Good day, dear readers! I decided to do Inktober this year, which is a little drawing event where you get a topic for every day in October to draw and ink, either digitally or in the traditional way. You can start the first day of September, which means I have been giving myself two days per picture. And let me tell you, I am feeling extremely tired from drawing far more than I’m used to…. Continue reading Inktober 2019 Highlights Week 1
The Duck doesn’t normally do movie reviews…or watch that many modern movies in general. (I don’t even have cable anymore. Why was I paying to watch TV with commercials anyway?) But last Friday, something very special came to Netflix…Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus. Below, I’d like to indulge in a brief moment of nostalgia, followed by a little review summarizing my thoughts on this momentous occasion in human history. Continue reading Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus is Better Than Chicken and Rice
In recent weeks, the Duck has become quite focused on uncovering the identities of old movies I watched as a duckling. You see, I have many fond memories of either borrowing movies from the library or renting them from the local VHS rental store. And so, I’d like to list all the lesser known (basically, non-Disney) animated children’s movies I watched as a duckling. Without further ado… Continue reading Listmas 2018: Lesser-Known Movies from my Ducklinghood
We’ve got another 100 theme challenge topic to tackle, and this one is “grey”. I can start this particular topic by revealing a very pointless bit of information about myself that you shall all likely forget by the time this post is over. I like Earl Grey Tea. Moving on, I think my main subject for today’s post shall focus on the answer to this riddle. What is black and white and grey all over, except when it’s tinted, and can often be found for free on Youtube? Yes, I must admit that I’m not terribly good at riddles, whether it be writing them or solving them. But the answer is, nevertheless, old black and white movies. It counts. Grey is a very common color in these movies, despite what the name might have you believe. Continue reading 100 Theme Blog Challenge No. 19: Grey
The Duck is not big into television. In fact, I recently cancelled cable and have had no regrets. When I do plop my feathery backend in front of the TV, it is either for the purposes of gaming or watching silly people visit roadside attractions and the like on Youtube. Occasionally, I also watch movies on VHS. Yes, I still have a VCR. You just have to know how to use it correctly, because if you don’t watch out, it has been known to eat unsuspecting tapes. Good bye, Peter Pan. And Snow White. And Alien. And Toy Story.
Pop quiz: which of these is not like the other?
The answer: Toy Story. Because that one only got partially eaten. Once I got the cassette free, I stuck the protruding tape back inside. I have yet to confirm whether or not it still works. But I’d like to believe that it does. Continue reading I Finally Watched Gravity Falls!
After a long wait, the Ratchet and Clank movie has finally come out. Video game movies have a long history of being pretty terrible, but after watching the trailer (um…several dozen times), this one looked like it would be the first video game movie to be of quality. Nevertheless, after its release in theatres, I watched as the ratings went down and down, from a high of 21% on Rotten Tomatoes down to a dismal 17%. I expect it to drop lower in the coming weeks. While I found this aggravating, it did not surprise me. People will never accept such a movie until they accept the medium that inspired it. Why mobile games like Angry Birds gain such widespread acceptance, while console and PC games continue to thrive only outside the mainstream population, I know not, but alas, that is not the topic of this post. Suffice it to say, us gamers are a very special group indeed, and it appears we will remain that way.
I knew the reviews would only annoy me, but I skimmed over a few anyway. Critics complained of an unoriginal storyline and flat characters, among other things. They even claimed many elements were stolen from more recent movies. I was baffled because these statements were unfounded. How can a movie based on a game from 2002 steal elements from movies that came out far after the game’s original release date? This is not just my opinion; it is logically impossible. Likewise, the Ratchet and Clank series has a history of fun, but well-developed characters and interesting stories. I find the characters from this series to be among the best in video games, and how characters I have formed a deep bond with, from the naïve, but intelligent Clank to the arrogant, but well-meaning (after his redemption, anyway) Qwark…how they could be described as flat, well, I’m astounded. They might as well state Mario is not an icon of gaming or Sonic is not Sega’s most famous character. Continue reading The First Good Video Game Movie is Here
I recently decided to watch “The Blair Witch Project” for a second time, thanks to a gameplay video of “Slender: The Nine Pages” I saw on Youtube that got me in the mood for something scary. That game thoroughly freaked me out and made me turn on a lot of lights in the house once nighttime came. And I did a lot of running down the hallway whenever I was forced to go down there to use the bathroom. Seeing a dark room at the end of a long hallway makes me suspect too much the Slender Man’s going to show up and…do whatever it is that it does. Whatever that may be, I’m certain it will be something I won’t like.
Unfortunately, “The Blair Witch Project” did not scare me this time. Sure, it was a bit creepy, but it wasn’t scary. Like how seeing a spider on TV is creepy, but I’m certainly not going to start shrieking and tossing shoes at it. (That is not to say that I typically behave in such an erratic fashion when spiders trespass on my property for real….) And I was quite disappointed because I really enjoyed the movie my first time seeing it. Even if I didn’t sleep that night. Nope, I didn’t sleep at all. At least it was impossible to get nightmares that way. Continue reading Not Knowing is the Worst Part
Today’s 100 theme challenge is number 8, innocence. Innocence makes me think of many things, like not guilty. Like being in court, and you are accused of doing something, but you’re innocent, for crying out loud, innocent! I also think of, well, let me explain.
You see, my favorite video games are those that don’t have any swearing or other such naughty things. The innocent games. This can apply to books and movies, too, for you non-gamers out there. Just replace “games” with whichever word you like, and it all means the same thing. The innocent stories. That doesn’t mean nothing bad happens. In fact, my favorite stories are the ones that are dark and deep and emotional. They are not necessarily sickly sweet and childish, with a shallow, meaningless plot. Nothing about innocence means a story, whether it be in a game or movie or book, has to be boring. There is just no one saying “friggin’ this” and “friggin’ that” (or the worse version) or scenes of people doing, well, certain things people do, which is already disturbing enough without the fact that it doesn’t further the plot whatsoever. (And you can play classical music all you want during such scenes and do fancy camera angles, it doesn’t make it better.)
And hey, some people like the movies or games or whatever that are more nitty gritty and more realistic. That’s part of why I think M-rated games are so popular. Not everyone wants to play cute things like “Kirby” and “Mario” all the time. But, for me, I just can’t get into those kinds of stories as much as the innocent ones. Yeah, it may be less realistic, when you have some evil psycho saying “gosh” when they really should be swearing like the people in “The Sopranos”, but I get attached to those innocent stories, the innocent games in particular. Video games are a nice way to escape from reality (any story is, really), so it can be a pleasant experience to play a game that has an innocence not found in the real world. Sometimes it is nice to have not only heroes, but villains, that aren’t quite as scummy as the people in the real world. The world can be an ugly place, and that is something I want to escape from. (Otherwise, I’ll just watch the news or visit my local high school.)
It is amazing, too, how innocent things often are so popular. When TV shows like “The Sopranos” and movies like “Saw” are seen by so many people, you wonder if all people want to see is the nastier side of human nature. But, what about immensely popular video games like “Kingdom Hearts”? Not a swear word or naughty innuendo anywhere. No blood. No nudity. Innocent. This series even stars Disney characters as a major part of its cast. This would seem like it would make the series childish and not appeal so much to adults, but it has a deep, complex, and emotional story that people of all ages love. (It’s also the number one game in Fanfiction.net, if that tells you anything. In your face, all other games!) Or let’s even take something more familiar to everyone. “Star Wars”. There is violence (oh, poor Anakin in episode 3, even if he deserved it), but is there swearing? Is there, well, dirtiness (I have a lame way of saying it, but you know what I mean)? Is there usually even blood? Heck, lightsabers cauterize wounds! Woops, my arm just got lopped off, but no squirting blood to be seen. Keeps the rugs from staining, too. Despite this lack of cussing and blood-spraying, “Star Wars” still was and is a popular franchise. (This happens to be the number one movie on Fanfiction.net, too.)
So in the end, it is nice to see that sometimes, even the innocent things get attention. I understand wanting to see more “realistic” characters from time to time. I do enjoy “Jak and Daxter” (that’s about as bad as the Duck gets, which tells you a little something about my game collection), where the characters are not nearly so innocent as those from “Kingdom Hearts”. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that kind of thing. But, I love the games I can play and the movies I can watch where I don’t have to worry about seeing the things that are too common in the real world. (And seriously, half the population would appreciate it if we stopped being forced to see naked women constantly. I think the female form looks quite nice clothed.) And I think that is why such things as “Kingdom Hearts” and “Star Wars” are so popular. They have great stories and characters and action and all kinds of things we like, but they are also more innocent than most things, which lets us escape from reality rather than mimicking it. Would “Kingdom Hearts” be popular like it is now if Sora started spouting profanities (imagine that, no, Sora’s such a sweetie, he wouldn’t even if he could)? If the favorite swear word of middle-schoolers (my goodness, they wouldn’t stop with that word, the one that rhymes with my name…) showed up throughout the “Star Wars” trilogies, would it have been the same? Maybe I’m just being naïve. Maybe it would have made no affect or even helped the series. I just don’t personally think the addition of these things would have. It wouldn’t have appealed to such a wide audience, at the very least. But, either way, who cares? I love the innocent stories, and I always will.
Am I An Innocent Duck?
The duck can be pretty old-fashioned. I stay fairly current on video games, but on little else. I don’t use Facebook. I don’t Twitter or whatever (obviously, since I’m a duck, not a song bird). I don’t have a tablet or a MePod or a UPad or whatever they’re called. I don’t play “Irate Birds”, and I never saw “Twilight” or “Hunger Games” (or were they thirsty?). In fact, when it comes to movies and TV, I don’t watch a lot of the new stuff. The TV shows I watch nowadays are either cooking shows (I like to watch other people eat, I guess) or old shows like “Star Trek” (the original and maybe “The Next Generation”), “Mary Tyler Moore”, and “Dick Van Dyke”. And lately, I’ve been going farther and farther back in time when I watch movies.
Some time ago, I got caught up on the “Terminator” movies and the original “Star Trek” movies. And rewatched the “Alien” movies because they’re awesome like that. I also went farther back and watched a lot of old black and white movies. I mainly like the old, corny monster movies. I’ve gotten into the habit of making fun of them as I watch them (likely influenced by “Mystery Science Theatre 3000”…). Even more recently, I went even farther back. To movies made over 80 years ago. Silent movies! Yes, I did just go there.
My first silent movie was “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, which was fine. Not thrilling, but fine. After that, I watched the original “Nosferatu”. It’s basically a version of “Dracula”, but they couldn’t get the rights, so they had to change some things. I liked it better than any “Dracula” movie I’ve seen. The vampire in this, Count Orlok, was way scarier than Dracula. And I think it helps that you never hear his voice. More mysterious that way. I still can’t figure out why no one can get away from him, though. He usually moves so darn slow. Except when he’s carrying heavy objects. Somehow then he can walk faster. Opposite of what I expect, but okay.
Then I heard silent movie-watchers must watch “The Gold Rush”. You probably already know, but since I didn’t, I’ll tell you that this is a movie with Charlie Chaplin in it. It was quite funny at times, but it didn’t feel so much like my type of movie, so next I watched “The Phantom of the Opera”. I’ve actually never seen any version of this before. Now I have. I liked it, but I would have preferred it if the phantom wasn’t bad. Is he in the other versions?
After that, I found my favorite silent movies, the movies of Buster Keaton. He is pretty darn funny, and I love how he always looks so very serious all the time. If you have any interest in checking out silent movies, I’d suggest watching some of his first. I enjoy most of his stuff quite a bit. Certain parts are especially funny. I loved the scene in “Steamboat Bill Jr.” when it’s really windy out. I loved the part of “Sherlock Jr.” when he is riding on the front of this motorcycle someone’s driving, and the driver falls off, and he ends up in this ridiculous ride speeding through traffic and narrowly dodging all manner of other obstacles. It lasts quite a while before he realizes no one’s driving. I loved a lot of parts in “The Navigator”. In this one, he and a lady end up stranded on some ship in the middle of the sea. In one part, they try to make lunch, but they aren’t very good at it because they’re rich and spoiled and have never done it before. He unsuccessfully tries opening cans, while she makes coffee with the seawater he brought. And they both have ridiculously sized utensils. Good times. I also saw “The General”, which was supposed to be the best, but I didn’t think it was funny myself.
Below I have two videos. One is the hurricane scene from “Steamboat Bill Jr.” The better stuff starts around 2:30 in or so. The other video is the motorcycle scene from “Sherlock Jr.” (The music for the first video, I don’t remember if it’s the same or not, but the music in the second video definitely seems to be different for some reason. The videos are the same, though.)
I find these silent movies rather comforting. I like listening to the music while watching people silently do stuff. And you know what’s weird? Some of these movies are tinted, so they aren’t always black and white. Some of them have parts that are more like green and black or red and black. Night time is often blue and black, I found. I find it interesting. I never knew they did that.
Anyway, I rather enjoyed watching these silent movies, and I look forward to new ones I can find (well, not new, but you know). It’s fun watching something that isn’t done anymore. And sometimes it’s fun to watch movies where you must imagine the characters’ voices yourself. It’s like reading a book or playing a video game without voice acting. If you ever run into any silent movies, why not give them a try? One thing does bother me, though. I am getting really old-fashioned. Soon enough, I’ll be prancing about in old-timey clothes. Oh, I already do that at the Renaissance Faire….
About 15 years ago, the duck had a babysitter. It was a different one than usual, and she brought over a movie to watch. The movie was “The Dark Crystal”, which disturbed me quite a bit at the time. Despite my terror, I was disappointed when my parents returned, and the movie was turned off halfway through. Should’ve started it earlier, I suppose.
An equal amount of years later, the duck was still thinking about the movie I never got to finish. I was very curious to see what my duckling self had seen so many years ago, but I kept putting it off. I didn’t feel like renting it. Too much effort. But, then I saw the movie on Netflix. Beckoning. “Watch me again, duck.” “See what you missed, waterfowl.” I resisted for a while, having better things to do, then, finally I thought WTH.
And so I got me a nice bottle of water (due to my diet at the time, I couldn’t invite juice or popcorn over to be my movie companions that evening), and I watched the movie I had left unfinished for so many years. I saw many things I had entirely forgotten, and I saw a few things I still remembered. I could never forget the innocent Gelflings or the wicked Skeksis. I also still couldn’t forget the scene where the Skeksis Emperor died (or more like crumbled, like a dry, but delicious Famous Amos cookie), a scene that has haunted me since ducklinghood.
But, mostly, it was new, with just a touch of a familiar feeling. Overall, I had fun watching the movie. The story was interesting. The design of the various creatures was wonderful. It was extremely creative and quite magical. As I was watching it, though, I wasn’t entirely sure of it, but once I neared the end, I was so disappointed it was over.
For those of you who haven’t seen it (though, you probably have; it’s considered a cult classic for a reason, I’m sure, and it’s 30 years old, too), I’ll try to summarize. I understood most of it. The movie is about a Gelfling named Jen who sets out on a quest to restore the Dark Crystal. Long, long ago, a crystal was damaged, which became the Dark Crystal (correct me if I’m wrong). At this time, two races came into existence. The peaceful Mystics and the evil Skeksis, hideous vulture-like things. The Skeksis have the Dark Crystal in their castle and are the ones responsible for killing off almost all of the Gelflings and enslaving many others. In short, they’re quite naughty, to say the least.
(Spoilers ahead. Though not really, since you all probably saw it anyway.) So at the request of his late master, Jen goes looking for a crystal shard (kind of like “Kirby 64”, but not…), not yet knowing what he’s supposed to do with it. He gets the shard from this old woman named Aughra, who says the Great Conjunction is coming when the three suns align, and something big will happen. After this, Jen meets a female Gelfling named Kira (much to his surprise; he thought he was the last Gelfling left), who can talk to animals (and has a pet dog-like thing named Fizgigg, though I kept thinking she was saying Bisquick), and the two face many dangers. Primarily, an army of crab beetle things called Garthim, sent after them by the Skeksis, who believe a Gelfling will be the one to put an end to them. They also face a banished Skeksis, formerly called the Chamberlain, who claims to be a friend and wants them to go with him to the castle to make peace. (Fortunately, our heroes are not huge idiots and so refuse. Stranger danger, remember!)
Anyway, due to some writing in old Gelfling ruins, something about the “triple sun” and “the two made one”, Jen and Kira realize they need to bring the shard to the castle and restore the crystal. And so they do, but not without more trouble from the Garthim and the Chamberlain (who is a major stalker, if you ask me). Towards the end, the three suns are coming together, and if Jen doesn’t restore the crystal before they align, apparently the Skeksis will live forever, but fortunately, he succeeds. By now, we realize that each Mystic and Skeksis is half of one being, and the two become one again. The end.
So it was a fun movie. I’m glad I got to see it. I love how creative it was, and I like the concept of the Mystics and Skeksis being only a half of a person. Like the good side and the bad side. And I love that there is actually so much more to the movie than just what’s…in the movie. Does that make sense? I mean, the story and such is a lot more complex than just what we see. Apparently when the movie came out in 1982, a book was also released that has a whole lot more information on the characters and world that we saw in the movie. They put a lot of work into thinking everything out, and it makes the movie more interesting that way. Unfortunately, said book is rare and expensive, so for now, I just get my extra facts from Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia more or less holds all the knowledge of the universe.
Anyway, after watching the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to buy it several days later. (Could not find it at first. And then, there it was. At the grocery store. It was fate that brought us together! Or more like the fact that I had remembered seeing it there a few weeks earlier. Still fate. But, why on Thra did the other stores not have it? Skeksis must in some way be responsible.) The DVD (that’s right, I still haven’t given in to Blu Ray and perhaps shan’t ever) had some extra features, most of which were meh. But, I really enjoyed the video on the making of the movie. All the characters are puppets, and it was fun to see how they did everything. It’s amazing how they can do the fingers, the facial expressions. And watching someone practice running around in an unfinished Skeksis costume was pretty funny.
So in short, it was a fun movie. Truly one of the most creative things I’ve seen in a while. The character design. Wow. It fills me with shame when I see my own original characters. You sicken me, my own creations. You sicken me.
My Skeksis Title Would Simply Be: The Duck (and I’d be the scariest of them all)