Will crying. I believe the drawing to be by Will because of all the other artwork he drew in the first season.
    someone-has-seen-this-gigantic-demogorgon-and-drew-it-with-charcoalThis makes me think that Will has definitely not left the Upside Down unscathed. At first, I was unsure if the boy crying was Mike or Will, but juxtaposing the image with the drawing inclines me to believe it’s Will.
    will-cryingOf course, we knew that he was still burping up slugs and getting flashes of the Upside Down, but it looks to me like he may be deeply psychologically connected to that realm as well. I’ve thought for a while that Will may have powers, since he’s the only one to survive the Upside Down. My personal theory is that he and Eleven are the two metaphorical heads of an actual D&D demogorgon, which is not the Tuliphead monster we see in the first season.
    demogorgonstrangerthingsWill is the deception head; Eleven is destruction. Will is good at hiding, after all. I think he’s slowly starting to realize that while he’s no longer physically in the Upside Down, he is not out of danger yet.
  4. Thessalhydra, Demogorgon, or Demogorgonzilla? The final shot we get in the trailer is of some huge monstrous nightmare fuel that is about to lay waste to Hawkins.
    16463736_1278038022261801_8567196687396578393_oThis of course is the very same monster in the drawing I mentioned previously. My initial thought was that the Demogorgon (or Alien) nest in the Upside Down has hatched and created an IT inspired monster, inviting Hawkins to look into its obscenely over-sized deadlights. My second thought was, “No! This is DEMOGORGONZILLA!” I also just enjoy saying Demogorgonzilla. After conversations with a friend on facebook and reading this article, I’m now leaning that this might be a thessalhydra. If you’ll recall, in the final episode of season 1, the boys are fighting a thessalhydra in their D&D game.
    thessalhydra_cover.jpgWikipedia describes a thessalhydra as, “It resembles a hydra for the most part, with a few differences. Instead of its eight heads emerging straight from the reptilian body, they form a ring around a large, circular mouth rimmed with jagged teeth. The tail ends in a set of pincers that can grab an opponent and force it into the large mouth. The main mouth can spit out a gob of acidic saliva once every day.” That sounds an awful lot like the monster we see standing over Hawkins. It’s also important to note that Mike says Lucas only cut off 7 heads. Thessalhydras have eight. This realization terrifies me. I’m so eager and fearful to see what will happen!
  5. “The Lost Brother.” A few months back, we got episode titles for season 2. I wasn’t sure what to make of any of them then, though I was certainly intrigued. The final episode is entitled, “The Lost Brother.” Now with my knowledge of the 2 headed demogorgon, and the new trailer, I can’t help but think of Halloween 2. Is Will the lost brother? Does he have a lost brother? Is he Eleven’s lost brother? I feel like I’m shooting in the dark with this, but this image really makes me think that we’ll see more John Carpenter in the coming season.
    halloween

I have a lot more thoughts about Stranger Things. If you want to talk with me about them, leave a comment! There’s also a great discussion about the trailer and season 2 going on in the facebook group, Retroist Clubhouse. The speculation period is almost as fun for me as the actual act of watching the show. What do you think will happen? What are you most looking forward to in Season 2?

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A (Belated) Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends!

2016 is in the books and with 2017 in full swing, I feel like I’ve had little time to sit still. I happy-new-yearhope your new year has started off with a bang. This is my annual post where I take a moment to examine my 2016 Nerd Goals and take stock of what I want to accomplish in 2017. Let’s see how I stacked up against last year’s goals and set goals for the new year.

2016 Nerd Goals Assessment and 2017 Goals

  1. Read 50 books. SUCCESS! I successfully managed to read 66/50 books, so I exceeded my goal by 16 books. This included work for class, audio books, pleasure reading, graphic novels, and 1 reread (Ready Player One).
    1. 2017 Goal: Read 50 books and this year’s issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Since I’ve now officially started my thesis(!), I will be doing a lot of reading for my thesis work, particularly this spring. I also found it beneficial to do some pleasure reading to help my brain decompress and relax last year, so I’ll be doing that again. Additionally, my in-laws gifted me a subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Christmas this year, so I’m looking forward to diving into that. I’ve made myself a daily schedule, which includes time for thesis and pleasure reading. If you’re on GoodReads, you can still connect with me there to see what I’m reading.
  2. Write consistently. MEH. I did not meet my goal of blogging weekly, largely due to an extremely difficult course load, but I did hit somewhere near monthly. I missed 4 months of writing on this blog, but I also completed 3 posts on other my favorite blog, The Retroist. That puts me just shy of monthly blogging. That’s much lower than what I’d ultimately like to do, but considering my heavy course load, I think monthly is a much more doable goal.  BTW, I still pay the bills largely by helping others manage their social media and blogging. Let me know how I can help you with that.
    1. 2017 Goal: Write on my blog and The Retroist monthly. I love writing my blog, as well as for The Retroist, so writing 1 post for each site monthly is a good baseline for me. I want to write more if I am able. Do you have a site you’d like me to write for? If so, please drop me a note at the contact link. By the way, you can keep track of everything I write for The Retroist site by following this link. You also have permission to bug me about the lack of content here. I don’t mind encouragement!
  3. Retro gaming. MEH. I only completed one game last year, The Legend of the Dragoon, for PS1. I have acquired a few more games and have enjoyed playing some classics. I’ve had fun playing Spider-man: Maximum Carnage on my Sega Genesis this year. I enjoy side-scrolling beat-em ups because they take me back to my youth, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Spidey. That makes the game fun for me. 
    1. 2017 Goal: Play video games/board games weekly. I recently traded several old toys and collectibles in at a neat store in my hometown called Retro Artifacts for an Atari 7800. I still haven’t gotten to set it up yet, but I’m looking forward to giving my copies of Joust! and Robotron: 2084 a go. My husband and I love tabletop gaming as well, so playing games together is always a good choice.
  4. Fill in the gaps in my film/television “Nerd Knowledge.” SUCCESS! While I don’t know that I’ll ever “finish” the gaps in my nerd knowledge, 2016 was indeed a banner year for geeking out. I fell in love with Stranger Things this year, not only because it’s such a wonderful story, but because it is a representation of so many things I love and has struck a chord with a broader audience outside of geek/nerd culture. I have hopes and plans for cosplaying as Eleven at a con or two this year. I also got to see a lot of retro horror films this year, which really helped to round out my gap there, particularly with John Carpenter’s work. I also got caught up on all the latest Marvel series and films, so I’m very happy about that. Additionally, I finished The X-Files in time for the 10th season (which I enjoyed and am hopeful for another).
    1. 2017 Goal: Stay caught up on fandoms I love. With 3 new Marvel series to look forward to this year, another season of Stranger Things, Star Trek: Discovery, and more, I’m not sure I’ll have much time to add a whole lot of new shows/films to my plate. I’m already about halfway through Westworld and there’s another season of Game of Thrones coming up. I also plan to submit an abstract for a book of essays on Orphan Black this summer, so I’ll need to do a rewatch and catch the final season this spring. That’s a lot of TV on top of my thesis work, but considering my focus is on geek culture studies, perhaps some of this can be considered, “homework”?
  5. Make time for myself. MEH. As I suspected, this goal proved the most challenging for me. I did a little better about making time for myself, but saying no is still difficult, especially as many of my friends are introverted. When an introvert invites you out, you should always say yes! I am carving out a little time each day to do fun and relaxing things for myself, like reading and gaming for fun. I don’t have a specific night of the week carved out for myself as “me time,” but I will be working on that soon.
    1. 2017 Goal: Self-care night and exercise daily. In addition to having one night a week as a “self-care” night, I want to be fitter. I watch all these superhero films/shows and I see my heroes doing cool feats of physical prowess, and not necessarily of the supernatural kind either! Being able to do flips, run and fight in strength, swing a sword, etc.–those are all things I can’t do right now in my health and physical condition. In typically nerd fashion, I am exceptionally athletically challenged, so just about all my experiences with exercise are associated with shame. As an adult, finding time to be active is difficult, especially with work and school keeping me behind a computer, but I’ve decided that my weekday mornings will be filled with 45-60 minutes of exercise. My computer is in “lock-out” mode (think Wade in Ready Player One) until I do so. My pal Hope has been my workout buddy for a couple mornings a week each week, so that’s helped a lot. I’m planning to do at least 30 minutes of cardio and then 15-30 of some weight training/body weight exercises. I’ve been invited to be in a wedding, so that’s another good motivating factor for me too. I’d love recommendations on fitness things that have worked for you.

There you have it–my 2016 goal update and my 2017 goals. What do you plan to do this year? How do you plan to make it happen?

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Happy Halloween and Happy Reformation Day!

I’ve got a confession to make.

I’m a Christian that loves Halloween. martin-luther

Unabashedly. Unashamedly.

I look for excuses to wear costumes, but Halloween seems to be one of the only times that it’s socially acceptable to walk around in costume all day. My childhood Halloween memories were always positive, trick-or-treating with my sister and occasionally my cousins. My teenage and college years were filled with fun parties, good-natured laughter, my favorite Halloween specials, and the occasional horror flick. I love seeing the creativity and imagination that goes into thinking up a costume and pulling it off. I love candy, pumpkin beer, and I’ve recently acquired a taste for horror films, though mostly of the mystery-thriller sort.

As a believer, particularly of the reformed variety, I also am grateful for the courage of Martin Luther. His 95 theses have shaped my faith, as well as those of many before me. I think this quote from him that C. S. Lewis opens with in The Screwtape Letters has a particular poignancy for me, especially on this day.

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

The devil doesn’t own this day. He doesn’t own anything. He’s defeated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I spend the evening laughing and celebrating my freedom and liberty in Christ. So if you celebrate Halloween in good conscience, dress up. Hand out candy. Laugh with your friends. Love your neighbor. Watch your favorite Halloween specials and films. Rejoice in your freedom in Christ. Trounce the devil with your laughter.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

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