Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Finding the Positives in 2021 part 5 of 5 (Mini-Denouement)

It’s hard to know what to say about 2021, in some ways it was worse than 2020 and there’s that feeling of it isn’t over yet.

There’s been family drama, tension regarding work and more than a few problems and upsets.

But honestly, I can say one thing about 2021, I got through it.

Problems are not solved, issues are not behind me and there are still stormy horizons, but honestly I am very much in the feeling that things are going to be okay.

Maybe not politically, certainly not regarding the current (and still unfolding) covid pandemic, but honestly I am doing all that I can to be positive in the face of all that.

It’s difficult, some days are really hard and work wise this is one of the worst Januarys I can think of. But in work, I am part of a team of 5, who work with one another and the previous dept manager has gone to another job closer to home (if you are reading this Gisele <not her real name> then I wish you well) and the team of me, lil Gem and Disney Princess working under Posh Spice and Donna has continued to go from strength to strength. 

As for me, I am excercising more each morning, drinking more fruit juice than I was and cutting down on the shit I have been eating and drinking and soon I will be heading back to the gym. I am reading more and enjoying it and I feel the writing bug coming back. I will be more present here and for anyone who has looked at this blog, or liked anything I’ve written. Thank you, you’ve been a big help to me.

I am hitting the ground running and will do what I can to make 2022 a good year.

Best wishes to you all.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

Finding the Positives in 2021 part 4

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives.

Unlike last year, I bought no new comics, compared to 2020’s one comic. But that’s not to say I didn’t succumb to my hobby/borderline personality disorder at all. I read more comics in 2021 than in the year before I think, but this time it was back issues and as before the sales from Comixology. I would highly recommend that app/service as it really has something for everyone and there are several free and cheap comics so you can give them a try. 

So here’s a couple of highlights.

Scooby Apocalypse (and other Hanna-Barbera reboots)

Imagine the plot of something like Dawn of the Dead, but with Mystery Inc. That’s pretty much it. It’s the gang as it always has been, together again, for the first time. Shaggy works at a lab, working with the enhanced dog Scooby. Velma also works at that lab and has contacted journalist Daphne and her cameraman Fred and as they are meeting up, an Apocalypse caused by the people who own the lab starts and this ad-hoc gang has to survive. It shouldn’t work, but honestly I really enjoyed it. It shouldn’t be as good as this, but I am going to look for the next trade before too long. I also read the Jetsons and Snagglepuss mini-series that were fun, but also explored interesting ideas.

Scooby Doo Team Up

I originally bought this for SuperSam as an encouragement to read more, much as my mother did with me which started my love of comics. He adored it, as a form of cultural exchange process, he asked me to read it myself. I will be honest, I did not expect much. I certainly didn’t expect it to be good. Equal parts kids cartoon and sly in-jokes this was a absolute blast. It was Marvel Two-In-One style of team up with both DC and cartoon characters with Scooby Doo being the star and it works. There’s a lot of all-ages content that will appeal to anyone who Scooby Doo appeals to, it’s all classic style with everyone being recognisable. We get DC characters like Deadman, Hawkman, the Legion of Super Heroes in the same title as Atom Ant, Quickdraw McGraw (& El Cabong!) and Yogi Bear. You never knew who would show up next. If you have a kid and you want them to read comics, or were a kid and need a nostalgic bit of easy reading, then this is comic for you.

L.E.G.I.O.N. ’89

Again, not a new title, but one I have been looking for single issues at comics marts. A spin off from DC’s Invasion event, it was a large space police force that tried to fill the gap left by the Green Lantern corp’s abence. It was intrigue, plans and action with a strange and bizarre cast led by son of Brainiac Vril Dox, doing Game of Thrones long it was an idea. I have only read the first 20, but I will continue my scouring of the cheap bins.

Blue Devil

Another product of my back issue bin searches, this was a weird early 80’s series that was very much of it’s time. A stuntman is wearing a prosthetic devil suit on a movie set and an actual demon attacks, bonding the suit magically with his body, leaving him trapped as the Blue Devil. It’s silly, it’s funny and has a gentle charm, none of which can be applied to my last choice.

Die

This was one of the last new comics I read in December and caught my attention in a manner few comics have in recent years. The story is that a handful of friends started playing a role-playing game. They vanished and two years later, all but one returned, injured and traumatised. A couple of decades go past and they realise it isn’t quite over yet. This was interesting, fun and not like much else on the racks. Another comic I would highly recommend, but All-Ages it is not.

 

So yes, it was a challenging year, but in terms of pop culture there were a lot of positives and ultimately, that’s what you need to look at.

Next time: Almost done.

 

 

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

Finding the Positives in 2021 part 3

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly, it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives. 

With the restrictions, illnesses, calls for social distancing and changing advice from what we laughingly call leaders, let’s just say we’ve watched a lot of TV together.

 There’s been older stuff, have for the second time watched Blakes 7 after one of the lesser-known channels got the rights for it. We have also started re-watching Archer and have moved beyond where we stopped before. Also old favourites such as Castle and Bones are back in rotation as well as new seasons of A Discovery of Witches and Titans, but there were also a few new stand-outs.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

Now I know what you are thinking, surely this isn’t new. It isn’t I have seen it several times before now, but this year, I began to share it with SuperSam. All three of us here at the munky house have been enjoying this slice of 90’s fantasy. Whilst there are scary moments, the action, writing and humour have made this pretty much  a family favourite. Just this last week, we made it to season 3 and SuperSam shows no sign of wanting to stop watching. 

Sex Education

Now like the rest of these, this was just one for me and the MIGHTY Rosie. Well to be honest, it was one for the MIGHTY Rosie as I wasn’t too interested. After watching some of the first season, I was less than convinced. But then something happened, whether it was the young actors now comfortable in their roles, or a writing staff that had hit their stride, or that enough plot had occurred, that the characters were compelling, but I really started enjoying it. It’s a show populated by strange characters, idiosyncratic events and yet underneath it, heart. You genuinely care for the characters, even the ones that you probably wouldn’t in any show. These are flawed and at times unpleasant characters, but you feel for them and that is just good writing.

Dusk till Dawn

This was one of the earliest Netflix originals. I wasn’t much in the market for a slower retelling of a film I had already enjoyed and walked right past it. I made a mistake. The roles are re-cast with younger actors, the story re-written with a prestige format mentality in mind and subtle tweaks and twists added to make the story fit it’s longer and more in-depth nature. It’s good. It has the gore of the film, but takes it’s time to get to know the characters and explain them a bit. You care for Seth and Ritchie and see how their dysfunctional selves got to having to take hostages in the first place. You sympathise with the main vampire, seeing her as someone who was a victim and became a monster because of it. Everything you liked about the film is there, but there’s so much more and at the end of the film, you’re done, but here it’s only the end of season 1. This was buried when released, but is worth giving a try to.

Midnight Mass

Well I had  no idea what this was going to be when it started, by the end of the second episode, I was in the same boat. But there’s a twist, an almost obvious one with hindsight and the story moved forward, slowly, but forward nontheless. But then came the end of episode 4 and bang, things got turned up a notch and the last two episodes were a rollercoaster of action, horror and drama. What I am saying is, this didn’t start well, interesting, or even worth my time. But this show when it got going was brilliant and almost the new TV highlight of the year. It’s not what you expect, but it is something worth seeing and I am glad I got to see something interesting and a new twist on an older tale.

Lucifer: The Netflix years

Taken from an idea from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, the story here is that the devil quits hell and moves to LA to open a piano bar with one of his demons. The show gives us the next part of the story, where a detective meets him and they investigate crimes together. This show only worked with Tom Ellis being funny, horny and charming in equal measure as the incredibly honest devil, who was never the bad guy the stories portray him as. Netflix picked up the production after it’s cancelling by FX and I finally finished the last three seasons. Season 4 dealt with the detective knowing that the man she’s known for three years, telling her he’s the devil, is actually the devil. By the end of season 4, she accepts him, but he has to go back and rule hell to prevent some of his former servants wreaking more havoc on the human plane. With season 5 he returns and has to contend with one of his angelic brothers causing enough problems to get the attention of their father, God. Season 5 puts the family drama in the midst of celestial and angelic matters and mixed them well, including God thinking he might need a replacement. There’s a whole big thing, we lose one of the main cast and there was another season left. Well, okay lets be honest, season 6 could have been one episode, or in the words of the MIGHT Rosie “This could’ve been an e-mail”

Yes it was a bit of a tacked on ending, but it worked, giving something of a decent ending to a series that was already cancelled once. The redemption of a TV show that was about the redemption of Lucifer. Yes it was silly, to some blasphemous, but honestly I loved that this show got to go out on a high.

 

Well that’s TV done with

Next Time: Comics

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

Finding the positives in 2021 part 2

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives.

With the restrictions goalpost moving, it was hard to do a lot outside, so a lot of time with SuperSam was spent with games (board and video varieties) and TV, a lot of if was new to the both of us and there was a few highlights.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

This was one of the highlights of television. Watching 3-4 episodes a week, we were able to finish this quite quickly and often gave the two of us plenty to talk about. A fantasy story set in a fantasy version of Asia, it’s the story of a mythic figure questing to learn all he can to save the world. This series covered themes of loss, trauma, bigotry and took an interesting look at relationships in a war-torn world. For a kids show, it was surprisingly adult and many characters changed over time.

(SuperSam thoughts: This show was fun and had a lot of jokes that came back, like the “My Cabbages!!” guy.)

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

This was three 6 part stories (Siege, Earthrise and Kingdom) that were really one 18 part story about the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. This again was more adult in scope and dealt with the harshness of war and the uselessness of hatred and one can easily become the villain, despite wanting to do the right thing. It was action packed, but deep in it’s themes and plumbed the depth of Transformers lore, throughout it’s 3+ year history. If you have any nostalgia for the property, it is very worthwhile checking out.

(SuperSam thoughts: I liked this, but it wasn’t as good at the end.)

Spider-Man 94 series

This was something I was able to show him that I enjoyed in the halcyon days of my own youth. It is very 90’s in both tone, production design and which characters feature, but it did manage to tell a long form Spider-Man story that rewarded you for paying attention. It had good characterisation felt very much like the Spider-Man that I remembered. GCI animation segments aside, it stands up really well and is long overdue for a re-appraisal.

(SuperSam thoughts: Really fun, with good stories.)

Spectacular Spider-Man

This was a cute lil reboot from before Disney brought all it’s Marvel properties together. Set during the early days of Spider-Man, it was a fresh take on the Steve Ditko era with touches of high-school melodrama and crime noir. It played with familiar themes of Peter Parker’s guilt, responsibility and his life taking the punches for being Spider-Man. It took some liberties with the early stories, but honestly it made it all work and allowed us to care about Flash Thompson without having to wait 20 years for any sort of redemption.

(SuperSam Thoughts: – Made me laugh quite a lot, Doctor Octopus stood out as a cool Spider-Man villain.)

Masters of the Universe Revelation

I talked about this here and feel no need to do so again, but this series ended on quite a high note and was ideal for old fans and new viewers, which is the ideal combination for any kind of revival of this kind.

(SuperSam thoughts: Legen-wait for it-Dary, Legendary. I want more of this!)

And that was that, lots of fun TV aimed at the younger end of the market, but still enjoyed by someone old enough to know better.

 

Next Time: Other TV from this year.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Finding the positives in 2021 part 1

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives.

Much like last year, this wasn’t the time to be going to pictures, I did however manage to get to the cinema a few times as well as enjoy some new non cinema stuff.

Red Notice: 

This was a weird gem of a heist movie with a cast that was almost guaranteed to get people to check it out. The acting trio of Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds were clearly having fun with this film and that got across to the audience. Fun little popcorn fodder with great action, comedy and a decent 3rd act twist. Available on Netflix I’d highly recommend it.

Eternals:

Back in the 1970’s, Jack Kirby returned to Marvel comics and came up with several new ideas that launched into comics he both wrote and drew. One of them, was Eternals. This series put the idea of two other races living on Earth with us, the bizarre looking and tyrannical Deviants, the Human race and the long lived super-powerful Eternals who were often viewed as gods by man and were named sort of after them, or the gods named for the Eternals. The Deviants and the Eternals owed their existence to the Celestials a rage of huge space gods who interfered with the development of humanity for their own unknowable reasons. This was infused with Jack Kirby at his Kirby-est with bizarre ideas, eclectic designs and a large sweeping cast and scope. Marvel announced that this film was coming and I thought “how are they going to adapt this weird-ass tale of millennia old creatures and the assorted oddities?” Well they didn’t. It’s not the same, it uses some names and rough themes, but this was it’s own thing. Once you get past that, it’s an interesting tale, amazing cast, large scale action and a lot of heart. You will start watching this film not knowing anything about the characters, but you will have a favourite by the end.

Dune: 

Being a child of the 80’s I remember David Lynch’s stylish epic Dune. But it did have it’s flaws. I also remember the early 00’s TV mini-series which had greater depth, but was less visually interesting. This new offering very deftly melds the two together. It offered depth and intrigue, but was also visually exciting and gripping with it’s own musical cues and visual iconography. I watched this on my birthday and was absolutely floored by it. It was well cast, beautifully shot and so elegantly performed. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

The Suicide Squad

The previous Suicide Squad film was something of a glorious mess. Two of the high points were Margot Robbie’s highly entertaining portrayal of Harley Quinn and Viola Davis being Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller. The rest was badly edited, quite incoherent and yet ultimately forgettable. So I was at best unsure about this new version, even with the name of James Gunn attached. I managed to get the time to see it just before it left cinemas. I was not disappointed. From the dark humour, it’s fast placed and witty plot and some exceptional action set pieces this film was a lot better that it had any right to be. Definitely one of the best outputs from the DCEU so far.

Justice League: The Zack Snyder cut

Much like the previously mentioned Suicide Squad, the Justice League film was a glorious mess. There was good reason for it as the director changed partway through production for personal reasons that are neither relevant, or in fact my business. The end result was an uneven tone and a largely forgettable movie.

Time passes and there’s some fan outrage and the demand for the snydercut. The money people saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to do release it. I mean after some re-shoots and an 8 figure budget for post production stuff and the 2 hours mess became some kind of 4 hour auteur thing. It had the same problems that plagued Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman, it was a bit in love with itself, it was badly lit and unnecessarily bleak. But it was a really interesting film/mini-series that had a consistent tone and was a lot more epic in scope. 

So there you have it, my year in film. Less cinema visits, with Red Notice and Justice League enjoyed on my couch, but what I did see, I did enjoy.

Next Time: TV n stuff