Posted on Leave a comment

2 Episodes In: ‘Instant Hotel’

australia traveling travelling travel

When someone does something with passion and the do it well, it’s a joy to watch them be rewarded. In the second episode, Jannine and Mark have a ‘50s-inspired Instant Hotel that’s amazing. The other guests love it, too. When they tell the couple how they feel, Jannine and Mark tear up. It’s a beautiful moment that’ll touch your heart strings, too.

As a series, “Instant Hotel” is fun. Because the participants are Australian, I’m never sure what I’m going to get. Sure, they speak English, but the cultures are different enough to catch an American off guard. So far, they tend to stick with their stereotypes: The two gay guys, the spoiled little girl who can’t get out of bed and her enabling mother, and the young couple with the wife who is spoiled but “in a different way.” But most of them seem to be enjoying themselves. The competition is bound to ratchet up as the mother-daughter team look to bring down the gay-team, but for the moment, there are only seeds for this future conflict.

I don’t normally watch reality television shows, but “Instant Hotel” is a good time that has a different cultural element to it. If you want to diversify your viewing habits and watch something that you don’t normally watch, this show is a good choice. Improve your creativity by replenishing your well and learning about instant hotels in Australia.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Why This Isn’t an ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Review: Spoiling Things Sucks

KINDER SURPRISE! NO SPOILERS!

Every m-f-ing major media website has posted more stories about “Avengers: Endgame” by now than it has any right to, but I’m not upset about that. What I am upset about is that I haven’t had the opportunity to see Endgame yet and with every frickin’ new headline, its photo and its accompanying article summary, I come closer to having the movie spoiled for me. I don’t want headlines about certain characters and accompanying questions. And I would repeat them here, except then I would be doing the same thing to you that Yahoo!, Entertainment Weekly, and others have already done to me.

Why do they do it? Money. In a couple of weeks, no one is going to care about Avengers: Endgame. They’re going to be on to something else: Godzilla, maybe, or Pokémon, or John Wick… Whatever it is, the general public isn’t going to want to click on Avengers: Endgame stories anymore. Even if it does, those stories are worth a lot more because they are already on the web, so people who are late to the game will still be able to click and find them.

In journalism and the Internet, it’s all about speed. Get it out first and fast. You can correct errors later and, in the case of a movie article, people who don’t want spoilers shouldn’t click on the link and F them anyway. I have unfollowed spoiler accounts including the New York and LA times and Yahoo! Entertainment. I will continue to do so. I might follow them back later on, because print media like the New York Times and the LA Times need saving for the sake of the First Amendment and democracy, but for now, they can believe that Thanos snapped me out of existence.

So, for now, Thanos demands my silence. If you want to read a review from me, you’re going to have to swim against the tide and wait a couple of weeks. I will post my review then. It may or may not have spoilers. I don’t know. What I do know is that now is not the time to be publishing stories about the movie that could ruin it for others. And that, true believer, includes information about cameos, Easter eggs, and any of the characters we’ve spent the last 22 movies following. Follow my blog, follow me on Twitter and on Facebook if you want to read my review of Avengers: Endgame later and show the other news media that you will support a review even after the original furor goes by. When it comes up, share it and comment on it. (You can do the same with this article if you feel like I do about spoiling things, except commenting – no commenting, no GIFs, no SPOILERS.)

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 2: “The Twilight Zone” One for the Angels

Death comes in with a gentle kindness though obtuse in his assertions. Maybe, he needs people to recognize that their time is up, or he is unable to tell them outright. He is firm in his proposition but explains the ways out that Lou Bookman could take. The last one suits Bookman’s purposes: he never got to make a big picture, one that opened the skies. Death grants bookman a reprieve and asks him when he thinks the pitch will be made. Bookman shuts the door on Death and shouts that he is done pitching.

Death follows Bookman pleading with him to reconsider and telling him there are consequences to his actions. Bookman refuses to listen until he hears squealing tires and one of his neighbor children is hit by a truck. Death had to take someone if Bookman wasn’t going to come willingly. Death will arrive for the girl at midnight, leaving Bookman to consider what has happened and what he can do to stop Death, who will no longer listen to Bookman’s pleas.

Bookman has two things in his heart. He has really wanted to make a big pitch and never gotten to, and he loved the children in his neighborhood. No one has to fear death who accomplishes in this life his or her heart’s desires and loves children. That’s true of Bookman, who has his last wish fulfilled and saves a little girl in the process. If there is something that you want to accomplish go out there and do it, but do it with kindness.

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 1: ‘The Twilight Zone’ Where Is Everybody?

blue half moon lunar moon

When people are isolated, they get depressed and go crazy. In real life, babies fail to thrive if they are denied human touch. In the middle ages, banishment was an equivalent punishment to death. It denied people access to their homes, their friends, and their support systems. For many, it was a literal death sentence without an executioner. In its first episode, Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” openly addresses the need people have for human contact. It’s the moral of the story, but it isn’t the entire story.

The main character opens the story on a dusty road headed toward a diner that has hot coffee on the stove but is deserted. He doesn’t know who he is. There’s no one in the diner to help him or to help identify him. This character’s identity is missing because he doesn’t have anyone to measure himself against. He doesn’t have people who reflect him and tell him who he is. He has no context.

The first identifier he remembers is his nationality. He’s American. People draw a strong identity from their country and their birthplace. When abroad, Americans find each other and ask where the other one is from. It’s often the first question before what one does for a living. His job is the second thing He remembers. He’s in the Air Force.

But this character is still missing his identity. What’s his name? Who is his family? Why is he in a deserted town? Was a bomb dropped? He doesn’t know, and it’s not until he’s back among his Air Force command that he remembers everything that happened before the town. He has people to help him remember who he is. It takes a strong sense of identity to withstand isolation for any length of time. It takes others to remind us who we are, especially when we lose ourselves.

Posted on Leave a comment

Rod Serling’s Original “The Twilight Zone” a Relevant National Treasure

Rod Serling’s original “The Twilight Zone” is a timeless television show that continues to be relevant and thought-provoking. I have wanted to own the entire series for a very long time. With each trip to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disneyland, I looked at the collected series and its price, and decided I just couldn’t afford it. During one of my brainstorming sessions, I thought about adding Rod Serling and “the Twilight Zone” to my “… Is Creativity” series. That gave me the excuse to get the series on DVD, and I’m so glad I did.

I waited until recently to open the DVDs because I was working on “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (to be released June 1, 2019 at Lilac City Comicon 2019). Now that I’ve started watching them though, I’m so glad I bought them. “The Twilight Zone” is hands down one of the best written series I have ever watched. In 30 minutes, Rod Serling creates characters that you can engage with and stories that move you.

Nothing may ever come of my wanting to do something with Rod Serling, creativity and “the Twilight Zone,” but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the was a man who wrote such wonderful stories for the betterment of the world. I may never attain the stature of Serling, but I’m glad that I have been able to see the fruits of his labors.

For more on Rod Serling and his creativity, get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Wicked Comics Goes to the Movies and Every Comic Store Should Follow Suit

I have been to enough comic conventions to know that people who love comic books complain about the people who love the movies but don’t buy comic books. There’s a whole faction of geeks who love every issue of their favorite comic and consider someone who only knows the character from the movies and abomination.

Comic stores say they haven’t noticed an uptick in individuals coming into their store because of the film. For them, there just is no crossover. Perhaps, that’s because the comic stores need to take more initiative. Call it “The Avengers Initiative.”

A majority of movie-goers don’t go to comic stores. They probably don’t even know where the comic stores are. The simplest way for a comic store to attempt to harness the movie-goers who love the movies is to pay for an ad before the movie. Most movie theaters offer the opportunity to be in a slide show before the trailers. This offers an easy and less expensive way to get the word out about the shop, and placed before a “comic book” movie, it hits the target audience right where they live.

If the comic store can afford it, a comic store trailer, shot in high-def, should be appropriate for the movie screen. A trailer will even reach more people in their seats. Still, this isn’t the most effective way to reach people because most movie goers probably don’t have a reason to go to the store.

Setting up a booth with items themed to the film is the single best way to provide movie-goers an opportunity to find out about the comics. Any comic store that has also participated in a comic convention should already have the tools available to create a booth. By targeting the movie(s) in the theater at the time, a comic store can create an impulse buy and point of contact for new fans. Include a business card with every purchase, and you’re all set for getting new people involved in comics fandom.

It won’t be that easy. “Avengers: Endgame” openings promise to be chaotic. Imagine Free Comic Book Day without the giveaways. That also means more opportunities to generate revenue from the event.

National chain theaters may be less willing to give up lobby space for a booth. Of course, DC and Marvel could step in because it would be good for their comic sales and their movies. The theaters could see a rise in movie goers if the comic store is able to bring their patrons to the movie. Theaters also get the good will of comics fans and the advertisement that comes with the promotion of the event. A local theater may be more willing to partner with a local comic shop, and both could benefit from the exposure.

Most shops are run by one or two dedicated people. Having to give up a weekend, move everything, set up and take down is already a lot of stress. The change in routine, in addition to the increase in dealing with people who may not know what they want, can also be daunting, especially when there may not be any return. The keys to a successful theater run for a comic store setup is a willingness to get out of the comfort zone and a desire to improve sales at the store. Even if there aren’t any sales at the theater, the chance to meet people who love films can be worthwhile in and of itself.

Wicked Comics in Malta has partnered with Eden Cinemas for the opening weekend of “Avengers: Endgame” for Comic Fest. They will have booths, cosplayers, retro-gaming, performances, local artists’ booths and comics. It looks like they’ve organized a mini-comic convention to celebrate “Avengers: Endgame.” Wicked Comics organizes the annual Malta Comic Con, so they have a head start on any comic store that may not have organized events outside the store before.

Private showings are already sponsored by larger comic conventions like Salt Lake’s Fan X’ “Avengers: Endgame” screening. They could add a comic store component to the screening, giving people more opportunity to purchase from local businesses.

It may be too late for comic stores to partner with movie theaters for “Avengers: Endgame,” but it can be something to keep in mind for the next big movie. Of course, it doesn’t have to be applied to just Marvel movies. Disney’s “Frozen 2” and DC’s next film could also make for good opportunities to partner with a local movie theater.

Posted on Leave a comment

Take a break with quirky ‘Aloha’

Aloha” (2015) brings broken Brian Gilchrist (Bradley Cooper) back to his Hawaiian military roots as a contractor designated to get the blessing of the king of Hawaii for a military base’s pedestrian gate, which would allow private contractors access to the launch area of the military base. Gilchrist is assigned Fighter Pilot Allison Ng (Emma Stone) as his military watchdog for his time in Hawaii. There is a love triangle involving quiet man Woody (John Krasinski) and his wife Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who also happens to be Gilchrist’s ex from 13 years ago.

The real problems arise when Ng discovers that billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) has put a nuke in the payload of the rocket being sent into space. Weapons aren’t allowed in the sky, and this would violate treaties. However, because Welch is a private citizen, it falls in a gray area; he never signed a treaty. Gilchrist is faced with the choice of further disgrace and saving the sky or keeping his lucrative job and losing Ng.

Stone chews the scenery as the intense, socially awkward, quarter Hawaiian, who loves the sky and Hawaiian mythology. Krasinski provides an amazing performance as the man who doesn’t talk much. Cooper and McAdams are good in their roles as is the rest of the cast, which includes Murray, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride.

“Aloha” is a surprisingly good film. It’s low key nature and quirky characters provide an interesting family/friend drama. If you need to find your way back to yourself, there are worse places to do it than Hawaii. Welcome to a pleasant diversion, or as they say on the islands – Aloha!

Read more about the islands with these links on Hawaii.

Posted on Leave a comment

‘Domovoi’ Movie Brings Legend to Life

Domovoi are the house elves of Russia. They live in the home, and as long as the people in that home are peaceful and respectful, Domovoi will help the family. If they are unhappy, Domovoi can become mischievous, petulant and violent. Most Russians cherish their Domovoi and will invite the house elf to come with them to a new home when they move. If the Domovoi is abandoned, it can spell trouble for the next family.

In “Domovoi” (2019), this all gets explained, which makes the film a good place to jump into Russian fairy lore. A mom and her daughter find the perfect place to live, and it’s sold to them by an unscrupulous real estate agent, who has made use of the angry Domovoi to resell the same property over and over.

Slapstick comedy ensues as the Domovoi fights against the mother and the cat for dominion over the house. Only the daughter offers a voice of reason, which goes unheeded by the mother, but softens the heart of the Domovoi. The strange characters in the film and its effects create a nice fantasy world for “Domovoi” with enough Russian culture to put this out of your ordinary world experience (if you’re not one of my regular Russian readers; though those familiar with Germany and Austria will recognize the Domovoi as akin to wichteln, and Britain has house elves.)

Explore the dual nature of fairies (something Lilac City Comic Con alum Ty Hulse talks about in his book “A Writer’s Guide to Fairies, Witches, and Vampires from Fairy Tales and Lore”) and see one story about the mythical creatures who inspired “Penguins in the Pipes.”

Watching foreign films is a good way to improve your creativity, especially when they are fun. Let “Domovoi” help you gain a new perspective, spark new ideas, and replenish your creative well.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

Posted on Leave a comment

‘The Polka King’ Steals Hearts and Money in True Life Adventure

What if I told you there was a Polish immigrant in Pennsylvania, who fronted a Polka band, met Trump, George Burns and the Pope, and ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked people out of their life savings? “The Polka King” is based on the true story of Jan Lewan.

Jack Black’s portrayal of Jan Lewan is positive, upbeat, and American. Lewan does everything to make a dollar and to climb up the ladder of success, but it’s never enough. Then he hits on the idea to get investors for his career. Offering a 12% return on their investment, Lewan unknowingly embarks on a huge Ponzi scheme, and everyone is happy as long as they’re making money. He gets caught by the government and gets a warning, but the allure of easy money that can help him, his bandmates and his wife get ahead, is too much to resist. He continues with the scheme.

From the beginning of the film to the “Rappin’ Polka” ending, which might be the funniest moment of the film, “The Polka King” is baffling. It’s clear that what Jan is doing is wrong, but his heart seems to be in the right place. He’s just looking toward future success. How does something like this happen in real life? It can only happen in the movies, and sometimes in Pennsylvania – they have the pictures, newspaper articles and videos to prove it.

“The Polka King” provides plenty of fun and a little comedy. And if you don’t watch out for it, you might be hit with a dose or two of criticism of American Culture.

Posted on Leave a comment

Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life

In the Nostalgia Critic’s tribute video to Roger Ebert, the Nostalgia Critic unpacks a lot of wisdom and lays it out for the viewer. What he sees in Roger Ebert is amazing, and what the Nostalgia Critic sees should be what we all strive to be.

Continue reading Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life