American Horror Story is one of those shows whose existence never ceases to surprise me. Not because it's bad though, bad shows getting green-lit doesn't surprise me much anymore. AHS is a unique beast all its own with each season having different characters, locations, and themes with actors coming and going like a revolving door. If it were any other show this would raise red flags for any backer but the creators (also producers) happen to be Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk who gave us the popular and successful TV series 'Glee' which focused on the goings-on of a fictional high school glee club. So it's bound to do well somehow, right?
Now that quite a few seasons have been released it's quite easy to see the perks of having such a format. No storyline can be drawn out to a point where the audience no longer cares, returning actors get to show off just how talented and versatile they are (and aren't forced to return), and the intrigue of what each new season will bring is more than palpable every time. But the true key to its success is how the strange stories they tell manage to captivate and astound with each new episode. It's like a soap opera on acid with lots of disturbing and deep-seated issues, all while paying tribute to beloved genres of horror. Oh how I love it!

There's always speculation from fans as to what the next season's 'theme' will be and while nothing has been confirmed for their upcoming season there is talk of the creators attempting to get the rights to a character the internet knows and loves: Slenderman.
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You thought I was kidding about the 'love' thing, didn't you?
For those of you living under a rock, Slenderman is a being created from a photo contest on the website 'somethingawful'. He is always depicted as being very tall and slender (obvs) with no face and wearing a black suit, necktie, and slacks. Normally he likes to hang out in the woods, blending in with the trees or will stalk children to make them disappear forever. Ever since this contest and a short horror game starring him got released, he's become something of an internet god and has been firmly planted in the annals of pop culture.

As to his involvement in AHS, we have no clue. Fans have already begun to theorize that he will be the focus of the next season while others believe him being in the show may be a clue as to the theme of the season as a whole. Now, the info was given to the media by an 'anonymous source' and in a matter of days after this news yet another 'anonymous source' said that the rumors were not true. Not too helpful to tell you the truth. But I'd like to believe that ole Slendy will finally get some primetime attention, though my prediction for the season will differ from some, if not most, fan theories.
As mentioned before, each season has a 'theme'. The first season was a take on the haunted house story and was followed up with a story about a mental asylum. After that we got a season about witches, so you see every type of horror is being represented. I doubt they would dedicate an entire season solely to Slenderman as he isn't horror staple that's stood the test of time. But at his core Slenderman would fit into two realms of horror that never fail: Urban Legends and Scary Woods.

Think of how many scary urban legends there are; Bloody Mary, the Hook-Hand Man, the Vanishing Hitchhiker, and Bunny Man Bridge. See! And I could think of those in a matter of seconds! Now think of how much horror has taken place in the woods. Yeah, pretty much all of it.

What if the next season revolved around a creepy stretch of woods that has some gruesome or mysterious history involving those that live on its' edges? You don't even have to make Slenderman real, you could have him be a recurring figment of someones imagination. Or maybe it takes place in a rural town where urban legends are treated with more seriousness as they're so disconnected with the rest of the world. Once again, Slenderman doesn't have to be real but it would be super cool to have him become a problem in the town as children begin to disappear. Heck, for all I know Slenderman may only get cameo appearance in a season with a different theme altogether!
The other sad but real possibility is that the 'anonymous source' who started this whole thing is only pulling our leg to get us excited at the prospect of Slenderman teaming up with the messed up world of AHS. If it is indeed not true than I implore Murphy and Falchuk to note the collective 'squee's coming from horror nerds everywhere and 'make it so' for a
 
 
Alrighty then, since I spent all of the last post talking about our main girl, let's take a look at the men in  the cast. Particularly, Kylo Ren and Finn.

I've already mentioned how I like the direction being taken with Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) as the new main villain. He has proven to be powerful and skilled for sure but he overcompensates big time. It was almost comical for me to see him take off the mask to reveal the normal, not at all intimidating, person underneath.  From his interactions with Supreme Lord Snoke (Don't worry, I'll talk about him later) he appears to still be an apprentice so he's not matured in his ways of the force yet. He wants to be seen as a force (pun absolutely intended) to be reckoned with and respected but doesn't think his 'normal' self is good enough for that. He is getting rid of every trace of the weak, light-side 'Ben' and replacing it with what will be the all-powerful Kylo Ren.

So why did he go bad? What could have made the son and nephew of the most notorious good guys in the galaxy turn to the dark side? Part of me believes it has something to do with Kylo's insecurities. From the tantrum he throws when given bad news and the weird pep talk he has with the remains of Darth Vader, it looks like he doesn't feel adequate even though he can stop a freaking laser mid-air. So he wants to be more powerful, but why? It's evident that he no longer cares for his true family, or at least doesn't associate himself with them anymore, so protecting them (a la Anakin in Revenge of the Sith) is out. Could it be that he wants to become more powerful than someone, his Uncle Luke perhaps? Maybe he was told a twisted version of the story of Darth Vader, one where the Jedi messed everything up in his life. It's also possible that while Luke was striving to rebuild the Jedi Order he neglected Kylo in some way that made him bitter, therefore making him susceptible to the seduction of the Dark Side.

It's also possible that something happened between Return of The Jedi and Force Awakens that shook Kylo's belief in the ways of the Force. Did his parents or Luke have to make a hard decision that he didn't agree with? Maybe he feels responsible for some tragedy that occurred off-screen, though I feel that Han would've mentioned it when trying to talk him down on the Starkiller. Unless Han isn't aware of his involvement in the tragedy...there are way too many possibilities, to be honest.

No matter the reason, I guarantee that Kylo's thirst for power and control is the main reason why he's forsaken his past and turned to the Dark Side. I also predict that he wants to find Luke in order to fight and destroy him to complete his training. Think about it, Kylo killed his own father to go further to the Dark Side, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if one of the 'tests' would be to kill Luke as well. Get rid of the last Jedi (as far as we know) to destroy Light Side for good.

My guess is that Snoke somehow got a hold of Kylo and used the legacy of his grandfather, Darth Vader, to turn him to the Dark Side then fed his insecurities by promising to make him more powerful than he could ever be under the tutelage of Skywalker. From there he had to have turned on his uncle and, if Rey's flashbacks are any indication, slaughtered all of the students Luke had attempted to train. After that Luke disappeared, to hide from Kylo or from his own shame of what had happened.

As for Snoke, I'm positive that Han was right when he told Kylo that he was being used by the Supreme Leader to achieve his own agenda which is the same as what Sidious wanted, control the galaxy through the Dark Side. Snoke and Kylo have different goals in Force Awakens when you think about it. Snoke wants to destroy the last of the Resistance while Kylo wants to get the map to go after Luke. It's almost like Snoke gave Kylo an errand to keep busy while he worked on the REAL task at hand. He doesn't seem to care about the map as much as destroying the Resistance and gaining ultimate control. Now that the Starkiller has been destroyed, Snoke is going back to Kylo as a 'plan B' or fallback to achieve his goal. This makes sense to me because Snoke doesn't seem very upset at Starkiller's destruction but instead tells General Hux to find Kylo Ren so they can complete his training. Maybe the next time we see Kylo he'll be at an even crazier level of powerful!

Quick thing about Snoke: He's not Darth Plagueis, guys. I won't go into long explanation of who that is (But if you're curious HERE is the link to explain) but basically everyone thinks it's him because the music that accompanied his tale in Revenge of The Sith plays again when we see Snoke. First of all, no one in the crew seemed to even know who that character was when questioned about it at panels. Second of all, Andy Serkis, who plays him, specifically stated it was a new character in the Star Wars universe when interviewed about Snoke. Also Plagueis was killed by Sidious! We're not in the Marvel universe guys, people can't come back to life all willy-nilly in a galaxy far far away!
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With this one exception of course.
As for the flip side of turning to the Light Side, we need to talk about Finn. If you think about it, Finn starts off, not by turning from the Dark Side, but by running away from it. He gets his first taste of death and destruction and seems to realize that none of it is right, so he runs because he's seen firsthand what the First Order is capable of and it's too overwhelming for him to even think about fighting back. His arch is quite fascinating to me not only because of the transformation he makes, but because it raises so many questions about how the First Order operates.

We aren't told much about his past in the film. He reveals that he had worked primarily in the First Order's sewage system before joining the Stormtroopers, which makes his change of heart on the battlefield make sense. Supporting an ideology and enforcing it are very different things. When we first meet Finn he goes to the side of a fallen Stormtrooper who dies in front of him after smearing blood on his mask. This is his turning point. Could the fallen Stormtrooper be someone he had known? Was it a friend he had while working in sewage that wanted the chance at being a Stormtrooper, same as himself?
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And if so, how in the hell could Finn have told them apart from the others?
We get a glimpse into what being a Stormtrooper entails when Phasma tells Hux about Finn's rebellion. They pull up a holographic file of him which shows a very young boy version of Finn, which means they had trained him his whole life. Could he have been taken from his birth family? How do they recruit exactly? It wouldn't surprise me if they took tons of children from helpless planets to be used as soldiers to absorb laser fire. And up until Poe decided to call him 'Finn', he's been referred to only as FN2187. That was his name people, the only identity he might have ever known! Captain Phasma also mentions that she had planned to have Finn go through a bout of what sounds like brainwashing via First Order propoganda, so there's no doubt that this is something every officer would have to go through every day. So the First Order is a galactic version of what the Nazis were hoping to become.
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Never would have guessed, right?
She also mentions that him busting out with Poe and escaping was his first ever offense, so up until then Finn was just one of many grunts doomed to be blown up in the all-powerful space station they had to run. I can absolutely see Finn being an ignorant worker vying for the chance to become a Stormtrooper in order to defend the ideals he had been taught for as long as he could remember, only to have them shattered when he sees the real-life consequences.

While Finn had lots of humor infused with his character, I still want to see the inner turmoil of what he has gone through in the next two films. There is a lot to work with there and not all of it would need to be dark or depressing. He's coming to the 'Light Side' after all. By the end of the film he's already stopped running and fights back, even if he ended up getting his butt handed to him. Though that was an excellent use of Lightsaber for not being a Jedi. Well done, sir!

What could happen to him in the next films? I'd imagine he'd want to find Rey, as she's a big part of why he made the decisions that he did, but what else? Would he stay with the Resistance and build upon the bromance he has with Poe? He's proven to be a quick learner both behind a ship blaster and a lightsaber. Could he become a pilot? Or, dare I say, a Jedi?
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God, I hope so.
Think about it, out of all of the other Stormtroopers he just couldn't kill in the name of the First Order and while he had to use the lightsaber for self defense. I'm not saying it would be impossible for any regular Joe to pick up a lightsaber and keep himself safe, but the lightsaber is a weapon that requires lots of skill and training to use and Finn was able to keep up with one of the Knights of Ren for a while. It's said that what makes a lightsaber even more effective is a user with a strong connection to The Force. Could Finn be destined to become a Jedi like Rey? Was their meeting on Jakku more than just a coincidence?

We'll know in the next films, which we'll have to wait even longer for. In the meantime, I think I'll go watch The Force Awakens a few more times while it's in theaters.

What are your theories on the Force Awakens? Did you notice anything interesting about the film, story, or characters that I didn't mention? Write about it in the comments below!
 
 
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away....there were SPOILERS!!!!

Get ready people, the flood gates have opened!

There's so much I'd like to discuss about The Force Awakens, so let me start out by listing spoilery things I really liked about the film.

1.)  *{[]]]]],]]}={ ====================

Kylo Ren is a nice change of pace for a Star Wars baddie. When it comes to villains in the Star Wars universe, diversity is pretty scarce. Are they wearing all black, covering most if not all of their face, or have a creepy voice? Then they're a villain. There's nothing wrong with broad stroke character traits but after years of the same type of antagonist things got stale. Now Kylo Ren does have the same traits when we're introduced to him, what with wearing all black and having a mask with a voice modulator, so he hits all of the 'checks' for a Star Wars villain but something new was thrown into the recipe, personality. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine have an intimidating presence to be sure but that's really all there was to them; they were scary and wanted to do evil things, that's it. With Kylo Ren we can see insecurity underneath the mask. Even before he reveals himself to Rey you can see that he's unpredictable and kind of a brat with how he reacts to the failure of his men and himself. He has power to be sure but he doesn't know how to control it or his feelings and boy does this kid have a lot of feelings. I felt his character added an interesting element to a tired trope and I'm anxious to see what they do with him as the sequels roll out.

2.)  [[0][0][0][:]<======================

Han and Leia's relationship wasn't a 'happily-ever-after'. The smuggler and space princess had chemistry and obvious feelings for each other in the original trilogy, but if you really take their personalities and careers into account it would make sense that things would be rocky between them. It would've been really easy for the filmmakers to show Han having settled down having become a bureaucrat working with his wife, missing the old days but being content with what he has now. That's not Han Solo. It makes total sense that they'd have fights so bad that he'd try and go back to smuggling with Chewie to have a go at reliving his glory days. You can see that they care about each other but for one reason or another it just doesn't work. Having your son turn to the dark side must put a damper on the relationship as well.

3.)  (T?[|]!!!!!!';['}|(######################

I'm glad they didn't go overboard with the references. There ARE references to the original trilogy but it didn't get to be annoying. Like when the plot to blow up the new Death Star, 'Starkiller', is realized Han only says 'How do we blow it up?' to remind the audience of what happened many years before. The reference isn't hitting us over the head, just giving us a knowing smirk.

4.)  ([[[[[]o[+-{IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID

When Rey first touches Luke's lightsaber we can hear the voices of many characters from the past speak to her. Sir Alec Guiness says her name (They took it from a sound bite of him saying the word 'Afraid') and we hear things from Yoda, a younger Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor is confirmed at having recorded dialogue for them), and a younger Luke. Whether you decide to acknowledge the existence of the prequels or not, you have to admit that including elements from them helps with the mythology surrounding a legendary object like this lightsaber

5.)  (l%%%l{O}l=[]>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The lighting is actually very clever if you take the time to notice. Watch Han Solo's death scene again and pay attention to what happens on Kylo Ren's face. It's pretty cool, trust me.

Now for the big stuff, theories! Remember, the only sure thing to take from this is that everything that I say or speculate about my very well be wrong. The whole idea behind having theories is to discuss and debate (in a friendly manner!) with other fans about what could happen next in the series and build up hype. So if you disagree with me or have something to point out, please do so (Politely!) in the comments.
Now for the big stuff, theories! Remember, the only sure thing to take from this is that everything that I say or speculate about my very well be wrong. The whole idea behind having theories is to discuss and debate (in a friendly manner!) with other fans about what could happen next in the series and build up hype. So if you disagree with me or have something to point out, please do so (Politely!) in the comments.

You want to know what's funny about all of us developing these theories? The creators don't even have a clear idea of the characters past or future. Kasdan and Abrams only wrote for the first movie, nothing else. They're handing it over to Rian Johnson who will write the next two films and direct only the second. Rian Johnson has only just decided which of our speculations will end up being correct!

One of the most common theories that keeps popping up is that Rey is the long lost child of Han or Luke. I've seen it everywhere and completely disagree. First of all, it's too obvious. Family relations have been something of a theme in the SW 'verse but discovering that everyone is the long lost relation of someone else would become boring and ridiculous very fast. From the work I've seen from Johnson, I think he's going to take a very unique route with the sequel and it probably won't be Rey being a Skywalker. But if you need more convincing I'll take you through my thought process.
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Who am I?
What do we know about Rey? We know that she is likely not originally from the desert planet Jakku, or as I like to call it 'New Tatooine'. She was dropped off their as a young child by someone we don't know and from her reaction in the flashback, this was a person that she either cared about or felt safe with. She grew up as a scavenger for ship parts, earning very little and surviving as best as one could in her position. Her traits and eagerness to help Finn and find 'The Resistance' suggests that she has some wanderlust or at least wants to be gone from the waste of a planet. But she also thinks that whomever left her as a child will be coming back for her on Jakku, though this belief is gone by the time the third act of the film starts.

So if Han and Leia left her on that planet, what were their reasons? Seeing as Leia is living quite safely with the Resistance it would make little sense to send Rey away for safety. If it was because Kylo needed her for something then wouldn't he be more intent on finding her than getting into her mind to see the map. And if they are siblings wouldn't they be able to recognize each other? Rey is left on Jakku at an age where she'd be able to remember someone as important as her own brother, not only that but Kylo Ren would have been much older in the film if they took her away from him because he turned to the dark side. Let me explain.
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That thing needs a tune up.
Now, I'm not sure how old Rey and Kylo are supposed to be but the age difference doesn't seem to be very big and in real life the actors are about 9 years apart in age. Either way, if Rey had been sent away after Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side, Kylo would have had to have been old enough to have been trained as an apprentice by Luke and then be seduced. For all of that to happen, I'd think that Kylo would have at least been in his mid teens to an adult when he started following Snoke. If they are close to the same age, then she would have been hidden away at an age much older than we see in the flashback. If there is an age difference similar to the one they have in real life then she still would have been old enough to remember her big brother and recognize him when he took off the mask. 

Plus, with everything that happens between them in the movie and with all of the use of 'The Force' wouldn't one of them at least sense a connection? Kylo Ren recognizes when Han is nearby and Darth Vader recognizes Luke as his son when he had never met him before, even Luke admits that somehow he had 'always known' that Leia was his sister. I find it hard to believe that neither of them would not be able to see the other as a blood relative with a super strong connection to The Force.

As for her being Luke's daughter I'm still not convinced. Once again, she'd be old enough to recognize those she'd come across in life and an aunt, uncle and cousin would definitely be amongst those people. If he sent her away after Kylo Ren turned, once again, there would have been some kind of recognition from one of them. And why would Han or Leia not say anything to her? She's just as eager to be reunited with the person who left her on Jakku so them looking for Luke would help out everyone. And, I must reiterate, two people with major Force powers would have been able to see the family connection between them when they meet on that dramatic cliffside. Rey would have made some kind of exclamation or tried to embrace him if he was really her father, think of her loss of Han who was a father figure and her need of having that family back.

But more than anything, I don't think anyone we know is related to Rey because of what Maz tells her in the cellar of her cantina-I mean-castle. After Rey is drawn to Luke's lightsaber and sees the flashback Maz finds her, having an idea of what Rey had just seen and heard, and she tells her that the person who left her on Jakku was never coming back. Do you think Luke, Han, or Leia would be capable of simply leaving her without even checking up or going back when the danger they're facing has been destroyed? It isn't a kindness to leave her in a place that will only use her to further selfish gains when they all definitely have access to better hiding places. And with Luke's background on being stuck on Tatooine, it's doubtful he'd be fine with leaving his kin in the same predicament.

And don't any of you start throwing around even crazier theories about memory losses or mind wipes or any of that. Everybody's memory would have had to have been wiped for any of the 'daughter theories' to make sense. Han's, Leia's, Kylo Ren's, as well as everyone they were close to would have had to have magically forgotten! Plus when you played a huge part in bringing down The Empire, you'd be famous across the galaxy and so would any kid you have! It would only be a matter of time before a Resistance Officer would make a passing remark on Rey being related to them.

So who IS Rey? I can't say for sure but I have some theories of my own. In a past post I talked all about the possibility of Rey being a clone from Darth Vader or Luke and still think that may have some bearing. You can read more about it HERE. Another theory I have is that Rey may have a connection to someone from the Dark Side of the force, it would make more sense for them to leave her on Jakku for good and would explain her connection to the Force. Maybe she plays a part in Supreme Leader Snoke's past?

Something else I noticed that may or may not be a clue to her possible background was a small doll you can see for all of a second in her AT-AT house. It has the likeness of a Rebellion fighter pilot and looks homemade and old. Could this be something she kept after being left on Jakku? Did she make it afterwards from piecing together limited knowledge of the pilots who flew the ships she scavenges? Who the heck knows! Rian Johnson probably does, actually...

Woah! This became much longer than I thought. Know what that means?

Look for a Part 3 for Star Wars theories! Coming Soon!
 
 
Merry late Christmas! Or Happy Holidays, whichever is appropriate for you. Hopefully, you all did some fun and exciting things on your days off like I did. Like, oh, I don't know...

SAW STAR WARS!!!!

That's what I did, anyways. It was the sixth time I'd gone to see it! If you're like my mom and sister were when I talked about my movie plans then you're probably wondering why I would go to Star Wars yet again. I'll answer you the same way I answered them, 'because it's fricking awesome'!

As you may have guessed, this post will be me giving a gushing review of the movie everyone has been waiting for for years, but I understand that not everyone has seen it yet. Whether you want to avoid the crowds, can't afford it yet, or are too cautious after the abominations known only as 'The Prequels', I understand and respect your decision to wait. Which is why this review will be spoiler free! This may be one of the hardest things I've had to do on this blog, but I'll give it my best shot!
The Force Awakens
Does it need a podracer?
The best thing about The Force Awakens was feeling like I was actually watching a Star Wars film. It was saturated with the same spirit and sense of adventure we got from the original trilogy and gave me all the feels in the nostalgia department. Star Wars movies are supposed to take you on the ride of your life and while it may not be quite up to par with the originals, the ride was still entertaining as hell!

The story itself was familiar and took elements from New Hope but threw in enough twists and new material to make it fresh and exciting! I'm not saying that it's scene for the scene the same as New Hope, by the way. The journey is fundamentally the same but the terrain has changed over the years. By the way, the original cast is back and seemed to give a damn!
han and leia
That's always good.
The characters are my favorite part of the new films, probably because I was so ecstatic that they finally got them right! A big part of what made the first Star Wars films so popular and lovable were the engaging characters like the underdog hero, 'Luke Skywalker', or the rogue/thief with a heart of gold, 'Han Solo'. They were relatable and fun to watch on screen and so are the new cast we are introduced to. Now while I liked these new characters, I also have a small nitpick about them. They weren't fleshed out enough for me. Maybe if they had more motivation to start their inevitable journey or were pushed harder? I just felt like I didn't know them as well as I knew Luke, Leia, Han or even C-3PO once the credits rolled in A New Hope. Once again, it's a small nitpick and the only problem I had with the film.

Lastly, the special effects both practical and digital were amazingly well-balanced in this installment. One of the many problem I had with 'The Prequels' was that everything looked too sterile or that the screen was crammed with too many things to look at. While TFA looks great there's also something raw about the shots that just scream original Star Wars and nothing is ever cluttered on screen. We're shown what we need to see, the characters and their drama and the battles from the POV of whomever we're rooting for.

Ho boy, it's taking almost all of my energy not to go into spoiler territory. I think I'll save that for later this week (Yep a part 2 will be coming soon!).

But really, you should go see The Force Awakens. There's a reason why it's broken blockbuster records across the globe, after all. The world of Star Wars is iconic and TFA is a film that goes above and beyond it's recent predecessors and breathes new life into the franchise! Who doesn't want to see a resurrection...with lightsabers!

Did you see it? How many times? 3D? IMAX? Love it? Hate it? Let me know below!

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Millions of fangirls are sharpening their fanfic skills for these two...
 
 
Sometimes, all you want to do at the end of the day is go back to a time when you had no commitments, responsibilities, or anal retentive professors breathing down your neck (Grrr). For me, this usually means dusting off the ole gaming systems and going back in time to the early 90's when I was just a kid. Mom listened to me plead for an SNES or Sega System but only had enough money to buy a used NES and a few of the classics. I was disappointed at the time, but now I make sure to thank her whenever I remember how much geek cred owning one has gotten me. I'll give you a hint: It's a LOT of 'cred'.

As I was saying, the moment I slide that cartridge into the slot I'm 7 years old again and saving Princess Zelda or getting pissed off that Princess Peach is in another castle. But what brings me back more than the familiar story or gameplay is the music that accompanied the game. When compared to the music you hear in modern games it might not sound like much, but not only has it become legendary within the gaming community, it's become an iconic part of pop culture. Play the Super Mario theme for literally anyone and they'll tell you what it is at the drop of a hat or say 'That's the song about that plumber dude, right?'
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Mario aka 'Plumber Dude'
It would seem that the composers realized how much of an important their work has been to gamers because the familiar themes have never really gone away. Over the years we've seen many new versions of the 'ground zero' games and while the soundtrack has been packed with new content, the melodies we've come to know and love keep coming back and sound better each and every time.

Here's the thing, out of all of the games that qualify I would have to choose the Zelda series as my top soundtrack. It's a super hard decision, but to me Zelda stands apart because it has evolved in such a way that it's become an entity standing apart from the game. This is especially apparent when you listen to the 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD. For the fan who's played every game in the series it evokes all the images and memories of their experiences, but for the casual bystander it may be the soundtrack to a film or an industrious television show. Some pieces may have even been written by classical composers, who are they to know? The songs convey the whimsy, adventure, and magic that the Zelda series is all about.
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Cover
For the especially nerdy fans (aka Me) there's even more to appreciate about each new soundtrack hiding just below the surface.

In The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (one of my all-time favorites), we explore an alternate timeline in the Zelda universe where after the events of the classic installment 'Ocarina of Time' the Gods have saved the world from evil by flooding everything so that there are now nothing but islands everywhere. When you sail across the vast seas instead of riding across plains or fields, like you would have in previous titles, you get a particular 'Pirates of the Caribbean' feel to the adventures and the music reflects this. But amongst the new and beautiful compositions you can hear little nods to the original games and locations featured in them.

In Wind Waker, Outset Island is the home of the hero of the story (An incarnation of Link) and if you listen closely to it's musical theme there's a small part where a wind instrument plays the theme from the Kokiri Village which is the home of the hero featured in 'Ocarina of Time'. This subconsciously gives players who are familiar with the franchise an emotional tie to the island! In fact, Wind Waker's soundtrack is loaded with remixes and new renditions of the music of its' predecessors. This clever move by the composer and developers reels the Zelda fans in by their nostalgia nerve (That's a thing, right?) all while delivering an exceptional game that definitely deserves it's spot in Zelda lore.
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It's just so freaking beautiful!!! Gah!
Something similar happens in one of the more recent Zelda games, 'Skyward Sword'. Now in Skyward Sword we're in what is believed to be the prequel of sorts to the Zelda franchise. But all you really need to know is that the dynamic of Link and Zelda's relationship is much different. To me there's always been something separating them emotionally, but in SS they have always been good friends and you can really sense that they care deeply about each other, maybe they're even in love.

Now this game has gotten lots of criticism for how the motion controls operate and general complaints about gameplay, but I happened to enjoy it. *Ducks flying tomatoes. Yes it has problems, but the story touched me in a way that I wasn't expecting. Zelda is captured (Of course) and Link goes to save her (Of course) but both of them go on a simultaneous journey to realize what they are destined to become and achieve. For Zelda this is to go into a deep sleep to keep evil locked away, something that breaks her and Link's hearts but she does it to keep the world safe. Link finds that there is another way to keep evil sealed away by getting the Triforce (Of course), thereby awakening Zelda from her sleep to be reunited with Link. The whole thing is quite touching and uplifting, really.

So, in nearly every existing Zelda game we've heard the track 'Zelda's Lullaby' played at least once. Ask any fan and they'd tell you it's become a staple of the franchise. This song can be heard again when she goes into her deep sleep, fitting right? Now, the main theme of Skyward Sword is called 'Ballad Of the Goddess' and it can be heard throughout the story, most notably when we first meet Zelda in the end credits after Zelda wakes up. If this theme sounds vaguely familiar to any Zelda fan that's because it is the melody of 'Zelda's Lullaby' backwards. So when she goes to sleep the 'Lullaby' plays but when she awakens we get 'Ballad'. Get it?
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Yeah, I just blew your mind, right?
It's apparent that The Legend of Zelda franchise has a rich lore all it's own and I truly believe at least half of it is rooted in the music. The developers understand how instrumental it can be in keeping their faithful fans coming back for more of the epic story of The Hero all the while enticing newcomers to the franchise. You can almost see the story unfold as you listen to the soundtrack and that's a true mark of a talented composer.

If you're a fan of the games, chances are you've probably bought at least one album already, if not then you need to remedy that fact ASAP. If you're not a fan but enjoy instrumental music that kickstarts your imagination, I'd recommend buying one of the soundtracks, in particular the 25th Anniversary.

What are your favorite nostalgic game soundtracks? Think I made the right choice? Tell me in the comments below!
 
 
Today I've been busy helping my "Jane of All Trades" friend, Tiffany, helping her bake for her family's annual bake off.

Tomorrow, I'll be eating aforementioned baked goods and turkey, then come 6pm, I'll be keeping my other friend Margaret company in the Best Buy line as she attempts to secure a cheap TV. She's been camped out since Monday for this deal! Good thing we're all line pros due to convention adventures.

Luckily, I drew late shift duty at work, where we're having a massive sale, so I'll have AM time to shop myself and pick up some new games.


I'm also going to squeeze in some time at the theater and take in some new movies, so look for some fresh reviews in the coming weeks.

Have a great holiday!
 
 
Well, it's mid-November which means Thanksgiving (Yay!), Black Friday (Boo!), and of course the newest addition to the Hunger Games film series and, this time around, it will be the last. There will be tons of terrible withdrawal from fans, I assure you. Unlike the Potter series where the author decided to write a trilogy of prequel movies to keep their world alive, Hunger Games looks like it's going the direction of The Hobbit/Tolkien franchise where we'll be giving the series and those that created it a wet and blubbering goodbye.
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* sniff * The pain is real.
My own introduction to the dystopian series started before the films came out and the book series itself was coming to its peak of popularity. It was a pleasant surprise to read a Young Adult book that kept the typical easy-to-read format, yet didn't dumb itself down or not take its audience seriously. It didn't focus on the primary focus of the series, being that a boy and girl from each 'district' must kill each other until one remains, but looked more at why a dystopia had come to this point. The popularity it had garnered with the teenaged audience who had only years before fawned over the somehow famous Twilight series was encouraging without a doubt. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that The Hunger Games is one of the best Young Adult series of the past decade.

The strongest point of the entire series rests on the shoulders of its relatable, strong female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. She immediately proves, when we meet her in both the books and the movies, that she is not your typical teenaged heroine. She is a responsible individual, both out of necessity and love for her family. We learn that her father died in a coal mining accident which sent her mother into a deep depression, leaving Katniss to provide for her mother and younger sister at a young age. Even when her mother recovered, she hunted to make sure they (including other less fortunate families) got fed. When her little sister, Prim, is chosen in the lottery that decides who participates in the 'games', Katniss takes her place knowing her sister has little chance of surviving. Her self-reliance gives her an excellent advantage in the games, but her willingness to reach out for help from those she trusts when it's needed most also helps her to survive. That balance mixed with her determination to fight for what's right gets her back home.
Before I go on, I'll address something that I know many of my fellow geeks are itching to comment about. The Hunger Games is almost exactly like Battle Royale. I'll concede that. The plot of the first book is nearly identical with a few elements changed around. But there are things that are not addressed or explored in Battle Royale that Hunger Games delves into, not just giving it a different enough voice but making the audience more uncomfortable. Battle Royale is certainly violent and unflinching when it comes to showing what's basically kids killing each other but Hunger Games makes those running the games and being entertained so unnervingly similar to its own audience, they are ignorant and materialistic in ways that we can't help but think of ourselves. Hunger Games makes a strong statement about the attitude and habits of our society by exploring real-world problems that need to be addressed, especially with our younger generations. Where Battle Royale stopped, Hunger Games digs deeper.

If I had a nickel for every time Hunger Games has been put under a microscope for the themes it explores, I would be on my own personal island making the cast of the Firefly act out more episodes for my amusement. The series takes a jab at some rather unsavory things about our media-centered nation as well as global issues that are being discussed amongst the worlds greatest minds.

It's not hard at all to see that Hunger Games is unhappy with our media culture, from the gaudy talk show with an over exuberant host to the reactions of an audience who have the audacity to feel anything for the people they are going to send, essentially, to their deaths. This same audience gets fed coverage of the 'games' and surrounding districts that is heavily biased and only feeds their own selfish desires. Sound familiar?

Many political implications could be taken as well. The audience of the games that I was talking about all live in 'The Capital' where they live off of the resources that come from surrounding districts who often live in poverty and under a police state. They are a perfect example of the higher class looking down on the lower class and doing nothing. While horrific things happen to the people who are responsible for getting them food, clothing, and pretty much everything they require in their worry-free lives, they watch a game where these very people die one after the other for entertainment.

In real life, we certainly don't allow people to be killed in such a manner, but we watch people get killed everyday all over the world for multiple reasons on our TV screens. All while passing unfair judgements, criticizing, or feeling empathetic shortly before forgetting them altogether.
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Geez, I'm depressing myself. Here have a pic of Katniss and Peeta's couple name.
I'm actually going to end my ranting here because this is all starting to feel too heavy for a typical blog post, but let me end with one last thing. The books took me on an emotional and thought provoking roller coaster that millions of other teens have now ridden. The movies presented visuals that are scarily close to what we see on the news everyday. My hope is that in a country where many of our younger generation are, generally, seen as being self-centered morons who only care about who becomes the next winner of 'The Voice', the Hunger Games series (both book and film) will be a well-made and gripping slap to their faces. The problems they see on the page or on the silver screen are not just fictional and there most definitely needs to be a revolution. Guess who lead the one in Hunger Games? A young woman who followed her conscience and wouldn't stand by while the world watched itself burn.

What are your thoughts on the Hunger Games? Did you catch any messages or themes that I didn't mention? Tell me about it in the comments. Also, are you excited to see the last addition to the series?
 
 
Let's face it, if your family isn't like what's portrayed on TV sitcoms, then sometimes during the holidays, it's best to fake sick or hang with your besties, stuff your face with baked goods, and take in a movie or TV marathon during this 'festive time of the year.'

If that's your plan, as it has been mine in the past, then lucky for you thanks to Hollywood franchising everything under the sun, it's now easier than ever to find content to marathon. But because there is so much selection, it can't always be easy to choose. So this year, I'll give some suggestions to spend your holiday downtime.

Star Wars Saga:

With Episode VII coming soon, this really is a must view material and since the prequels are so slow, it'll allow you to get to sleep off that turkey, until the good parts come on screen. Speaking of the slow prequels, I recently stumbled upon the 'Machete Viewing Order' that suggests you skip Episode I and gives you a good reason why. The abridged version, is that you can watch in this order: IV, V, II, III, & VI and that way, Episodes II & III serve as a flashback. If you're interested, you can read the whole brilliant thesis HERE

Doctor Who Christmas Specials:

Since they've been doing these annual episodes since 2005, we've built up quite a library that equals many hours for quality holiday time with the good doctor. It's true some are better than others, but to me, Doctor Who is like pizza, even bad pizza is good.

Here's a list of all the episodes to date including the 1964 episode:

1964 - The Feast of Steven

2005 - The Christmas Invasion

2006 - The Runaway Bride

2007 - Voyage of the Damned

2008 - The Next Doctor

2009 - The End of Time: Part One

2010 - A Christmas Carol

2011 - The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

2012 - The Snowmen

2013 - The Time of the Doctor 

2014 - Last Christmas
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Art by Dani Jones @ DaniDraws.com

The Lord of the Rings (Extended Editions):

Because these movies are so epic like the books, I always feel like I always pick up something new when I view these, especially the extended editions. Now that The Hobbit trilogy is out, and if you've seen it, it may be fun to see how well these films connect to those.

James Bond:

Are you stuck somewhere cold and need to feel swept away to warm exotic locations with beautiful people? Then take in some of the Bond films. While they're not all hits, I've picked out some of the better ones in no particular order with a wide selections of Bonds:

Casino Royale

Gold Finger
From Russia with Love
Skyfall
Goldeneye
For Your Eyes Only
The Living Daylights


Also, now that Spectre is out, it's a good time to take in some of the more classic films and begin speculating about the next entry in the Daniel Craig library.

Muppets:

If the holidays get you feeling blue and you want to laugh a little, watch some Muppets Movies. The antics of the Muppets are timelessly funny and here are a few of my favorites.

A Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Movie
The Muppets Take Manhattan
The Great Muppet Caper
Muppets


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Sorry, SPOILER ALERT! Scrooge turns good.

Harry Potter:

This one is for the hardcore but well worth the time it takes. I do like all of them, and honestly, if things go south with my family at a holiday function, I'm hiding away taking in all 8 of these films back-to-back. What makes this collection so fun is the continuity, the fact that over the years it made to make these films, they were able to keep most all of the primary actors, makes the this marathon really satisfying.
So there you go, those are my suggestions. Do you have any marathon favorites? If so, share them below!
 
 
The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of magical for Potterheads! About four years ago, we all had that moment of realization that our beloved fandom had 'ended'. There were no more books or movies to be released and the end to the Potter Saga was just beautiful and perfect enough to give us all that much needed feeling of completion while at the same time leaving a small hole in all of our hearts. That's what happens when a writer doesn't just create excellent characters but entire worlds that their readers would desperately want to visit and play around in.

It would appear that Rowling isn't done playing with us.

Last week, the news of a stage play that will premiere July 30th, 2016 caught everyone by surprise. It's called 'Harry Potter and The Cursed Child' and will still follow our beloved protagonist but now he's all grown up with a job and a family. It would also appear that some focus will be given to his son, Albus, who goes to Hogwarts while struggling with the weight of his father's legacy.
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Bird-child?
My initial thought was how in the heck will they portray magic on stage? It's set to play at West End so I have no doubt that a nice budget will be given to them and it's not that hard for the Potter franchise to rake in the dollar bills, but there are still limits for what can be shown on stage. Will magic even be a strong component of the story in the play? It is set in the wizarding world so of course magic will be involved, but from what I've read in the plot descriptions we might be getting a more character-driven story that focuses on the relationship between Harry and his son.

My other thought was that this could be quite a depressing play for fans who've followed the franchise since childhood. I can already see myself watching a grown up Harry Potter go about a normal adult life (normal for a wizard, anyway) all while realizing how much I myself have grown up and become boring. And to see that while our hero saved the world, there were personal repercussions that effect not just him but his child who didn't even exist when everything with Voldemort went down is a downer for sure. Harry and his family should get the peace they deserve, dammit!

All the same, I'm too curious not to look into this play more and one day watch it for myself. Especially to see how magic is portrayed! The writers who worked with Rowling, the director and everyone involved in its production have excellent resumes. It's very possible that they've got a good thing going here, but we won't know until next summer.

In other news...
Everyone is going nuts over Entertainment Weekly releasing pictures from the upcoming film written by J.K. Rowling herself, depicting the adventures of Newt Scamander. When I heard about this film being written, I was ecstatic! As long as Rowling was writing it, I was happy. When I learned that most of it was going to take place in America I nearly passed out in excitement.

You have no idea how badly I've wanted to know more about what the wizarding world is like in the States. Ever since I read Goblet of Fire and got a glimpse at the Salem Witches' Institute my curiosity was piqued. As much as I loved the vast look at the world of wizards in the UK, I had to know more about the American side of wizard life. I had so many questions without any way to get an answer. Now I can get those answers!
JK Rowling
Direct me to where the American Wizarding school is, please! I'm past due for a much needed education.
Rowling has so far indicated that there is a sort of Hogwarts equivalent in America but that the Salem Institute is not it. She said its linked to Native Americans which leads me to believe that it is somewhere in the Midwest or Upper Southwest as there was once countless native tribes residing in those areas. My guess also comes from the fact that a wizarding school needs to be kept secret so what better place to have it than in the middle of nowhere. How crazy would it be if the schools were somewhere in North Dakota or Iowa?

But back to the movie -- the pictures don't reveal much that we didn't know already or about the plot itself. We know that Eddie Redmayne is playing Newt and we also know that the movie will take place in the 1920's in New York. The pictures reflect this fact with what looks like some beautiful set design and costuming! The 1920s provides some excellent visuals and I'm so happy that they're going all the way when it comes to looks and details.

One thing I did notice in the captions and the featured picture of the story is that America has a 'Magical Congress of the United States of America'. How freaking cool is that?! And it looks beautiful with the golden phoenixes behind Newt. I'd bet you anything that Phoenixes are American wizard versions of bald eagles.
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Admit it, you want this to be our national bird now.
Guys, there are no words to describe how excited I am for this film! We're not just returning to the wizarding world, but we're going to see a part of it that I've ALWAYS wanted to explore! There's absolutely no doubt as to where I'll be November 17th in 2016. In line at the theater, waiting for the stroke of midnight!

For more on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them check out its IMDB page HERE.


And to see all the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them pictures from Entertainment Weekly, check them out HERE.

 
 
I'm taking the week off as this is Halloween week and I'm tied up with Halloween duties including candy shopping and costume finishing uping. Have a fun and safe holiday!