Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Dark Universe

This week, Infinity War comes out.  Marvel's multi-franchise approach is the biggest thing in cinema history right now.  Other companies are trying to replicate their success, announcing universe's and franchises and spending money and trying do or be what Marvel is.  WB has chickened out of the Zack Snyder helmed DC universe, Fox's X-Men universe will be a thing of the past now with Disney solidifying the purchase rights to that integrated universe, CW has the ever expanding Arrowverse on the TV side, and the one that actually makes me sad at watching them stumble with is Universal's Dark Universe.

Universal had the first integrated film universe, introducing the idea to the film world in 1943 with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man which came after Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula's Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Mummy's Hand (1940), The Wolfman (1941), The Mummy's Tomb (1942) & The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).  Someone got the idea to take two monsters and incorporate them into the same movie. This eventually lead to the House of Frankenstein (1944) which had a hunchback, a mad scientist, Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman.

This would never be confused with a 'team-up' like the Justice League or the Avengers, but it is clearly a multi-franchise movie.  And if we're being honest, the movie wasn't good, but it was the first time it was done.  So when it comes to the mixing of franchises, Universal did it first.  Other companies have tried to use the Universal Monsters in groupings like Leonardo DiCaprio's finest film ever, Monster Squad (1987); movies like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) that took legendary characters from classic literary master pieces; and Universal's own attempt to ride Stephen Sommers success from The Mummy (1999) series, Van Helsing (2004) that had an animated prequel; Van Helsing: The London Assignment.

Van Helsing was supposed to be the start of Universal's shared universe, but it made something like less than half of it's production budget.  They had similar results with the stunningly beautiful Wolfman (2010) that was released for no clear reason in Feb.  Had they released it in October, like they did with Dracula Untold (2014), I'm willing to bet they would have had a much stronger box office performance and it would've been the perfect launch pad back in 2010 to build from.  Really, it should have been. And this is where I think Universal has been failing. 

Ever since 1999, Universal seems like they are trying to replicate the surprise success of the Stephen Sommers' May 7th released The Mummy in 1999 and May 4th released The Mummy Returns in 2001.  It was why they greenlit Van Helsing to Sommers for 2004, and began trying to convert their inventory of creature feature monsters to action stars so they could ride the summer blockbuster train.   This has been a continual mistake, one Universal seems hell - bent on repeating.

Even movies that are financially successful like Dracula Untold, but aren't the run away success that 1999 Mummy was, are being treated like failures, which is ridiculous.  They want to earn Marvel money, but they don't want to put in the leg work, and they wan't to do it by fundamentally changing their characters core essences.  Universal is operating under the false assumption that all they have to do is put a bunch of popular characters in one movie, make a bunch of dope action sequences and destroy some stuff. 

The real secret to Marvel's success is story telling and world; now universe, building. They go to the source material and stick faithfully to it.  They don't 're-invent' any of their characters.  This is a huge reason why they are successful. The atmosphere and their movies it's directly pulled from their comics.  And comics are something kids can watch, monster movies probably aren't. So forget trying to be Marvel. They are going to have a larger audience to pull from by the nature of their source material.

Universal has to stop and consider what their source material is.  Monsters.What is the atmosphere of their source material?  Creepy. Desaturated to the point where it's almost black and white.  The old classic movies have a very specific atmosphere; one that the 2010 Wolfman captured very, very well.   That should be the template.  The story was well thought out and well written, it stuck beautifully to the source material, and visually and atmosphericly it was absolutely flawless. It was just released in February when nobody wanted to think about monsters because Valentine's Day was coming up. You're not taking your Valentine to go watch people get ripped up by a werewolf.

And to be fair, they're advertising campaign completely sucked. I grew up on universal monster movies, and I didn't even know the movie was coming out. That's how completely bad they failed on their advertising of it. But instead of blaming themselves, they blame the movie and use that as a reason to stick with this failure of an action platform method of story telling.

When we go to see monsters, we don't go to see monsters be superheroes.  We don't go to see them be love interests. We don't go to see them be comedians. Understand what your audience expects from a monster. Stop trying to make them accessible.  Stop trying to turn them into anti-heroes. Stop trying to release them around Valentine's or at the beginning of summer when literally nobody gives a shit about monsters during those time frames.  There is a time of the year built for monsters. Universal, instead of trying to be an everyman, be the king of Halloween. 

It can be a shared universe, but these are MONSTERS.  People want to see monster movies in October.  Not February.  Not April or May.   Not June.  October is the month for scary classic monsters. October.

The Dark Universe had a very predictable rough start because anybody who is a fan of the universal monsters could tell from the trailers that it was trying to reinvent itself and go away from the source material. As a result,  there were loads of pre-judging articles from critics who had clearly decided they didn't like the movie months before it ever came out.  You could tell it was going to struggle because they approached it like am action film instead of a horror film.  Following its predictable failure, they've done this whole big shake up, with the main producers, directors and writers and all I see is missed opportunities. 

Make no mistake, I enjoyed the hell out of Tom Cruise in this version of The Mummy, and like I pointed out in my Dark Universe Timeline, I don't even see anything contradicting previous movies and as such they can be left in as a fan retcon right now to include Sommers' Mummy and Mummy Returns, and the slew of spin offs it lead to.  But, I think The Mummy would've done much better if released closer to Halloween, even though it wanted to pretend it was an action movie.  It's just timing.  I felt the same about The Wolfman when I went to see it.  I was sitting in the theater amazed at how beautiful the film was, and could not figure out for the life of me why I was here in February instead of October.

Dracula Untold achieved the success it did because of the timing of it's release.  It wasn't the run away success The Mummy was, but I don't think that should be the goal.  Focus on telling a solid story.   You don't get to earn Avengers level money without having several movies before it to build the brand and trust, and for that to happen you have to focus on story telling.  And while I liked the new Mummy movie, was a hollow in the storytelling department. It's basically traded storytelling for big production action pieces. 

Univseral has no reason not to OWN Halloween.  They have non - monster characters that can work during other times of the year to advance the formation of their Dark Universe, but they have such an inventory of monsters that there's really no reason that I should ever not have a Dark Universe Monster flick to look forward to come October.  Let's take an inventory: Dracula. Frankenstein. Wolfman. Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Mummy.  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide. The Invisible Man. The Phantom of the Opera. The Hunch Back of Notre Dame. 

That's just for starters.

And if they really want to make it impactful and memorable, don't do the 'modern update' bit.  What made people come to creature features was their atmosphere.  Again I go back to the Wolfman remake in 2010. Visually, that should be the goal for their Dark Universe. It sets an unmistakable tone. It creates an unmistakable atmosphere.  One that pays homage to the original movies.  Visual effects should only complement the story, not be the focus of it like they did with the new Mummy. Don't try to get creative with all kinds of nifty gadgets. Don't try to make Van Helsing into a medieval James Bond.  Better yet, get Guillermo Del Toro to helm the universe and just give him whatever he wants.

Basically, if Universal wants to be successful with its Dark Universe, I think they need to go back now. For better or worse, the new Mummy brings us to the modern age, but walking through Prodigium shows there was a history. Now it's a good time to tell that history.  The same way Captain America in Wonder Woman set up the history of their individual universes. Tell the story of Frankenstein, tell story of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and throughout create that justification for having a group like Prodigium out there.

In fact, I can present a fairly easy solve right here. Hugo Weaving's Detective Frederic Abberline (the detective that investigated the Ripper killings, near little head nod there) , following his experience and subsequent infection realizes he is a danger, and in an effort to learn more about his condition, he finds a lot of overlap from myths on werewolves and myths of vampires.  This would naturally lead him to wonder if they're real, then what else is real? Enter Abraham Van Helsing, a man researching the history of Dracula (who happens to be Luke Evans to connect it all together).  The Creature from the Black Lagoon would make a good setting for the two of them to work with each other and realize they should create Prodigium to deal with this new age of Gods and Monsters.

Simple. 

I guess that's just my two cents. Universal could own Halloween if they wanted to. They could absolutely corner that market.  They just have to stop pretending they can turn monsters into anti - heroes. People don't see monsters because they want action heroes; they see monsters because they want to be afraid to go outside at night.  Universal would do well to look at what made those stories classics, and then bring the Dark Universe back to basics.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Justice League

It's finally here and I finally got to watch Justice League.  It was fucking amazing. It was so fucking amazing! I almost walked into the lobby, bought a ticket and watched it again when it was done.  They did all the characters justice... pun?  Terrible pun.  I hate puns.  But seriously, it was fan-fucking-tastic.  The story brought together elements from the earlier movies and did a great job meshing two huge stories together to make it work.  

Like Batman Vs Superman, which took Return of the Dark Knight and the Death of Superman, and pieced them together in an intelligent fashion; Justice League takes two story lines and brings them together, War and The Return of Superman.  And just like BvS, it makes total sense and is utterly brilliant story telling.  Frame for frame you can essentially screen shot the movie and compare it to the comics.  

I watch these DC movies from Zak Snyder and I think that they are probably the best comic to screen adaptations out there.  Don't get me wrong, I love what Marvel is doing.  I love it.  I just happen to like DC's take more.  I suppose I'm prone to the darker stories they told to set up their universe.  I realize their dark tone is a cause for criticism among critics, but I don't feel critics are really worth what they used to be.  

I guess that's an open point of contention.  I know critics made up their mind about Justice League before they ever saw it.  Part of me actually thinks that their jobs depend on criticizing the DC movies while writing puff pieces for Marvel movies.  The obvious exception being Wonder Woman.  Because to insult the first major female lead super hero movie rooted in female empowerment would've been writer suicide.  So, she got a pass.

Wonder Woman is a great movie, not because the lead is a female or any of that small-minded garbage.  It was a great movie because it was a great movie.  And really, everyone made a big deal about a female lead movie, but I didn't hear anyone making those observations for Resident Evil, Tomb Raider or hell, Aliens back in the day.

It's unfortunate that critics are able to have so much sway over people.  I feel like there is a major disconnect between critics and the average movie goer because every time I show someone Man of Steel or Batman Vs Superman, they love it. Like insanely love it. I've had several people tell me they couldn't believe how good they are when they had heard so many bad things about them. When I asked them who said the bad things, they can never give me a straight answer. They just heard they were bad.

BvS introduced Batman but without an origin story, and we don't need an origin story for Batman. They hint at it in Batman vs Superman, but we really don't need it. Batman is the biggest superhero of all time. We all know the story. So it was cool to come into a universe where he already existed. Actually, he's existed for a long time, and has already gone through some major story arks that fans are already familiar with. Justice League is Batman following the events of Batman vs Superman, and he's so much more optimistic. 

Well, optimistic for Batman.

Justice League was a great introduction for Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash, paving the way for their solo movies.  I loved Momoa's take on Aquaman.  It was so good.  The whole rock'n'roll rebel thing worked way better than I thought it would from the previews.  I'm really looking forward to the solo Aquaman movie now.  It also sets in motion several pieces for other team movies.  Although Warner Brothers now is talking about doing more solo films, which I feel is a bit of a mistake because it deviates from the way that they work in the comic books. DC has always very much been about crossovers, and to have Warner Brothers take that away from them I don't think is a good decision.

Cyborg was wildly awesome. I loved how they could not have done anything that they did in that movie without him. It really set him up as a central piece to the Justice League. I also love how the flash is right at the beginning of his career, but you don't have to go to the origin story like we do what other major superhero characters in the past. Again, DC superheroes are so big, we've already had two TV shows we've seen the introduction to The Flash. There's no need to repeat his origin story. People know it.

If there any negatives about this movie, I would actually say it's suffers from Warner Brothers' interference. I've come to the conclusion at this point that the WB is DC's biggest enemy. Ever since Batman vs Superman, Warner Brothers has had wet feet about doing anything really gritty with the DC Universe. Which is super unfortunate, because I feel like the entire reason Ben Affleck signed up was because of Zack Snyder's gritty vision for the DC Universe. He wanted to tell the definitive Batman story. Now that Warner Brothers has softened its tone and backpedaled, Ben Affleck has lost interest. And I can totally understand why. Even back in the days of Daredevil, Ben Affleck was wanting to tell grittier stories.   When he goes, what a loss that's going to be. 

I was not a fan of Ben Affleck's going into Batman vs Superman. I was one of the detractors who was super upset by the casting. Until I saw the movie.  That fight scene between Superman and Batman, and the warehouse fight scene, set the fucking bar for all Batman movies that follow. And Ben Affleck as a producer and director is amazing. He has been talking about Batman for over a decade, I know whatever ideas he had would likely be just as amazing.  And now because Warner Brothers has sided with critics instead of fans, we are going to be robbed of potentially the best Batman movie ever fucking made by the best Batman that's ever been portrayed on screen. 

That is a gigantic loss.  Especially when you consider the success of Deadpool as a rated R superhero film, what you could do with Batman and a Rated-R setting would be so much truer to the comics than any iteration before it has ever come close to being. In fact, Batman versus Superman showed for the first time the actual story of Batman's loss of his parents amounting to nothing. Showing that it wasn't the Joker who killed him and he gets some sort of circular closure at the end of the movie. Nothing like that. It was a loss for nothing. Batman vs Superman also showed how scary it was to be on the opposite side of Batman. You saw it a little bit in Suicide Squad as well. And then obviously the opening of Justice League with Batman hunting a criminal, and the fear that he imposes on them. I feel like, had Ben Affleck been able to make his version of Batman, we would have gotten a much darker, much grittier, much more real to the comics version of Batman, and the scenes were he's hunting criminals would have been more like a horror movie, then an action movie.

It's one of those unfortunate situations where the production company has taken to Heart the comments made by critics instead of by fans. They took the fact that they weren't making Marvel money that Marvel was getting 13 movies and several TV shows into its run when they were only three or four movies into their run as an obvious sign of failure, when really they have been tracking the same as Marvel has when Marvel was in its fledgling movie period. 

I know there has been a push to get a Zak Snyder cut off the film done, and I would love it to see it if it happens. I hope it happens.  And this isn't to knock Joss Whedon.  He's an amazing director, and he was put into an impossible situation. I think his Batgirl movie will be fantastic. But he and Snyder are very different directors with very different visions and styles; so while Justice League turned out awesome, I think Whedon showed this with Avengers, having one static, unifying vision pays its own dividends.

In the end the Justice League does what it's supposed to do I think, got me excited for all the solo songs to follow with Aquaman and Flashpoint, the next Wonder Woman movie, the next Man of Steel movie, The Batman. I'm even excited to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Batman in Flashpoint. I'm really stoked about the Lantern Corps and Shazam movies and how they play into the eventual Justice League sequel with Darkside.  I can't wait for the Blu-ray release, but I want to wait and see if there's going to be an ultimate director's cut like they did with Batman v Superman, because that was absolutely superior in every way to the theatrical release.  I just wish Warner Brothers would get out of DC's way and stop trying to make Marvel 2.0. I feel like Warner Brothers right now is the biggest thing holding back DC, which is really unfortunate.

Monday, July 17, 2017

First Female Doctor

Why is everyone freaking out? This was a possibility. If the stories and acting are good, that's all that should matter. Now,  I do have questions.  In the books, the 13th Doctor was a ginger.  So this deviates from that.

I find that part unfortunate, but the show is canon and can change it as needed.  As a fan of anything, you accept that part. Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, etc... it just cones with the territory. Fans can retcon however they want.

I am worried this will kick off a 'The Doctor should represent [fill in the blank]  minority in subsequent regenerations' bit of nonsense though. Doctor Who is the ultimate in flexibility for a show. They can go anywhere in space and time,  the character can regenerate when he/she dies, the travel companion rotation is expected... Its basically the perfect recipe for a never ending show.

Now, they've made it even more flexible in how they cast.  They can essentially cast the best actor now, regardless of anything else. That's got to be a relief for producers. They can really write to their strengths. And I hope that's how this is taken.

No agenda, now political commentary, nothing like that. Doctor Who should be above that. The goal should always be about writing great stories because it's ultimately entertainment, not using the platform as a vehicle to condescend to viewers. 

That's really the only small worry I have.  That people will attempt to turn the Doctor into a political lightning rod to shove ideology down people's throats, instead of just enjoying a great show.

I expect that Mrs. Whittaker and Mr. Chibnall will give us a fresh new take on the traditional Doctor Who story and a few surprises, and that's what I'm looking forward to.

Plus, lets be honest, she's hot. This will be the first Doctor I get turned on by, so that's got its own appeal.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dark Universe Timeline

The Dark Universe has been announced officially. It launches with The Mummy and will be followed by The Bride of Frankenstein in (2019) and The Invisible Man (2020).  Franchises are the in thing now,  especially in the wake of Marvel's insane success.  I love the casting that's signed on for the future Dark Universe releases, but I'm sad that there aren't any plans to include The Wolfman (2010) and Dracula Untold (2014). 

The Wolfman was amazing, and they clearly left it open with the detective infected at the end, so it would be easy enough to do a simple head nod with a news paper clipping from the movie showing the werewolf attack.  Dracula Untold was awesome as well, was also open ended, and losing Luke Evans as Dracula would be a total waste.

I liked Hollow Man as well because it did a really good job of incorporation the original sensibilities from The Invisible Man novel, and how power corrupts.  There's nothing that directly contradicts anything else right now, although it was delivered by Columbia Pictures, not Universal.  

On that note, The Shape of Water is a clear Creature From the Black Lagoon remake. Whatever happened that Universal decided to pass causing Guillermo Del Toro to retool his story for Fox to release is their idiotic loss. 

None of these movies faired well with critics, but I don't feel like they ever do. There weren't great advertising campaigns for them driving folks to the theaters. The vampire market was a little saturated when Dracula came out also, so I don't think the timing was right.  And let's be honest, no matter how any of the Dark Universe movies turn out, critics will be unduly harsh about them because they confuse being critical and critiquing movies.  You see that with Star Wars and DC movies for example. Critics hate them; but fans are enjoying them.

Additionally, while Universal might believe they will make Marvel money, we're talking about monster movies. It's a niche audience compared to something accessible that children and adults can like.  And not just that.  Monster movies that aren't being released around Halloween when everyone is cranked up for scary flicks don't tend to do so well. 

This can really only mean that Universal is trying to portray them not just as horror movies, but as summer time action flicks (The Mummy) or Valentine's Day couple flicks (Bride of Frankenstein).  In doing so; while they will believe they are making them accessible, what will probably end up happening is they short-change the people who would've otherwise become their core audience.

That said, I'm still excited. I think the Dark Universe is doomed to a rough start, but as long as Universal sticks with it, I think it will pay off.  They just have to be willing to take some ridicule; maybe even absorb a stumble or two at the box office, but they will zone in on their demographic and get that cult following that takes years to build. IF they stick to it.

For now, until contradicted by updated canon, I'm retconning The Wolfman,  Dracula Untold and the whole previous Mummy Saga and spin-offs (thanks to a clever little easter egg in the 2017 Mummy) into the Dark Universe because I think Universal is silly to set them aside.

The Scorpion King (2002 release date, events before 2630 BC)
The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008 release date, events before 2630 BC)
The Scorpion King: Battle for Redemption (2012 release date, events before 2630 BC)
The Scorpion King: Quest for Power (2015 release date, events before 2630 BC)
Dracula Untold (2014 release date, 1477 events)
The Wolfman  (2010 release date, 1891 events)
The Mummy (1999 release date, 1926 event dates) 
The Mummy Returns  (2001 release date, 1933 event dates)
The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008 release date, 1946 event dates)
The Shape of Water (2017 release date, 1962 event dates) 
Hollow Man (2000 release date and event dates)
The Mummy (2017 release date and event dates)
Bride of Frankenstein (2019 release date)
The Invisible Man (2020 release date)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Web Stuffs



This is mostly just to track my Nyan Cat progress for Emilio.  He doesn't know I'm doing it, but I am.  As you can see by the screen snapshot above.

I heard about your webpage problems
I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems
but a glitch ain't one

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Unhappiness

I'm sitting here thinking about what could make you unhappy. So, naturally, the only person I know is me, so I thought about what made me unhappy. A few years ago, I was unhappy with nearly everything and felt trapped in a life I'd built, but didn't want, and didn't know how to change any of it. Then I got laid off. It forced me out of my unhappy life, into a state of complete unknown. Instead of letting it paralyze me, I decided to use it as a motivation to try and do things I'd always wanted to do, but never been brave enough to leave my comfortable, unhappy life to do. In doing it, I found things that seem obvious when they are said, but people seem to forget them; or treat as unreachable.

The first was that one of the most wonderful things about life is learning. Not in some formalized classroom where people who think they know better than everybody else teach impressionable people how to think they know better than everybody else. I mean, learning things that matter. How did I know they mattered? Because I used them. My new life and associated lifestyle taught me that they were useful things to know.

Don't get me wrong. It's nice to know that there are 8 planets and 1 dwarf planet. Scratch that, now 3 dwarf planets. Pending next discovery/change. But, how does that help me at my job? How does that help me get dinner? If you recognize this train of thought, it's an update on the famous Sherlock Holmes attic. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson discovers that Holmes doesn't know much about space and is shocked. Holmes goes on to explain how the brain is like an attic. Fill it with useless junk and the stuff you need becomes harder to find.

That's more or less how the concept of the well-rounded education and the life I was expected to live weighed me down. Having to juggle all the things I didn't want, slowed me down and made me unhappy. It made it hard to creatively find a way out. Because the question would always poke out, a way out to what? Everyone thought they had the answers, because that's what a teacher/professor/news anchor/politician had told them. But, really, there's no one-size fits all kind of answer. There's not even such a thing as a 'right' answer, which I think freaks people out because through all their years of education, there was always a 'right' answer. And when they get lost in their lives, it depresses them because they feel like maybe they are wrong somehow, even if they did everything the 'right way'.

Sometimes doing things the wrong way can be the right way. (insert sexual joke here)

The thing about learning is, it's not all history and algebra. The things that are actually worth knowing depend on the person. And each person KNOWS when something is worth remembering because it impacts them. It's something they turn around and use every day. So, you could say your lifestyle drives the things you learn. If you are unhappy, then that means you're learning things that are either not supporting your lifestyle or you're just in the wrong lifestyle.

When I moved into an RV, I had spent years learning about living in tiny dwellings, road travel, etc… but… really, I learned everything worth knowing about it when I finally did it. There was no safety net, no fall back plan. I just had to go for it. Living it made the learning so much more enjoyable. Did I make mistakes? Obviously. Lots of them. Lots and lots and lots of them. I'm still finding out things now and smacking my head cause I hadn't discovered them earlier. But, even the doing things wrong made me happy because it taught me to do them right in the long run. It was fulfilling in that way, and that's how I discovered what was right and what was actually worth KNOWing.

My choices weren't going to be right for everybody else. Maybe not even ANYbody else. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure almost nobody would do things the way I do them. Like… pizza burritos. Or pizzaritos. It's like… a lazy man's pizza, made in burrito/wrap style. What? I didn't want to get my plate dirty. But, they worked for me and made me happy.

I discovered a sense of challenge and accomplishment, and that brought me happiness. So, I was more prone to celebrate. Because I had a reason to celebrate. And that taught me something as well. I found, before then, I had been partying to try and find happiness. But it wasn't real, it was hollow. Like a short term fix. And so I kept going out, and I kept partying so I could get that fix. But I was becoming more and more depressed when I did it.

It wasn't until I had changed everything that I discovered why. Partying is empty because it lacks reason. Partying is unhappy people trying to create happiness. Celebration on the other hand, which partying imitates, doesn't create happiness; it's a result of it. I had the cause and effect mixed up, but hadn't known any better because everything I'd been told my whole life until I made this discovery had told me that's how it worked.

I didn't have to find some ridiculous cause to fill my life with meaning anymore. All my politics, all my philosophical arguments, my whole state of mind changed. I felt relieved. There was nothing of benefit on those things I thought were so important, I was just wasting time in the only life I had thinking if I attached myself to something 'bigger than myself' that I'd find substance and purpose. But, all I found was anger. All those times I 'challenged' the beliefs of others, all I was really doing when I took the bait or initiated an argument, was being a douche.

Getting in arguments on Facebook? Douche move. Going to protests because I think I know better than someone else? Douche move. Instigating fights with my friends/family that I know believe differently than me? Douche move. I was a douche. A massive, heaping, disgusting pile of douche. I haven't been drawn into that nonsense for 3 years, despite several attempts by friends who are still wrapped up in that 'I know better than you' system, and it's been great. I don't know, maybe it just comes with age and experience. Maybe everyone in their 20s is just a douche for decade and don't figure it out until they wake up one day and realize how big of a condescending ass hat they've been. Or maybe it just comes from finally finding the right path for oneself.

I knew that I was doing the right thing for me even though everyone thought it was the wrong thing. But, I wasn't doing it for them. I was, for the first time in my life, doing things for me. I learned. I accomplished. It made me feel fulfilled. I became happy from the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. As a result, I wanted to share my happiness with others. I wanted to celebrate. It's infectious that way.

People would always tell me, if you aren't happy with what you're doing then you shouldn't do it. But it always felt hollow because they were doing the same thing I was and were just as unhappy. To them, the change was as simple as changing the furniture around in the house or changing jobs. It was cliché wisdom from some postcard they'd read somewhere, or some movie sound bite that they thought made them sound clever and wise.

So, what gives you a sense of fulfillment? Why aren't you learning more about that? If other responsibilities are getting in your way, how do you get them out of your way so you can invest more of your time with/on the things that bring you a feeling of accomplishment, and/or spend more time learning about them?

I don't know about you, but I was super cluttered. It took getting laid off to finally shake me out of that belief that I 'had' to do this or that. I'm not as stream lined as I'd like to be, I've allowed a lot of clutter in the last year, but I'm saving up some cash to do a really massive shake up in my life and get back to what I found fulfillment in.


I guess what this rambling is saying is, don't let your dreams be dreams?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book of Evil Entities (Role Playing Prop)

I rejoined a role playing group and for the first time I'm playing a class that isn't a ranger or a thief.  I'm playing a Warlock.  Got my creative ideas going and decided to make one of the items my characters has picked up.  It's a book of evil entities.  But, I didn't want to use real world evil entities from human religions/myths or even D&D evil entities.  I decided to use pop-culture evil entities.  I spent about a month going over source material for ideas/inspiration before I started. 


Going through some my favorite bad guys, I got the idea that no one person wouldn't write a book like this.  It would be multiple people over several lifetimes.  Realistically, I doubt a single person would make a go of finding the most evil beings of the universe and surviving them.  That meant it would likely be written in several languages.  Not to mention the native languages of the evil entities themselves.  Once I got the basic ideas organized, I started researching fictional languages and writing/glyphs to also use to give it a more authentic feel.  


While I did that, I decided I wanted a nice, hand-made journal.  I found one made in Poland on Etsy and bought it.  It was nice and small.  That was the one thing that did bug me in movies, books and video games about books that were used.  Like, the Darkhold in Agents of Shield.  Looks cool, but man, that book would get annoying to lug around.  If I were putting together a book of demons and evil entities, I would want it to be easy to carry while I went from place to place doing my research.  I also wouldn't want a big, gaudy monstrosity with skulls and crazy shit on it. 


The first entry so far is Cthulu (Ktulu, Cthulhu).  I got a collected works of H.P. Lovecraft and two different Necronomicons to use for direction.  And then obviously the internet for various details.

Everything in here actually says something.  It's not just scribbling gibberish.  The Old Ones had a language, Lovecraft gave us bits and pieces of it.  Someone actually went through and dissected his collected works to figure it out. Using that as a key for R'leyhian and a Cthululian font I found, I created what I imagined would be the constructed written language of the old ones.  

Then I paired with English based on the Call of Cthulu and the couplet said by people to represent the common tongue of whatever realm this prop ends up getting used for (I plan to eventually run my own table-top game using this book for the players).

However, the Old Ones wouldn't be writing a book about themselves, so I found what seemed like a logical second script called Wizarding Runes and used that as the base language for the person writing it.  Presumably a wizard.  I kept the wizarding language based in English for the sounds and equivalent letters.  It's almost a 1-for-1 translation, the exception being no punctuation and c/k being interchangeable.
Using symbols from both Necronomicons, and a few I made up myself, I spend several pages explaining things like I imagine someone trying to capture knowledge about an entity would.



From here, I'm planning to use other pop-culture references like Frankenstein's Monster, Sauron, Eidolon, Korax, D'Sparil, Diablo, Zuul, Pennywise, Darkseid, The Dead King of Atlantis, Voldemort, Loup Garou, Megitsune, La Magra, Imhotep, The Dark Presence, The King in Yellow, Cronus, Dormammu... for starters.  I will likely snag more of Lovecraft's Ancient Ones.  I'd like to dig into Hellboy and Ghost Rider a little bit.  I have a book called the Magic Island I got to learn more about zombie mythology for a book idea about 10 years ago I plan to read through and resource concepts from.  Also, obviously, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis.