Avengers: Endgame

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After the Infinity War left the world in ruins, the surviving Avengers have to undo the actions of Thanos to restore order to the universe.

Despite this movie picking up where the last one left off, it’s not necessary to have seen Avengers: Infinity War before seeing this one, which is nice. What happened is implied, and so it makes sense that loss is a major theme of this movie. The Avengers were never quite the same after the war. Some of them are reluctant to mess around with stopping Thanos for fear they’ll lose what they’ve gained in the 5 years since the war. But their sense of duty as superheroes outweighs their fear of what could go wrong. And there are a lot of things that could go wrong.

The special effects in this movie were really cool. Because their mission involved time travel, the Avengers had to go back to events in previous years, and therefore, previous movies. It would be interesting to find out if they used any old footage from the other movies to make this one. And because anything can happen during time travel, Stan Lee had his usual cameo, although at this point it’s almost definitely posthumous.

Despite the weight of the Avengers’ mission, this was laugh-out-loud funny. Somewhat surprisingly, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) provided most of the comic relief. The end of the movie has one of the biggest – if not the biggest – fight scenes in cinematic history. It was amazing.

This movie may be three hours long, but it’s totally worth it.

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It’s not nonsense

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John, you’re right

It’s good to know you’re bright

For intellect can wash away confusion

Georgie sees

And Annabel agrees

Most folderol’s an optical illusion

Can You Imagine That?, Mary Poppins Returns

If you thought my Mary Poppins Returns posts were done, well, honestly, so did I. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it – they’re not.

I was listening to “Can You Imagine That?” from Mary Poppins Returns the other night, when I randomly had the inkling to look up “folderol”. I always thought it was a made-up word to rhyme with something. But now that I think about it, it doesn’t rhyme with anything else in the song.

Anyway, I pulled out my phone and tapped on the Merriam-Webster dictionary app. And I found the following:

As you can see, “folderol” isn’t nonsense, but that’s exactly what it means.

It’s scary because it’s not

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I’ve now watched A Quiet Place four times. Four. And before you ask, it’s not just because of my affinity for Emily Blunt – although, I have to admit, she is the main reason I wanted to watch it for the first time.

I think one reason I like it so much is that the film is not a blood-and-guts horror movie. It’s more … is intellectual the right word? I don’t have to cover my eyes for anything. The only thing it occasionally triggers is my startle reflex, which comes into play with loud noises and sudden movement.

Another thing that makes the movie watchable for someone like me – who usually steers clear of the horror genre at all costs – is the family dynamic. After the apocalypse, there’s not much to do but try to survive. All the normal day-to-day activities are gone – no cell phones, no TV, etc. So it basically forces the Abbott family to spend time together, perhaps more than they normally would.

And going along with the family dynamic is the protection factor. It’s clear that Lee and Evelyn (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, respectively) would do anything to protect their children. When their son Marcus (Noah Jupe) is understandably nervous about going outside to learn survival skills, Evelyn is basically like “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, your father will protect you.” Most of this in sign language, of course. There are only approximately three minutes of spoken dialogue in the entire hour and a half run time of the movie. Because if anybody makes any noise at all, they’re pretty much dead on the spot.

Looked at individually, these reasons for liking the movie make a lot of sense. Taken together, however, I can’t seem to put my finger on what the movie represents for me as a whole. All I can say is it gives me a bunch of feelings that have nothing to do with horror.


Twitter Magic: Blogging Edition

A few minutes after I published Friday’s post, I got the above reply from Crimetown’s Twitter account. I’m really happy that they’ve decided to release it everywhere. However, I’m more surprised than anything else that they noticed my blog post.

It’s one thing to have my favorite famous people and/or journalists like my tweets and occasionally respond to them. It’s nice, and it amazes me every time. I like to think it keeps me humble. But people noticing my blog on platforms other than WordPress is somewhat new territory for me. It’s happened before of course, but nowhere near the frequency with which people notice my tweets.

What is this magic? What is it about Twitter that it’s the place where I’m lucky enough to be noticed? I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Don’t play with me, Crimetown

Yesterday, this appeared in my Apple Podcasts feed. I was pleasantly surprised, because I thought Crimetown was a Spotify exclusive now. Maybe enough people complained about the switch that they decided to put it back on Apple Podcasts?

Whatever happened yesterday, I hope it’s not a fluke. I hope they release the rest of season 2. I think I’m going to wait to listen to it until they update it again, just to make sure it’s actually going to happen.

To tease an audience like this and never update it again would be worse than Spotify taking off of Apple Podcasts in the first place. I’d probably write another angry post about it. On second thought, I know I would. Let’s hope I don’t have to.

Neville v. Nagini

Who doesn’t remember when Neville killed Nagini at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? It was cinematically awesome. Neville sliced her head off nice and clean. Another horcrux had been destroyed.

However, something struck me as I was watching Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald awhile back: Neville Longbottom didn’t just kill a giant snake. He killed a woman.

Nagini is a Maledictus – a carrier of a blood curse which will ultimately destine them to permanently transform into a beast. And for much of her life, she was treated horribly. People took advantage of her and used her as a sideshow act. It definitely wasn’t what she signed up for in life.

It’s not yet clear how Nagini ended up with Voldemort, but I have to imagine that they crossed paths somehow after she had outlived her usefulness in the sideshow – when she was permanently transformed into a beast. However, I don’t think being trapped as a beast erases who she is as a person. She’s still a woman who has thoughts and feelings, she’s just not in her human form.

When looked at from this angle, her death is actually quite sad. Her entire life, she had been considered a freak. People used her for entertainment, and Voldemort later used her as a … is slave the right word?

I know Nagini was a horcrux, so she had to be destroyed in order to take down Voldemort, but now part of me wishes she didn’t die. She didn’t ask for any of these horrible things to happen to her. She didn’t enjoy any of it. She was innocent.

Walk Me Home Above Water

Walk me home in the dead of night

I can’t be alone with all this on my mind

So say you’ll stay with me tonight

‘Cause there is so much wrong going on outside

P!nk, Walk Me Home

This refrain really resonates with me. Because, when I occasionally have sleepless nights, my mind is racing with thousands of different thoughts and beating myself up about things that have already happened or comparing myself to people and blaming myself for not being at the same point in life that they are when I know I probably could be. I can’t be alone on nights like this, and all I want is a member of my family of choice to climb into bed with me and hold me. I try to hug myself sometimes, or cover up with my blankets, but it’s not the same.

Yeah my life is what I’m fighting for

Can’t part the sea

Can’t reach the shore

And my voice becomes the driving force

I won’t let this pull me overboard

God keep my head above water

Don’t let me drown

It gets harder

I’ll meet you there at the altar

as I fall down to my knees

Don’t let me drown

Don’t let me drown

Avril Lavigne, Head Above Water

As I was listening to “Head Above Water” this morning, I noticed similarities with “Walk Me Home”. Both songs are about survival, maybe more specifically not wanting to be alone. Wanting someone to be by your side to help you fight through whatever life throws at you.

Definitely two songs I need right now.

Monopoly: Podcast Edition

spotify.com

Last month, I came across this snippet as part of the Daily Rundown on LinkedIn. And It made me really mad. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had issues with podcasts.

One time, my Apple Podcasts library deleted all the podcasts I’d been listening to. Sometimes, the app crashes for no apparent reason. And sometimes, Apple wipes out old episodes when I haven’t listened to them yet. I don’t know why that happens either, but it’s annoying.

Now, Spotify has bought another podcast network, Parcast. They’d already bought Gimlet, which had one of my favorite podcasts on it, Crimetown. They put the trailer and the first episode of season 2 on Apple Podcasts, but the rest of it is exclusively on Spotify.

I haven’t listened to it. Why should I have to download a separate app just to listen to one podcast? It’s not fair. I know it’s probably wishful thinking on my part, but why can’t people have access to everything no matter what podcast app they choose to use? I know Spotify probably wants more people to use the platform so it can make more money, but that doesn’t mean they get to have a monopoly on podcasts and podcast networks.

I know Spotify doesn’t own everything right now, but it sure seems headed in that direction. And I’m pretty sure – if my memory of history class over the years serves me – that the United States has anti-trust laws, which mean monopolies are illegal. All I have to say is Spotify better quit while it’s ahead.

The Best of Enemies (2019)

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Based on Osha Gray Davidson’s book, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, The Best of Enemies stars Taraji P. Henson as civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Sam Rockwell as Exalted Cyclops of North Carolina’s Klu Klux Klan, C.P. Ellis. The movie tells the unlikely story of how the two became friends during the debate over the integration of North Carolina’s schools in 1971.

It was an intense drama, to be sure, but it also had a surprising amount of humor. Taraji P. Henson really knows how to pull off being simultaneously serious and funny. The music in the movie, while excellent, was a bit jarring sometimes. It didn’t always match what was happening.

This is also a tale of redemption. At the beginning of the movie, C.P. Ellis was one of the most loyal members of the Klu Klux Klan. He wouldn’t serve black people at his gas station, even though he knew they would bring more business. Once he and Ann Atwater are selected to lead the debate about school integration, however, he begins to see that black people aren’t inherently bad or inferior. And when his friends in the Klan still carry out their racist deeds, he stands up for the black community.

This movie is an excellent example of how two people from different communities can come together and set aside their differences. It’s definitely a movie that will make the audience think about the extent of racism, because the movie shoves it right in the audience’s face. There’s no ignoring it. But there is a lesson to be learned: nothing is as simple as it seems.

An Evening with Kristin Chenoweth

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Kristin Chenoweth might be best known for her role on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked. However, her career also spans decades of television and voiceover work.

Last Friday, April 12, she performed at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia, as part of the opening night of the Virginia Arts Festival. She was accompanied by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under the direction of visiting conductor Rob Fisher, whom she has previously worked with on Broadway.

Most of the songs Chenoweth sang were from Broadway. And most of them were unfamiliar, but that didn’t matter. Because although Chenoweth is only 4’11”, she’s a powerhouse. It’s amazing that such a powerful voice can come from someone so small in stature. She could sing the phonebook and it would be beautiful.

Kristin Chenoweth is also spunky and hilarious. She made the members of the audience feel as if they were her friends. When she finally sang “Popular” from Wicked toward the end of the show, she actually encouraged the audience to take out their phones and record because “I know you’re all doing it anyway!”

Chenoweth closed out the evening with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (during which she was accompanied by students from the Governor’s School for the Arts) and Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art”.