Tag Archives: Obsession

The Media 10 of 2016

This is a time to reflect on the year that came before, and even though 2016 in world news was troubling to say the least it’s also a year where plenty of good things were accomplished.

Before I get into personal accomplishments, though, let’s take a look at The 10 movies, television shows, and books that I remember most from the year 2016.  This does not mean that they were the best or the worst, or that they even came out during this year.  These are only 10 things that I remember seeing/reading this year, not necessarily in any order:

The 10 Movies

  • I’m a Cyborg, but That’s Okay:  Yes, I remember this show mostly because I just saw it about a week ago.  But I also remember it because it’s a surprisingly thoughtful love story between two people who have significant flaws but, rather than try to change each other , embrace these flaws as what makes the other unique.  Is it Park Chan-Wook’s best work? Well, no, but that’s because he’s one of the masters of cinema whose best work is also the best of the past few decades.
  • Jodorovsky’s Dune: The content of this documentary takes over the tact of making the documentary itself with me for this one, because for anyone who is looking for a radical change in how documentaries are presented, then I’m not sure if Jodorovsky’s Dune does that.  But Jodorovsky’s Dune has quickly made it into my list of favorite documentaries, because Holy Monkey Balls that would have been a revolutionary film.  Genre-defining work that we would still be looking back on today with genre nerds like me praising it and other film nerds deciding to be different and saying “Guys, it’s just not that well thought out”.  Basically, if Jodorovsky’s had completed this project, it would have been 2001: A Space Odyssey times a thousand.  As it stands, this documentary is the only window into that universe we have.
  • My Winnipeg: Another of my new favorite movies, and at this point Guy Maddin is the filmmaker who I most want to be (Sorry Coen-berg, although you live on in my dreams).  A brilliant exploration. Of memory and place, “My Winnipeg” removes itself from genre definition to become a true piece of Cinema which exists on its own and as a window into the thoughts and experiences of Maddin himself.
  • Spider Baby: This is an early dark Comedy, but in most ways it serves as a reminder of “Arsenic and Old Lace”, another early Dark comedy which came out 23 years earlier, had stronger characterization, and has a closer spot to my heart (the stage version was one of the first plays I saw as a child. It was put on by the CSU Theater department. Later on my sister took on the role of Jonathan in a Poudre High School production of it).  Spider Baby on its own is okay.  Not great. But okay.
  • Sweet Land: This is one of those movies that has been long recommended to me, but I haven’t wanted to watch because I figured I would just be disappointed by the result (a phenomenon I dub “The Napoleon Dynamite Effect”).  This fear was unwarranted, because Sweet Land is a very good movie and another one that has been put on my list of favorites.  For anyone who is a fan of the work of filmmaking comrade Andrew Gingerich, definitely watch Sweet Land.
  • The Lobster: A Perfect Dystopia.  “The Lobster” presents itself as a glowing example of the dystopian genre, following a central character as they travel from locale to locale exploring all parts of this new and terrible society.  However it’s central character is a thoughtless schlub who just wants to be told what to do, wants a romantic interaction with someone, but is far too terrified of honesty and actual humanity.  In the end, this is the beauty of “The Lobster”: It’s about humanity, and how much we fail to understand one another.
  • High-Rise: I enjoyed this Dystopia less.  It was still a nice ride, and certainly it’s always fun to see a society collapse (ALWAYS. Even in real life, it is great. This is a call to arms, brothers and sisters).  However I found myself wanting to see a more gradual descent into chaos.  As it stand everyone is fine and going to work, and then the next day they exist in a tribal community slowly crawling their way to the top floor where a string quartet plays ABBA’s immortal hit “S.O.S”.  It’s worth a rent if you’re in the mood for it, but I’d certainly put “The Lobster” and plenty of other dystopian works ahead.
  • Phantasm: I liken “Phantasm” with “Hellraiser”.  Hear me out: Both are entry films to an increasingly complex horror franchise, both franchises are generally lower in budget and more independent than others, and both are followed feverishly in cults but unknown amongst big horror audiences.  I enjoyed Phantasm, and because I live in Chicago I was able to see the restored 4K cut in a theater surrounded with fans of the series.  That contributed greatly to my enjoyment, but there’s also a homespun charm to Phantasm.  In terms of representation and giving it a modern read- It doesn’t offer much.  In terms of viewing it within cinema history- It’s a launch point of a strange genre series.  But it’s a fun movie, and I liked seeing it.
  • Weiner-Dog: “Weiner-Dog” is an anthology film, and like every other anthology film there are good parts and bad parts.  I really enjoyed the first half, and I thought it had a great flow and nicely thought-out characters worth a glimpse.  The second half was interesting as well, and the characters were still fun, but it was lacking the through-line of the first which just made the whole piece feel disjointed.  It’s on Amazon Prime now, and go ahead and watch it.  But it’s not perfect, and it’s not among my favorites.
  • This Must be the Place: So a washed up rocker who caused some kids to commit suicide a few years ago finds out that his estranged father died, travels to New York, and picks up his father search for the Nazi who tortured him during the Holocaust.  Whenever I describe this film (as I just did) it sounds like an immeasurably depressing film.  But it’s not. Not in the slightest.  From the strange, disconnected eyes of Cheyenne (the rocker, played by Sean Penn) who is significantly more human than one would expect, this whole experience becomes a look at the beauty of the world, and certainly shows himself as a character worth spending a chunk of time with.  Episodic, but still feeling complete, “This Must be the Place” is a delight.

The 10 New Television Shows

I watch a lot of television shows.  So many, that I’ve split up my “10 List” into “new” and “continuing”.  New shows are shows that I began this year (not necessarily that began their first season this year), whereas continuing shows are shows that I was already watching, and that I have continued to watch.  Now, we go on to TV:

  • Ash vs. The Evil Dead: For fans of the Evil Dead film franchise, the television show “Ash vs. The Evil Dead” is worth the price of admission alone for the pilot episode, which thoroughly exists in the Evil Dead universe and is a fantastic next chapter.  The rest of Season 1 takes a moment to get back into the feverish delight of that pilot episode, but certainly finds itself by Seasons end.  The second season which just concluded continues this brilliant streak of expanding the Evil Dead universe while holding onto the slapstick energy vital to it (and missing from the 2013 reboot).  Also, Season 2 has some very scatological moments, which I thought were a bit too gross but fans of that style of humor applauded.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the greatest and most groundbreaking series on television right now.  Forget Westworld, forget A Night Of, Forget The Wire (okay, maybe not those last two as I still haven’t seen them. I know, I know I need to see The Wire.  See my earlier talk about “The Napoleon Dynamite Effect”).  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an examination of a thoroughly broken individual who- two seasons in- continues to sabotage herself and her pursuit of happiness and despite being named after a sexist archetype, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is sure to show every side of its characters whether they are good, bad, or ugly.  It’s a show that’s never preachy or “special episode”-y despite covering bisexuality, the Male Gaze, abortion, mental health, and societal expectations (with some good water-themed conspiracy thrown in).  Oh, also it’s a musical.  It’s a fantastic musical.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it is legitimately fantastic (I call this “The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Effect”).

  • The Good Place: Myself and other critics who I follow were worried about “The Good Place”: “A plucky female protagonist finds herself in ‘heaven’, but- surprise!- she’s not supposed to be there! Hilarity ensues”.  Looking back, we had absolutely nothing to worry about.  Come on, it’s from the same team that brought us Parks and Recreation (among my favorite series of all time, and go-to feel good place) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (another go-to feel good place).  “The Good Place” has consistently given us a strange world and has built up its roster of wonderfully flawed people and supernatural entities to populate it, headed by an always delightful Kristin Bell and ted Dawson as “Michael” the supernatural force who takes both wonder and delight in the peculiarities of humanity (of note: He hates saltines and doesn’t understand the human fascination with frozen yoghurt).  To close out, here some things that define a person as “Good” on this show: Carefully put a spider outside, helped a hermit crab find a new shell, end slavery, hosted a refugee family, hug sad friend).  And some things that define a person as “Bad”: use “Facebook” as a verb, attend a concert by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Poison a river, Fail to disclose camel illness when selling a camel, and Tell a woman to “smile”.

  • Powerpuff Girls:  I really wanted to like this.  I’ve given it a pretty good chance.  And the reboot isn’t bad, it’s mostly just middling.  Relying too much on whacky randomness and hyperactivity which plague the world of children’s animation (despite the many cases where this is not the point listed below), the reboot’s missing the truth and feminism that defined the original (and I don’t think that’s just nostalgia.  Mostly because I didn’t watch The Powerpuff Girls a lot as a kid, but more so as an adult).  Instead what we get is a show that I’m sure is doing fine with ratings, and kids are going to enjoy, but that takes away from plenty of other excellent Cartoon Network programs.  So it won’t have the same revisitability as the Original does, but it’ll be an inoffensive show for kids to enjoy that’s not as loud and annoying as others.
  • Hell on Wheels: This show falls into the box of “Shows that I would be really into if it were about five years ago and I wasn’t already saturated with TV”.  It’s a fine show, and it would have garnered a lot respect a few years ago.  Unfortunately with all of the programming out there, “Hell on Wheels” sort of got lost.  Also, I wasn’t able to find a good stream of it.  So that’s mostly why I haven’t finished it.  But Hell on Wheels is a nice historical drama about the Transcontinental Railroad, and it stars Colm Meaney of Star Trek fame!  And Common of Rap fame!  It’s a fine show, but one that was sort of lost in the shuffle.
  • Westworld: Did you like Hell on Wheels?  If so, then “Westworld” is also a show about cowboys!  Except these cowboys are robots.  Or tourists who want to act like cowboys.  Or tourists who wanted to act like a cowboy but then decided he liked being a robot-killing cowboy more than living in future-world (SPOILER ALERT).  So, the amount of murder and nudity will probably be really distracting for people.  And it certainly does go with the Game of Thrones technique of “We’re HBO, we can have naked people killing each other, so we will”.  But, underneath the fleshy penises and through the blood-like fluid, you get to the cold, hard robotic skeleton of Westworld: A Skeleton that treats its robot protagonists with as much tender regard as its human protagonists, and series that has its share of Twists! but ones that feel true to the show and not a mad grab for viewership.  Would I say that Westworld has as much a complicated understanding of its characters as a show like Breaking Bad did, which constantly questioned its own morality?  Not yet.  But it is a show that is- above all else- concerned with Humanity.  Also, for being a series based on a middle-grade Michael Crichton movie that experienced massive cast overhauls and rewrites during production which caused it to be several months behind, Westworld comes out like a robot horse having its silicon sinews being mad eon the spot by robot-arms. Robot Cowboys!
  • Penny Dreadful: Did you like the Robot Cowboys of Westworld? Then Penny Dreadful this year was a show that had werewolf cowboys!  So I watched through all of Penny Dreadful this year, and was really enthralled by it only to have it end this year after a rather disappointing third season.  But: Right off the bat, it shows that it’s much more than a “League of Extraordinary Gentleman” TV show, and by the second episode of the series every single viewer should realize that Eva Green is the single greatest part of the show.  This is certainly an idea that the showrunners realized by Episode 2, and throughout the series’ run there are entire hours that are just showcases for Eva Green.  Those are some of the greatest hours of television out there.  The Eva Green showcase this year was among the best singular episodes of the season, of the show, and of television this year (also, a huge extension of that goes to fellow episode partner- because “A Blade of Grass” is basically a two-person play- goes to Rory Kinnear as John Clare AKA Frankenstein’s Monster).  After an always-improving first season, Penny Dreadful rocketed back with Season 2 and brought out more of Ferdinand Lyle which is always a plus. Unfortunately Season 3- despite some good moments- was never quite able to get over its framing narrative.  Meaning that the biggest problem with Season 3 of Penny Dreadful was the isolation of all of the characters, but that isolation was warranted by the narrative and allowed for (SPOILER ALERT) Vanessa to be taken in by Dracula himself.  Also missing greatly from Season 3: Sembene, RIP.  I refuse to believe that Season 3 was always meant to be the end of the series, as well.  Mostly because I want to think of a hypothetical Season 4 that has to do with Dr. Moreau or Captain Nemo.  Or ghosts!  We got vampires, witches, werewolves, but no spooky victorian ghosts.  That is a missed opportunity.
  • 12 Monkeys: Did you like the werewolf cowboys of Penny Dreadful Season 3?  Well too bad.  In 12 Monkeys there are neither Werewolves nor Cowboys.  Just an ongoing time-travel plot about paradoxes and viral apocalypses and husbands who never existed before.  This is another series that I got all caught up on during the Great Mid-Year Television Slump, and I’m happy that I did.  Is it one of the best series of this or last year? No.  Is it above and beyond either of its source materials? No (and it is by far the most removed from La Jetee, just in case you were excited about the 1962 Chris Marker Photomontage getting it’s own stylized television series). But it’s a nice science fiction show that’s really found its place in  the later part of Season 1 and throughout Season 2, and I enjoy it enough.  It’s a nice time-travel show, and I deserve a nice time travel show.  So stop judging me, DAD.
  • Star vs. The Forces of Evil: I was apprehensive about this series at first, and I wasn’t planning on following it.  Mostly, because I had written it off as another whacky and hyperactive kids show that its targeted audience will like, but their target audience also likes ice cream for dinner (and just like ice cream for dinner, whacky hyperactivity isn’t all that healthy for a young mind. Or so says I).  Then I saw that it had a bit of a following among some of the commentators of shows like Steven Universe and Gravity Falls, so I decided to give it a chance.  I’m glad I did.  There is certainly whacky hyperactivity, and that seems to be the house style for Disney’s animated shows (see also “Gravity Falls” and “Wander over Yonder”), but much like the other disney shows on here “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” does what Powerpuff Girls does not: Overcome it’s silliness by actually developing characters and developing thoughts about them.  Has Star vs. The Forces of Evil become a stellar show like some of the other pillars that have risen over the years (I’m looking at you, Adventure Time!). Not yet, but it’s building itself up and making some really good strides.  And in the Disney Animated TV show landscape, it’s really important to have a show like Star vs. The Forces of Evil both in terms of how it allows for its male and female protagonists to stand outside of specified gender roles but also in the increasingly grey line between good and evil that is rising on the show.
  • Mr. Robot: Let’s be honest: A few episodes into Mr. Robot we knew that Elliot and Mr. Robot were the same person (SPOILER ALERT).  But let’s continue being honest: That didn’t change the reveal one bit.  I’d like to attribute this to the word that’s been repeated over and over here: character.  That the Mr. Robot reveal wasn’t grounded Lost-like in a “What a twist!” finger-gun to the audience, but rather in a personal collapse of identity for Elliot, whom we had really started to like.  Now, I do have to be honest: I haven’t seen Season 2 yet.  I’m probably going to wait for it to get onto Amazon Prime, so I can’t say whether season 2 is any better or worse navigating Elliot and his weird family dynamic.  What I can say is that Mr. Robot gave us a creeping paranoid world and immersed us wholly in the mind of its creepy paranoid not-all-healthy protagonist.  It does, however, continue an ongoing misconception about schizophrenia and mental health.  So that’s a ding.  But it’s still a good series, and one worth checking out.  Season 1, on Amazon Prime.

The 10 Continued Television Shows

  • American Horror Story: Yes, I watch American Horror Story.  It’s like watching a train wreck, most of the time: It goes out of the station full steam and you think “Wow, that’s a nice looking train, we’ll see how it goes”, and soon it’s off the rails and on fire and there’s so many bodies and you’re trying to get a handle on the disaster when another train comes in and crashes and throws a whole new mound of disaster on top of what was already there, and then a voice comes from the woods “I planned this. This is meant to be.  See my design, and know that within this madness there is method”.  It’s not that I begrudge AHS this, as it kept me masochistically interested in Season 1 and got me back for it’s best season to date Season 2.  Well in 2016, we got My Roanoke Nightmare.  And you know what?  It was surprisingly coherent.  Murphy and Falchuk didn’t try to pile on character after character, storyline after storyline, they kept their heads down and told one singular story.  Well, okay, two singular stories, but it was sort of one continuous one.  The fake documentary style was actually used to a pretty good effect, and (unlike other found-footage horror pieces) it explains away the central question I always have: WHO IS EDITING THIS?  So, yes: I was really surprised and really pleased with My Roanoke Nightmare.  2016 also saw the end of AHS: Hotel, which is more of general AHS fare.  Hotel was simultaneously more stylish and more grimy than any other season, which is altogether fitting with a story about Vampires.  This is definitely a season that got away from Murphy and Falchuk, and one that sort of stalled out and lost its way by the end.  However, Dennis O’Hare KILLED IT in Season 5. He was absolutely stunning, and I hope to God the man got an Emmy for it (UPDATE: He did not. He was nominated for a “Golden Derby” for it, though).  Anyways, Season 5 was good but fell into the AHS trap, Season 6 was probably the second-best season so far (Maybe Third, I think Freak Show had a much stronger start, but it also fell the greatest distance.  In fact, definitive ranking of AHS Seasons for me: 2,6,4,5, and 3 with Season 1 popping in and out at an irregular orbit because there is absolutely no way anyone can define what the hell Season 1 is).
  • The CW’s Superhero Bloc: These four shows should be assessed on their own, but I don’t want to take up that much space.  So we’ll go through the week, starting with my new CW Superhero show of Supergirl.  All cards on the table: I hate Superman.  I think he’s a square-jawed copout who really has no defining characteristic aside from “Good Guy”.  But Supergirl the series has given us a Kryptonian that I can believe in, and it has also given us a show bursting at the seams with optimism.  It’s first season, which I watched during the TV Drought of the Summer, was a strange experience.  It was both good and bad, often within the same episode.  But we got “Falling” where Supergirl turns evil when she’s exposed to Red Kryptonite!  And now, in Season 2, Supergirl has continued being a CW Superhero show that oozes charm and (sorry to use the same descriptor twice) optimism, all in a nice network-feminist package.  Oh, also Supergirl is not at all shy about talking about immigration, xenophobia, and prejudice in America.  Next, on Tuesdays we get The Flash.  The End of Season 2 came in 2016, which had lost a bit of it’s zippy energy from Season 1, but it also had parallel universe which I will always love (Seriously, I will always love a show with parallel universes.  There’s a part of me that still thinks “Sliders” was at least strong in theory.  WARNING: Sliders isn’t really a good show, watch Fringe instead). Oh, and we also got Barry wandering around the Speed Force in Season 2.  Now in Season 3 Barry is a dope again and changes time which sort of ruins everything.  Fortunately, though, Tom Cavanagh has become the greatest and most surprising source for comedy as H.R Wells, AKA The Goofy Wells.  And Danielle Panabaker is starting to get something to do other than walk around inside S.T.A.R Labs now that she is technically Killer Frost.  Wednesday, the one that started the CW’s reign of Superherodom: Arrow.  First: Neal McDonough is great.  Absolutely great.  But Arrow Season 4 still struggled a bit to find itself, and a lot of that was because of the Oliver-Felicity relationship.  I was fine with the two being together- comic book fate be damned- but as the season went on Oliver’s general dourness rubbed off on Felicity which got rid of one of the most dynamic players of Arrow.  Now in Season 5, we’re in another okay spot.  First: It’s great to see the flashbacks again being something to look forward to (something that has been missing since Season 2), and it’s nice to get a bit more continuity in the series as well.  However, now Felicity doesn’t have much to do and is back to being in somewhat two dimensional territory, and for God’s sake Curtis needs to either quit Team Arrow or get his T Spheres up and running because I’m sick of him getting shot and being generally worthless but Oliver being surprisingly Okay with sending him out into danger.  Before moving on, it’s also worth noting that Willa Holland and Paul Blackthorne continue to be excellent, whether they are fighting vigilantes or alcoholism.  Finally: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.  Season 1 was a bit of a let down. With Legends being a time-travelling grab-bag, I had hoped for something a bit more interesting than what a lot of Season 1 had to offer.  But it had its moments.  Captain Cold and Heatwave are always welcome, and Ray Palmer- despite a middling love story with Hawkgirl and the repetition of his insecurity- was a nice foil to Heatwave.  Also, Caity Lotz has always been great as White Canary.  The final problem with Season 1 was how Vandall Savage and the Time Masters were never quite made into the Big Bads they should have been.  Season 2 has taken the strengths of Season 1 and improved upon the rest.  Firstly, I’ve liked Eobard Thawne (the real Eobard Thawne) since his first appearance in Season 1 of The Flash, and I think he’s building to being a formidable foe for the Legends.  The only problem- which we’re going to be solving soon by the looks of it- is that Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter is sorely missed.  Darvill was one of the highlights of Season 1 and his manic energy is missed.  Also, I just like seeing Darvill get work. I like seeing any Doctor Who Alum get work.  Legends of Tomorrow continues to be the weakest of the CW Superhero Bloc, but it’s beginning to find its footing and it’s starting to live up to its potential.  So Hooray.
    One final note, is that the CW has really made the DC Comic Book universe a strong part of the television landscape, and one that can be counted on to provide consistently engaging superhero antics.  Whereas Marvel has excelled in film but been hit and miss on Television, DC now has a consistent home in Television despite its continued lackluster performance in cinema (Batman notwithstanding).
  • Steven Universe: Steven Universe continues to be one of the greatest and most human shows on television.  It also continues to be one of the most frustratingly scheduled, with most of the episodes this year coming one-right-after-another over the course of three months in the Summer.  This wackiness notwithstanding, 2016 saw a huge jump in Crystal Gem mythology and characterization beginning with our first glimpse of the Diamond Authority, ending with a nice episode of Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl coming to terms wise Rose’s death and Steven’s life.  Along the way we got a musical episode featuring Pearl and Greg making nice with one another, Steven being confronted with some extremely uncomfortable truths about his mother and the Gem War, an arch about Amethyst and her self-esteem issues, the introduction of Smoky Quartz, a quick episode about baseball, the continued growth of Peridot into series mainstay and MVP, and the growth of The Barn into a semi-aquarium full of meep-morps and a pumpkin-dog.  However throughout this year Steven Universe continues to be a show with an amazing amount of heart that truly believes that no one is purely evil and that anyone can be changed with Love.  It is challenging this idea at every turn, and by the looks of it this will continue in 2017, but despite revealing more grey areas the central heart and love of this show still remains.

  • Adventure Time: Another Cartoon Network show that has suffered from an odd schedule, much to its detriment, Adventure Time had an odd year.  I’m going to be honest, it hasn’t been my favorite season even though it has produced some truly odd pieces (Angel Face, Lady Rainicorn in the Crystal Dimension, Beyond the Grotto), some good character-centric episodes (Normal Man, Broke His Crown, The Hall of Egress), and some game-changing mythology episodes (Preeboot and Reboot, Crossover, and Elemental). Somehow I just find it hard to remember much Adventure Time from 2016 besides the miniseries “Stakes”, which I enjoyed (and I look forward to 2017’s “Islands”). I attribute it to the fact that there were month-long gaps separating episodes this year, which hopefully will be fixed in 2017 because Adventure Time is still a stellar show and one that deserves every bit of its acclaim.
  • The Americans: The Americans is still one of my Summer treats, for when the previous season goes onto streaming. This means that this year I saw Elizabeth and Phillip dealing with the Mujahideen, so two seasons behind. The Americans falls into a category of tense and well-made shows that I always enjoy when watching but haven’t yet added to my current season watching list, and I don’t have a good reason for this.  Season 3 made some amazing advances in the lives of the Jennings, and I’m really looking forward to Season 4, and the performances and characterization is spot-on as always.  Overall The Americans is a series that has been nominated and won awards for the past three or so years, and I understand why it is winning these awards.  So I suppose some of the surprise is taken away for me, which might be why it’s not in my ongoing stable.
  • iZombie: This is a terrible name for a great series. Rob Thomas (the show runner for cult favorite Veronica Mars) has created a new show with just as many anti heroes and tragivillains and nuance as his previous series did, only this one is in the overcast, secret zombie-laden streets of Seattle. 2016 saw a rise in villains Zombie and Human alike, the continuing reflection Liv has over her new set of circumstances, and a twisting plot that weaves throughout the show that never becomes overly complicated.  Added to this are wonderful portrayals by David Anders, Rahul Khoi, Steven Weber, and pretty much every other actor on the show, and you have another great addition to the CW (which just a few years ago I wouldn’t have thought would be the center for great television, but what do you know).
  • Orphan Black: About two years ago what was one of the most thrilling and enthralling television series produced an episode that nearly destroyed it. This series was Orphan Black, and in 2016 it continued its climb back into good graces that it started in June 14 2014, the episode following the introduction of Tony (for anyone who didn’t watch any Orphan Black after this episode, I understand. But rest assured in the knowledge that to this day he has neither returned nor been mentioned). 2016 was a good year for Clone Club, with further development of Beth, the introduction of a free-agent clone, and finally having Felix realize that Sarah has been taking advantage of him for about three years (the whole series, in other words). Even the reintroduction of Kira into the narrative was natural and lacked the magic-child feeling that some of Kira’s previous seasons have had, and we got a more developed Art this year which is greatly appreciated.  This is also assuming that anyone who has watched even one episode of the series knows that Tatiana Maslany as “Everyone” is absolutely amazing and never ceases to impress in her versatility as a performer. However I can’t help but not be as excited about this show as I was after Season 1, and thinking through it I realize that a big reason is the episode-that-shall-not-be-named.  Were it not for that one hour of TV, I would feel much better about this whole series, and I think many other viewers feel the same.
  • Better Call Saul: The Prequel series to Breaking Bad is no longer the Prequel Series to Breaking Bad. It is now its own series with its own characters and its own tragic ending only made more tragic because anyone who has watched the previous series knows how this will end.  This year we saw Jimmy McGill (the future Saul Goodman) get everything he ever wanted, throw it away, still get something he wanted, and then have his manipulative brother ruin everything. We also saw the growth of the loving relationship between Jimmy and Kim (which only makes the fact that Kim was no where to be found in Breaking Bad all the more heartbreaking), and Mike continues his steady walk to his own fate (though, it must be said, in a much more dignified and controlled way than Jimmy).  I remain as eager to start up again in this version of New Mexico (which isn’t too far off from real New Mexico) next year as ever, if for nothing else for another glimpse into the bleak and terrible black-and-White future of Saul Goodman: Cinnabon Manager.
  • Black Mirror: Most of my discussion of Television Series has been an affirmation of critics thoughts on series. This will be the exception: I didn’t think this season of Black Mirror was very good.  Rather, this is the first season of Charlie Booker’s dystopian critiques on technology that I need to go by episode-by-episode instead of giving the blanket “It was chilling and depressing and amazing and depressing. A+” that I’ve been able to give to previous seasons.  For one: I didn’t think “Nosedive” was as impressive as other critics thought, and to me it seemed like Blsck Mirror fan fiction. Good fan fiction, but still mostly interested in hitting the necessary beats of a Black Mirror outing and not actually going through the steps necessary to fully engage us with this mirror universe. “Playtest” is interesting but ultimately forgettable (though a good examination of fear, but still not as engaging as other Black Mirror outings). “Men Against Fire” also fits into this.  “Shut up and Dance” is OK, and just OK. “San Junipero” is perhaps the one chapter in this season that has truly impressed me and lived up to and exceeded the Black Mirror name, and does this by doing the impossible: telling a story that belongs in Black Mirror, but embraces technology and has a wonderful feeling of optimism and hope. Again, every bit of the future where people can have their consciousness uploaded into a computer server to live in the past forever is a classic Black Mirror Dystopia, and perhaps there are characters in San Junipero the city who are as trapped and unhappy as, say, the main character from Season 2’s “White Bear”, but the two main characters we see in San Junipero find love and happiness. More than that, they find love and happiness without having to destroy themselves or get rid of their central humanity.  “Hated in the Nation” is a fun crime movie, and I like it as a pilot for a BBC series following detectives who investigate sci-fi crimes, like killer robot bees, but as an episode of Black Mirror? It didn’t have quite the same sinking dread that we’ve all come to know and love the series for. The Netflix series of Black Mirror is still worth a watch, but I would tell you to watch the BBC seasons first, because they are streets ahead.

The 10 Books

  • Young Animal’s Doom Patrol: Holy Frijoles, everyone, Doom Patrol is back!  For those of you unaware, The Doom Patrol is a group of outcasted super-powered individuals in the DC Universe whose job it is to protect the fabric of reality itself.  It reached its apex under the penmanship of Grant Morrison who introduced such villains as The Scissormen of the Fictional City of Orqwith, The Brotherhood of Dada and their Painting the Eats Paris, and the Cult of the Unwritten Book.  There have been a few reboots of Doom Patrol in the past, but few have captured what draws me to the series: It’s inherent strangeness and it’s  existence as being a group of “others”.  The Doom Patrol that came directly before this new version, for example, mostly treats Robotman, Negativeman, and Elastiwoman as just another superhero team (also, they don’t explain how Rita came back from being the Lodestone which bothers the part of me that needs a coherent timeline).  But I’m glad to say that this new version of The Doom Patrol, so far, is looking like it’s living up to it’s name and it’s predecessors.  So far the series has been working at introducing readers to the world of the Doom Patrol again,a  world populated by people who may not exist and people who feed off of negative energy.  It’s keeping in continuity so far, which again is something I greatly appreciate, while also taking the time to have these “heroes” stuck in their existential issues as they usually are.  Here’s hoping Young Animal sticks the landing, because boy do I love Doom Patrol.
  • 1000 Years of Solitude: A brilliant look into the depths of memory, family, and the lore that permeates through both.  Marquez’ writing style is always a delight, describing even the most ridiculous of events with absolute certainty and grace.  This book is also very purposely cyclical and weaving and often difficult to follow, and I’m very glad that my copy came with a print-out of the Buendia family tree because otherwise I would have been lost. I was a little lost anyways, but it was the right kind of lost.  Worthy of its praise, though personally I enjoyed Chronicle of a Death Foretold more, but that’s personal preference and not a judgement on either work as a whole.
  • The Handmaiden’s Tale: Falling into the category of “Soon-to-be-reality”, The handmaiden’s Tale is tragic, heartfelt, and chilling.  Another book worthy of every instance of praise it has received, and a book worthy of a read for anyone.  Literally anyone.  If you have not read this book, read it now. NOW.
  • Saga: This past year I’ve been wanting to go through the American Library Association’s list of Banned Books. I’ve also wanted to read more comic books (or Graphic Novels? I think this one is technically a “Graphic Novel”. I use these two terms interchangeably, and for someone to whom this is greatly important please inform me of the distinction in clear terms).  Saga falls into the category of both.  And, OK, I’ve only read the first two volumes.  But I’m enjoying it.  As with much of the Banned Books, I see little reason for it to be banned, with all the violence depicted in it only going to serving its point and not crossing the threshold into gratuitous and there being little else to ban it for (unless pacifism is cause for banishment).  The series does a good job portraying the grey line in a longstanding conflict and just how messy and pointless and self-serving it is.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: I have been heretofore unfamiliar with Douglas Adams’ other longstanding series, but fortunately I’ve seen the light.  As with most of Adams’ work, the tongue-in-cheek humor and the understated observances of just how outlandish and incredible world is are greatly appreciated.  In terms of making long lasting characters and crafting moving stories, that’s never been Adams’ strong suit, but that’s just fine as Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency does give us one heck of a detective in the bizarre name-changing Gently.  I look foreword to The Long, Dark, Teatime of the Soul.
  • Neuromancer: This was a fun book.  From what I can tell it’s the beginning of the Cyberpunk movement, and the beginning of a trilogy set within the same universe.  This is entirely understandable, as the world set up Gibson is a wonderfully expansive one and is the greatest asset to the book.  It is a world that seamlessly combines the pulp sensibilities of Detective and Science Fiction into a nicely woven heist story.  Also: I love heist stories. For anyone who is not a fan of Science Fiction, and is looking for a story of deeply felt characters this isn’t so much the book for you.  But it does deserve a place in the Science Fiction novel pantheon, and I’m happy I’ve read it.
  • The Foundation Trilogy: Yes, I’ve only read the Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation).  Will I read the rest of the series?  Perhaps at some point, though I may stop by some of Asimov’s other works first as well as some other Science Fiction mainstays.  There is always a problem when viewing older media in terms of how to interpret it, either through the lens of myself as a modern reader or through the lens of a reader in the historical time period that the piece was made.  I bring this up, because there were certainly parts of The Foundation Trilogy that hurt myself as a feminist.  The first book had no female characters, the second one might as well have not had a female character.  Second Foundation makes up for this in a slight way, but still… not entirely.  This wouldn’t be such an issue were it not for the fact that this series is focused on the creation of Utopia.  And the scope of this series is great, spanning thousands of years, and the way that the timeline is set up is well done.  Asimov himself was a scientist and was a pioneer in Hard Science Fiction, and that is evident in these works.  Even better is its acknowledgement of psychology and psychiatry as a distinct and useful Science, which is also a bit of a great step of thinking.  Asimov’s style is direct and whereas other novels can and have floundered under such a sweeping scope with so many characters who may or may not be related, The Foundation Trilogy never feels confusing or arcane.  So again we come to the central problem: There is a lot to like about this series, that it only makes the icky problems with it a bit more pronounced.
  • The Farm: Apparently there’s a whole subgenre of Swedish crime thrillers now. Also apparently this is part of the larger umbrella of “Airport Fiction” (books that you pick up at the airport to read over a longish plane ride).  This is the category “The Farm” lands into.  It’s fine.  Would I recommend it? If you have a longish plane ride and want to read a book, sure why not?  Though there are a lot of better books out there.  Even better Airport fiction out there.
  • The Tinderbox: This was my favorite fairy tale as a child because it had three giant dogs in it.  So I reread it this year, along with a lot of other Hans Christian Andersen works.  What I was surprised at first to read- but certainly changed the entire way the story comes out- was that Andersen basically took ideas from 1001 Arabian Nights and directly translated them into a different setting.  So right down to the tinderbox itself- the stand in for The Magic Lamp anyone who has seen Aladdin knows about- this really is just a re-telling.  More so- and this is something I’ve discovered going back and re-reading fairy tales and folklore- there isn’t really a good message at the end.  Not reading that much into it, the Lesson seems to be “Money!” (Though there is a nice part about how the protagonist’s rich friends disown him once he’s no longer rich. That’s fun), but the deeper you go into it the more the overarching lesson becomes “Lie, Murder, and cheat your way into riches and never let it go because Money will get you everything in life. EVERYTHING. Also having a giant dog with eyes the size of saucer plates to slaughter everyone helps”.  Do I think this is the message Andersen was going for? No. But it definitely adds a wrinkle to my favorite story (and, yes, I’d still like to adapt it at some point because I really, really, really like those three giant dogs).
  • More Information Than You Require: I listened to this as an Audio Book on the drive to Minnesota to shoot “Results 2016”.  It is a charming book of completely false facts, and made me feel a bit more productive in my obsessive list-writing and Encyclopeding.  This is by no means meant to compare myself to John Hodgman: he is a professional and I am but an amateur not meant to lick the dust on his boots. Adding to the affair was that the Audio Book included some nice touches that I don’t think the book itself has or could manage, like having multiple narrators who are (presumably) all hanging out in the same audio booth and getting really bored by John Hodgman’s false-history.  Also, Jonathan Coulton sings songs!  Also also, it ends with a list of 400 Moleman names and occupations!  What fun!

Honorable Mentions

  • Cryptonomicon: This goes into my “Honorable Mentions” category because I haven’t actually finished this book yet, so there’s a good chance that the entire book could fall apart and not be very good.  However, a little over half of the way through, Cryptonomicon is a fascinating and masterfully webbed tale of World War II, Cryptography, the dot-com internet boom, and treasure hunting.  Throughout all this and more, including chapters describe complex mathematical formulae for chaotic statistics and a long part of a book describing organ repair, Neal Stephenson manages to infuse everything with wit and an underlying fascination with every inch of the absurd world he’s created.  Again, I’m yet to finish, but I have been enjoying Cryptonomicon and would recommend it to anyone who has a lot of time to spend reading (This is a 1200 page book, and you can’t just  gloss over it either).
  • Gravity Falls: There was one episode of Gravity Falls that aired in 2016, so I can write about it.  Firstly: I do not know if I’m missing the logic behind the sporadic scheduling of a lot of my favorite animated shows, or if this is how all animated show are scheduled, or if the people at cartoon network or Nickelodeon throw darts at a calendar to decide when something is airing.  But throughout its run “Gravity Falls” had the most sporadic schedule of any other show.  Case in point: There were only two seasons, but it ran for four years. But I digress: Gravity Falls was an impressive and heartfelt series.  It had Disney’s signature wackiness inside of its DNA, but it also had two sets of wonderfully thought out sibling relationships in Dipper and Mabel and Stan and Ford.  The wrinkles and disappointment and love and respect shown between all of them- and very much shown, not just read in by an older viewer- all functioned to make these characters feel more real and less zany than the very first episode had you believe.  Add to that the fact that this series gave work Matt Chapman of Homestar Runner fame, so that’s a plus!  Also a huge plus: Gravity Falls was never afraid to be truly terrifying.  Existence-shatteringly terrifying. The final super-antagonist of Bill Cypher in Weirdmageddon story arch was case-in-point (as were any episodes starring Bill from the get-go) as he was a lovecraftian nightmare demon who wore a tiny top hat as he manipulated the show’s reality to be a grotesque terror-show.

  • Wander Over Yonder: Wander Over Yonder was another Disney program that rose above Disney’s general silly style, only it did this by swerving directly into it and embracing madcap silliness and optimism and hope.  Not every show can do this.  Some shows try, and they fail miserably.  Wander Over Yonder did not.  A lot of this was because of the character work: The Orange Furball Wander voiced by Jack McBrayer acts exactly as you’d expect him to only Wander has actual crises of conscious and his obsessive desire to help people is shown both as a help and a hinderance; Wander’s best friend Sylvia acts as the balancing force to Wander with an underlying tenderness and love for this Orange nutcase, the general villain of the series Lord Hater is equal parts threatening and pathetic with the few moments when he reaches his full power (achieved by believing in himself, which sounds cheesy when written but the turn of phrase of “Hate’s Great, best villain” from ridiculous esteem-building villain-chant to legitimately inspiring cheer is one of the greatest achievements of the show) showing that Lord Hater is actually a very powerful and destructive force that didn’t get to be the Greatest Villain of the Galaxy just because of Commander Peepers (voiced by the always amazing Tom Kenny).  In the end, Wander Over Yonder was a story about reaching your full potential with the help of your friends (and it did this so much better than My Little Pony ever has) with Lord Dominator being the diametric opposite to Wander’s belief that everyone has good in them and being ultimately undone when the only planet left in the galaxy that hasn’t had it’s core drained all rises up to cheer on their former enemy.  I’m not sure I’ve really communicated the charm of the series, or the honest belief in Good that it has but I can end by letting you know that you should check it out. It’s just wonderful.
  • Regular Show: Look, I’ve really enjoyed Regular Show in the past too but the series needs to end.  I don’t think Cartoon Network deciding to end it after this season is a mistake, and I’m honestly surprised that it’s taken them this long to cancel.  I think even the show itself knows this, which is why we have the thoroughly ridiculous Regular Show in Space season we have now.  It’s not very good, it knows its not very good, it has a lot of fun not being very good, I respect the fact that it’s just throwing itself into this deeply stupid concept, but it doesn’t really solve the underlying problem of it just not being very good.  Even the season before this, I enjoyed Rigby’s arch to finally finish High School and the general “Year of Rigby” (although I’m still surprised we never got to see Rigby using the toilet-time-machine on the other end.  I guess we could by Series-end, but they are really sticking to this space conflict-thing so probably not).  In the end, I guess what’s turned me off of Regular Show was that it seems like the Slacker energy has completely suffused the entire show.  Whereas before the character accepting each other made for some of the best episodes, now they all just seem stuck and happy to be there, with no greater ambitions otherwise.  And this bothers me, and I don’t think “Find a job where you play video games and stay there” is a good message for kids (because let’s also remember another reason why I’m surprised Regular Show has lasted this long: I see no reason why a child would like it, and it’s on Cartoon Network’s non-adult swim programming list.  If Regular Show were Adult Swim, then I think it would have excelled and it probably wouldn’t be getting cancelled).  Now I’m still going to watch Regular Show in Space until the end, and like I said I greatly admire how much the show has committed to the tropes, settings, and overall dumbness of a space opera.  I’m also really glad that Eileen has joined the park cast, because she is great.  I only wish she had done so a few seasons back when she would have actually gotten developed instead of being stuck in this deeply stupid space opera.  Again, I love how the show acknowledges that this is deeply stupid, but it doesn’t solve the fact that this whole in Space thing is deeply, deeply stupid.
  • The Good Dinosaur: When reading reviews for this film it was brought up how strange it is, and that about sums up my experience: I was not prepared for how much of a Western this was.  Because it’s a Dinosaur Cowboy movie! And that’s great! The two genres (although is “Dinosaur” a genre?) are blended well together, I think the voice work was fine, the central conflict really being between Argo and the Elements (with the storm-worshipping Pterodons thrown in for good measure, which I thought was effective) lent to a much more meditative film than we’re used to, and did give the viewer the sense that Argo truly accomplished something at the end.  I then wonder why it is that I’m not really excited about this movie.  In fact, the best comparison I can come up with is A Bug’s Life.  Both are Disney Pixar movies that are perfectly serviceable and well done but when going through the Disney-Pixar line you won’t pick them out.  In fact, I’m more likely to think about Cars 2 than either because it stands out for being bad.  The only reason- also strangely enough for both The Good Dinosaur and A Bug’s Life– that I can think of that I wasn’t deeply enthralled by this movie is the style: For already being a genre fusing high-concept dinosaur movie, everything was just a bit too cartoony.  Although I’m not exactly sure if I’d want it to look like Dinosaur.  Rather, it just stays in a place where it’s simultaneously too cartoony and not cartoony enough.  But we did get a bizarre dinosaur drug trip, so that’s nice.  Like I said, this is just a weird movie.
  • Zootopia: I don’t think a lot of people were expecting much from this film.  In fact, I think most of us were expecting the Disney Animation Studios bubble to have popped and for it to start making generally OK things.  However Zootopia surprised us all, because it’s a timely story about corruption, prejudice, and just how delicate communities are when the two are so deeply ingrained in a society.  The best thing of all?  Zootopia uses some prejudices and assumptions the viewer themselves have to its benefit.  We as a viewer join the rest of Zootopia the city in thinking that a rabbit (not a bunny) can be a police officer, we believe that a fox would of course be a conniving con artist, and is that a fat cheetah? Ha ha.  Well, as Zootopia goes on and develops this world you as a viewer come to realize you’re wrong, that these ideas you had weren’t based in any reality whatsoever and only existed because at some point you were told them (and not even by anyone with any authority, it’s just something mentioned in passing or something you assumed).  But you’re wrong: This rabbit is dedicated police officer who truly wants to make her community a better place, this fox is actually a greatly talented individual who was just crushed by others assumptions about him, and so what if the cheetah likes to eat donuts?  He’s a great guy and he likes being himself!  That’s fantastic!  Then add a villain who uses a community’s mistrust of one another against itself, and you have a film that’s deeply moving and very powerful.  So way to go, Disney Animation Studios, you proved us all wrong.  Oh, last note: “Try Everything” is a really inspiring message to have.
  • Over the Garden Wall: I rewatched this miniseries twice this year, once to make sure it was a good gift for my mother and another time when I actually watched it with my mother. Yes, it’s still great and fantastic the second and third time around.  Although it really does need to be viewed as a series as a whole and not as a collection of episodes (like, say, “Stakes” which all revolved around the same event and was its own whole, but you can view each episode as an individual), because every episode informs the piece as a whole.  This is especially true for some of the early episodes that are just plain stupid.  Take the third Episode: Schooltown Follies.  It’s a silly tale about a runaway Gorilla who’s actually a person in a gorilla suit.  Did anyone think to check that? Nope, they were all scared of the gorilla!  Also, Greg sings a little song about Potatoes and Molasses while cute animals dance to it.  I love this series, but this episode is so deeply stupid.  But that’s what makes it great.  Because later on, having experienced these small moments of silliness and dumb parts of life, we feel so much more for Greg when he’s taken by The Beast and nearly dies and becomes an Edelwood tree.  It also allows us to see Greg through Wirt’s eyes and see his childlike innocence and optimism and enthusiasm, which is exactly what is preyed upon in “Babes in the Woods” and exactly how The Beast takes Greg.  The thing is, though, that when just watching this miniseries for the first time, one-after-another, you don’t see everything being interconnected and dependent on one another until the moment arrives and everything clicks into place.  This doesn’t make each individual episode a slog, or a confusing mess, though, but rather just a piece in a really lovely puzzle.  Added to all of this is the style of the Miniseries, which is seeped in turn-of-last-century Americana and folk art but uses these as informants and never feels overly sentimental or nostalgic or sappy.  Instead, it just bathes everything in a fairy-tale like sepia tone, like jumping out of the yellowed pages of an old folklore book.
  • Inside Out: Just in case we were worried, Inside Out showed us that Pixar is still a leader of cinematic animation. From the incredibly realized world of the inner thoughts of all things (including cats in one of my favorite scenes), to the beautiful story of coming to terms with both who you are and a new place, to the amazing message of why sadness is essential to our lives.  Even better, after quickly dispensing of some world-building at the start every other realization is presented in a wonderfully visual and digestible way again making it clear to the audience without becoming preachy: Sadness is what helps us heal, and that sadness isn’t something we should ignore or throw away, but embrace when the time comes.  Even beyond the end result is the great way that all Emotions have their own jobs and their own purposes in head: Anger leads to the single worst decision in the movie, but Anger is also what informs passion and opinions and belief.  All of this is also ignoring what can always be expected of a Pixar film (even in the Cars series): Beautiful animation, well-directed voice casts, and (okay maybe this one is missing from Cars. Spoiler alert: I haven’t seen any of the Cars nor will I out of principle)a brilliant sense of humor.  For anyone who hasn’t seen this film yet, every bit of praise you’ve heard about it is true and it’s a fantastic piece.  For everyone who has seen this film: you know that it’s great.
  • Once Upon a Time: Yes, I watch the Fairy Tale soap opera.  It remains a fairy tale Soap Opera.  In 2016 Greg German had a whole lot of fun being the smarmy ruler of the Underworld Hades, and boy was that a blast.  Unfortunately a lot of other things in the Underworld weren’t.  We did get to see some old faces return, and we solved that whole “Captain Hook is dead” problem, but the big pull of the second half of Season 5 was Greg Germann’s Hades.  I suppose we also got a bit more characterization of the Wicked Witch of the West too, but it was really just the Hades smart show.  Which is OK.  The first half of Season 6 has also been OK, although both of these have suffered from having an episodic structure that just sort of becomes boring after a while.  In Underbrooke it was the “Unfinished business” of all of the souls trapped in the Underworld.  In Season 6’s Storybrooke it’s been finishing the stories from everyone from the Land of Unfinished stories (even though that whole thread was dropped as soon as Mr. Hyde was killed, which sort of just adds to the feeling of pointlessness these plot threads had).  I’ve heard some critics pan Sam Witwer’s Mr. Hyde, but I enjoyed him.  He oozed with a barely restrained aggression that helped to define him beyond “Sort of unkillable antagonist”, and certainly made him a continued threat even when imprisoned.   Now, let’s go into the next main plot thread of Season 6 and the real Antagonist of the first half: The Evil Queen.  Not Regina, because she separated herself using Dr. Jekyll’s serum, but The Evil Queen.  This has furthered the bizarre costuming choices of the series, as well as further shown how Regina is one of the few developed characters on the show.  One side effect that I don’t think the show was going for, though, is that it shows how underwhelming Emma’s turn as The Dark One ended up being.  I’m still deeply upset that Emma never really became Dark, and that even when possessed by one of the most evil forces in the show Emma was still The Savior and committed to good.  The idea of redemption and all of that is fine, that’s part of the show.  What bothers me is that the show backpedalled on a promise.  It had a season where Emma’s desires to help those around her and destroy herself in the process were being viewed from a very self-destructive angle which would have made her a much better character.  What’s more, the show has already looked into Emma and started to develop the flip side of her “Savior” behavior with the Ice Queen arch (because the show has always leaned on Emma’s negative aspect being “I don’t trust people”).  In the end, I wanted Dark Swan to actually be dark like the show promised.  Or I would have liked her to have been a bit more a Dark One, even if she was playing the Darkness the whole time.  She was still The Dark One, but the only evil thing she did (which was admittedly pretty evil, and I wanted more moments like this) was when she stole the heart of her son’s girlfriend to steal the tears of her son for a secret potion.  Also, while we’re talking about The Dark One, I’m happy that Belle has had it with Rumplestiltskin’s bullshit, but I’m also really tired of their whole “I love you, I hate you” relationship.  That doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon with the appearance of their freshly kidnapped and suddenly an adult baby boy Orpheus King of Dreams.  But that’s Once Upon a Time, and in the end it’s not going to change but I’m still going to be watching the Fairy Tale Soap Opera (with still one of the biggest reasons being I want to see Giancarlo Esposito- Gus from Breaking bad for those of you who don’t know actor’s names- be the genie from Aladdin and the Magic Mirror from Snow White again).  For those of you who have never seen a single episode of Once Upon a Time, you now know just how deeply ridiculous this Fairy Tale Soap Opera is.  I didn’t even get to the parts with Aladdin, Jasmine, and Captain Nemo because this show doesn’t care what story it takes its characters from, it’s just going to throw them all into Maine.
  • Infinity Train: For anyone who actually is worried about the end of Regular Show, take a look at Infinity Train.  It’s the pilot from Owen Dennis, one of the writers on Regular Show, and it’s very promising.  You should also take a look at it if you’re worried about the ending of Adventure Time, and the shaky ground of Steven Universe.  In fact, you should just take a look at it.  In about 8 minutes Dennis sets up an intriguing world with opportunities for a large mythology (which I’m a sucker for in my shows), while also having an opportunity for some really great single episodes. Also, despite being 8 minutes long, the central trio of characters get a surprising amount of development and show themselves as being worthy of spending a whole eleven minutes with every week (think of it! THREE MORE MINUTES! Anyone who has tried to write an animated show in this format knows that you can create an entire other subplot that is at times funny and heartbreaking with three extra minutes).  Also, if you tend to agree with me on Regular Show, don’t be discouraged by Infinity Train.  Dennis has written for Regular Show, and has written some of the more “Regular Show”-y episodes of Regular show (like both episodes regarding The Last Laserdisc), but Infinity Train has its own distinct feel and its own distinct style.  None of the slacker attitude that is Regular Show’s big draw exists in Infinity Train, and none of Regular Show’s fascination with 80’s video game culture exists in Infinity Train.  Instead, at least in its current form, it exists as a fusion of drawing room mystery, Miyazakian world of villains-who-may-not-be-villains, with little bits of Portal and Werner Herzegovina fan service thrown in for good measure.  Please, watch Infinity Train below as it’s one surefire way to show Cartoon Network that you’d want this to be a series.

P for Path to Dodge, Q for QERN

Stories about journeys this month, as well a bit of a peek inside the jumbled mind of Chadwick Hedgegrove.

p-for-path-to-dodge

The first of our stories is revisiting Hedgegrove’s love of “Bonanza!” with a fake “Bonanza!” episode about a missing briefcase and Wild West super spy antics.

q-for-qern

The next one is a fantasy journey of a Hero Human named Jory who takes a possessed sword to kill a volcano demon with a group of 28 other heroes.

Resolution.

Remember how the moon blew up in March?  Well I made a movie about that. Or…

Remember those two filmmakers who were going to team up and make a movie together?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Remember those four larger film projects that I’ve had in post-production, some for around 8 years?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Above all else, I made a film about failure.  I made the film below called “Resolution.”, and it’s below.  Let’s watch now, shall we?

Resolution. from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

So there’s a lot of things here to parse out, but first let’s look at some technical aspects.  I’ve been working on “Resolution” since February of this year when I decided to use it as a way of exploring the software “Resolve” as a new editing suite (I’m still using Final Cut 7 for most of my projects, and I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to switch to something newer and more up-to-date).  Well, I tried using Resolve, but in the end I just didn’t like it for editing.  It’s good for color work, but not for editing (and it’s designed to be for color work, editing is just something they’re just now incorporating).  But was “Resolution” still a project that should be completed and shown? Yes, in fact now it was more than ever.

The relevance goes to why I chose the projects I chose: Tracy McKnightly, Stories From Sturgeon, and Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters (more on “Lun” in a second).  These are three projects that have been simmering for a long time, projects that are so close to being finished but won’t be because of small but significant things: Tracy McKnightly needed so much ADR work mostly because of a last minute drop-out of the main actor, but also because I had only completed one semester of school and I didn’t understand that sound was a thing; Stories From Sturgeon wasn’t able to get enough footage from the filming of the project itself and so with only interviews to go by there wasn’t much of a documentary I could make; Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters! needed lots of miniature work or animation work or something to get exterior shots of the spaceship, but also I was missing video and audio from when we shot, and even on set I had lost a lot of my ability to plan and work on a film set which resulted in a rushed schedule that didn’t quite work out.  Now I know that no one was waiting with too bated breath for these films to be completed, but I had failed them and I needed to make it right.  So, much like with “No!” before this (the most obvious predecessor, right down to having a punctuation mark in the title), I decided to fuse these failed projects together into one.  I fused them into one project that had itself failed on a small but significant level.

Now, let’s talk about “Lun”.  Right off the bat I realized that the biggest difference between “Resolution.” and “No!” was the projects chosen, particularly how they could communicate and function together.  You see, “No!” is made of primarily visual and experimental pieces, things that I thought would be neat to look at but never quite did.  Fitting these looser pieces into one narrative (“Death is a Corgi”) was just a matter of filling holes.  In “Resolution.” I was working with three pieces that had their own stories, three pieces that each had their own feel and their own flow, and fitting them together proved to be tricky.  So I decided I needed a framing device, and it seemed the best way to do that would be to latch on to the documentary aspect of “Stories From Sturgeon”, the discussion of the moon from “Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters!”, and the single image of a shining moon from “Tracy McKnightly” together into one piece.  This piece would end up being called “Lun”, and I decided that the framing device would be me going around and hosting interviews of one simple question: Why did you blow up the moon?  Lun quickly grew out of control and- as has been the case with many projects that I’ve wanted to complete these past four years- I ran out of the resources to make this happen.  What I was left with was a bunch of images of the moon (which I wasn’t even able to finish collecting, because the moon mysteriously vanished from the night sky.  Thanks, light pollution), and some title cards of Moon “puns” (as is said in “Resolution.”, these aren’t puns.  They’re not even plays on words).

We’ve already talked about “No!” being a predecessor of this piece, but I think the greater predecessor is “I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical” (Another punctuation mark!  I use SO much punctuation!).  Soon, with my project on failed projects failing and everything not quite reaching the titular resolution, it became clear that this was to be another project based on failure.  More specifically, a project based on my failure.  I’ve since been treating this like a “IDTAMTM” Lite.  Whereas the previous film focused on a deeply personal sense of failure to belong and connect and all sorts of other messy things, “Resolution.” would focus primarily on a career-based failure.  So much of these past ten years have been about me growing into and defining myself as an artist, and now that I’m removed from my medium and have made the decision to move away from a career in cinema production, I can’t help but feel a certain loss.  The same loss I feel over the incompletion of Tracy McKnightly.

So I suppose that’s all why I made a movie about why I can’t make movies anymore.  Or maybe I made a film about why I can’t make films anymore.  It all depends on whether I’m One or The Other.  But at least one thing is certain: I shot for the moon and blew it all up.

M for Maria Gil, N for Nergisamu, and O for Operation Tarasque

Another Trio of Stories!  This time all coming from the later Hedgegrove era when he was contemplating futility, death, and whether or not locking himself inside his house was a good idea.  So lots of fun, cheery things.

M for Maria Gil

First is the lost Shakespearean play “Maria Gil” about a a cursed ship and a test Neptune’s carrying out to see if humans have anything more than greed and shadow in their hearts.  There are two possible endings, and our intrepid narrator also gets to let us know that this probably wouldn’t have been a Shakespearean play.

N for Nergisamu

Next up we go back to Zard (after this we’re taking a long break from Zard) to meet the Beetle Lord of Death and his world of impossible math.  Also, we meet a King who travels to Hell to bring back the soul of a woman whose statue he fell in love with.

O for Operation Tarasque

Finally we end with a shorter story about a Military project in 2003 to create a Fear virus that would temporarily transform people into terrifying monsters, only to have them revert back to human form when killed so that terror would stop and everyone can get along.  SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t work.

I’m aware these stories are getting longer, and I’ve also realized that some of the earlier pieces are a bit removed from the narrative that’s started to form.  Mostly right now, the plan is to finish off with these 26 entries, then go back and edit everything before looking into publishing.  So… read now before they go into the Vvinni Vault, I suppose.

These 100 United States

As the thunder of fireworks and election sounds, the people of the United States think to themselves: We need to re-draw state lines.  Well, don’t worry America, I’ve done just that.  I even took the same rule all modern country-makers take: Draw a bunch of lines in existing territories without much thought. Now, am I saying that this is a dark visage of of our own future?  Yes. Yes I am.  Pack your bags, this will probably happen tomorrow.

TUS


Colympus

Eureka

Pacifico

Los Santos

Guadalupe

Sonora SpacefallSparganophilusModocFremontMeadowlark

Mr. Starkey

Inland Empire

SnakelandBitterrockBasalt Falls

Goldpit

Walker

Warm Springs

Escalante

Tetonia

Salt Lake

Kruckeberg

Foreverwood

AntipodeAnda NangkwaChantemakhaBleeding PeaksNuevo FosilClovisThe ShardScopulosusMisfortuneDrainageCloud Peak EnergyBlack HillsBuffalo 57720Commanche's WingLonestarThe GireNorth GireUbetchaZedlakeSuxlandConfluenceNodawayTourmentCreekstone Farms Premium LandsA Liscenced Pizza Hut LocationOzarkTerminusMagnolionBoue RougeBig ThicketSamslandAustiniaInterexitYazooWartburgGinoozininiMesabiSuperionDriftless ZoneMuskellungeChicagoWestcagoTullyMuskogeeLutheronThe Brave and Beautiful Kingdom of Buffalo TraceWabashGeneral MotorsHuroniousThe ClawOhweoAllegheniaAppalachiaCoca-Cola CorporationTupossoluhThe FourDisney's Territory of FunFloridiumPiedmontShenandoah!CommonwealthCapetownChesapeakeJoiseeAdirondackEerieRochesterRegular YorkNewest YorkHavenBorschtbeldtKhaaaaaaad!!!MaineslandBeringiaYukonStill Hawaii

100 Magics

As the NSA knows, I have spent the past six months or so cataloguing and writing on the 100 types of magic.  I am finally finished, though I probably went overboard on a few of them. Either way, I have done my part. You’re welcome.

  1. Pyromancy: Fire Magic.  Among the most popular of magics what with the ability to cast fireballs and make fire golems, but also the most dangerous of magics what with the strong possibility of lighting oneself on fire and dying.

  2. Illusion: Trick Magic. Bardlebard Nomage was among the most powerful and feared magicians of his time before it was realized that he was only really good at tricking people into seeing or hearing things.  After that he was quickly defeated, because people then knew his 10-foot tall flaming hell-hound was actually a partially blind 7-year-old Pekingese.

  3. Ventriloquism: Voice Magic. The Great Lester, famed Ventriloquist, was both able to speak through his dummy Frank Byron Jr., but he was also able to speak through his student Edgar Bergen before getting into The Great Ventriloquist Battle of 1907.  Lester was also said to be able to throw his voice with such force that he could cause internal hemorrhaging to organs.

  4. Hydromancy: Water Magic. Foremost Gangulon is the most powerful Hydromage in history.  Though he lived in the Perpetual Deadlands, he lived on a ship in a floating island of water and had a best friend who was a Porpoise, a butler of living water, and he even road through the street at night on his mighty water-horse.

  5. Teleportation: Moving objects through space. It is said that there is only one Grimoire of Teleportation, but once a Teleportationist tries to grab it to become more advanced it is sent to another corner of the Earth.  Teleportationists find this annoying, other magicians find it hilarious.

  6. Enchantment: Giving objects magical properties.  Enchanters are only as good as the objects they have.  Take Rory Klaus, a great Enchanter who had a staff that would bring death to anyone who opposed him.  One night while Rory was sleeping the staff was stolen, and soon after he was killed as he had no other magic items.

  7. Invisibility: Camouflage Magic. Xanthar Cancleon is the greatest Invisiblist to have ever lived.  In theory Cancleon is dead now, however by the end of her life not even she knew where she was in her house as she was so well camouflaged.

  8. Memoriamancy: Memory Magic. Opliate Hemofloat was a prodigious Memoriamancer, however he would always forget to protect himself from his own spells and, after years of research, would forget everything and go back to square one.  He died at the age of 32 after having forgotten how to breathe.

  9. Aeromancy: Air Magic. The Birdman of Alcatraz was actually a skilled Aeromancer, hence why birds liked him so much as he could create the perfect air eddies to help them get to the best of insects quicker.  He was never able to escape from Alcatraz, though, as the amount of Wind he would need to whisk him away from the Island would end up destroying the prison and he’d feel REALLY bad about that.

  10. Beastmastery: Animal Magic. Timothy Treadwell was a mighty Beastmaster who for a long time was able to speak with his Bear friends and keep them from eating him.  Unfortunately, as is the case with many Beastmasters, Treadwell made one mistake in the Bear Tongue with a semicolon (Bears are sticklers for punctuation, you see) which ended with his brutal mauling.

  11. Polyglotism: Language Magic. King Arthur once faced a Polyglot by the name of Zoozoom Judypunch.  The battle lasted two weeks, not because Zoozoom was that great or powerful, but because no knight of the round table could understand the Spanish Arthur had been speaking.
  12. Precognition: Future Vision.  The Oracle of Delphi is perhaps the most known Precog of all time, however what isn’t known about her is that she could only see one year into the future and never the present.  Hence why she preferred to spend her time in a cave away from people, as it made her limited interactions much easier to document and remember for the year later when they would actually happen.
  13. Pithanosia: Probability Magic.  Nosmus Catheter was a great Pithanosian, and it was said that nothing- not even the wind or the crowing of a raven- happened by accident around him.  Which only made Catheter’s death more mysterious when a tree accidentally fell on him.  There was no evidence of foul play, but it is widely assumed that Nosmus Catheter, Jr. was tired of his father controlling his life and had manipulated probability to have him killed.
  14. Vuotaika: Size Manipulation. Paul Bunyan is perhaps the most remembered of all Vuotaikans.  A little known fact of Bunyan is that only half of the time was he 10 feet tall, and the rest of the time he was his regular 5 foot three inches, while everyone else was one-tenth of their regular size.
  15. Wayfinding: Travel magic. Marie Byrd was a Wayfinder, and perhaps one of the Greatest of her generation.  Though her husband Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd is credited with exploring Antarctica, Richard was only a Hydromancer who was able to part snow and make the ice into potable water.  Marie, his wife who was on the expedition with him, was able to navigate the empty whiteness and the Antarctic wastes, leading the expedition to the fattest of Penguin flocks, the best places for shelter, and eventually the the magnetic pole itself.
  16. Geomancy: Ground Magic. Geomancers throughout the years have gone to drastic measures to prove that they’re not just “rock wizards”, be it Giocatta Onice who almost sunk the Isle of Sicily, to Hansar Kumatose who singlehandedly caused the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, to Pacon Classtrike who attacked the Louvre with an army of animated rock-birds.
  17. Neuromancy: Thought Magic.  Nomnom Snoopy was the Neuromancer who caused this magic to become one of the four forbidden magics.  Snoopy was able to manipulate everyone’s thoughts so an entire village not only thought he was a harmless, magic-less town drunk but also that he was the most jovial and benign of personalities.  It wasn’t until another Neuromancer happened to wander into the village that the truth was uncovered:  Snoopy had been kidnapping and eating people for years in a twisted attempt at gaining more power to control the thoughts of the world.  Also, Snoopy was a really mean and racist drunk.
  18. Fylassijn: Imprisoning Magic. Gregor Guardepapudo is both the Warden of Bábkové Skala, the most magical prison in the world, but also the most powerful Fylassijn to have existed.  The Archmage Frownbeard had at first tried to destroy Guardepapudo, however every magician that got close would end up with their life’s essence imprisoned inside of a terrible puppet.  Eventually, Frownbeard made the agreement with Guardepapudo: No further action would be taken if he would now on use his magic to only imprison Magic’s greatest criminals.  Gregor mostly agreed.
  19. Sanguination: Blood Magic. Oliver Dracula was the Sanguinator who finally got Blood Magic put in the forbidden magics territory.  Going far beyond the pentagrams and parlor tricks of Sanguinators past, Dracula launched a full attack against the Istanbul Magiquary in 1862.  Dracula ripped the blood from those who tried to stop him, had an army of living blood golems, and every wound done to him would only make him stronger.  Soon the attack became a siege, though, and Sanguinators are ill fit for sieges what with their constant bleeding.  Dracula passed out and Istanbul was saved.
  20. Necromancy: Magic of the Dead. Skeleton Armies, Ghost Ships, Tombstone Automatons, Touch-of-death powers, Necromancer Hambald Vivaldi thought he had it all.  Unfortunately one day Vivaldi crossed his arms and killed himself with one touch.  His skeleton army remains, still to this day wandering about the seaside ghost-moors, only now Vivaldi’s own skeleton has joined its ranks as a shuffling, undead drone.
  21. Cappelium: The Magic of having really great hair. Zorcand Zorcand was a Cappeli who was said to be able to blind entire armies with a swish of his hair.  He purchased an island kingdom with only a lock of hair, causing the former island despot to go into poverty but die happy clutching that small chunk of glorious, glorious hair.  Another fun fact, The Biblical Samson was also a Cappeli, and contrary to popular belief it wasn’t the cutting of his hair that removed his powers, but rather the fact that he was given a bad haircut that removed them.

  22. Phrenology: Skull Reading. Cecilia Temacher, a phrenologist, became so adept at her craft that she was able to know every intention a visitor had for visiting her country cottage.  She had been able to avoid unwelcome interactions for twenty years that way, until one day a hat-mage refused to remove their hat and thus Cecilia was unable to see the visitor’s intention to murder her. Cecilia’s own skull is now a prized relic among Phrenologists.

  23. Astrology: Star Reading. Ptolemy, an Astrologer, isn’t necessarily responsible for many of his theories and discoveries.  Ptolemy merely wrote down what he read in the stars, and would often tell his best friends that he didn’t believe many of the things he wrote: Ideas on light reflection, the existence of the lands later to be known as the Americas, and the universe existing as a series of nested spheres.  However, Ptolemy said, if he didn’t write down what he saw in the stars the stars would make fun of him and his stupid-looking nose. Ptolemy hated his nose.

  24. Gastrology: Food Reading. King Wenceslas ruled over his land with an iron fist, and was largely uncontested by his subjects because of the feasts he would have.  Wenceslas would allow all who wanted to come into his castle and feast on his food any time they wished, and once they were done eating Wenceslas would use his Gastrological powers to read the food scraps left behind and find out his peoples deepest secrets and use those as leverage against his detractors.

  25. Herbamancy: Plant Magic. Herbamancers are great magicians, capable of using the very grass underfoot to devour entire armies that go against them.  However, as was the case of Samuela Lastrone, their powers require the plants to be alive.  Lastrone, in an effort to boost her magical powers, had tied her life to a plant-familiar in her magical garden.  This worked fantastically until she made a mistake in the re-potting of the plant-familiar and ended up severing the root systems and also her own life.

  26. Plastromancy: Reading cracks formed by heat on a turtle’s back. Yoyoba the Turtlemage was ridiculed by her peers, because at the time it was thought that Plastromancy was the reading of plastic.  Yoyoba would fail at reading anything plastic unless it was both turtle-shaped, and also hot enough outside to start to crack the backs.  However, she did have her own collections of turtles (Only turtles, mind you, no tortoises and no terrapins). Only on Yoyoba’s death bed did people realize that she had not only predicted her own death in the turtle’s backs, but also the deaths of everyone in that room.  She also said she knew the grand destiny of the entire universe, but died before she could share it.  It was then that two magical discoveries were made: first- Plastromancy is the reading of cracks formed by heat on a turtle’s back, and second- plastic is resistant to magic.

  27. Tasseometry: Magic of Tea Leaves. Nichiose Vichiose was the first Tasseometrist to realize that he magic went beyond merely reading tea leaves left behind in tea cups.  She could also summon swarms of tea leaves to do her bidding, cause tea bags to infiltrate enemy castles, and she could even change the flavor of tea with the snap of her fingers.  After Vichiose published her Idées Sur le Thé Tesseometry became the respected magical practice it is today.

  28. Scrying: Seeing and reading through crystalline surfaces. Namulon Surprise may just be the greatest Scrier in the history of magic.  Ever since finding her magic at the age of 16, Surprise surrounded herself with mirrors, crystal balls,  chandeliers, anything crystal which she could use to see to all corners of the world and read the past, present, and future.  At the height of her powers all a person had to do was ask a question out loud to her, and she’d be able to see it in her crystal castle and send an answer within three business days.  Her ultimate downfall was her success, though, as soon she became too busy to clean the crystal surfaces she surrounded herself with, causing her predictions and visions to fail, and her reputation to collapse.  She died working for the Idaho Magiquary in Boise.

  29. Oneiromancy: Dream Magic.  Tales tell of a Oneiromancer known as the Moonraker who visits struggling magicians in their dreams to show them the most incredible of tricks and help them solve their own magical problems.  The Moonraker is said to be able to merge dream-realms and connect two magicians minds together in their dreams as well, in fact the tales give the Moonraker complete domain over all of dream reality.  The problem is, no one remembers much of the Moonraker once they wake up and those who do often have really confusing descriptions like “She was made of sand, but it was a sort of bird-like sand that was also a pumpkin. Oh, and we could both speak fluent Spanish except that it wasn’t Spanish we were just speaking in Italian accents”.

  30. Hnifaugu: Knife-eye Magic. Jorgand Smorglos had eyes of cold grey steel, and even before his magic was known few dared to challenge him.  But one day a drunkard named Smae made the terrible decision to tell Jorgand “Your face looks the dog’s vomit”.  With that Jorgand stared a knife into Smae. An actual knife. It came out of his eyes and went into Smae’s chest and Smae died.  It was then that everyone knew: Jorgand Smorglos was a Hnifaugun.

  31. Omnipresence: Being Everywhere.  Omnipresenters are among the most powerful and most short-lived of all magicians.  Take Napos Galavax, an Omnipresenter who- once his magic was founded at 16- went on to capture an entire city by becoming it only to be simultaneously killed in every conceivable fashion.  Those who witnessed the magic-ceremony of Galavax said it was the most beautiful, terrible, horrifying, transcendent experience they ever had.
  32. Omniscience: Knowing Everything.  Omniscist Sir Morgan San-Soufi Hamlet Danube, Esq. III has written books on all topics and claims to know that he is the single greatest of all Omniscists.  Though rival Omniscist Hannibal Ungulate Reiganald Fortinbras VI, en harmonium says this claim is wrong, and that Sir Morgan Danube, Esq. III does not in fact know the exact number of times the eighth chickadee to have ever existed in the Kingdom of Poland blinked.  Sir Morgan Danube Esq. III claims that Hannibal en harmonium is only saying this because he himself doesn’t know that he knows this and, thus, is in fact an inferior Omniscist because of it.  In this argument one thing can be certain: Omniscists are among the most pretentious and annoying of all magicians.
  33. Omniphagery: Eating Everything.  Omniphage Chomp Nomsky nearly made Omniphagery into a forbidden magic when he set out to eat the sun.  He started on Earth and slowly ate his way through the air, through the gravity holding him down, through the atmosphere (fun fact: this may be where the hole in the ozone layer came from), and through space by eating every wave of solar radiation.  Nomsky made it to the corona of the sun, and prepared to sink his teeth in when a solar flare engulfed him before he could eat it.  The last anyone heard from Nomsky was that the Corona of the sun tasted like melting honey-pepper.
  34. Alchemy: Transmutation Magic.  Yes, most Alchemists go after the old lead-to-gold trick.  It’s a classic, and a type of coming-of-age for any young alchemist: If you turn lead to gold then you can get a job in the bigger Alchemy firms.  This, however, isn’t the most impressive of Alchemical feats.  It was said that Alchemist Gerhardt Gerhardt Gerhardt was able to successfully transmute his arm into an alligator (The alligator, having a mind of it’s own and not liking being attached to a person, immediately killed GGG).  Another famous Alchemist, Bluest Greenight, transmuted an entire village (stones, roofs, people, and birds) into stone, then mercury, then- finally- back into organic matter.  The village’s core components were shifted, though, and when Bluest got the village back into organic matter it was no longer a village but a giant tumor-beast that took eighteen of the best magicians to slay.
  35. Solvlast: Salt Magic.  Hompmah Prizrak was the King of Salt in 570 BCE, controlling the Bulgarian salt trade which took the best of salts to Greece, China, etc. and also trained other Solvastos.  Leon of Sparta decided that he shouldn’t take orders from a barbarian and organized an attack against Prizrak.  Six months later Leon received a large chest, which contained the salted and dehydrated remains of his entire army.
  36. Metalmancy: Metal Magic. The history of Metalmancy is one of gradual rise to power.  In ancient times Metalmancers were mostly known for coin tricks, then the became important in war efforts both in instant repairs to armor but also in animating suits of armor to fight in conflicts.  In the modern era Metalmancers work everywhere from construction, to mining, to ecological cleanup.  It’s even said that there’s a secret society of Metalmancers that secretly control the world, and that they are responsible for 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination.
  37. Financemetry: Money Magic. Financemetrists have made a fine mess of the world for most of their history, and the only reason this magic isn’t forbidden is because Financemetrists are among the richest of magicians.  Take the example of Oldy Forbes, who single-handedly caused the 1929 Stock market crash because he had a bad day, or more recently Bernie Madoff who almost got away with highly illegal money magics because he was very, very rich.
  38. Legiametry: Law Magic.  Harvard, before being open to all peoples magic and non-magic alike, was the primary Legiametry school in the United States.  It was here that young Legiametrists learned how to hone their skills to manipulate written laws to their will.  It’s important to note that Legiametrists can only manipulate written laws, and that their powers only exist so long as those they go against have extreme faith in legal systems.  Otherwise, a Legiametrist is powerless.
  39. Cinemetry: Movie Magic!  Cecil B. DeMille was one of the first revealed Cinemterists, and though his work in the movie studios can be seen, what is often overlooked is his involvement in the world wars.  DeMille first proved the power of the Cinemetrist in World War I when he was able to keep a crashing biplane up in the air with what appeared to be invisible monofilament lines.  he was also able to construct massive encampments and false war machines with the wave of his hand (another feat he was able to accomplish with the Ghost Armies of World War II).
  40. Vaahinee Jaadoo: Tube Magic.  Olgos Dromastaemous was a Vaahinee Jaadoogar who not only built aqueducts throughout ancient Greece, but also played a prominent role in the Trojan War when he trapped a number of Trojan ships in tubes and waited for their crews to run out of oxygen.  He was also very important for building the tube-tunnel beneath Troy, which was going to be the Greeks surprise attack before they decided on the Trojan Horse instead.
  41. Typometry: Typographic Magic. Nächster Guttenberg isn’t as well-known as his father in non-magic circles, but among magicians he is known as being the preeminent Typometrist.  Having been disowned by his father (though, to be fair, Johannes may not have known that Nächster existed), the second Guttenberg used his father printing press to create a legion of living letters: So long as there were words, Guttenberg could summon them to do his will.  This all backfired once Nächster was cornered in a field surrounded by illiterate peasants and soldiers with coats of arms, with no letters to summon he was stabbed and killed.  Later Typometrists found out that they could turn living matter into letters, though more often than not this results in the Typomestrist themselves being trapped forever as a letter on a page.

  42. Amns-Nomen: Name Magic.  +\!!!> was an Amnser-Nomen who spent her life searching for the true name of the world, because as we all know Amnser-Nomen are able to control anything they have the true name to.  +\!!!> asked the trees and rocks surrounding her home in her efforts to uncover the Earth’s name and gain control over it, but it was to no avail: +\!!!>, and by extension no other Amnser-Nomer, was able to find the Earth’s true name.

  43. Numerology: Number Magic.  Despite being widely ridiculed by the magic community, Numerologists will always be able to find work.  Francine Goldbaith, for example, spent fifteen years as a corporate accountant, like many Numerologists, until she was recruited by the military-industrial complex in the Cold War era to make it seem like the number of nuclear weapons the United States had was higher than it actually was.

  44. Arithmancy: Equational Magic. Arithmancers, with the power of changing and manipulating anything described by an equation, can be very powerful with the right tools.  Gog St. Vincent, for example, was an Arithmancer who was capable of manipulating the gravity around him simply by changing the operations included in Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation.  It got to the point where St. Vincent almost collapsed the Earth in on itself by shifting the gravity and was stopped by the local Magiquiary.  In his later years St. Vincent tried to once again change the world by making i^2=2, which would have collapsed every electrical grid and plunged the world into fire and eternal night, but instead decided to try and change the equations of particle physics instead.

  45. Geometry: Shape Magic. It has been said that the great pyramids of Egypt where actually built as giant towers of stone, and they continued to be these stone towers well after the Greeks took over Egypt.  Then Eulcid, one of the first great Geometrists, decided that the Great Towers of Egypt should reflect the divine nature of the world and transformed the towers into pyramids.

  46. Grafiquemage: Graphing and Statistical Visualization Magic.  Soups McGooey was the leading Grafiquemagi for Scorns & Associates, a business consulting firm in 1980’s Connecticut.  Those who worked with Soups claimed that every graph she created made them understand business in a transcendental fashion.  This changed when Soups took on a job with Lockheed Aircraft, and changed for the worse.  When looking at a set of Data Soups conjured up a deadly pie chart that went on a rampage throughout the office, devouring people whole and taking on their risk assessment data to become even stronger.  In the end, Soups was able to banish the Pie Chart back into the Statistical Realm, but at the cost of becoming nothing more than a set of numbers herself. To this day, Soups McGooey is still just a set of numbers in a spreadsheet.

  47. Pimoshu: The Magic of Pi.  The First Pifashi- Heilun Xeixi- was misidentified as a low-level Geometrist at first, as the only thing she was able to change were circles.  However, as Xeixi got older she realized that it was not the geometry of Circles and sphere that she could manipulate, but their very definition.  She also realized that this extended to realms of Electromagnetism and Trigonemetric Waves.  Her Memoirs, Méiyǒu Jǐhétǐ, have formed the basis of Pifashis well into the modern age and have given the most succinct explanation of this magic which is: Pifashi see Pi in all things, and Pifashi can change Pi in all things.

  48. Paimoshu: The Magic of Pie. Oufei Xeixi was the sister of Heilun, and she is known as the first Paifashi.  While her sister whiled away staring at numbers and shapes and creating concentric circles in the air, Oufei was baking.  No matter what she tried to make- even if it was soup- it would always come out as a pie.  As the Xeixi’s distanced themselves from the sisters, Oufei realized she needed help and created Pie Golems to aide around the house and their surrounding fruit orchards.  For any raiders that came near, either Heilun would change the nature of their skull’s shape (after all, our skull has plenty of spheres in it), or Oufei would trap them in a delicious Pie.  So it was that Oufei showed the power of the Paifashi: That even though they have a funny power, they still have power.

  49. Lignumancy: Wood Magic.  Contrary to Herbamancers, Lignumancers need their plants dead and processed to have their magic work.  However, as Lignumancer Fortinbras Gallagher showed, their powers extend to both the animation and control of wooden objects (tables, chairs, signposts, whittled bears), but also to paper.  Finding himself surrounded by a legion of Fight Magicians without his Wooden army around him, Fortinbras was able to summon the papers from nearby recycling bins to swarm around and distract the fight magicians while Gallagher opened up a wooden portal and exited, full of splinters, safely home.  Gallagher did later find out the hard way, though, that Lignuancy only extends to tree bark, and not other dead plants, as he tried to ward off the same group of Fight Magicians with a bunch of dead flowers only to wind up dead himself.

  50. Metamorphosis: Shape-shifting. Ingrid Ghostback was a Metamorphist prodigy, capable of changing a brick into a mouse and back again in under two seconds.  Her pride was rather literally erased one day, though, when trying to perform the greatest of Metaphorosist feats (Shape shifting one’s torso into an elephant) when she mistakenly shape-shifted herself into a balloon and, now being inanimate, wasn’t able to shape-shift back.  Ingrid is now on display at the Smithsonian Magic Museum in Washington D.C.

  51. Wishmastery: The Magic of Granting Wishes. Contrary to popular belief, there is no limit to what a wishmaster can do: Do you wish for more wishes? DONE. Do you wish for true love? DONE. Do you wish to bring back the dead? DONE AND DONE. Wishmasters are, however, cursed in that they can only use their magic if another person wishes for them to, and only if that person says the words “I wish…”.  This is further complicated by the fact that Wishmasters don’t serve one person, and so if Person A wishes for Person B to be dead all Person B has to do is, before being killed by A’s wish, to wish for A’s wish to be changed so that Person B can go on living.  If all of this weren’t complicated enough, most Wishmasters also feel incredibly used by those around them and will often try to twist wishes in what is known as “The Monkey’s Paw Effect” where wishes gain an ironic and often deadly side-effect.
  52. Thaumaturgy: The Magical ability to do really neat things every once in a while.  St. Andrew Corsini, a Thaumaturge, is most known for accurately being told by the Virgin Mary, who appeared in a great beam of light with 17 cherubs flying around her like moths, that he will die come the Feast of the Epiphany.  However, he was able to do a few other really neat things in his life like on April 3rd 1322 when he, in the middle of a Florentine Winehouse, he jumped up and started singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.  Later, once he was a Bishop negotiating peace in Bologna he was able to make what is Historically noted as the greatest Bologna pun of all time.  He also once gave a poor beggar a piece of paper that ended up folding open to reveal a rip in space-time, where the beggar fell through and became Walt Disney. Disney thought that was a neat trick.
  53. Henosis: Merging Magic. The life of a Henosist is an odd one.  Take Llewyn Starpeerer, a sailor with the Dutch Trading Company who one night merged with his ship.  The next day most of his crew had been digested inside his galley-belly, and those who weren’t abandoned the Llewyn ship, leaving him alone as a one-man-ship sailing the seas forever, for it was feared that if ever he were to port he would merge and absorb more ships and possibly even the entire port itself.  Llewyn eventually merged with a school of minnows and drowned them all with his human lungs.
  54. Šeširočaro: Hat Magic. There certainly was magic in that old silk hat on Frosty the Snowman’s head, and that’s because it belonged to famed Šeširobuk Prof. William Hinkle.  Hinkle was a teacher of hat magic at Stetson University (the leading institution for Hat Magic), but he was also a part-time stage magician using his magic to pull rabbits and swords out of hats, disappear assistants into hats, and makes fireworks come out of his hat.  “The Frosty Incident”, as it has become known, was a travesty of hat magic that nearly cost Hinkle his professorship, the only thing that saved him was the fact that bringing to life inanimate objects with a hat had never been done before by a Šeširobuk and is now one of the most complex spells in the magical community.
  55. Catoptromancy: Mirror Magic.  Addanlo Mastar was a notorious thief, wanted in thirteen countries and pulling off some truly impressive heists (including one of many thefts of Munch’s “The Scream”).  The few who were able to corner Mastar said she was able to disappear at a moment’s notice, though teleportationists claimed it was impossible.  Finally magic detective Heller Smoke cracked the case: Addanlo Mastar was a Catoptromancer, capable of escaping through mirrors, creating mirror images of rooms and objects, and deflecting projectiles with mirrors.  She was finally apprehended by Magikamancers who trapped her in her own mirror, where she resides to this day.
  56. Horology: Clock Magic.  Cuckoo Tickentok (birth name Jonathan Greenwalt) was not a good Horologist, hence why he changed his name to a gimmick.  Tickentok went on to terrorize London as a masked super-villain, though most of his schemes involved stopping Big Ben, making Big Ben tick backwards, making Big Ben a digital clock, etc.  Magical authorities didn’t take Tickentok seriously. Until he killed off most of London by having their watches and clocks sprout clockwork wings and legs and go on a massive killing spree.  After that Tickentok was sent to Bábkové where he tends the clocktower (he also built the clocktower, because he’s unnaturally obsessed with clocks).
  57. Balai-magique: Broom Magic. James Algar was a Balai-magi under the employ of Walt Disney (who was a mid-level salt magician and the bane of his family’s farm).  Algar was hired, like many Balai-magi, to keep Disney’s extensive estate clean and free of dust, terrible terrible dust.  Algar did this by animating an army of brooms to do his bidding, which Disney thought was such a novel idea he forcibly injected it into the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of Fantasia.  Algar only found out about this years later after Disney died, witnesses claim that Algar was so upset that he was never told nor did he ever get any recompense for his idea that he hopped onto a broom and flew off into the sunset.  He was never seen again.
  58. Kasamahō: Umbrella Magic. Hira Baarish was born and died in the town of Cherrapunji, known as the birthplace for many a Hydromancer.  Baarish, however, was born allergic to water.  She spent the first fifteen years of her life inside and raised above the wet ground of her home, but fortunately things changed when she turned 16 and discovered herself to be a Kasamaji.  Baarish was finally able to step outside of her home, followed by her umbrella familiar Akash who would dutifully shield her from the rain, and even dry the area around her.  Baarish went on to work primarily in real estate, where she would use her powers to dry out land around construction and renovation sites long enough to have foundations laid for homes and businesses, and to this day many of Baarish’s umbrella-beacons can be found among busy squares keeping the people dry, and though Baarish is dead Akash lives on and keeps watch over her gravestone.
  59. Cartomancy: Card Magic. Cartolina Triomphe, like many Cartomancers, began her magical career by asking “Is this your card?”, knowing full well that it would always be the exact card the person was thinking of (even if it were, say, a greeting card).  It’s a simple but effective trick.  Triomphe, however, went on to become the famed Queen of Hearts when she opened the a card-rift into the Heart-world.  She ruled over her Suit domain for Fifty years and 6000 bridge games, led a full-scale attack against the King of Diamonds, and married the Jack of Spades in a Crazy Eights game that defied Card history.  After her marriage she exited the card universe with the Jack (now Jack Spadely) and lived the rest of her life writing for Hallmark in Nova Scotia.
  60. Cartography: Map Magic. Amerigo Vespucci is the premier example of a Cartographer.  He was able to manipulate maps of the time and shift land masses around them to show that the Brazillian coast belonged to a separate continent, instantly brand this new land mass with his name on every map, and even map out a few future landmarks (Including the Mall of America!).  Vespucci only ever made it to mid-level Cartography (so he was never able to visit anywhere he had placed on a map), but his name still lives on.
  61. Stickermagery: Sticker Magic. Hornsbald Golgolman was a brilliant Stickermage who rode on the back of a Lisa Frank unicorn and could instantly change a person’s name with a nametag.  Golgolman stopped the vicious Mandrake of Candle Cove by trapping it in a banana sticker-label, stopped a Typometrist attack on Times Square by turning the flying letters into stickers, and animated countless Hello Kitties for children all across the lands.  Golgolman met his ultimate demise when being awarded by the Archmage Frownbeard with the Gold Star of Bravery, which ended disastrously for everyone when the star became manifest and nearly destroyed the Earth with it’s heat, gravity, and fission.

  62. Pigmamancy: Paint Magic. Though Pigmamancers like Rembrandt or Monet, who were able to take landscapes and trap them in the paint-world, were very powerful and are immensely impressive, even more impressive is Pigmamancer Jackson Pollock.  Pollock was able to extract thoughts from peoples heads and turn them into streams of paint, he was able command paint globules with his voice, and even tap into the presence of a primordial paint-God.  It’s also important to note, though, that not every famous artist is a Pigmamancer.  Leonardo Da Vinci? Pyromancer.  In fact, he had one piece that history says was his masterpiece which he accidently burnt.

  63. Fíodóiraíochta: Weaving Magic. Sampo Salo was a Fíodóirdraoi who started out weaving moving tapestries and traveling into quilt-worlds.  One day, though, Sampo thought he’d try to animate some sweaters.  This turned deadly when the sweaters, now finding themselves living a tortured existence of perpetual pain, turned against Sampo and suffocated him.  He tried to save himself by animating pillows, sock monkeys, socks, anything out of string that he could, but everything was only imbued with the same pain and hatred for their creator.  The string-constructs of Sampo still walk the Earth, forever tortured, though many are now in magic zoos safely behind glass.

  64. Phosphoromancy: Light Magic. Susan Kirby, The Invisible Woman, was for many years misidentified as an Invisiblist.  During her life, however, this would be questioned when for a period of eight months she was a living rainbow, and for fourteen months she was followed around by an afterimage of herself.  To add even more confusion to Susan’s true magic was the fact that she couldn’t be photographed, and would sometimes flash in a retina-destroying beam of light.  The last part, the beam of light, finally clued in the local Magiquary that her magic license had to be changed from Invisiblist to Phosphoromancer.  Unfortunately when they did change it Susan travelled about the speed of light and ended up traveling back in time and erasing her own birth before a Chronomancer was able to fix the timeline and bring her back into existence, only this time she really was an Invisiblist and not a Phosphoromancer.

  65. Farolamage: Lamppost Magic.  Noyaux Pomona was a Farolamagi during the French revolution who would use her magic powers to teleport away from Monarchists, cause the lampposts that lined the Paris streets to bend down and snatch people up, and take the light away from the night streets so her comrades could move in the shadows.  Louis XVI was finally able to apprehend Pomona by cornering her in an alleyway in broad daylight.  With no lampposts around, Pomona was powerless.

  66. Rafgaldur: Electromagnetic Magic. Steeg Gort was a viking Raftöfra who would command storms at sea, and command lightning from the sky to strike at neighboring clans.  Gort discovered some rudimentary attributes of magnetism as well by stopping the iron weapons used against his men in battle.  The only down side to Gort’s immense strength in battle was that he- being only a mid-level Raftöfra- constantly interfered with his ship’s navigation and compasses.  He ended up dying, stranded in the North Pole.

  67. Spiders!: Spider Magic. Jimmy Halfgait was perhaps the most powerful Spidermage to have ever existed: He commanded legions of spiders with his thoughts, he could create mental constructs of spiders, he could melt into spiders, he could have spider crawl out of his skin, he could turn people into spiders and spiders into people.  He could have been a spider-god.  The only problem was that Jimmy was immensely arachnophobic, and every time he used his power he was overcome with crippling fear.

  68. Potoplify: Energy Conversion. All of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project were magicians, of course, though only Oppenheimer was a Potoplifier. It was Oppenheimer’s job both to work out the Fast Neutron calculations of the atomic testing, but he was also in charge of converting residual atomic energy into low-level ultraviolet energy.  He also walked around the test grounds after the Trinity test and converted all of the nuclear fallout to potential energy, which would manifest in little pockets of “slow motion”.  Oppenheimer’s famous quoting of the Bhagavad Ghita “I am become death” was in regards both to the horrendous power he loosed on the world, but also because Oppenheimer knew he would have a long night of clean-up ahead of him.

  69. Potophagery: Energy Absorption. Julia Neverwhat was a Potophage who had achieved the highest level of magic and was able to absorb magical energy from others.  She is on of the few non-Magikamancer to have made a living offering to rid people of magical powers, whether they were Omnipresenters who were caught early enough or Ennuimagis who grew tired of being magicians.  Neverwhat was also an early champion of woman-wizard rights: she was one of the first women to be on the board of the New York Magiquary, she was in the March of 1000 Woman-wizards in Washington, and she even led an assault against a group of incredibly misogynistic Neuromages.

  70. Eudaimonia: The Magic of Happiness. Jimmy Omnol was a low-level Eudaimonic and a high-level con-artist who swindled millions of people out of their money through a self-help seminar called “Unlocking your inner Happy Person”.  During the seminar Omnol would use his powers to make everyone in the room intensely happy, happy to sit and listen to Omnol’s “seminars” (which were mostly him reciting grocery lists), happy to give Omnol more money, happy to include Omnol in the last wills and testaments.  In the end the Kansas City Magiquary (Kansas City being well-known as being the most unhappy place on Earth) sent in specialized units to apprehend Omnol.  The attendees of the seminar were all too happy to defend Omnol, and a massive riot broke out during which Omnol was knocked unconcious and his happiness-spells broke.  He is currently in magic prison.

  71. Melancholia: The Magic of Sorrow.  Francisco Aleman was a conquistador who led an expedition deep into what is now the Yucatan Penninsula.  Francisco himself was a Lignumancer (which was helpful in jungle exploration), but his true purpose was to help his daughter Maria Aleman who was a Melancholic and otherwise would have been executed in 1487 Spain for spreading sadness to the kingdom.  The Alemans were able to set up a small village, Las Lágrimas, which among other things is known as being the origin of the story of La Llorona the infamous crying ghost.  It is said that Maria was set to marry Felipilo Lagarto, the son of Francisco’s expedition partner and an Immortalist, but since Maria was never taught to control her powers Felipilo was far too depressed to go forward with it.  Unable to bear the shame that it would bring on him and his family, Felipilo killed Maria, but cursed her spirit to forever wander the Earth shedding her ghostly tears.
  72. Reiðgaldur: The Magic of Anger.  Reiðtöfra, historically known as Berserkers though now this has a tone of denigration, have been on the fringes of magic society for most of written records.  Tybalt Laertes was a fearless Reiðtöfra who charged into many battle during the 12th century and was able to inspire the same vigor in those he surrounded, but once he entered civilian life he only inspired pub fights and petty arguments.  Mars Creed was another Reiðtöfra who used his powers to feed off of the anger of the underprivileged workers in his steel mill in Detroit and according to historical accounts (though these are barely legible, as they were written in intense anger) Creed nearly destroyed Detroit before a masked vigilante- Das Auto- stepped in.  Creed is now screaming in perpetual anger in a cell, though Eudaimonics are able to calm him down every once in a while.
  73. Phobomagery: The Magic of Fear.  Humdrum Bubblegum was a portly woman with bright red pigtails who lived in a candy-cane house with three adorable Pomeranian pups.  She was also a low-level Phobomage, and as such everyone was terrified to go anywhere near her house.  She was known as a terrible dragon-witch with flaming eyes who would devour children whole.  She even tried to set up a candy business in the nearby town, but everyone thought it was evil poison.  Fun Fact: Humdrum Bubblegum was the inspiration behind the Candy-Witch in Hansel and Gretel when news of the terrifying witch who lured kids into her hellish home with candy came to the Brothers Grimm (Another Fun Fact: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were typographic and umbrella magicians, respectively).
  74. Egercraft: The Magic of Awe.  Howard Thurston is among the most well-known Egercrafter, and the author of what is still the foremost book on Egercraft: Whiz-Bang!  To view many of Thurston’s now famous “rising card” tricks without the aide of Awe Spells one would note that he was just flipping cards over, however audiences would become enraptured by it and on the night where Thurston performed what many call his greatest trick of all time where attendees paid an enormous $7 to get in (mind you, this was around the turn of the 20th century).  There is only one immensely disappointed review of this trick from Magikamancer Istoph Exolusion where he stated: “He Just stood there for two minutes, then took out a deck of cards and showed someone the five of clubs.  That person became so excited that they had a seisure.  Thurston panicked for a while before calling the hospital to have the poor sick man taken away. I do not think he survived. Thurston got a standing ovation, even from the paramedics”.
  75. Ennuimage: The Magic of Boredom.  Hemoglobin Gygax was a prodigy Ennuimagi, having written the only book on Ennuimage: Boring Magic and Stuff which is  thirty pages long, with the last page being “stupid stupid magic” written over and over again.  Hemoglobin was also able to stop a bloody battle from happening amongst French and German troops in World War I by making both sides so bored with fighting that they put down their weapons and sat around complaining about mud for forty-five minutes before taking an aimless stroll.  Hemoglobin apparently didn’t even want to stop the battle, but the great Chronomancer Geordi Treblecleff asked really nice, and she wasn’t going to be doing anything that day anyways.  Hemoglobin’s tremendous power ended up being her undoing, though, as she died very young at 36 when her heart “became so bored it stopped beating”. She was working on a second book called More Magic Stuff I forgot About The First Time or Whatever.
  76. Epistomancy: The Magic of Trust.  Richard Nixon is, for better or worse, the first Epistomancer any magician can name.  He first began using his trust magic for personal gain during law school by making his professors trust him with test answers.  Throughout the next few years Nixon would pull similar stunts: Make people trust him, and use that for his advantage.  Fortunately, he was a congressman so no one thought of it.  Even those who did would keep on trusting Nixon.  This all came to a head in the Watergate scandal.  The public was conflicted: They wanted to trust Nixon, but the evidence against him was overwhelming.  The Archmage at the time, Dooley Pickens Lamppost Magician, was able to undo many of the interweaving spells Nixon had cast during Nixon’s hearings and eventually, having realized the full extent of his actions, Nixon resigned.  It was then that he was cursed by an Immortalist: for the remainder of his time Nixon’s life force would be connected to how many people who would forgive him of his many lies.  Nixon tried to make up for a lifetime of abuse of power, but in the end one person never forgave him and Nixon died.
  77. Nàixīmoshu: The Magic of Waiting.  Nikkeil Kha is believed by many (for good reason) to have been the greatest magician who ever lived even though she only ever performed one spell.  From the moment she was revealed as a Nàixīfashi to her death 94 years later she sat alone in a mountain shrine, weaving her spell.  Thousands flocked to see her work, with one word being uttered over the course of months.  Right before she died she finished, and the mountain that her shrine was on crumbled, let out a pillar of light, and sunk into a lake.  It was brilliant, and no one knows how she did it.
  78. Amoremancy: Love Magic.  Cuddly Wuvenstuff was the greatest Amoremancer to have lived, capable of creating flawless love potions, looking at a person and telling them without fail the name of their soulmate, fixing marriage on the rocks, and even easing Cold War tensions during the Kennedy era.  Wuvenstuff was also the most miserable and lonely magician to have ever lived, as are most Amoremancers as they’re never certain if anyone- even their own parents- truly love them or if they’ve been weaving subconscious magic.  Cuddly Wuvenstuff spiraled downwards to alcoholism and drug use, and eventually committed suicide on April 27th, 1973.
  79. Gonamagery: The Magic of Being a Parent.  Hellion Bloode was raised on the mean streets of Detroit, and at a young age got into a major Hnifaugu altercation which left him with knife marks all along his left side.  Due to another altercation with the head of the Detroit Ventriloquist Mob  (Mr. Chuckles) Bloode’s voice sounded like a bag of rocks.  By the time he was 15, everyone thought it was over Bloode, that he would be another magician who would fall through the cracks.  That was when Bloode was revealed to be a Gonamage.  After that he was supremely proud of everyone in his community and would sort through a large photo book of all the people he knew, showing the picture to anyone who would listen.  He would show up at work with a mini-van and offer rides to soccer practice or the movies, and would ask questions like “Do you kids still like the rap music?”, or “How’s about we all get some frosty chocolate milkshakes?”.  Everyone loved Hellion Bloode like a father, and Hellion Bloode loved everyone like they were his kids.
  80. Pappoumagery: The Magic of Being a Grandparent.  Kiddo Bloode was, of course, the the son of Hellion.  And Hellion was a great Dad!  He’d show up to all of Kiddo’s little league games, he was deeply involved with Kiddo’s school and had a vast collection of camcorder tapes of all of Kiddo’s recitals and school plays, Hellion was great and an inspiration to the community.  Hellion was so great that Kiddo was worried that he’d never live up to his father’s expectations.  Fortunately, Kiddo was revealed to be a Pappoumancer.  Kiddo would shuffle through the neighborhood and offer hard candy to his friends; he would reminisce about the times when he was 10 years old and finger-sized skateboard were “cool”, and recount stories from the great Tekken tournament of ’97.  Luckily this was during the mid-2000’s, when reminiscing about things that happened five years ago was in vogue.  Kiddo was also free of feeling like he had to save up money and establish himself as an adult, and instead focused on what he truly loved: Butterflies.  He’d often talk for long hours about butterflies too. His Dad was so proud of him, and Kiddo was proud to see his little Dad all grown up and making a name for himself too.  Side Note: Kiddo’s son, Sonny, broke from the family and ended up being a decent Phosphomancer.
  81. Umbramancy: Shadow Magic.  Gilda Sturm, Queen of the Shadows, was the lead Magician at the Philadelphia Magiquary by the time she was 29 in 1976.  She would command shadows, steal shadows, melt into the shadows, and even volunteered at local public libraries giving shadow puppet show to the children.  This was also at a time when the Archmage, Dooley Pickens Lamppost Magician, was held in very low regard and everyone thought that Sturm would be the next Archmage of North America including Sturm herself.  This changed when Gilda’s best friend, Moira Drang- a gifted Phobomage- was killed because of intolerance and fear (not because Moira was a Phobomage, but because she was a black lesbian who fell in love with the daughter of a rich Philadelphian Alderman who couldn’t bear the shame it would bring).  Sturm spent the rest of her life running a non-profit fighting intolerance and helping underprivileged magicians afford higher education.

  82. Immortality: Healing Magic.  Myrddin Wyllt, or Merlin as he’s more commonly known as (and Nimue finding out his true name is part of what led to Merlin’s ultimate demise), is everybody’s favorite Immortalist.  This is for good reason, as he lived for over one thousand years by constantly healing his dying cells, he made Excalibur into the deadly blade it was by reverse-engineering his Immortality powers, and he is one of the few non-Magikamancers to have been able to cast spells from other magics (though never anything high-level).  A fun Merlin Fact: He had a deal with Chronomancer Chewy Nougat to bring him an Oh Henry! chocolate bar on his birthday every year after Merlin saved Nougat from a Dire Bear.  This information is eventually what led the Lady of the Lake to find Merlin’s name, though he would always insist that it was worth it.

  83. Majelidan: Poison Magic. Herb Trowlers is one of the few Majelidans to have made it past 18 years old, as most poison themselves and are unable to magically craft an anti-poison in time.  Trowlers, though, was lucky, and he didnt want to push his luck.  So he spent his time on a rattlesnake ranch in Old West Colorado, making rattlesnake anti-venom for doctors and travelers and any other sorts of anti-ventom folks may need.  He tried not to make a name for himself, but before long he ran afoul of the Lead Foot Gang from up near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Ol’ Stompin’ Greg, leader of the Lead Feet and a high-level Metalmancer, challenged Herb to a showdown. Greg died of lead poisoning, Herb died of lead.

  84. Leaíochta: Potion Mastery.  Dr. Henry Jekyll was a well-educated Leaídroi, having learned from the oldest potion school out there: The Blackburn Institute.  Dr. Jekyll spent his time in Gentlemen’s clubs and barrooms, as was the style at the time, until one day he was challenged to a potion duel by Dr. Hurlhahn Kleinstein (The nerve!).  Jekyll and Kleinstein- attempting to create a potion which would grant them abilities from another magic- decided through The Rules of English Magick Duelry- that Jekyll would drink Hulhahn’s potion and vice-versa.  We all known what happened to Jekyll, Hurlhahn had weaved in a terrible Metamorphist spell.  Hurlhahn, meanwhile, caught on fire.  Jekyll and Hyde both agreed it was worth it, because Hurlhahn was the true beast for not having gone to Blackburn.

  85. Voodoo: Channeling charms.  No discussion of Voodoo can be had without first mentioning Marie Laveau, who not only did she craft thousands of charms for the poor and needy of New Orleans and beyond, she also wrote the foremost textbook on Voodoo: Beyond Zombis, where she discussed many of the intricacies of Voodoo magic and dispelled many of the myths.  Laveau’s spirit is still accessible through her grave, which is a special charm she crafted herself, and she also lives on with the Marie Laveau foundation which seeks out and gives research grants to young Voodoo practitioners.  The most recent grant winner, Coarsley Norandu, is working on making an aluminum alloy that will channel Spenta Mainyu, the Zoroastrian archangel of “Bountiful Spirit”. Energy drink companies are watching this research with great interest.

  86. Varicellardy: The Magic of Chicken Pox.  Chicken Pox was a terrible disease, sweeping through entire towns and wiping them out. It was thought at the height of the Chicken Pox Scare of 1650 that the disease would be worse than the Black Plague.  Finally, in 1656, the leading Sciencemancers and Magikamancers of the Supramagiquary off the coast of Africa were able to successfully make the first Varicellard in Richard Morton (who up until that point had been a weaving magician specializing in monograms).  Morton was awarded the silver moon of magic by the Archmage Merckus Oval.

  87. Sciencemancy: Science Magic.  Before Sciencemancy it was thought that the Gods and Archmages controlled the world, which is primarily how some of the more feared Archmages like Dort Ra Mghu and Choorish Ipop got away with their horrible, horrible crimes against magickind.  It’s also how one Pyromancer, Goody Dushu, was able to start up the Salem Witch trials.  But through the work of Sciencemancers like Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, and Max Planck the world has been radically changed for the better.  Even to this day the best Sciencemancers are working on unraveling the scientific nature of the universe, unlocking new and exciting magical possibilities, and conducting important magic counter-research to make sure other magicians are conducting correct experiments.  A magician need not be a Sciencemancer to make large scientific discoveries, though, as Charles Darwin was a Beastmaster and Nikola Tesla was a well-regarded Cartographer.

  88. Cybermagery: Computing Magic.  Pyx3l Syzygy was elected Archmage of Berkley in 1993, and to this day holds the record for the most illustrious of all Archmages (including Barharbar the Incompetent).  He spent up a lot of Berkley’s magical energies trying to launch a digital database of fire hydrants in the city, he gave high paying positions in government to under-qualified friends (the waste commissioner of Berkley is still Decycle Gregory, a low-level Phobomage hired during the Summer of Pyx3l), and he auctioned off seats on the school board for supposedly high-end technology (mostly, it was Sega GameGears and some early VR equipment).  Pyx3l even briefly held the city under martial law, claiming that he’d only give up power for “The n00b who can get past my many firewalls”.  Moose Climbtree got past them in an hour and a half after much slamming on a keyboard from Pyx3l.  Pyx3l stepped down from the archmage position and currently spends his time on message boards ruining “Game of Thrones” for people. As a side note: Moose Climbtree wasn’t a Cybermage or very good with computers.  He was a Lignumancer and a firefighter.

  89. Krystalosum: Glass Magick.  For centuries Glass was immune to magic, until Sciencemancer Frodo Hydenstein in 1863.  Frodo had been given a grant from the Royal Academie of Magicks to continue her work in wards and penetrating magic, and had already crafted a firebolt that could pass through a block of ice a meter thick!  Late one night Frodo was working on her next project: creating a better containment cell for Bábkové Skala, when the magical energies she was working with became unstable and engulfed her laboratory.  Frodo was frozen in glass for two years before she was able to break out, but when she did she became the first Krystalose and the first in centuries to create a new magic.

  90. Bibliosahar: Library Magic. Demetrius of Phaleron was not the first Bibliosahir, nor is he the best to have existed (to date, that honor belongs to the Bookmage of Ottowa), but he does hold the honor of not only being in charge of the organization and day-to-day mechanics of the Library of Alexandria, but also as being one of the most powerful magicians in the Classical Era.  Demetrius not only guided the scrolls of papyrus back and forth from their shelves to the patrons, he also kept the library safe from dust mites, pyromancers, and evil phobomages (because as well all know, fear is the mortal enemy of knowledge).  It was even said that when Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal system, was searching for the perfect library classification system he used Demetrius’ journals for inspiration.  However, Dewey made one too many enemies, the greatest of which was Julius Caesar who set fire to the Library in 48 BC.

  91. Spartimageía: Fighting Magic. Stoppard Killswitch was a powerful Spartimagos and a highly decorated soldier in World War II, having fought his way through the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Invasion of Sicily, and even into the Eastern borders of Germany.  Killswitch came home to a parade, and his wife couldn’t have been happier with him.  It wasn’t until after the war that Killswitch started to run into problems.  He was unable to control his violent behavior, and found himself in and out of jails and drunk tanks often.  He would wake up screaming and punching the wall, and eventually demanded his wife leave with their child out of fear that he may hurt them.  Eventually Killswitch was able to find respite in a wartime survivor’s group and in anti-depressants, and he found steady employment in demolition and as a boxing instructor.  He still has violent episodes, and he still struggles, but things are getting better.
  92. Thanatosum: Chaos Magick.  Aleister Crowley was a low-level Thanatose, and when he first published The Book of the Law in 1904 he was actually trying to stop a renegade mummy raised by Necromancer and Egyptologist Karl Baldersten.  Unfortunately Thanatosum is an unstable magic, just as likely to cast a magical bolt that would destroy a reanimated egyptian prince as it is to turn its user into stone. Crowley took this as a sign from the Egyptian god Ra that he wasn’t meant to kill the prince and instead worship it, and the two became good friends and bunkmates until the Mummy, who Crowley named Ahathoor, was taken in by the British museum in 1928.  Crowley never forgave them, and every day would try to destroy the museum only to, among other things: turn peoples heads into balloons, melt the whale skeleton, make the models of ancient man wear long pants, and cause a giant ghost clown to waddle through the museum singing the score from the HMS Pinafore.
  93. Élegamange: The Magic of being able to eat elegantly.  Simone LaLangue was the toast of the town in belle époque Paris who was invited to every party, every gala, anywhere where people could gaze as he shoved cheese, bread, berries, anything into his mouth.  Whitelaw Reed, a US diplomat who saw the Élegamangeur in action at the Exposition Universelle, claimed “To see Simone eat is to gaze into the mouth of God.  Truly he is France’s greatest jewel, and I but wish I had a lifetime to spend here so that I may gaze at the sublime angle of his fork and knife as he digs into a slab of steak, the brilliant SMACK of his lips as he chews his food, and the awe-inspiring ease with which he wipes his mouth with a napkin.  Beyond Edison’s electric bulb and Debussy’s sonatas, LaLangue was the true winner of the Exposition Universelle”.
  94. Alssujad Sihr: Carpet Magic.  Yes, yes, we all know of Prince Husain the Alssujad Sahir who made a carpet fly, and it’s very impressive. However it’s much like an Alchemist turning lead into Gold: It’s the first trick one learns and it really only serves as a party trick.  However, there have been much greater Alssujad Sahirs: Like Abdul-Qadir Gilani who was able to use his carpet to create a pocket of osmosis which allowed him to walk across the river Tigris, Wiktor Vasnetsov who trapped people on a painted carpet, or American Actor Jeff Bridges who has used his carpet to fuel his fantastic acting career.  The only important thing for an Alssujad Sahir is not to be like Roomborn Stallinsnow who used his magic carpet to light his house on fire, which also burned his carpet and caused a magical singularity that the Archmage Frownbeard had to stop.
  95. Kanataika: Chicken Magic.  As we all know chickens were considered for centuries to be the most magically powerful of all creatures, because they possess a unique immunity to almost all forms of magic.  This was before the witch Baba Yaga, who began life in 1715 as an Enchanter but dreamed of being something more.  She lived in a hut in the woods and raised chickens, hundreds of them, as she found a comfort in their beady chicken-eyes and constant bocking.  She would try every day to use her magic on the chickens, but of course it wouldn’t work.  Baba Yaga was unsuccessful until her 40th birthday in 1755, when she woke up in her hut and found all of her chickens surrounding her.  One, Kudkudakaty, hopped onto her bed and said: “For your commitment to the chicken cause, we have chosen you Baba Yaga.  Rise today, for you are now the witch of chickens: The Kanataikuri”.
  96. Swelgendorcraft: Vortex Magic.  The only magic defined more by the circumstances in which it can be used then the circumstances which it causes, Swelgendocrafters can only cast spells in a vortex: whirlpools, air eddies, the winds surrounds tornados and dust devils, ship wakes, etc.  Paul the Deacon was the first known Swlgendocrafter, said to be able to cause maelstroms with a twirl of his finger, or drill a hole one thousand miles deep with a twist of his staff.  So long as Paul had enough vorticity, he could infuse it with any magical attribute or power he wished, including one instance in 777 where he made an invisible tornado that made any birds caught in it sing the name of God.
  97. Vacuumancy: Void Magic.  Zhang Heng is the first documented Vacuumancer, though at the time the concept of a vacuum was beyond comprehension as it was believed the Earth, Sun, and Stars all existed in a type of mechanical sea in the heavens.  Zhang began to question this when he created his first Xūkōng Shòu or Voidwalker, a creature made of living nothingness.  Zhang was terrified by this beast who engulfed all things around it before vanishing (for nature abhors a vacuum), and began to study his own powers resulting in the formation of his belief that there were large swaths of nothingness in between the mechanisms of the Earth, the Sun, and the Heavens.  He published his findings in a book not truly published until it was found again in the 19th century  entitled My Thoughts on Nothing.
  98. Chronomancy: Time Magic.  Ami Swindle is the most enigmatic of all magicians.  It is not known whether Swindle is the first Chronomancer, the last Chronomancer, or just a very good one, but she has been seen throughout history.  Swindle’s exact motives are also clouded in mystery, from the record book of Chewy Nougat she is described as immensely selfish and monomaniacal (though it is also important to note that Swindle and Nougat used to be lovers before a famous break-up in the court of Napoleon), infamous Backward-man Benjamin Button describes Swindle as a trickster and deserving of her name (though it’s important to note that Button’s “condition” was the result of curse Swindle put on him, and that he actually really enjoyed living backwards until he was an 80 year-old fetus), or a guardian of time itself by the last great Archmage Jimmy Carter (though it’s important to note that Swindle is a major donor to Habitat for Humanity, and has claimed that she grew up in a Habitat for Humanity house in New Detroit).  Swindle herself refuses to answer many questions about herself or when she comes from or how she’s altered the timeline.  She will answer questions about Chewy Nougat, though, who she claims was “An Arthurian jerk who deserved to be trapped in glass”.
  99. Spatiamancy: Dimensional Space Magic.  For years it was assumed that Edwin A. Abbott’s famous novella “Flatland” was just a story, however in a 1908 interview with the Washington Post Abbott revealed that he was a Spatiamancer who had actually travelled to the second dimension for four years to document second dimensional society.  He claimed it was “Immensely boring”, which has since been backed up by other Spatiamancers.  Abbott also claimed to have visited the matriarchal second dimension, and even briefly sojourned into the fifth dimension where he saw “A monster of all possibilities”.  Abbott also claimed, during his schoolboy days when he was just learning about Spatiamancy, that he spent three days trapped as a drawing in a notebook.
  100. Magikamancy: Magic Magic.  The rarest and most powerful of all magics, the most notable example of the Magikamancer is Torvald Clambake who made it necessary to create the Magiquary system now in place in the 11th century when he went on a quest to rule the world.  All the horses and all the men were mobilized against Clambake, though he was able to turn every magic against the person who cast the spell and against others.  With the threat of magical apocalypse nigh, the fate of the magical world rested on Bald Sorpano: A Nils (or a person born with no magic.  Roughly 12 in every 100,000 people are born Nils).  Bald was able to successfully walk up to Clambake and stab him, over and over again with a rusty knife.  The Scriers who saw this claimed it was a terrible but cathartic death.  After that Magiquaries were set up in every major population center to track magical powers and aide in magical research and management, and now you know the rest of the story.

 

G for Gefulltengeist and H for Hedgegrove

Our duo of stories this month bring us a bit of background for both our unnamed narrator and Chadwick Hedgegrove.  We also get a ghost story, so that’s a plus.

G for Gefülltengeist

The Gefulltengeist story is one that I feel better about of the two stories we have this month.  Part Faust legend, part way of understanding depression, part Dracula. It’s a nice story.

H for Hedgegrove

The Hedgegrove story ended up being a bit different from what I was originally planning, but I think it works.  The dead child may be a bit much, though, especially as this is going to be the primary look into Hedgegrove’s character.  I do think it helps a bit that it’s not out of guilt that he locked himself away, but more an unending grief.

100 Chicken Names

  1. Gertie
  2. Heimlich
  3. Carbuncle
  4. Alfred Hitchbock
  5. Zebulon
  6. Erlenmeyer
  7. Orson
  8. Pietro
  9. Mortimer
  10. Dortimer
  11. Gortimer
  12. Commander Sulu
  13. La Llorona
  14. Robert Bockenheimer
  15. Vorhees
  16. Calusari
  17. Dongle
  18. Featherbreath
  19. Mustafa
  20. Salieri
  21. Kjuklinger

  22. Oilasco

  23. Yuki-onna

  24. Cluck Bruckman / Clyde Bockman

  25. Nonono

  26. Nanana

  27. Hephasteus

  28. Somorost

  29. Vanderbleit

  30. Adarna

  31. Alkenost
  32. Kharkatak
  33. Hoodwink
  34. Wingmar Bergman / Ingmar Birdman
  35. 1973 New York Mining Disaster
  36. Kaddish
  37. Chicory
  38. Ballyhoo
  39. Vuvuzela
  40. Corsica
  41. Calliban
  42. Tyblat
  43. Gillygaloo
  44. Heny Lamarr
  45. Sampson
  46. Prometheus
  47. Nausicaa
  48. Moebius
  49. Escher
  50. Asher
  51. Wexler
  52. Winkler
  53. Baku
  54. Jackson Pollo
  55. Kura
  56. Arcadia
  57. Oberon
  58. Titania
  59. Hellion
  60. Cronos
  61. Roc
  62. Ziz
  63. Fenghuang
  64. Frida Clucko
  65. Yoruba
  66. Goldberg
  67. Apollo
  68. Beagle
  69. Joan of Arc
  70. Stella
  71. Klondike
  72. Usurper
  73. Grootslang
  74. Pearl S. Cluck
  75. Mastroianni
  76. Empendocles
  77. Marcello
  78. Azaroth
  79. Mercury
  80. Banquo
  81. Claudius
  82. Ophelia
  83. Basilisk
  84. Barbu Stanwick
  85. Vincent Gallo
  86. Audrey
  87. Paul F. Tompkins
  88. Ichabod
  89. Fyodor
  90. Ursula
  91. Mycroft
  92. Fermat
  93. Tengu
  94. Henry Houdani
  95. Irving
  96. The Were-Monster
  97. Vonnegut
  98. Ada Lovelace
  99. Mary Shelley
  100. Curiosity

Lincoln Park Zoo 07-16-15

Another Data Bend!  Much like with the previous Grand Island entry I was trying to bend some separate aspects of the original file separate from each other; this time it was Whites, Mids, and Blacks.  After more overlaying, etc. we get to the final file embedded below.

I believe I may have reached the point where I’m bending too much, or at least trying to do too much with all of this.  With the constant overlays and bendings, etc. much of the original file has been lost (not much of a problem), but also much of the chaotic beauty I find in these is being lost and obfuscated (very much a problem).  We’ll see if I’m able to fix this come next bend, or if I’ll move on to another experimental obsession.

100 Things

This makes Post 100 for the renewed Henceblog.  Way to go.  As a way to celebrate, to fulfill one of the requests for 100 lists, and for our first list of the new year I give you a list of 100 things. Here we go:

  1. Porcupines
  2. Pineapples
  3. Quetzalcoatl
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Film Noir
  6. Nor’easter
  7. Ungulates
  8. Ocelots
  9. Origami
  10. Epsom Salts
  11. Gargoyles
  12. Calcium
  13. Iodine
  14. Nickle
  15. Dime
  16. Holograms
  17. Holographs
  18. Orpheus
  19. Pie Chart
  20. Bats
  21. Rhubarb
  22. Sandbox
  23. Moscato
  24. Goats
  25. Moats
  26. Trouts
  27. Loam
  28. Nimbus
  29. Quimby
  30. Hellhound
  31. Faraday cage
  32. Volcano
  33. Vacuum
  34. Vole
  35. Voracity
  36. Vanadium
  37. Vishnu
  38. Vuvuzela
  39. Venture capitalism
  40. Vowel
  41. Valium
  42. Vibe
  43. Verb
  44. Vascular dystrophy
  45. Mind
  46. Herb
  47. Xylem
  48. Phloem
  49. Typhus
  50. Rome
  51. Nome
  52. Gnome
  53. Roam
  54. Woebegotten
  55. Horse-and-buggy
  56. Exsanguination
  57. Unicycle
  58. Divination
  59. Horology
  60. Ailurophobia
  61. Wyvern
  62. Monomania
  63. Dementia
  64. Rodentia
  65. Rhodesian Ridgeback
  66. Alpha-numerals
  67. Beta particles
  68. Sinusoids
  69. Hibiscus
  70. Portal
  71. Yoyos
  72. Mothers
  73. Eateries
  74. Fathers
  75. Paperbacks
  76. Flapjacks
  77. Olive branches
  78. White House Hacks
  79. Quails
  80. Quarrels
  81. Quarries
  82. Quilts
  83. Blast doors
  84. Bunnies
  85. Borax
  86. Belts
  87. Sticks
  88. Stones
  89. Broken Bones
  90. Welts
  91. Wends
  92. Welsh Corgis
  93. Wordsworth
  94. Squirrel Monkeys
  95. Hamsters
  96. Cenobites
  97. Jormungandr
  98. Yak
  99. Opal
  100. Gak