Stranger Things 2 is a remake of the first season

Yes, there will be spoilers for both seasons of “Stranger Things.”

“Stranger Things” is a period piece set in the ’80s, a throwback from how technology and culture leaped and bounded forward. Now, we can agree to disagree that, “Stranger Things” season one felt whole. You had a beginning, middle, and an epic end. It told a well-paced and heartwarming story, one that became a phenomenon without resorting to graphic violence or nudity.

It resolved every important plot thread there was. Will Byers is back. The demigorgon is gone. Most of the bad guys are dead. What’s there left to talk about? Jonathan and Nancy’s sexual tension? Look, they’re teenagers, young and indecisive, there is a glimmer of hope in there left for the audience’s imagination to develop their own fan-fiction how that story can go. Besides, Steve proved himself as an awesome fellow after all. Then, can we talk about what happened to Eleven, instead? Of course. That’s the fun part. That’s where the beauty of the entire season also lies. No matter what we speculate, we will never know what happened to Eleven. Things that weren’t meant to exist, stopped existing. Even Eleven, as harsh as that sounds.

But, there’s one more thing: The slug that Will retched out of his stomach? Look, horror has a way of terrorizing its viewers/readers down to the last minute. The slug scene tells us that it’s not over for Will. And yes, it hints a second season, but it didn’t have to be. It only tells us that the nightmare is far from over and the future becomes uncertain.

“Stranger Things” was perfect. It works as an eight-episode show and it could work as a two-hour movie, with some minor plot elements cut off. What kicked me in the balls was Jim Hopper leaving Eggos in the middle of nowhere. If anything, that was the scream for Season 2.

Beyond that Eggo scene, I will repeat once more, “Stranger Things” was perfect. It’s so perfect, instead of creating a head-on sequel, we got a Season 2 that is pretty much a remake of Season 1.

Season 2 followed every pattern of the Season 1 to the book.

  • Something happens to Will Byers
  • Strange things happen. People are going missing in S1. In S2, harvests are dying.
  • Discovery of someone/thing. Mike and Eleven in S1. Dustin and Dart in S2.
  • Kids get in some real nasty shit. In S1, the government was hot on their trails. In S2, it’s the, as Dustin calls them, demi-dogs, that almost got them.
  • The Byers house is renovated.
  • Bully-issue.
  • The love triangle. Jonathan only looks on at Nancy with Steve. Now it’s Steven looking on at Nancy, knowing she’s with Jonathan now.
  • For a little stretch: We lost one strong supporting character each season. Barb and Bob. (Be wary of any future “good” support characters with B)
  • The stand in the Byers house.
  • They get Will back.
  • Eleven saves the day.

Season 2 makes sure that you can watch it without watching Season 1. It answered all basic questions. Why was Jim Hopper so attached to Eleven? Where did Eleven come from? Why is Will called Zombie Boy? All of those are answered in Season 2, making it more than capable of standing on its own without prior viewing of the first season.

I think this was intentional. Unlike Season 1 that felt complete. Season 2 felt like it needed a sequel. There’s an eerie sense that this cannot be the end. It’s not because it had a campy ending with everyone laughing and smiling. But it’s how everything was setup! Damn it I’m bad at this. Anyhow, seasons one and two of “Stranger Things” were too much alike. I’m not complaining. I love every bit of it. Now, I’m excited how Season 3 will turn up and I know deep in my bones that things will be totally different.

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Thor: Ragnarok was great, but…

Spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok

I love “Thor: Ragnarok.” It was the most delightful Marvel movie I’ve watched probably since “Iron Man.” Straightforward and fun. I feel the chemistry between Thor and Loki was spot on, and so much better than any of previous movies. Cate Blanchett, as Hela, was damn impressive and scary. The way she slayed everything with her infinity blades was jaw-dropping.

However, I say these with a heavy heart, that there are a few things I didn’t like about the movie.

First among all: Jeff Goldblum. Yes, the dude from “The Fly,” or the doctor from “Jurassic Park” who spent most of his time on his butt from some injury, or that nerdy guy who managed to upload a ’90s era computer virus to shutdown an alien mothership from “Independence Day.” The problem was with Jeff Goldblum played the Grandmaster so well. Too well that it foreshadowed Hela as the main antagonist. You spend plenty of time in Sakaar, where Thor is hanging out for a bit and trying to assemble his “Revengers” that you sometimes forget that Hela is on the background, terrorizing Asgard, and we get this facade that the Grandmaster is the main villain.

Oh, Hela’s character is well developed, I think. She is excited to give just anyone a history lesson about who she is and what she had done for Asgard and Odin. I suppose, what I’m after here, is more engagement between Thor, Loki, and Hela, seeing as they all had daddy issues, being siblings, and whatnot. Ragnarok felt like a setup, should a fourth Thor movie be made. Though with a return of Hela, may be impossible, considering how it all turned out. So, I’m betting Doctor Strange will somehow mess with the timeline.

The second thing I disliked in the movie was Thor’s lack of concern for his friends – primarily the Warriors Three, getting butchered by Hela, just like that, as if they were throwaway characters. Well, actually, in a way they were? They played solid roles in the first half of the first Thor movie, then diminished in the second. I’m not asking for total character arcs, I’m just saying, even Heimdall mentioning about it to Thor and he’d just make a one second reaction about it.  Sif is not around either, so that’s a big question to me, and the only thing I can think of is Marvel thought that Sif and Valkyrie were too alike, which sounds rubbish.

And that is all my tiny nitpicks about “Thor: Ragnarok.” We got a quick glimpse of a big-ass ship during the mid-credits scene, and that can only be Thanos’, arriving to extract the Infinity Stone from the Tesseract – which Loki, no doubt, has taken. It should also be pointed out, that during the D23 trailer of “Infinity War” (We’ve all scene it, OK?), Thanos is wearing the Infinity Gauntlet with a single gem (fine, Stone) embedded on it. And I’m guessing that’s the Space Stone.

In any case, that’s the end of my senseless ramble. I could come up with a thought piece about how “Thor: Ragnarok” is a reflection of immigration, but what’s the end game? Read this instead, since it shares pretty much the same idea. We ride onward to Valhalla!

The Emperor’s Blades


Holy Hull. This was an awesome book. It kicks off real simple at first, the emperor is dead, and two of his three children are unaware of it: One trains to be a badass assassin, and the other, the heir, invests his time getting buried alive, haul stones, getting cuffed at the back of his head, and drink tea, to reach a state of Nirvana.

The book opens with a prologue that shows you the meaning of rot, and then the following chapter paves way to a graphic scene of a corpse. I should say the chapter had me hooked and I was curious enough to keep on reading until things unraveled.

I have no problem with graphic violence in the stuff I read and watch. But what bothered me in “The Emperor’s Blades” is how it’s all the women getting butchered in graphic detail. The inclusion of one kick-ass woman in the book doesn’t help elevate that. 

Beyond this, the book was a great read. I loved the description and the prose. I loved the pacing, despite being a long book, everything moved at a fast and clear pace. 

There are three main POVs, each of the emperor’s children, but we spend most of our time with the two boys – the assassin and the monk – and only about three chapters with the eldest, the daughter. Though from a certain perspective I can understand why she had so few chapters and I can only imagine things will change, fast, in the next two books when shit gets real.

As the characters are scattered throughout the empire I felt there was deep immersion and how large the world is. Each one was so different from the others. So different when something shook up the status quo, it felt like a threatening alien presence.

After this book I’m pretty much sure I’ll read everything Brian Stavely, the author, writes. For now, onward to Book Two: The Providence of Fire!

The Spoils of War

Spoilers for the seventh season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Quick update: Noticed I’ve been spelling “Valyrian” as “Valerian.” Damn the Thousand Planets!

Holy shit.

That was one damn good episode.

With only seven episodes left, things are wrapping up really fast. We are being pushed in breakneck speed from one scene to another, giving us just enough screen time to let us know what’s up with this character and the next. In the previous episode, Samwell Tarly has, apparently, cured Jorah Mormont of his greyscale disease. I believe this will be the last we will be seeing them until a much later time, maybe even in the season finale, or as far back as the final season next year. There just doesn’t seem anything for them to do anymore at this point. Unless Sam discovers something important and Jorah reaches Dragonstone, where Dany and her army is currently residing.

The lowest point of “The Spoils of War” is the interaction between Cersei and the Iron Bank. Sure, we now know all about the debt being paid in singe installment, and that, the Iron Bank may back out last minute when things go awry.

At Dragonstone, Jon showed Dany the cavern of dragonglass, and we get to see drawings on obsidian, of the First Men and the Children of the Forest, working together to face the Night’s King and his Army of the Dead. At this point I can’t tell if Dany is convinced of the threat far up north, but instead uses this to tell Jon that he should bend the knee. Of course, Jon reasons why he cannot, and to this, Dany points out that isn’t survival more important than pride? Something if I remember right, was something Jon said to Mance Rayder and we all know how he ended up. Whether Dany believes Jon or not remains to be seen yet. Though, at this point I’m incline to believe that Jon has secretly bent the knee, acknowledging Dany as Queen. Why? Because he needs to damn it and he’ll need to smooth things out later with his compatriots waiting for him at Winterfell. In a lightly humored scene where Davos tried to give Jon a proper title, “King Snow” or “King Jon” and the young dragon-wolf hybrid only says, “It doesn’t matter.” Why doesn’t it? Because he’s already pledged to Daenerys Stormborn! I could be totally overthinking this.

Speaking of Winterfell, Arya is finally back home, with a warm enough welcome from Sansa and an odd enough greetings with Bran. I found it impossible not to grin and laugh out loud at to see three Starks in one scene. Littlefinger handed Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that was meant to split his throat in season one, which he passed onto Arya. Sansa tells Bran that Littlefinger wants something out of this. Bran, being the emotionless bastard he is now, says to her that it doesn’t matter. It’s chewy in way. I like to this of this as, “Whatever Littlefinger wants doesn’t matter because he will die soon.” Arya being in the same castle with Littlefinger makes things interesting. Another name to cross off the list? Maybe not yet. I don’t see it happening soon unless some real shit happens.

Talking about Arya a lot, I bet everyone is eager to see more of her in action. She did open this season by unrolling a carpet of blood. So we see her spar with Brienne of Tarth, and we get one of the show’s top fight scenes. It’s also a point that having a secondary weapon is a huge game changer in how Arya will engage in melee combat. Also, I’m certain Bran handed her this Valyrian steel weapon for a reason far more than what she might have expected: Something to fight the Wights with.

There are a lot of reunions in this episode. Theon Greyjoy spots Jon Snow as he reaches shore with the rest of the survivors of Euron’s surprise attack on Yara’s (Asha) fleet on route to Dorne. Some of us might have expected the worst, considering it was because of Theon that Winterfell collapsed into the hands of Ramsay Bolton, and where a series of unprecedented shit took place one after another. But all seems well, in a way, since Theon did help Sansa escape, and Jon, apparently, knows about it after all. When Theon said that he intends to get Dany’s help to rescue Yara, Jon replies that, to me, sounds like they’re in pretty “okay” terms, that she isn’t around.

Where is she? Theon asked. In an earlier engagement, Dany learns that Casterly Rock has been taken, however, news about what really happened just pissed off the Mother of Dragons. This incident, plus the loss of Dorne and the Greyjoy as allies, drives Dany to consider desperate measures. She intends to take the dragons and burn the Red Keep. Tyrio warns her about this. And Dany, turned to Jon Snow, about what she should do, obviously looking for someone to take her side. Jon, says something about melting cities with the dragons will only make Dany look like the tyrant everyone has seen and feared. And now, we set our sights at Highgarden, and the Lannister army preparing to take their leave. Jaime and Bronn, riding off in a sunny afternoon, engaging in puny banters and all the stuff that happens after a big battle, when their battle instincts kicked in.

We learn that Dany’s response to all of her misfortunes, was a big flip of the table, screaming “Fuck this shit!” The Dothraki horde charges toward the Lannisters as they get into formation. Then fire rains down above them, creating a blackened streak on earth filled nothing but ashes.

The intensity of this episode was grand and filled with dreadful moments. You don’t know who to root for. You know that these Lannister people are just doing what their lord (or Queen) commands, who has families of their own – as made evident by Dickon Tarley, Sam’s brother. Not to mention that Jaime and Bronn are at the heart of chaos. Two characters we’ve been following since the first season are put into the most dire situation yet. I honestly believed this was it for Bronn, as much as I didn’t want it to. He fumbled around the battlefield but still did an admirable job at navigating through all this mess of burning bodies while being hounded by a Dothraki.

When Bronn manages to get into Qyburn’s invention, which is the medieval equivalent of an armor-piercing heavy sniper rifle, I was howling in my thoughts that Drogon – one of Dany’s dragons – could be in danger. And I wasn’t far off there. While Drogon survived the attack, the damage was dealt, but without them destroying the weapon, and Bronn making a swift exit. How hurt Drogon is remains to be seen, but as Dany tried to pull off that massive spear of an arrow, Jaime finally gets to see the daughter, whose father he was sworn to protect, in the flesh. He charged his stead forward, picking up a random. He knew what he was doing. As soon as he impaled Dany, that dragon will fucking tear him apart. But he charged anyway. No doubt he was thinking about Cersei and if he died, so did that secret of who really killed Joffrey. A last minute save from, Bronn, I think, tackling Jaime down to a river as the credits began to roll.

I’m glad Jaime and Bronn are alive, in the meantime. It would also be terrible for Tyrion, who was watching the entire battle from afar, to witness his brother’s death. Though I imagine Jaime to stick a little longer. Maybe he’ll die a romantic death, turning Queenslayer to protect Cersei, or maybe Cersei would kill him behind his back, to spare him of witnessing her own demise. It’s all speculation at this point. But if Jaime and Bronn haven’t been swept by the river, they’ll be taken as hostages at most.

Only three more episodes before the season ends and we’ll have another agonizing wait for an entire year to see how things unfold.

Innards #14: The Vault


A new and big idea has decided to settle in my head. This intrusive idea arrived this morning, knocking politely in my hollowed skull, and what did I do? I let it in. I entertained it. I gave it a glass of water, fed it, and before I knew, I had accidentally nurtured it. 

Oh Cthulu… 

It’s something to be proud of and yet, something you shouldn’t. Oh wow, you got a fun new idea, neato! Yes, it is neat. But what’s not neat is me unable to finish a single manuscript.

This new idea is a reminder that I’m dragging behind while all the cool stuff is piling up. And quite frankly, the more I hold off those ideas the more they become stale. And I do not want stale bread and I certainly do not want my cheese all moldy. 

I forgot how many “Projects” I already have out there. “Ashes” and “Dark” are definitely going after Red Whale. Then there’s the matter of “Tunnel Crow Town” and Project Ghosts, which is going to be really big. There’s also Project Sherlock that needs to be written after “Ashes” and between “Dark” because the latter two are so damn depressing. Oh, there’s also Project Hunter, my planned YA books, and then well, there’s the new idea that happens to be YA. Oh, I’m not done yet. There are multiple horror anthologies being written and then Project Starkiller, which is as big as Ghosts. Oh, I forgot my 2010 baby, “The Conductor” and my 2005 sweetheart, Shards. 

There’s a few more, like projects Apples and Valentine, and my nose is itchy to write a classic High Fantasy with a bit of twist. Then ther are a bunch of novellas. So yeah. In short, I’m screwed. I need to catch up or else the world will roll all over me.

A friend of mine said I may have writing ADHD and from exhausting all my projects like that, I can see why. 

In the meantime, the Red Whale is cruising along, almost done but with a lot of holes that need more than a few patches to fix.

Now I stop this and onwards to writing!

LG plays safe with the G6

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This 2017 there is a spectrum in flagship phones. Both Samsung and Huawei have recently played their cards and are topping the Android industry. Sony is about to show off their newest contender, while HTC just announced theirs in high hopes to make a comeback in the hall of smartphone champions.

What about LG? Year after year they have been giving us excellent phones, though with gimmicky features. The G2, for instance, rocked the industry by placing its home button at the back. (Something that has been replicated in more recent phones, like Asus and Huawei.) The G4 gave us a leatherback with a somewhat curved design. I don’t know what the G3 brought to the table, despite having owned one for a while, I’m guessing it’s the 2K screen. And of course, the G5 introduced modular features that absolutely went nowhere, and that last one was a bad hit for LG.

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So what about the new LG G6? It’s safe to say that this is LG’s safest phone yet. A simpler design and well-built. It comes with hardware you’d expect from a flagship device. Though the chipset used here isn’t the latest one, which is quite a head scratcher, really.

Let’s break things down, rating each of them.

Design: 4/5 

If you ask me, I love the simpler design the G6 has over its predecessors. It has no curved screen, no disgusting leatherback, no modularity with expensive modules, no nothing. Just a great-looking phone with nice specs and other staple things.

This is an era where we are getting regular-sized phones with larger screens. The bezels of the G6 is almost nonexistent, a testament to the screen’s durability over years of development. It’s a tall phone with a tall screen and a width so much slimmer than the G5. It’s a great phone to binge on Netflix and just chill the F-Out.

While the frontal design of the G6 is nice and swell, the rear, should be smooth and, well, nice to touch. The G6 unit I managed to get my hands on was covered with a protective film, and that could only mean the darker colored G6 is a fingerprint bitch. As far as I know, without the protective layer, the back is an all glass panel built with Gorilla Glass 5. And as far as my experience goes with LG, they have sturdy phones. My G3 unit had a lot of bad drops. So did my LG G4 Beat. And before those, I had an LG L70, which underwent a ton of accidental waist-high drops. Oh, there were scratches and some dents, but the fact remains, the screen was intact and fully operational.

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The volume rockers are found in the left side of the phone that allows left-handed users to thumb through the volume. Right-handed users can go finger them with the index finger. SIM tray goes to the right side, a Type-C USB port for fast charging and fast transfer speeds, and a headphone jack. (Go suck it Apple, we want our wired headphones!)

Specs: 4/5

Display: 1440×2880

Screen size: 5.7-inch

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 4GB

Memory: 32GB and 64GB

Dual cameras: 13MP (Both)

Front camera: 5MP

Battery: 3300

Water and dust resistant with IP68: Hell yeah!

If you look at it like that, it’s not so bad, right? While some phones kick balls with six gigs of RAM, the G6 maintains a stronghold for 4GB, and that’s not really a bad thing, as the phone is blazing fast as it already is. The difference would have been only fractions of a second.

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What bothers me here is the chipset. While most flagships use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or an 831, at least, the G6 uses an 821. Phones that use this are: Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Xiaomi Note 2, OnePlus 3T, and Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe. All of those phones are well regarded with excellent performance, so I wouldn’t think twice about how well of a performer the G6 is.

That wasn’t to say the 821 chipset is bad. It’s just a little outdated. But make no mistake, the 821 fires up all the G6’s cores and runs all the apps you’ll ever need without flinching.

Software: 4/5

Who cares about software? It runs on Android 7 Nougat. LG’s own Knock-On has returned without a doubt. If you’re unfamiliar with that, you just double-tap your screen to awaken the phone. LG has this since the G2 and it’s been a nice addition. Though, I’m not sure if it’s the unit I have right now, or if there’s some flimsy code on LG’s part, but the Knock-On feature doesn’t always respond. The same goes with my pressing of the rear home button.

The Always-On Display, which is seen in some phones today, is present in the G6. So if you rely on your phone to check the time, you no longer have to open your phone to view it. Other notifications and battery status are always on the screen despite the phone being locked.

Camera: 3/5

Let’s get this down before the initial knee-jerk reaction. The G6’s camera is excellent. The colors are accurate, vibrant, and sharp. It has nice gestures that allows you to take selfies without pressing the shutter button. You can switch between its two rear cameras to get different aspect ratio contrasts and depth. It has the usual staple: Time-lapse, filters, slow-motion, among others. The dual rear cameras firing at 13MP each and the frontal 5MP, are absolutely fine and deserves to be in a flagship phone. However, compared to other phones out there, the G6 lags behind by a hair.

Here are some sample shots.

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Conclusion

Unlike other phone makers: Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and OPPO who all introduce their flagship phones alongside a bigger “Plus” version, LG sets aside their big-ass phone for a couple months. I’m talking about the LG V series. Last year the LG V20 received a warmer and more loving welcome than the main G5 had. While I do love the simpler G6, it’s hard not to hold my breath for a few more months before making up my mind, the next LG V phone is just across the horizon, after all.

Hard Times

This hardly requires a silly blog post but I did lose my mind for moment when I saw that Paramore was trending on Twitter. My first thought was, “Holy shit, new album!”

I searched and instead, found a new single, and I was like, “Holy shit, new single!”

It’s everything what you can expect from a Paramore song. Different. Fun. Catchy. There are some fangs hidden here and there, and if you dig deep enough, no doubt you’d find them. Some of the scenes brought flashes of some Lady Gaga aesthetics, only in a more brighter and saner style. Also the final part of the song with that sick beat felt so much like a modern day take on Daft Punk. It’s such an excellent, fun song. Love it in every way.

Hayley looks good in the video. Though I find the makeup a little too thick, making her look a little older than how old she really is (she’s 28, last I counted). I kind of miss her punk-rock years, and nothing beats her weird Tim Burton-styled looks and her getup during Wango Tango in 2014.

This song is definitely going down to my playlist while writing.

There’s a lot of crazy shit happening in the world right now. If you tune in to various media outlets and witness the fall of society through social media, it’s almost as if everyone is going through some sort of existential meltdown. Paramore is right with this song though, these are indeed Hard Times.

No doubt you’ve seen the video by now, but hey, I’m still going to post it here.