So you may have heard that this summer’s biggest blockbuster isn’t about a bunch of dudes (and dudettes) in spandex and capes. Nor is it the wacky hijinks of a bunch of Twinkie shaped minions in coveralls. The title of King of the Summer Silver Screen goes to none other than…JURASSIC PARK….no…wait…THE LOST WORLD….nope…how about JURASSIC PARK III….that’s not it….JURASSIC (the movie that’s not really a remake but is actually a remake that is being called something else because no one wants to admit that it’s a 96% carbon copy of the first film only with genetically modified dinos that are nowhere near as ground-breaking or believable as the originals because CGI made all the good dinos, like original filmmaking, extinct) WORLD!
Yeah, that’ll fool ‘em into believing the plotline is something totally new!
Prepare yourselves as two kids go check out a ground-breaking amusement park that is filled with living attractions that died out millions of years ago. Thanks to the magic of science and genetic engineering the world can now pay an insane amount of money to stare at and pet living breathing dinosaurs! Despite the disastrous outcome of the first Jurassic park, the new and improved highly secure park facility guarantees a completely safe and hands-on once in a lifetime experience to all those who venture to walk with dinosaurs. After all, what could go wrong when scientists with god complexes start messing about with gene splicing?
Gear up for the adventure of the summer. Only this time Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant isn’t there to Kenobi his way through the minefield of gigantic teeth with two kids in tow and mission control is bereft of the pop-culture witticisms of Jeff Goldblume’s Dr. Ian Malcolm because his sage sarcasm would have had the power to prevent history from repeating itself. All-round prehistoric She-Rah plant guru Dr. Ellie Sattler must have been too busy kicking raptors in the face and digging through car-sized mounds of dino droppings when the chaos went down because she was nowhere to be seen. Instead of guts and khakis running and gunning through the snapping gauntlet of dino maws Jurassic World send in Runs With Raptors and the world’s most indestructible pair of High Heels to save the day!
If you liked the new reboot, great. It’s fun! Dino-on-Dino smack-downs never get old and who doesn’t love watching people scream in terror when dinosaurs descend?
But do yourselves a favour. Read the Book. Watch the Original Jurassic Park that started it all. Enjoy the sequels for what they are. Be amazed and inspired by the dinosaurs that quite literally stomped their way across the screen. Make sure to watch as much behind-the-scenes features as you can in order to see just how Spielberg and his intrepid crew of talent brought these amazing creatures to life through the use of movie magic, puppetry, CGI, a whole lot of set building, and incredible life-sized/life-like robotic dinosaurs that were so mind-blowing that they still are considered the standard by which any other dino/monster/giant lizard films are compared to. And that was 20 years ago.
Some things are just built to last.
You don’t CGI T-Rex onto a set. You build the set around T-Rex!
Ladies and Gentlemen we are living in a golden age of outer planetary solar system exploration! We are literally going where no man (or woman) has ever gone before by reaching out into the far reaches of the galaxy and looking into others. We are discovering new planets almost on a weekly, even daily, basis and getting up close and personal with the ones that rotate in our solar system. 46 years ago NASA landed men on the moon. Now humanity is driving a scientific dune buggyacross the red surface of Mars as we speak and last week Plutotook a selfie.
Think about it.
This is just the tip of the space iceberg. There’s an entire universe filled with galaxies that are populated by more stars than there are grains of sand and those stars have planets that rotated around them where some of which more than likely will contain some sort of life form.
So let me put it to you plainly.
Suddenly Star Trekfeels like a futuristic documentary and pretty soon a new race of Jediwill be making their presence known to us. Or at least that’s the wishful theory.
Putting pop-culture references aside there is something huge on the horizon that has just made itself known to us. And by us I mean the human race as a collective whole. Out there, 1,400 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, space telescope Kepler has discovered a planet that is remarkably similar to our own. It’s called Kepler-452b, dubbed Earth 2.0, and the possibilities are endless.
The planet itself is classed as a Super Earth, being bigger than Earth by 60 percent, and takes roughly 385 days to make one complete trek around its star. It orbits around the same class of star as our Sun, one that is 1.5 billion years older, so getting a better understanding of Kepler-452b could give scientists and astronomers insight as to what might be in store for the future of our own planet. Whether or not this newfound “big cousin” could hold life will be up for debate for a long time but further study will be called for in order to figure out what kind of surface the planet has, what atmosphere embodies it, if there is water on its surface and a long laundry list of questions that will need answering.
This is from local writer Sam Maggs’ book The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, which, as I’ve mentioned before, may be the most awesome book to ever book. Not only does the book itself provide so many tips and tricks for navigating the world of fandoms from a female perspective, the main declaration, featured on this poster, makes an awesome statement for fangirls (and boys) everywhere. We are strong, we are kind, we are open and we are awesome! Take it to heart, geeklings, and post it with pride. And place a hold on that book and just absorb all the goodness.
Speaking of fangirls, gotta give a shout out to one of my favorite YouTubers, OnlyLeigh. She posted a video last October that I totally didn’t get at all when I first watched it (so I was basically the girl in the vid being ganged up on). Since I’ve started listing to Welcome to Night Vale (as I mentioned in great detail in my last post), I totally get this video now! (So I’m one of the hovering, creepy girls now, I guess. That’s fair.)
OnlyLeigh posted a new video recently, making it pretty darn clear that you just can’t escape the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not that I’d want to; and BTW, see Ant-Man.)
Also, new Mockingjay Part 2 trailer.
And even Orcs know who to call…
Have a great weekend geeklings! And until next time, End of Line.
So, I have a new fan obsession. No big news there, that’s par for the course. But it’s been a while since I’ve been this hooked. What’s snagged my attention, you may ask?
Just a little, unassuming desert city called Night Vale.
Welcome to Night Valeis a bi-weekly podcast that started in 2012, and I had no idea it existed until a few weeks ago when it came up in a list of must-listen storytelling podcasts. After giving the first couple of episodes (which are each about 20 minutes long) a listen, I’m a confirmed Night Vale resident (I’m up to episode 20 by now; I like to wait until night to listen to them). The podcasts are done in the style of a radio broadcast delivering news, local announcements and ‘weather’ reports for a city where bizarre and horrifying things happen on such a regular basis the citizens hardly bat an eye anymore. It’s funny, creepy and delightfully weird with terrific writing, great non-sequiters, an affable host and a firm fan base. I love it!
But it got me thinking, dear readers. It’s summer. It’s a time to travel, to get out there and see what’s beyond your home town’s borders, and often times people do this in long car trips cross country. And what if you happened to come across a town like Night Vale or some other place off the beaten path where things seem fine on the surface but something just feels…off. And the longer you stay, the more secrets begin to unravel and the more things come to light that you kinda wish you hadn’t dug deeper into. There are plenty of examples of towns like that in pop culture, so may I present the top destinations to travel on your summer road trip to fictional creepy towns.
(For the purposes of this list, I’m including towns that you could, in theory, conceivably come across if you were to get into your car right now and start driving, so I’m excluding cities from other continents, other dimensions, other worlds, other planets or shielded from Muggles. Sorry Hogsmeade.)
At first glance, Night Vale is a typical desert town with a pretty name. But, if you listen longer than five seconds to the regular radio broadcast you’ll realize it is unique in the most horrifying and amazing ways possible. It has all the basic ingredients of a city; a city council, a public library, an Arby’s, an arena, a dog park, a fun center, etc. But then you start to hear about…weird stuff. Like how the public library is located next to the private library and how the massive arena is only open one night a year, and how you should never go in the dog park. Seriously, NEVER go in the dog park. In fact, don’t even look at the dog park.
It’s a city where hooded figures, angels, five-headed dragons, a visitor in a tan jacket you can’t seem to remember after he’s gone and a gorgeous scientist who moved there to study the city are all residents. And walking you through it all is Cecil, the voice of Night Vale’s community public radio. So stop by and prepare for chills, laughs and ‘wha’s?’
You can go ahead and skip neighboring town Desert Bluffs. They’re the worst. THE WORST!
(And don’t forget to listen all the way to the end for that episode’s proverb. A couple of my favorites; “What has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? I don’t know, but I trapped it in my bedroom. Send help. ” and “Does the carpet match the drapes? No, it doesn’t. You’re the worst interior decorator. Please leave my home.”)
In a lot of ways, Twin Peaks is the quintessential freaky town, the one that started it all. We first heard of Twin Peaks due to that unfortunate murder of local homecoming queen Laura Palmer. That brought in FBI agent Dale Cooper, and that in-turn fully revealed the secrets lurking beneath a place known mostly for their coffee and pie (really, you gotta try the pie, especially cherry). Log Ladies, giants, backwards-talking little people in prophetic dreams, spirits named Mike and BOB, residents with things to hide and a deceased teen girl with a troubled past in the heart of it all, Twin Peaks is a must on your tour of the weird.
Where is the best spot to spend a whole summer, you may be wondering? A place with fresh air, lots of trees, a kitschy little tourist trap called ‘The Mystery Shack’ and some actual mysteries popping up on a regular basis. That’s what you’ll find in Gravity Falls, as vacationers Dipper and Mabel Pines will tell you with great enthusiasm. The two of them have faced gnomes, ghosts, wax figures that come to life and lake monsters, and that’s only the first few episodes. Though the adventures in Gravity Falls are spooky, they’re also hilarious, so definitely worth a stay.
Heading down south, we find the quaint little sunny town of Sunnydale. It may be small, but it has a lot to offer. Good schools, a mall, a hip club called The Bronze, a whole bunch of cemetaries, and it’s all built on a literal mouth to hell. So come for the California sun and the small-town feel, but stay for the massive amounts of vampires, werewolves, demons and other creepy things that are naturally drawn to Sunnydale. No need to worry; the town is also host to vampire slayer Buffy Summers. She’s got it all under control.
A newer addition to our tour is Wayward Pines, ‘where paradise is home’. Fair warning, though; once you get into Wayward Pines, it’s very, very hard to get out of it. Between the local hospital keeping you there against your will, the townspeople actively working to undermine your escape attempts, the one road that always leads right back to town and the huge, electrified fence that surrounds it’s borders, you visit there at your own risk, dear travelers. But it is pretty. It’s got that going for it.
For you science aficionados, we’re taking you back to Oregon for a town not a lot of tourists know exists. Eureka is a haven for some of the best scientific minds (many of whom work for the Global Dynamics company) to create new breakthroughs and products. Granted, a lot of that science can run amok, and fairly frequently. But Eureka has an excellent sheriff, a gentleman by the name of Jack Carter, to help keep the peace, so do stop by and soak in all the science, you big nerd.
Last stop on our trip is the historic village of Sleepy Hollow. You may have heard of this one. If you’re a fan of American history or Halloween stories, Sleepy Hollow is the place for you. Between all the touring of the famous sites where history unfolded, you’ll get to view up close the current battle to stop the apocalypse and the arrival of the four horsemen, one of whom has no head (really, his head is just gone!). Be sure to look up Police Lt. Abbie Mills and her partner, a Mr. Ichabod Crane, to get the real scoop on what to see in town (just be careful at night).
So there you are, from one bizarre town to another, you have plenty of stops to visit this summer. Any places I missed? Go ahead and post them in the comments section.
Stay safe, have fun, and until next time, End of Line.