Yep, it's another Halloween post. I have to admit, even I am getting a bit tired of hearing myself talk about how much I love it. You all can rest easy, however, because this time around I will be talking about another aspect of this beloved holiday, because there's much more to All Hallows' Eve than just the scary stuff. When we were kids Halloween was about 2 things: What costume would we be wearing and how much candy could we get trick or treating?
By the way, this is the correct method of collecting candy. None of that Jack-O-Lantern nonsense.
Personally, I've never had much of a problem getting a Halloween costume ready. Such are the perks of being a cosplayer, I've got a whole wardrobe of costumes to choose from! From Renaissance to Steampunk, Sci-Fi to Fantasy RPG, Video Game to Anime. I'm more than prepared. It's a fact that anyone who is cosplays as a hobby gets giddy around Halloween time because there's no way for us to get stuck with a last minute option and we get to show off what we've created and crafted to the public and no one thinks we're weird. It's also a fact that when a cosplayer shows up to a 'normal' Halloween party, they blow everyone else out of the water.
….Did I overdo it?
Now, there's another smaller reason for why I stick to my own collection of outfits when Halloween rolls around instead of heading to the local costume shop (Though they see me enough in the off season when I buy out all of their wigs and makeup). All of the popular or interesting costumes for women are sexualized. Have Phoebe mention a much smaller reason as to why she sticks with her own collection of costumes rather than the kind you can get in stores. All the more interesting or popular costumes for women are sexualized. Before I go on, let me say that I am not a prude in any way, shape or form and I firmly believe that everyone has the right to wear what they want, within reason.
Took costume advise from Bjork, did ya?
Personally, I've never been too comfortable wearing very revealing outfits. I'm not too 'body confident' (Thanks a lot society!), everyone stares regardless of whether you do or don't have 'assets', and sexy costumes are always uncomfortable for one reason or another. So why can't there be both sexy and normal options for women? Why does being female mean I have to wear something that makes me freeze my butt off? Yes, we could just wear men's costumes, but that doesn't always work. Just ask my bff Margaret and her giant chest that refuses to be tethered down.
The truth is, us girls feel a great amount of pressure whenever we put on a costume no matter the occasion. The pressure to 'look good' in it, not be 'too slutty', or show parts of us we don't want others to notice is always on our minds at one point or another.
You may be wondering why I bother to have a hobby that revolves around costumes when this problem keeps showing up. It's because the cosplay community have taken great lengths to make sure everyone with a passion for their fandom has a safe and fun environment to play around in. A set of 'rules', so to speak, were put in place to ensure that this happens at every geek convention and get together and I believe the rest of the world needs to know about and practice them.
Hear are the rules y'all need to follow this Halloween Season:
First, be whatever you want to be! In the world of cosplay, anything goes. Make your favorite character from a different time like Victorian or Steampunk. Make them from male to female or vice versa. Take that obscure reference you love and make it into an ensemble. You're the one wearing the costume, wear what it is that YOU want!
Second, put a little bit of your own flair into the costume. Not everyone has the crafting skills required to make an entire outfit but they can put in a little detail or two to give it a more personalized feel. You'll be sure to strut your stuff when you're wearing something that you worked on yourself and make it truly your own.
Third, here's a phrase you should all learn. 'Cosplay is not Consent', but here we'll change it to 'Costume is not Consent'. If a girl decides that she does want to wear a sexy outfit, it doesn't mean she wants to be talked to or touched in an inappropriate manner. It's also true for a when a guy decides to do the same! Be respectful and courteous! Ask for permission to take a picture of someone in costume, don't be creeping on them with a camera in front of your face! Yes, in more close knit parties this may not apply, but it's still polite to ask them anyways.
Fourth and final, no shaming! This goes for literally every costume you come across. That bigger woman wearing the Ariel costume is having the time of her life dressed up as her favorite Disney princess! Don't make uncalled for comments about how she should've gone as Ursula (I've heard that one far too many times and it makes me sick). Don't berate that person who's wearing what is obviously a last minute costume. They may have had a different costume ready that got ruined and they had to improvise.
If everyone adhered to these rules at every Halloween party or gathering they went, they'd have the time of their lives like we geeks do when we go to our conventions and cosplay to our hearts content. Make Halloween fun and safe for everybody!
What are you going to go as this year? Tell me in the comments below!
Yea! The X-Men are coming to TV! Maybe? But, they're not really X-Men? Whatever, I'll take it.
At least it's not Cyber Force.
This week, news broke that the FX network struck a deal with Marvel to bring some of their merry mutants to TV in the form of two new shows, both dramas. One is called Legion, who in comic lore, is mentally fragile son of Charles Xavier that gave us the Age of Apocalypse in the 90s.
Legion. He seems stable.
Fact: The foil cover makes this comic book .01% more valuable.
The other is Hellfire, which was briefly seen in the X movie, X-Men: First Class. The Hellfire Club in the comics is like a weird Masonic group of mutants that are the constant thorn in the side of the X-Men. Their members are numerous, dangerous, and really like to cosplay in Victorian Era clothes.
Committed to cosplay since the 1970s.
Their members include the famous, White Queen (Emma Frost) and Sebastian Shaw. If you know your X-Men lore, you'll know that the Hellfire Club is a bit responsible for turning Jean Grey into the Dark Phoenix.
Is she mad? I think she's mad.
If you can't tell by now, my fandom for the X-Men goes deep. It all started for me with the animated show on Fox's Saturday morning block of cartoons. Queue the intro music.
That led to the comics, which was really my first exposure to seeing kick ass women as strong heroes and leaders in popular media.
Anyway, I'm really excited to see the X-Men back to TV, even though the last time that happened, it led to this:
What is that, you ask? It was a TV movie/backdoor pilot based on the popular 90s X-Series, Generation X. It was a disaster, and don't just take my word for it; watch it.
But that was the old days; we're now in the golden age of TV! Network, writers and directors can do great things these days and if there is one franchise that is prime the serialized storytelling format of TV, it's the world of the X-Men.
There are so many X-Men stories I am excited to hopefully see on the small screen. With the amount of interesting mutant characters in the X-Universe, it's practically its own MCU.
Here are some series I'd like to see Fox bring to TV:
Cable & Deadpool
Imagine a half hour action comedy series on premium cable with Cable as the straight man and Deadpool as the straight crazy man.
They're really the best of friends...
An hour-long drama about a bunch or mutant media darlings could produce some hard-hitting commentary about big media in this country.
Nate Grey, a man out of his time, travels the world helping others who are just as lost in an hour-long drama.
Set this in the 70s, and this could be a great half hour comedy about a mutant's disco music career and on again, off again, relationship with her alien boyfriend, Longshot.
A group of space pirates travel to distant worlds collecting treasures in the vein of Star Trek.
That's what I got, how about you? What do you want to see?
Also, let's all pretend that Mutant X never happened.
Halloween in early 1900s was cray...
It's officially Halloween season! Yay, my obsession with creepy things and horror is temporarily acceptable! I'm so ready for this, you guys. I got my pumpkins picked out for carving, decorations are being put up as we speak, and all the horror movies are in queue. Most of the movies are a bit older but that's because they're the best! Yes, we've gotten some incredible additions to the horror genre in the past decade or so, but not the home runs that were coming out in the good ole days.
My guess is as good as yours when it comes to figuring out why so many classic horror movies have remained firmly in the past, but I can share with you my 'educated' guess. Horror was still being explored in the industry, and in the 70's through the early 90's the restrictions for what you could film were becoming fewer and fewer. Breakthroughs were made not just in special effects but also in sound design and editing which greatly shape the mood and atmosphere of a film, particularly horror. Filmmakers were experimenting and taking risks, something you'll be hard pressed to find nowadays.
While I can't say that I don't enjoy a select few of the films that have come from the latest trends in horror films, I can say that they are becoming tiring. The monsters of choice are Vampires and Zombies while we also get demonic possessions or haunted houses filled with jumpscares. Once again, there's nothing wrong with these kinds of films but it’s become the entirety of the genre. From what I've seen from the films of the past, you could have your pick from dozens of different types of ghouls and monsters.
Why don't we go back to that? Back to exploring every facet of horror that mankind has come up with and finding ways to make it fresh and intriguing. If Hollywood ever decides to take the initiative to do that, then I have some suggestions.
With X-Files coming back, you know that little green men with huge heads is going to be coming back into vogue! They most certainly don't have to fit that description, though, as the Kubrick film 'Alien' demonstrated. What's nice about aliens as a concept is that you can get creative with how they look, attack, and interact with their environment. They're supposed to be wildly different from humans; that's what makes them aliens for Pete's sake! Another excellent example is 'The Thing,” one of my favorites! How crazy did those aliens look? The only recent and decent films to come out about aliens, IMO, were 'Signs' and 'Dark Skies' and even those could have been greatly improved. At their core, aliens represent a fear of anything different from ourselves as well as the fear of being taken over by something foreign and losing a sense of self. Too bad Hollywood hasn't realized that this is a fear that can always be effective because it's as old as humans themselves.
These guys get the shaft way too often. All they seem to do is live in the shadow of vampires, which is completely unfair! I think that the thing hurting werewolves the most is that they're associated with ‘roided up hairy men, which can be a hard thing to take seriously. What's missing with the modern interpretation of werewolves is the animalistic ferociousness that they originally had. An unquenchable desire to kill and destroy without preference or mercy. Hollywood would need to take a leaf out of, believe it or not, a card game I'm a fan of called 'One Night Ultimate Werewolf'. It's a fast paced game where the players or 'villagers' have to figure out who the werewolf is while the werewolf plays innocent to keep from getting caught and continue to kill the other villagers. When you take out any aspect of fun from that scenario, it becomes quite frightening. Imagine it now: a small isolated village is suddenly plagued by violent deaths obviously caused by a werewolf but no one knows who it is. Tension, paranoia, and mystery would run rampant and it would be fascinating to watch as a film.
Do you have any idea of the kind of messed up monsters other cultures have come up with? There are many that are quite similar to the ones we're familiar with; Chupacabras are a close, Mexican cousin to what we know as the werewolf. But then you have Japan and their turtle-like water monster called a 'Kappa' that attacks it's victims by sucking their intestines out through the poor souls' anus! Hollywood could go two ways with monsters like these. The first is to make a tongue-in-cheek film in the same vein as the ‘Leprechaun’ series or ‘Slither’, which would be amazing with the right people at the helm. The second would be to have an American travel to another country where its corresponding monster will stalk and eventually try to attack them. The mood could be similar to one I picked up on in the American version of 'The Grudge'. When traveling to a different country, nothing is familiar and there's a sense of dislocation and isolation that can make the fact that a creature you know nothing about following you all the more terrifying.
Seemingly Innocent Female Serial Killers
If I had a dollar for every serial killer film where the killer was male, I'd be rich and probably set for life as the trend continues. But the ones that truly scared me were the female killers, because girls can be terrifying. I know, I am one. Gender norms are the biggest reason for why this is the case because women are generally seen as gentle and nurturing, and when the opposite becomes true, it's shocking and throws people for a loop. But the ones that creep me out the most are women who appear to be helpless or innocent but slowly become cold and sometimes bloodthirsty. Annie Wilkes (played by Kathy Bates) from 'Misery' may be the most famous example but we also have Glenn Close's character in 'Fatal Attraction' and Jennifer Jason Leigh in 'Single White Female'. Why this type of character is never seen in today's movies is beyond me. If you want true gender equality in Hollywood, then they've got to acknowledge that both sexes are capable of horrendous things.
Seriously, this is a huge oversight by anyone who is responsible for making films. I've seen a few smaller budget films here and there but nothing from mainstream productions and it's infuriating! H.P. Lovecraft created the infamous tentacled being and wrote many books that not only make you poop your pants in fear but shake you psychologically! Just think of how amazing the film would look with the advanced computer effects we now have access to. Otherworldly sea creatures from different dimensions, ridiculously creepy cults, and bone-chilling descents into madness, I mean, c'mon! What are you doing over there, producers, twiddling your thumbs?
There's nothing that gets to the little scaredy-cat in all of us quite like a creepy witch. Every culture has their own version of one, and you can't walk through the seasonal department of any store in October without coming across at least one rendition of the old hags. So why are they so unpopular in films? There was ‘Blair Witch Project’ of course and then ‘Drag Me to Hell’ (which was more entertaining than scary) but not much else. One could argue that the plot developments of the Paranormal Activity franchise include witches but they certainly aren't the main focus. I can see how real life Wiccans may become offended or how the trope of scary old lady could be hurtful, but 'Carrie' dishes on fundamentalists and 'Insidious 2' has a troubled trans serial killer so, to me, anything can be fair game. If you look at the overall idea of what witches are, they represent both a fear of the decrepit and aging as well as serve to make children wary of strangers or strange situations. If a movie was made with a child protagonist(s) then you'd be well on your way to making film gold. Scary, creepy gold.
Well that about covers my horror wishlist, now let's hope a bigwig in L.A. steals one of these ideas! What monsters and antagonists would you like to see more of in films? Please tell me in the comments! I'm quite curious...
This week, I'm starting a new feature called "Casting by Phoebe" where I take an existing IP (intellectual property) that hasn't been adapted into a film or TV show and present to you, the actors that I'd like to see in the roles of the IP's major characters. It can be a video game, comic book, novel, toy line or anything else!
For this first one, I'd like to present my casting choices for a video game that nearly everyone loves, Final Fantasy VII. While the Final Fantasy brand has seen many semi-adaptations in the past including films like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, we've never seen a Final Fantasy VII live action movie and if they ever did one, the first one they should do is Final Fantasy VII as it has the most hard core fandom of all of the games. Heck, the fans somehow have manged to convince Squaresoft to remake Final Fantasy VII with updated graphics, so when it comes to a live action adaptation, never say never...
Although Final Fantasy VII has enough story to be probably be a TV series, I could see a movie studio like Sony, presenting a Final Fantasy VII movie in a cool three-part story ala The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. So without further ado, here are my selections.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin, Kingsmen: The Secret Service
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He is an actor that has a great intensity and can be humorous.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sarah Manning, Orphan Black
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has a great range for this rugged woman and can kick butt as seen in Orphan Black.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Scarlet Witch, Avengers: Age of Ultron
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Has the right look and can gain the sympathy of the audience when she dies.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Terry Jeffords, Brooklyn Nine Nine
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He has the energy and sensitivity to pull off the role of a man with difficult decisions to make.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sam Flynn, TRON: Legacy
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can pull off the swagger and voice for this oddball character.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gollum, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can deliver a dynamic and fun mo-cap performance of both Cat Sith and the Moggle that would be unforgettable.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Nicole, Fresh off the Boat
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has the maturity and comedic timing to do this young sprites character justice.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gally, Maze Runner
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can dig deep to play this dark immortal.
Red XIII (Voice)
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Tywin Lanister, Game of Thrones
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He plays a lion already on GOT and had a rich voice that speaks with authority.
BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Loki, Marvel's Avengers
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Because, I mean, this would cause every fangirl's head in the wolrd to explode, right?
So there they are. Agree? Disagree? Let the arguments begin!
If you saw the Emmy's earlier this week, than you noticed that everyone seems to be obsessed with Game of Thrones. Who am I kidding, I'm most definitely obsessed with it too. It's both gratifying and strange for a geek when the entirety of pop culture suddenly shares the same obsessions as you do. You get so used to people not knowing what the heck you're talking about that when others talk circles around you about the latest episode and theories or predictions therein you freeze up and look like a deer caught in the headlights! The HBO hit has become so popular that it's even gotten it's own video game. You know you've made it when video games are being made of your work.
Congratulations, good sir!
A company called 'Telltale Games' helmed the Game of Thrones game and, surprise surprise, it became a hit. For those unfamiliar with Telltale, they started back in the early 2000s and are best known for releasing their titles episodically in a similar fashion to television and for the game mechanic of having the players make choices throughout the game that effects what happens and how it ends. They had a so-so start with some great titles as well as some pretty terrible ones.
But in recent years they've really come into their stride and it has a lot to do with a little title called The Walking Dead, yet another franchise people are obsessed with. Telltale beautifully crafted a bittersweet story that made it's players care desperately for the protagonists all with the backdrop of a devastating zombie apocalypse. The game took elements both from the TV show most people know about as well as the graphic novel series, from which the TV show is based on. Telltale's greatest strength right now seems to be making interactive fan-fictions from the most famous properties and giving players the opportunity to choose what happens in them.
Though if I'd really had a 'choice' this annoying asshole would've been dead in five minutes.
What most people seem to forget in their GT and TWD craze is that Telltale has adapted comic books more than once and made a title that was not only well put together but intriguing and fun, heck it got amazing reviews from video game websites across the board! It was a sadly forgotten tale known as 'The Wolf Among Us'.
'The Wolf Among Us'
The Wolf Among Us was released in October 2013, in between TWD Season One and Season Two, and is a prequel to the main storyline of a graphic novel series called 'Fables'. The basic premise is that all the fairytale characters we know and love have been banished from their own world by an enemy known only as 'The Adversary' and sent to live in our own. Most of the conflict and drama comes from them being stripped of their 'happy endings' and having to deal with the harshness and moral ambiguity of the modern world we live in. Fables is mostly a mystery/action series that follows how the characters we thought we knew live amongst us 'Mundies' (normal humans) as well as with each other, all while fighting 'The Adversary'.
Before I get to the game, I'd like to just quickly say that you should really check out the graphic novels! Not only are the stories fresh and captivating, but the art and character design is spectacular. Check it out when you get the chance.
The Wolf Among Us takes place before the events of the first issue of the Fables series, the late 80s in Manhattan. Our protagonist is Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of the fables's community known as 'Fabletown'. He is none other than the Big Bad Wolf from every fairytale you've read, now reformed he has the arduous task of hiding the Fables from the Mundy world as well as keeping fables in line. After saving a fable prostitute from his old, drunken foe The Woodsman, she has a cryptic conversation with him and later that evening Bigby finds the girl's decapitated head on his doorstep.
You play as Bigby in the game, trying to find the prostitute's killer and uncovering what may be a far bigger and more sinister crime involving the whole of Fabletown. Like most of the Telltale games, you make decisions throughout like where to go search for clues first or how to interrogate a suspect. Players will also have to respond to quicktime events for chase scenes and fights that are some of the best, if not THE best, that Telltale has ever developed. Wolf Among Us has all the tropes from the crime mystery genre and pays it's respects to classic noir. It's odd to see such fantastical elements and characters play around in this type of medium, but by God does it work well!
Screenshot from game.
Screenshot from game.
The art style of the game takes a different artistic approach than the comics, using much bolder and vibrant color schemes while playing around with shadows and light in a way that I haven't seen in Telltale try before. They still manage to keep the classic comic book style though, it's especially noticeable when you see the faces of the characters up close. You could probably compare this style to what is seen in TWD games, although TWD has a much more subdued color scheme with lots of bright red thrown in. They're in a zombie apocalypse after all.
Wolf got rave reviews when it was released and even won an award, yet TWD and GOT has gotten all the attention. Wolf baits us with a possible sequel at the end, so it's presumed that we haven't seen the last of Bigby, but at the same time, Telltale has yet to announce its production. We know they're giving us another season of Walking Dead, more GOT, some Borderlands (also very good), and a TBA Marvel production, but no word on more Wolf.
I just hope that they haven't ruled out TWAU as a weak contender against their other games. The game does have strong following online and in the gaming community, though the more popular titles draw in newer players who wouldn't be interested otherwise. Don't give up on Bigby, Telltale, please! We need more of the Big Bad Wolf!
So, summer is pretty much over. Here in Minnesota, it'll be below 30 degrees soon and time for some Halloween decor. This crop of summer movies that passed was a mixed bag for me. Some hits, some misses, and some unexpected surprises (The Visit, anyone?) Image: 20th Century Fox
Now that Pumpkin Spice lattes are advertised in the windows of coffee shops of all over America, I thought I'd be a good time to look at the fall movies coming out over the next few months and gauge my excitement for them.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials / Sept. 18
I never really got into this series of books, nor did I see the first movie. There's only so much distopia that this girl can take. I hear this one is more action packed so if someone wanted to go see this, I guess I'd go, but don't expect to see a review here anytime soon.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Sony
Hotel Transylvania 2 / Sept. 25
This one was sneaky. I recently watched the first one with Lisa who is a huge fan. I admit, it was a cute take on the monsters and genre that I love, but when I found out it was an Adam Sandler production, it left a bad aftertaste. Either way, I feel like I'm committed to this franchise now and so I'll be lining up to watch their continuing adventures. Even though Pixels (another Sandler flick) was like the worst thing of the summer.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: 20th Century Fox
The Martian / Oct. 2
Okay, here we go. Now this one I am pumped about. I did a trailer review a while back and I did finish the book. WHOA! What a great read! This thing has everything I dig in my sci fi and the trailers look amazing. With Ridley Scott directing, Drew Goddard writing, and Matt Damon staring, this one is high on my list to midnight.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: WB
Pan / Oct. 9
Now, I read this one was supposed to come out in the summer, but was pushed to the fall. Usually, moves like this are a bad sign that the film is in trouble. Based on the trailers, that might be the case with this one too. This movie chronicles a young Peter Pan and is meant to serve as his 'origin story.' In this version there is a prophecy and he is the 'chosen one.' Yawn! Something about this plot feels so dated but the visuals look pretty neat so if I'm down for paying extra for 3D, maybe I'll go see it.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Sony
Goosebumps / Oct. 16
This one I'm solidly on the fence about. While the book series fed my love of all things horror and supernatural as a kid, but this movie looks a little... weird. I wished they had gone with a more anthology approach to match the work that was done in the TV show, but it appears they have decided to take a more... Jumani route? Apparently, this has the support or Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, so maybe it won't be so bad.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Universal
Crimson Peak / Oct. 16
Yeah! Master of Darkness, Mr. del Toro is back with this R-Rated haunted house horror film. I can't wait to see what scares he has cooked up for us this time, and with this film being so close to Halloween, the timing couldn't be better. Oh, and TOM HIDDLESTON!!!
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Lionsgate
The Last Witch Hunter / Oct. 30
I really don't know much about this one. Is it based on some IP? Or is it an original creation? I like Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood, but based on the trailer, this one seems... complicated. There's witches, a dream word, monsters, hunters...ect. This seems made for the TV territory, but who knows this may be the start of a new franchise. I'll go see it of pure curiosity.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Universal
Paranormal Activity 5 / Oct. 30
No thanks. Nuff said.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
What movies are you excited for this fall? Leave your list in the comments below.
Ever since I was 6 years old, I've wanted to go to Disneyland. I know. How original of me, right? But could you blame my kid-self? The idea of going to a closed off place that has somehow resisted the dull and anxiety-ridden pains of the real world would be tempting for anyone, let alone a grade-schooler. While I never got my trip to Anaheim I did get a decent enough substitute, not to mention an much more reasonably priced one. The local Renaissance Festival.
About 1/1000 the price of a trip to Disneyland.
A few years after my dream trip was decided, I was taken to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and was successfully sated. I've been going at least once every year ever since and suspect I'll always find a way to visit. So you can imagine how dumbfounded I was to find out that our resident n00b, Lisa, had never set foot in a Ren Fair her whole life! Well this needed to be remedied, so I took her this past weekend and, let me say, I've never felt more like a parent my whole life.
Her eyes were practically popping out of her head and her mouth hung open in silent awe. After only an hour of sightseeing she told me that she wished she had come sooner. When I asked her why she hadn't before I got a sheepish reply that had something to do with the cost, obnoxious renaissance actors, and the theme not being enough to hold someone's interest. This wasn't an opinion she came up with herself, this was after hearing about it from other people and it's an opinion I've heard of before. So many friends that I've recommended the Ren Fest to have voiced these same concerns and apprehensions. Well guess what, I'm going to explain why you should tell the naysayers to shove it!
The Environment. The moment you approach the gates of any Renaissance Festival/Fair you know what you're getting into. One minute you're in modern society and in the next you're walking through a marketplace bustling with men and women dressed in tunics and bodices who greet you with a “Milord!” or “Milady!” On either side of you there are shops and stalls selling wares you certainly won't be able to find at your neighborhood strip mall, all while performers entertain the masses that surround them in the street. Every building you pass is distinctly Medieval/Renaissance in it's structure and design (aside from Port-a-Potties, of course). You are instantly transported to a new world and they do it very well.
The Entertainment. I'm thoroughly convinced anyone can find something fun to see or do at Ren Fest. Whether you feel like laughing at a comedy show, marveling at an impressive feat, or watching dances from far away lands. It's all here. There are various shows performed on stage everyday, but out on the streets you can't swing a peasant without hitting one of the many roaming performers. You also get entertainment you'd NEVER find outside of a Ren Fest. Live jousting? They've got it. Kilt or Beard competitions? It's here. Fencing duels? Of course! Riding freakin' elephants? Yep (At least in MN). You'll want to see and do everything you possibly can and will probably find that there's no way to fit it all in a day.
The Costumes. I mentioned earlier that those working or acting at the Fest wear a costume fit for the times, but they don't have to be the only ones. While it's certainly not required, guests to the Fest/Fair are free to wear their own costumes on the grounds! Being the nerdy cosplayer that I am, I've brought my share of outfits in order to really feel like part of the magic. Even better is that you don't have to wear a period costume! They have themed weekends that encompass pirates, steampunk, magic, or even fairies! I've also seen people dressed in anime, video game characters (Assassin's Creed is literally everywhere), and Tolkien-verse costumes. Yes, they may not be strictly keeping to the theme, but it's all in good fun. For me, it's amusing to think about how such characters would act in medieval/renaissance times. The interactions these cosplayers have with the actors and environment is nothing short of entertaining!
The Stuff/Food &Drinks. Seriously, guys. So much stuff! Not just renaissance related either! I could list off all of the things sold at my local fest, but then we'd be here for hours. Let's just say that there are about 250 artisans who come by to sell their wares. Yeah. The food is quite varied; you can get the classic turkey leg or you can get yourself some italian pasta or greek gyros! And, of course, there's plenty of booze to go around. As I'm not much of a beer or ale person, the option of having mead or hard cider is greatly appreciated. Might I recommend some Egyptian Mead or 'Gumption' Hard Cider? Delicious!
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what makes my local Renaissance Festival work. Everything I mentioned above certainly adds to the charm, but I'd have to say that the actors, artisans, and everyone who works there has a lot to do with it. Everyone I've encountered at Fest made me feel welcomed and like a part of this little world they created. They have a love and passion for what they do and are dedicated to getting some of that love and passion rubbed off on the rest of us (along with that fairy glitter). Well, I suppose that if my job was going from festival to festival and living in such a magical state of mind, I'd be pretty passionate too.
Have you gone to a Renaissance Festival/Fair? What do you like most about your local one? Comment below to let me know! Maybe I'll visit yours one day.
Recently, one of my favorite shows, Hannibal, got canceled. It ran for three seasons on NBC and was, IMO, the edgiest show on network TV. At first, I didn't panic. This being 2015, it seems like every canceled show gets picked up by either a digital outlet like Yahoo, Hulu, Amazon or an analog cable network like USA or SyFy. But when the show finally released the actors from their contracts, I knew it was over.
How is this crap is worth saving, Hulu?!?
I like closure. I need it in my entertainment! Even if it's just, "And then they all walked into the sunset." Is that asking too much? Now, Hannibal will just be added to the list of shows, books, and TV shows that I've invested time into without a satisfying ending (except the movies).
The visual representation of media without closure in my heart and mind.
The only silver lining to this is that Hannibal show creator, Bryan Fuller, is now involved in bringing Neil Gaiman's celebrated novel, American Gods, to the small screen in the form of a TV series. I personally love American Gods, and honestly most everything else Neil Gaiman writes. Although, the adaptations of his work can be hit and miss (see Mirrormask, actually, don't).
That's how I felt watching Mirrormask...
If you aren't familiar with American Gods, then stop reading now (well, after you're done with this post) and download it to your e-reader with haste! It's a great, sometimes trippy, road trip tale in which all of its characters are different gods from throughout world history that inhabit the bodies of normal humans whom are struggling to survive in modern day America. It's a touching, sad, and well-paced story that is up there with some of the best modern fiction written in the last 15 years.
If you don't know anything about Bryan Fuller, then let me school you a bit. Bryan Fuller got his start writing on Star Trek shows Voyager and DS9. While not the best stuff in Star Trek canon, it's a great place to start and gets one some major geek points.
He went on to create some of TV's most inventive, create and visually vibrant shows: Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, and Pushing Daisies. All three of those shows, like Hannibal, got canceled in their primes. This guy can't seem to get past a third season... even though, I believe he is one of the most original voices in TV today.
Now, if you've read American Gods and seen any of Bryan Fuller's shows, you'll realize like I have that this pairing is a match made in heaven. So expect to see some mind-bending montages, insane visual sequences and hear some thought provoking dialogue. While it's true, American Gods is only one book; I think this is a good thing. It leaves room for a writer like Bryan Fuller to expand on the original material and may provide him a limited number of seasons to create a full satisfying series, which his fans, like me have yearned for since we started our fandom for him.
Expect to see a review of the pilot when it hits the air on Starz next year.
Yes, I've had a bit of a preoccupation with scary things as of late but can you blame me? Stores are already putting out Halloween decorations and there are trailers for horror films everywhere. Hey, if we're gonna start celebrating Christmas right after Thanksgiving then why not start celebrating Halloween now!
But seriously, I've gotten into the spirit of the season and lately there hasn't been a better way to bask in the spookiness then by listening to some music fit for the mood. No I'm not talking about One Direction (sorry, it was far too easy), I'm talking about soundtracks. Whereas most normal beings have popular music in their library, mine is filled with soundtracks from all manner of films, video games and television shows. It's not that I think all pop music is bad (though some of it REALLY is), but to me music is supposed to inspire and speak to you in a way that nothing else can. Soundtracks do the trick for me. I know I'm not the only one, everyone within my geek clique owns at the very least several soundtracks, all of which they highly recommend.
Today I'm going to recommend a soundtrack perfect for the Autumn season, one that you'll want to listen to with all the lights on: Silent Hill.
Or if you're a glutton for punishment, listen to it with headphones on in the dead of night.
Silent Hill is a PlayStation video game that came out in 1999. It was helmed by Konami Entertainment and created by Keiichiro Toyama who is also known for the 'Siren' series. Silent Hill is considered by many to be the father of all current survival horror games as it brought new and creative ideas to the horror genre. Rather than simply throwing monsters and scary locations at the player (though it certainly does that as well), SH gets under the players skin by playing with the psychological aspects of horror. We follow a widowed father named Harry Mason as he traverses the small town, 'Silent Hill', to find his daughter, Cheryl. As he explores the not-so-abandoned town he stumbles into an occult plan to bring about a terrifying deity that my have some connection to Cheryl.
The game masterfully makes the player on edge during each second of gameplay. I won't get too far into why the Silent Hill game or the series in general is so amazing, as I'll probably go over it closer to Halloween, but I will tell you why the soundtrack is a huge part of it's success.
A huge component of horror is atmosphere. If you can't convey a sense of dread or unease then it'll be harder to make others feel anything, let alone scared. Akira Yamaoka composes a soundtrack that perfectly conveys what SH is all about. The opening theme sets up the game perfectly, the urgent strumming of the mandolin at the beginning has a haunting, creeping melody to it which goes into a more 'rocky' portion of the song that, while catchy, feels vaguely sorrowful and hopeless. When listening to the soundtrack on it's own you'll discover that most of the songs can't quite be classified as, well, 'songs'.
It is cold, hard ambient music that barely contains a melody. They're constantly riding the line between music and noise. Yamaoka relied heavily on industrial music as the influence for his music. 'Beats' and 'melodies' are made from clanging metal, disembodied growls, crazy rapid drums, static, ghostly cries and even rasping breathing. Imagine running from monsters all while that plays incessantly in your ear. Don't get me started on the theme in the final battle; the high-pitched static feels like it's trying to grind you into submission. I nearly had a real life panic attack when I tried to soldier on and beat the final boss!
'Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God!' ~Me
However, like the opening theme, there are some normal songs scattered amongst the more terrifying tracks. The song 'Not Tomorrow' is a sad, guitar heavy melody that fits very well with the scene it's paired with. 'Killing Time' sounds like it should be in a grindhouse flick with a freaky as heck guitar. 'She' is a rather emotional ballad that reminds me of a certain famous folk rock song. While I swear that I've heard 'Silent Hill (Otherside)' in an episode of Twin Peaks.
All in all, the SH soundtrack is designed to make you feel distressed and paranoid and it does the job perfectly. I actually wouldn't suggest you listen to the soundtrack by itself too often, as it does it's job too well. You'll start seeing things out of the corner of your eye and swear on your grandmothers grave that someone or something is watching you from out the window. But for ambience at a Halloween party or even a haunted house? Definitely. Still, I encourage you to buy the album if only to appreciate the genius and importance this music had on a genre that's going strong to this day. If only the games they made today had this caliber of music...
Would you agree with my opinions on the game and it's soundtrack? Is there another soundtrack I should talk about? Let me know in the comments below! And please support these amazing artists by BUYING their songs and not downloading!
Last week in my post about underrated fantasy, I brought up a movie called The Witches so it should go without saying that I like media about the topic. In all the hoopla about vampires and zombies over the past few years, it seems like witches have been lost in mix and forgotten about. Back when I was growing up, witches were in almost everything and we had great TV shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch, movies like The Craft and the Blair Witch Project and there was that whole Harry Potter thing.
But recently, it seems like media makers are ready to shine a spotlight on witches once again with shows like Salem, American Horror Story: Coven, and most recently, this new film simply titled, The Witch. The trailer was just released today.
I'm not only excited to see the movie because as you know I'm a horror nut, and it has witches, but also because it may signal a shift back to real horror movies and perhaps an end to the lazy Blumhouse-esque 'found footage' horror films which have become the reality TV of feature films.
After I saw the trailer, I read that this film was screened at Sundance earlier this year and earned rave reviews. Hopefully it does well and we can finally get back to real horror films.