Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Demon (1979)

The Demon may possess one of the worst story lines, the worst character development, and the worst filming techniques that I have ever seen. It was incredibly spotty and left so many holes like it was a slice of Swiss cheese. At the same time, there is something appealing to this film that makes it worth the watch. While someone who's looking for a film that thoroughly follows the rules is going to declare this to be one of the worst on the market, there should be plenty of people that simply forgive Percival Rubens and the direction he took the film as the director. Having a low budget like that of a pauper would be the only thing that excusable for the quality of the film in general.

The monster in the film is a serial killer that is the title "demon" in the film. He has a razor claw, a mask, and is large and monstrous, like he is a human King Kong. His first victim is Emily (played by Ashleigh Sendin in the brief amount of time she appears), the daughter of the Parkers (played by Peter J. Elliot and Moira Winslow) who summon a retired, psychic marine named Col. Bill Carson, played by Cameron Mitchell, who is probably the most notable star Rubens could get on board. Mitchell does a fine job portraying Col. Carson, as he walks into the room and senses through Emily's items in order to see images of what may have happened to her. The Parkers are like any set of parents whose daughter has been kidnapped, most concerned about whether or not she is alive.

While the beginning of the film provides the notion that the Parkers are the target characters, this notion would be misleading. We should really be focused at Mary (played by Jennifer Holmes), who is a preschool teacher who sees this "demon" pop up outside of the building, but disappear just as quick, every so often during the day. She lives with her friend, Jo (played by Zoli Marki), who is quite the carefree brunette who is starting to date Dean Turner (played by Craig Gardner). Dean is a rich, spoiled, in many cases arrogant individual who likes to pretend to take pictures in order to encourage Jo to shed some clothing. When we see him locking the door and pause, an assumption arises that he is the demon that's killing people one by one. The rubber mask only increases such an assumption.

The demon pops up on plenty of occasions. After Emily, he hops into a car with an outgoing driver that hitches him a ride, he also comes across a few others in which he kills before suffocating them by placing their heads in a plastic bag and tying it. We have no idea exactly who the demon is, for his face is only shown at a quick glimpse.

Mary, who sees the images of the demon, is the one that is given the fate of bringing down the demon, because Mr. Parker tries to confront him using the brilliant sketches that Col. Carson creates through his psychic ability, leading him to the house but is unable to take the demon down. Col. Carson tries to console Mrs. Parker, but loses his life in the process, ending his ability to do anything to solve the problem. That takes them completely out of the picture, but leaves Mary & Bobby and Jo & Dean. Ultimately, it's just Mary that is locked in her house and has to outdo the demon in some way, shape, or form.

There is absolutely no plot structure in this film. There is no explanation about the demon, who he is, what he does, and why he does it. He just terrorizes a town and kills people that cross his path. The Parkers are a poorly structured family and things are just cut off to the point that there is no explanation whatsoever, especially the way it ends. At the same time, there is that certain element that allows you to care about specific characters (primarily Mary and Jo) and want to see the demon be brought down. Mary is the one character that has the wits and the physical ability to resist the demon, knowing that she has to use her head and not her hands to bring this monster down, because he's just too strong to be brought down on a one-on-one fight.

The horror fanatic will see nothing wrong with this film, especially if they can care less about plot and care most about being horrified. This film is rated R, primarily due to violence and nudity. There are quite a few scenes with upper nudity and there is also some complete nudity to go with it. I'm not one to complain about this, but that doesn't mean you should be taking little ones to see this film.

A billboard for The Amityville Horror makes an appearance during a scene that's showing the nightlife of a town. There also happens to be a place calls "Boobs Disco" where they play "Funky Town" by Lipps Inc., leading me to question the year the film was released, because "Funky Town" came out in 1980 and I would find it hard to believe that a hot song would be used in a low-budget film like this. It was filmed in South Africa (explaining the driver driving on what is the passenger side in America), but it states different years of release. In America, the release happens to be in 1981. A few tidbits that add to the confusion, but this is just me.

The Demon suits its purpose and does nothing more. I would say that the horror-goer is the only individual that will enjoy this film and be entertained. If foodies could eat and enjoy American cheese and Velveeta and call it "cheese," then horror fanatics could watch this and call it "horror." I found this film to be quite entertaining, but that's as nice as I can be, because it had plenty of faults and left me with plenty of questions. The ending could be the exception, because cliffhangers can build tension in a piece. It has since become public domain, adding to its overall quality, but it could still make for an entertaining horror night.

Verdict: 6/10

Monday, July 29, 2013

Whose Line Is It Anyway Season 9, Episode 3

I have written plenty of reviews for episodes of Shark Tank, primarily during the third season, since by the time the fourth season came about, I was juggling college and work, which reduced my television time to very small occasions. This episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway was actually viewed on the computer, since I couldn't catch it when it aired at its original airing time at 8 PM. I must say, however, that this episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway answered all of my concerns and engaged in exactly what I was hoping it would. In addition, Keegan-Michael Key is one of my favorite comedians at this current period of time. I remember watching him on MADtv and how he did a fine job playing different characters, such as Gordon on their version of Sesame Street. He was a great guest comedian to join regulars Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles, along with host Aisha Tyler. The fact that every gripe I had with episodes one and two were answered in episode three seriously boost my impression for the show.

In episode one, Gary Anthony Williams participated in two sketches, Lauren Cohan in two, and the regulars in all five. In episode two, Heather Anne Campbell played in just two sketches, less than Kevin McHale, who had a role in three sketches, while the regulars were in multiple sketches. Cohan and McHale were just temporary or one-act guests, while Williams and Campbell were meant to be used in more sketches. In this episode, Brady, Key, Mochrie, and Stiles all participated in four sketches while guest Candice Accola of The Vampire Diaries was in two, which is the perfect balance.

Not only was the balance spot on, but the sketches were hilarious. I have some chuckles here and there, but that's good for somebody who only laughs every so often. "Hollywood Director" was the first sketch, in which Keegan and Ryan were operating a spaceship and come across Wayne as an alien, while Colin was the director. They went through a first phase of being ordinarily funny, a second phase of being flamboyant, and a third of acting as if they were on The Jerry Springer Show. For "Props," they each had to use random props in their jokes, much like Carrot Pop or Bruce "Babyman" Baum do, only this is a small element of their range. Wayne and Colin used what looked like dusters, while Keegan and Ryan used what looked like huge cup-looking caps with holes on the bottom. They each took turns coming up with hilarious examples. 

For "Song Styles," Wayne came up with a Latin-themed song for guest star Candice Accola, while for "Dating Profile," the four featured performers came up with undesirable features that would turn people off on a dating site. Colin did something so outrageous that it interrupted the others and their train of thought, including Aisha and she was just controlling the buzzer. "Living Scenery" was the last sketch, where the scenario was Ryan and Colin climbing Mt. Everest and Keegan and Candice portrayed the props. The closing of the episode had to do with the crew reading off the credits like they were high schoolers suspecting that somebody was a vampire.

Things seem to be rightfully clicking for Whose Line Is It Anyway. They benefited with having Keegan-Michael Key as a strong guest performer and the fact that everybody is playing a useful role in the sketches really a big help. Aisha Tyler is also doing quite a job hosting the show and is quite effective with explaining how the points don't matter and they become worthless after a period of time, so it makes sense to use them by the end of the night... if only there were stores that accepted points opened. If the shows features episodes like this, then it will really be worth the grand comeback and I encourage everyone to watch it on the CW! I'll leave a link at the bottom for you to check out.

Oh and it's worth mentioning that Whose Line Is It Anyway is being renewed for a tenth season that's twenty-four episodes and it's definitely worth catching if you can. At the moment we speak, new episodes are on Tuesday nights at 8 PM on CW. If you're looking to watch something at that day and time, this is what you should check. There's a strong chance you will have at least one good laugh.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: "How To Read Literature Like A Professor" by Thomas C. Foster

Being an English major, one things that's extremely crucial is that I am able to not only read literature, but interpret the meanings behind the thoughts and dissect each and every thought that is presented to me. Paying attention to the words was something I was taught to keep a close eye on during American Literature I and II, for that's where ideas tend to begin. From there, you just keep expanding. Thomas C. Foster, an English professor at the University of Michigan at Flint, discusses everything we should keep an eye on in How To Read Literature Like An English Professor and the specific details that we should pay attention to that will allow us to understand the story better.

To Foster, everything means something, and that's how we should see every piece of writing we come across. Each chapter is named for the idea he's expressing at that point in time. For instance, in the chapter in which he's mentioning how every trip is a quest of some form, many of which are to discover a level of wisdom or maturity, naming this chapter: "Every Trip Is A Quest (Except When It's Not). One of the most fascinating things he points out is how the seasons play out in literature. He mentions that spring is a time of birth, summer a time of living, fall a time of aging, and winter a time of death. This method seems quite simple, as it could be seen throughout plenty of ways (many of which Foster mentions). On the topic of spring and birth, the topic of sex is just as exciting, and Foster points out that authors have found creative ways of describing sexual interaction, whether it be through playful interaction or sharing a dinner. In addition, Foster talks about the meaning of water, the meaning of being blind, the meaning behind specific diseases, and this list keeps going on and on. The most important rule he mentions has to do with irony and no matter what subject he has described, irony trumps everything!

The last activity in this book has to do with reading "The Garden Party," a short story by Katherine Mansfield. The object is to read and answer two simple questions having to do with interpreting the story. It's of your best interest to read the story, look at the questions, read the story again, and then answer the questions through some simple notes. I will not disclose what I came up with, because it will only defeat the purpose of picking this book up in the first place. I will just say that while I didn't hit the main idea right on the money, I did come up with the several other ideas and messages that were being expressed. I highly encourage you to engage in this activity!

Foster engages provides plenty of examples, whether they be literary or through pop culture. He does an excellent job making this information relevant, but perhaps may have taken a few steps beyond what he needed to. Nevertheless, he did a very good job delivering his message, which included highlighting his most important piece of advice in bold. The book he references to the most often is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, which he uses to discuss topics such as two of the characters swimming in the river and this takes the role of being a baptism. It is obviously included with a list of several other recommendations, whether they be short stories or novels.

I would say that How To Read Literature Like A Professor provided me with a sense of direction when it came to understanding the message each author was trying to deliver through the text. If you're looking to expand on your consumption of literature that you wish to read, this is a fine tool to use in order to begin. The best line has to do with what we consume on page 281 of the book, in which Foster reminds us to not, "wait for writers to be dead to be read; the living ones can use the money," which is referring to how the bestsellers primarily write thrillers, fantasies, and young adult fiction, as oppose to the literature that comes off as being English class material. He encourages us to find good writing and to read what we deem as good writing, plus what we like. This book takes on the feel of a fun English class, in which a good discussion without any boundaries goes about. So have fun while you read!

Verdict: 8/10

Friday, July 19, 2013

Poem Review: "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton

Throughout my high school days and as recent as this last year, poetry was never something I could get in to nor was it something I could write. Then, all of a sudden, it started to grow on me. While I am still not fond of writing poetry, reading good poetry and interpreting the thoughts in the writers heads and what they were thinking became quite a task and there was some poetry that was just so mesmerizing. I would say that there are two sources to thank for somewhat of a cheeky soft side for poetry. The first is the American Literature I and II classes I took that were filled with some meaningful poetry. I read about Michael Wigglesworth and his fascination with Judgment Day, the strange and revealing poetry of Walt Whitman, the descriptive Robert Frost, the blunt T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, who paid good attention to every detail, the dirtiest, wide open Allen Ginsberg, and the perpetually dramatic Sylvia Plath, and this list keeps going on... and on... and on. The second source is a girl named Colleen that I have been discussing writing with. Her poetry is just excellent and has raw emotion, something that's required when writing good poetry. It got me hooked to the point that anytime new poetry came about, I had to read it.

One of the poems that really stuck in my mind was by Anne Sexton, who was an active figure in confessional poetry. The other key figure was Sylvia Plath and both Plath and Sexton had a drive that came from depressing backgrounds, much of this depression was brought up in their own minds. Sexton was actively writing poetry from the late 1950s to her death from suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning. One of her greatest pieces has to do with her response to Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, "Starry Night," which is one of my favorite paintings, so the two are sure to make a good combination.

Due to the interference of written copyright infringements, I will not post the actual poem on my blog, but I will instead post a link to the poem on here, so you can read the poem and read this blog and make sense of what I'm talking about.

"The Starry Night" is a simple little poem that takes on a Naturalist kind of notion, even though Naturalism was in the spotlight much clearer in the second half of the nineteenth century. Works like Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," which I reviewed recently, took on the notion that it's nature that makes decisions in an unbiased way and not a higher being or God. Before beginning her poem, Sexton points to van Gogh and his resistance of converting to a religion by painting the stars, which make up a beauty of nature. He made mention to this in a letter to his brother. Some may argue that the stars are part of God's beauty, just like John McCain argued during a debate that while he believes in the theory of evolution, he also believes that when walking the Grand Canyon, he sees the sunset as the hands of God. Sexton is taking a notion that's different.

After the quote from van Gogh, Sexton starts her poem by saying "the town does not exist" (1), which could mean plenty of things, whether it be a naturalistic setting or a thought of denial. As we read along, we realize that the only occasion in which the reader (perhaps, Sexton as well) seeks happiness is on a beautiful, starry night as she describes in the poem. Not once, but twice, does she mention "oh starry starry night, this is how I want to die" (5-6), which is the key line in the poem, one that I find to be a favorite, with the raw honesty that confessional poetry brings with it. The speaker in the poem cherishes starry nights to the point that it is in that fashion that they wish to be taken away, in that beautiful moment.

She then goes on to describe the moon and how it begins to interfere with the stars. Again, whether or not its an act of God or an act of Naturalism is for the literary enthusiast (either driven by religion or not) to decide. "The old unseen serpent" (mention in line 10) begins to interfere with the stars, interfering with the meaning of the speaker's life. By the end of the poem, it has made a complete split from the speaker. One could think that this is the transition from night to day. In a more psychological way of thinking, it could mean the separation from sanity, which could only be found on a starry night like this. We would later learn that something like this would take Anne Sexton's very own life.

What Sexton did was take a painting and make comparisons between her own life and that painting. I happen to be a fan of both van Gogh's paintings and Anne Sexton's poetry, so putting the two together was indeed fascinating. I was initially introduced to her during the women's rights unit in Postmodernism class, before realizing she was part of the original American Literature II unit. Sexton's poetry will definitely be something I look deeper into as I go about my literary expeditions.

Since I did mention actual lines from her poem, credit is due where credit is due. I bought Anne Sexton: The Complete Poems, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company in New York, originally in 1981, though this First Mariner Books version was published in 1999. It has everything written by Anne Sexton, so I encourage you to pick it up and read it. I got this off of Amazon, so you should definitely find it there. The source I'm going to leave you with is a link to the poem that you can read online, if for some reason you don't want to buy a complete poet's collection and instead just want to read the poem to make sense of what I am saying.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171273

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Short Story Review: "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs

In my sophomore year of high school, I was introduced to "The Monkey's Paw," one of the finest horror stories ever to be written by an author who is known for this short story, but primarily for the concept of being careful what you wish for, or better yet, don't even bother taking an offer with three wishes attached, because there are tight strings that will not loosen. I originally read it in the script form, so I took the opportunity to seek a version that was written in its original prose format. As a single piece of short horror fiction, this may lie on the top of the line, among a class of works by Edgar Allan Poe. It's just clever to play the "three wishes" game and play it very well. This will be an analysis with commentary, so unless you don't mind knowing what happens, it is best you do not read on. That's my spoiler alert.

The story, set in Britain, begins with Mr. White and his son, Herbert, playing a game of chess where Herbert puts his dad in checkmate. It shows that this is "an ordinary night." It doesn't remain "ordinary" for long, because a man by the name of Sergeant-Major Morris comes to the house with a monkey's paw, willing to give it to them. This paw provides the bearer with three wishes on anything they wish. Sergeant-Major inherited this paw from the man before him, who used his three wishes, the only one that was known was that his third wish was for death. This is a clear sign of trouble, provided that the first two wishes were more than likely intended for one thing but resulted in something so drastic and painful that his life became so unbearable and death was the only freedom. Sergeant-Major even mentions that it was created to assert the power of fate. The paw was a test in which the bearer would try to interfere with fate, but instead end up in a situation far worse than before. The overall moral is to not play with fate.

The White family tests out the paw's powers and wish for two hundred pounds, which should be enough to clear all of the payments that they have to put up with. They wonder where the money will pop up and Herbert finds it to be quite hysterical that this is a strange situation. The next day, Herbert heads off to work for the last time. Later on, someone is sent to inform Mr. and Mrs. White that Herbert was killed in a machinery accident. For compensation, the company provided them with... two hundred pounds. The first wish has been granted, but with a cost. The Whites expected the money to just pop up out of thin air, but instead, the money has come about as sympathy money from a company in which Herbert worked due to an accident that took his life. Things aren't going so well...

Time goes by, Herbert is buried, and the Whites wonder what they should do next. Mrs. White then remembers the paw and what kind of power it has. She realizes that she could use the paw to bring Herbert back to life and begs her husband, who is not very fond of the idea, to use the second husband to bring their son back to life. Mr. White does this and the two return to bed. Now we are left to wonder how Herbert will return to the house. While they're in bed, they hear a knock on the door. Mr. White dismisses it for a rat, but Mrs. White really believes it's Herbert. Mr. White takes a match and heads downstairs, while Mrs. White goes to the kitchen and looks out the window to see who is there. Then a race between Mrs. White unlocking the locks on her door PLUS a lock out of her reach and Mr. White looking for the paw occurs. All we are told is that Mr. White makes his wish and when Mrs. White opens the door, all she sees is a winter night. Mr. White comes and comforts her. While the short story only gives us the hint as to what happens, the written play and televised movie state that Mr. White used the final wish to wish that Herbert was peacefully dead.

One of the most mind-boggling literary questions to cross my mind is: what was at the other side of the door? First off, it had to have been Herbert at the other side of the door, right? The wishes did align to this train of thought. The second question was, if Herbert was at the other side of the door, what kind of condition was he in? Was Herbert at the other side of the door in the same form as he was when he left the house that morning or was he a mutilated walking piece of meat that looked like or maybe even acted like a zombie? Mr. White's third wish erases any possible answers from coming about, but how Herbert stood (if he did stand) at the other side of the door is the ultimate, million dollar question that accompanies this short story.

"The Monkey's Paw" is perhaps the key example of the consequences of what you wish for when provided the opportunity to do so. The fact that these wishes end up putting you in a situation far worse than before delivers the moral that such an offer is incredibly overrated. The only concept that could have been older is that of Pandora's Box, where something that showed promise of wealth and riches turned out bringing disease and death. The key difference is that Pandora's Box is just a concept of being careful when you come across suspicious objects. "The Monkey's Paw" has that concept, but it takes the direction of being careful about what choices you make, because you may very well regret them. The White family seemed to be living a rough life, but they were happy and content as a family. After the paw, Mr. and Mrs. White were frazzled, saddened, and most importantly, without a son. They would have been better off just rejecting the offer from Sergeant-Major Morris from using what the paw had to offer.

This should definitely make up a discussion in an English class, a literary discussion, or even a group that's discussing horror as a genre. While it resides in a genre, which does not sit well with literary critics, it is an excellent story with a frightful, but powerful message. It grabs you and it engraves itself in your cranium, leaving you to think years after the story has been told. This is perhaps the story that has grabbed on the tightest and made the biggest impact when it comes to stories I read during my English classes in high school. I still remember reading the play and film and when I went back to read the story, that was the icing on the cake. I highly encourage all of my followers, literary enthusiasts, and horror fiction lovers to search for this story and give it a read. It's not too demanding, so don't worry about time constraints. You can easily finish it in one sitting. Then you will remember it for the rest of your life.

Television Review: Whose Line Is It Anyway (2013 Revival)

Whose Line Is It Anyway has made its way around. In the late eighties and early nineties, it made its debut in Britain. In the late nineties and into the turn of the twenty-first century, it appeared in America with Drew Carey as the host and comedians Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and other rotating guests as the improv (improvisational) comedians. The show where "everything is made up and where the points don't matter" finally returned to its original form in 2013, after going through short lasting improv shows hosted by Drew Carey such as Drew Carey's Green Screen Show and his more recent Drew Carey's Improv-a-ganza. It's excellent to see that the show is back to its regular form, despite the need for some tweaks.

The new series is hosted by Aisha Tyler. Why they didn't bring Drew Carey back is a mystery that may only be due to contract negotiations. He does host The Price Is Right, which is a large plate, but one of the regulars is Wayne Brady, who hosts the new and updated Let's Make A Deal, which appears right before TPiR each morning on CBS. Nevertheless, Tyler is doing a decent job in the host chair, though she really doesn't have to repeat that "everything is made up and the points don't matter". She does her duty by setting up a good scene and laughing at the different jokes, so that's a good thing. In addition, she makes it about the comedians, which is what the show is really about. Aside from Wayne Brady, the other returning regulars include Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, who were highlighting members of the original run with Drew Carey. The fourth seat (in this lineup, the second) is occupied by a rotating guest. For the first two episodes, Gary Anthony Williams and Heather Anne Campbell were the guest comedians. In addition, there was also a special guest that came on to perform in single sketches. For the first two episodes, these guests were Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead and Kevin McHale from Glee.

My biggest gripe with the first two episodes, if there was one, is how the special guests got much more of a highlight than the sitting guests. Gary Anthony Williams and Heather Anne Campbell were there to make us laugh and they should most definitely be put to use. Whose Line Is It Anyway is known for successfully executing how they use the fourth comedian. It was always a delight to see what Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, and others could do. When Whoopi Goldberg made two appearances in the open seat, she was hilarious. Williams and Campbell (especially Williams) had a lot that they could do, but they were often seated in place of a sketch that involved Lauren Cohan and Kevin McHale, Cohan who really didn't do much besides play a stand in, and McHale was told to go with the notion, but wasn't very funny (provided that I do not like Glee to begin with). The special guest has seen a lot of airtime even on the Drew Carey version, so they might as well keep them on the stage unless they are only going to participate in one sketch.

The most successfully executed sketches were the Scenes From A Hat, where audience members write down things they want the comedians to act out. Examples could include "things you would say about your lunch, but not your lady" or "a hair commercial for someone without hair." I thought Let's Make A Date was quite funny in the first episode, which allowed Williams some airtime, which he deserved more of. As always, Brady, Mochrie, and Stiles were a delight as the highlight comedians and it seems like they just got back to the same note they left off on, so the nature of the sketches were always exciting.

Whose Line Is It Anyway can hopefully return to the status it held during its prime, whether it was in Great Britain or in the United States. If they are able to come up with a way in which they provide more time for the fourth comedian to take part in the sketches and less time concentrating on the special guest that only needs one segment, this should be an excellent show. It's a delight to see Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles back doing what they do best, and a relief to have a show back in almost its original form. I'll be excited to see what the show has to offer.

I would surely recommend checking out Whose Line Is It Anyway and I'm sure the show will get better. New episodes appear on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM eastern time on CW. Reruns pop up and will continue to pop up often, so check your local listings for specifics.

Verdict: 8/10

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Check This Blog: Game Show Kingdom

I am a game show enthusiast. I have been a game show enthusiast since I was young and have followed Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Jeopardy!, The Weakest Link, Match Game, and any other game show you could think of in the best way I possibly could. When you're searching for blogs to follow, you look for ones that suit your interests, from the common ones that are likely to attract some people to the interests that are quite out of the ordinary (like a blog that has to do with cheese for me). For the game show enthusiast in me, the blog that has done the most to fulfill my interest in anything having to do with game shows is Game Show Kingdom. Not only does it fulfill the interest in game shows, but it does the same for competitive reality shows, such as American Idol, Hell's Kitchen, Dancing With The Stars, and the list keeps going on.

Game Show Kingdom submits posts about anything from episode reviews to new updates that are game show related to breaking news as it comes in. It was on this blog that I learned about Ben Ingram's winning streak on Jeopardy! and convinced me to begin watching the show as he was progressing. It was on this blog that I learned about the unfortunate death of the Family Feud's very own Richard Dawson. It was on this blog that I learned the British game show The Chase was being adapted into an American game show. The list keeps going on and on and on. When for some reason I am unable to tune in to a game show or feel no use in doing so, that's where Game Show Kingdom takes the task of informing me about the episode and whether or not I was missing anything.

If you're a game show enthusiast or even a reality show enthusiast, this blog is sure to become a good friend to you. If you can deal with a healthy looking feed filled with a hundred posts a month and over a thousand posts a year from one blog alone, you will be happy with what Game Show Kingdom can do and how it will keep you up to date with information about the reality and game shows you enjoy. There is some personal commentary, but it's clear that the facts come first and the opinionated writing is squeezed in between and will do nothing to taint the facts. I'm a blogger that commentates on topics all of the time, so GSK is just excellent.

I will leave a link to Game Show Kingdom below this recommendation, because I wholeheartedly encourage you to join. You will be so satisfied by what this blog has to offer that you will be checking one, two, or more posts a day just to keep up with your favorite shows and the commentary that is there to offer.

http://gskingdom.blogspot.com/

World Series Of Poker 2013 November Nine Are Revealed

The biggest poker tournament in the country has come down to its key moment: the final table. While the World Series of Poker is made up of sixty-two different tournaments with sixty-two different opportunities to win prize money and a bracelet, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold 'Em Main Event is the most important event in the tournament, where several put in the necessary $10,000, but only so many finish "in the money" and ultimately, nine participants have the opportunity to compete in November at the final table. Waiting this period of time only began a few years back and it works on the condition that it's a live event and we have the opportunity to watch. This doesn't mean watching it four months after it happened.

The final nine is being lead and headlined by seasoned poker pro J.C. Tran. Tran was born in Vietnam, but came to and now resides in America. Throughout the World Series of Poker, Tran has collected two bracelets and has over $1,000,000 in winnings. He is the chip leader and the established front-runner. Whether or not he wins the tournament will be seen. The only other bracelet winner at the table is the Israeli born, American native Amir Lehavot, who won in one of the WSOP's Omaha events in 2011. At the age of 38, Lehavot is the oldest person at the table. On the contrast, finalists Jay Farber and Sylvain Loosli have not come out with a cash prize, let alone a bracelet, but anything could happen in this unpredictable main event. The other finalists include Marc McLaughlin, Ryan Riess, Michiel Brummelhuis, Mark Newhouse, and David Benefield.

In all honesty, many of these names are new to me, but it's very good for these people who have a fresh opportunity at winning it all. All of them fought hard and deserve to be in the position they're in. One thing I have been looking to see is a previous champion making a return to the final table, as well as a hot female contender. Last year, two females placed 10th and 11th (Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille, respectively). This year, it was Jackie Glazer from Australia who was the last woman standing in 31st place. With regard to previous champions, this was a better year than last. Last year, Johnny Chan was the last champion standing with a 353rd place finish. Huck Seed was the only other to finish in the money. This year, Carlos Mortensen finished in 10th place, just one person short of the final table. Also finished in the money was last year's champion, Greg Merson (in 167th) and poker legend Doyle Brunson (in 409th). Granted, the last previous champion to appear at a final table was Dan Harrington (in 2004) and the only woman to appear at the final table was Barbara Enright (in 1995). Granted, the people who appear at the final table are the ones who played the best game AND did the best at hitting the cards and making the best bets. When it came to celebrities, Ray Romano has the most memorable appearance and finish of the year.

If there was someone in particular I was rooting for this year and has crossed my path as becoming a force to be reckoned with, it's Annette Obrestad, a Norwegian poker player who started playing online before expanding her horizons into the big tournaments. Obrestad became the youngest person to win a main event at the age of 19 during the World Series of Poker Europe. In the 2013 World Series of Poker, she was in a position to break out and make a huge run in the competition, even making an appearance in the top ten, but things are just so unpredictable. You can have the chip lead one day, but be out of the competition on the next. Obrestad finished in 83rd, which is an incredible feat. I am very eager to see where she goes with her poker career and will be very interested to see her compete on live showings.

The World Series of Poker is down to the key point in the competition and it will sure be exciting to see who will take the title. The majority of people will assert that J.C. Tran is the one to beat, but if we look at the last few years, you may have a better chance of picking the winner by taking the nine names, throwing them in a hat, and placing your wagers on the person you selected. The WSOP is anybody's game and the only thing you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Let's Be Brutally Honest: I Would Rather Not Think About The End Of Summer After The Fourth Of July

When I'm not a blogger, writer, and reader, I am a student at a college and a cashier at a supermarket. Around this time of year, I begin to see massive promotion of anything "Back To School" and the sales different stores from Walmart to Target to ShopRite have in store. There are sales on notebooks, binders, backpacks, clothes, and anything else you could think of that would play a use for the upcoming school year. Of course, chains and stores are going to jump on top of this in order to make money. My take... it's summer! Let me think about summer!!! From the standpoint of several chains and their sales, summer ends after the Fourth Of July and then it's time to think of "Back To School." Some places even act sooner, like they're inappropriately opening at 8 PM on Thanksgiving Day in order to get a head start on Black Friday. Thinking of the upcoming school year is just not something I want to think of come July 5th or the week after.

What especially sucks is if you're a student that's still going to elementary, intermediate, middle, or high school, the Fourth of July is just a week or two after you get out. It's awful to have to even hear mention of going back to school in about two months. Once you get into college, which is where I am as we speak, you end midway through May and then the summer lasts from then until after Labor Day, which is what I see as the unofficial end to summer (summer officially ends September 20th and fall begins September 21st). Some colleges begin in August, but mine is not one of those (which is a relief). You want to concentrate on the excitement that lies ahead and what summer has to offer and feel no worries about academics and school and the different subjects that you have to come across.

Is there a solution to this problem??? Ehhh... unfortunately not, especially in the commercial world we live in, where everything is about advertising, promoting, and making money. Of course, you can isolate yourself from stores and refrain from watching television, where you see a boat load of commercials that have to do with going back to school, what the stores have to offer, and how much cheaper these things are, because they're in so much demand and they're battling different stores. Only a revolt from the kids and the boycotting of buying supplies for the school year until you decide can stop that and those chances are slim. Perhaps two weeks earlier, the monster promotions can begin for "Back To School," but we live commercially, and companies want to make the first move. It all comes down to one thing... money!

How do I deal with college supplies? Buy as I go along or am in need. I get my books when I need them (which is about a week or two before college resumes) and the rest is based off of demand. As far as notebooks are concerned, I have plenty. I bought about 20+ notebooks from Big Lots for 17 cents a piece and the final bill came to about $5, which was an excellent bargain. If you're willing to take risks and remain on top of what needs to be tackled, then keep an eye out for the bargain and buy as you go. There are things like backpacks that can last a few years and other items that can be retrieved in a different fashion. That's the direction to go into if you want to rebel against the "Back To School" sales.

Today is July 15th and we're in the heart of summer (in the northern hemisphere). I want to think about the different things summer has to offer, such as warm weather and going out to have fun. It's a time of year that's simpler than others and it's best to cherish that time. We don't need to think about school and increased responsibility (unless you're working) and that's the aggravation that "Back To School" has to offer at a time of year where we want to take our mind off of that. It's a contradiction to have such a gripe to write about at this time, but if I wasn't writing about it, then what would be the use of expressing your views on a blog like this?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Let's Be Brutally Honest: Zimmerman Is Rightfully Deemed "Not Guilty," But It Doesn't Make Him Clean

On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was walking home in a suspicious manner... or at least according to George Zimmerman. Martin's hand was around his waistband and to Zimmerman, a watchman for the neighborhood, he looked like he was up to no good. When Martin noticed Zimmerman, Martin took off and a chase began. The chase turned into a scuffle that ended when Zimmerman shot Martin once in the heart and killed him. While it absolutely does not matter what race the two individuals were, it is vital when it comes to understanding what kind of approach the media took on this issue. Martin was black and Zimmerman is Hispanic. This started as a local issue, but due to the urging of Martin's parents, began to spread across the country and even became a topic of discussion in Congress. There was even a member of Congress that dressed in a hooded sweatshirt to spark a reaction. President Obama made a comment that he could be a child of his. The Martin/Zimmerman case turned from one of several murders that happens in America (and one of several more murders that happens across the globe) and into a racial and political issue.

One year later, George Zimmerman was declared innocent. Was this the right decision? To several, it wasn't. To others, it was. For me, in this instance, I agree with the latter. This doesn't mean I considered this to be the clean move, but from what the evidence pointed to, he was protecting the neighborhood and when shooting Martin, protecting himself. In the state of Florida, there is a "Stand Your Ground" law that encourages that you protect yourself when your life is in jeopardy as Zimmerman was in this instance. He was informed that there was no need for him to keep chasing Martin and that the police could have taken care of the situation, but Zimmerman probably felt that it was a better idea to take the issue into his own hands. This is where the fight pursued.

Though I felt Zimmerman was rightfully declared "not guilty," I do not see him as being a hero or a good influence. Zimmerman had issues with the law of his own, including an assault on a police officer in the previous decade. He eventually straightened himself out to a specific extent. Trayvon Martin had issues of his own as well, including drug issues, suspensions, and activities involving graffiti. Neither of them should be deemed as role models or martyrs. They are just subjects in a blurb of pop culture.

This leads me to the topic of overexposure. We have soldiers overseas that are shot and killed in battle, we have police officers that are shot and killed on duty, we have ordinary citizens from all backgrounds shot and killed in all different ways. All they end up being are statistics. This became a headliner and a platform to fight on when it is no different from the others. When people die in such vain, it is absolutely tragic. Death is tragic, especially when it's premature and due to another individual's train of thought or due to a short-term mistake you made. The issue in front of us is this: one man felt the need to protect himself from a man that posed as threatening and shot him dead. This is not a racial or political issue. If Zimmerman was legitimately doing his job, which evidence points to him doing such, he would have done the same thing to anybody if they were playing with their waistband and ran.

The fact that such an event occurred is an absolute shame. It was a shameful truth of the people that live in our society, as well as the actions that had to be took against them. While the end result was right, that should be that and the situation should fade. The only solution would be to come up with a plan so that specific individuals do not feel threatened to the point they feel their lives are in jeopardy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Movie Review: Jamaica Inn (1939)

If you took Alfred Hitchcock and assigned him to direct a film based off of a Daphne du Maurier novel about ruthless smugglers who steal cargo like they're a band of pirates, you would think that he would come out with a horror picture that would be worth the first watch and the second watch and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, this is a dud. Jamaica Inn holds expectations that could have made the film quite horrific and scary, but it came off as being comical and ridiculous instead. Just an absolute shame!

Charles Laughton, the lead actor in the film, plays Sir Humphrey Pengallan. Like with several of the others, the best kind of introduction they could give him is a fancy dinner at a mansion, which comes off as being a satire of the snobbish disposition of the rich. When he comes across Mary Yellen, played by a young Maureen O'Hara, he courts her like he's a character in a Shakespeare play. She becomes a key distraction to the band of smugglers when she's sent to live in the Jamaica Inn, which is filled with men that come off as being quite laughable. You would expect for them to be quite creepy and act like savages, but there was a better chance you would laugh at them instead of jump in a fearful or spooked kind of way.

Robert Newton plays "Jem," who is supposed to be a protagonist among the smugglers living in the inn. Mary rescues him and they make an escape, but their chemistry is a bit fizzy and Mary comes off as being incredibly clueless and confused. Jem is a little bit wiser, but his role is incredibly small to the point that it provides him no opportunity to shine. The scene in which Mary lets the boat into the sea shows that she is quite confused and makes her role as a heroine to be relatively weak. The female roles in this film are quite weak, as Leslie Banks' role as Joss Merlyn shows that her role plays little to no use. 

The character that seems to bear the center of attention is Sir Pengallan. He's involved in the only twist (and in essence the only element of horror or thrill in the film) and is given the opportunities to take part in the action of the film. His role was decently developed, but what happens to him is portrayed in such a ridiculous fashion, adding to the notion of the film.

Excuses could be made for the film being made in 1939, such as the delayed effects and different roles in the film, but you know what, The Wizard of Oz was also made in 1939 and it's one of the greatest pictures in film history. The execution of the actual filming was absolutely poor. An entire list of things could be added to the list of absolutely poor elements: the transitions, the character development, our connection to the characters, the story at large, the tension, and the entertainment value only to name a few.

What's even worse is that du Maurier wrote this as a horror novel and the characters were intended to come off as being scary. Hitchcock did a fine job interpreting her other works, such as "The Birds," but he couldn't scare us in anyway with Jamaica Inn. At all costs, Jamaica Inn the movie should be avoided. It's an incredible waste of time and entertainment space in what may make up a little portion of your busy life, just like it is for my own. It's a movie that could have been, but wasn't.

Verdict: 2/10

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Working On A Short Story For "Speculations of New Jersey"

For the month of July, I have a few ideas as to what kind of posts I plan on submitting to this blog for the month. I do have a few "Let's Be Brutally Honest" ideas, some reviews that I plan to write, which I plan on submitting when I find the opportunity to do so. However, the month of July will see me working on a different kind of writing, and that is the fiction writing that I hope to make a dream at writing. So if for some reason you're asking why there aren't as many posts (and it would be quite ironic if I end up writing more than I usually do for the upcoming month), the reason would be multiple rounds of endless editing... and then more editing before I submit at the end of the month.

At the beginning of the year, I joined the Garden State Speculative Writers club, formerly known as the Garden State Horror Writers club. The reason for this change is they were looking to broaden their horizons as to which writers would join. While their original intent was to concentrate on horror fiction, they have since expanded to science fiction, fantasy, and other genres in the speculative area to attract more writers. Every so often, they come out with an anthology of work, and this time around it will be called Speculations of New Jersey, which centers around a theme of New Jersey speculation, but the meaning could be defined in such a broad way that just about anything is game. While preferably the story is set in New Jersey, exceptions could surely be made.

The short story I'm working on at the moment is in the horror genre and is centered around a trip to the dentist. I plan to submit it by July 31st, which is the date of the deadline, and I am unsure as to whether or not it will definitely make it in. I made it into a college literary magazine one year, but not another, so we'll just have to see what happens. 

Aside from being about a trip to the dentist, I will not explain further into the plot of the story. I agree with the cardinal rule in which writers should only display a single sentence about what their piece is about prior to its release and this would surely ring true for a short story. With a novel, you can get away with a few more sentences, but nothing too revealing. That's why my details will remain as they may. 

I will surely keep you up to date on whether or not I make it into the anthology. Regardless, I will hold some kind of promotion on my blog about the anthology and encourage you to pick it up if you are able.