Stranger Things: Season 2, episodes 3 and 4

This show is getting dark.

There is something incredibly creepy about what is happening to Will, and I stayed up late to watch another episode I wasn’t planing on because of it.

This show really knows how to do creepy and dark, without having obnoxious jump scares or shocking blood and violence. That’s something I’ve realllllly been missing from movies lately!

Another thing this show handles better than Hollywood is nostalgia. There are so many references to 80s culture, but I still don’t feel banged over the head with it or pandered to. And it’s so nice to recognize a thing from my childhood and not want to throttle someone for re-imagining, remaking, rebooting or any other re-ing it.

Excited for whatever comes next!

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Stranger Things: Season 2 episode 2

Happy Halloween!

The pumpkin plague is spreading, and not just pumpkins, but trees and crops of all kinds are rotting and covered in slime. Some giant thing from the upside down is causing it to be sure.

We get a flashback to the end of season 1 and see what happened to 11. The scenes of her surviving in the snow in the woods were really effective and well done. Though, poor squirrel!

Max’s brother is a real douche, and I can’t wait to see someone bust his nose. I sure hope someone does…

11’s powers seem to be increasing. Last season, she needed an elaborate isolation tank to do the things she is now doing with just a blindfold…. what else could she do next?

No more mention of 008… will she be friend of foe?

Stranger Things: Season 2 Episode 1

[Spoilers]The season gets started with a bang. We are introduced to some new characters, in a car chase, and one of them has mental powers like 11, except this girl 008, is older, and her powers are mental instead of physical (she puts thoughts in minds instead of physically pushing, throwing people)

Then we get back to the kids we’re familiar with, and they are scrounging up money to go to an arcade. It seems desperately important to them. And we get a fun scene of them playing a game 80’s kids will be familiar with…

At school, the kids witness a really cool guy drive up in a muscle car with the scorpions blaring, and step out wearing an all denim outfit, and sporting a shaggy mullet. They all think he looks cool and badass, but it’s really hilarious the way it was shot.

In the end we find that things are not as resolved as we thought they were at the end of s1, there are still bad guys out there, and rifts šŸ˜®

And… we get to see 11! With hair!

I’m looking forward to learning more about this new girl, and what kind of powers she has. I hope she and 11 can meet soon, and we get to learn more of their origins and how they all came to be.

Also… new character Max joining the crew? More video game scenes? I think so

Stranger Things: Not just 80’s nostalgia

Remember when the big movies coming out that everyone was excited about weren’t remakes, or reboots, or based on a comic book or video game or brand name or fairy tale or popular book series? Well, maybe this is 80’s nostalgia after all…

Stranger Things not only has the refreshing attribute of being somethingĀ new, despite its nostalgic feel, but also of being somethingĀ good.Ā The acting is great and heartfelt, the story is interesting and surprising, and the look and feel of the world is memorable and fun. And all this without the producers having to buy a recognizable name and force the story to fit around it in order to get more views.

Watching it, I was reminded of when kids movies used to be actually scary, creepy, smart–fun for adults to watch too. Now everything is dumbed down with rounded edges and neutered monsters.

In the opening episode, the Ā monster almost gave me a tingle up my spine, and I’ve seen it all. I lost it though, when they gave it the same monster sounds (deep growl/screech and clicking sounds) that every monster for the past 10 or 15 years has had. Silence is much more creepy than that trope. But, I think they were aiming for the over-done in some cases (Kids know the truth and parents are clueless, teenage sex leads to the villain appearing, etc) to give it that throw-back feel.

This show was so good, that there is only one scene in the entire series that bothered me, and pulled me out of the story for a moment.

In episode 6, Joyce and Jim are talking to a woman with a missing child, that they suspect may be related to Will’s disappearance somehow. The woman’s caretaker starts describing how the woman believes her daughter had special powers, such as telekinesis and telepathy. At this point, six episodes in, there is no way anyone could have come so far without knowing what character that sounds like. Yet, we are still treated to several ‘flashback’ looks at El using her powers to wreak havoc, just to make sure we know what character with special powers (the only one on the show!) they are talking about. This is already insulting as a flashbackĀ (no, I am not so stupid I can’t figure out who they are talking about) but these aren’t events that anyone in the scene witnessed, so it’s not even a flashback! It is literally just past scenes inserted into the conversation the characters are having forĀ sole purpose of making absolutely sure that I, the dimwitted viewer, know what is going on. This stood out so much (and badly) from the rest of the show that I can only imagine some producer or executive must have gotten confused while half paying attention and assumed it was the story’s fault.

Anyway, even if you aren’t into the 80’s, this was a really entertaining, well-thought-out, and fun show that the whole family can watch together. Highly recommended.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Did you grow up in the 80’s? Do you like video games and geek culture? Then you might only be a little bit irritated by this book.

In the future, a global total immersion video game dominates the worlds economy, with most of humanity spending every available waking hour inside of it. The creator of said video game has hidden an ‘Easter Egg’ inside the game, which would grantĀ the one who finds it complete control of the game and hisĀ company, according to his will.

The creator of this video game world, though, was obsessed with 80’s movies and old video games, and the clues to finding ‘the egg’ are all somehow related to these obsessions. This has the consequence of causing an entire generation of egg hunters, or ‘gunters’ as they are referred to in the novel, to become obsessed with the minutia of movies and games made 50 years before they were even born. (This novel is set in the future.)

It’s fun and nostalgic at first, then becomes really kind of sad and pathetic about halfway into the book, and I almost stopped reading. These characters have no interests of their own, they only like something because their game designer god-hero liked it. In one scene, a character orders a drink at the bar, and another says ‘ah, that’s Connor MacLeod’s favorite drink, good choice.’ So, it’s a good choice not because it tastes good, not becauseĀ you enjoy it, but because some fictional character enjoys it. And the whole book is like this.

I wonder if the author meant it as a statement on the celebrity obsessed culture that we live in. I wonder if these characters were meant to be pathetic shells of humans whose only interests and knowledge about life revolve around movies and shows and games half a century gone. I wonder ifĀ the recitation of movie quotes as if they were some kind of sacred scripture was meant to highlight how ridiculous some of our own modern religions are, or if it was meant to mirror the deity-like status we give to actors and musicians.

Or is Ernest Cline just a big, smelly nerd who wanted an excuse to go on for chapters long rambles about the trivial details of Zork and Joust and Back to the Future and Wargames, and have big video game battles between his favorite robots and monsters?

The world may never know.

I enjoyed the book for the most part, in retrospect. It was an exciting and interesting read, and I did enjoy some of the nostalgia. I’d recommend it to people who grew up in the 80’s.