Month: July 2016

TV Geek Review: Stranger Things

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I grew up in the 1980s, which as far as to my knowledge was literally the best time ever to be a kid.  We had the best movies (Star Wars, The Goonies, E.T., Indiana Jones, The Breakfast Club, etc..) the best toys, (Transformers, He-Man, etc.) and really it was a great time to be alive, the music was phenomenal as well, and there was a real sense of adventure growing up back then, you played outside with your friends, you had these adventures that you kids today couldn’t possibly have.

And with that there’s a real sense of nostalgia for those times, which a lot of Hollywood reads as, let’s make crappy knockoff movies of these things that kids of the 80’s, early 90s grew up with to make money, which happens 9 out of 10 times.  But then, every so often, you get a present, something that feels old, nostalgaic, from those days, that is brand new.  It’s fresh, it’s something we haven’t seen before but it feels like we’ve seen it, that my friends is the new Netflix series Stranger Things from the Duffer Brothers (Wayward Pines).

Stranger Things is an 8 episode series from Netflix that feels as though Steven Spielberg , Stephen King, and John Carpenter all had a baby in 1983, and this is that baby.   It’s about a group of kids who’s friend disappears one night after mysterious circumstances, it’s also about the mother of that kid (played brilliantly by Winona Ryder), who’s struggling to find her missing son, and also about a mysterious girl with telekenetic powers who’s only name she knows is Eleven, and a few other characters as well, and how they all interact with each other and the mystery that surrounds the missing boy, the girl with the powers, and a Cronenberg esque monster, and the connection that surrounds all of these events and characters.     I really don’t want to say too much about the plot, because it’s just so good, you should really discover it yourself as the rest of us have.

The best way to describe this show is, have you ever gone back and watched/played something from your childhood again, after years of it just being a memory, and you go back to watch it/play it, and the reality sets in that this thing wasn’t really that good to begin with?  But that your mind/imagination had made this thing seem so much cooler in your head than the actuality of it?  Well this show feels like that, but it feels like the version you have in your head of the thing, and it’s the actual thing.

Everything about this show is just pitch perfect, from the casting, the kids really feel like real kids of the time frame, the set designs to the music, both the soundtrack (I’ll never hear The Clash, Should I stay or Should I go Now the same way again) and the fantastic synth driven score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.   Just watch the opening credits.

How cool is that?  It feels like a John Carpenter movie with the font of a 1980s Stephen King paperback, that’s the tone this show has, you’ll get through these eight episodes and you’ll be be wishing it was a full 13 episodes like most Netflix dramas, but eight was really enough in this case, there’s no filler episodes, each episode is like a treat, any more would be too much I think.  But that’s enough of me ranting about how great this show is, what did you guys think of it?   Show some love in the comments, and til next time be sure to Keep It Reel.

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A Cunning Mind-The Mythological Trickster

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The following is a paper I wrote for my mythology class about the role of the trickster in mythology, I think it turned out pretty well, so I’m sharing it with you guys, all three of you loyal readers. 🙂 Enjoy.

 

A Cunning Mind- The Mythological Trickster

 

Tricksters have played quite the role in various mythologies since the dawn of time, and perhaps even before that if we’re inclined to listen to some of the characters tell it themselves.  While other Gods and Goddesses, heroes and villains are known for their heroic or nor so heroic deeds, the tricksters gift is of their mind, their cleverness is what gets them into and out of any situation they come across.

In some cases, the trickster does a benefit to others, such as when the Native American trickster God Coyote stole fire from the fire beings to keep mankind warm in the winter (“How Coyote Stole Fire.” How Coyote Stole Fire. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.)  This was also done, similarly but in a different fashion, by Prometheus, in Greek mythology.  Though, he had slightly different reason than sympathy to give mankind the gift of fire, as he was their creator as ordered by Zeus to do so after Zeus pulled him out of Tartarus.  (“The Myth of Prometheus – The Thief of Fire.” Greek Myths Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 121 July 2016) Strangely enough, and this is comparison for another time, the Greeks also went with the story of the God creating man from earth and water as did the Judeo-Christian faith sometime thereafter historically.

In the case of Prometheus, Zeus had instructed him not to imbue the newly created mankind with any special gifts, as I imagine he didn’t want any kind of potential uprising down the road.   After all his whole familial history was built around a cycle of usurping power.   So not even the spark of fire could belong to man.   But Prometheus felt no loyalty to Zeus, and felt sympathy for the cold powerless humans below, so he tricked the goddesses who were watching the area where Zeus had kept his fire by tossing them a golden pear, saying it was for the most beautiful goddess in Olympus.   While the goddesses began to fight each other over whom the pear was intended for, and the other gods were inclined to watch the Olympian smackdown, Prometheus made his move, stealing fire for mankind, keeping it in a hollowed out pumpkin (“The Myth of Prometheus – The Thief of Fire.” Greek Myths Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 121 July 2016), and gave it to the squishy humans below.       Unlike Coyote though, who had no one to answer for his actions, Prometheus was punished by Zeus for his stealing of the fire however, and was chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, where he was forced to have his liver eaten out by an eagle, over and over again for eternity…or until Hercules freed him later on in one of his adventures at least.

These are cases of tricksters helping people though, more often than not, the trickster is more out to amuse his own curiosity, as is often the case in many of the Norse God Loki’s exploits.  One of his more famous exploits is his role in the death of the god Baldur.  Baldur’s mother Frigga hears a prophecy that Baldur will die, and to prevent this she essentially makes an agreement with all living things that they will not harm her son, all except for mistletoe, which the gods considered so small a thing that couldn’t possibly cause Baldur any harm.   Loki realizes this, and forges a spear made of mistletoe, which he hands to the blind god Hod, and instructs him to toss it to Baldur.   Hod not knowing what the spear was forged from, he tosses it to Baldur, who gets impaled by the spear, and dies.  His spirit is then taken to Hel, the Norse realm of the dead.  There is a way he can be resurrected, however, if all the living things in the realms cry for his loss, which they do, save for one cold hearted female frost giant who likely was Loki in disguise in the first place, and so Baldur remains in Hel until the end of days, Ragnarok.  (“Loki – Norse Mythology for Smart People.” Norse Mythology for Smart People. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.)

 

As I’ve shown, the trickster can be either a helpful ally or a thorn in the side of any story, the one thing that you can count on for sure is that a trickster will never make a story not entertaining.

 

“How Coyote Stole Fire.” How Coyote Stole Fire. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.

“Loki – Norse Mythology for Smart People.” Norse Mythology for Smart People. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.

“The Myth of Prometheus – The Thief of Fire.” Greek Myths Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 121 July 2016.