Changing in the Telling

The Unkindest Tide, by Seanan McGuire – This book deals with the Roane, the aquatic children of the Luidaeg who had been mostly killed off centuries earlier, their skins then being used to create Selkies. The sea-witch vows to revive the Roane by sealing the skins to current Selkies. Toby comes up with a solution that helps to settle the issues involved with this problem. Much of it takes place in the Duchy of Ships, a collection of boats around an island in the Pacific Ocean. It’s ruled by Amphitrite, a Merrow daughter of Titania who prefers to be called Captain Pete. I feel like not a whole lot happened in this story, but I still liked it and its expansion of the fairy mythos, and the Luidaeg is a well-written character. The accompanying novella, Hope Is Swift, focuses on Raj, Tybalt’s nephew and heir, and his relationships with others, including his girlfriend Helen. At one point, he gets hit by a car saving someone’s life, and ends up stuck in feline form at a vet’s office.

Cursed, by Marissa Meyer – The sequel to Gilded continues with its retelling of “Rumplestiltskin” in a world of German mythology. It begins with the pregnant Serilda still imprisoned in the Erlking’s castle, and about to be forcibly married to him. Over the course of the story, she learns that he’s planning on bringing his old wife, Perchta, back to life, and also capturing the gods in animal form so he can make a wish to escape into the human world. We learn more about Serilda’s history and her link to the god Wyrdith. Serilda does have to come up with Gild’s true name, but Gild himself doesn’t come into the story all that much. The mythology is definitely interesting, with the gods taking various forms. It did perhaps seem a bit padded, like the story didn’t necessarily need to be told over the course of two fairly long books, but I’m sure there were reasons for that.

Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, by Sabine Baring-Gould – I heard about this book from the Apocrypals podcast, and the name of the author seemed familiar. This was because his grandson William Stuart compiled The Annotated Mother Goose with his wife Ceil. He was also known as a Sherlock Holmes scholar. And apparently this edition, which I found for free online, was edited down quite a bit. Sabine was an Anglican priest who had similar proclivities and wrote a lot of books. This one gives an overview of several popular myths from medieval Christian Europe, many of which I’ve seen mentioned in other sources, like the Wandering Jew, Prester John, Pope Joan and her connection with the Antichrist, the Sleepers of Ephesus, William Tell, and the location of the Garden of Eden. There’s information on how these stories originated (or at least their earliest known versions) and changed over time. The location of Prester John’s kingdom moved as Europeans explored Asia and Africa more thoroughly. Baring-Gould traces the myth of the sleepers to Norse mythology, although it also ties into the same idea of people from Jesus’ time living extraordinarily long lives as the Wandering Jew, which the author doesn’t dismiss out of hand. There’s a brief mention of the Islamic version of the myth of the sleepers, and how it specifies that only nine specific animals would be admitted to Paradise. In the chapter on Tell, Baring-Gould references a few earlier Norwegian stories of a similar archery contest that predate Tell’s supposed lifetime. Another chapter discusses the Welsh Prince Llewellyn’s faithful hound Gellert, whose grave could be found in Snowdonia, and how there are many tales of faithful animals that fit the same general pattern. While he points out that many of these stories have allegorical origins, he also points out that this can be taken too far, citing a satirical work by Archbishop Whateley claiming that Napoleon was really just a mythical solar deity.It’s a pretty eclectic mix of myths, including a few that don’t fit the general theme quite as well. A chapter on humans with tails starts with a rumor the writer heard as a child that people from Cornwall have tails, and another one is just about coincidences with numbers. I’d say it’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in any of this kind of stuff, keeping in mind that Baring-Gould had his own biases.

Posted in Anglicanism, Animals, Authors, Book Reviews, British, Catholicism, Christianity, Fairy Tales, German, History, Islam, Magic, marissa meyer, Middle Ages, Mythology, Norse, Nursery Rhymes, october daye, Relationships, Religion, seanan mcguire, Urban Legends, Welsh | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unico Is My Employer

SPOILERS for all three films.

Scream VI – We saw this at the theater, even though Beth had only seen the first two movies in the series, and I’d only seen the first one. It’s not like that made it difficult to follow or anything, but there were characters whom viewers were presumably supposed to recognize. I think I actually liked it better than Beth did; she said she found it too heavy on the self-reference and didn’t create a sense of dread. I think the latter is pretty much true. The movie had a really fast pace, and the killing scenes were more action sequences than anything suspenseful. I thought it had a decent enough plot, though. It builds up mystery about who the killers are, with several red herrings. I do wonder why they made a point of showing that Sam and Tara’s love interests survive while Mindy’s doesn’t, when she and her girlfriend seem to have a more committed relationship. Mindy is also the one who gives exposition in the form of The Rules, the laws of horror movies that don’t really apply to all that many of them. I even wonder sometimes if the stuff about dying if you have sex or drink isn’t necessarily some kind of purity thing so much as that they’re both things that make people lose their concentration. But it obviously depends on the movie. In this one, the expositor claims that, once a movie becomes a franchise, each one has to be bigger and higher budget. Never mind that a lot of horror series go direct to video (or, in more recent years, direct to streaming) with their later entries. Also, as Beth pointed out, she’s saying this in a Scream movie where they didn’t want to pay for Neve Campbell to appear. Obviously being meta-referential is the series’ bread and butter, but I do have to question some aspects of how that worked. Apparently someone made an in-universe movie of the events of the first film not long after they happened, and Ghostface masks are really popular despite being associated with multiple serial killers. And no one seems to think this is insensitive? There’s also an indication that Scary Movie exists in this world, so is it a parody of Stab, or what? I guess I also now know who the killers are in the other movies in the series, but I already don’t remember most of them.

The Fantastic Adventures of Unico – Beth had seen this anime film and its follow-up when she was a kid, and she and anyone else I’ve known to have watched them tends to consider them weirdly disturbing. They’re based on a manga from the seventies that was published by Sanrio, who also produced the movies. That’s why Hello Kitty makes a cameo appearance, and probably why it has a similarly cute style, at least most of the time.

Unico is a baby unicorn with the ability to spread happiness, which the gods object to for some reason, so they tell the West Wind to take him to the Hill of Oblivion.

The Wind feels bad for him, though, and instead takes him to a series of places where he makes friends he has to abandon quickly before the gods can track him down, making him a rather tragic character. Apparently the part with the gods is a simplification of the story in the manga, where it’s Venus who’s Unico’s particular enemy due to his part in an adaptation of the Cupid and Psyche story. Anyway, Unico first arrives on an abandoned island where he meets Beezle, the young Devil of Solitude, who inherits the position after his father, seen as a stone idol, accidentally smashes himself up during an argument with the unicorn. Beezle is mean to Unico at first, but finally comes around and starts to care about him.

At Unico’s next stop, he befriends a cat named Katy who’d been set adrift on a river in a basket. She tries to remain cheerful, but her goal is to become a witch in order to get respect from humans.

Katy befriends an old woman whom she thinks is a witch who can teach her magic. Unico tells Katy she’s been reading too many fairy tales, kind of a weird thing coming from a unicorn with magic powers who’s a personal target of the gods, but in this case he turns out to be right. Unico grants Katy’s wish to become a human child, and has to save her from a demonic man who invites her to his castle in the woods, gets her drunk, and presumably wants to sacrifice her. Beyond his ability to spread happiness, Unico seems to demonstrate new powers at various times with no real explanation for them, but his ultimate ability is changing into a grown unicorn with wings.

Speaking of which, it’s interesting that this form, like Unico’s mother, has an equine head, while Unico’s normal form and his siblings all have round heads. Barbara Goodson, the English voice of Unico, later voiced Rita Repulsa on Power Rangers.

Unico in the Island of Magic – This is the one Beth remembered better, and described it as being about a wizard who turns people into puppets and builds a building out of them. I couldn’t really imagine from this description what puppet building blocks would look like, but they turned out to be sort of like three-dimensional paper dolls that move around with a sound like suction cups.

I’m getting a bit ahead of things here, though. It starts when Unico arrives in a forest ruled by a tough orange cat who’s a lot like Heathcliff, and finds out that a magician in a bug suit with a hairstyle that’s really long and pointed in the front is turning all the animals and people in the area into these living puppets for his master Kuruku.

The apprentice magician, Toby, does show that he still has some compassion by saving his younger sister Cheri, who has already befriended Unico. The girl and the unicorn go to seek advice from the Sphinx, only to find that she’s off visiting friends, leaving behind her daughter. The young Sphinx is characterized very similarly to Beezle, albeit less mean and selfish. Since she presumably doesn’t know where her mom has gone, she instead directs Unico and Cheri to a place where unwanted things end up. This is the home of the Trojan Horse, a big rocking horse who explains that Kuruku was originally a mistreated marionette who was mysteriously brought to life and given magic, and vowed to get revenge on all of humanity. Unico eventually manages to befriend Kuruku by showing him sympathy, but the magician dies because only his hatred had been keeping him alive.

There’s a very psychedelic style used when showing the shape-shifting Kuruku and his castle of living toys, including a mechanical dragon.

It reminds me of Yellow Submarine, and Beth pointed out the similarity of the magician’s voice in the dub to HIM from the Powerpuff Girls, who was partially based on the Chief of the Blue Meanies. One bit I wondered about was that the cat character wears headphones, and at one point he shows that they contain a tweeter and a woofer, which are actually a bird and…a frog. Maybe it just didn’t translate well.

Posted in Animals, Cartoons, Greek Mythology, Magic, Mythology, Relationships, Roman, Toys, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen to the Banshee

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a post about Banshees, of Inisherin or otherwise. I haven’t seen that movie, but I suspect it doesn’t have any literal Banshees in it. I did write before about the Bean-Nighe, which is sometimes considered a type of Banshee, or at least related to them. Basically just meaning “fairy mound woman” or just “fairy woman,” the Banshee is probably the second most common Irish mythical being in pop culture, to, of course, Leprechauns. The most famous thing about Banshees is that they’re supposed to wail when someone nearby is about to die.

Some versions of the legend say they only appear to the oldest Irish families, those of Milesian descent. As such, they tend to attach themselves to specific households. But there’s a lot of variety in accounts of Banshees.

The terrifying floating woman in a cloak is a common depiction, but other times they’re seen as beautiful or just normal-looking women.

Picture by Henry Meynell Rheam
They’re also usually regarded as small, but other times as noticeably tall. Other typical features include long, pale hair on which they use silver combs, and red eyes from all their weeping.

Picture by John White

Sometimes they also take the forms of animals, including crows, stoats, hares, and weasels. Their cries also vary depending on whether or not they have good feelings toward the family, so sometimes it’s a sweet lament and other times the better-known shriek. Websites relate the Banshee’s wails to the traditional Irish practice of keening, when a professional mourner would sing a song of lament at a funeral. Whether the keening or the Banshee stories came first, however, isn’t clear.

Picture by Michelle Monique
So is a Banshee a fairy or a ghost? The world of the fairies and that of the dead are so often combined that I suppose they could be either or both. When ghosts, they are sometimes thought to be the spirit of someone in the family they’re attached to. There’s also overlap between fairies and gods. Apparently there are stories of the goddess Brigid being the originator of keening, when she mourned her son Ruadan, who died in battle.

Picture by Seamus Draoigall
They’re also sometimes associated with the Morrigan, although that connection seems a little more tenuous, being mostly based on how they’re both associated with death. But it does seem to be pretty consistent that Banshees only foretell death and don’t cause it, which makes them pretty nice relative to a lot of ghosts or fairies in traditional folklore.

Picture by Tammy Wampler
Cliodhna, a very attractive fairy woman, perhaps the most beautiful, was sometimes said to be the Queen of the Banshees, or at least the ones in Munster. She was the daughter of Gebann, the Red Druid who served the sea god Manannan Mac Lir. The rock Cairrigcleena and Tonn Cliodhna, the dangerous tide in Glandore, are both named after her. The former is said to mark a portal to her home in the otherworld. The story of why the waves bear her name is that she fell in love with a mortal man named Ciabhan and left her fairy home to be with him. When he was out hunting, she stayed on a beach, and Manannan, who apparently had feelings for her himself, sent a musician to lull her to sleep with music, then a wave to drown her. It presumably didn’t kill her, though, or at least the death wasn’t permanent, because she later prophesied that a wave would eventually destroy all of Munster. It’s sometimes specified that the Tonn Cliodhna is the ninth wave in sequence. Another story involves her and her sister Aoibheall being rivals for the love of a chieftain named O’Caoimh. Cliodhna turned her sister into a cat. The name Aoibheall is pronounced pretty similarly to “evil,” although it probably actually means “beauty” or “desire.” Other tales say that Cliodhna drowned men like a Siren, and kidnapped a prince named Sean Mac Seamas and trapped him in her fairy home. Fortunately for him, he was able to write a note in his own blood, which led to his rescue. In other cases, though, she seems to have been quite beneficent. That’s deities for you, I suppose.

Picture by Artstain
In the fifteenth century, when Cormac MacCarthy was rebuilding Blarney Castle, there was a lawsuit that threatened the project. He appealed to Cliodhna, who told him to kiss the first stone he saw. When he did, it gave him the eloquence to easily win the case. So he incorporated the stone into the castle instead of just tossing it in a pile of Blarney rubble, and that’s the origin of that. Cliodhna is said to have three birds that can heal with their songs.

Picture by Shelly Mooney

In popular culture, Banshees are often featured alongside Leprechauns, as they’re the two sorts of Irish mythical being audiences are likely able to recognize. I know a lot of people were struck by the Banshee in Darby O’Gill and the Little People, although I mostly just remember that movie being really long.

There are a few Banshees in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Moving Pictures introduces Mr. Ixolite, a Banshee who has a speech impediment, so he writes his wail on paper and slips in under doors. He’s said to be the last surviving Banshee, but that doesn’t always mean much in a long-running series. Hrun said in The Colour of Magic that swamp dragons are extinct, but Lady Sybil has a sanctuary for them in Guards! Guards! In Going Postal, there’s a Banshee named Gryle, who works as an assassin.

In his case, he doesn’t just warn of death, but does the killing himself. It’s interesting that both of these characters are male, when Banshees are generally said to be exclusively female. But then, Pratchett also gave us male Dryads and the whole issue with Dwarfs and gender. I don’t think there are any Leprechauns on Discworld, although the gnomes have some similarities. In a much more obscure source that’s relevant to my interests, Mark Haas’s Leprechauns in Oz has as its main villain a lonely Banshee named Clio, whose crying has been tormenting the Leprechauns of Burzee.

I also remember a Banshee in Gargoyles whose voice was actively dangerous, and one in Tiny Toon Adventures who has a Medusa-like ability to turn people (or pigs) to stone.

I wonder why there isn’t a Banshee-themed cereal as a counterpart to Lucky Charms. Maybe it could be called Wailing Wheats, or Keening Krunchies.

Posted in Animals, Authors, Cartoons, Celtic, Characters, Discworld, Etymology, Magic, Monsters, Music, Mythology, Oz, Television, Terry Pratchett | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Serious About Series

I’ve finished reading the latest issue of The Baum Bugle, which is largely dedicated to Kabumpo in Oz. Editor Sarah Crozter co-wrote a piece with Nick Campbell on the book and Oz as a series in general. I’ve seen a fair amount of talk about libraries banning Oz books, and while the fact that there are good witches in Oz might have sometimes been responsible (sort of like people thinking Harry Potter was Satanic, which is kind of ironic considering how there’s probably a lot of overlap between that kind of thinking and transphobia), most of it is part of a general distaste for children’s series books. Libraries don’t want to stock the whole series, the books tend to be handled so much that they wear out quickly, and there’s often a stigma for series books just generally being of lower quality and pretty much all the same. Of course, not everything needs to be a series, but I think a new series book can be like a visit with old friends. There’s a facetious quote from Edward Eager about how he “can tell one Oz book from another.” I’ve certainly heard people say that they get the books confused, more so with Ruth Plumly Thompson than with L. Frank Baum, even though Tik-Tok is sort of a rewrite of Ozma combined with elements from other early books. I don’t know that Thompson set out to write the same basic plot multiple times; it was just a structure she liked. And I did grow up watching cartoons where the plot followed the same basic plot structure in pretty much every episode, but there was still some new stuff each time. I can usually remember what happened in which Oz book, perhaps because I generally really concentrated on a new (to me) title when I read it. There’s some talk about how the Oz series has largely become obscure, the post-Baum ones even more so, and how that relates to the theme of disappearance in Kabumpo.

I’ve seen some criticism of Thompson’s writing in that she overuses words like “gulped” or “sputtered” when describing a character saying a line, which is perhaps a little overly precious. I don’t mind it, but what it makes me think of was when I was in sixth grade and a poster on the wall had a bunch of alternatives for “said.” Now I come across stuff online advising to just use “said” and convey the tone in the actual quote. I’m not sure I’m a clever enough writer to manage that. Anyway, I don’t know if this is professional advice or not, but it seems like every writing rule I see is contradicted somewhere else, which probably just goes to show there’s no one particular right way. I also saw something the other day complaining about using descriptions of characters instead of their names. Maybe I misread it, but I guess I figured that and the “said” issue were both about not wanting to use the same word too many times, which makes sense to me. Otherwise I just think of Ralph Wiggum.

Also in the issue are Garrett Kilgore’s defense of the Curious Cottabus, an overview of a 1943 play based on Kabumpo that omits the title character in favor of Ozwold the Oztrich from Gnome King, and the script of a 1916 Christmas play by Mary Austin that includes the Wizard of Oz as a character.

I think it’s cool that the review section includes some card games, but I’ve always been a little frustrated with how this section always lists a bunch of book titles that sound way more intriguing than the books that are actually reviewed. I wouldn’t mind a list of new stuff that’s consistent with the original series.

I now move on to something that’s consistent with the series but not particularly new at this point, although it was when I bought it, Cory in Oz, written and illustrated by Allison McBain. Like most of these books, it’s short, but since I read it between other things, it took longer to finish than you might expect. It has an interesting way of bringing its main character, Cora-Lee Marcus, into Oz. She finds out that her nasty schoolteacher is a witch, but also that she herself has latent magical powers. The teacher reveals that her crotchety personality is largely an act, and that she and her parents are from Oz, having been enchanted and banished by the Nome King years earlier. The three of them use magic to travel to Oz, where they thwart some vengeful Nomes and find out that Cory’s mother was Glinda’s sister Fabia, who had gone to live in the Great Outside World.

Cory also comes complete with an entourage of cute sidekicks, the teddy bear Dorge, the grouchy piggy bank Xerxes, and the newly hatched winged brontosaurus Dinny. There are some interesting aspects to the story. Ozma and Glinda create a chamber shielded with lead to protect against evil magic, drawing a connection to nuclear radiation. I hadn’t read anything by him when I first read this, but Terry Pratchett makes a lot of use of that concept in the Discworld books. And one of the themed communities who try to make outsiders into beings like them, in this case a city where any color is considered impure, is specifically described like a religious cult. And I’ve written before about how the description of Limbo is similar to that in another book I had as a kid. There are a few things that are difficult to square with the main series. Glinda says in Land that she’s against working transformations, but here she seems to be very much down with the idea of transformation as punishment, although she does usually say something about maybe changing the enchanted people back at some point. Kalidahs are just described as striped wildcats, with no indication of their ursine features. Hermoza, the mother of Cory’s teacher, is said to have reported an attempted Nome invasion of Oz to Glinda, who then turned all of the Nomes into lizards, which seems difficult to fit in with the history we know, especially as this would have been before the events of Ozma. The Nome King is consistently called Ruggedo, even though he would have still been Roquat at the time, and there’s no indication that the banished witches had read any of the Oz books other than Wizard. Even Cory somehow recognizes the name. The Nome King who actually appears in the book is Fumaro, Roquat/Ruggedo’s brother, who had usurped the throne from Kaliko. I remember back when I was in the Story Circle in the International Wizard of Oz Club, Allison submitted the first chapter of a tale involving Pigasus. If there was ever any more to it, though, I never received it.

A recent search brought me to a fanfic about Jinjur by Jonathan Markoff, which has more adult themes than I generally prefer in my Oz stories. But I did like some elements, including the author’s backstory for Kuma Party, that his mother was a Fuddle. And yes, Kuma does use his abilities for what you might expect in something with sexual themes. I actually saw the link because I’d seen a mention of the word “wumbo” being used in a SpongeBob episode, when in Oz it’s the name of the Wonder Worker from Gnome King, who’s also Kuma’s father.

Come to think of it, Lin Carter’s Tired Tailor has a different character named Wumbo the Watchman, and there’s the Wumbus in Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra.

I assume a lot of nonsense words are created independently, although you never know what inspiration, whether conscious or unconscious, writers might have. I also found a fanfic by Black Gold Saya that used elements from my own story “Halloween Island.”

Posted in Animals, Authors, Book Reviews, Cartoons, Characters, Christmas, Cults, Discworld, Dr. Seuss, Families, Games, Holidays, L. Frank Baum, Language, Magic, Names, Oz, Oz Authors, Plays, Religion, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Terry Pratchett, Toys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Killers, Corpses, Cartoons, and Conductors

Here are my thoughts on the four movies I’ve watched most recently, all with SPOILERS.

Body Bags – A 1993 film consisting of three different segments, the first two directed by John Carpenter and the last by Tobe Hooper. Carpenter does wrap-around bits in the character of a coroner who makes gross jokes, in the style of the Crypt-Keeper. The first part, “The Gas Station,” is about a college student starting to work the graveyard shift at the titular place, and pretty much everything going wrong immediately. The customers are mostly weird guys who try to hit on her, and that’s before the escaped serial killer shows up. Carpenter is self-referential in saying that the killer is from Haddonfield, Illinois; and Wes Craven and Sam Raimi play supporting roles. It’s the most genuinely disturbing of the three, as even though it has some humor, it’s nowhere near as silly as the other two. “Hair” is a really goofy one about a guy who’s obsessed with his hair loss, and seeks an experimental treatment that he sees on an infomercial. It gives him a very full head of hair, but it soon starts to grow uncontrollably, and we’re shown that the hair strands are actually living beings that crawl around like little worms. It’s simultaneously funny and uncomfortable to watch, at least for me, but I’m often disturbed by the weirdest things. Finally, it’s revealed that the doctor and his staff are aliens who use the hair organisms to feed on human brains. Beth recognized the doctor as David Warner, whom we both knew originally from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, but has been in a lot of other stuff; but neither of us noticed that his flirtatious nurse was Debbie Harry, who’s been popping up a lot in stuff I’ve seen recently. I guess it was a really good wig. The last one, “Eye,” is another story about surgery gone wrong, which makes the first even more of the odd one out. Mark Hamill features as a baseball player who loses an eye. Fortunately, a surgeon gives him an experimental transplant. Unfortunately, it came from a serial killer, and it still retains some of his personality, making Mark intermittently try to kill his wife. She was played by Twiggy, who’s certainly someone I’ve heard about, but don’t think I’ve ever seen actually do anything. What’s kind of funny is that “Hair” immediately made me think of the Simpsons Halloween story “Hell Toupee,” but its plot is actually way more similar to “Eye.” From what I’ve seen online, the Simpsons segment was mostly a parody of Shocker.

A Goofy Movie – Neither Beth nor I had any particular interest in seeing this. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember turning down a chance to see it at the movies. I never watched Goof Troop much either. Our friend Tavie didn’t really like the show either, but loved this movie, so it was on her recommendation that we saw it. My verdict is that it wasn’t bad, but I don’t feel richer for having seen it. The plot is about Goofy feeling he’s growing apart from Max, so he plans a fishing trip in Nevada for the two of them without knowing that Max already had a date to a party with Roxanne, a girl he had a crush on. To try to lessen the blow of canceling the date, he tells Roxanne he’s going to a big concert in Los Angeles, and that his dad knows the performer. Honestly, I wouldn’t think it would have been too crazy if it had turned out Goofy really DID know the guy, but that’s not how it worked out. Instead, Max tries to take advantage of Goofy’s naivete to direct him to LA instead of Nevada. It’s kind of hard to feel bad for Max when he’s so prone to lying and manipulation. When he finally goes to apologize to Roxanne, Goofy tells him that if she doesn’t forgive him, she might not be the one. So “the one” is someone who’s okay with being lied to? And of course, she does forgive him, although I don’t think she shows up in any media after that, including the direct-to-video sequel. Pete shows up a few times to give Goofy some bad parenting advice, when his own son is clearly terrified of him. The beginning of the movie establishes that Goofy and Pete are both baby photographers, even though I’m pretty sure the latter was a used car salesman in Goof Troop. Pete seems to be way richer than Goofy despite having a comparable job (Pete might be Goofy’s supervisor, but that’s still unlikely to make that much of a difference in pay), but maybe he’s just the kind of guy who maxes out his credit cards, or he has a profitable side hustle; he’s a crook in most continuities, after all. His wife and daughter don’t appear in the film at all. I did like some of the tacky roadside attractions that Goofy and Max visit on their trip, including one with bad animatronics and costumed characters. As Beth pointed out, it’s kind of weird that an official Disney product had a scene where kids beat up on a costumed guy, something that happens at Disney parks that I’m sure they would generally prefer to keep quiet. Also, some of the ways they show Goofy as being out of touch with Max’s generation are that he likes Xavier Cugat and drives an AMC Gremlin with an eight-track player. By the way, Max has a Mickey Mouse phone, but later we see Mickey and Donald hitchhiking, and Max makes a mention of Donald being a friend of Goofy’s.

So are the Disney big three just ordinary guys or celebrities in this world? I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Tar – Cate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tar, a famous and rather arrogant orchestral conductor, who, in addition to a lot of internal politics with her job, is also dealing with constant messages from a former student. When this person commits suicide, it comes out that Lydia had likely sexually harassed her, and is being sued by her parents. It’s never actually confirmed that she did anything untoward, but considering how she behaves toward another young cellist, being flirtatious towards her and giving her preferential treatment, it seems pretty likely. But it does also lead to other accusations that might not be true, as shown in an obviously doctored video of a class at Juilliard where she was pretty rude, but not to the extent shown. She’s forced to resign in disgrace, and no longer see her wife and daughter. It definitely relates to the recent talk about cancel culture, a presumably deliberately vague term that often just means people are being held responsible for their actions. There are also a few mentions of the pandemic. Lydia is not portrayed as a very sympathetic character. She tends to call everyone she doesn’t like a robot, and her wife tells her that all her relationships are transactional except the one with her daughter. Of course, she can also be quite personable and witty, and there are indications that her profession is just cruel and cutthroat in general.

Curse of Chucky – After two broadly comedic entries, the sixth entry in this series returns to more straight horror. It has some clear similarities to the original Child’s Play, including Chucky revealing himself to a naive child. It starts with Chucky being delivered to an old woman in an enormous old house, and killing her. Her daughter Nica, who lived with her and is played by Brad Dourif’s daughter Fiona, is then visited by her sister Barb’s family. Barb is resentful toward her paraplegic sister, trying to convince her to sell the house and move into an assisted living facility. She’s also having an affair with her daughter’s nanny. It turns out that the choice of family Chucky chooses to torment is not at all random; he knew their parents back when he was human, and kept the mother as a prisoner while convincing himself that they had an actual relationship. She manages to tip off the cops, leading to the beginning of the first movie, and he still blames her. He was also responsible for Nica’s disability, as he severely injured her when she was still in the womb. It is perhaps noteworthy that Charles Lee Ray comes across as a delusional, unsettling predator, while Chucky the doll is a savvy, wisecracking serial killer. But then, it’s much the same way with Freddy Krueger. Becoming supernatural does nothing to curb violent tendencies, but it apparently makes you more rational in how you approach your crimes. I couldn’t remember when Chucky’s body was last remade; I had thought it was the same one he’d had since Bride of Chucky, but in that case, wouldn’t he be unable to do the voodoo chant to transfer to another body, as he tries on the little girl at the end? But then, the very next scene shows him still in doll form, so it presumably didn’t work. I’m just not sure why he would have thought it would.

Posted in Cartoons, Families, Humor, Magic, Monsters, Music, Relationships, Revisiting Disney, Snobbery, Television, The Simpsons, Toys, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skipping Through Time

Live A Live – This game was originally released by Square in 1994, and was directed by Takashi Tokita, who was the lead designer on Final Fantasy IV and later directed Chrono Trigger. Like the latter game, this is an RPG that takes place in a variety of time periods. It’s set in our own world, but it seems to take more influence from fictional versions of these times than from actual history. There are seven scenarios that you can play in any order, and I’ve completed four of them, which I did chronologically. And yet, after doing so, I’m still not sure how to pronounce the title. Are the I’s short, long, or one of each? All of them use a turn-based strategy battle system, where you fight on a grid that you and your enemies can move around. In other ways, however, they all have fairly different mechanics in other respects. They vary in length, but so far have all been pretty short.

Prehistory was the obvious starting point, but it was also a weird place to begin in that nobody really talks, as it’s supposed to take place before language. All of the chapters have voice acting, but here it’s basically just grunting. Most dialogue is portrayed in pictures, although fortunately that doesn’t apply to the menu screens. A caveman named Pogo and his sidekick, the gorilla Gori, are kicked out of their cave after Pogo decides to shelter a girl named Beru who had been stealing food. It’s very slapstick, with a lot of it happening at Gori’s expense; and there’s a fair amount of gross-out humor as well. For instance, there are attacks that involve farting and throwing poop. You have to fight a rival tribe whose members ride around in stone cars, with no indication as to how they move.

It’s pretty cool when you get to use Beru in battles, since she has healing abilities, although she’s physically weak. Sadly, she’s kidnapped throughout most of it. The main boss is a Tyrannosaurus who’s worshipped as a god.

In Imperial China, the Earthen Heart Shifu is an aged martial artist who seeks a successor, and trains three potential apprentices. Sadly, only one of them survives, leading to the survivor and the master fighting several battles in a row. The training involves the Shifu fighting his own students to build up their skills. His kung fu moves have poetic names, many based on animals.

The Twilight of Edo Japan gives you control of a ninja named Obomaru, who has to infiltrate a castle to rescue a prisoner. You have the choice of whether or not you want to kill any humans, and there are rewards for going all the way with either route. Since I’m bad at stealth in video games (and in real life, I’m sure), I went ahead and killed some people, but tended to leave them alone when they weren’t in my way. It’s easier to get experience that way, too. Obomaru can use elemental attacks, which seems pretty common with ninjas in games. Aren’t they just supposed to be assassins, not magicians? Then again, what fun would that be?

The Wild West has an explicitly American setting, although it seems to be one that’s fairly popular in Japan. I know the Wild Arms series of Western-themed RPGs started a few years after this game. And even in Final Fantasy VI, while Shadow is a ninja, his theme music sounds like something from a Western, and he had a previous career as a train robber. While I’m not personally that familiar with either genre, I’ve heard there are a lot of similarities between Westerns and samurai films. Anyway, this is probably the least explicitly supernatural so far, at least until the end, with most of the fighting based on gunplay. You play as the Sundown Kid, a wandering outlaw who comes to the mining town of Success, with the bounty hunter Mad Dog hot on his tail. When they find out that a dangerous gang is planning on attacking the place, the two enemies have to team up. You can find various items around town that the residents will use to make traps, reducing the number of participants in the final battle. There’s a time limit on setting things up, so I had to look up how to do so efficiently. It’s possible to beat the whole gang, but very difficult, especially as I don’t think there’s any real opportunity for gaining experience in this chapter. I looked at the next chapter, set in the present, which takes the interesting approach of being a fighting game in turn-based RPG form. I only tried one fight, and was beaten almost immediately. The other two are set in the future, and one of them must be where the robot from the artwork comes into play.

There’s a recurring theme in the main villains all having similar names, and quite likely being different forms of the same guy. The Tyrannosaurus is Odo, the rival shifu who kills two of the Earthen Heart master’s students Ou Di Wan Lee, the Japanese feudal lord Obomaru fights Ode Iou, and the gang leader in the West O. Dio. Ode Iou turns into the Gamahebi, a demon who has features of a frog and a snake.

And when you beat O. Dio, he turns into a purple horse, identified as the sole Union survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, haunted by those who died.

As weird as he is in that form, he’s even more bizarre as a human.

And I guess that’s all I have to say about this game for now.

Posted in Animals, China, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, History, Humor, Japan, Language, Magic, Monsters, Music, Names, Relationships, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Through an Uskglass Darkly

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – The author’s debut novel was recommended to me because I liked her Piranesi.This book was much longer and more complicated, but I liked it. It takes place in the early nineteenth century, in a version of England where magic was possible, but hadn’t been practiced in a long time. The writing style is reminiscent of the time period when it takes place, with a lot of commentary on how people thought of being properly English. I’m sure there was a lot of it I didn’t catch. In this version of England, a powerful magician known as John Uskglass, the Raven King, had ruled the northern part of the country for a long time, then disappeared. There are several English gentlemen who study the theoretical workings of magic, but a curmudgeonly man from York named Gilbert Norrell breaks tradition by actually practicing it. He becomes famous after a few demonstrations of his power, and gains some influence over the government. While at first he wants to be the only legally practicing magician in England, he eventually takes an apprentice, the young Jonathan Strange, who distinguishes himself by using magic in the Napoleonic Wars. It’s an episodic tale, but a lot of it is based on the differing characters of Norrell and Strange, and how they work together and eventually split ways. Also figuring into the story are fairies, whose attention Norrell tries to avoid, only calling on them once to bring a woman back to life early in his career. This fairy proceeds to cause a lot of trouble, however, including capturing Strange’s wife. He also befriends the butler Stephen Black, giving him gifts and promising him power, but also holding him in his thrall. The book includes a lot of references and footnotes regarding books of magic, adding verisimilitude to the story. I believe it has been established that Piranesi takes place in the same world, but later in time and mostly in an alternate dimension.

Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Vampire Hunting, by Roseanne A. Brown – This author’s first book under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint introduces a world of gods, magic, and monsters from Ghanaian mythology. Serwa and her parents travel around battling vampires and other supernatural threats. When a vampire attacks them at home, her parents decide that it’s best if she stays with her aunt and cousin in Maryland, which also means it’s her first time attending public school. And while she’s there, a body-snatching vampire called an adze appears at school, and Serwa has to train some of her classmates to help hunt it down. Since she doesn’t know what person the adze is possessing, there are some red herrings, most notably a character who’s so terrible that you kind of want her to be the culprit. It ends with Serwa finding out something disturbing about herself and her mother, becoming destructive, and seeking refuge with a former enemy. I assume that the reference early in the book to Anansi being busy with a kid from Chicago is to Tristan Strong, whose series is more about African-American folklore in general.

Donald Duck: Christmas in Duckburg, by Carl Barks – This was technically a Christmas present from Tavie, but I didn’t get it into February, so I guess it was a bit out of season. Only two stories in it are actually Christmas-related, though. The title story, which wasn’t written by Barks but by Bob Gregory, involves Donald and his nephews going to Canada to pick up a hundred-foot-tall Christmas tree for Scrooge to show off after being mocked for his stinginess the previous year. It’s interesting that the plot starts with Donald deciding to mail order all his presents, which is something even more common in the age of the Internet. It also has the Beagle Boys doing what are presumably supposed to be French Canadian accents.

The other is a bizarre tale where Donald accidentally creates a rocket fuel while the nephews are begging him to cook the Christmas turkey, and he ends up cooking it with a rocket.

Other comics have Donald run a moving business, work as a fireman, locate a hidden gold mine that turns out not to be a mine at all, and try to tame a baby coyote. In the fireman one, Daisy dances with Gladstone Gander while Donald is out fighting fires, and Gladstone accidentally starts a fire at her house. But wouldn’t his luck mean something like that wouldn’t happen to him unless it somehow turns out his way in the end? I guess it’s not that important. He’s still selfish, and Daisy kind of is as well in this one.

In another tale, Scrooge discovers and subsequently loses a floating island. The collection ends with three stories scripted by Vic Lockman featuring Grandma Duck, with significant appearances by Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, and the Big Bad Wolf.

Posted in African, Art, Authors, Book Reviews, British, Christmas, Comics, History, Holidays, Humor, Magic, Monsters, Mythology, Relationships, Rick Riordan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Strange, Silent Type

SPOILERS, as usual.

Strange World – It’s weird that Disney came out with a new big-budget animated feature that just fizzled out at the box office, and I’m not quite sure why it did. I guess it was largely bad timing and probably poor promotion. I definitely saw commercials for it, but they weren’t all that clear on what it was actually about. I still didn’t know that much prior to watching it. Also, while the title fits the pulp sci-fi theme, and I don’t think people generally go to movies based on the titles anyway, it’s kind of generic and unmemorable. It wasn’t a favorite of mine; there kind of seemed just not to be enough there to carry an entire feature. That said, it was by no means bad, and I generally liked the characters and environments. It starts in a place called Avalonia that’s entirely surrounded by nigh impossible mountains. The explorer Jaeger Clade, who kind of reminds me of Yukon Cornelius, takes his son Searcher and a few others on an attempt to see what’s beyond the mountains, but Searcher fights with him and leaves his father to go on alone. Hunter also discovers a plant called Pando that provides a powerful fuel source, enabling Avalonia to have fancy airships and hover cars. (How they made them aerodynamic isn’t addressed.)

But, like his father, he expects his son Ethan to follow in his footsteps, in this case as a farmer. A lot of the movie emphasizes how similar Jaeger and Searcher really are. The President of Avalonia finds out that the miracle plant is dying, and leads an expedition into its root system to see what’s going on. She brings Searcher with her, Ethan stows away, and Searcher’s wife Meridian follows them to find her son. They all end up in a weird subterranean land of pinks and purples, where a bunch of weird organisms try to kill them.

Only Ethan gets the idea to try to befriend the creatures, particularly one he calls Splat.

The mission also finds Jaeger, who had fallen down there years ago while exploring a cave. Eventually, the Clades discover that their country is on the back of a giant animal (revealed at the end to be a turtle, a pretty standard choice for an animal that can support an entire population), and the Pando is a parasite that’s slowly killing it. There’s an obvious environmental message, although the twist kind of complicates it, because plant-based energy seems very ecologically sustainable at first. One thing that I wondered is how this civilization came to live on the back of a turtle in the first place. It’s a pretty diverse population with its own style, but still a very recognizably modern culture, apparently without any knowledge of the world outside their country. I guess it’s not really important to the story, but it’s weird when you consider that the last two Disney animated features, Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon, made a point of giving detailed backstories to their fantastic communities. It’s also worth noting that Ethan has a Black mother and is gay, having a crush on another boy. These things are discussed enough as to make it seem like they wanted audiences to notice them, but none of the characters make a big deal out of either one, which is good. I also tried to see if there was a pattern in the character names. “Jaeger” is German for “hunter,” so that goes with Searcher; and I suppose Meridian, Ethan’s friend Azimuth, and crew member Caspian all have names that relate to navigation or geography. I’m not so sure about Callisto, the President’s name. It’s one of Jupiter’s moons and a character in Greek mythology who becomes the constellation Ursa Major, so I guess that also links with navigation, although not as directly as the others. Of course, when I started writing this, I kept calling Searcher Hunter and Ethan Jonathan, so I suppose names being thematically relevant doesn’t always make them memorable.

Silent Movie – I saw several of Mel Brooks’s films as a kid and generally enjoyed them, although I’m not sure I got all of the jokes at the time. I’d never seen this one before, though, so I figured I should. It is, as the title suggests, a silent movie, aside from one word spoken by Marcel Marceau. It does, however, have music and sound effects. It’s also the first Brooks film with him in the lead role. As with a lot of Brooks’s work, it’s very meta-referential, being a silent movie from the 1970s ABOUT a washed-up director trying to make a silent movie in the 1970s, imitating a lot of the sort of humor they had in old silents and spoofing the film industry in general. At one point, a studio executive played by Sid Caesar declares that slapstick is dead, after which he immediately takes a pratfall. It’s obvious, as is a lot of what happens in this movie, but I think it still works. There’s a fair amount I think doesn’t really work, or at least is way overdone, like Dom DeLuise always being hungry or thirsty, Marty Feldman hitting on women, and all the “ha ha, that looks gay” moments. But then, the fact that it never takes itself all that seriously and seems to fully realize that a lot of the jokes are stupid definitely helps. The gags are so rapid-fire that even when something isn’t at all funny to my mind, there will probably be something coming up soon that is. A few sign gags really worked for me. The studio Brooks is pitching his script to is just called Big Pictures, and there’s a conglomerate trying to buy them out called Engulf & Devour (motto: “Our fingers are in everything”).

I also appreciated that the scene with a malfunctioning Coke machine paid off later on; I suppose you could call it Chekhov’s Cola, or something like that. Several celebrities make cameos as themselves: Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minelli, Paul Newman, and Anne Bancroft. I guess that last one wasn’t too hard to get, as she was Brooks’s wife. Bernadette Peters also features as a femme fatale hired to distract Brooks’s character. There are certainly aspects to this that don’t hold up well, but I found it worth watching.

Posted in Animals, Cartoons, Families, Greek Mythology, Humor, Mythology, Names, Relationships, Revisiting Disney, Sexuality, Technology, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pendexter’s Laboratory

Today, in my ongoing look at obscure Oz books, I’m looking at the work of Hugh Pendexter III. He dives into some unanswered questions from the series and includes quite a few references, although he mostly uses his own characters, at least one of them based on a real person.

Oz and the Three Witches – I believe this is the first published detailed look at the history of the Wizard of Oz, trying to tie together the references in the books and address how he’s remembered as a villain in The Marvelous Land of Oz. After Ozma invites the Wizard to live in the palace during the events of Dorothy and the Wizard, Glinda shows up to question him about his three secret visits to Mombi, during which he gave the baby Ozma to the Witch. Questioned by the Sorceress with her Truth Pearl, he explains that he didn’t really know who either Ozma or Mombi was, and while he didn’t trust the Witch, he thought leaving the infant in her care was the best way to protect her from the even crueler Wicked Witches of the East and West. He also gives details of how he used various props and disguises to fool the Witches. Ozma had been hidden at the old castle in Morrow, as visited in Lost King. Oddly, the text describes it as being near the Winkie Country, although it’s shown on maps as being closer to the Munchkin side of the Quadling Country. One explanation I’ve come across is that there was more than one place called Morrow, and while possible, I’m not sure why Pendexter would have even used the name if he didn’t mean for it to be the same. And this story does explain why Ozma remembers hiding out from Mombi there, and how the Wizard had heard of it when other residents of the Emerald City hadn’t, as indicated in Lost King. The first version of Donald Abbott’s How the Wizard Came to Oz, which differs in some details, was published in Oziana the previous year. For the most part, the best way to fit it together is probably to say he arrived in the Winkie Country first, relocated to Morrow after being driven out by the Winged Monkeys, then finally had the Emerald City built. That doesn’t explain how the Monkeys would have been under the WWW’s control in this story, but they don’t play a major role, so maybe that should just be considered an oversight.

The Crocheted Cat in Oz – Pendexter had already written two books about two children and their crocheted animals before this. I read Tales of the Crocheted Cat a few years ago, long after reading this crossover for the first time. I have not read the follow-up, Farhold Island, which introduces the Sioux boy Lone Badger and the poodle Hannibal. In this story, the Wiseman of Throomb has discovered that the Golden Witch has managed to sneak into Oz and steal one of Ozma’s birthday presents, so he sends Lone Badger, Hannibal, and Theobald the Crocheted Cat to Oz to get it back. The kids from the other two books, presumably based on Pendexter’s own, are only mentioned in passing. The chase takes the visitors through the Great Gillikin Forest and a community of lawyers to the Land of Ev. I have to wonder if Pendexter had wanted to use the animals in the Forest of Gugu, but since Magic was still under copyright at the time of publication, he instead introduced the elephant King Magnus and his court. I assume this Great Gillikin Forest is the same one from Glinda, which never made entirely clear whether it was the same as the Forest of Gugu or not. The object the Witch has stolen turns out to be a glass paperweight containing a world created by Saturn to be a new home to the Greco-Roman gods. The book also explains that carnivores in Oz eat fruit that tastes like and has the same nutritional value as meat, which makes a certain amount of sense but contradicts some references in the original books. Pendexter has some interesting takes on magic throughout this story. I found it strange that Ozma’s pet piglet says that Dorothy and the Shaggy Man used Johnny Dooit‘s sand boat to cross the Deadly Desert “last week,” which would make this take place concurrently with Road; but the details don’t all match up. Apparently Pendexter later stated that it actually occurs a year after that. I suppose we should disregard that the glassblower Silico uses the word “robot” for his mechanical helper when it didn’t have that meaning until 1920.

Wooglet in Oz – Chris Dulabone, who published both this and Crocheted Cat, is actually a character here, referred to as Uncle Chris. I don’t know whether his niece Wooglet is based on anyone real or not. Chris’s characterization here is sort of like that of the Shaggy Man or Cap’n Bill, the resourceful sort who treats the child protagonist as an equal. Also accompanying them is the burro Cosmo. The real Chris seemed to think there was time travel in this story, but I really don’t see where it could have come into play. The three of them somehow find themselves in the jackdaws’ nest from Land while camping in New Mexico, and a wish from Wooglet sends them to Takers’ Island. The Takers are people who were exiled from Oz when they refused to participate in Ozma’s sharing-based economy, and instead have created their own barter system on the island. It’s also the home of Dr. Nikidik, who didn’t want to give up his magic. Another magician, Braxus, teams up with the pirate Blaggard to try to conquer Oz, and it’s up to Wooglet, Chris, Cosmo, and Nikidik to stop them. During their undersea adventures on the way to Oz, Pendexter mixes elements from The Sea Fairies, The Pearl and the Pumpkin, and The Golden Goblin. There are some suggestions in the series that Nikidik is the same as Dr. Pipt, but here and in some other apocryphal works, he’s clearly a different person. I’m sure there’s a way to make at least most of the references work together. The Nikidik in this book is definitely a nicer guy than in Phil Lewin’s books.

Posted in Animals, Book Reviews, Characters, Chris Dulabone, Greek Mythology, Hugh Pendexter, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Mythology, Oz, Oz Authors, Phil Lewin, Places, Roman, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Noise of the Weird

Two movies, several SPOILERS.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – I was honestly a little nervous to watch this because I thought it might not be very good. I mean, I knew it was a parody biopic that mocked the over-the-top conventions of the genre and got all but some basic facts about Al’s life wrong, but that could have gone more than one way. I did end up thinking it was funny, though. I didn’t laugh out loud that much, but it was definitely entertaining. The idea originated with a Funny or Die sketch advertising such a biopic, so I guess you could say it was defictionalized, in a way. There was already a fake documentary, The Compleat Al, released by CBS back in 1985, which mixed actual biographical details with jokes, music videos, and promotional material from his then-new third album, Dare to Be Stupid. I own a copy on DVD, but I haven’t watched it since the one time in the nineties. I remember it mostly being kind of slow, but with a few really funny moments. Weird invents absurd drama for Al’s life story, playing on how he generally comes across as an uncontroversial, clean-living sort of guy. His parents were the ones who got him into accordion lessons, but in the movie, his father is inexplicably against them and song parodies. He also has a torrid affair with Madonna (who hopes his parodying one of her songs would mean a bump in her record sales), goes on a drunken rant on stage, writes “Eat It” while on an acid trip, and kills drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in a ridiculous action sequence similar to the Rambo bit in UHF. When they did a joke about “Eat It” being an original composition of Al’s, I wondered if they were just going to pretend Michael Jackson didn’t exist, but instead they had him release “Beat It” AFTER Al’s version. One interesting scene had Al attend Dr. Demento’s party, where most of the guests were other funny or just kind of strange celebrities, many planned by current comedians: Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol, Paul F. Tompkins as Gallagher, Jack Black as Wolfman Jack, and Emo Philips as Salvador Dali, who plays a fish like a violin during “Another One Rides the Bus.”

And Al himself has a role as one of the Scotti Brothers, the executives who ran Al’s old record label. I have to wonder if Al is planning on coming out with any new music, or if he’s more or less retired in that respect, although he still tours (I saw him at Carnegie Hall last year). I think the end credits song from the movie is the first thing he’s released since “The Hamilton Polka” five years ago. Not that he has to by any means; he’s been active for so long as it is. I’m just curious.

Spookies – I remember being somewhat intrigued by the title and the poster for this movie, which came out in 1986, but I hadn’t heard of it until more recently. It’s an expectedly cheesy film about a bunch of people who break into a seemingly abandoned mansion because they think it’s a good place to have a party. An old sorcerer uses various monsters to kill them all off, which presumably keeps his wife alive somehow. It’s one of those plots where it seems like they’re trying to give it a story beyond monsters killing people, but it’s really difficult to follow. At the end, the bride, who actually hates the sorcerer, unsuccessfully tries to escape. What I did like about this film was the monsters themselves, and some of the props. There are some men made out of dirt (who make fart sounds for some reason), a goblin with a lizard-like body, and a woman who turns into a spider.

The weird Ouija board and the chess set that the sorcerer uses also look pretty cool.

Posted in Board Games, Chess, Games, Humor, Magic, Monsters, Music, Relationships, Television, VoVat Goes to the Movies, Weird Al Yankovic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment