Monday, October 16, 2017

The 2017 Fangirl Award: Let the Nominations Begin!

In one month, The Fangirl Initiative turns three! Once again, we're celebrating with the third annual Fangirl Awards!

How it works:
You've heard of the Oscars. You've heard of the Emmys. Now we'd like you to participate in The Fangirl Awards. The Fangirl Awards was created by fangirls for fangirls. Now we can vote on which death made us cry the hardest, which ship we ship the most, and which character is the most fabulous. And those are just a few!

We've selected some categories, but we need nominations! Look over our categories and submit who you think should win a Fangirl Award for their category. On November 1st, voting will open, so don't forget to check back!

You can also check out last year's nominations and winners.

All nominations must have occurred between November 2016-October 2017.(For example, Doctor Strange qualifies, but Thor: Ragnarok does not.)
Multiple nominations for one category are allowed, to a reasonable degree (i.e. 2-3 nominations is okay, 15 is not).

The Categories:
1. So Not Over It Award: Worst Fictional Character Death
2. Til the End of the Line Award: Favorite Best Friends
3. I Ship It Award: Favorite OTP/Ship
4. Romanova Award: Most Badass Female 
5. Winchester Award: Most Badass Male 
6. Happily Ever After Award: Best Ending 
7. You Didn’t See That Coming Award: Most Shocking Plot Twist 
8. Tony Stark Award: Best Character Development
9. The Brave and the Bold Award: Best Fight Scene
10. Out of the Wardrobe Award: Best Outfit
11. The Strength of Their Hearts Award: Most Feelsy/Angsty Character
12. Burdened with Most Glorious Purpose Award: Most Fabulous Character
13. Cinnamon Roll Award: Character Too Precious for the World

Nominate by filling in the submission form below, Check back November 1-14 to vote. And don't forget your flower crowns!

Be bold. Be brave. Be Initiative.

Featured Filkers #6: The Faithful Sidekicks

It may not seem like it based on my previous Featured Filker posts, but a huge chunk of what defines filk is its capacity for silliness. In fact, the verb "to filk" has become synonymous in this community with "to write a ridiculous parody," regardless of the topic. For example: "Has anyone ever filked a Lady Gaga song before?" (Answer in the comments if you dare.)

Parody is one of the central elements of filk culture, but that's another post. What I want to talk about today are hilarious original songs about things like Star Wars and cruelty to coffee beans. I want to talk about The Faithful Sidekicks.

Photo provided by featured artist.

 I had no idea who Eric Distad was in 2014, when he ascended the Ohio Valley Filk Festival (OVFF) stage during the annual songwriting competition and started to play his guitar. It seems like this is usually how I hear about up-and-coming cool people. The theme was "A Sticky Situation." Eric took this rather literally, to excellent effect. Below is a video of him performing "A Song of Stick Pins," which won first place in the contest. It speaks for itself.

Incidentally, 2014 is the same year that Eric and his wife Jen began playing under the name of The Faithful Sidekicks. Eric and Jen had been writing and performing music together for much longer beforehand, but it wasn't until 2014 that they devoted an entire act to nerdy goodness. As The Faithful Sidekicks, they tend towards the wacky in styles ranging from alternative rock to folk ballads. You'll often see Jen contributing via bass guitar as Eric plays lead and does the primary vocals, but both of them are skilled with other instruments such as mandolin, concertina, and bouzouki.

Whatever the vehicle for their music, it is always chock full of genuine geek humor. You know they take their nerdiness seriously (or entirely unseriously) when they come out with a love song written entirely in Structured Query Language. Eric and Jen have a special routine for this one.

Photo provided by featured artist.

As you can see, the references get very specific, folks. I will love them forever simply for writing a dance number entirely about the mysterious technology featured in the movie Galaxy Quest, a device known as the Omega 13. It is rather catchy, if I do say so myself. Other notable examples of such specificity include "We’re Dragons (an Open Letter to Cressida Cowell from Smaug)," which lambasts the cuteness of How to Train Your Dragon, or "Time Traveler," which basically exists in order to reference as many sci-fi books and TV shows as possible. For the uninitiated, they do have a good number of more general songs, such as the IT guy's oddly upbeat lament entitled "Ticket Open." 

Finally, let's come back to Star Wars. It seems to be a favorite subject, given the number of songs they have written about the franchise. Here they are at FilkOntario 2016 playing the song they are probably best-known for, "Han Solo for President."


Like this combination of musical variety, wit, and delightfully detailed shout-outs? The Faithful Sidekicks currently have an album available for purchase here, and are wrapping up work on their second album, most likely called "Achievement Unlocked." To listen to all of the songs mentioned in this post, or to find more audio and video, news about the band, and information on their live shows, you can go to their website. If you're local to the Columbus, OH area, they will be hosting a workshop on songwriting to a deadline at OVFF this year. Come and meet them in person! If you can't make it, at least be sure to check out the rest of their repertoire. You won't regret it.

What lesser-known book, movie, or TV show do you think 
deserves a filk song? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Something Truly Special: Our Reaction to 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Trailer

Earlier this week, the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered. After we recovered from the initial shock of the trailer, a few of us came together to share our reaction and our thoughts for the upcoming film in the Star Wars saga.

Izzy Stevenson

  • “When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special.” Although the trailer tries to make us think he’s addressing Kylo, Snoke is obviously talking to Rey here. Since Rey is the character on the “good side” being tempted by the darkness, it makes more sense that Snoke is motivating her to give in to that temptation. “When I found you” is further proof. According to the canon novels, Snoke has been manipulating Kylo since he was in the womb, whereas he found* Rey after she was born. 
  • It kind of looks like Luke, afraid of her powers, is going to push Rey away rather quickly. I hope they don’t have his personality stray too far away from the Luke we got to know in the original trilogy since that Luke wasn’t the kind of guy who would just give up on people like that.
  • “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.” The trailer wants us to think Kylo is talking to himself here, but again, I think he’s talking to Rey. Probably after they team up. 
  • The scene where Kylo hovers his finger over the trigger to kill his mother (who he still loves) and Leia is watching and wondering if she’s about to die by the hand of the son she still loves = chills. These kinds of scenes are made for people like me. I’m also fairly confident he’s not going to go through with it, despite the fact that this is Carrie Fisher’s last film. 
  • That shot of Captain Phasma standing in front of an explosion is even more epic than Tony Stark’s famous shot. What good deed did we do to deserve it?
  • “This is not going to go the way you think.” I keep telling people. ;)
  • Is it just me or does it genuinely sound like Snoke is saying “Fore-fill your destiny” rather than "fulfill"?
  • We see a shot of Rey being tortured by Snoke. Probably from the same scene Snoke gives her the “when I found you” speech. This whole sequence will most likely be a callback to the Palpatine/Luke scene in Episode VI. Kylo will bring Rey to Snoke, thinking he’ll convert her to their side. Snoke will try to turn her dark, but it won’t work and will lead to her torture instead. Seeing Rey being tortured will probably make Kylo snap, just as Vader did, and the film will end with him betraying Snoke and leaving with Rey. Then the homage to the original trilogy will be complete, and Episode IX can take us in a brand new direction. 
  • “I need someone to show me my place in all this.” *shows Kylo holding out his hand* Now, as much as my little shipper heart loves this, I think these are actually two different scenes. Rey is wearing the outfit she has on at the beginning of the film, not the one she puts on later. Which means she’s probably talking to Luke. The shot of Kylo is probably from the end of the film. It is still a very telling shot, though, as the most likely people to whom he would be holding out his hand would be either Rey or Leia. It’s probably a post-redemption shot. (I used to believe Kylo’s redemption arc would extend over all three films, but now I think his redemption will take place in this one and he'll be Ben Solo during Episode IX.) The goal of putting these two shots together is to make us think Rey is going full-on dark side. But, as cool as that would be to explore, I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s pretty obvious she and Kylo will team up eventually. But with her tempted by the dark and him tempted by the light, I’m confident they’re both going to forge their own path together to become Grey Jedi and bring balance to the force, rather than one of them defecting to the other side. And I can’t wait. 
  •  That ice fox is the most beautiful creature I've seen in a Star Wars film.

Sky Destrian

It's hard to really formulate any coherent thoughts about this trailer that don't contain screaming or keysmashes. But I'll do my best.
  • This movie... I'm not prepared. 
  • What happened to Kylo Ren's face? It looks robotic, but then it doesn't, and I have questions.
  • Where are my boys? (Poe and Finn.) I need more of my boys.
  • I feel very upset that they faked us out by implying Leia might die. It just feels cheap, especially considering how upset some of us were when Carrie Fisher died. (Just to clarify, I'm really referring to myself here.)
  • Okay, so, we didn't get much Poe and Finn, but I guess what we did get was pretty dang epic? Poe's words, "We are the spark that will light the flame..." That's a mantra for the ages. And Finn with a lightsaber? I'm so here for it. 
  • (But I still need more of my boys.)
  • However, let's talk about the real stars of this trailer: Luke and Rey. 
  • Luke is so done with everything, and honestly? I relate. In all seriousness, though, I'm so glad we get to see more of him in this movie, and it certainly appears he has more lines. However, I just hope they keep his character true to the original Luke we all love. Judging from the trailer (which may or may not reflect the actual film), I have some concerns about where they're taking his character.
  • And Rey? She's incredible in every sense of the word. I'm so glad we get to have her at the helm of the Star Wars films. I love her, I would give everything for her. 10/10.
  • Despite my irritation with the will-Leia-die-or-won't-she aspect, seeing Carrie Fisher was a breath of fresh air. I honestly can't wait to see her, even if it will break my heart.
  • I'm super intrigued to find out who Luke is talking about with the "raw power" line. He's likely talking about Kylo Ren, but what if he surprises us all and he really means himself or his father or someone completely unexpected?
  • Chewie's new buddy is adorable. That is all.
Conclusion? I'm not ready for this movie. Truly, are any of us? I guess we'll find out, and may the force be with us.

Jaime Heller

My initial reaction: *high-pitched Pterodactyl screech*

There is so much packed into this trailer. But first, we need to remember something: trailers tell you nothing and everything at the same time. The people who make the trailer can take any scene and splice it together. They can make it look however they want, how they want you to think. They can place voice-overs with scenes that don’t match, with characters that don’t match. They can make it look like two characters are speaking to one another when it’s actually different scenes. 


Initial questions/observations:
  • Look! Kylo Ren is brooding again and throwing temper tantrums. My favorite.
  • Rey with a lightsaber. Rey with a lightsaber. Rey with a lightsaber.
  • Is Luke going to… abandon Rey?
  • Is Kylo Ren going to kill his mom? (Say it isn’t so!)
  • (This movie is going to be rough to watch. Carrie Fisher, you are gorgeous.)
  • What is Chewbacca’s new friend? (Also, why? Is he Han's replacement because... what?)
  • Is Poe Dameron going to single-handedly take down the First Order? Because I am ready.
  • FINN VS PHASMA. FINN VS PHASMA. FINN VS PHASMA. (Say that 5 times fast, I dare you.)
  • I would like the ice fox thing please. Whatever it is. I want one.
  • Luke is just not happy. Nope. What happened to our ray of sunshine child?
  • Why is Finn wearing a First Order uniform?
  • Why is Snoke force torturing (???) Rey?
  • (Also why does he look like the Ancient One from Doctor Strange?)
So after the initial fangirl freak out, I had to watch the trailer a few more times. (By a few, I mean I lost count. Who is actually surrpised?)

Upon further viewing and discussion with fellow Star Wars nerd herders who have nothing better to do than analyze the trailer, here’s what I’ve come up with. 

My favorite thing was the music. I’m so ready for another amazing soundtrack by John Williams. Of course, the trailer makers perfectly timed that music to give you all the feels, mainly because it begins with the same chords as every other teaser/trailer for The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens. I have chills already. But when the music starts going as Rey speaks, wowza… I just got hyped for this movie!

We have Luke and Snoke both saying similar things about raw power. We’ve got Rey training and Luke being afraid. Very afraid. Luke is probably going to abandon Rey, which might propel her straight into Kylo Ren’s arms presence OR maybe even… toward Snoke? (*gasp*)

Of course, that could be two different scenes spliced together. It’s possible Kylo Ren’s hand (if it’s his hand and not someone else’s) is from a different part of the film. (Maybe a flashback that’s connected to the fire?). The lighting doesn’t quite match, so Rey could be talking to Luke at the beginning of the film or maybe to someone else. (Again, could be Snoke…) And Kylo Ren's scar looks different at the end of the trailer than when we see him flying his ship... 

We’ve got Finn running around in a First Order uniform, but why? Did he rejoin? Is he brainwashed? Is he undercover? We do know that Phasma is definitely coming after him, probably for revenge, so that’s going to be a fun subplot. I can’t wait to see how that fight scene goes!

Poe is still fighting against the First Order, and he doesn’t look happy. So watch out! (I will be overjoyed if Poe basically takes down the First Order on his own. Not enough people are talking about Poe in the trailer. I'm ready for him to do something fantastic.) Chewbacca has a new friend, called Porg. No ideas there, except I really hope it's like the reincarnation of Han Solo. (I'm kidding, of course.)

It looks like Kylo Ren is targeting Leia’s ship, but after discussing that with a friend, I can’t imagine they’d have him kill both of his parents. I think the ship he’s targeting is something else. (Again, different scenes spliced together with voice-overs mean nothing.) Kylo Ren is definitely talking to someone in his voice-over, but who? Maybe it’s Luke or Rey. I have a feeling Kylo Ren is aiming to cut ties with everybody, including Snoke. Maybe he and Rey will team up against Snoke by the end of the movie. 

Also, I heard a while ago that they didn’t change the script of Episode VIII due to Carrie Fisher’s death. They said they weren’t just going to “kill her off” in the film. Of course, they could be lying. Because this whole trailer is probably a lie. I think they might just have something happen “in between” Episode VIII and IX to explain her absence. (Either way, this movie is going to be rough.) I’ve actually heard more people speculate that Luke will be the one to die, not Leia. I don't like it. It was hard enough to watch Han Solo die in Episode VII. I can't lose anybody else from the Original Trilogy.

Overall, this trailer didn’t give us any answers. It only raised more questions and left us to pick up scattered pieces and speculate about what is happening. Maybe some theories out there will come true, but honestly, I don’t think we’ll know the whole story until we watch this film in December and Episode IX in two years. The point of trailers is to get people excited for a film, and I think they did their job well. They got everybody buzzing about it. Whether people are just glad to see Rey holding a lightsaber, to hear Luke talk, or to see the confirmation that Kylo Ren is a main character of this trilogy, the trailer received a reaction from the fans. Which is the whole point.

What did you think of the trailer? React with us in the comments!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

'Gotham' Recap: "They Who Hide Behind Masks" (4x03)

This week, Gotham returns to answer an important question: if Bruce Wayne is too young to be a billionaire playboy, what's the next logical step down? A billionaire brat. Spoilers ahead, and a warning for minor violence.

The episode begins with a flashback to war-torn Arabia, where a mysterious man picks a dead soldier, Ra's al Ghul, off a battlefield and revives him using the Lazarus Pit before handing him a special knife. The man explains that Ra's has been chosen as his heir. This scene makes me wonder if Gotham might be borrowing a bit of mythos from Arrow, where Ra's al Ghul is an inherited title passed down to each leader of the League.

Next, we fast forward to present-day, as Bruce watches a shipment of weapons coming in for Penguin's auction while talking with Alfred over comms. When a masked thief shows up, Bruce decides (against Alfred's warning) to intervene because it's an obvious trap that could end in a murder. He manages to distract and  take down some pretty fierce gunmen while the thief hides in the truck. However, he manages to still get hurt and leaves shortly after. The thief, who turns out to be Selina, leaves empty-handed. 

Back on Miami Vice—sorry, that's what I think every time Gordon wears sunglasses—Gordon shows up at Carmine Falcone's summer home to ask for help fighting Penguin. There he meets the lovely Sofia Falcone, Carmine's other child besides Mario. (A word of advice: if you want to get a good picture of how badass Sofia is in the comics, read Batman: The Long Halloween and its sequel, Dark Victory. She's someone you don't want to mess with.)

Carmine allows Sofia to listen to his conversation with Gordon. Gordon explains that he needs Carmine's help to take back Gotham City, but Carmine's out. Why? Apparently, he's dying of some disease that the doctors haven't been able to diagnose. (I kind of hope that's a lie on his part because it kind of feels like lazy writing to me. Wouldn't it be more realistic to have Carmine refuse to help Jim because of what happened to Mario?) Sofia offers to go in his stead, but he shuts her down and Jim leaves.

Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred stitches up Bruce's hand (wonder how he's going to cover that up in the daytime) and berates him for making a rash decision. Bruce concedes, but wonders what the thief was after. He decides to go down to the docks to check the ship's manifesto, but Alfred points out that he can't just go out in the middle of the day dressed as a vigilante, so they'll need a different disguise.

Over at the Iceberg Lounge, Victor Zsasz fills Penguin in on the foiled robbery. Penguin, in turn, decides to double down on security for the auction items. After the two of them leave, a mysterious chick with a blowtorch slinks into the lounge and begins to work on thawing out the Riddler. 

Cut to Penguin's horrified reaction when he sees that his frozen pal is gone. Zsasz, as usual, has the best response: "I don't know. Kind of opens up the room." Penguin insists that the culprit be found and executed.

And who's the culprit?

. . . This chick. Myrtle Jenkins, who apparently met Ed in elementary school and became obsessed with him when he made his public debut as the Riddler. She's got a whole Riddler shrine, complete with mannequins dressed to look like him. Like, this is Batman Forever levels of stalking. Ed is creeped out, but he can't leave or even move because his muscles have atrophied from being on ice, so he's stuck with her. It makes since that they'd have to introduce a new character to help Ed, since he has zero friends or allies at this point.

Over at the docks, Bruce shows up in what he thinks is a suitable disguise—a newsies cap and a Brooklyn accent. (Am I thinking too hard, or is this a Christian Bale reference?) He claims to be looking for his uncle, who works at the shipyard and didn't come home last night. However, he gets caught searching the ship's ledger, and Alfred has to step in and pretend to be his uncle before knocking out the workers so they can get away. Alfred points out that Bruce's disguises need work, as does his improvisation. However, the two manage to find out which item the thief was looking for: an embalming knife.

Meanwhile, Barbara asks Penguin if she can buy the knife off of him before the auction. He calls her out for sending someone to steal it beforehand but suggests that he might be willing to sell it to her early if she reveals who's been funding her business. Barbara elects to remain silent and try her luck at the auction.

But why's the knife important? Well, according to Bruce's research, it's an ancient Sumerian embalming knife. In the text Bruce reads, there's a picture of a man floating over a pool of water, with the knife above his head. The man looks eerily similar to Ra's al Ghul.

Over in Florida (or wherever it is that Falcone's retired to), Jim looks out over the beach. And who should show up but Sofia Falcone. She explains that she and Carmine were never close until he began to die; as a child, she was raised outside of Gotham so that she wouldn't be in harm's way. Her closest friend was Mario, but while she's still grieving his death, she thinks Jim made the right call, given the nature of the virus. Sofia might be showing a bit of vulnerability in this scene, but there's still a ruthless edge to her. 

While Gordon's getting cozy with Sofia and Penguin's freaking out over trying to find out who thawed Ed (since it was probably an inside job), Myrtle shows off a dress printed with question marks and dubs herself "the Riddlette." Ed scoffs at her lack of originality but appeases her by admitting that it was impressive she managed to break him out. Myrtle says he probably could've done a better job of it, and he agrees . . . but can't seem to think of a plan. She realizes that his brain must've also been damaged by the ice and tries to stimulate it with riddles. Ed, however, comes up with the worst possible responses.

When she shows him that she's been reading from a book of riddles for kids, he gets fed up and reveals that he regained movement of his arms before knocking her out with the text and making his escape.

While that's going on, Sofia and Gordon walk barefoot along the beach and discuss why he doesn't just leave Gotham. (The predictable answer? It's "in his blood.") But he admits that he's becoming exhausted trying to clean up the city, which leads to one of his most poignant lines: "I can't remember the last time I just stood still."

She ends up kissing him, and while I'm not over the moon about Gordon getting a new love interest, this has the potential to be something more than just a romantic subplot. I think Sofia's manipulating him big-time. When she meets him at her father's house, she wears conservative riding gear. When she follows him to the beach, however, she's dressed in a white dress so low cut it rivals Tabitha's wardrobe. Pretty sure that was a strategic move to distract Gordon from the fact that she's trying to figure him out.

However, while Sofia might be using sexual appeal to her advantage, other characters don't have that option. Since Bruce is only about fifteen or sixteen, he can't really be a billionaire playboy. So when Alfred suggests he put on another mask at for the weapons auction, they settle on the next best thing: a billionaire brat.

And boy, does Bruce go for it. He's every bit as loud and obnoxious as you'd expect a teenage billionaire to be. He bids on several items, tries to high-five Alfred, and even greets Oswald as his friend. Bruce even admits that he enjoys playing the part, though Alfred suggests it's a bit over the top. 

When it comes time to bid on the knife, Barbara and Bruce find themselves in a bidding war. Bruce  keeps raising her bids by single dollar amounts (and even one cent) until she snaps.

Penguin happily sells the knife to Bruce before Barbara can make another bid. Later, Selina sneaks into Wayne Manor, only to find Bruce sitting in his father's study in the dark. She asks if he can give her the knife because she needs to get it to Barbara in order to be made a full partner of the weapons business. He refuses, and she leaves.

Gordon returns to the GCPD just a little too happy for someone who didn't get the ally he was looking for. (I'm not saying he and Sofia probably hooked up, but they probably hooked up.) Bullock introduces him to a new lady cop, Detective Harper. But before Gordon can get properly acquainted with Harper, he sees Sofia Falcone. (And I know she's the heir to a crime empire, but seriously—do they just let anyone walk into that precinct?)

He calls her out for "sizing him up" when they were on the beach, but she points out that he needs her help to take back the city.

Meanwhile, Penguin confronts Myrtle and questions her about Ed before ordering Zsasz to kill her. Zsasz, who continues to be the comedy gold of this show, compliments her dress before shooting her.

And over at Barbara's new hideout, Ra's appears and the two fight before he compliments her for staying in practice. Ra's turns out to be Barbara's benefactor and the buyer for the knife, as well as the person who brought her back to life using the Lazarus Pit. When she tells him Bruce has it, however, he's pleasantly surprised. And then what happens? She kisses him.

So that wraps up "They Who Hide Behind Masks." Honestly, this episode was a really pleasant surprise for me, mainly because of all the character moments I didn't expect. I didn't expect Myrtle Jenkins, the hilarious one-off character, Bruce the billionaire brat, or Sofia "Gangster" Falcone. 

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts. What'd you think about the new characters in this episode? What's the big deal about that knife? 

Episode 4x04 will be "The Demon's Head," which was actually written by Ben McKenzie (aka Jim Gordon), according to Den of Geek. The promo promises that Gordon will be asking Bruce a lot of questions about what's going on with the knife and Ra's al Ghul, and I honestly can't wait.

Until then, have a good week and beware of ancient embalming knives.

Monday, October 9, 2017

5 Fandoms Made For Halloween

Leaves are falling, apples are ripe, it's pumpkin spice season, and all this autumnal air makes me think about how perfect the marriage is between Halloween and fandoms. Who hasn't had a Hocus Pocus party or thought about a waffle-tastic Stranger Things marathon this month? Halloween is when people dress up as witches, superheroes, book characters, etc. It even goes the other way, with Halloween themed shows, games, and movies.

Some warrant disturbing chills, others are just a tad unsettling, but all are lovely and should be enjoyed during this month if possible because there's something about feeling unsettled in October that makes it much better than other months. Here are a few of my favorite fandoms that are perfectly suited for Halloween.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry

One could always watch Soul Eater during Halloween, sure, but nothing says chilling quite like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni or When They Cry, an anime about a boy named Keiichi Maebara who moves to a strange town and befriends a group of girls. All seems well until festival day approaches and Keiichi learns of a series of murders surrounding the famous festival and its patron god, but when he tries to gather information, he’s met with only silence and misdirection from his new found friends. Panic ensues!

This was probably my first true horror anime. I distinctly remember not even being able to turn off the lights whilst watching it.

If you’re an Otaku and enjoy a good mystery and horror story, check it out.


This one’s an old one but a good one (though, maybe that’s more nostalgia than anything else. Not sure).

Obscure is a PlayStation 2 (I know, old school. Right?) survival/horror game about a group of teenagers that seek out a missing friend. Soon they find themselves alone and trapped in the high school in the middle of the night. They simultaneously must uncover the mystery behind strange narcotics, all while surviving a series of attacks from infected students.

The most terrifying thing, the thing I most shudder to recall, is sitting down with a good friend of mine (YES! It's multiplayer) and checking out some creepy, drug-hazed hallway, constantly scouting the area for imminent danger lurking in the shadows but still emitting a shrill shriek whenever monsters flash across the screen. In some instances, a player might only have a baseball bat (a flashlight was most effective) and a flickering shred of hope that your one hit and run was good enough to grab what you needed in a room and go. Most of the time, it wasn’t.

If you’re a fan of jump scares and fun multiplayer video games, this might be the one for you.


I was so tempted to put Hocus Pocus here, but Halloweentown deserves more spotlight.

Halloweentown is a movie about siblings who are forbidden from celebrating Halloween for reasons that their mother never explains. Though, when their grandmother visits, she tends to encourage the children’s excitement in the holiday, much to their mother’s dismay. As the night unfolds, the siblings discover that their grandmother (and their entire family) are descendants of witches and wizards from a magical place named Halloweentown.

When I was a wee preteen, especially during the month of October, the neighborhood kids and I would all want to act out Halloweentown, describing our characters as related to the siblings in the show.

A must-see if you’re a good ol’ Disney Channel fan and a lover of everything Halloween.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Not so much frightful as unsettling to think about, The Disappearances is interesting for the fact that every seven years a few towns lose something of value.

Okay, you caught me! Really, I just wanted an excuse to write about this fascinating book. Though, the disappearances do take place in October.

The book happens during the World World II era and is about a girl named Aila and her brother Miles, who are both sent away to live in their deceased mother’s hometown, Sterling, while their father is shipped out to war. During their stay in Sterling, Aila and her brother begin to notice the strangest things: they can’t see their reflections, the night sky is devoid of stars, and they are unable to dream. They find out that the town and two other adjoining ones are cursed with losing something that makes life worth living every seven years. To make matters worse, the townsfolk believe that Aila’s mother was the catalyst for the event and that they are expecting another disappearance in a month.

Jaime Heller was the person who recommended this book to me and I can’t thank her enough. From start to finish, the story was gripping and extremely emotional. The plot twists and clever tie-ins with Shakespeare (I KNOW!!!) all make this book a fabulous read.

If you’re searching for a book that’s a page turner with historical relevance, Shakespeare references, and interesting happenings, The Disappearances is the one for you.

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Courage the Cowardly Dog is one of those golden age Cartoon Network shows that for me is bright and vivid with nostalgia. It’s basically just about a dog trying to protect his owners from horrific monsters and mad men.

This show is full of hilarious hi-jinks and instantly quotable phrases, but what’s most memorable for me was how disturbing this show could be. In fact, one episode ends with Courage's owners turning into puppets! Though, there are much more horrifying episodes...

If you’re wanting to laugh, cry, and scream, watch Courage the Cowardly Dog this October.

What are your favorite Halloween-esque fandoms?

Friday, October 6, 2017

"Calamity" Read-Along Chapters 49-Epilogue

So, the last few chapters were pretty awesome. We got a David and Megan vs. Prof fight (which I've been looking forward to for the entire series), and we got to see the reveal of Calamity's true character. And this week? What awaits David in Calamity's space lair?

Chapter 49
He'd claimed the powers. Like Megan, he'd ripped the darkness from the abilities, and sent one sprawling away while seizing the others.
Prof's powers were now his, and not Calamity's. The motivator boxes were meaningless.
Prof is back and better than ever!

Chapter 50
"Look at a place where the Epics are free from your corruption. Look at the one who comes, the most terrible of them all. A murderer in our world, a destroyer. Look and see that here, Calamity, Steelheart himself is a hero!"
I really wanted David to be a better version of Steelheart, though.

Chapter 51
No, in this world, my father was the Epic.
What? Okay, that's awesome! I love that it's kind of come full circle, since David's dad stood up to Steelheart in the first chapter of the series.
" was pushing through them," Calamity whispered, looking from me to the others, "to save someone."
So the powers go wrong when people act selfishly, but when they prove Calamity wrong--when they not only face their fear but push through it to be selfless--they're no longer consumed by darkness. I love how close David has been this whole time, but he just didn't push the idea quite far enough.
There will be heroes. Just wait.
I seized the power within me.
Look what those comic books have done to you. Wearing a symbol and everything? Sparks, he was such a nerd.
Like father, like son, I guess.
This line just makes me smile so much. I really wish we'd gotten more time with David's dad. This scene is kind of adorable and a beautiful way to end the series.

Wow, you guys. These last few chapters have had so much action and emotion packed into them! Kudos to Brandon Sanderson for another fantastic series! (Also, I can't believe the series is over!)
Next week will be the wrap-up/fan-cast post, where I'll share my thoughts on the series as a whole and discuss which actors I'd like to see if The Reckoners is ever made into movies. See you guys then! (And be sure to let me know in the comments who you would like to see playing David, Megan, and the others on the big screen!)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

'Gotham' Recap: "The Fear Reaper" (4x02)

Welcome back to another recap of Fox's Gotham. This week's episode is "The Fear Reaper"—or, as I like to call it, another random villain finds a reason to psychologically torment Jim Gordon. Spoilers ahead. Also, trigger warning for violence and suicide.

After a viewer discretion warning and a video montage recap, the episode begins with the GCPD searching Crane’s old house, but he’s not there. They instead find chemicals Crane used to recreate the toxin (come to think of it, I’m wondering where he got all the adrenal glands this time), along with one of the thugs from last episode—only now he’s raving and tied to a scarecrow post. So is that the old scarecrow costume, or did Crane use that to make his suit and find another one to stuff him in?

Bruce gets stuck in a holding cell but is able to leave thanks to a handy-dandy expensive lawyer. He tells Gordon that he was on the roof and just happened to fall through (which is a pretty terrible excuse). Gordon asks why he was there, and he claims he was looking for Selina (which is a slightly better excuse). Gordon lets Bruce out, but he says they are going to talk about it later.

I’m glad that the writers aren’t trying to make Gordon blindly oblivious to what’s going on with Bruce. He's practically a father figure to him, and they’ve known each other for three years; he should be able to tell when Bruce is lying. Whether or not he finds out that Bruce is a vigilante, I want there to be more conflict between the two characters as they evolve. I think Gotham is setting that up nicely.

Meanwhile, Crane confronts the asylum warden that sold him out and doses him with the toxin—mostly out of revenge, but he also claims that he’s doing it to cure the man’s fear. Crane says you can only cure your fear by embracing it as he did (which is usually Batman’s shtick, but whatever). The warden begins to see his worst fear: clowns.

Back at the GCPD, Lucius asks what Bruce was up to, noting the brick and dust residue on his clues. Alfred and Bruce come up with a ridiculous story that he’s been learning to rock climb. Lucius doesn’t buy it and tells him to be careful, as rock climbing can be dangerous. Hmm, what does this remind me of?

Crane makes the warden see clowns and tells him to embrace the fear. And as far as clowns go, these are pretty scary. They remind me of the knockoff Joker gangs in Joker: Death of the Family. Of course, I’ve never seen It, so I may not be the ultimate authority on creepy clowns. The warden shoots practically everyone he sees because he thinks they’re all clowns that want to catch him.

While the warden is busy going nuts, the Penguin marches into GCPD (a sure sign that it’s about to get real). He’s accompanied with the press and issues a public challenge to Gordon: capture Crane, or admit that he can’t keep the city safe.

In the next scene, Selina and Tabitha both meet at a mysterious location thanks to anonymous invitations from Barbara, who is (GASP) not dead.

Shocking. Barbara apologizes to Tabitha and says she wants to start a new enterprise with her and Selina: selling weapons to all the thugs licensed by Penguin. It’s a pretty good plan, although I’m not sure if it’s Barbara’s or Ra’s’ (since she’s apparently been trained by him, according to an article from Comicbook). Tabitha says she can’t forgive Babs for killing Butch and that there’s no way back from that (give it time, Tabs, Grundy will be here any day now). Selina is open to the idea, however, and promises to talk to Tabitha on Barbara’s behalf. It’s a little odd to see Selina and Babs interacting, since we haven’t seen them on-screen together since season one (ya know, back when Barbara still had most of her marbles).

Bruce tells Alfred he’s going back out, and Alfred says that even though he can’t stop him, he’s not going to help him get himself killed. Bruce argues that he “feels more alive than ever,” but that’s obviously why he’s making mistakes. He’s not cautious enough. Bruce, you’re not faster than a speeding bullet (unlike some people).

Gordon later learns that Scarecrow has taken over the asylum and tries to rally the cops to join him in taking it back. Predictably, no one joins him. When Gordon yells at them for not taking pride in their jobs, a desk sergeant points out that the GCPD get more abuse than thanks these days. (Now, obviously, this is an episode that was made weeks or months ago. But that line still makes me wonder if Gotham’s writers were trying to add a bit of social commentary into this episode.)

Harvey doesn’t go with Gordon to the asylum, and it’s not hard to blame him either. Even if it wasn’t a completely crazy idea, Harvey’s still the acting captain. He has to show authority and can’t just go along with every one of Gordon’s plans. “I told you one day I was gonna say never,” Harvey says. “Today is that day.”

So Gordon goes to the asylum alone, and Crane (watching him via video monitors), is elated to have a chance to get back at his father’s killer.

Meanwhile, Penguin storms into Barbara’s new place with Ivy and Zsasz in tow. Penguin, more amused than shocked to see Babs is alive, tells her that she needs his approval to run the business. He also taunts her, saying “People can often carry grudges after you shoot their boyfriends.”

Ivy tries to help by telling Barbara that she can talk to Selina and Tabitha, but Penguin tells her to shut up. It’s kind of sad that their odd friendship from last season is falling apart so quickly, but I guess it’s not totally surprising. Penguin never had the same bond with Ivy that he had with Ed, and he probably only sees her as a hench-girl. Ivy, on the other hand, still has the mind of a fourteen year-old, so of course she’s going to react childishly.

Penguin goes on to tell Barbara that he’ll be keeping a very close eye on her business and won’t let her get the chance to usurp him again. He also wonders aloud who could have financed the club, since Barbara wouldn’t have the resources on her own, and tells her that he’ll find out. If the benefactor is, as I suspect, Ra’s al Ghul, Penguin’s going to have hard time intimidating him.

Gordon is confronted by Scarecrow, who know wields a scythe, and I’m genuinely curious to know how he got it. Was there one just lying around the Crane estate? Does Gotham have a really edgy Party City? Did he rob a museum? Honestly, the possibilities are endless.

Anyway, Crane claims that his father dosed him with the fear toxin out of love. While he’s not exactly wrong (Dr. Gerald Crane was trying to cure his son of fear), Crane’s transformation is still disturbing. He doses Gordon with the toxin, which causes him to see Lee, lying in a bathtub filled with blood. She tells him that she’s going to commit suicide just so that she can get away from him.

A razor appears in Gordon’s hand, and Crane (or maybe just Crane’s voice in Gordon’s head) tells him to join her, to show her his love by joining her in death. But Gordon ultimately decides to live and goes after Crane. Crane admits that his father thought he was weak but points out that he’s not weak anymore, and the fight continues.

Bruce goes after the gang from the other night, but it turns out they were luring him into a trap. They pull off his mask, and one guy is positive he’s seen his face before, but the others tell him to shut up. Bruce manages to get loose, use a makeshift flamethrower to get the thugs to back off, and even use a . . .

But when he reaches the ground, Bruce finds himself face-to-face with the gang’s leader—seconds before Alfred shows up and knocks him out with what looks to be a crowbar. It’s nice to see that Alfred is still there to protect Bruce, even though he isn’t entirely on board with the whole vigilante thing.

In the next scene, Tabitha and Selina argue about whether or not to take Barbara’s deal. Tabs points out that she chose Nygma over her and Butch; Selina replies: “So what? Nygma’s a Popsicle now.” She also points out that the three of them would be a lot stronger together. Ivy appears out of the shadows and says she hates Penguin and wants in. Selina wants to let her join, but Tabitha’s completely against it, so it looks like Ivy’s pretty much on her own for now.

Back at the asylum, Gordon is trying to fend off the fear-crazed hordes of patients and realizes that water is the cure—which is not only ridiculous, but possibly stolen from Phineas and Ferb’s “Night of the Living Pharmacists.”

Look it up, it's a thing. 

And over at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred get into a shouting match about whether or not Bruce can handle himself on the streets. Lucius interrupts to drop off a lightweight, bulletproof suit he developed during his time at Wayne Enterprises for military purposes. It also has communication equipment so Bruce and Alfred can communicate "whilst climbing rock.” Honestly, Lucius Fox is the kind of friend I aspire to be.

Selina and Tabitha meet up with Barbara. Tabs agrees to join her business, but on one condition: she gets to chop off one of Barbara’s hands.

Tabitha explains that since Butch lost a hand to Penguin and she lost a hand to Nygma, the best way for her to get back at by Barbara is by cutting off her hand (Gotham logic at its finest). Selina is freaked out by this ultimatum (like any sane person would be), but Barbara doesn’t back down and extends her hand. Tabs pulls out a cleaver and is all set to do it but ultimately decides that Barbara’s being sincere, spares her hands, and agrees to join her business. TBH, I’m not completely convinced that Barbara’s really sorry for what she did. Also, considering that she’s working with someone who has a Lazarus Pit, losing her hand probably wouldn’t have been a major sacrifice.

Penguin returns to the GCPD to taunt Gordon for failing to catch Crane and even offers to, erm, financially support any cop who complies with the licenses. Gordon decries this, but once again, Harvey tells Gordon that he can’t side with him because he’ll risk losing the other officers. Honestly, Harvey’s a much better leader than Gordon at this point. He may make some morally questionable decisions, but he’s in a difficult situation, so I can’t really blame him.

Over in what appears to be Gotham’s Chinatown, Ivy barges into the shop of a man who’s apparently used to her coming and taking whatever she wants. He tells her to go away, but she gets him to reveal his safe of powerful potions, which were apparently created by wise shamans and are capable of . . . something. He warns her not to take them, but Ivy (still possessing a middle-schooler’s brains and impulsiveness) knocks back a few any way. Her face morphs and her eyes briefly turn black, which makes me wonder if her design on this show is going to be New 52-esque.

I don’t mind that she’s getting more powers, but I kind of wish she’d made the mixes herself. The show has a tendency to downplay Ivy’s skill with plant-based chemistry, but I think that’s her most interesting (and useful) trait.

Harvey and Gordon discuss what they’re going to do over a drink. Harvey mourns the days when Falcone was in control, which gives Gordon his next brilliant plan: go to Falcone for help. Harvey warns him against it and reminds Gordon that he did kill Mario, but, in typical Gordon fashion, he doesn’t listen.

Meanwhile, Bruce runs across the rooftops of Gotham, revelling in his new gear, before donning the mask that completes the guise. I personally prefer the cloth mask he was wearing under the hood, but this one definitely looks more durable, so I can forgive its clunky design. Honestly, the fact that they let Bruce suit up in this show at all is a miracle, so I’m not going to complain much about his suit. I’m sure they’ll give it upgrades over time.

Overall, this episode was . . . alright. It didn’t really feel like the horror-fest that Fox was promoting, but since I’m not really into horror, that didn’t bother me. I guess I had hoped for more psychological terror, but that will probably come up later, since Scarecrow is still on the loose. I liked watching Bruce get in and out of trouble, although I hope that he and Alfred don’t spend every episode arguing about his vigilantism. I think the Barbara storyline has potential. As far as second episodes go, this one is probably better than “Selina Kyle”, but it definitely falls behind “Knock, Knock” and “Burn the Witch.” All in all, I’m still interested to see where the show goes next.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that “The Fear Reaper” had a credit at the end, which read: “In Memory of Lukas Drake," who passed away in July, according to Dignity Memorial. Drake is credited on IMDb for visual effects in works such as The Avengers and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. He was the digital compositor for several episodes of Gotham, most notably “Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul,” which won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role.”

For anyone who wants an idea of the visual feats Gotham's achieved, the following video breaks down the major VFX successes of season 3:

CoSA VFX Gotham Season 3 - VFX Reel from CoSA VFX on Vimeo.

Rest in peace, Drake.

Feel free to comment below with your opinions on the episode. Did you like Gotham's version of Scarecrow, or do you prefer Nolan's version? How do you feel about Bruce's suit? I want to know all your thoughts about "The Fear Reaper."