[2019] Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – I Love It, But I’d Change It

Aside from the perfectly-passable-but-weightless Solo, it’s not a tough statement to say that The Rise of Skywalker is the worst (live-action, theatrical) Star Wars film. Maybe Attack of the Clones or The Force Awakens are kinda close, but it’s pretty clear to me that Episode IX is the least artistically accomplished, most flawed of the Skywalker Saga.

But I still love it anyway.

Rewatching the movie in preparation for this article, I was struck by just how overcome with joy I was by so much of this movie. It’s such an exciting and silly experience. Never for a moment do I get bored, even when I’m rolling my eyes at the dumber parts. Honestly, that’s what it was supposed to do, anyway; provide a smashing finale to the greatest epic saga in the history of film. It’s the climax to a nine-part series and thus doesn’t exactly need to be jam packed with new storylines and deeper themes. Even though… that’s kind of what it tried to do…

What Failed

The Rise of Skywalker is a fast, FAST paced movie. There’s a reason for that–this new trilogy was forced to be three movies, when it really could not fit in that space well enough. This feels like it’s zipping along at a blinding pace because it has to make up for lost time as Episodes VII and VIII dawdled around for five hours of runtime.

That’s not to say that Episodes VII and VII didn’t provide some amazing entertainment and make some amazing strides at providing one final outer ring to the Star Wars Saga (by the way, if you haven’t read the Star Wars Ring Theory that connects the Original and Prequel trilogies, you really should!). But the fact that they took place in such a short time, just a couple weeks at most, really changed the way the finale was forced to operate.

“Godspeed, JJ.”

When The Last Jedi has wrapped up most of the plot threads and character arcs already, what is there to do? Well, start a new story arc, of course. But starting AND finishing that all in one go? Well… that’s really tough, and it’s exactly why The Rise of Skywalker is so jam-packed with story and a massive cast of characters, most of which are already done with their character arcs anyway.

The Phantom Menace faced a few of these issues, too; it was the beginning of a whole new trilogy with a completely new cast of characters, but was designed to be a standalone prologue to the entire saga, and thus had to wrap up a large number of its plot and character threads as quickly as possible. Luckily, as the first movie, it was able to tell a small-scale tale with stakes that seem pretty low at first glance (but are obviously much higher when the whole work is put into context). The Rise of Skywalker, as the finale, didn’t have that luxury. It had to go BIG.

And BIG it went. Sometimes to amazing results, sometimes to idiotic results.

Carrie… :'(

I’ll get out of the way my biggest complaints with the movie now, the things I think hurt the movie the most:

  • Princess Leia was far too prominent in this film, and the spliced-in footage feels awkward and stilted. Maybe this feeling will decrease over time, but I’m not sure it will. I’m also not sure how they could have gone about it without her, so it’s a pretty tragic flaw that may not have been curable.
  • What the hell is that part in the second-to-last scene where Lando talks to the Stormtrooper lady about where he came from? What did that have to do with anything?
  • They did my boy Ben Solo dirty. I don’t think it was necessary to kill him in the end, and I don’t think it was the right decision for the story. But more than that… He didn’t even get to appear as a force ghost with his mama and uncle! What the hell!
My new life goal is to climb the corporate ladder and become CEO of the Walt Disney Company solely so that I can mandate a Special Edition that adds Ben solo to this shot. Then I will resign and retire a billionaire.

Those things I think were crap and stupid. They are not the only thing I wish they didn’t do, but I am able to separate my wishes versus the final product.

Flaws vs. Dashed Hopes

This is actually something I see disturbingly a lot in criticism (positive and negative) of blockbuster films: an inability to separate these two elements: “The thing that happened is not what I wanted to see happen” and “I dislike this and think it harms the story.” It’s a pretty basic division. But for blockbusters, and ESPECIALLY the Star Wars franchise, it’s very hard for people to distinguish these feelings when they talk about the movies.

The Last Jedi was infamously filled with “I didn’t want this” moments, which is how it became such a divisive piece of media in nerd circles. They changed Luke Skywalker, they gave an unexpected ending to Rey’s origin story (or so we thought), they killed off minor characters that fans liked, and they basically pushed the entire cast to the limit with some really dark emotions not seen in any other movie in the series except Revenge of the Sith. So many people despise the movie but it really seems to be based on this idea that because something happened that isn’t what you were hoping for, that means that it’s bad.

I kind of like that. I like stories that challenge you and shock you. Not like gruesome displays of massacring characters left and right or being relentlessly depressing (that’s what the Legacy of the Force book series is for), but movies that force you to confront things in storytelling that can feel uncomfortable or upsetting. Emotions like hopelessness, regret, guilt, self-pity. That kind of thing. Other extremely divisive movies like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (which I did not care for) and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (which I adore) do very similar things to The Last Jedi and I really respect the artistic bravery there.

None of those films are bad because of the things we weren’t hoping for. Though, you can argue each of them have flaws that hurt their stories, and that’s what film criticism is actually about. But it’s extremely tough to have that conversation because of the almost perfect mixture between complaints about what fans would have changed, versus complaints about actual flaws.

Inversely, you can talk about the fact that just because a film delivers on a promise or a twist that you DID enjoy, doesn’t make that film good as a result. It can be very entertaining, but it can actually cover up discussion about some of the major flaws of a film. The most recent Avengers films are a pretty great example of that.

Oh no! The big twist is he actually got all the gems! Even though in the narrative, every single thing had built up to this and there was no chance that it wouldn’t happen.
A tragic twist! One that is completely antithetical to this dude’s entire character arc even just within the movie itself, but still, a twist!
OK, this one is narratively weightless but it’s still the most badass thing ever

Where does The Rise of Skywalker fit in here, though? Because this movie most certainly does NOT have any challenging emotions for us to struggle through, and it definitely didn’t cover up any major flaws through sheer fan-pleasing spectacle, considering the mixed reception overall.

It fits in because I myself felt that struggle.

The Last Jedi was the same way on a first watch, where I disagreed with so many of the story choices on a base fangirl level, but ultimately I came to appreciate and love everything about the film after reflecting and rewatching. But The Rise of Skywalker is different, I think. Because it’s the finale to the entire Skywalker Saga and because I am so deeply in love with this franchise, I expected so many things out of the film, and it just did not deliver in the way I wanted.

Locations like Coruscant, Kashyyyk, Bespin, Tatooine, and Naboo go completely or mostly absent from the film despite their integral nature to the saga and parts of the story that could have easily fit them in. Characters like Wedge Antilles, Rose Tico, Caluan Ematt, and Mon Mothma are shafted or don’t appear at all. And despite this being the finale to the Skywalker Saga, Anakin Skywalker doesn’t appear besides a voice cameo alongside a bunch of other Jedi! the Knights of Ren did practically nothing!

…Those aren’t flaws with the movie, though. Those are just things that I am extremely disappointed didn’t make it in. It’s tough for me to accept that, though, even after three watches.

But for the sake of not bumming myself out about missed opportunities, I’d like to focus on the parts of this story that I outright love.

The Energy! The Visuals! The Music!

For everything stupid about The Rise of Skywalker, it’s impossible not to admit that the craft is excellent.

People undervalue visuals and music in movies all the time, and it’s a damn shame, because this movie is of the top of the top when it comes to all technical elements.

The movie has superb kinetic energy throughout the film, not only because of how fast the plot moves, but because of the snappy editing and cinematography and amazing soundtrack.

JJ Abrams seemed to play it a bit safe with The Force Awakens, eschewing some of his trademark directoral flairs in order to keep the movie closer in feeling to the George Lucas movies. Sure, there were a lot of dutch angles and some spicy lens flares, but it seems he really let himself express his own style with this one, because it goes overboard with speed and style. There’s oners all over the place, the camera is constantly moving around with snap zooms and quick visual gags… it’s a lot to take in and it’s a big departure from a lot of other Star Wars movies, but I gotta admit I love it.

Luckily, while Abrams likes to go flashy with a lot of elements, he still respects the fundamental part of Star Wars, which is that visual storytelling trumps everything.

Some of the franchise’s most striking and interesting shots are littered throughout the movie, and help weave the story better than the script could ever manage.

This is a very blue movie, I have realized

Also, it’s basically a footnote to mention “lol John Williams did a good score” but, as usual, this man brought his AAA-game to Star Wars and crafted one of the best movie soundtracks out there. For the ninth time in a row.

The newest main theme is absolutely gorgeous:

And a fitting final battle that really nails it:

High-octane blockbusters that are actually good at what they do, actually compelling in every way, are increasingly rare as time goes on. We saw from Solo how Star Wars movies go when they’re not really trying. They’re fun but forgettable. The Rise of Skywalker, thanks to its skill in visuals and music, is definitely not forgettable.

Palpatine’s Plot

It annoyed a lot of people that Palpatine ended up being Rey’s grandpappy, but the sheer convolusion of this main plot is massively impressive.

We start with this zombie Palpatine gross looking dude and find out he’s been pulling the strings all along, basically the last vestiges of evil trying to gain some final victory after being 85% defeated (more on that in the next section). He wants revenge and he wants power again, and he lost the granddaughter he was gonna use as a weird sacrifice or something to regain it.

So what does he do instead of coming back with his grand army and trying to conquer everything and then revive himself?

He goes full-on arrogant Sith Lord chessmaster, just like he’s always done in this franchise. The pure incarnation of evil, at this point, but still gonna do Palpatine stuff.

He first seduces Ben Solo to the Dark Side and eventually reveals himself to him, telling him that he needs to kill Rey, his granddaughter, to end the Jedi for good.

Our boy Ben takes the bait immediately, and goes off to try and turn Rey to his side so that they can overthrow Palpatine, while pretending to become Palpatine’s subsurvient, and even putting his mask back on as a sign that he was no longer his own man.

But of course, Ben Solo was never under control, because he had Sith loyalist General Pryde, AKA Richard E. Grant, AKA Darwin Mayflower, running around behind his back making sure that the Sith would rise again regardless.

I’m using this image again because I really like it

And, of course, that led Rey to confront Palpatine, just like he wanted, and to bring Ben Solo with her, just like he wanted. Sure, Rey was going willingly because of her Jedi calling instead of her anger and hatred and confusion of her own identity, but it still worked nonetheless.

He pretended to make some big ritual where she would become the new Sith Empress and he would pass on his powers, knowing she would never do it, just to stall for time for the two best buds to unite and gain their greatest hope…

And then bam, soul sucking time.

He was so arrogant and confident in himself, so focused on restoring his own power and fucking over Anakin Skywalker’s last descendant, that he didn’t even make sure they were both dead before celebrating, and then… whoops

What a grand conclusion to an absolutely ridiculous plot. This is what Star Wars is all about.

It’s Like Poetry

The Star Wars Prequels are famous for their in-depth callbacks and mirrors with the Originals and each other, through visuals, dialogue, and story beats (seriously, if you haven’t read the Ring Theory essay, it’s excellent).

But the Sequel Trilogy has done it too, and in a very powerful way too. Each of the movies thematically rhymes with the others, with Episode VII playing as a modified Episode VI, and Episode VII playing as an inverted Episode II, and a mirrored Episode V. Here in The Rise of Skywalker, the epilogue to the entire saga, the real mirror is to that of Episode I, The Phantom Menace. The prologue and the epilogue are linked together. Furthermore, within the trilogy itself, the movie is rife with callbacks, references, and rhymes to The Force Awakens, some of them very powerful indeed. In fact, it rhymes and repeats parts of practically every single Star Wars movie in some form or fashion.

I won’t write a big essay on that section since it would deserve an article all of its own (and also I don’t think I’m skilled enough to write such a piece). But I just want to make clear that this movie isn’t just a “greatest hits playlist” like some critics seem to think. It’s poetry.

That’s why, contrary to what some may believe, I actually enjoyed Palpatine’s return in this film. The villain won in the first trilogy, then was defeated thoroughly in the second, then in the third he is a weakened husk who barely clings on and is finally eradicated for good. It’s got an epic poem kind of feeling to it, not something we see much in modern franchise media but feels happily in place beside some piece of mythological storytelling of a tale from a thousand years ago.

Here is one prominent mirror that I really thought was neat:

What I Would Change

Of course, there’s always things I would have done differently in all Star Wars movies. No matter how much I love these movies, I would probably make changes to each of them. Even Episode IV, the most fundamentally perfect one, is missing those Biggs/Luke scenes that I think would have worked really well had they edited the movie just a little differently.

The Rise of Skywalker, of course, has many, many things I would have done differently.

Without changing the story in any major way, here are a few:

  • Change the snow planet to Coruscant! Holy shit, why didn’t we get Coruscant in the new trilogy?! Seeing how the main important planet of the Prequel Trilogy had transformed under the First Order would have been an amazing way to tie the whole saga together. Also, that snow planet gets blown up. I mean… Probably shouldn’t destroy Coruscant even if you’re the evil Sith Lord but… It would be daring to do, for sure.
  • Give Wedge Antilles a slightly more prominent role, probably in the place of Maz Kanata, who seemed to only exist to give some Force-related exposition in places where Leia could not.
  • Be a bit less subtle about Lando’s character arc and why he disappeared in the first place. I can kinda guess, but… it’s too understated.
  • Do NOT make the Resistance still small and hopeless. They should be losing the war and barely getting by, but they should be in a better place than The Last Jedi, where they barely escaped with a few dozen people. The movie doesn’t make it clear how big or small the Resistance is at this point. I’d like to have seen some signs of a big war going on in places where the heroes are not, kind of as a rhyme to Episode III’s depiction of the Clone Wars.
  • Have Anakin Skywalker appear in-person as a Force Ghost somewhere in this movie, doing something. I don’t care what.
  • Change the Snoke twist thing. At least a little bit. It was kind of stupid.
  • And, finally, keep Ben Solo alive! Ugh. This one I think legitimately hurts the film overall that it didn’t happen.

…And more changes after that, but I don’t want to just rewrite the whole script because I’m certainly not as good a writer as the whole Lucasfilm Story Team, and I don’t feel confident in my ability to write a story treatment that surpasses what’s already there.

And so, that’s kind of what I mean overall by my having mixed feelings towards The Rise of Skywalker despite loving the movie. There’s so much good in here, and also so much stupid shit, and also so much stuff that disappointed me on a fan level, that it’s hard to sort out my feelings on it overall.

Hopefully this article kind of conveys my feelings. And of course, thank you to JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm for closing out the Skywalker Saga with a bang, even if it’s not the movie I specifically wanted.

[2015] Star Wars Episode VII Actually Exists… Think About That

We live in an era where Star Wars Episode VII really exists, and it’s hard to imagine now that, at the beginning of the decade, that wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind that that would ever come to pass.

Okay, maybe the absolute biggest turbo-nerds had kept track of all those offhand comments by Mark Hamill where he said George Lucas once wanted him to play the old man mentor character in a new Star Wars movie decades in the future. But for 99% of the population, Star Wars was a finished franchise, at least until the inevitable remake sometime after Lucas bit the dust.

But it happened. Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. JJ Abrams signed on to direct. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was filmed and released, and not only that but it became the #1 highest-grossing movie in North America by such a wide margin that no film has even come close to breaching it since.

Continue reading “[2015] Star Wars Episode VII Actually Exists… Think About That”

[2015] Fant4stic Goes to… (pfft) Denny’s

They don’t really do fast food and junk food tie-ins with big blockbuster movies that much anymore. That was very much a product of the 90s and 00s, and after the first Avengers movie in 2012, you hardly saw it outside the inevitable Star Wars brand tie-ins, which are universal constant.

I’ve always wondered why exactly that is, but then I remember how Fant4stic went.

Their tie-in with Denny’s was just…

Geez…

Continue reading “[2015] Fant4stic Goes to… (pfft) Denny’s”

[2012] The Nostalgic World of Obama x Romney Fan Fiction

I can’t believe it was a simpler time for politics back in 2012. It felt like there was really something boiling under the lid, something about to spill over and really harm the country. Of course, that feeling ended up proving true in 2016, when the forces under the surface of the prior election cycle became the ultimate symbol of chaos and division for the United States.

The GOP presidential primaries that year were a battle for the soul of the party, where Tea Party demagogues like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum dueled against the big business establishment of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and against the libertarian populism of Ron Paul. A holy war was being waged, and the eventual result, four years later, was that all three of these factions would collide into the socially conservative, big business populist known as, uh, that one guy who became President in 2016.

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[2012] Super Mario Bros. Z Episode 9, and the Slow, Tortuous Death of Fan Projects

Nerds of a certain age are highly likely to have seen Super Mario Bros. Z. If you liked video games and had internet access between the years of 2006 and 2009, you either watched Super Mario Bros. Z, or at the very least heard about it. There is very little on this Earth that exemplifies the late 00s more than a Newgrounds flash animation crossover of Mario and Sonic filled with anime fight scenes and chugga chugga guitar tracks.

However, this isn’t an 00s Retrospective series; this is about the 10s. And the only relationship with the 10s Super Mario Bros. Z has is that this was the decade wherein the whole project perished, and the world was taught a lesson on the folly of fan fiction passion projects.

Super Mario Bros. Z always faced the problem that its entire existence was owed to one man working for free. Alvin Earthworm, the quite talented series creator, did the writing, the direction, the animation, and even most of the custom spritework all by himself, with no chance of compensation. Solo or near-solo efforts on larger projects can work out well (see Stardew Valley and Undertale, whose creators are multi-millionaires now), but for a fan project? It can be a dicey proposition.

The series, as it grew and grew in popularity, grew just the same in scope and ambition. Each new episode was longer, the plot more “intense” (this is a Newgrounds flash animation so don’t expect Shane Black writing here), and the fights more inventive and dynamic. The first couple episodes were not too much more than your everyday average let’s-animate-a-DBZ-fight-with-Mario-sprites silliness, but once it got onto later episodes, especially everything starting with episode 5, things ramped up into action insanity.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Super Mario Bros. Z has some of the coolest action setpieces in 2D animation, and these are with friggin’ Mario sprites. I mean, LOOK at clips from these episodes:

Start at about 3:00
Start at about 23:00

Whereas the animation in actual Dragon Ball Z is mostly stilted and static aside from brief moments of energy, Super Mario Bros. Z cuts out all the fat and shows only the parts of fight scenes that you will actually care about seeing.

You simply don’t get this in traditional animation, or even much in CGI animation, because of the cost of actually animating all the action going on. When you use sprites taken and edited from video games, obviously things get a lot easier, but I imagine it’s still an incredible undertaking that Alvin Earthworm was able to pull most of this off.

The problem is that these really impressive fights are done in a Mario and Sonic crossover fan fiction, and the amount of effort needed to create each episode was far too much for anyone to consider a worthy use of time. And not saying fan fiction isn’t worth your time–I mean I wrote a 100-chapter Bowsette story—but it was clear the series was too much of a time sink to keep going with just one person at the helm working for free.

You can see a narrative form from the release dates alone:

Episode 5: February 2007

Episode 6: May 2007

Episode 7: October 2008

Episode 8: October 2009

Fan projects rarely succeed, and ones this big, ones with only one guy working at it, are almost universally doomed. And that’s OK. Alvin Earthworm grew in experience and used his impressive talent for ridiculous fight scene choreography to create an entire career out of it, and that’s what matters.

…Oh, uh, wait. No, he didn’t.

You see, I didn’t even know this until several years later, but he didn’t stop with Episode 8. He continued to work on Episode 9 for years, until finally, just to appease clamoring fans, he released “Episode 9 Part 1” in 2012, just an opening scene to what would come next.

The problem was, this was 2012.

I first found the series in like, 2006. I was in elementary school. When this episode came out in 2012, I was an ADULT! This is the case for practically anyone who followed the Super Mario Bros. Z series; we were just a bunch of silly kids, but the updates took so long that some of us already had kids by the time it ended.

Episode 9 didn’t come out, in the end, being canceled in 2013 with Alvin Earthworm citing time commitments and having written himself into a hole with the cliffhanger ending of Episode 8 (???). And that was fine. Sad, but fine.

Until he remade Episode 1 and released it in 2016.

Long, long after the point that anyone could possibly still be waiting for more Super Mario Bros. Z, we get a remake of Episode 1, to coincide with a new Patreon to support this new series. It’s still impressive stuff, I’ll admit, even better than the original series at creating interesting, dynamic fights. But the Patreon was almost immediately shut down by Nintendo because, well, it’s Nintendo.

And so this new series, supposedly filled with promise and hope for Alvin Earthworm, was over from the get-go. With no funding, there was no chance he could keep making new episodes, especially if they were going to all be as long as this new one. And so that was the final end of Super Mario Bros. Z.

…He’s still going, isn’t he?

Alvin Earthworm has essentially wasted an entire decade’s worth of his skills toiling away at a flash animation series that is long past the point of relevance. There is so much he could have done with himself, and he chose to work on Super Mario Bros. Z, almost exclusively, for the entire 10s.

And his folly is sadly not uncommon in the world of fan projects.

A very sad trend with creators of these sorts of niche, free passion projects is that they don’t get canceled abruptly. They fade away into the night like the flame on a candle, only instead of a gust of wind knocking that last bit of light away, it’s a post saying, “Update! I’m still alive!”

I’m singling out Alvin Earthworm because he is one of the most prominent examples, but he is far from the only one.

Take, for example, Tails Gets Trolled, one of the seminal ironic masterpieces of the early 2010s. The creator made a bunch and bunch of content, then slowed down a lot… then hiatuses took over… then the project eventually died and the creator started over brand new with… the same exact series but original characters now…? Then uncanceled years later??

Then there is the infamous Mother 4 fan game. Fan games are already one of the least productive uses of time for fans of any media, but there have been some legitimately incredible fan games (MFGG, lookin’ at you buddy), and Mother 4 genuinely looked like an amazing game. It even had a release target: Winter 2014! …It still isn’t out, and finally rebranded to Oddity and removed all Earthbound references so that it could be sold for actual money.

In almost all of these cases, the creators restarted their projects, with so much time having passed that they decided to go back and “do it right this time.” But their fanbases had already close to disappeared by then; did they really think anyone would care if they were starting from scratch all these years later?

It’s sunk cost fallacy meeting passion projects in a sad collision that ends up wasting more of the time these creators could have spent making something new and maybe even getting money out of it someday.

I’m certainly not above any of this. I know full well that I will one day return to Sandswept: The Squiddle Session, spending months and thousands of dollars on a project to a franchise so far past its popularity that its official sequel has to be funded via Patreon. Sandswept means so much to me that I couldn’t leave it unfinished forever. Maybe it’s a bit of a different story considering this comic has literally hundreds of pages of scripts, storyboards, and not-yet-used art assets, including multiple fully-designed walkaround minigames. But even so, any time I spent continuing Sandswept will have been time spent on a project nobody else will ever care about but its creators, and even knowing that I will surely do it anyway.

Therefore, I am not condemning any fan who tirelessly works on a project far past its point of relevancy out of sheer love for it. But when I see it from the outside, it always breaks my heart.

One day, perhaps, Alvin Earthworm will make something that is wholly original, and it’ll suddenly revive the whole sprite-animation-battle genre into the big craze hit of the 20s. I really hope that does happen because I am always in the mood for ridiculous anime fight scenes. But the fact we didn’t get that in the 10s is a small tragedy.

[2013] An Attempt at Summer Internet Seclusion

Did you know I took the Summer of 2013 off the internet?

I don’t know why you would know that… It’d be kind of weird if you did. But, and this is extremely weird to say, but after I graduated high school I made the firm decision to avoid the internet for a whole two months because I thought it would help me spend a lot more time with friends and family before I went off to college.

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[2016] Hibike Euphonium and Actual Anxiety over Queer Baiting

What I’ll talk about here has already been covered very well by other authors and sumarized quite succinctly in some quite biting memes, so I’ll be somewhat brief about my feelings on Hibike! Euphonium and what its decision to queer bait the audience meant to me.

I think Kyoto Animation is for sure one of the best animation studios in the world today. Even when they make work far below their usual standard, it’s still mediocre at worst. To call them the Pixar of anime is probably only a slight exaggeration. Have they even made a genuinely bad show? I don’t know.

My problem with Hibike! Euphonium lies in the fact that it is NOT a subpar show in any way. It was well-written, filled with memorable characters with interesting characters arcs, and it was beautiful, with gorgeous artwork complimenting the lovely music (both in the OST and in the show itself).

Continue reading “[2016] Hibike Euphonium and Actual Anxiety over Queer Baiting”

Spaceballs

As part of the Quinlan Circle’s first DVD Challenge (Sign up for our Patreon to vote for movies to make us watch!!), I watched Spaceballs, an old childhood favorite of mine for a couple years. (Here is Joi Massat’s own write-up on the movie.)

I hadn’t seen it since something like 2005, so it was a very odd experience revisiting it for how well I remembered almost every single scene. It played out exactly how I remembered.

Actually, aside from understanding all the sex jokes and making me realize I was not old enough to watch this movie at all, there was nothing new here for me to discover at all… Which is maybe a bad thing overall.

Like, I love all the slapstick comedy and the stupid nonsense jokes that go on way too far. I love all the fourth wall breaks where they skip ahead in the movie to find out plot details. But I didn’t love this as much as I expected I would.

Maybe my sense of nostalgia and knowing that it would hold up well started to override my expectations and make me think this would have so much more to offer when I watched it as an adult? It’s just a juvenile spoof movie with a bunch of good gags. It’s nothing more than that, and that should be okay with me. But it kind of disappointed me a little bit…

Spaceballs is funny, Mel Brooks is a genius, and I’m overthinking all of this by a ton. But this is a weird case where I wanted the movie to be a lot more than it was, but instead it was exactly the same.

[2012-2013] Super Mario Dance Bros., Irony, and My First Semester of College

This is not a 2010s video. In fact, everything about it reeks 00s—All-American Rejects, Windows Movie Maker, 3D modelling and animation done by a teen in the pre-Gmod, pre-Blender era, and that overall since that a video like this could only ever have been created while George W. Bush presided over the U.S.

But Super Mario Dance Bros., one of the all-time greatest videos on Youtube, is part of the 2010s Retrospectives Series not because its own creation because of what it created in me.

Watch the video for yourself and watch what happens to the rest of your life:

Continue reading “[2012-2013] Super Mario Dance Bros., Irony, and My First Semester of College”

ATL Season 2 + Pride Month Celebrations

Two big updates:

ATL Season 2 has started!!!

The ninth story, The Dial-Up Demon, is now out, all thirteen chapters. The posting schedule for this season is going to be a bit different than Season 1’s three-times-a-week clockwork style, which I hope will be better for y’all binging types. You can start reading here!

Don’t you wanna read it? Art by hellspawnmotel.

Chapters are gonna be… vaguely monthly. I’m only going to release updates when they are ready, and when there’s a sizeable enough chunk that it’ll be worth it. I stole this idea from Alexander Wales and I hope it helps.

Second news…

Pride Month is underway!!!

Yeah I probably could have made a more detailed post about this, and earlier than this. I’ll make another post later but for now I’ll just say that there’s a lot of gay stuff this month and the Quinlan Circle is celebrating it.

First off, I’ve been running a #PrideWebFiction feature on Twitter where I promote one piece of queer web media every day throughout the month. The endeavor has received a ton of support and it’s really cool to see all the great queer stories out there.

There is also… Another project afoot. Such as Pride Month art for all of the main queer couples in each Quinlan Circle series! The art is part of a commission by Ryuichirou and there is more coming after this…

Check the art out:

Continue reading “ATL Season 2 + Pride Month Celebrations”