(Originally posted September 7, 2021 by Isaac Payne)
I didn’t know anything about Prospect, merely stumbling across it via the suggested for you feature on Netflix.
I took a chance and fired it up. Originally, I was a bit skeptical, because I’d never heard of the film companies that worked on the film, and thought it might be a low-budget, B-rate sci fi movie.
But then, 20 minutes in, I spotted Pedro Pascal, and my fears were assuaged. I’m not saying Prospect is the best sci fi movie on Netflix, but it was pretty darn good.
Prospect is a 2018 film written and directed by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell. Earl and Caldwell previously made commercials and short films with their company, Shep Films, and Prospect was their first movie.
The film stars Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, and Pedro Pascal (who many people know from the wildly popular Star Wars show, The Mandalorian).
Prospect received mixed reviews, with some critics praising the world-building, while others noted that Earl and Caldwell’s character development was lacking.
The story follows Cee, a teenage girl who travels to a foreign moon with her father to mine for precious gems.
Along the way, Cee’s father is killed by Ezra, a rogue miner/mercenary stranded on the moon. Despite that, Cee and Ezra have to work together to find a way off the moon before their short window for escape passes them by.
Signals Sci-Fi Movie Review
Above all else, Prospect is a simple film. Unlike some other popular sci-fi films, its scope isn’t massive. Nothing about saving the universe or the fate of humanity. Instead, the film places its focus on the interactions of a couple of people, and the conflict is all about Cee and Ezra putting aside their differences to survive.
Personally, stories that operate in a microcosm—or at least, not on a universal scale—always seem more satisfying to me. For example, I’d prefer to watch the Luke Cage Netflix show than the Avengers movies. Luke Cage feels more realistic, which I guess isn’t what people watch superhero literature for, but c’est la vie.
Anyways, I like the small scope of Prospect, because it makes it easier to focus on the characters.
Cee’s father, Damon, has about 25 minutes of screentime, but from the first scene, it’s easy to dislike him. Once he dies, it creates an interesting dynamic between Cee and Ezra. She hates him for killing her father, but also recognizes how different he is from Damon, better in some ways.
Some critics have said that Ezra’s character is pretty stale, and the only reason it’s interesting is because Cee acts as a foil—or a reverse foil?—and in some ways, I agree.
We don’t get very much information about Ezra’s past, only that he is stranded on the forest moon because his crew committed a mutiny and took his ship. Other than that, the audience is left guessing his past.
But I don’t think the story is supposed to be about Ezra. His presence is a catalyst for Cee’s character growth, her ‘coming of age’ if you will.
We know much more about Cee. Even the little details give us a glimpse into her past. Her conversations about her mother, her escapism through music and reading, her calm demeanor in sticky situations, all those things make her a vibrant, deep character.
Prospect’s pacing was on point, and visually, it was a simple film. The whole story takes place on the forest moon, but there isn’t very much variation in the scenery. A lot of green! I’d have like to see a bit of deviation of color.
While the film was entertaining, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
What happened to Earth?
What year is it?
What’s Ezra’s past?
What will happen next?
Some of these things are arbitrary, nonessential to the story. However, I would have liked to have a firmer understanding in the world Prospect is framed in. Maybe I’m just being a stickler or a massive sci-fi nerd, but I feel like knowing the year is a must.
Overall, Prospect was a good first film from Shep Films. Its simplistic story model let you focus on the character interactions, but sometimes those interactions fell flat. The film is missing a few key details to really root in a place and time, and sometimes the film expects viewers to grasp the sci-fi concepts without having previously explained them.
I’d give Prospect a 7/10. Sophie Thatcher and Pedro Pascal made a great duo, and I’d like to see more of their adventures, but I definitely felt like there was room for improvement.
I’m a big fan of Arthurian fantasy books and movies. I’ve been fascinated with the genre ever since I was a kid. But now that I’m older, my interest has shifted from the big sword-fights and knights on horseback to the intricacies of storytelling, and how current writers are bending the genre.
Arthurian legend is such a rich bank of subject matter, because a lot of the stories already vary in how they’re told. Some people take Le Mort d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory as gospel, and others are fans of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King.
I even took a stab at bending the genre with my story “Esclados the Red,” which follows a little-mentioned knight on his journey of self-discovery and acceptance with his sexuality. It was a fun story to write, and I was exhilarated to be writing in such a large—and loved—genre.
The Green Knight movie doesn’t go quite as far to bend the genre, but it certainly provides a fresh take on the centuries-old story of Sir Gawain.
The Green Knight Movie
The Green Knight film was released in theaters on July 30th, 2021. The film was written and directed by David Lowery, whose other work includes movies like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon, and The Old Man & the Gun.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is by far one of the most popular stories in the Arthurian universe, and Lowery’s film was quite faithful to the source material in terms of plot.
But the movie really shines when it comes to the visual elements.
The Big Orange Cloak
Visually, the movie is stunning. I’ll give it that.
It alternates between very dark scenes inside foggy forests and dim castle halls, to bright yellow and green forests. The contrast is astounding, and the coloring was certainly something Lowery emphasized.
Speaking of color and contrast, the best example of this is Gawain’s big orange-ish cloak. Even when Gawain is trekking across dark landscapes, his orange cloak still sticks out, providing a pop of color to on otherwise drab scene.
There’s one scene in particular that really struck me as the pinnacle of cinematography.
Gawain jumps into a pool of water by moonlight, and at first the greenish water slowly fades to darkness. Then, out of nowhere, a flash of crimson light illuminates the pool, with Gawain floating in the water. It’s marvelously executed.
Arthurian fantasy books and movies have the potential to get quite grim, but The Green Knight is able to maintain a balance between moments of despair and fun adventure.
For the first part of Gawain’s journey to the Green Chapel, he treks alone through the medieval landscape. He crosses bloody fields and haunted forests, giving the film a dark, brooding vibe.
But, at a certain point, a red fox becomes Gawain’s traveling companion. Together, they continue to traverse the grim landscape, but now, the feeling is less of doom and more of adventure.
The cute fox adds an element of mystery to Gawain’s journey, but it also lightens the mood. I’m all for protagonists with animal companions, and this fits the bill.
The Green Knight Movie Review Score
Overall, I really enjoyed The Green Knight. It was fairly faithful to the source material while taking enough liberty to put a new spin on an old story.
Visually, the film was a work of art. The detail that went into color choice and lighting is clearly noticeable.
And the way the film is segmented into titled sections was a really neat idea, and it felt like a visual novel with distinct chapters, moreso than a single film.
I only had two gripes with The Green Knight.
First off, the pacing was a bit slow. The build up for the first hour was almost laborious, but the filmography was able to keep my interest until the story progressed into the really meaty sections.
Second, I was mildly confused at points. Flashforwards melded too-seamlessly with the present timeline, leaving me scratching my head for a few minutes before everything snapped back to reality. This really only matters at the end of the film, and it’s not even that big of a deal, just something that confused me a little.
All said and done, I give The Green Knight an 8/10. A solid rendition of the classic story, and hopefully the first in a new wave of Arthurian fantasy books and movies.
(Originally published February 15, 2022 by Isaac Payne)
Every once in a while, you come across that one movie that really stick out, whether it’s a super unique concept or just an off-the-wall sort of film.
I recently found a sci fi movie on Amazon Prime that presents itself as a documentary, when it’s actually a sci fi concept film. The History of Time Travel is filmed like a classic documentary but it’s anything but that, and it’s certainly not a Doctor Who film, either.
Here’s a complete review of The History of Time Travel.
The History of Time Travel was an Austin Film Festival movie in 2014, but it had been in various stages of production since 2010.
The writer and director, Rick Kennedy, has worked on a few other films, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. A Year from Now is a Christmas Carol meets Groundhog Day film, and his first film, The Line, is about a prisoner escaping from Nazi Germany.
Of his work, The History of Time Travel stands out as a unique entity, mainly because the idea of filming an obviously fictional story as a documentary is particularly boggling.
In an interview with the Austin Film Festival, Kennedy says that some people “might enjoy the sci-fi elements more, or find the alternate histories interesting, or appreciate the humor and the absurdity of the whole thing,” and I certainly think he’s hit the nail on the head there.
So, as you’ve probably guessed, The History of Time Travel is a fake documentary. It employs the classic documentary narrator to make ominous comments, and all of the “experts” and first-hand accounts seem to be on the same page about the story.
And the story revolves around Edward Page and his family. Page was an MIT graduate in the late 1930s and later became a researcher for the Indiana Project, a clandestine project funded by the Pentagon to create time travel.
The Indiana Project and the Manhattan Project ran parallel for many years, but after WWII ended with the atomic bomb, the Pentagon began to cut funding to time travel research.
At some point, someone designs a portable time machine. And I say someone because as the film goes on, it becomes unclear who invented the machine. Originally, it was Edward’s son, Richard, but as Richard goes back in time to fix his family, the timelines start to get jumbled.
Just know that there is a time machine, and it does work, and you’ll know. The history gradually starts to change as the film goes on. Even though Richard only intended to change one or two aspects of the world when he went back in time, he ended up changing the whole trajectory of American history.
Nixon is assassinated in Dallas instead of JFK, Russians land on the moon first—the list goes on.
Eventually, we reach a point where the rabid flurry of timelines convene, and the world returns to normal. Not to the normal of the first half of the film, but to our normal. The History of Time Travel becomes The Theory of Time Travel, and it’s on the Science Fiction Channel instead of the History Channel.
At first, the scripted nature of the movie made it feel very stiff and unrealistic. Sure, they had the conventions of a documentary, but everything seemed to line up too easily, and that’s how you knew it was scripted.
The experts—which included a sci fi author, a philosopher, and a few time-travel physicists and historians—all had a similar way of storytelling, which made it evident they were reading a script. Instead of acting as individual characters, they were simply voice actors reading lines.
They spent a lot of time in the first minutes of the movie discussing the family life of Edward Page, in pretty vivid detail. I didn’t quite understand why until the movie started to branch off into different timelines, and we literally saw our history change before our eyes.
I think that the film is bold and interesting. It takes the medium of the documentary and turns it into a sci-fi concept film, and that’s something I would have never paired together. It gives me the vibe of the Ancient Aliens TV show and other similar conspiracy-theory documentaries, but with a more creative flair.
The History of Time Travel had a fairly small budget, but the production value was pretty good. There were a few points where I giggled at the poorly Photoshopped “evidence”, but I think that only contributed to the humor.
Overall, I’d give the film a 7/10. It had an original concept, and even though it stumbled through the first twenty minutes, it ended with a potent question about time travel: “Would we even notice if it happened?”
Is it the best sci fi movie on Amazon Prime right now? Not by a long shot, but it’s certainly worth watching if you’re tired of all the lasers, spaceships, and aliens that populate mainstream sci fi film.
(Originally published July 06, 2021 by Isaac Payne)
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I sat down to watch Oxygen, a new sci-fi movie on Netflix.
The description was fairly simple; a woman wakes up in a stasis pod and is rapidly losing oxygen (hence the title) and must remember her past to find a way to fix the problem before she perishes.
It seemed like a premise I’d seen done before, but I couldn’t pinpoint from where.
Regardless, I grabbed my bowl of ice cream and settled in. Little did I know I was about to watch one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. It was:
And a tad frightening
Oxygen Isn’t About Escape, It’s About Control
The whole film revolves around Elizabeth Hansen, who wakes up in a claustrophobic cryo-stasis pod. Her oxygen is being depleted, and she has the length of the movie to figure out why (which is about 100 minutes).
As a writer, I was always told to never start a story with a character waking up. It’s too simple, it’s an opt-out of any kind of backstory building, etc. etc.
But Oxygen starts in just that fashion, with Elizabeth coming to in her stasis pod, and I think it works. After all, if the premise revolves around a stasis pod keeping people alive indefinitely, then the largest conflict would be waking up before the scheduled time, right?
If only it were that simple.
For 3/4ths of the film, Elizabeth’s prime objective is to either escape the pod on her own before the lack of oxygen kills her, or find someone on the outside to get her out. She’s assisted—and held back—by M.I.L.O., the artificial intelligence Medical Interface Liaison Officer responsible for her wellbeing.
With M.I.L.O.’s help, she’s able to make contact with the outside world, but with each call she places to the people on the outside, the plot becomes more convoluted.
Just as we as viewers think we know what’s going on, the movie takes another wild turn, subverting our expectations.
Personally, it’s a genius move. If I had to watch a film that takes place entirely in a stasis pod for an hour and a half—when the only conflict is getting out—I’d become bored very quickly.
But Oxygen becomes more than just a fight for survival; it’s a fight for control over one’s body, mind, and autonomy. And that’s why it’s so good.
The Making of a Top Sci-Fi Movie
In some scenes of the film, Elizabeth is reading social media posts and academic journals, which appear in French. I figured it was a stylistic choice, but only after I read more about the film’s production did I realize why there was such a heavy emphasis on the French language.
Oxygen, or Oxygene, as it is called in France, was a collaboration between American and French filmmakers. Planning started back in 2017, and filming took place in July of 2020. (Which was a bit haunting, seeing as how it was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and staple part of the film is a worldwide disease that claims Elizabeth’s loved ones.)
The film was directed by horror expert Alexandre Aja, whose previous films include The Hills Have Eyes and High Tension.
Aja said when talking to Variety that Oxygen is a “real emotional escape game” and he certainly takes that idea to the next level. Filming entirely in one location, the stasis pod, doesn’t leave a lot of room for deviation, so he had to get creative.
The lighting and camera angles help portray Elizabeth’s emotions, since dialogue isn’t really a big part of the film. The red lighting of the low oxygen environment elevates the feeling of containment, while the soft white lighting provides a brief respite from the tension.
All of these things were on Aja’s mind as he directed this film, and it certainly shows.
Oxygen is a one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix I’ve seen in a long time. The attention to detail, dynamic story, and moments of horror makes it quite a ride.
If you find yourself with an hour and a half to spare and a penchant for some mind-boggling sci-fi horror, I highly suggest checking Oxygen out on Netflix. I give it a 9/10.
Are you a fan of new, exciting science fiction? Be sure to check out the latest issue of Galaxy’s Edge! It has original short stories, book reviews, and interviews with popular authors!
(Originally published July 20, 2022 by Isaac Payne)
In general, science fiction movies tend to err on the weirder side of media, and that’s just a fact of their nature. But, there are some weird movies on Netflix that fit too nicely in the sci-fi genre, and Bigbug is at the forefront of those films.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet has developed a reputation as a science fiction writer and director. Over the course of his career, he’s imagined many futuristic worlds, some bleak, some optimistic. His first feature film, Delicatessen (1991) takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where famine has ravaged much of the population. His characters live above a delicatessen, and are picked off by the butcher who runs the shop, eventually turned into meaty treats.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet was even the director or Alien Resurrection, and his film Amélie was nominated for a few Academy Awards.
Suffice to say that he’s a pretty established guy, and Bigbug is his first feature film to come out in the past 10 years.
Bigbug stars Isabelle Nanty, Elsa Zylberstein, Claude Perron, Stéphane De Groodt, and Youssef Hajdi, among others. The film received lackluster reviews, including a 5.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes and an even lower score on Metacritic.
Despite this, I found the film to be profoundly interesting, both visually and narratively, as well as quite odd. Here’s a brief summary of the plot:
Alice, a suburban mother and artist, lives in a smart home that’s equipped with multiple different robots, some of which are designed for cleaning, others act as maids. When the film starts, we see Alice flirting with Max, a man who pretends to take interest in her artistic endeavors and her bookish nature.
As the story continues, many other characters come into the house, including the neighbor, Alice’s ex-husband and his girlfriend, and Alice’s daughter, Nina. Once all the characters are inside the house, the systems AI, Nestor, locks the doors, citing code C4 because the outside danger level surpassed acceptable limits.
On the news, the characters see a terrible traffic jam, due to automated car malfunctions. And frequently, the television will play the show Homo Ridiculous, which features humans in humiliating situations for the Yonyx clones. The Yonyx are a group of intelligent, violent, AI clones that despise humans.
Most of the movie revolves around the characters trying to get out of the house, while the robots working to please their human counterparts by searching for what it means to be human.
Eventually, things come to a head when the Yonyx show up, but I won’t ruin the ending for you!
What’s So Weird About Bigbug?
Bigbug has a bit of a weird feeling to it for a few reasons. First, it was originally in French, but I watched the English dub on Netflix. The voices and the lips of the characters didn’t match up, which made the whole thing rather trippy, especially since there is supposed to be a big contrast between the robots and AI and the humans. But with the dub, it makes everyone feel a bit like a glitching robot.
Another element of the film that was confusing–and somewhat uncomfortable at times–was the sexual overtones. Pretty much all the of the characters, aside from one or two, were driven by sexual urges, and often ended up being sexually frustrated. Alice and Max spend most of the movie skirting around other characters trying to have sex, while Nina and Max’s son, Leo, have a similar relationship.
Even the robots get oddly sexual. Monique, the maid-AI, follows around Max trying to be seductive like Alice, and the whole thing just comes off as cringy.
I think that the sexual nature of the film helps to portray the humans as driven by instinct, which gives them an animalistic feeling. When contrasted with the Yonyx, who are hard, smart, and cold, the humans just feel kind of lame and useless without their technology.
And that hunts at one of the larger themes of the film, which is whether or not humans are important in a world where robots and AI are ten times smarter, faster, and more efficient than humans.
The key takeaway from Bigbug is veiled behind flashy suburbanite futurisms and sexual desire. Its message is simply that humans are lucky. Despite their flaws and their antics, their technologies eventually get too smart for their own good. Some might even say that our saving grace is that we’re simple creatures! And being simple isn’t always a bad thing.
So despite being just a weird movie on Netflix, Bigbug shows us that the more complex we become, the more problems we encounter. What’s wrong with reading books, practicing calligraphy, and drinking vodka shots? Seems like a good way to pass the time to me.
Today, February 21st, 2023, means it is officially Mardi Gras! ♥
“Hey, mister, throw us something!”
Now, I can hear you asking it … what does Mardi Gras even mean, other than too much drinking, 100 pounds of beads draped around our necks, and not being able to find a place to use the restroom?! Well, I’m glad you asked …
In French, Mardi means “Tuesday” and gras means “fat.”
Did that help?
We didn’t think so either 😉 Let’s try this …
Mardi Gras refers to Fat Tuesday, I know, I know, we already mentioned that, but … that means its the day before Ash Wednesday, and originally religious folks used the day to binge on rich foods, such as eggs, milk, and cheese before Lent began. This day of feasting and preparing was but a single day of celebration. These days however, anyone who has ever attended Mardi Gras or Carnival will tell you, this celebration of magic and masks is more than a single day, it’s a state of mind.
Mardi Gras has definitely grown past it’s humble beginnings. It even helped rebuild New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. When the rest of the world may have thought those people crazy or weird for putting on the parades and parties after such a major disaster, the locals understood. They got it. This time of celebration is so deep a part of the hearts of the people there, its practically a part of their DNA. They weren’t just celebrating magic and mayhem. They were celebrating life. Mardi Gras, as New Orleans native Arthur Hardy says, “… defines the heart and soul of our people. It is a spirit—an immortal one. It represents man’s ability to escape into dreams, to play, to laugh, and to have fun. Mardi Gras is masks, costumes, raucous fun, Cinderella balls, gluttony, love, inclusion, artistic expression, history, tradition, and new horizons.
Sounds familiar, huh? Like escaping into a world of magic and stories, books and adventures of the mind.
But how did Mardi Gras grow to become more than just a big meal before a period of fasting and repentance? Well …
Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years, all the way to the pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.
Lupercalia was an ancient pagan festival held each year in Rome on February 15. Although Valentine’s Day shares its name with a martyred Christian saint, some historians believe the holiday is actually an offshoot of Lupercalia. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, Lupercalia was a bloody, violent and sexually charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility.
According to Roman legend, the ancient King Amulius ordered Romulus and Remus—his twin nephews and founders of Rome—to be thrown into the Tiber River to drown in retribution for their mother’s broken vow of celibacy.
The twins were later rescued and then adopted by a shepherd and his wife. After killing the uncle who’d ordered their death, the twins found the cave den of the she-wolf who’d nurtured them and named her Lupercal.
It’s thought Lupercalia took place to honor the she-wolf and please the Roman fertility god Lupercus.
In Ancient Rome, feasting began after the ritual sacrifice, and also during Lupercalia, men randomly chose a woman’s name from a jar to be coupled with them for the duration of the festival. Often, the couple stayed together until the following year’s festival. Many fell in love and married.
And while the Big Easy plays host to Mardi Gras in the U.S. with its food—King Cake, muffulettas, beignets, shrimp and grits for starters; and libations: hurricanes, Ramos Gin Fizzes, Dixie beer, café au lait—architecture, music, history, and its fair share of swamps, gumbo, ghosts, and alligators, this does not make New Orleans the only place where Mardi Gras is celebrated.
CARNIVAL HEARD ROUND THE WORLD When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
This means Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday, forty-six days before Easter Sunday which is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. Which makes that period of time … Carnival Season!
That means along along with Christianity, Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival or Carnaval, spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England. Even Brazil and Venice play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year. It’s a party!
THE FIRST MARDI GRAS ON AMERICAN SOIL In the late 17th Century, French King Louis XIV commissioned the French Canadian Le Moyne brothers to explore the mouth of the Mississippi to establish a colony in the Louisiana Territory. When their exploration party landed at the mouth of the Mississippi on March 3, 1699 it was Mardi Gras. In tribute to the holiday being celebrated that day in France, the brothers named the spot Pointe du Mardi Gras. This is the oldest place named of non-Native American origin in the whole Mississippi River valley.
THROW ME SOMETHING, MISTER This is what you will hear if you attend the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. The trinkets and collectibles that are thrown from the floats to people lining the parade routes are called throws! Throws can be plastic beads, glass beads, toys, cups, spears and just about anything imaginable. In 1910, Zulu Krewe began throwing coconuts or “Golden Nuggets”, which was considered a very sought after throw. After several lawsuits from parade-goers who were hit in the head with coconuts, the organization could no longer get insurance coverage in 1987 and stopped this tradition. After lobbying the Louisiana Legislature, it passed SB188, the “Coconut Bill,” which excluded the coconut from liability for alleged injuries arising from the coconuts that were handed from the floats. In 1988, then-governor Edwin Edwards signed the bill into law. Today the elaborately decorated Zulu coconut is a much-coveted collector item.
GREEN, PURPLE AND YELLOW (GOLD) If you don’t see green, purple and yellow (or gold) when you think of Mardi Gras, then you don’t know the symbolic colors seen everywhere in NOLA. Thousands upon thousands of beads in these colors decorate the necks of the revelers every year. Purple symbolizes justice, gold symbolizes power and green symbolizes faith. Now bundle up, ignore the frigid temperatures and let some jambalaya warm you up!
EARLY EFFORTS AT SUPPRESSION OF MARDI GRAS Mardi Gras got going in New Orleans soon after the city’s founding in 1718. The Spanish, who ruled the Big Easy from 1762 to 1800, apparently cracked down on certain Mardi Gras rituals (though documentation from that period is scarce). U.S. authorities did much the same after taking control in 1803, banning both masked balls and public disguises. Nonetheless, they eventually accepted the festival’s existence. The first recorded Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans took place in 1837, by which time the city had transformed from a small backwater into a major metropolis. Twenty years later, six men organized a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. By holding a parade with the theme of “The Demon Actors in Milton’s Paradise Lost,” along with a lavish grand ball, Comus reversed the declining popularity of Mardi Gras and helped establish New Orleans as its clear epicenter in the United States. This year, more than 1 million visitors are expected to attend.
OTHER SECRET SOCIETIES QUICKLY FOLLOWED COMUS’S LEAD In 1872 the Krewe of Rex and the Knights of Momus began paying for parades and balls of their own. They were followed a decade later by the Krewe of Proteus. Since these early societies were exclusively male and white, women and Black residents formed their own groups, such as Les Mysterieuses and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Dozens of krewes of all types have proliferated since then, including the science fiction-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, whose name is a hybrid of the “Star Wars” character and the Roman god of wine. Despite being less than three years old, this krewe convinced Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the movies, to ride in its parade last month atop a Millennium Falcon float and alongside a mascot called Bar2D2.
“Krewe” is the term for all groups that stage balls and/or parades. They come is all shapes and sizes but all are non-profit groups funded by their membership. More than 100 exist in New Orleans—gay, straight, single gender and co-ed ones—there’s something for everyone. Some are classical, others naughty (with biting satire).
The most important part of Mardi Gras is the spirit of those that attend and keep this magic alive year after year. And as they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” It means “Let the good times roll” in Cajun French. Annd If someone should say that to you, the proper reply is “Oui, Cher.” Now, don’t pronounce Cher like the singer’s name, use the Cajun French pronunciation of “Sha.”
While this TV show premiered in December, if you haven’t watched yet, then there’s no time like this minute to join us in celebrating Black History Month, and that these long winter days are drawing to a close, by snuggling up on the sofa of an evening and digging into some Sci-Fi TV show drama.
Kindred, Octavia E. Butler’s celebrated and critically acclaimed novel, has been adapted for television by writer and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. This American Science Fiction TV Mini Series—available to watch on Hulu—at 8 episodes long, is perfectly binge worthy.
From FX/Hulu: Adapted from the celebrated novel Kindred, by Hugo Award-winner Octavia E. Butler, the FX series centers on “Dana James” (Mallori Johnson), a young Black woman and aspiring writer who has uprooted her life of familial obligation and relocated to Los Angeles, ready to claim a future that, for once, feels all her own. But, before she can settle into her new home, she finds herself being violently pulled back and forth in time. She emerges at a nineteenth-century plantation, a place remarkably and intimately linked with Dana and her family. An interracial romance threads through Dana’s past and present, and the clock is ticking as she struggles to confront secrets she never knew ran through her blood, in this genre-breaking exploration of the ties that bind.
Kindred stars Mallori Johnson as “Dana James,” Micah Stock as “Kevin Franklin,” Ryan Kwanten as “Thomas Weylin,” Gayle Rankin as “Margaret Weylin,” Austin Smith as “Luke,” David Alexander Kaplan as “Rufus Weylin,” Sophina Brown as “Sarah” and Sheria Irving as “Olivia.”
And when you’ve finished the show but still want more … this worthwhile TV show is backed up by an even better novel. (yessss!)
The TV show Kindred is adapted from the celebrated 1979 novel of the same name, written by Hugo Award Winner Octavia E. Butler.
“Octavia Butler is a writer who will be with us for a long, long time, and Kindred is that rare magical artifact … the novel one returns to, again and again.” —Harlan Ellison
—A Good Morning America 2021 Top Summer Read Pick
The visionary time-travel classic whose Black female hero is pulled through time to face the horrors of American slavery and explores the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon realizes the purpose of her summons to the past: protect Rufus to ensure his assault of her Black ancestor so that she may one day be born. As she endures the traumas of slavery and the soul-crushing normalization of savagery, Dana fights to keep her autonomy and return to the present.
Most of us have heard of, or are at least somewhat familiar with, the story of Santa Claus.
Popular in the US, Old Saint Nick is a jolly, red-suited fellow who’s belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly when he laughs, and on Christmas Eve night, flies around in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer, eating cookies and delivering gifts to the children of the world. For the children on his naughty list, however, nothing in their stockings but fat lumps of coal.
For all the gift giving and magic flying, there are darker sides to this popular holiday figure.
In some parts of the world, dark creatures come out in the winter—some hungry, some mischievous—and some ‘not so merry’ myths that give new meaning to the word ‘sleigh’ …