Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Joy of Unsolved Mysteries

90's kids didn't have a cable channel completely devoted to crime like ID, a channel devoted to crazy alien conspiracies like the History Channel, or even a channel devoted to hunting ghosts like the Travel Channel. If we wanted any of this we had one source: Unsolved mysteries.

The Premise
Unsolved Mysteries (Specifically it's 80-90's run) was hosted by the late Robert Stack (Best known outside of this for his role in Airplane!) and featured several stories an episode about things that just don't have answers. We'd see recent cases of criminals on the run, older stories of crimes like the Zodiac Killer and D.B.Cooper. We'd get urban legend stories like the Mary Celeste, a ship that was found abandoned and nobody knows why, and weird niche stories like a fertility statue that guaranteed pregnancy to any woman who touched it. Aliens, ghosts and the occasional angel rounded out the usual stories, plus plenty of missing person and lost connection stories to tug at the heartstrings in between the horror.

Real Witnesses
The truly creepy thing about Unsolved Mysteries segments were the interviews with real people. They'd always get someone, from the witnesses to some forensic guy or historian to talk about what happened and tell their stories. This made even the most far out stories not only believable but infinitely creepier.

Besides the creepy theme music, the most exciting piece of music from the show was the update music. This meant that the segment has an update, occasionally new information but usually it meant that the mystery had been solved. This meant that the creepy stories would occasionally have a happy ending, usually with the bad guy being caught or the missing person found. These were the most satisfying pieces of the show, because it gave hope that all the other mysteries could one day be solved.

What's the Appeal? 
Besides the three cable channels listed above, countless podcasts, Youtube channels and TV series cover the same ground Unsolved Mysteries covers. What makes these stories so interesting that people keep coming back to it? From my perspective, growing up with these stories I can say that there's something appealing watching the darker side of human nature and the world around us. It's interesting to wonder what the real answers are, what actually happened, who did it, and if the monsters are real. This is an escape from the real world into someone else's maybe even a world where you can help solve a mystery.

Wanna see Unsolved Mysteries today? The entire series is on Amazon Prime and Youtube, and a new series of Unsolved Mysteries is on Netflix with fresh new mysteries.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Pokemon Nicknames: Disney (Gen III-V)

It's the fourth anniversary of Pokemon Go! Other than a couple weekends that I've been out of cell service, I think I've played just about everyday since its release. So in honor of Pokemon Go, I've got a few more Disney-themed Pokemon nicknames. Since the later generations of Pokemon are less popular than the first two, I'm breezing through generations three, four, and five. So have fun!





(also Aipom or Grookey)





(also Simipour and Simisear)

King Louie


Friday, July 3, 2020

6 Quotes from Captain America About Freedom

Happy Fourth of July! This year has been crazy, but we're surviving. It's left me thinking about agency and freedom and the role we play in it. So in honor of Independence Day, here are some quotes about liberty and agency from Captain America.

“I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from.” 
This quote from the The First Avenger is one that reminds me that we have to fight for freedom. Nowadays those fights are often a war of words and opinions, but regardless of where those fights happen it's up to us to stand up for what's right.

“When I went under, the world was at war. I wake up, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost.”
There have been no shortage of wars in the past couple centuries. In Avengers we're reminded that it comes at a cost. Our troops pay that cost every day. I am grateful for those that have given their lives in the fight to keep us free.

"The price of freedom is high, it always has been. And it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it."
Again Cap tells us about the price of freedom. In Winter Soldier he's fighting Hydra and asking people to stand up to them. Even when the world is telling you something wrong is right, we need to stand up to it.

“If we sign this, we surrender our right to choose. ... We may not be perfect but the safest hands are still our own.” 
In Civil War, it's Iron Man vs. Captain America about the Sakovia Accords. Unlike in the movie, most of us are not fighting against legislation. But we need to take accountability for our actions, good or bad. If we give up that right to addiction or to someone else, we lose that freedom.

“I know you’re doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do. That’s all any of us should. So no matter what, I promise you, if you need us, if you need me, I’ll be there.” 
Most people are doing the best they know how. Cap knew he was at odds with Iron Man during Civil War, but he knew Tony was doing what he thought was right. Social media is full of arguments every day, but it helps if we give people the benefit of the doubt and remember they're doing the best they know how.

“You think I'm fighting for me? To save my own life? That's why you'll never win. I'm not fighting for me. I'm fighting for them… It's the very thing that makes us human.” 
In Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Cap is fighting against Vision, who thinks he's doing it for himself, Cap reminds us that it's not about us; it's about making the world a better place for our loved ones, especially our children and the upcoming generation.

“[The Statue of Liberty will] still be there. But what she represents, the spirit of Lady Liberty, is found in its people.”
This bonus quote is not by Cap, but actually from Peggy Carter. It still fit the bill for this post as my wife and I were watching Agent Carter recently. Ironically, this quote was said to a Russian spy working for Leviathan. But like Peggy said, America and the liberties we hold dear, you can see it in the people. I will forever be grateful for the freedoms we have here and for the blessings it brings me and my family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

4th of July Disney Movie Recommendations

(Guest Post by David T)

This Saturday, people across the United States will gather together with family and friends to celebrate America’s birthday with barbecues, fireworks, and activities. One such activity is movie watching, particularly films about freedom. If you are having a difficult time selecting a movie, or just don’t know what to watch, here are four Disney movie recommendations that are sure to get you into the spirit of this Independence Day.

Aladdin (1992) 

Some may not consider this animated feature film a flag waving tribute to liberty. However, Aladdin is a movie about freedom. It’s about Aladdin’s desire to be able to move upward economically and socially. It is about Jasmine’s yearning to have a choice in whom to marry, and have that marriage based on love instead of a restrictive law dictating she marry royalty by the deadline of her birthday. It’s about Genie’s ultimate wish to be free from the magical rules and servitude bound by the lamp. And it is about real liberty that comes from being yourself.

A Bug’s Life (1998) 

One of the themes of this film is that there is strength through unity. Near the beginning of A Bug’s Life it is made clear that the queen of the ants and her subjects are oppressed by Hopper and his grasshopper gang due to the latter’s large size. Believing that insects in equal proportion or even bigger is the key to liberating the ants, the underdog or under-ant, Flik, with the guise of approval from the colony council, sets out to find them. Through his journey, and at one point in the face of death, Flik realizes that the way to free himself and his fellow invertebrates is to stand up to Hopper and the other locusts. Inspired by Flik’s words and courage, the Queen, Princesses Atta and Dot, and the entire ant colony unite and, with the help of the circus bugs, fight the gang of grasshoppers. The diminutive ants gain and enjoy their new found independence.

The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 

ATTENTION: Spoilers are ahead for those who haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker. A New Hope, The Return of the Jedi, and The Phantom Menace contain amazing battles between good and evil. With that said, The Rise of Skywalker is specifically recommended here because of the inspiring last stand between the Resistance and the Final Order. In the epic climatic battle on Exegol, when it appeared the Resistance’ fight was lost, Poe Dameron was ready to resign himself to defeat. This changed as ships piloted by species from numberless star systems led by Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon fill the skies of the planet. From this sight,  and after hearing his friend, Zori Bliss’ encouragement, Poe, Finn, and the Resistance’s faith and determination is renewed. They (with Rey’s help during her own battle on the planet with Emperor Palpatine), successfully vanquish the Final Order, restoring freedom across the galaxy.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) 

For those who want to watch a patriotic, freedom loving hero, Captain America is the movie to see. The origin story of scrawny, sickly Steve Rogers who through a super soldier serum becomes the brawny first Avenger, Captain America is an inspiring one. While physically Cap is an enhanced warrior who can best any adversary in combat, it’s the strength and purity of his heart that makes him such a beloved hero. It’s his service oriented heart that leads Steve to reject the celebrity life as a poster boy for the war effort and join with his best bud, Bucky, and fellow soldiers, in carrying out operations against Hydra. It is Cap’s courageous heart that propels him to stop Red Skull’s sinister plans for world domination. And it’s the First Avenger’s selfless heart that allows him to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save millions of people’s lives in the United States.

So on this Independence Day, between the eating, games, and fireworks, watch one (or maybe two) of these recommended Disney movies, and feel your appreciation renewed and strengthened for your individual and communal freedoms. Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 29, 2020

10 Cuddliest Creatures In Fiction

Life's too hard. Let's focus on something nice for once.

That's pretty much all the premise this article needs.

10: Dex-Starr
A more obscure character for those not at least neck deep in DC Comics, this cosmic kitty is a dangerous member of the Red Lanterns. His fury is only matched by his tragic backstory. He's not an alien or a mutant, he's just a kitty who wants to be loved.

9: Appa
This strange six-legged flying bison was introduced to us in Avatar the Last Airbender, and immediately flew away with our hearts. He's a big friendly mode of transportation and best friend to Aang. His only real competition in his world is when we were treated to baby sky bisons in the sequel series Legend of Korra.

8: Snorlax
When we first ran into Snorlax sleeping in the road in the Kanto region, did any of us really want to wake him up? He's just sleeping there, living his best life in the afternoon sun. It's almost tempting to just hang the rest of the adventure and join him on his big soft belly.

7: Baymax
Specially engineered to be as friendly and cuddly as possible, Baymax is the perfect healthcare administrator. He heals wounds, can warm you up to stave off hypothermia, and is just a pleasant personality program to tell your woes to. Baymax will even read up on you woes to find the best way to help you deal with whatever your dealing with.

6: Baby Owlbear
Found in the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, owlbears have been around since near the beginning. They're large menacing creatures that are not to be taken lightly, unless they're cute little cubs. Found in some supplemental guides, adventurers lucky enough to come across one of these little darlings can train them to be powerful and loyal pets. While they'll be perfect in battle, they also make great places to sleep on the long road.

5: Tribbles
Seen first in the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" and later in the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", these parasites multiply incredibly fast, and if left unchecked can endanger starship operations. The reason they are kept though is because they're soft, furry and purr like cute little alien kitties.

4: Nibbler
The deceptively intelligent alien pet from Futurama, Nibbler is a three-eyed bundle of love (as long as he's not hungry). Nibbler is part of a race of powerful warriors tasked with defending the universe from the Brains and other cosmic terrors, but in between life saving missions they're always up to snuggle and put on cute outfits.

3: Niffler
Formally introduced to us in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, these little mole-like critters are attracted to shiny things, for better or worse. They only get to about the size of a house cat, and while cuddling up to you may be a rouse to get that fancy pocket watch they spotted earlier, it's still a nice cuddle for everyone involved. Plus if you can get the Niffler to fall asleep you may get access to its secret magic pouch and get some treasure of your own.

2: All Baby level Digimon
Digimon can be big scary monsters that look like they climbed out of a high school student's edgiest sketchbook, or they can be the cutest little critters to rival even the squishiest of Pokemon. Baby level Digimon, no matter what they turn into, are all like this. Cuddly, friendly and fun little balls of squish, that you almost don't want to Digivolve.

1: Totoro
Totoro from Ghibli studio's My Neighbor Totoro is the ultimate cuddle buddy. A forest spirit that protects children who are lost and in need of a friend, Totoro is there if you need an umbrella in the rain or a nap in the woods. Totoro is a big cat spirit ready to give you all the love you need, all you have to do is believe.

***Honorable Mention: Stitch***
Stitch, the adorable and lovable alien from Lilo and Stitch, would be on this list, except for the fact that while cuddling with him there'd always be that nagging worry that at any moment he may try to destroy major cities, back up sewage lines, and steal everyone's left shoe. Stitch is cuddly, no doubt about it, but he's a little too unstable to make this list.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Operation New Beginnings: Regina Mills

(Guest Post by Tyler)

In Once Upon a Time, we get to see amazing representations of many of the characters we grew up hearing stories about. These include famous heroes like Robin Hood, Snow White, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Belle and Tiana. But while their stories are shown in compelling ways, the last few times I’ve watched the show I’ve found myself drawn more towards the characters initially considered villains such as Captain Hook, Zelena (the Wicked Witch of the West) and mostly importantly, Regina Mills better known as the Evil Queen.

Quick Spoiler Alert here for those who haven’t watched the show. If you are someone who loves seeing characters who change and grow take a look at this show on Netflix.

“My life was never just one story. It was many stories.” (Regina Mills; Once Upon a Time Season 6, Episode 1)

The character of Regina Mills could easily be considered the tragic villain. While it takes a few seasons (the first six actually) to get a full idea of her backstory, we learn that she just wanted to be loved. She wanted her mother’s attention and when she finally found someone she loved and who loved her, her mother showed her that attention by killing him. This is what led to her descent into becoming known as The Evil Queen.

“To some, a villain. I hurt people... in ways I can never make up for.” (Regina Mills; Once Upon a Time Season 6, Episode 1)

Now the typical story of the Evil Queen as a villain is known by almost everyone. She tries to kill Snow White. However in the stories told to us through the flashbacks through the seasons, we learn that it wasn’t just Snow and Charming that she tormented. She was the one who stole Ariel’s voice. She was the cause of Tinkerbell ending up in Neverland as a disgraced fairy. She not only committed her own acts of villainy but was a source of inspiration to other villains such as Maleficent. Eventually, she kills her own husband and starts an outright battle with Snow for leadership of the kingdom ultimately leading to her casting the curse that starts the show’s plot.

“To others, I'm... a hero. They've seen my strength, my ability to do the hard things, even when I thought I couldn't.” (Regina Mills; Once Upon a Time Season 6, Episode 1)

But the thing about people is, that they aren’t tied to one set of morality. Given the chance, some people will surprise you and change. It just takes the right motivation. In Regina’s case, that took the form of her adopted son Henry. We won’t take the time to even attempt to analyze the family tree in here but let’s just say, it’s a mess. After being the main villain for Season 1, Regina starts to see how her actions affect her son. She realizes that she isn’t the best at showing that she cares about people and takes a step back to learn how to do it better. At the end of Season 2, we really start to see this change as she was willing to sacrifice herself to save Henry and the entire town realized how much she was changing.

“I want to start a new story. One where the Evil Queen doesn't get a part.” (Regina Mills; Once Upon a Time Season 6, Episode 1)

There’s a lot of particulars that I could go into with the character of Regina Mills, and I’ll be back later to do just that, but to sum up the character of Regina, she is a perfect embodiment of how a villain turned hero should be portrayed. She went from “I will destroy your happiness” to having the people she once called her enemies become her closest friends. A wild ride to be sure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why You Need a Joey Tribbiani in Your Life

Our home was suddenly more quiet and indecisive (as far as Netflix is concerned) when Friends was removed at the end of 2019. Recently, we bought my brother’s collection of DVDs as he subscribed to HBO Max. As a result, it’s been a breath of fresh air to pop in those discs and have some good laughs while the world is still going crazy. In particular, Joey and Phoebe are always good for a laugh. I’ve written about Phoebe before, so today I wanted to focus on Joey and why everyone needs someone like Joey Tribbani in their life.

Joey will sacrifice his own desires for yours
It happened repeatedly throughout the series. He was willing to give up so much for his friends. He gave up meat when Phoebe was pregnant, he told Chandler to date Kathy, and he was willing to give up Ursula to keep Phoebe. Find yourself a friend who will care for you enough to sacrifice for you.

Joey is always there when you need a hug
Whether it’s good news or bad news, Joey is never too far away for a big bear hug. Whether he was saying goodbye to Chandler or comforting Phoebe, he was always ready to show affection to his friends. Who couldn’t do with a big bear hug on a bad day?

Joey is loyal to a fault
I’ve already labeled him a Hufflepuff in the past and this only goes toward the evidence I presented in that post. He yelled at Rachel’s baby-buying boss, he went after Chandler for kissing his sister, and he would have married Phoebe to help her with her baby. That's pretty awesome!

Joey will keep your secrets (at least for a while)
He might be the lovable idiot of the group, but he’s smart. Only Joey pieced together that Monica and Chandler were secretly dating. After he found out, he kept the secret for so long (four-ish months). All because he cared about Monica and Chandler and he knew how happy they were together.

Joey is forgiving
Make no mistake; he knows how to hold a grudge. However, Joey is also very forgiving. He forgave Chandler for kissing his sister and he forgave Kathy for kissing Chandler. He might end up giving you grief from time to time, but he’s got a good heart and he can’t keep a true grudge for very long.

Joey is funny
The most obvious reason to get to know Joey is that he’s funny. Especially with how insane adult life is, I know I can use all the laughs I can manage. That’s why those Friends DVDs end up on our TV basically everyday. Laughter is good medicine, so I guess that makes Joey the doctor.

Make sure to share this post with a Joey in your life. Gotta get me one of those. He’s not perfect though and can definitely be selfish at times because….