Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

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So, I’ve watched maybe two episodes of this show and I’m really liking it so far. I’m willing to date this show for a while, because it’s good fun and makes me laugh. Midnight Texas isn’t a deep show. It’s not a Bryan Fuller Joint, or Westworld, but it’s a fun little interlude before going to bed, since it airs at ten, Monday nights, and I gotta go to work in the morning.

The main character, Manfred Bernardo, can see ghosts. His Auntie comes from the town of Midnight, and after she dies suddenly, leaving him in debt to some type of criminal, her ghost tells him the town can be a safe place for him, where his skills will be appreciated.

Midnight Texas happens to be the home of various supernatural beings, and Manfred fits right in. Upon his  arrival, Manfred meets a local girl named Creek, and while her father is deeply suspicious of him, the young lady is intrigued, and the two of them develop a relationship very quickly. A lot of things happen quickly in the show, and many of the plot points happen in a kind of throwaway manner that takes some getting used to. I understand the idea is to keep it light, and not get too bogged down in philosophy, meta- physics, and whatnot. The show is supposed to just be fun, and I’ll watch it in that spirit.

I have a lot of favorite characters on the show, most of which are supers. There’s some good representation on the show, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various characters. I missed the second episode, but managed to watch the third. The creators are trying to keep things light without being ha-ha funny, which is a fine line. It doesn’t look like they’re trying so much to reproduce True Blood, as reproduce the mood of True Blood. Some of these characters are mentioned in the True Blood books though.

Manfred, for example, is the psychic that Sookie met when she visited Dallas.  Midnight Texas is based on source material from the same writer, Charlaine Harris. I have not read the books. I opted not to, because I didn’t want my brain focusing on the side issues of the books, while watching the show. I may read them at some point in the future, because they seem like fun, but not right now.

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We have a full complement of creatures on the show, so you’d think my favorite would be the Reverend Emilio Sheehan, who happens to be a Were-Tiger, which is kinda awesome. He seems rather morose, which is appropriate as I consider actual tigers to be the “crabby old men” of the giant cat world. There are WoC in the cast. One of them owns the local bar/diner, and I don’t think she has any superpowers, but I could be wrong, and it’s something that could be revealed later. The other is the local witch. The town does have some mundane people inhabiting it, and some of them are aware of the supernatural qualities of the others.

You’d think my next favorite would be the Angel, Joe because he’s really, really hot. I’m not into blondes, as a rule, but I’m willing to acknowledge the occasional hotness of some of them. He happens to be living with a Hispanic man named Chuy, who also happens to be an Angel, and I wonder if the two of them being a couple is the reason they’ve been exiled to Earth.

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Lemuel

Well, you know who my favorite is. Lemuel, the rather unique vampire who feeds off human energy, and eats other vampires. We get to see his backstory in the third episode. He used to be a slave and there’s a scene of Lemuel being whipped for trying to escape, which I didn’t appreciate having to look at. That scene is pretty graphic and you may want to skip it if watching Black people being tortured is not your thing. The point of all that is to show how far Lemuel will go to be free, I guess.  After a couple of escape attempts, Lem encounters a Native American vampire, who transforms him. Lem’s immediate course of action is to avenge himself on the slave owner, who had him beaten, and that guy’s entire family. That’s pretty graphic too.

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Olivia

 

Later, Lem and the other vampires in his clan, have a falling out, because Lem thinks he’s become just another slave to his thirst. In the third episode, Len’s Maker returns looking to take over Midnight for himself. The townspeople rally together to kill the vampires.

This seems to be the main theme this season, as we’ve  had three/four episodes, in which the townspeople need to band together to defeat some outside force. In the middle of all this plot, we learn that Lem started off as an ordinary vampire, but after encountering Manfred’s aunt when she was a child, she transformed him into something else, a vampire that can feed on other vampires.

The characters often have some deep philosophical insights, but like I said, it’s in a blink and you’ll miss it manner. (Joe and the Reverend do this too.) Lem is played by Peter Mensah, who is extremely handsome, in his bold blue contacts. You may remember him as a gladiator from the show Spartacus.

I  like Lem’s girlfriend, Olivia, who is some type of international assassin. She’s a total badass, and she and Lem are the town’s heavy hitters, when it comes to defense. I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to White television actresses, unless they’ve firmly established themselves with a good track record, but I like this actress. She’s blunt spoken, clear-headed, and pragmatic, all qualities I admire, and I see why Lem likes her. She has some secrets from her past, that she’s trying to bury, while dealing with  anger issues.  I could do with a lot fewer scenes of Olivia and Lem gettin’ it on, though. It doesnt need to be shown in every episode.

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Fiji

Fiji is another one of my favorites, and I like her, not because she’s the town witch, although that’s kinda cool, but because she has a talking cat. I don’t know much about the cat’s backstory but he’s snarky, and dismissive, just the way you’d think a cat would be. How it happened that her cat talks, we don’t know yet. Fiji is very young, but she’s also extremely powerful, and well-respected in the town. Most of the mundanes know what she is, and rely on her to protect them.

Fiji is also really cute, and kind of adorkably nerdy. She has a mad crush on one of the townies, a guy with the unfortunate name of Bobo, and her feelings seems to be reciprocated. One of the more powerful images I have of her, is from the first episode, where she crushes a police vehicle, with little more than her bare hands, and a strong will. Fiji looks sweet and vulnerable, but she ain’t the one to mess with. She’s  refreshingly different, as Black women rarely get to be emotionally fragile, but powerful love interests, and/or witches either.

I’m going to try to enjoy this show while it lasts. It’s on network television, which has a nasty habit of cancelling the shows I like, so I don’t hold out much hope that Midnight Texas. will be around next year. This is the same station that just canceled Still Star Crossed. But then I was trying really hard not to get attached to that show. (That didn’t work). I’m not gonna try that with this show and it still might get canceled. I might as well get attached. There’s always the books, which I’m told, Charlaine intends to keep writing.

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

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I liked this show, too. I was expecting it to be a deeply serious dramatic type  show, but it turned out to have a quirky sense of humor, not because the writing is funny, or people are telling jokes, but because certain characters and situations are just odd. It’s not like the show Psych, which was a deliberate comedy. This is not a comedy. It’s just some of the characters are weird.

The show is based on a trilogy of books by Stephen King, the first title of which is Mr. Mercedes, named after the killer in the book. Brendan Gleason plays Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is trying to figure out what to do with himself, now that he’s no longer working. until he is taunted out of retirement by Mr. Mercedes, so-named after he drove a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers outside a job fair, killing several. I like Gleason’s character. One of the funniest recurring issues is when he can’t believe various women find him attractive. (It’s definitely the beard.)

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The show begins with  a very graphic scene, and I was heavily reminded of the events in Charlottesville Virginia. There’s no mystery about the killer for the audience, just as in the book. We’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield early in the story. The book remains very faithful to the books, except in tiny details like the wacky neighbor lady who lives next door, and Bill feeding a massive tortoise passing through his yard one morning. I’m not sure if this is a pet or what.

Bill is assisted in his sleuthing, by the kid he hired to mow his lawn, and who happens to be a computer wiz. Jerome is played by Jharrel Jerome, and I like him already. His character is a refreshing change from the Black Male Sportsplayer/Jock, we see so often on TV. Black men are rarely cast as hardware nerds. Brady is also a tech-nerd, and works at one of those big box technical stores, which is something like Best Buy, and I like that Jerome seems to be every bit his equal when it comes to the esoteric workings of computers.

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I think Bill’s quirky neighbor is meant to represent a woman with which Bill has a brief, but satisfying relationship, in the books. Or at least I hope so. I don’t know if this will happen on the show, but in the book, Janey is murdered by Brady. This is not a catalyst to make Bill chase after him, because Bill was already unofficially working the Mr. Mercedes case. This is Brady’s attmept to make Bill commit suicide. The neighbor, Ida Silver, is played by Holland Taylor, and if she looks familiar, that you may have seen her in every funny show of the 90s.

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The villain is played by one of the alumni of the cable show, Penny Dreadful . Harry Treadaway, who played Victor Frankenstein, is as disgusting character here, as he was on the other show. Apparently, this is how he’s going to make his career, playing unlikable people in perfectly good shows. The show remains very faithful to the books with him too. He has an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom he later poisons, and it looks like the writers are sticking to this plot, although in the book, the mother  initiates sexual activity. In the show, it appears she doesn’t know that her son regularly masturbates with her as his subject. (I know! Ewww!)

Their relationship does have a very Bates Motel feel. Brady works at a Big Box store, with other quirky characters, and a deeply stupid boss, who is constantly shit-talking Brady’s dreams of life beyond the store. This goes a long way towards humanizing this incredibly shitty character, who mowed down dozens of people with his car, just for shits and giggles. This is not something that happens  in the books, so I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m going to keep watching this because the pilot certainly captured me. The show airs on the Audience Network which may be difficult for some of you to access. I have access to it through DirectTV, and its possible you may need that, to watch this show.

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

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I love a good creature feature, and I was attracted to this movie because of its use of tentacles in its promotional material. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I sat down to watch it. I was sort of expecting a little Cthulhu type stuff, and there’s certainly a little of that in it, but there was also a lot of it I couldn’t make hide, nor hair, of.

It seems to be about a group of cultists attempting to call some dark being to Earth, to inhabit the bodies of humans, and the cultists are partially successful. They’re doing this in collusion with a doctor at the local hospital, where they’ve trapped several people.  Daniel Carter, Maggie, James, and inexplicably, an Asian woman, named Kim, who I lost track of by the end of the movie.

These people have to fight off monsters inhabiting the bodies of their friends, and a couple of trigger happy locals, while working their way through the maze of the hospital, to find and stop the doctor from unleashing Hell on Earth, through the body of his pregnant daughter.

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I have to give fair warning. The movie is very gory, with lots of blood and other fluids gushing all over the place. People get skewered with knives and/or shot, and sometimes they get torn apart by creatures. The cult members wear white hooded cloaks and look a little like KKK members, but there is no equivocating in this case. They are definitely villains ,whose job it is to keep the hapless victims trapped in the hospital to be fodder for the monsters. There’s also an element of the movie The Thing, as the monster is a conglomeration of various body parts and live people.

The movie doesn’t have the happiest ending either. At the end Daniel, and I guess her name is Maggie, get trapped in an alternate universe featuring a giant black pyramid. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not an A+ movie either. A lot of the plot seems to have been borrowed from  other Lovecraftian pastiche movies, like Hellraiser, and Re-animator ,and the acting is sometimes a bit dodgy. But I think the key words here are “not bad”. It’s a good workmanlike plot where bad things happen to bad, and sometimes not so bad,people, who sometimes act like cowards, and occasionally act like heroes.

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Daniel isn’t the most charismatic guy in the film, although he is set up as our hero, who has the most sense,  and who  is gonna save the world. None of the other characters stand out as especially interesting either, really. Basically, if you’re watching this movie, it’s just  for the monsters, and gore.

Forthcoming Fall Books 2017

Well, I made a list of TV shows, so here’s a list of books I’m looking forward to attempting to read this Fall, or maybe they just look interesting right now. I pretty much have to wait for some of these to be in my hand, before I decide if I’m going to finish, or not.

August

Hex Rated – Jason Ridler

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From the description this seems like a retro 70s X-Files type of plot. I keep picturing an  Asian cop from Starsky & Hutch, wearing a giant mustache. I still don’t know why I find various combinations of paranormal activity and the Federal government fascinating. probably because government organizations represent Order on a large scale, while  anything having to do with the paranormal represents the complete opposite.

 

Son of the Night – Mark Alder

I got halfway through the first book, Son of the Morning, before having to cart it back to the library, from whence I had procured it! And I do mean cart, because it was a massive book. It was also pretty good, up until I had to put it down. Its an Historical Paranormal Thriller, where actual Angels have gotten involved in Europe’s various wars.

 

Resurrection Game – Michelle Bellanger

Apparently, this is  the third book in a series. I haven’t read any of the others but this one sounds intriguing, and I’ve read Ms. Bellanger’s work before, The Dictionary of Demons, and The Vampire Codex.

 

September

1 – Sea of Rust – Robert Cargill

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This one is about sentient robots, wandering an apocalyptic landscape, while trying to find their own humanity.

 

Iron Angels – Eric Flint

Eric Flint has written lots of Historical Urban Fantasy/SciFi, but this one is  interesting to me. It seems  a little more traditional, with a primary protagonist fighting against some paranormal creatures, in  Chi-Town. It too, has an X-Files type of vibe, with government agents getting involved with the Occult.

 

The Salt Line – Holly Goddard Jones

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This is set in an apocalyptic landscape, where half the US is cut off from the other half, because one side has been invaded by disease carrying ticks, and involves a group of action junkies, who like to play with fate, by jumping The Salt Line.

 

7 – I Am Behind You – Lindqvist

I don’t have a date for this book, but it sounds creepy enough. About a boy and his Mom, who wake up in some kind of twilight zone, with lots of other strange people, and something terrible is coming to get them.

 

14 – Peace Talks – Jim Butcher

I loved the ending of the last book, so I’m eagerly looking forward to this. There’s still no listing on Amazon for this, or I’d have pre-ordered it already.

 

26 – Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard

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This sounds not unlike a book I’m reading now about magic in New York City,  called The Last Magician, only this one sounds a lot grittier, and a little less traditional.

 

Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King

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I’m looking forward to King’s collaboration with his son Owen King. I’ve not been much of a fan of Owen’s work, but the plot sounds intriguing. The women of the world fall into a deep sleep inside cocoons, and it’s dangerous to wake them up. Now you know men can be fairly bull-headed creatures, who would of course wake all of them up,  thereby destroying the human race, so I’m interested to see how these two will write around that.

 

October

3 – Scandal in Battersea – Mercedes Lackey

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I’m enjoying these Sherlockian Magic mashups by Lackey.

 

Akata Witch/Warrior – Nnedi Okorafor

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I’m only just now getting into this author through her SciFi book, the Binti series. This sounds like a neat Urban Fantasy set in Nigeria. It’s being billed as an African version of the Harry Potter-verse.

 

What the Hell did I Just Read – David Wong

I’ve liked every one of Wong’s books, so far. They’re terrifying and hilarious, so I don’t want to miss this one, featuring the three main characters from the previous two books, Dave, John (who isn’t actually dead), and Amy, trying to stop some kind of biblical cataclysm.

 

Anno Dracula: 1000 Monsters – Kim Newman

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This is set in the Anno Dracula Universe, starring The Diogenes Club, and the Vampiress Genevieve. I’ve tried to read all of the series, and this one is set in japan, which doesn’t have vampires, but has an entire menagerie of its own monsters to deal with. If you like Japanese folklore and mythology then check it out.

 

10 – Stone in the Skull – Elizabeth Bear

I wasn’t going to read this one, but I know some of you guys must like this series, and I’m a fan of Bear’s other work. This is set in the Eternal Sky series, and is about The Lotus Kingdom. I couldn’t get into the other series, but I’ll try this one.

 

17 – Under the Pendulum Sun

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I’ve already borrowed my copy of this from Netgalley and am working on it now. It’s about a Victorian expedition to the lands of the Fae. A Missionary goes missing and his sister arrives to search for him. I like it so far, but I’m still chafing at all the religious stuff.

 

24 – Strange Weather – Joe Hill

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This is another Joe Hill anthology. I’m looking forward to this book, which features four stories featuring horror, and the paranormal, and sometimes, just the normal made horrible.

 

 

November

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault –  James Alan Gardner

This sounds like a parody of the superhero genre, with vampires, capes, ghosts and various weirdnesses. I’ve like Gardner’s books in the past and I like the plot of this one.

 

14th – Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant

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I read this first novella about an attack by carnivorous mermaids, on the crew of a Reality TV series, and loved it. This is the sequel.

The Fall TV Season (2017)

Here’s a list of shows I’m interested in watching for August, and the new Fall Season. I also included shows I’m not particularly interested in, but some of you might enjoy viewing. i didn’t list some of the returning shows I will be watching though. (The numbers preceding the titles, are the dates of the shows, not a rating of some kind.)

August

4 – Comrade Detective  (Amazon)

I know nothing about this show, except it appears to be set in the mid-80s, and involves a Russian detective who comes to America to solve crimes. From what I saw of the trailer it looked like a parody of 80s cop shows. Its available on Amazon Prime.

 

9 – Mr. Mercedes   (Audience Network/DirecTV)

I read the books for this series, and it’s Stephen King, so I’ll watch this. It should be a good substitute for The Mist, which turned out to be disappointingly boring. The show airs this Wednesday. Just to warn you though, the show does contain some graphic, and possibly triggering imagery:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/confidential/mr-mercedes-creators-expect-blow-back-opening-scene-article-1.3384814

 

18 – The Defenders  (Netflix)

I still have mixed feelings about this, but I will watch it. I hate Jessica Jones, and Danny Rand, but I love Luke Cage, Daredevil and Sigourney Weaver, so I actually hope the show looks, and does well, despite my misgivings.

 

25 – The Tick (Amazon)

I was never a big fan of this character but I have seen some episodes here and there over the years, and I know some people are huge fans of both the comics and the short lived cartoon, so I’m putting this on the list. I may or may not watch it. I will add that the lead actor is absolutely perfect for the role, though.

 

September

5 – American Horror Story: Cult (FX)

I’m gearing up for the final season of this show. Its got a brand new cast, along with three, or four, old cast members. I think this season is supposed to touch on some of the themes of the previous seasons. Here! Have a creepy trailer! Hope you’re not scared of clowns.

 

10 – The Orville (Fox)

I’m not sure I want to watch this because of the lead actor, (we do not share the same type of humor, really), but the special effects look like fun, and I’m always up for a Star Trek parody, which is what this appears to be. Trailers are sometimes misleading though.

 

10 – Outlander (Starz)

I kinda like this show, and not just because Jaime is a hottie. I’ve never read any of the books, beyond the Lord Grey series, because I thought they were Romances, and that’s just not my bag. But I like the show. I’m a sucker for a good costume drama, I guess.

 

10 – Fear The Walking Dead (AMC)

I don’t watch this show because one show about The Walking Dead is harrowing enough,  but I know some people love this one, too.

 

24 – Star Trek Discovery (CBS Access)

I’m eagerly looking forward to watching this. I’ll have to subscribe to the network to watch it though. CBS All Access is a subscription cable service like Netflix. It costs 5.99 a month. The show will air the first episode on network television, after which all the episodes will be available on Access, with a  hiatus after about six episodes, and the rest of the new episodes airing  in January.

 

26 – Brooklyn 99 (Fox)

The show’s last season ended on a cliffhanger with Rosa and Jake possibly going to prison on corruption charges. It sounds like a pretty heavy plot, but this show has a way of getting you to laugh at such things, without feeling guilty about it. I’m looking forward to the new season. I love these characters and don’t like to see bad things happen to them.

 

27 – SEAL Team (CBS)

I keep saying I’m going to watch these military type shows, because I find all this Spec Ops stuff fascinating, but I keep skipping them. There’s an unspoken American jingoism in a lot of them, that just doesn’t sit well with me, and I end up just not liking the shows. Also, David Boreanaz is in this one, and I don’t like him very much.

 

28 – Gotham (Fox)

Apparently, The Scarecrow makes his debut this season. I like Killer Croc and hope he’s on the show, or planning to be. I’ve been skipping this show, because it hasn’t been holding my attention, and because some of the acting was a bit dodgy. I hated most of the female characters because their acting was terrible. I hated this show’s version of The Joker. Penguin, however, continued to be a favorite. but I’ll watch the season premiere, and see what’s what.

 

29 – Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC)

This show just looks bad. But bad with the potential to be good. I’m still mad at the show runner, Scott Buck, for inflicting the mess that was Iron Fist on us earlier this year. I swear to gob the next person who mentions the words affirmative action, and undeserving Black hires, in the same sentence is gonna catch some hands. Mediocre stains like Scott Buck are allowed to fuck up multiple times and still manage to have careers. This show could have gone to some deserving PoC instead of this guy. Okay let me stop here, because this rant can, and will, go  for several pages.

     

 

 The Exorcist (Fox)

I stopped watching this about halfway through the first season, but I know some of you out there are still really into it. (It does look kinda scary from the trailers.) Let me now how its going, and I’ll check out a few episodes ,on your rec.

 

October

1 – Ghosted (Fox)

I’ve loved Craig Robinson, ever since Hot Tub Time Machine, a movie I profoundly hated. I also remember him from Reno 911, as the commercial conman who was always singing using the same five notes on his synthesizer. He also did some hilarious cameos on Brooklyn 99. I was wondering when he’d get his own show and I’m set to watch this one, where he plays some regular yahoo, who gets involved in some afterlife type of shenanigans, although it mostly just looks like a buddy-cop show, with ghosts.

 

2 – Lucifer (Fox)

I’m not a fan of this but I heard the show has greatly improved since season one. I’m still not inclined to watch any of it, because I object to the woobification of evil characters. That whole “I’m not really bad. I just like a little drinkin’ and whorin’,” shtick gets real old with me, real fast. If a character is gonna be evil don’t make excuses for them. Just let them be evil.

 

   The Gifted (Fox)

This show isn’t filling me with a great deal of confidence that it will be interesting. Right now it looks like Riverdale with superpowers, and I hate Riverdale so…nah! Also I’m kinda getting tired of the whole’ government is after superpowered people” plot. I find it difficult to believe that anything formed by the US government would have their shit together enough to be that organized. Private companies could pull it off, but not the government.

 

10 – The Flash (CW)

I watched the last season, and still have no idea what the hell is happening on this show. I’ll probably watch this just to figure out what’s going on.

     

 

Legends of Tomorrow (CW)

I’m really looking forward to this. The show is adding some  new characters, and Damien Darhk is rumored to be back on the show this season. Also I’m a huge Firestorm fan and never get tired of looking at Jax. Vixen is also a favorite who clearly needs her own damn show.

Black Lightning doesn’t air until 2018, but I’m going to check it out, as CW becomes the Official DCEU network.

12 – Supernatural (CW)

Yep! Gonna watch!

       Arrow (CW)

Nope. I always fall asleep on this show. I don’t know why!

 

22 – The Walking Dead (AMC)

Yep! Gonna watch!

 

27 – Stranger Things (Netflix)

I think I’ll watch the second season of this, which looks more interesting than the first.  I watched a few episodes, and wasn’t greatly impressed, but it also wasn’t bad either, in that I didn’t fall asleep. It does have kids in it, and I’m allergic to watching those sometimes. At any rate, it looks like a good tide-over until the release of Stephen King’s IT, in theaters next year.

 

November

2 – SWAT (CBS)

Another military themed show I’m planning to look at, and then don’t.

 

14 – Future Man (Syfy)

I got nothing. I know nothing beyond the fact that Seth Rogen is involved, and I sorta, kinda like him and this title. I know Josh Hutcherson is in it too, and I have no idea who the hell he is, nor do I care to Google him. I will, however, give the show a looky-loo,  see what’s up, and let you know what I think. The Trailer doesn’t tell you much either.

 

21 – The Runaways (Hulu)

This looks like a better match for me than The Gifted. The trailer for he Gifted just looks really bad, I think. But I like the idea behind this show, and I’ve read a few of the comic books its based on, about the sons and daughters of some kind of Superteam, (like the JLA) battling with their superparents. The showrunners say they’re not going to do the usual racist stereotype stuff, so I’m holding them to that promise. this is another one with no trailer.

 

29 – Vikings (History)

Hell if I know. I watched all the other seasons without understanding why I love this show. I might as well finish it up.

 

Midnight Texas, Charlaine Harris’ new show has already begun and is approaching its third/fourth episode. Teen Wolf is finishing its last season, and I’ve pretty much skipped it, for reasons, although I will watch the finale. The show has moved to Sunday nights at 8PM without telling anybody, though.

The most recent show to air is The Sinner, starring Jessica Biel, which I wasn’t particularly interested in, although some of you might be interested, because there may be some supernatural element involved in its plot.

Preacher is nearing its end, and I’m a little behind in my episodes because I’ve been watching movie re-runs (like The Thing and Robocop), and I need to stop it. Game of Thrones is also in its final season, but I’m not much of a fan and I’ve been skipping the episodes. I will watch the Finale though.

I will try to watch Ash Vs. The Evil Dead Season 3, even though I missed the last season. The Punisher is set to be released in November on Netflix. I really liked this character in Daredevil, and I’m looking forward to the show.

 

Coming in 2018:

We’ll be seeing the second seasons of Legion, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, this year. Cloak and Dagger, and The New Warriors is set to be released. I’m looking forward to the New Warriors because Squirrel Girl will be prominently featured.

This isn’t a complete list. For that, visit:

https://www.newsarama.com/30432-the-full-comic-book-television-release-schedule.html

 

And we promise to keep an eye on this show, since the showrunners already feel a need to get out ahead and defend it.

‘Kevin (Probably) Saves The World’ Creators Promise To Sidestep Clichéd People Of Color Trope – TCA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New TV Trailers (Fall 2017)

So Pilot reviewing season is here in a month, and its time for me to nimble up my fingers, as I type furiously to keep up with all the new genre shows coming this Fall. Some of them will not be watched, some of them won’t even get reviews. As we get closer to September, I’ll eventually whittle it down to the handful of pilots I’ll be reviewing, along with my regular reviews of returning shows, like Supernatural. 

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Midnight Texas

Tonight on July 24th Midnight Texas will be airing on NBC. It’s a show based on the Charlaine Harris trilogy of the same name and involves Supernatural creatures all living in some podunk town in the middle of nowhere Texas, who need to protect themselves from outside discovery. I’m looking forward to watching this.

 

 

Mr. Mercedes

This is coming to the DirecTV Network, called Audience, this fall. Some of you may not have access to this network, so I’ll watch the pilot and review the first episode, for when it eventually makes it to DVD. This is based on a Mystery trilogy by Stephen King, about a former detective who gets called back into action after a serial killer starts sending him taunting letters.  I don’t normally watch cop shows, but this is Stephen King. Yes, it does look a lot like the show Bates Motel, which I only partially watched, but I like Brendan Gleason, and feel like he’s a good choice for this character. In the novel, he has a Black teenage neighbor who helps him navigate technological stuff , and a neurodivergent  female assistant, that I hope gets cast for true. You do not need to have read the books to follow the show, but they are very good books, with a minimum of gore, and only the slightest touch of the supernatural, if that has you worried.

 

 

Star Trek Discovery

Okay here’s, the extended trailer for the new Star Trek Discovery. Remember guys this is, a Bryan Fuller Joint, the same showrunner who worked on Hannibal, and who just finished, the critically acclaimed, first season of American Gods. Fuller also has some Star Trek experience, as he used to be one of the writers on  Deep Space Nine. The show follows lead character Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, who grew up on Vulcan, and was raised by Sarek, Spock’s father.

 

 

Teen Wolf

The final season of Teen Wolf will be airing this weekend, and I’m not real crazy about it, although I may watch it in support of Scott McCall. Over the years, the show has engaged in a great deal of whitewashing ,as it started out with a good amount of diversity, but has slowly been replacing all of the PoC each season, with new White characters, something which has dulled my enthusiasm for the show. The word “final” is in the title though, so I feel compelled to at least look at the pilot. I hope for a happy end to the series.

 

 

The Incredible Jessica James

If you liked Jessica James when she was snarking at the public on  The Colbert Show than check out her new show on Netflix, coming this Friday.  Remember, she was offered the job as the new host, and famously, turned it down, because she was looking at other plans. I will definitely check it out. I loved her comedy on the show, and I’m looking forward to see what she’s gotten up to here.

 

Bright

Here’s an extended trailer for Netflix’s new show starring Will Smith. I’m a big Will Smith fan, and I’ll be on vacation then, so yeah, BingeWatch! It doesnt look as funny as I’d expect from Smith, but its got some great imagery. We get to see Will Smith wielding a sword, and snarking at some Orcs. This wil lbe released on Dec. 22nd.

 

 

The Walking Dead

Yeah, this looks as harrowing and intense as the last season…so no change then? I’m already tired of Negan, and will be glad when he’s locked up, or whatever they’re gonna do to him, but at least things  look a little more energetic than the last season, which wasn’t one of my favorites, except in those few moments when it was.  I see that Carol “Terminator” Danvers is back with the gang, and Morgan and Jesus get to have a smackdown. Also there’s a lot more Ezekiel, which is okay for me.

 

 

Westworld Season 2

I really enjoyed the first season of this show, so I’m definitely here to watch the fallout of the robot’s rise to sentience, and how that affects things in the park.

 

 

The Defenders

I’m cautiously excited about this because Iron Fist  is in here,  and watching his show was traumatic. On the other hand, I like everyone else in the show and there’s this lady in here that’s uhm…C’MON, ITS FREAKIN’ SIGOURNEY WEAVER, PEOPLE!!!

Oh okay, I’m sorry for yelling but, yeah, I did mean to do that. Uhm, there’s some fightin’, explosions, and Luke Cage, and stuff, too.

 

 

Vikings

This is another one of those shows that I dont know why I watch it. It’s not a bad show, although its gone off the rails a bit since its beginning. I just like the characters, the accents are fascinating, and there’s some gore and swordfights. Its not as complicated as Game of Thrones because the characters seem to have much more prosaic concerns. This is the final season. Apparently, I can’t resist the word “final”, in any description of a show.

 

 

Marvel’s Inhumans

This trailer looks waay better than that first one which seemed created to make you mock the show before its airing. Yeah, Medusa’s hair still looks cheap, but at least they remembered PoC exist in that world.  I’ve always been a huge Black Bolt fan, but I don’t know how to feel about the actor playing him. Hopefully, he will change facial expressions, during one of the episodes. So far, none of these trailers for the show,  are garnering the enthusiasm that I feel The Inhumans deserve.

 

Krypton

Nope. I have no plans to watch this beyond the Pilot because, from the description, it sounds like Riverdale in Space, and I won’t watch that either.

 

 

The Crossing

I think this sounds intriguing. I dont know if I’ll watch it beyond the first episode, (probably not), but it looks like an interesting premise.

 

 

The Alienist

I’m far more likely to keep watching this, because I like period shows, and I have a soft spot for this particular actress, ever since she starred in Man on Fire, with Denzel Washington. The book, by Caleb Carr, was pretty good too,  and I’m interested to see what the creators do with it.

 

 

The Orville

Not sure I want t owatch a Star Trek parody, and I’m uncertain of the lead actors humor, but I did laugh a few times during this trailer, so I’ll at least give it a try.

 

 

Stranger Things Season 2

I didn’t see the first season of Stranger Things but I heard a lot about it. i thought maybe it was an “It” ripoff, but it turned out to be a little bit more than that. This trailer goes a long way towards making me want to see the second season, which is a feat, considering I found the first season not particularly interesting.

 

 

Next up :Part Two of the New Fall Releases, and Returning Shows

Aaaah!!! New Movie Trailers (2017)

San Diego Comic-Con has just begun, which means that  every day will bring new trailer releases to the internet. So, all week long, I’m going to try to collect the ones I’m most interested in and post them here. Not only does the SDCC release new trailers every day, for TV shows and movies, but other avenues often release trailers for their movies in a  competition for Nerd attention spans. I will try to capture a few of those too. (Some of these trailers have been seen before, but sometimes extended trailers, or extra trailers get released, as well.)

Here’s a list of movies I’m very excited about, mildly excited about, and some I don’t care that much about. We’ll start with the ones I’m most enthusiastic about, and descend in order of importance. But only to me though. There are plenty of movies I’m not interested in, but you might find them very intriguing. 

*We will start with my personal favorite, The Dark Tower. I am total trash for these books, and I’m so excited that Idris Elba is playing Roland Deschain, that I can hardly contain myself. I hope I don’t pop before Aug. 4th. It turns out that Mum is also a fan of Idris, and is interested in going to the theater with me to see this. All I had to do was mention Idris, monsters, guns, and Stephen King, in the same sentence, and she was onboard. Now let’s see if I can make it a date with my niece, The Potato!

 

*I think this movie stars some guy named Ryan Gosling. You may have heard of him. Or not. I don’t object to the man but I don’t actually see why everyone’s so gaga over him. Maybe I’ll see it during this movie. He looks really cool in this trailer though, (in my head, everyone in this movie is a Replicant.) Jared Leto is also being weird and creepy in this movie. I’m one of the few people who  still likes Jared, (probably because I don’t personally know him.) But I’m here for Harrison Ford. I’ve been gaga over Harrison since his bit part in Apocalypse Now. I just want to see him reprise his role as Deckard, since I loved the first Bladerunner movie.

 

 

Black women finally get our own version of John Wick/Wonder Woman. I know I can talk my Mum into seeing this because she loves Foxy Brown type movies. I’m a big John Wick fan, and I’d love to see how Taraji handles this role. I feel confident she can pull it off because of her work in Person of Interest. Next year is gonna be the shit as far as diversity in movies. At least for Black people. Now can we get some Latinx, and Indigenous Supers, up in here? I just like seeing different ways of handling the same stories, and a Native American Superhero movie would be awesome! (Yep! I know about Cleverman.)

 

 

I have one word for this trailer: Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Let me reiterate that the single word I’m using here is A-a-a-a, followed by h-h-h-h, and then some exclamation points. I think that says it all!

 

I love when Guillermo Del Toro puts his hand to something. I will see anything he comes up with, even if the idea is ultimately unsuccessful, like Crimson Peak, it’s still a movie worth looking at. This really does look like Abe Sapien gets a girlfriend in 1950s America, though. I am here for this.

 

 

I had a really hard time choosing my favorite movie for the year The Incredibles was released. It’s just one of my all-time favorites. I just know the sight of a grown woman, bouncing around the house in her bunny (actually cow) slippers, over the release of a sequel to The Incredibles, is sure to bring a smile to y’all’s faces, too. The actual family isn’t even in this trailer. This is a tribute to the real star of the movie, Edna Mode, someone I aspire to be when I grow up one day.

 

Okay, I like this trailer a lot more than the first one. This one actually makes me want to see the movie, which is great considering my theories about trailers being designed to make a person hate a movie before it opens. It looks funny, and action packed, the Incredible Hulk is talking, and Cate Blanchett looks awesome as Hel, just like in the comic books. Tessa Thompson looks like she’s having waaaay too much fun. Oh, did you catch Mark Ruffalo’s Commemorative Duran Duran Rio Album T-shirt? Everything about this trailer screams 1980s aesthetic, right down to the music and the Heavy Metal logo, and I am here for it, because that shit is hilarious to me, having actually lived through that era.

 

*Now this is how a trailer is supposed to be. Exciting! Fun! Great lines! Lots of action scenes! Good music! This is the trailer that makes me enthusiastic to see this movie, because that other trailer was kinda, meh!

I like the modern day WW more than I like WW2 version, for some reason.  I read most of the comic book versions of The Justice League, but I was mostly indifferent to The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman as individual books. I like the actors they chose, though, especially Ezra Miller, and Jason Momoa. They look they’re having fun, which means I’ll have fun, too. I don’t actually object to Ben Affleck as Batman, except when I do, apparently. (Maybe it has something to do with my mood. Who the heck knows?) I hope Cyborg changes expression at some point.

 

 

 

*Okay, this movie looked creepy enough, even though I don’t normally watch serial killer films. I come from America’s Northeast, (Ohio), so movies  with lots of snow are always attractive to me. I can’t imagine why! Also, movies with snow, and Michael Fassbender, are always going to be intriguing. Did I tell you I was a fan of Michael Fassbender, who in real life is probably a complete asshole, but I don’t want y’all spoiling my daydreams of marriage (and eventual divorce,) in some alternate world’s future? Oh, I haven’t told y’all that!

Never mind.

 

 

I’m feeling just meh! about these:

*I  was not a huge fan of the original movie becasue I hated all the characters,  including Eggsy (or whatever) and there’s one scene, in particular, that was extremely violent, and  sort of harrowing to sit through, and I didn’t like it, even if it was very well choreographed. On the other hand, this one has cowboys and Channing Tatum, which might be a win for me.

 

 

*I think this might have been released already. I’m not sure, but it looks suitably weird and frightening, so I’m not sure I want to sit in a movie theater, and see something like this, although I would definitely watch it on Cable or Netflix. I always have a odd mix of yes/no feelings regarding alien invasion movies, (although I loved last year’s Arrival.)

 

 

*I have no intention of seeing this in a theater, but I love the idea. It looks scary and funny which is exactly my style. Some of you might really like this one. I would definitely watch it on TV.

 

 

 

*I like Noomi Rapace, and this movie sounds intriguing, but I would never watch this in a theater, because it looks deeply depressing, and kind of horrifying. I think I’ll wait for the DVD, on this. But I know some of you will like this, especially if you liked Children of Men.

 

*I love Dwayne Johnson but I’m not going to see this. I even like Kevin Hart’s brand of comedy, and the two of them have such great chemistry together. I won’t go see this unless my sister pays for it, though. I liked the book, and the original movie, too. The idea of upgrading to make it a cliched videogame is also pretty cute, but I won’t be seeing this one until it, inevitably, shows up on cable.

 

 

Okay, these movies are a straight up Nope!, for me, but might be intriguing to some of you guys:

*Why does there even need to be a live-action version of a nearly perfect animated movie? Who did this, and can we find them, and waterdrop them, until they stop doing whatever they think they’re doing?

 

*Nope. I already saw this movie. It was called Wanted, or American Ultra, or something, and I don’t want to pay money to see it again. I’ll wait for it on Amazon.

 

 

 

*Nope. Already saw this movie, too. It was called 10,000 BC, I think. I was disappointed then, and I’m sure I’ll be disappointed here.

 

Next up: New TV show trailers!

Things I’m Looking at # 37

Preacher:

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Aaaaaah!!!!

The second season of Preacher arrives just in time to take up the slack after the full-course meal that was American Gods. I was really looking forward to this new season. Last season was a bit of surprise hit for some people, and even though I was really enthusiastic about it, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed the characters. I was pretty much just expecting crazy plot, but I fell in love with Cassidy, Tulip, and Jessie, and I’m really looking forward to their interactions this season.

Last season, Jessie was possessed by an escaped Angel, named Genesis, that gave him the power to compel people to do his bidding, got assaulted  by two other Angels, named Fiore, and deBlanc, who were after their lost charge, was invited by Tulip to get back on the road to vengeance against some guy who betrayed them,  and being friended by an Irish vampire, who then fell in love with his best girl. The three of them, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, met a fake God, and the town where all these events,  occurred was blown to smithereens, after things went horribly wrong at the local slaughterhouse. Now the three of them are on the road, looking for the real God, because they got questions they need answered, and I’m certain that yet more batshit adventures will ensue.

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Season two has introduced one of the characters from the books called The Saint of Killers. We get our first glimpse of him when the three buddies are pulled over by some cops, and The Saint guns everybody down. In the first episode alone we’re treated to the sight of one of the cops macing his own balls, Tulip siphoning gas through a piece of intestine (lost by one of the cops during the shooting), while Cassidy tries to get out of the sunlight by hiding under the cars, a man getting his tongue ripped out, a preacher who exorcises his parishioners demons by locking them in cages, and Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy sharing a bed, with Cassidy letting them know that he wouldn’t mind if the two of them had sex in front of him. Sent there by the Jesse’s preacher friend, the three of them visit a Jazz bar/Strip club, where one of the patrons claimed she met God. Cassidy’s shenanigans gets their witness killed.

So the usual, all-around batshittery, really!

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Like I said, when I reviewed the show in the first season, I was not that big a fan of the books because I’m an artistic snob, and hated the artwork. I knew enough about the books to know who some of the characters were, and be excited by Cassidy’s appearance. I have no idea who the Saint of Killers is, or if its an accurate representation on the show. That said, The Saint is really terrifying. As Cassidy would say, “That’s some Terminator-type shite!

Yes, this series can actually be classified as Pulp, and yeah, I do remember from one of my last reviews, that I said I wasn’t a huge fan of Pulp, since I hated Blood Drive, but since I am a fan of Preacher, I guess that means it depends on one’s definition of Pulp. Preacher is everytihng tht Blood Drive isnt. Better acting, writing, cinematograghy, special effects, and characters, go a long way towards a better class of Pulp.

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I mean, Blood Drive and Preacher are basically the same type of show, involving people on the road, doing crazy-ass shit, or having crazy shit happen to them. But Preacher is just much better at it. I guess it’s the difference between an asshole with charm, manners,and a several thousand  dollar suit, compared to an asshole in cheap sneakers and a backwards baseball cap, who keeps spitting on your floor. One of those you date. The other you don’t. Which one you choose is entirely a matter of personal taste.

 

In the second episode we learn that the Saint of Killers was hired by Fiore, who is determined that Jesse not be allowed to keep his superpower, lest he abuse it, which he is already doing. Fiore, in mourning over his dead partner, deBlanc, is working a magician’s show at Mumbai Sky Tower, where he gets killed on stage and keeps coming back, because Angels can’t die. Well, rather they can die, but the only thing that can kill them is The Saint of Killers.

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Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy petition Fiore to call off The Saint, but he refuses. Cassidy asks Jesse for permission to try to persuade him to change Fiore’s mind. There follows one of the funniest, most delightful, interludes I’ve ever seen in a show! Initially you think Cassidy plans on torturing Fiore, but the show uses that as an opportunity to turn a trope on its head, by having him get Fiore high on heroin, and then  romping with him around his hotel room, like two over-sugared toddlers, for three hours. Fiore who was depressed enough to attempt killing himself hundreds of times, since losing hs partner, is having the time of his life. My favorite moment is the two of them building a pillow fort in the middle of the room, and eating ice cream in it.

Jesse asks Tulip to get married and she accepts at first but when an old acquaintance from New Orleans (her old stomping grounds), shows up at the Mumbai, she tells Jesse she has changed her mind, after beating the holy hell out of the man. I love to watch tulip kick ass, with her little tiny self. She must weigh all of a buck’o five. Tulip’s got a lot of secrets, though. Jesse has an epiphany about how to find God, since they learned in the last episode that God loves Jazz. He figures that God might decide to visit New Orleans, someplace Tulip is  reluctant to go. At the end of the show, Fiore’s last request is for The Saint to kill him, since Jesse commanded him to “Find Peace”.

And that’s just the second episode. We got nine more episodes of this crazy shit, people.

 

Cleverman:

Last season we saw the introduction of a new superhero show, set in Australia called Cleverman. All of the primary characters, including the hero are all Native Australians. The show works along the themes of colonization, erasure, and assimilation of Native people into a violent dominant culture.

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*The Cleverman is an important figure in many Australian Aboriginal cultures. Series creator Ryan Griffen describes the Cleverman as “like the Pope of the Dreamtime … the conduit between the present and the Dreaming”.[6] The version in the television series combines many Cleverman traditions from different Aboriginal clans to create a superheroic version, with powers relating to the Dreaming’s connection to past, present and future.[7]    ——–Wikipedia

 

Koen has reluctantly accepted his position as the new Ceverman after the death of his uncle, who was the last one, and has begun to take steps to protect The Hairy People from a culture of exploitation and enslavement by the government. I didn’t review the last season and there’s a lot to explain, since its a very dense show, that requires close attention, especially if you’re not Australian. So here’s the Cleverman page on the Sundance website, which will give you a quick 101 on who the characters are, what’s going on and who’s is doing what to whom. The first episode of this season drops you right into the middle of everything, so if you didn’t watch the last season, you will need a quick catch-up:

http://www.sundance.tv/series/cleverman

 

And an AVClub review:

http://www.avclub.com/review/aboriginal-fantasy-cleverman-too-busy-building-wor-237354

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This season, Cleverman is attempting to foil a plot by the Australian  government, to destroy the Hairy People, by giving them a drug that will assimilate them into human society. So they’ve introduced a sickness they claim to be curing, and giving them this drug. They’ve also been kidnapping them, breaking up their families, and conducting medical experiments  on them. All of this is fairly graphically shown, so  keep that in mind while watching. At last some of this is being facilitated by Cleverman’s cousin, who  last season, used to hold a  Hairy People Fight Club, in the area of town where the Hairy People, and the Indigenous population, had been corralled

I’m having some difficulty watching the show because it just strikes too close to home, on a realistic level, and I can’t make it through a single episode without yelling at the TV, so I had to cut my viewing short. And I was also having trouble watching the fascistic nature of the plot. Its the reason why I’m not really into watching dystopias right now.

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But this is a great show. It’s very deep. It has good representation for my criteria although, if you’re a member of an Indigenous culture of any kind, you may have more stringent criteria than I do. It might also be too upsetting to watch because the plot does not mince around.

 

 

Will/ The Strain

Other shows I’ve checked out, and won’t be watching again, are Will, a show about the life of William Shakespeare which I found too dense to get into, and The Strain, which I continue to hate despite its change of venue, to Philadelphia, after NY blew up.

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Now, If you’re a student of Shakespearean Literature than you will  love this show because it chronicles the writing of his various plays and whatnot. its written by a couple of scholarly type guys and it shows. Its also full of pretty people being loud and boisterous,, and lots of ribaldry. I guess this is the show’s attempt to seem racy. I tried to like it, but I don’t think I was in the mood for it, as all that authenticity was giving me a headache.

I tried to watch the first episode of The Strain’s fourth and final season. I didn’t get past the first twenty minutes. I figured out what it was I hated so much about this show. Its the characters. I just hate them. Outside of Quinlan, and Fet, none of the characters are even trying to be compelling, and the villains are just ridiculous. The show also just isn’t scary. At least not to me, but the one review I read of the show the reviewer loved it. I just can’t agree. If you like the show, there’s nothing wrong with that, but  you have very different criteria, than I, for liking it.

Since NY blew up last season, the apocalypse has started t in earnest, as the resultant ash cloud has blocked out most of the sun’s UV rays, allowing the Strigoi, as the vampires are called, to walk around in daylight, menacing the populace. The setting has moved to Philly, and the first annoying thing I saw was an ad for a vampire/human organization called The Partnership, which is mostly designed to separate humans from their blood.

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Let me get this out of the way first: Many of the people in the ad were Black, although no more Black people were seen in the rest of the episode, even though it takes place in Philly, which has, quite possibly, one of the most recalcitrant Black populations in America. Apparently, rebellion against authority is only for White guys, since the two Black people I saw are shown  just rolling over for it.

This really pissed me off because I know, in the real world, you can’t even get Black people to do things they want to do, if you  give them an order to do it. Black people (and Puerto Ricans) will decide NOT do something, just to spite you. So I found it hard to believe there were no Black or Brown people rebelling, or creating some kind of Human Underground. C’mon! Marginalized communities would be the first ones to act up. And no explanation is given for why they’re all absent. Were they all wiped out? Eaten? Maybe we’ll find out later in the season but I won’t know because I’m not watching.

 

Castlevania: 

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I watched the first few episodes of this series, which is based on the arcade game from the 80’s. I do have fond memories of watching my brothers play it,  because I wasn’t particularly interested in playing it myself. I’m not that type of gamer, really. I don’t get attached to characters too much, or follow plots that closely, so I can’t tell you if the anime has anything to do with the plot of the game.

But I enjoyed the cartoon, which is about a guy named Belmont, a monster hunter from a disgraced family, going up against Dracula, and the Church. The Church is responsible for burning Dracula’s wife as a witch, and he’s so pissed off that he didn’t receive an apology, or even a tribute for his dead wife, that he unleashed a horde of batlike demons into the world to destroy humankind.

I spent a not inconsiderable time muttering at my TV about this one too because, as is natural, the villains are villainous, and  annoyingly unreasonable bullies. The Church is trying to use the approach of the demon horde to consolidate their power, and deflect attention away from the fact that the release of the demons is their fault. There’s another group of monks, truth tellers, that the Church is trying to wipe out because church officials don’t want word getting out that the demon apocalypse is their fault.

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The animation is very good, with some nice fight scenes. I usually avoid a lot of anime series because they’re too fast paced, and the characters have a tendency to talk too much, in extremely high pitched voices, which just makes my head hurt. But I liked this one. The people have actual motivations for doing stuff, even if I disagree with their actions, and they all talk like regular people.

So, if you’re a fan of the game, you could do worse than spending an evening with Belmont, who is a total bad-ass, and  Dracula. Castlevania is available now on Netflix.

 

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I also watched The British Baking Show and Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the Baking Show because British reality shows are wholly unlike American reality shows.  For one thing, there’s less bragging, and competition from the empty headed contestants, and more a feeling of camaraderie. The British shows don’t look as if they’re trying to get rid of the Black people and women as quickly as possible and the hosts are really funny.

I like the process of watching the contestants learn to bake something, I like looking at the inventiveness of the end results, the judges aren’t mean for meanness sake, but seem honest and forthright, about the results, and the way they choose the winners seems fair. If you have a bad episode, as a baker, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. It has to be a consistent thing. By the end of the series some of the baker’s have had several bad events.

 

I have no idea what to think of Game of Thrones. I want to like it. I like parts of it. I’m mostly a casual viewer, who has only watched a few of the more popular episodes. I know who the top five characters are, and the ones I like the most, Jon Snow, Brienne, and Arya and Sansa Stark. I’m much more interested in what’s happening in the north, at The Wall, then I am with what’s going on in the south, even though I realize all of these things are linked.

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 I don’t know who that guy is that’s been stalking Brienne.I think his name is Torm, or Torman) but he is hilariously, and very obviously, smitten with her. Brienne mostly looks annoyed and puzzled at his insinuations, and I can explain why that’s funny. I often have that same look on my face when people flirt with me. I can’t imagine why they think such a tactic would work with me, and puzzled about whatever I might have done, to make them think it would.

He longs for eve nthe faintest scrap of attention from her. Last night, after Brienne thoroughly trashed some guy  she was training with the sword, he walked up to the man and happily told him how lucky he was.

And of course, Twitter was right on it!

Tormund be looking at Brienne like

I’m going to keep watching it (not reviewing it) because I’m curious as to where it’s going to end, and how my favorites end up. Notice that there are some popular characters I didn’t mention, and that’s because I don’t care a single bit, about what they get up to, on the show.

 

Summer of 2017 TBR Pile

Currently Reading

This basically means I am well into the book (at least 20%) and dedicated to finishing it. I often have multiple books going at once, and switch out according to mood and whether or not the book needs to be returned to the library soon.

Kill Society – Richard Kadrey

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I love this entire series, which really needs to be made into a movie starring Vin Diesel, because that’s who I picture, and whose voice I hear, as Sandman Slim. The plot, for this newest book, is a total ripoff of Fury Road, but I’m here for it.

 

Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef – Kassandra Khaw

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These books are really gory, but also unexpectedly funny. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I picked these up, but the title is basically what the book is about. Rupert Wong is paying off some kind of debt  by acting as a chef in demonic restaurants. Yes, they eat people. This is a distinctly Asian setting, and it’s also funny as, well..Hell. It’s on sale at Amazon for less than four bucks.

 

Phantom Pains – Mishell Baker

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The first book in this series titled Borderline, is very probably the best fantasy novel written last year. That book made my top ten list, and this sequel is looking to make it on there for this year. Its also on sale at Amazon for 2 bucks. Grab it!

 

Aliens: Bug Hunt Anthology

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I haven’t got very far into this book beyond the first story, which was all kinds of fun, so  I’m looking forward to reading the other stories. This book is on sale at Amazon for 2 dollars, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, so  grab it up,now.

 

To Be Read

Which basically means I’ve gotten about 10% of the way into these books before continuing with the books I’m already in the middle of reading. I often read multiple books at once, switching to a different book according to my mood, or  whatever is near to hand. This means that finishing a book can take a while, as I make incremental progress across several books.

The Change (1-3) Guy Adams

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I’ve read the first book in this short series, and its genuinely scary. Its about an alien invasion of Earth that killed off most of the human race outright when it occurred, but for the survivors, the world has gone hideously, horribly, wrong. I think these are based on his first book, The Change Orbital, which is also pretty terrifying.

 

The Witch Who Came in From the Cold – Malcolm Gladstone

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I like the ideas of spies who do magic, and I like some of Gladstone’s writing, so I wanted to try this one. The opening chapter is very exciting. The book consists of a bunch of nested, shared-world stories, by different authors, sort of like G.R.R.M.’s Wild Cards Series.

 

Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw

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I haven’t read much of this one but the description is adorable. A woman physician in Victorian London, who is related to Van Helsing,  gets caught up in taking care of the illnesses of various supernatural creatures like werewolves, vampires, and mummies, and has to save their existences from some murderous monks.

 

Urban Enemies Anthology

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Famous Urban Fantasy authors put the spotlight on some of their more villainous characters from their popular series.

 

Magicians Impossible – Brad Abraham

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I have no idea what this is about as I’ve only read the first chapter. What I did read was very exciting , and I’m eager to keep going.

 

Graveyard Shift – Michael Haspil

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I was really looking forward to this book, the moment I read the first blurb. This is an interesting story, that’s not unlike the Rivers of London series by Aaronovitch. The lead character is an ancient Egyptian demi-god, working as a kind of supernatural cop, in a world of vampires, and werewolves, who have just come out of the closet. I’m working on it.

 

Books To Recommend 

I have so many recommendations to give you, but I’m going to stop at these few.Most of these are Dark Fantasy and Horror. There are no monster romances in any of these books, nobody talking about their favorite pair of boots, or what clothes the hot guy is wearing, because that kind of stuff just puts me right to sleep. The darker and more unusual the Fantasy, the more I’ll like it, especially if it takes place in the modern world.

The  Barker & Lewelyn Series by Will Thomas

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This is the only mystery on the list. I’ve become obsessed with Hard Victorian mysteries, and Will Thomas has one of the best. The lead character is totally a Sherlock Holmes clone, but I don’t care. I will read about Holme’s clones, all day, every day. There’s a difference between a hard mystery, vs a soft mystery. A hard mystery is more a police procedural. Its darker and grittier,  and I especially like mysteries that take place before modern forensics.

 

The Rivers of London Series

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I’ve written about this series before. Its hella fun. I like to think of it as a calmer, British version of the Harry Dresden series. Peter grant is a Black cop who gets involved in magical events in London.

 

King Rat – China Mieville

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This was the very first book I ever read by this author. I didn’t know what to expect but the description sounded vaguely intriguing. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was unlike any Fantasy I’d eve read. I’ve read nearly every one of Mieville’s books since then, and have never been disappointed.

 

The Iskryne Series – Elizabeth Bear

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I love it when writers take fantasy tropes and  turn them upside down. Bear takes the concept of bonded animal companions all the way to its limit, and that includes how sexuality is handled. Bear’s writing partner for the series is Sarah Monette. There’s not a lot of human women in the books but it more than makes up for that with the ideas that are introduced, and the setting.

 

Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse Series – Ben Templesmith

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This is the funniest comic book zombie series ever written. At least part of the reason for that are Ben Templesmith’s ridiculous illustrations. Wormwood is not the name of the zombie, mind you, but the name of the tiny, snarky, worm that’s possessing the corpse, who fights various lovecraftian horrors from outer space.

 

The Works of Brom

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Just about any one of Brom’s books is a gem. They’re not comic books but they do contain some beautifully dark illustrations, and cover such topics as: damnation, Peter Pan, toys, and a motorcycling demon. His latest book is called Lost Gods and is about a young man trying to find his way through Hell, to save his endangered wife back on Earth. If you have a taste for weird, then Brom is the writer for you.

 

God’s Demon – Wayne Barlowe

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This is the only prose book written by Barlowe although he has written/illustrated other boos about fantasy figures, science fiction, and aliens. In this story, the war in Heaven continues into Hell, as one of the Fallen, Sargatanas, tries to redeem himself, and win back God’s favor. The novel is based on a series of illustrations Barlowe did for his book, Barlowe’s Inferno, which is a guided tour through Hell.

 

The Skyscraper Throne Series – Tom Pollock

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I love fantasies based on cities, especially when the city is a real character in the book. Such s the case with The City’s Son series. If you liked China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, then you’ll love this YA series.

 

The Matthew Swift Series – Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb

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Once again you have a fantasy series where the city is a separate character in the book. The city of London  holds all the magic, and people who are attuned  can access it. This series has a number of Asian and Black characters that I thought were interesting, including a Black female sorceress, who is an apprentice to the lead character, who isn’t, quite, human.

 

Bone Street Rumba Series – Daniel Jose Older

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Daniel Older does for diversity in New York what Ben Aaronovitch does for the city of London. The main character is Carlos Delacruz, a half-ghost,dealing with supernatural events in his working class, Latinx/Hispanic, neighborhood. If you’re looking for diversity, and strong women characters, check it out.

The Eric Carter Series – Stephen Blackmoore

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Much of this series is based on South American mythology. Eric Carter is a modern day necromancer, who gets involved with an Aztec goddess, after the death of his sister. Lots of action, but still less bombast, and more diversity than the Harry Dresden books.

 

The SNAFU Series

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This is an entire series of military horror books, where human beings fight aliens, werewolves, vampires, and various monsters that defy description. If you like military horror then check these out, along with books like:

World War Cthulhu

 

Operation Arcana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures From Tumblr

 

Entertainment Weekly has a great photos spread of the cast and characters of Black Panther. But not everyone has access to EW, so:

 

And here are the first images from Ava Duverny’s A Wrinkle In Time, which will also be released in 2018:

a-wrinkle-in-time-reese-witherspoon-oprahy-winfrey-mindy-kaling-ew

a-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-oprah-winfrey-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-ava-duvernay-storm-reid-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-ew

 

There are some incredible classical, and digital, artists on Tumblr, that are unlike anything on WordPress:

Furiosa // Abraão Lucas

 

 

And now for something completely different:

Great Moments in Black History

kainecarter

Redman’s cousin sleeping on the floor during his MTV Cribs segment.

 

specstestwalletandwatch

When Gucci Mane was asked if he was inebriated in court and answered with “Bitch I might be”

 

 booty-finesser

when ODB went on stage during the GRAMMYS and said “Wu tang is for the children”

 

inovoxowetrust

Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus on national television giving us the iconic “ Miley, what’s good ”Image result for nicki calls out miley gif

 

savagezoee

When Kanye took the mic from Taylor Swift

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doubledoseofdopamine

Originally posted by huffingtonpost

 

vividlyme

When Destiny’s Child announced they were getting back together on Oprah

 

thetattedstoner

When Snoop Dogg asked the East coast about love for the West Coast

 

nohablabs

When Dave Chapelle shot a slavemaster on cable television.Image result for dave chappelle shoots slavemaster gif

 

sistermaryfake

when common called drake Canada Dry

 

tikaboos

When Diana Ross jiggled lil Kim tit …

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oshuns

When ODB rolled up to the welfare office in a limousine

 

rapunzel-corona-lite

When Rick James told that white bitch from backstage who he was on TV

 

bruddabois

When YG showed up in a bulletproof vest and cut off pants

sauvamente

Whitney Houston trolling Diane Sawyer about her personal life for two solid hours “I ain’t telling you”

 

bruddabois

When “Bobby Bitch” dropped

 

nayborhoodhugdealer

Kanye saying George Bush doesn’t care about black people on live tv

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hutchj

When Jesse Williams got on the BET Awards and dragged every white person by their follicles and some black people too.

Originally posted by frontpagewoman

Originally posted by grantel-works

Originally posted by desingyouruniverse

jeniphyer

Monique letting Beyoncé know that big girls can “uh oh” too

 

ispeakvon

When Django blew up the candy land plantationImage result for django blows up plantation gif

 

thagoodthings

Beyoncé 2016 SuperBowl performance

 

kairo-koutureee

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Originally posted by frontpagewoman

 

nico-incognito

Annalise Keating getting a sew-in on national TV by Mary J. Blige is honestly the blackest thing I’ve ever seen…

 

Originally posted by getawaywithgifs

 

black-geek-supremacy

Grace Jones being pulled by white dudes in her chariot in Boomerang.

happyblackteenager

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king-emare

When A.I. stepped over Lue

 

blackabsolem

When Frozone was put in his place by his wife even though he needs to help save the world.

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jaythenubian

Vince Carter dunk over Frédéric Weis in the Olympics

 

wittolblackcuckold

When Eddie Murphy dropped RAW, currently the #1 box office stand-up of all times.

Originally posted by undeadliz

 

bossbarnett

When Michel Jackson said “he was not the father”

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Originally posted by mj-loves-to-tour

 

infamousprincejayyeee

When Left Eye showed Andre who the fuck she was!

Originally posted by freshprincesst

hutchj

When Cissy Houston was side eyeing the hell out of Aretha

Originally posted by musicisneat-blog

 

theblacktroymcclure

When Ray J threatened Fabolous on Hot 97

 

a-shadyqueeen

When Patti Labelle told that white woman on the Tyra banks show she doesn’t eat paper boo

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loladivine

When Gucci mane aka big guwop exposed Angela Yee for her thot antics live on the breakfast club

 

yoblackpopculture

When Randy Watson showed Whitney how the song is really sung

Originally posted by yoblackpopculture

 

theimaginarythoughts

When Tupac and Snoop Dogg performed at Cochella

Originally posted by da-zona-sul

 

grandpaq

When Rick James told ol’ girl who he was at the BET Awards.

Originally posted by b-h-s

 

halimahmariee

When Remy Ma dragged Nicki Minaj to her grave

Originally posted by yeezusxvi

 

feezy-sama

When A.I put the reporters on blast for talking about practice

Originally posted by this-is-nba

 

sirl33te

when Rihanna threw that stack of cash at Stephen Hill the BET Awards

 

thesoultape94

When they announced the Black Panther movie with an ALL BLACK cast

Originally posted by notias1

 

yadadameanp

Originally posted by gif-weenus

 

whoareyouandwhyshouldicare

Originally posted by micdotcom

 

ohitslikethat

 

soundsfromvenus

Angela Basset burning her husbands shit in Waiting To Exhale

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untilstarsfall

Queen Latifah’s bad bitch girlfriend in Set It Off

 

LORDT
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I love these little gothic themes for such mundane activities as buying a house, or looking for a job. Apparently just about any activity can be made to seem creepy on Tumblr:

Millennial Job Search Gothic

 

tortillapunx

  • you have an interview next week. you always have an interview next week. The managers who interview you all seem to share the same pleasant, blank face. They promise to call you back in a few days. They never do.
  • they say the minimum wage is going up soon.
  • you must have two years of experience. you must have five years of experience. you must have ten years of experience. experience in what, exactly? the job requirements bleed into an ancient latin text as you attempt to decipher them.
  • the people in the photos in the craigslist ads smile eerily at you. their eyes seem to follow you around the room even after you click away from the job posting.
  • do not apply in person, the posting says. do not send in your resume. do not apply. we’ve lost too many employees to the creature as is.
  • you plan on leaving your job soon. you’ve been planning on leaving your job soon for months. you keep making excuses as to why you haven’t left your job yet, but you know deep down that even if you put in your two weeks tomorrow, you wouldn’t leave the company as the same person you were when you applied. if they let you leave alive at all.
  • you seem to see “help wanted” signs everywhere. when you enter and inquire about them, the employees wave you away. you hear their cries for help again as you leave.
  • you are more than qualified for the job that you are applying to. you are over-qualified for the job you are applying to.
  • you do not get the job.

 

 

Spiderman Homecoming

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Just in case you hadn’t guessed, there are going to be lots of spoilers. I’m basically gonna be talking about the plot, in detail. So if you haven’t seen this movie, its time to check out of this post, right now.

I’ll wait for you to come back!

 

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So yeah! I went to see Spiderman Homecoming this weekend, along with about a million other people, because Spiderman totally blew the fuck up this weekend. There are some movies that I get a good feel for their success, and others not so much, but this one I felt good about.  This is an instinct  that’s based entirely on my own own enthusiasm for a movie, so it’s not some infallible thing, where I’m always right.

And yeah, the movie is every bit as entertaining as everyone says it is. I took The Potato with me, and she seemed to really enjoy herself. It isn’t a very deep movie, but I wasn’t expecting depth from a Spiderman movie, so that’s okay. I don’t require every movie be an intellectual exercise, (just Christopher Nolan’s.) Sometimes you just want a movie to be a lot of fun, or bring the feels, and Spiderman does both of those. I found myself more interested in the relationships and dialogue, than the action scenes, although those were good too. I’m also glad to see that they didn’t do an origin story. We’ve had a bunch of those already.

I don’t normally see movies with teenagers in them, as most of the time they aren’t written very realistically as teens, and they always look like people with mortgages. I’ll tolerate a high school setting for the sake of a good story, but I generally don’t seek out material with that setting, on purpose.That said, I really enjoyed this because these are some of the most realistically written teens I’ve seen in a movie. I especially enjoyed these kid’s relationships with their parents, and the parents relationships to their kids, which is often written as being fraught with emotional drama, with sullen and unlikable teens. I even liked most of the kids. I liked that they looked, dressed, and acted like kids, instead of runway models, or future serial killers.


Most of the drama remains between Peter and  Michael Keaton, as The Vulture, or Peter messing up a situation that was already under control, because he wants so badly to be a superhero. Tony tells him he’s not ready for the big leagues, even though he was the one who picked Peter to go fight Captain America, in Civil War. So Peter gets a taste of the big time, and because he doesn’t believe Tony believes in him, ends up proving Tony’s point, that he’s not ready. When he almost gets all the people on the Staten Island Ferry killed through his interference, Tony takes away the suit he gave him at the end of Civil War, and  Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to prove he’s worthy. There’s a not insignificant portion of the movie spent with Peter trying to figure out how to work the suit. His origin story is glossed over in a few lines. We don’t even get a flashback, for which I remain grateful.

The Vulture is not one of my favorite villains from the comic books. (That would be Dr. Octopus) but I liked him okay, mostly due to Keaton’s ability to sell being warm and friendly, while also being  pantshittingly scary. There’s a scene, just before the Homecoming Dance, when he figures out that Peter is Spiderman, and confronts Peter about his secret identity, that scared the bejeebus out of me. You expect the typical events to occur, where he threatens Pete’s friends and family, or holds Aunt May hostage during the Homecoming Dance, and then Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to rescue somebody. Thankfully the writers skip over all that, and the fight remains between The Vulture and Spiderman to the end.

This  is indeed one of the most diverse MCU movies, I’ve ever seen, though I’m still mad about Miles Morales not being Spiderman. It’s like the MCU is punking us, or something. But there’s hope for a future teamup between the two Spider-men, because Miles’ uncle gets a funny cameo and mentions his nephew. The central characters are still white guys, but the PoC are not ill treated,  and get lots of screen time. None of them are developed characters, because it’s a pretty huge cast, and the movie is already two and a half hours, and the focus is all on Peter’s character. Peter’s teen crush, Liz, gets almost no character beyond being pleasant and pretty, for example. She is bi-racial, and I think it’s intriguing that   this movie shows two white men being  romantically interested in Black women. Peter’s best friend is Ned, who gets a little bit more character work, and is played by Jacob Batalon. He was a lot of fun and gets almost as much screen time as Tom Holland.


There are a number of characters I really enjoyed and I’m going to go through this by the  character names:

Aunt May – Marisa Tomei

I really liked Marisa Tomei’s version of Aunt May, who is supportive and funny. I still have no idea what she does for a living but she is apparently well known in the neighborhood as a hottie. It’s referred to a couple of times but not to the level where it becomes creepy. Also, she’s not prone to the speechifying of the Aunt May from the first  Spiderman movies with Tobey McGuire. I sometimes got tired of hearing her talk, even if what she said was supposed to be inspiring.

At no point, in this narrative, do they  damsel Aunt May, for which I am eternally grateful. At one point Peter,who has been invited to the Homecoming Dance by the girl of his dreams, Liz, enlists Aunt May’s help in getting him ready. She gets him a suit, teaches him to tie his tie,  and even teaches him how to boogie. That poor boy can’t dance a lick, though. aunt May can at least keep a beat.

 

Ned – Jacob Batalon

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Ned gets almost as much screen time, as he’s Peter’s best friend, and is the first person to find out he’s Spiderman. Jacob is just as charming as Tom Holland and I totally fell in love with his cute, little nerdy self, with his Legos, and his big mouth, although my niece wasn’t too impressed with him, though. He manages to get Peter into trouble with his peers,  because he’s so excited that he’s friends with Spiderman. Earlier in the movie, he asks Peter if he can be Spiderman’s “Man in the Chair”, who gives the hero instructions while in the field, and during the Homecoming scene, he, very happily, gets  his big chance.

Jennifer Connolly is the voice of Karen, The Spidey Suit

She talks to Peter through his Spiderman suit, and even she gets a couple of great lines. The suit’s voice is something that was added just for the film. In most of the comic books, Peter’s suit isn’t made by Tony Stark and doesn’t talk much. (There is an alternate version of Spiderman, in a gold and red suit, that was created by Stark, but he’s not Spiderman Prime, as it were.)

 Adrian Toomes – Michael Keaton

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Keaton plays the movie’s least funny character. But he’s also a sympathetic character, having lost his salvage and demolition business to Stark’s politicking. In the aftermath of The Avengers movie, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do, and Toomes set himself, and his crew, to be a salvage team. Unfortunately, a lot of the salvage is alien technology, that really shouldn’t be in the hands of civilians, and during the course of the movie you can see why, as the civilians use this technology to act a fool, lose control of the technology, and occasionally even lose track of it.

Adrian is also Liz’ Dad, which Peter doesn’t find out until half the movie is over, and he’s already asked her to the Homecoming. All three are sitting in the car, on the way to the dance, when it slowly begins to dawn on Adrian that Peter is Spiderman. Talk about tense and Awkward!!!

Toomes is married to Garcelle Beauvais, and he’s a great father, he loves his family, and is dedicated to taking care of them. His argument that he is only making money by selling weapons, the same way Tony’s family made theirs, is justifiable, and I didn’t have a problem with his reasoning, up to a point. My problem is that he and his garage buddies are stealing the technology,  and they aren’t qualified to handle alien tech. At one point he accidentally kills one of his people (Shocker #1) because he grabs the wrong weapon. Can you imagine your dumb-assed  neighbor cobbling together some alien tech in his garage? I think not!

 

Shocker #2 – Bokeem Woodbine

When Shocker #1 gets killed, Bokeem’s character inherits his weapon. I really like this actor, and I’m semi-interested in seeing him become one of Peter’s Rogues Gallery, which is what they call Spiderman’s regular coterie of bad guys, in the comic books. Most of Spiderman’s villains, who insist on jumping in and out of prison, have animal names, but the Shocker is something of a change from Dr. Octopus, The Scorpion, The Vulture, Chameleon, Black Cat, The Goblin, Rhino. That said, I would love it if Kraven the Hunter showed up in one of Spidey’s movies, or the life-eating Morlun, who is a kind of ageless, spiritual vampire. But so far, all we got is  Shocker.

Coach Wilson – Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress gets a funny turn as Peter’s gym coach, who is also the head of detention. What few scenes he gets are hilarious like when he’s required to show Captain America’s stupid PSAs in his class, while he briefly wonders; isn’t the Captain a Federal criminal, now?

 

Michelle – MJ – Zendaya

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I’m surprised to say that this is one of my favorite characters in the entire movie and I wasn’t expecting that. She is funny as hell, and although she’s not in a lot of scenes, she steals almost every one of them, due mostly to Zendaya’s comedic timing and delivery. The Potato loves her Disney show, KC Undercover, and was delighted to see her.

She’s just a  funny weirdo in the movie and I loved her. She shows up to detention, and when Coach Wilson asks why she’s there because she doesn’t even  have detention, she says she likes to come there because she likes drawing people in crisis. She then shows him a picture she drew of him. That just tickles the hell outta me, and makes me wish I had thought of doing that when I was in art school. Later, when Peter is looking depressed in class, she flips over her paper to show him  the drawing she did of him. I think this tickled the rest of the audience.

Oh ,and it actually turns out that the filmmakers lied about Zendaya being Mary Jane. She’s basically a future Mary Jane with a new name, Michelle. I guess they did that to throw off the scent of the idiot fan-guys who protested making Mary Jane a Black girl. Yes, her hair is annoying for the entire movie.

She claims to be unaffected by her high school life but you get the impression she really does have a low-key crush on Peter. She pays a lot of attention to him, even though she claims she doesn’t care,  telling the class she doesn’t have a crush on him, and is just highly observant. What a strange girl.

Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori, and he’s every bit as annoying as you’d expect a bully to be, but is also deeply funny, often referring to Peter as Penis Parker, and gleefully wondering when Peter will be expelled. You get the impression that he’s not bullying Peter because he has some deep dark secret in his home life, because its not really that kind of bullying. This version of Flash isn’t a jock, because its not that type of school, so his teasing of Peter is mostly due to academic rivalry, more than anything else.

Compared to the comic books this is the one most like the 90s comic books, and the Mark Millar version. This is one of the funniest Spiderman movies, too. The MCU understands this character the best, and how they’d like to depict him, and it shows. The original movie, starring Tobey MacGuire, had its moments, and I particularly enjoyed the second movie with Dr. Octopus, but Peter wasn’t funny in any of them. He was hapless, and a loser, but he didn’t make me laugh, even if the supporting cast was hugely funny. This Peter is a loser, but not in a depressing sort of way, like the Raimi version. The movie manages to remain lighthearted, even when Peter is being put into embarrassing ethical positions by his friends. This version of Peter is hapless because of his intensity, not because life seems to have it in for him.

The second iteration of Spiderman, with Andrew Garfield, brought a lot of feels, and I really liked those movies but, once again, they were not very funny, although funnier than McGuire’s version. The humor level drops  a notch  when this Peter  is in costume, but that’s okay, because its hard to  drop quips, when you’re getting your ass kicked. I’m glad the humor isn’t limited to the rest of the cast, though, and that Peter  remembers to be funny when he’s in costume.

But the most charming moments  occur at the beginning of the movie, when we pick up the story, with Tony recruiting him to go fight the other Avengers in Civil War. Normally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to large battle scenes in movies, but that scene in Civil War is, hands down,  one of the funniest fights I’ve ever seen in an American action movie.  Peter’s narration of it just gives it a new dimension of silliness. Peter is such a goofy mess, a hyperactive 10 year-old, as he personally films the event, which he’s not supposed to be doing. Incidentally, Tony’s presence in this movie goes a long way towards making up for recruiting a 14 year-old boy into his Avengers war, but yeah, I’m still mad at Tony for lying to Peter about why. Just add that to the list of things that make you wish Tony would catch these hands.

Oh, and you should stick around long enough to get trolled by, of all people, Captain America, who made me roll my eyes twice while he lectured the audience on the virtues of patience. That’s totally NOT funny guys!😜

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So yeah, I really, really liked this movie. It’s better than The Amazing Spiderman 2, and that Raimi production, Spiderman #3, even though I’m one of the five people who seemingly  liked that one. On the other hand it’s just not as good as the Tobey McGuire’s Spiderman 2, because that one starred Otto Octavius and it’s hard to top a good villain. The creators do need to stop making Spiderman films for a little while, though. I don’t want to see any more Spiderman movies until he’s in college. If you haven’t seen Spiderman Homecoming yet, I’d definitely recommend it.

The next movie I’d like to see is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I may not get the chance to see that, however, for budgetary reasons, but Me, Mom, and The Potato, will definitely be sitting in the theater for The Dark Tower on August 4th.

American Gods: Of Gods and Shadow Moon

 

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                   SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS

 

 

I’m  going to maybe do a little spoiling ,so if you didn’t read the book….best check out now, although just because it’s in the book, doesn’t  mean it will play out on the show. However, the show is following the spirit of the book, and some of the major plot points  of the book have been struck.

At the end of this first season, it’s difficult to say where we are in the book because the series is showing events out of order. A significant middle portion of the book is taken up with Shadow, alone in a small town, waiting for Wednesday to contact him, as he goes about gathering together the various gods.

One of the major changes from the book is Shadow is with Wednesday, as he attempts to round up the various gods for his war. The end result of this decision by the show’s writers,  is that the focus is now on Shadow’s relationship with Wednesday. Their relationship was not something that was elaborated upon in the book, so by focusing on the closeness of Shadow’s friendship with Wednesday, we can better understand  at least one of the key decisions that Shadow will make in the next season.

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In the Bone Orchard, we’re introduced to Shadow while he’s in prison. The way we see him there, is how we’ll see him for most of the season, reacting to something that’s being done to him. He essentially moves from one kind of prison to another, where he is not in control of any of the events that are happening to him, from his wife’s death, to his early release from prison, to his meeting with Wednesday, and he spends almost all of his time being fought over by various gods, and  reacting, or not reacting, to someone, or something. From the disrespectful airport lady, to Audrey’s attempted rape, to Wednesday roping him into his deal as a bodyguard, to fighting with Mad Sweeney., Shadow spends the entire season reacting to things others are doing to him. (The most decisive things he did all season was to accept Wednesday’s job offer, and Believe.)

How Shadow reacts to the world around him in those first 30 minutes is key to realizing how shaken he is by the events of this season, and what a huge turnaround it is for him to say those words to Wednesday in the season finale. From his early reactions, we understand that Shadow is not a stupid man. He thinks about what’s happening to him, and how he should feel, or respond to it.

For example the airport scene where he thinks back on Lowkey’s warning not to piss off airport ladies, despite that woman’s blatant disrespect of him. He understands that the survival behavior he developed in prison is not going to work outside of it, and adapts his behavior accordingly. You can almost see the exact moment when he backs down from going off on the woman, realizing that more than a few ex-cons ended up right back in jail because they were unable to adapt their prison behavior to their new situations. It is his intelligence and adaptability that will stand him in good stead on his journey into the realm of the gods.

When Sweeney tries to provoke him in the bar, Shadow tries to stand down, because he wants to learn Sweeney’s coin trick, but after a moment, he figures out that Wednesday is testing him, and steps up. When Technical Boy threatens him, he remains calm and  unruffled by TB’s threats, mouthing off to TB as he would to any other convict who tried to scare him. Once again reading the situation correctly, and then adapting his behavior to suit it.

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I said in an earlier post that Shadow Moon is the show’s Everyman. Every fantastic, supernatural show, must have one. They function as a lens through which the fantastic is experienced by the audience. We’re meant to identify, and empathize with this character. Shadow is  remarkable  because the vast majority of such characters are often Average White Guys. It’s  extraordinary for us that a Black man has been cast in such a role because the audience is supposed to project themselves onto his character, and identify with him, and the decisions he makes.

This is only the first season, so much of our time has been spent establishing the world that Shadow has joined. A a result,  Shadow is often a passive, rather than a dynamic character, which I know sometimes frustrated some viewers, but this is quite common.  He’s done very little to move the plot forward, which is in keeping within the tenets of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Think of Luke Skywalker, who starts off Star Wars as a somewhat passive character, who is mostly reacting to things being done to him.

This season has been a journey to get Shadow to do one thing. Make one big decision of his own volition. Believe! After this, much like Luke, in The Empire Strikes Back, Shadow should become a much more active participant in the proceedings, and Bryan Fuller promises that he will.

Like Luke Skywalker, Shadow receives the call to adventure (from Wednesday). As soon as he agrees to it, he’s given supernatural aid, in the form of a magical coin by Sweeney, after his first challenge, which is besting Sweeney in a fight. (Giving the coin away is what actually aids him, at the end of The Bone Orchard. Had that coin never resurrected Laura, Shadow would have died on the tree.)

His second challenge is his checkers game with Czernobog, which he loses. He is then given a second gift in the form of a silver coin, that helps him best Czernobog, when he challenges him to another game. Technical Boy is the Guardian of the first threshold. Shadow has  fully committed to the adventure by the time they meet.  His lynching is his entrance into the Belly of the Whale. He couldn’t back out of the adventure now, even if he wanted to, because the new gods are aware of his presence. Shadow has to keep moving forward now, just like Luke had no choice but to keep moving forward after his first encounter with Darth Vader. Once you become known to the major players, its impossible to back out of  events, as they will keep drawing you back into the game, by coercion, or force, if necessary.

As Shadow moves forward, he is beset by  temptations and challenges, which occur in threes. The first temptation is in the cemetery with Audrey, while one of the challenges is his game of checkers with Czernobog.   Along the way, there are two other temptations: Laura’s return, and Media’s seduction to the dark side, both of which Shadow successfully withstands. Another of his three challenges is the  bank heist, which is successful, and Mr World makes, yet another, offering to him, of flesh and blood,  in the form of Technical Boy’s teeth. So Shadow withstands three temptations, overcomes three challenges, and receives three gifts. Along the way, he is aided by his assistant (Helper), Laura, and mentored by Wednesday.

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Shadow is also shown to have gifts of his own, an ability to prophecy, control of the weather, the ability to do coin tricks, to heal quickly, and to See. One of the  first things we know about Shadow is that he has prophetic/mystical dreams. He dreams about Laura’s death, telling her on the phone, and in his dream that he has a feeling of dread, that something bad is about to happen. The Bone Orchard is his dream about impending danger, of being attacked by Technical Boy’s white clad droogs, in a meadow, next to a tree. In the dream, Shadow stands in a blood covered orchard with bones, while he is attacked by white, bone-like hands reaching out of the trees. Shadow doesn’t know it, but the Bone Orchard represents the deaths of TB’s drones, at Laura’s hands. Later, he dreams about the same Buffalo God that denied entry into America to Nunyunnini, the forgotten god of Lemon Scented You. In his dreams this  god tells Shadow to “Believe.”

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During the scenes where Laura visited her family, Wednesday asks Shadow if he can see her, and Shadow, through glowing  eyelids, perfectly describes Laura, looking through her family’s front window, and deciding that she can’t join them. . So far, he has been shown as having the powers of many of the beings he has seen or met. His ability to prophesy mimics the Zorya Sisters powers. The coin tricks mimic Sweeney’s abilities with coins. Laura’s one heartbeat, when he kisses her, implies he has the powers of Anubis, or Easter, to resurrect the dead. (It is definitely Shadow who resurrects her because the power of  Sweeney’s  coin does not entail resurrection. )The trick with the snow is an echo of the powers of a certain storm god we all know, but who has, conspicuously,  never been mentioned.

We’ve also seen that Shadow is able to heal very quickly. When he was attacked by TB’s henchmen he suffered a stab wound in his side that needed to be stapled shut, but by the time we see Wednesday healing him in Murder of Gods, he only has the tree wound, which is healed by the time of Come to Jesus. Shadow doesn’t act, or move as if he’s in pain, or wounded, shortly after these events.

Not only do we know Shadow through his actions, but we also know him through his emotions. Ricky Whittle gives a beautiful performance  of a man who is hanging on to his sanity by his fingernails. Whittle’s portrayal is remarkable for the depth and breadth of emotions he brings to his character. He’s allowed to be tough and snarky, just like your typical hero character, but he’s also allowed to express vulnerability, without coming across as weak.

Not only is Shadow allowed to be tired, upset, angry, happy, hopeful, and even fearful, he is allowed to express these emotions without censure from the other characters. And even when he’s not openly expressing his emotions, in some of the first episodes we have some idea of what he’s feeling through the weather around him. Whenever we see Shadow trying to keep control of his emotions, the scene transitions indicate his inner turmoil, with shots of heavy clouds and storms. This is also indicated by followup shots that move from Shadows facial expressions to shots of the sky just above him.

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In one of the first scenes in The Bone Orchard, Shadow gives full vent to his emotions on a hilltop, which is followed by a shot of clouds clearing from a blue sky. When he vents, skies tend to be clear. When he tries to suppress or control his emotions, the weather is often an indicator of his inner turmoil. When he first meets Wednesday, their plane is flying through a storm, as he deals with the aftermath of Laura’s death, and this annoying stranger he’s trying not to snap at.

In Secret of the Spoons, we see clouds form, and a storm occurs, just after he is kissed by The Midnight Star, from a sky that was  clear a moment before. He must be feeling a great deal of fear, dread, and grief and guilt, after his wife dies, being threatened by Czernobog and his bleeding hammer, and having some strange girl kiss him. And there are other scenes where we are meant to directly attach the weather conditions to whatever Shadow is feeling at that moment.

In A Murder of Gods,  and The Bone Orchard, we get to see Shadow be scared, and apprehensive. We get to see him react in a realistic manner to the craziness, and potential danger around him. This is a man who, while always acutely aware of his Blackness, doesn’t let that define him, or limit his actions. Shadow is secure in who he is as a Black man, and doesn’t seem to care to engage in fake posturing, or in trying to convince everyone that he’s not weak. This is a man who simply knows he can handle himself. He is not at all intimidated by TB’s bluster, or Sweeney’s rants, and it’s that self-assurance that makes his vulnerable moments all the more touching.

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From  his guarded response to Czernobog’s questioning of his race in Secret of the Spoons, to his naked fear at being in a town with so many White people fondling guns, in A Murder of Gods, he doesn’t hold back from showing what he really feels when in Wednesday’s company. This emotional openness is part of the reason Wednesday likes him. Wednesday is almost never perturbed by Shadow’s feelings about anything. He often steps back and just lets Shadow handle his own business.

One of the highlights, and a subject of some concern to the fans, is Shadow’s relationship to Wednesday. I really want to like it. Actually, I do like it, sort of, but I also  keep in mind the Wednesday is a con man. A user, who is grooming Shadow for some dark purpose. Nevertheless, you can see the genuine affection he has towards Shadow. You know Shadow needs to separate himself from this man who orchestrated, not just his sojourn in a prison cell, but the deaths of his entire family while he was away. It’s easy to forget that when watching the two of them together though. I have to keep in mind that Wednesday thinks like a god,  and is not held to  human morality. He did what gods have always done, which is manipulating humans to suit their needs. I dislike Wednesday because he’s a manipulative narcissist.  He cares about Shadow because it’s in his best interests to care, and yet all of that doesn’t make me actually hate him, probably because there is  a genuine liking for Shadow in his demeanor.

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Shadow’s relationship with Wednesday is complicated. He knows what kind of person he’s with, which is the reason he’s so often angry with him. He knows Wednesday is a con man, a liar, a thief, and a user, but seems unable, or unwilling, to pull himself from Wednesday’s orbit. This isn’t because Shadow is stupid. It’s the opposite. It’s because Shadow is curious about the larger, weirder world, he’s been glimpsing over Wednesday’s shoulder, and he’s drawn to it, even if he resists believing in it. How many of us, if given a glimpse of such a world, could resist becoming a part of it? Of wanting to?

It’s the reason people worship gods in the first place, for a glimpse of something bigger than themselves. Shadow was mostly godless before he met Wednesday. The closest thing to a god he believed in was Laura, and that was smashed by learning of her infidelity. (See how Wednesday needed to squash that belief before recruiting Shadow to his cause? And how Wednesday warns Shadow about getting close too close to Ostara? He is a jealous god, who does not want Shadow setting any other gods before him.)

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Now for some speculation.

My speculations are entirely based on the book, and are subject to total reinterpretation next season. So this will contain spoilers from the book, and maybe, or maybe not, spoilers for the future of the show.

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One of the reasons Wednesday needs Shadow to believe is Shadow agreed to perform Wednesday’s Vigil should anything happen to him. Its part of the bargain Wednesday quietly slips  in,  at the beginning of Shadow’s employment, in The Bone Orchard. A Vigil, at least in Norse culture, is done over the body of a  dead relative. And yes, Shadow is Wednesday’s son.

I have speculated if the writers will make Bilquis Shadow’s mother, as we keep being given subtle hints that the she may well be. That Disco scene in the finale with Bilquis, with the huge Afro, morphing out of a lunar eclipse (which is another term for a shadow moon) is one such hint, and Wednesday speculating about Shadows mother having an Afro, in The Bone Orchard, is another. And having a son is something that could have happened to Bilquis during her fall from power, in the late eighties/early nineties, which would put Shadow at just the right age to be her son. But this is just me speculating. (If this is so, Shadow would be a true-God, not a Demi-god.)


Fuller has promised that Bilquis has an important part to play in the narrative, so everything we’ve seen of her so far, is all setup for a later reveal. Notice how women are instantly sexually attracted to Shadow (outside of Shadow looking like the extremely hot Ricky Whittle). I think this is  deliberate on the part of the writers. From the waitress at the Crocodile Bar who openly flirts with him,  to Audrey’s attempted rape, to Ostara being instantly smitten with him, and Laura’s new obsession ( Is the reason she sees him as an eclipse a sign of his godhood?) women have had strong sexual reactions to him, which could be a sing of Bilquis’ influence, as she is a Love Goddess.

Let me be more specific here: white women all have strong sexual reactions to him, as he hasn’t had any interactions with WoC, yet. If Bilquis is his mother that would explain much of the behavior we’ve seen, and could also be a deliberate statement on the  white supremacy which sees Black men as hypersexual stereotypes. We’ll see!

In the book, Wednesday is killed by the new gods,  to be used by Loki as a martyr, to help facilitate their war. Shadow is the one who performs this Vigil, by being hung on a tree for nine days, just like in Odin’s mythological backstory. Odin hung on the World Tree, for nine days, to receive wisdom, and the price paid, was the loss of his eye.

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In the book, Shadow hangs on an Ash tree for nine days. During that time, he receives wisdom about who and what he is, while traveling through the underworld. Shadow dies, but is resurrected by Ostara, and her fondness for Shadow, in Come to Jesus, is a nice setup for why she would decide to do that.

This also ties into the lynching imagery throughout the series, because that is foreshadowing for when Shadow will choose to hang on a tree for Wednesday, despite the naked fear we see in him. This lynching imagery is used throughout the series as a dreadful reminder of Shadows future. It is literally hanging over his head in his scenes in the jail courtyard, and Vulcan’s front yard. You are meant to be afraid for him. He is being manipulated to sacrifice himself for Wednesday, and cannot do so, if he doesn’t fully understand who Wednesday is, which is why Wednesday’s reveal, and Shadows statement are so awful. Wednesday is that much closer to realizing his plans for Shadow.


All season long Shadow has been admonished to Believe. So yes, even though believing is his downfall, it’s also the only way he can be saved. He has to believe in something, not necessarily Wednesday, but something, or he will never get through any of this intact.

Through the efforts of the other gods, Shadow survives the Vigil. Earlier in the series, Wednesday mentioned that there’s no King of America, which is why the philosophical discussions that happen between Wednesday and Shadow need to be attended closely. They offer clues to Shadows future. Shadow ends the book as a kind of Demi-god, a new King of America, who can see lies, and expose the truth. And this  is also the reason Shadow had to be a Black man. It’s a statement on how Black men are one of the few marginalized groups that have most often spoken truth to power. A black man who can see Truth is just keeping it real.

In the next few seasons we may or may not get to see the war, (in the book, there’s no war), but I’m not very concerned about that, because I don’t think that’s really the series end game either. I’m speculating that Shadow’s  birth as a kind of God of all gods, (sort of like Odin) is what’s at stake on the show. At least that’s where I’d like to see the future of this series turn.

Into the Badlands Season Two: Series Review

Plot:


The plot this season was much more intricate, with multiple characters, arcs, intentions, and designs. There was a lot to fit into eight episodes, and that the show managed to keep so many plot lines coherent, while tying up several from last season, is a testament to the skills of the writers. As outlined in the character reviews, everyone got to have a plot. The overriding theme seemed to be everyone seeking power, in the vacuum left behind by Baron Quinn’s rumored death.

The overriding character arcs were the Widow’s corrupt rise to power, Sunny’s search for his wife, MK’s escape, and Baron Quinn’s last hurrah. The writers juggled these four plots with a number of subs, managing to keep most of them untangled, and comprehensible, while still throwing  in a number of unpredictable twists and turns, which I enjoyed. The betrayals were flying fast and furious at one point, and if you blinked you’d miss who was aligning with who.

My biggest complaint is the treatment of the black characters, Edgar, Silver Moon, Veil, an unnamed black teenager at the monastery, and an unnamed butterfly, who were all brutally killed. Of them, only Silver, and Veil, had backstories. The show can do better than that.  I don’t think the show wants to get embroiled in a discussion of anti-blackness, but it will, if it keeps killing off  all its black characters like that.

Plus, it gives us one of the worst types of  character trope, in the show’s finale, with the fridging of Sunny’s love interest, a black woman who sacrifices herself, to save her man. It seems no matter how progressive white male writers believe themselves to be, they simply cannot seem to avoid the trope of the Sacrificial Negro.

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That said, my favorite character this season was Silver Moon. I loved this character but I don’t know why. Probably because he reminds me of the character from the RZA’s Martial Arts movie, The Man with the Iron Fists. I also think it’s very interesting that Sunny, even after he had his own sword returned to him, kept using the one he took from Silver, giving his old sword to Lydia. This character had lines and a backstory. They tried really hard to flesh him out, and that’s to be applauded.

Complaints aside, I am glad that the show remembers there are Black people in the future, and in a fantasy setting, just walking around in the background scenes. The show does need to add more Asian characters though, and Baron Chau is a good start. I loved watching her kick some ass, and liked that she lives to see the next season. She’s played by actress Eleanor Matsuuras, who is from Hertfordshire by way of Tokyo, and has mostly starred in British productions.

 

Worldbuilding:



We didn’t get to see much architecture and landscapes in the last season, and what there was, seemed more of an afterthought, but with the show’s bigger budget this season, we got some very ambitious, sometimes epic, background scenery. From the shot of the huge walls that cut off the badlands from the rest of the world, to the  intricate and lush gardens surrounding the Widow’s home, we got treated to some tremendous worldbuilding. And the details of this world are simply incredible, as seen in the Widow’s study, and the map of the Badlands above, that’s only glimpsed in a brief moment in a single episode, which outlines where this takes place in the US, and marks the different baronies.

I remember that first season, I had some major questions about food and textile production, and we get a partial answer, in learning that not everyone grows poppies. There are oil fields, and if that is the case, then there are also textile mills somewhere as well. These things aren’t knowledge that would be lost, since creating fabrics is one of the most basic human skills. Certainly the working and tooling of leather hasn’t been lost, or car repair either, it seems. We got such a small glimpse of the world in the first season, that we were left with a ton of questions, but the show has really built on that in a way that makes sense for the Badlands. This world is set to become even bigger in the third season after Bajie’s Morse code message is received.

We’re also given some startling glimpses into what type of world we’ve joined. Apparently this world is set about a hundred or so years from now, (how far into the future is unclear, so I could be wrong), but it’s long after some sort of soft apocalypse, that left lots of infrastructure, and fewer people. In one of the episodes, MK and Ava visit a long abandoned mall/dept store, that still has Christmas lights and decorations. It can’t be too far into the future because the lights still work. There’s electricity in some places. There’s little literacy, but some knowledge of medicines and machines ( like X-rays) is still available in the Badlands. And then there’s this unseen city (Astra) that everyone keeps talking about.

And it’s not just the landscapes, but all the tiny details inside the homes of various characters, like Baron Chau’s all white interiors, and grand wall paintings, the dark, old-world, furnishings of the Widows home, the dark majesty of Quinn’s home in exile, in an abandoned metro station. We may have started the show traveling through the classic Mad Max dystopia of the mines, but not all of the Badlands looks that way, and it was very exciting to get these glimpses into a broken past.

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Costumes:

The series had some stunning costume work this season, with rich colors, and beautiful, very sexy, outlines. This is very probably one of the sexiest martial arts shows I’ve ever watched, as usually the costumes for this type of genre can be somewhat pragmatic.You can see there’s real intent  to create a feeling of lost majesty/ bygone luster.

And every  character (even the most minor of them) gets the luxury treatment. From Silver Moon’s  old and tattered Clipper outfit, to Tilda’s pragmatic, newly minted Regent uniform,  from Baron Chau’s sumptuous furs and glittery dresses, to Quinn’s scuffed and grubby finery. These details really bring home the kind of lifestyles of the Baron’s, as the Cogs are dressed in the simplest colors and practical, easily cared for, fabrics.

Everything, and everyone, is given gorgeous detail, from hair, to  shoes, to makeup, furniture, and housing. From Baron Chau’s pearl jewelry and on-point makeup, to the Widow’s more action oriented look, with everyone receiving more elaborate hairstyles, including MK. Even Waldo gets some scrumptious blue velvet to wear.

Each Barony has its own color scheme. Quinn’s was dried blood red, but now that it’s been taken over by Jade and Ryder, it’s a fresher, magenta red color. Baron Chau’s color scheme is white. Another Baron’s color is green. The Widow’s colors are a deep royal blue. The monks and MK are wearing various shades of purples, and oranges. After he escapes the monastery, MK is seeing wearing a gorgeous green surplus, that I wanted for myself, along with some more gentle earthtones.

 

Even the lowest, most minor characters, got the full costume treatment. Look at the detail on this Junkyard King, in his darkened purple, and mother of pearl buttons. Contrast that with the  fresher and more vibrant purple of MKs monk’s robes. I love the matching color schemes in these two photos.

The duplicitous and conniving Jade. Her hair and makeup also reflect her character. Contrast that with her more innocent look in the first season.

Veil is often associated with soft natural colors, and earth tones, in keeping with her honest, down to earth, nature.

The details this season are incredible. Check out Waldo’s pince nez glasses, the little crossed cufflinks, and the chair handle ornaments! I also liked MK’s more elaborate hairstyle, with its tiny twists. Most of these things you’re never going to notice during the series, except for a quick second, but the set designers and prop masters went the full one hundred, anyway. This is the first time I really noticed Waldo’s knuckle tattoos, from his time as a Clipper.


I have since learned that the painting in Baron Chau’s home is called “Leonidas at Thermopylae”, and is a reference to Sunny making a commitment to a fight he knows he won’t survive. It’s by a Neo-Classical French painter of the 19th century, named Jacques Louis-David. Sunny’s and Chau’s postures imitate the formal poses in the painting. This was a hallmark of the Classical style in which grand Mythological and Historical themes were painted in a clean, formal manner.

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Contrast Chau’s white minimalist environment, and  the marble columns, with Minerva’s home which is  very Old- World traditional, with lots of greenery, velvet, and hard-wood.  Chau’s home, and costumes are also a reflection of her character, which is just as cool and calculating, as Minerva’s is cool,yet determined.
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I love the details here as one of the girls wears a matching blue ballerina skirt under her coat.Just a touch of whimsy for a little girl Clipper. I also like the natural hairstyles on the black girls. I’m glad this show remembered black women exist, even if they’re not treated especially well.
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Baron Quinn is like the Badlands version of Darth Vader. Everyone is afraid of this grim creature, come back from the dead, to destroy all their lives. Check out the tiny details like the little glimpses of red in his new outfit, a callback to when he used to be a Baron, and the tiny rivets on his  belts. The rough, nubby, texture of his coat is in keeping with his new rugged lifestyle, and gives the viewer some idea of his rough character, and disturbed mindset. Except for his voice, he’s just rough all over.

Contrast Quinn’s look with Jade’s smoothly streamlined look,  since moving into a more comfortable position of power with Ryder, below. There’s more than a touch of the Antebellum South in Ryder’s suit coat, which is a deliberate choice on the part of the costume dept.
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Ryder Welcomes His Guests - Into the Badlands Season 2 Episode 3

 

Cinematography: 

Everything this season was given an upgrade, including the lighting and  cinematography. No detail has been spared. There’s a rich three dimensional feel to the environment, which allows the viewer to see every detail of a character, or event, and totally immerse themselves in the show. It’s equal parts dream and nightmare.

There’s some gorgeous lighting happening here, in the final scene of the series, as Sunny walks off into this frosty looking sunset with Baby Henry.

The monastery is full of candle light, giving its inhabitants a deceptively soft appearance. The irony is that these are some of the most lethal beings in the Badlands.



Sunny is fighting the monks in an old, worn, Nativity scene, at an abandoned dept. store. No one knows the meaning of any of the decorations, but check out the penguin with the Christmas wreath around his neck! The old religion has been supplanted by an even older one, that involves dark Chi, and superpowers.

 

I think it’s  really cute that they chose a baby that looks Black and Asian.

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Whenever possible, the creators tried to use natural lighting on all the sets, so we get some wonderfully lit scenes, like Veil with Henry, above, and Sunny’s fight with Silver Moon, below. Veil is often given the Madonna treatment with her  lighting.


Action:

The show has also upped the ante on the fight choreography this season, with much more elaborate stuntwork, and ambitious fight scenes involving multiple highly trained characters. The show also added some explosives work, which is something most shows don’t have a good sized budget for, but the larger budget shows how much confidence the network has in the success of this series. Whereas last season I struggled to get the word out about this show, its popularity has really soared this season because of its move to Netflix, and basic word of mouth. There are also more than a few websites dedicated to the show, on Tumblr.



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Bottom line: 

All of this adds up to one of the most visually stunning action series on television, and I’m so happy to be alive during its airing. I cannot wait for whatever new visual treats we’ll get next season.

 

 

 

American Gods/Hannibal Crossover

*Since the airing of American Gods, there has been a lot of speculation about the “FULLERVERSE”,  since the showrunner of both Hannibal the Series and American Gods, is one and the same, Bryan Fuller.
As a result there have been quite a few mashups of these two. Here from Tumblr Fannibal  is one of my favorites fanfictions:
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An American Gods/Hannibal mashup for Fuller Fest. (Eventually going to post on ao3)


“The next one we’re going to is out in the sticks,” Wednesday said. “This time of year, they’ll be at their summer home in Montana. When it gets colder, they head for the warmer climes. The Florida Keys. Too bad its not winter.”

Shadow said nothing. They were going there for business, not a vacation.

“This man we are going to see…It could go either way,” Wednesday continued. “He’s a mixture of old and new; born out of brimstone, but suckled at the teat of Media. He could be an important ally.”

“If you can get him,” Shadow said.

Wednesday raised an eyebrow.

“I mean if he suckled at Media’s…teat..or whatever, will he want to turn against her? Isn’t she like his mother?”

Wednesday chuckled. “Relationships between parents and children can be fraught with conflict. I hope to agitate those feelings.”

“Stirring the shit as usual?”

“Stirring the shit,” Wednesday agreed. “Seeing what floats to the top.”

The last stretch of road was little more than a footpath through the trees. Shadow thought they would have to get out and walk at any moment, but somehow the large car kept finding a way between the trees until they finally came to a small cabin sitting in a clearing. Half a dozen dogs came from around the back, barking and rushing the car.

“Shit!” said Shadow and barely pulled his door closed in time as a husky mix jumped up and braced his front paws against the driver’s side window.

A sharp whistle from the cabin called the dogs away from the car. A dark-haired man stood on the porch, hands in pockets, watching sternly as the pack ran up the stairs to join him. However, for all his serious expression and scarred face, he didn’t look like a child of brimstone.

“You can come out,” the man on the porch said. Shadow opened his door slowly, waiting for the dogs to rush them once more, but they stayed seated at the man’s feet.

“Thanks for calling off the hounds,” Wednesday said as they mounted the porch.

The man eyed the wooden box Shadow was carrying and, still unsmiling, said. “He’s waiting for you inside.”

The cabin was small and the front door opened directly into the main room. There was a fireplace on the far wall, and although it was a warm day there was a fire roaring in it. A man sat in front of the fire, but slightly to the side, so he was half in shadow and half illuminated by the flames. The firelight played over the severe planes of the figure’s face and the knife-sharp pleat in his trousers.

“Come in,” the man said, his voice resonant with a strange accent Shadow couldn’t place. He leaned over and turned on a lamp and Shadow could see him better. The severe bone structure was still there, but with the full light on him, he was softened somewhat and  looked like a normal, if fastidious man. He was wearing navy blue slacks, dress shoes, and a smoothly-ironed electric blue shirt that lost none of its formality by having the top button left undone.

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“I brought a gift for the host.” Wednesday motioned for Shadow to hand over the tributes: a single white truffle, sealed tight in a glass jar with a cork and red wax seal, and a bottle of wine still in the wooden crate they transported it in. On the way here, they had swaddled it like a baby so the ride wouldn’t shake up the sediment.

Their host stood to receive it.

“It’s a good vintage,” he said, using his thumb to wipe dust from the label. “Just barely. Its teetering on the edge of being overblown. We should drink this soon. Maybe tonight.”

“It needs to settle,” Wednesday said. “From the trip.”

“Would you at least stay for dinner? Will and I don’t often have guests.”

“Absolutely not,” Wednesday said with a smile. Curiously, the other man did not seem to take offense to that. “Unfortunately, we are in a bit of a time crunch.”

“I heard,” their host sat and indicated a chair next to his for Wednesday to sit in. “I don’t have another chair. How rude of me. Should I have my consort bring you one?”

“I like to stand,” Shadow said.

Their host nodded deferentially then turned to Wednesday. “Are you here to ask for my help? I’ve heard you’ve been supplicating all over the country and finally you find your way to me. I don’t know why I should consider helping you. Would you even want my help? I’m so far down on your list.”

“That’s more a function of geography than lack of respect,” Wednesday said. “Of course I respect you. You are the newest old deity I know. An old soul in a glossy new package. You could play an integral part in the war that is coming, the fight for the hearts and minds of this land. Let’s face it, you could only exist here, in this country, with a 24-hour news cycle and tabloid journalists scrabbling for profundity. But they have the depth of a wading pool and the attention span of a mayfly.” Wednesdays voice got low. “They are already forgetting about you. Last week there was a man in Florida who bit his girlfriend’s tongue off while they were fucking because he wanted to know what it would taste like.”

“Chewy, I would guess.” the man looked up at Shadow with a ghost of a smile on his lips. “At least they usually are, in my experience.”  Shadow felt a chill in the overheated room.

“They are already forgetting about The Ripper,” Wednesday said.

“They will never fully forget about me,” he said. “I will be feared in nightmares and taught in classrooms–”

“In a few years you will be on internet listicles with names like ‘Ten Shocking Killers You’ve Never Heard Of.’”

Shadow saw the anger flare up in the man’s eyes, although he remained perfectly still and otherwise expressionless.

“Such meager offerings,” Wednesday said. “Not what you deserve.”

“I have all the worshipers I need,” the man said. “I have my consort who is totally devoted to me.”

“One person? I think you are losing sight of the big picture here.”

“I have a foot in both camps, Wednesday,” he said. “So I have carved out a space for Will and myself that is in neither camp.”

“You make running from the cops sound like a utopia of your choosing.”

“I don’t believe discretion and prudence are the same as cowardice.”

Wednesday leaned forward. “What about the blood sacrifice? What about the meat that is passed through the fire?”

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“I told you, my consort is very devoted,” he said. “When I want meat, I have it. Do I want a million people to have a vague idea of who they think i am or one person who knows me totally and would do anything, sacrifice anything to me and for me, up to and including his very life?” Again, the man, this Ripper, looked up at Shadow. Shadow couldn’t understand how brown eyes could look so heat-fired and yet so cold. “I took Will’s child and still he loves me. I spilled his blood and still he loves me. I stripped everything from him, and he is still with me.”

The Ripper turned back to Wednesday. “ You cannot offer me that sort of devotion if I help you, but I may lose it if you fail. So, no, I will not help you. The outcome of this war does not affect me.”

“Even if it means you become yesterday’s news?”

“Even so,” The Ripper said. “I have created an entire universe for my consort and I to rule.”

“Rule? Rule what? You only have one worshiper.”

“And one is all I need.”

With that, the Ripper stood and showed them to the door.

Will was still out on the porch when they left, seated now in a rocking chair, with the dogs clustered around him.

“He’s not going to help you, is he?” he said.

Shadow paused, but Wednesday kept walking to the car.

“No,” Shadow said. “He..uh..declined that opportunity.”

Some of the dogs raised their heads, but Will made a sound through his teeth and they settled back down.

“I’m a lot like you, you know. Or I was,” Will said. “I was just a person, not even a particularly religious person at that. I didn’t know what I was getting into. When I finally figured it out, it was too late.” Will leaned down to scratch the ear of the nearest dog. “Tell me, Shadow, have you ever looked the devil in the face?”

Remembering The Ripper’s eyes, Shadow said, “I may have.”

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“What if you liked what you saw?”

Shadow didn’t answer. He couldn’t imagine what Will must have gone through to get to this point, if he really was “just a person” to start with.

“You can still go back,” Shadow said.

“Here’s where myth and reality divide,” Will said. His eyes were the same blue as a cloudless summer sky. “No on wants me back.”

“That can’t be true.”

“Everyone is either dead or glad to see me gone,” he said. “Besides, I keep him away.” He nodded toward the cabin. “I keep the beast sated.”

“Can’t someone else do it?”

“No,” he said. He smiled, looking happy about that. “They tried and they’ve died. And here is where myth and reality converge again: I wouldn’t want to go back even if I could. I’m not bound to his underworld because I ate his food. I eat his food and live in his world because I am bound to him. Nothing else matters.”

“Are you trying to warn me or something?” Shadow asked.  He didn’t want to talk to this man any more. He could feel the fanatical devotion coming off of him in waves.

“Worship whatever gods you want, Shadow. But when you find one who worships you back? Run.”

 

*I hope she doesn’t mind my posting this here, and possibly blowing up her Tumblr stats. Please visit her blog, for lots of gifs, info, and some excellent reviews of the TV show, Hannibal.

Things I’ve Been Watching

The Mist (TV Pilot)

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I’ve only seen the first episode of this, but I’m unimpressed. I think my expectations were a bit high for this show, as it’s nothing like the movie. For one thing, the characters are either bland or unlikable. The characters who come closest to being liked is a young person of indeterminate gender designation, and the tough Mom, of the series.

There’s a mother, dad, and daughter grouping in the movie. The dad is the permissive, easy-going sort, while Mom is a woman of strong opinions and convictions. She gets fired from her job at school for sticking to her principles, and NOT teaching abstinence to her students. I can respect that, even if the local parent’s group can’t. She also forbids her 17-year-old daughter from going to the local  teen party. Dad gives his daughter permission to sneak out to the party, where she gets roofied/raped by the local football star she has a crush on. I saw that coming a mile away, as he just looked untrustworthy to me. He claims he didn’t do it, but her father reports him to the police, and the family gets harassed by the townspeople. The situation is complicated because there is also the possibility that he didn’t.

 

There’s the story line of a young military man, who wakes up in the forest, with no memory of how he got there, just as the mist rolls into town. He heads into town to warn the populace about the mist, only to be arrested by the police. I can definitely say I absolutely DID NOT appreciate watching this Black man get roughed up by the police, just for not answering their questions.  And no, it’s not okay just because that same cop gets eaten by bugs soon afterwards. Just before the dysfunctional nuclear family is about to leave town, the mist shows up, cutting off all escape.

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There are several stories mixed up in this. Various people get trapped in at least three different locations during the mist’s siege of the town. Mom and daughter are trapped at the local mall; Dad, the sheriff, the military guy, and the non-gender designated young person, get trapped in the jail. There’s also a thoroughly unlikable woman who threatens, and insult the non-gendered teen. This woman, who has no connection to anyone else in the plot, was seemingly added just to make me furious with her, and hope she’d quickly be eaten by something. She is so reprehensible, that I seriously considered turning this shit off, and just going to bed, but I put up with crap like that in order to bring you, my loyal readers, the quality snark I feel you deserve.

Oh yeah, there’s also some  people trapped in a church with Frances Conroy, who you can tell is gonna go batshit, in about two episodes, or less.

So basically, this first episode is all set up for the tensions that will reach a boil during the mist’s invasion of the town, which is not unlike the movie I guess. Mom and daughter are trapped in the mall with the parents who got her fired, and who believe her daughter is lying about being raped. The football hero perpetrator is also trapped there. The a-gendered teen is trapped at the police station with a father who refuses to speak to him because he won’t act like a son, and an abusive inmate. And Frances Conroy’s husband gets killed by something in the mist.

The main difference between the show and the movie is that there aren’t really giant monsters in the mist. I had the impression that people are being killed by either a singular malevolent entity, or their own fears and weaknesses, or possibly both. While that’s an interesting idea that’s much easier to sustain for  an entire season, I was still hoping to see giant monsters. Maybe those show up later.

 

Blood Drive:

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If you like this type of over the top excessiveness, then go for it. I ain’t judging. The plot of this seems to involve people being forced to race each other, by some type of post apocalyptic tyrant, who has nevertheless found a way to wear too much Maybelline. The contestants lives are forfeit if they stop for any reason, up to, and including, running out of gas, which prompts some of them to cannibalize their  opponents, (and partners) and use them for fuel.

I am not a fan of excessive pulp. I was cautiously excited about this show from the trailers, and was willing to give it a try, but some things are just too far over the top even for my tastes, which even some others would consider excessive. I think it’s because so much of this particular genre is spectacle, solely for the sake of spectacle, without rhyme, or reason, to any of it. If it’s a crazy image, the creators will throw it in, no matter if it breaks, or creates  characters, or subverts an already established plot, and Blood Drive appears to be no different.

Somewhere, someone is having a grand old-time watching this show. That person is not me. I don’t think I’m the correct audience for this. At every level of creation, the show looks tasteless, cheap, and ugly. The characters, world-building, costumes, and even the plot, is just ugly. I couldn’t sit through more than half of it. By the time we reached the point where the two main protagonists appear to be having sex in a moving vehicle, I had had enough, and turned it off. I would rather hate-watch The Strain.

Blood Drive gets a resounding NOPE!

 

Dr. Strange: 

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Yeah, I know I talked shit about this movie but I didn’t spend money to specifically see this movie, and it was on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a try. It wasn’t a bad film, and I also don’t feel too bad about the whitewashing angle, for reasons having to do with the plot. Let’s just say, I was pissed off that the Ancient One was not Asian, but I would have been equally pissed off if an Asian woman had been cast. So, spoilers ahead.

The movie is the basic origin story type stuff, except now starring an actual asshole, as an asshole who doesn’t actually get to be a better person by the end of the movie, which is rather different. Strange is a first class shit at the beginning of the movie, and although the story, and the actor try really hard to make him a sympathetic character, I didn’t buy it. I liked every character but him. He’s just a full-time douche. I still didn’t like him even after he cleverly saved the world, but I do admit that may have more to do with the actor than the character.

Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One, pretty much the way she plays all of her more soft-spoken characters. I generally dismiss her because, like most white actresses in Hollywood, she is thoroughly clueless on issues race and/or whitewashing. I’m also less than secretly  glad that they didn’t choose an Asian Woman to portray this character because 1.) She dies at the end; 2.)she dies to further another character’s manpain; 3.) she turned out to be a huge hypocrite.

So, there’s this alternate world called The Dark Dimension, which naturally means its evil, but basically, she’s been warning her students against having anything to do with this dimension for centuries. Hannibal…I mean, Kaecilius (which sounds like a nasty bacterial infection) is in contact with the being who rules that dimension and he gets drummed out of the corp. This Dark  Being wants to “try to take over the world” and is just lying in wait for someone to invite him to the cookout, which is what Kaecilius does.

Dr. Strange loses the use of his fine surgical dexterity after a horrible car accident. Do not watch this scene if you have car accident terror, because it’s unnecessarily graphic. He decides to travel the world searching for a cure to his neurological problem, and winds up in Kamar -Taj, where he meets the Ancient One, who teaches him how to be a sorcerer, and her eldest assistant, Baron Mordo. (I do not remember this guy from the comic books, and I should, because he is in them. I’m hoping Baron is his actual name, in the  way that some Black people name their sons Prince, or King.)

For the record, The Ancient One doesn’t actually choose Strange as her successor. See, what happened was…all the other sorcerers of the great houses of the Landsraad…I mean the other sorcery nexi, get murdered by Kaecilius. Strange, Wong, and Mordo are the only ones left alive. So he gets to be a master of Sorcery through a combination of. hubris and default.

Those two, and Strange, spend the bulk of the  movie fighting Kaecilius and his minions. Baron Karl Mordo is played by Chewitel Ejiofor, and Wong is played by a man who is, conveniently, named Benedict Wong.

I liked Wong a lot, although there were some unnecessary scenes of Wong being played for a fool by Strange, that I did not care for. The Ancient One turns out to be, while not exactly a bad guy, her betrayal of the Baron’s trust does lead to him being a villain. So really, the movie isn’t  nice to any of the PoC that star in it.

The break-out character is  Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, a semi-sentient magical object that adopts Strange as a Master. This isn’t like in the books where its the Eye of Agamotto that’s sentient. Why they switched it in the movie is anyone’s guess.

So overall, not a bad movie. It’s got some great eye candy, the magic looks really cool and worldbendy, and except for some serious eyeball rolling moments, I didn’t hate it. If you can get pass watching two hours of Benegeserrit Cucumbersnatch, then the movie isn’t a complete waste. On the other hand, if you had no intention of ever watching this movie, you ain’t missed nothing!

 

The Accountant:

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I had no intention of seeing this movie. It was on HBO last weekend and I  was not doing anything in particular that needed my eyeballs, so I ended up watching this movie. I’m not a Ben Affleck fan, but I liked him in this movie, and it was surprisingly good.

Here he plays an assassin who has autism. His father began teaching him how to kill people, as a child, in an attempt to make him more independent, and he became exceedingly good at it. He comes across some corruption at a tech company and feels like he has to protect the young woman he was working with on that case, when she’s targeted by another assassin. The other assassin turns out to be his estranged brother, and I found that particular drama  intriguing.

I initially though the movie was a ripoff of the Bourne Trilogy, but it turned out to be nothing like that, with more heart, and more depth than any of the Bourne sequels. I liked the relationship that developed between Affleck and his co-star, which she thinks is supposed to develop into romance, but he is not particularly interested in her interest. It’s a romance that never develops, even though he likes her, and I thought that was a refreshing change.

The movie kept upending my expectations, and Affleck comes across as a smoothly competent killer. The movie also doesn’t end in car chases, explosions, or dramatic surprises, but in a quiet conversation between two brothers, who have some shit to hash out between them, before they could move on, and I  liked that. I would recommend watching this on some quiet Sunday evening.

 

Alien Covenant: 

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Oh, my gob! This movie was bleak, bleak, and even more importantly, it was bleak. It was even bleaker than the very first Alien movie, if you can believe that. I mean, basically, everybody dies. Well, rather say, that any humans that  were walking around at any point during this film, ain’t walking around by the end of it. If you liked the first Alien movie, then you will like this one, as it is effective at scaring the shit out of you, even when you sort of know what’s going to happen. I mean, Ive watched the first Alien movie multiple times, and I still get scared.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this movie also stars Michael Fassbender, and get this…another Michael Fassbender. So it’s like getting two Fassbenders, for the admission price of only one of them, (even though I spent no money to watch this movie.) Did I mention that I love Michael Fassbender. I feel like I may have mentioned that in some earlier post, or something. If not, then let me reiterate..I love Michael Fassbender who, I am absolutely certain, is a total dick in real life. (If he is, don’t tell me. )

I would talk about the plot, but really that’s all there is to it. Somebody’s gon’ die! and people do stupid shit, to help facilitate their deaths, just like in the first movie, Prometheus. Things like, taking their helmets off just because they can breathe the atmosphere, running towards danger, or wandering off alone, or trusting strange androids.

Not to go off on a tangent, but why do people on strange new worlds always take off their helmets as soon as they learn the atmosphere is breathable? Have they never heard of airborne pathogens? Which is exactly what happens in the case of one of the characters, when he steps on a plant, that releases spores, that go into his ears. His demise is suitably horrible.

Later, the two Fassbenders, David, from the first movie, and some new guy named Walter,  get into a fight, as Walter tries to protect the remaining humans. I would have preferred some loincloth mud-wrestling, but that probably would not have been in keeping with the mood of the film, which is, well…kinda bleak.

 

Suicide Squad:

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Apparently, I’m one of five people on Earth who enjoyed this movie. Its been airing on HBO recently and I’ve watched it multiple times. I think the main reason I enjoy it is because I’m a Will Smith fan and will watch movies with him that I normally wouldn’t pay attention to. Not that the movie isn’t flawed, annoying, and occasionally stupid,  it’s just those moments were not enough to detract from what I was enjoying about it, which is namely Will Smith, and Viola Davis, in an anti-superhero movie together.

I could go through and list everything wrong with this movie, because it’s got a lot of problems, but IT’S WILL SMITH!!!! I love Will Smith!!! Will Smith makes every movie worth looking at, just by being in it. Plus, he’s with Viola Davis, and they actually get to exchange words in the movie, rather than pretending the other doesn’t exist.

Okay, I did like the other characters, too. In fact, my only reasons for liking the movie, was some of the characters, and the action scenes. I enjoyed seeing Killer Croc, onscreen for the first time, and Diablo turned out to be a huge favorite of mine, but then, I’m a fan of seeing Incan Fire Gods in movies, so yeah, his scenes were both hot, and cool.  Outside of Deadshot, I got really attached to Harley Quinn, who I enjoy in the comic books, and the nascent friendship I saw developing between the two of them. I’m here for a Deadshot/Harley Quinn team-up movie, as long as Amanda Waller can be in it. Viola Davis perfectly captured the idea of the Amanda (The Wall) Waller that I had in my head, as the only human on Earth, who can get away with dressing down the Batman.

The plot was deeply, (and I do mean deeply), fucking stupid though, and I have no idea what the villain’s motivation was, or how she actually hoped to accomplish her goals. Yeah, some of the characters were totally undeveloped, like Katana, or just straight up hateable,  like Captain Boomerang, and The Joker. But the movie was pleasant eye candy for its two-hour running time. It’s not a good movie, but I found it mostly inoffensive, unlike some people who found the movie deeply offensive to their intelligence. I can say that part of the reason I’m okay with the movie is because I went into it expecting nothing more than to be distracted for a while, and the movie accomplished that goal. The trailer looked like fun, and that’s what the movie delivered.

Its okay if you haven’t seen this movie, you can rectify the problem of not having enough Will Smith in your life, by watching…Concussion!

 

Note:

I’m still watching stuff because new shows keep being released. Next week I should have a review of the new season of Cleverman, now airing on the Sundance Channel, and the second season of Preacher, on AMC, which looks like a lot of fun, so far.

So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

If you were on these rough Internet streets a week-and-a-half ago, you probably caught wind of the Joss Whedon’s age-old Wonder Woman script. You know, that thing that bounced around in production hell briefly, nearly attached to the likes of Charisma Carpenter and Lucy Lawless. It had been rumored for years. Over a decade. And […]

via So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

American Gods Season One : Come to Jesus (Part One)

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This  took some time to write because so many delicious things happened in the finale. I’ve been pretty busy and tired this week, but I’m determined to get this post out, doggonit! I’m also  going to have to do this in installments, because its already long enough. The next post is about the series as a whole, including its future incarnations, and an entire post devoted to speculation about the show’s lead, Shadow Moon, and his relationship with Wednesday.

Fuller and Green pulled out every stop in Come to Jesus. This episode was funny, cute, and awesome, in ways I wasn’t expecting. And that ending? Wow! This episode was also just gorgeous. The cinematography was  incredible, from Bilquis backstory, to the final scenes featuring Ostara,  tonight’s episode belonged to the women.

We open with Shadow and Wednesday, looking bored, while Nancy crafts new suits for them from spider silk, of course. Why am I not even surprised that he’s a tailor? It’s Easter holiday, and the two men plan to visit the goddess for which the holiday is named. For that, they need to look presentable. Nancy’s  house is an arachnophobic nightmare, though. All of his tailoring scenes, and even the clothing, is crawling with tiny spiders. (I think the spider’s are making the fabric, and there’s a giant loom in the background. How do I know this? I used to have  that kind of loom when I was a child.) I was a little squicked out by the spiders, though. If you have severe anxiety about spiders, then skip this scene. What’s interesting is that all of these gods have animals associated with them, and that they communicate with. Wednesday has his ravens, and the wolf we saw in A Murder of Gods, Nancy has his spiders, Ostara has bunnies.

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Afterward, we get another gorgeous scene of Nancy telling a story, despite Wednesday’s protestations, and Nancy’s  signature catchphrase, “Angry gets shit done!” is aimed, this time, at Shadow, who is pissed at Wednesday for killing Vulcan. This episode has so many favorite moments, this is simply the best episode of the season. Mr. Nancy generating his own spotlight is hilarious! (I just love this character!) At first I thought Nancy was going to tell the story he told in the book, about how the monkey got the lion’s balls, but no, he tells Bilquis’ tragic backstory, which is a very neat way to tie her to the other characters we’ve met this season, and tie her presence in this episode to Easter. How he knows her backstory is anyone’s guess, unless he’s making it up (in the book, he and Bilquis never meet) but it’s fitting that he be the one to tell her story here. I think Nancy is probably a little in love with her too, and it makes sense, in this series universe, they would’ve met.

Note: Once again, only the barest bones of this comes from the book. This series follows the foundation, and spirit, of the books, but is very heavily embellished with lots of extra stuff.

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Bilquis  is a very, very old Queen, (Sheba) with her own temple, and congregation. We’re talking about 3,000 years ago, in ancient Iran, where she was incredibly powerful, and openly worshiped. Of course, you could visit her temple, and worship her if you wanted, but you would very probably be eaten. It’s a beautiful, sensual scene that doesn’t feel gratuitous. Fuller has an unerring talent for crafting sex scenes that are titillating, without being raunchy. Bilquis was so powerful then, like a spider, she just liquefied her companions (whole groups of people), before sucking them into her vagina. Where, according to Technical Boy, they spend an eternity worshiping her in the Vagina Nebula, as she feeds off their energy.

Nancy narrates how various patriarchies went out of their way to destroy her, and failed. That handsome young man with the crown, I believe just represents royalty in general, and no God in particular. At the height of her powers, she devoured kings too. Later, as men became more and more desperate to control and contain her and her followers, out of fear and hatred, they resorted to violence, which seemed to work. As the centuries passed she fell on harder and harder times and, like Nunyunnini, was slowly forgotten, even by herself. Unlike him, she was still potent enough to be revived. As long as people wanted what she had to give she could still take sustenance. Bilquis’ story is a perfect metaphor  of the suppression of female sexual agency and  power by patriarchy, which is why it was important to Fuller that she be a  dark skinned Black woman. In the history of America, Black women have had little sexual agency, they’re bodies often exploited by men for labor and reproductive purposes. We’ve all been taught that woman’s sexuality needs to be carefully harnessed, and are only just now moving away from this concept in the US.

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Also, women who look like the gorgeous Yetide Badaki, are rarely shown as sexual icons in  media, or  as women who own their sexuality, serving no one but themselves. Women  who use their sexuality for their own ends, often have their sexuality heavily policed by men and women of all races. Witness how black women like Beyoncé, and Serena Williams have been vilified by social media for expressing themselves, slut shamed by respectability politics, and made to seem less than white women who have engaged in the exact same behavior, but are considered empowered when they do it. The true irony,  in this scenario, are white women who think the freedom to express their sexuality is something only reserved for them, and who seek to suppress and castigate WoC for expressing theirs.  Bilquis story is all the more tragic because, as Bilquis’ power diminishes, she comes to accept this shame and self hatred, along with her lowly status. She isn’t just forgotten by the world. She forgets her power.

The  passing eras, and her rise to power again, are beautifully rendered by the changes in costume and makeup. We see her in her original jewelry, at the temple. There’s a scene of her in a disco, with a huge Afro,  reminding me of Wednesday’s first statements to Shadow about his mother. (I do wonder if the show will go that route with her. It would be a nice touch, and explain a number of odd things about Shadow, who we still have no backstory for.) She even takes another WoC ,as her lover and I’m sure there are fans who loved this representation of WoC pansexuality. In 1979, during the Iranian Revolt,  she is exiled from her homeland, along with many of her followers, and years later, watches in despair, as ISIL destroys her last temple. Later, she finds her lover again, but she is dying from AIDS, which has been seen a punishment for people  who are considered too free with their sexuality.

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Bilquis is, once again, visiting her display at the museum. She is so ancient, that almost no one now alive knows what any of the  objects representing her were for. She is visited by Technical Boy, (who is wearing yet another shitty, ridiculous hairstyle) to whom she owes a huge favor, as he was the one who found her when she was at her absolute lowest ebb, homeless, and sleeping in the gutter. He offers her tribute in the form of a modern dating app, which is where we find her in episode one. What he has tasked her to do, we’re not sure, but she’s meant to meet everyone at the House on the Rock, a place of major importance in the book.

Nancy says Bilquis is reluctantly on the side of the new gods, and that Wednesday needs to collect another ancient goddess as her counterpoint.  During all Bilquis’ scenes, we get some idea of what her powers are, and while she’s not at her height, she possesses the ability to charm, beguile, or seduce any human being. Who she is meant to turn this power to at House on the Rock, is unclear. Wednesday, or Shadow? Nevertheless, it’s clear she’s not entirely willing to do Technical Boy’s bidding, and there is hope for her breaking her deal with TB, because we notice she is not carrying her phone, or using her app, when she seduces one of her travel companions.

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On the way to Easter, Shadow dreams about climbing a mountain of skulls. This is his prophecy about the war, hanging  over his subconscious like Wednesday’s storms. On some level, he knows and believes in what’s happening, but refuses to commit, and Wednesday calls him out on this. No matter how angry he gets at Wednesday, or pretends to, he still likes the old con, and I think Wednesday is counting on that fondness to keep him by his side.  Shadow also sees the White Buffalo again, and the World tree, Yggdrasil, which is also a representation of the War of the Gods (Ragnarok) spoken of in Norse mythology.

**Ragnarok (Old Norse Ragnarök, “The Doom of the Gods”) is the name the pre-Christian Norse gave to the end of their mythical cycle, during which the cosmos is destroyed and is subsequently re-created.

—– http://norse-mythology.org/tales/ragnarok/

When Shadow wakes up, he finds that he and Wednesday are being chased by bunnies. It turns out that the bunny that overturned Laura’s truck was not sent by Easter, although it is her animal to call, and they report to her. I thought that was one of the cutest things ever. The bunnies try to stop Wednesday  from reaching his destination too, but unlike Laura, he is unimpressed. He just runs them over, which makes Shadow give him the side eye. So the bunny’s job seems to be stopping uninvited  people from reaching Easter’s home, I guess.

Obstructionist Bunnies!

Easter is, naturally, celebrating Easter, but she’s celebrating it with all the various Jesuses, which I thought was hilarious. This is notable because Jesus is treated just like any of the other gods in the narrative, and most of the current versions are present at the party. The whole damn thing was just deeply, deeply funny to me, including the scenes where, whenever any of the Jesuses got near a light source, a halo would appear, and Shadow’s meeting with Jeremy Davis’ regular white guy Jesus, AKA Jesus Prime, for some reason. I did see Hippie Jesus, Black Jesus, and even a baby Jesus. Some of the Jesuses I couldn’t pinpoint, although I am told Mexican Jesus managed to resurrect long enough to show up.

Your basic guide to Jesus:

 

What do you call them? A flock? A gaggle? A Halo of Jesi?  But it’s the details that really fetched me up, and made me laugh out loud. From the flock of sheep that follow Ostara in all her outdoor background shots, to the tiny halo on the infant Jesus, being nursed by a woman dressed like old-school Mary, to  the jellybean stigmata of the Russian Orthodox Jesus, and the bunnies that poop jellybeans, it’s an incredibly rich, and thoroughly charming backdrop. And if I was a bit dubious about Ostara, at first, I was totally in love with her by the end of the episode.

 

On Ostara:

https://www.thoughtco.com/eostre-spring-goddess-or-neopagan-fancy-2562488

https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2013/03/easter-and-ostara-converging-traditions/

Easter receives several uninvited guests, along with Shadow and Wednesday. Laura and Mad Sweeney, Media and Technical Boy also arrive. The meeting of Shadow and Easter is just cute in the books but they’re shown here as being much more smitten with each other, which is a good foundation for Easter’s actions towards Shadow later in the series. In the book, she is delighted to meet Shadow and flirts shamelessly, in that way that only Southern Belles can get away with. The two of them are just the most darling thing I’ve ever seen on this show. Shadow blushes like a shy teenager with his first crush, and while she offensively refers to him as pink chocolate! she gets a pass, because I wholeheartedly agree.

That boy is foine!

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Kristen Chenoweth is wonderful in this role. I was prepared to be annoyed by her because of the trailer, (and because Chenoweth has a sordid past as a Broadway singer),  but she turned out to be a delightful character who, like a lot of southern women, is warm, gracious, and mushy, on the surface, but has a backbone of pure steel underneath. Easter is not happy that Wednesday is crashing her party, and upsetting the Jesuses, who are very nice men.

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Laura and Sweeney also arrive, but unfortunately, Easter is unable to resurrect Laura, as Sweeney requests. Looking deeply into Laura’s eyes, Ostara sees the shadow of a raven, and the face of Mad Sweeney, and determines  that Laura was killed by a god. Since Laura was killed through Wednesday’s machinations, Ostara cannot interfere in  another god’s plans. Laura figures that Sweeney knows more than he’s been telling her and tortures the truth out of him. It turns out, Wednesday isn’t just responsible for Laura’s death, but just as I suspected, is also responsible for that perfect casino heist that went horribly wrong, that landed Shadow in prison, being guarded over by Loki. You need to ask yourself why Wednesday would go through so much trouble, to procure a nobody, from nowhere. Easter also admits that the other gods have been talking about Shadow too, speculating who he is, and why he’s with Wednesday.

I like how they’ve kept Laura’s decomposition consistent. She’s definitely getting to the liquid stage, as her eyes have become milky, and she coughs up maggots. She can’t even begin to hide her smell now, (in the books she covered it up with perfume), and she has her own halo of flies. In the meantime, Shadow has a conversation with one of the Jesuses about the nature of belief. I laughed too hard at Jesus setting his drink down, and losing it in the pool he was floating on top of,  because Drunk Jesus!

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One of Easter’s bunnies whispers in her ear that Media has arrived, also without  invitation. Before I start gushing about Gillian Anderson in this role, I need to give some backstory. Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade was released in 1948, and starred Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The plot involves an older veteran dancer, who replaces his older partner with a young dancer, he hopes to mold in his image, until he finds himself falling in love with her. The faceless drone we see Media dancing with, is dressed in a replica of his suit, from the movie, and Gillian is wearing a pink replica of Judy Garland’s dress from the movie’s title scene, at the end. The drones are even attempting to dance like Astaire. Media mostly speaks in quotes from the movie. From her opening statement about Easter’s heart beating faster, to the mention of their date, these are all quotes from the movie. Guess how I know this!😊😊😊

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Unlike Wednesday, Easter didn’t turn down Media’s offer of aid, although she never asked for it either. In exchange for making certain that Easter traditions remain popular (eggs and chocolate), Easter has gotten a significant boost in her reputation, and followers, even if she has to share her holiday with the Jesuses. In exchange, Media requests her loyalty. When Wednesday approaches, he is confronted by Media and Technical Boy, but he upsets their plans, winning Easter’s loyalty with a combination of lies and tribute. He tells  her the Shadow-unapproved story, that Vulcan was killed by the New Gods, for taking his side in the coming war, and making him a sword. He also offers her a sacrifice.

Here, we see Odin for the first time this season. In an awesome display of power,Wednesday shows Shadow his true face, and speaks his many names.

 

 Odin’s backstory:

http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/odin/

Now once again we come back to the idea of sacrifice. By offering Easter the  deaths of his enemies, he gives her enough power to free her from the bargain she made with Media. Throughout the series, he has outlined the basic idea of godhood, and how it works. Give a little, and get a little in return, whether it be worship, tribute, prayer, or sacrifice. It’s fairly simple. Quid pro quo! If you dedicate something precious to a god, you will receive something in return, although not necessarily what you asked for. Media, Technical Boy, and the other new gods, have corrupted this arrangement, and think this makes them more powerful than the old ones. They have never seen the old gods powers fully unleashed, and have nothing but disdain for creatures they see as old and weak, the way so many young people view the elderly.

It’s not that Media and Technology don’t affect the world in some way, but they can’t control the seasons, rainfall, or lightning. They cannot truly control anything on the physical plane, and are not grounded in the real world of human physical sensation. Bilquis can compel people to love her and eats them, Wednesday can control the weather and destroy them, Vulcan can make weapons that kill them. As I said in an earlier post, the old gods are physical in a way the the new gods are not. The new gods are virtual, ephemeral. They promise dreams and fantasies, but give little or nothing  in return, for all the attention humans give them. Or rather, what they give in return for human attention is just as ephemeral, shallow, and unreal as they are.

And this is Wednesday’s key to his argument with Easter. Media can’t really give her power. She can influence humanity and she can tug on their bargain to procure Easter’s loyalty, but with the influx of direct power from Wednesday’s sacrifice, she no longer needs Media. The new gods can aid and abet, cajole, promise and seduce, but they can’t really offer her a sacrifice. It’s not just about human attention. Power comes from being offered tribute.We saw this with Bilquis and Technical Boy earlier. If it weren’t for the bargain she made with him, she would be capable of devouring him too. He doesn’t have nearly as much control over Bilquis as he thinks he does, and he is too shallow, and ignorant, of who she is, to know what he has awakened. The same way he underestimated Wednesday,  in A Murder of Gods, Media has underestimated the degree of power she is dealing with regarding Easter.

But I also said that neither side in this war is  good or bad. There’s no right or wrong from a human perspective. Gods have their own concerns and most are only concerned with what humans  can give them. This mindset (and Wednesday’s actions towards Easter) is the key to understanding why Wednesday wants this war, and why he’s willing to kill Laura to procure Shadow for himself, and is also willing to unleash untold misery on humanity, by encouraging Easter to take away the harvest season.

Wednesday did the same thing to Shadow that TB did to Bilquis. He found her at her lowest point and offered her a chance to regain power. Wednesday orchestrates the complete destruction  of Shadow’s life, and at his lowest point, when Shadow has nothing and no one, he steps in, and offers him a way out, winning his loyalty. If you want a clue as to who Shadow is, think about why Wednesday would want to collect him, and why he needs Shadow to believe.

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We see an awesome display of power, and some truly gorgeous cinematography, as Easter, high on the sacrifices given to her by Wednesday, unleashes the full meaning of her name, as Goddess of the Dawn, and kills off all the plant life in a several mile radius of her home. Humanity can have Spring back when they pray to her for it.

 

My  favorite moments were all the wonderful details like:

Mr. Nancy’s interjections in his scenes with Shadow.

Media’s presence this entire season, which is in keeping with the fact that Fuller is an out gay man, has been a showcase of gay icons. Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, David Bowie, and Judy Garland, are all extremely popular gay icons, from the forties through the sixties.

The Security Rabbits jobs are to stop traffic on the road to Easter’s home, so they can see who is in the vehicle, and then report the occupants back to Easter. I suspect this is what the rabbit that caused Laura’s accident was trying to do. No one approaches her home without her knowing about it , except in the case where Wednesday killed them all.

The deviled eggs at Easters party. It was a tradition in our house to eat those every Spring.

Easter’s tiny halo.

The tiny polka dots on Shadow’s suit.

That poor waiter who was wearing an egg shaped helmet.

The tiny cookies shaped like hands with red centers representing the stigmata.

Wednesday connecting Spring Break raunchiness to the worship of Easter.

The diversity of Easter’s party guests.

Those ridiculous striped silk robes Nancy made Shadow and Wednesday wear while awaiting their new outfits.

Easters slightly tattered finery. If you look closely enough, the flower in her hat has just a bit of rough edging.

When Media’s hat blows off during the storm, that’s also a scene from  a Judy Garland movie.

Shadow disapproves of Wednesday’s buunycidal behavior.

*In part two, I’ll discuss my thoughts about Shadow Moon, and in part three I’ll talk about the costumes, cinematography, and visual aesthetics.

 

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