The Quiz Part 15
Greetings, November has rolled around again and that means I’m back once more with the quiz! Last year Joh took 1st place by getting all but one question right while Mark and Aaron came tied in 2nd position by answering 6 questions correctly. I’ve tried to balance out the quiz and appeal to all players with at least one question tailored with them in mind but there are some general, trickier questions in there as well. So have a go and test your wits! Don’t forget to avoid the spoilers below and put your scores in the comments. Good luck!
1. Which comedic Canadian-American actor was the voice talent behind the antagonist known as Benny in the 2010 video game ‘Fallout: New Vegas’
2. Who said this? – ‘I'll be back.’
3. Infamous criminals Burke and Hare have remained in the public conscience for their body snatching activities and a series of murders they committed in 1828 but in which British city did they commit their heinous crimes?
4. Which of the following works was not written by horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft? – A. ‘The Rats in the Walls’ B. ‘The White Ship’. C. ‘The Dunwhich Horror’. D. ‘The Evil Clergyman’ E. ‘Casting the Runes’
5. On Wednesday 24th November an anonymous skyjacker, who has since become known as D.B. Cooper, parachuted out of a plane with $200,000 in ransom money but what year did this high profile crime take place in?
6. In the ‘Horrified’ board game, players take on classic Universal Monsters including Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Invisible Man but which villainous creature is missing from this list?
7. Name the character.
8. Unscramble the letters to reveal an actress – IDOJE TFORES
9. In my entry for the 2021 Write Wise Challenge, Rigby Denholm wants to head home for Christmas but what kind of monstrous critters, known for dismantling machinery, attack his train?
10. As of 2023, Jordan Peterson has written three main books including ‘Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief’ and ’12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos’ but what is the tile of the third work?
1. Matthew Perry
2. The Terminator / T-800
4. E. ‘Casting the Runes’
6. The Mummy
7. The Driver
8. Jodie Foster
10. Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life
Quote of the Day
What must it be like not to be crippled by fear and self-loathing?
Greetings, ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is a 2021 supernatural film that was directed by Jason Reitman who took over the reins of the franchise after his father Ivan’s beloved cinematic hits took pop culture by storm back in the 1980s. After a 32 year gap from where the story was left off in the late 80s, ‘Afterlife’ is considered the third film of the series that started all the way back in 1984. The movie ushered in a new era of actors and actresses to the iconic boiler suit wearing ghostbusting team with Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard and Logan Kim being the core members. There other stars include Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Celeste O’Connor and some cameo roles from the original cast who helped cement this latest instalment as a continuation of the saga. The music was composed by Rob Simonsen who expertly incorporated themes and motifs from Elmer Bernstein’s earlier score.
The film begins in the dead of night as Egon Spengler is driving away from a mine at furious speed. As his truck roars through rural America, it is clear he is being chased by an invisible entity and his blinking ghost trap implies he has captured a malevolent spirt. The vehicle flips over during the chase and the aging Spengler climbs out of it, making a run for his remote shack with the trap in his hand. He reaches his wooden deck and kicks a power grid to life that will ignite a trap surrounding his house. The ghostly footprints make impressions on the soil and Egon pulls a lever to snare the apparition. The power fails at the crucial moment and despite his best efforts, he can’t get it to work again so he runs inside his house where he conceals the occupied ghost trap underneath the floorboards. With nothing else to do but bid his time, Egon sits down in his armchair and patiently waits for the monster to attack him as he knows it will. He is equipped with his trusty P.K.E. Meter to monitor any spectral activity in the area as he sits.
A white mist slowly seeps in from the fireplace and an outline of a creature can be seen to rise behind Egon before it quietly subsides into nothingness. Demonic arms reach out of the armchair and restrain him. A bright light flies over the dilapidated farmhouse like a comet indicating the creature was caught by some unseen trap. The silent meter falls from Egon’s unmoving hand and lands on the floor. After a moment, the P.K.E. Meter chirps up again and the blinking lights suggests that a new ghostly presence has entered the house. Some days later, the financially struggling Callie Spengler inherits and moves into the farmhouse with her two children Phoebe and Trevor after being unable to stay in her Chicago apartment. Her relationship with her father had been non-existent as Egon had become increasingly withdrawn from everyone and it is apparent that his grandchildren knew nothing of the man he was. It isn’t long before the intellectually gifted Phoebe starts to notice some unusual phenomenon happening around the house that defies rational thinking.
I enjoyed this movie, even after significant hype which can ruin many a picture, and felt it had a great opening which set the rest of the story up perfectly. While I realise that it was not a perfect addition, it treated its previous entries with the respect they deserved and nicely added to what came before. It importantly gave Egon a touching send off after Harold Ramis, the well renowned actor behind the character, passed away in 2014. ‘Afterlife’ brought a bit of charm back to the series after Paul Feig’s much maligned all-female reboot came out in 2016 to a barrage of criticism. The 2021 version wisely ignored the former iteration which had been the focus of an early battle in the Culture Wars that gripped the Western world in the early 2010s. Overall, parts of ‘Afterlife’ felt a bit underdeveloped or rushed but I believe it would have pleased most fans, old and new alike, and I would consider myself a satisfied customer as well.
Quote of the Day
Mulder, it is such a gorgeous day outside. Have you ever entertained the idea of trying to find life on this planet?
Full Dark, No Stars
Greetings, ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ is a set of stories written by famed horror author Stephen King and was initially released in 2010. The four stories are unconnected to each other but share the same theme of retribution which gives the book a sense of cohesiveness. While he has written many collections of short stories in prior years, this was King’s third compilation of four sizeable works contained within the one book after he published ‘Different Seasons’ in 1982 and ‘Four Past Midnight’ in 1990. The stories in ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ are ‘1922’, ‘Big Driver’, ‘Fair Extension’ and ‘A Good Marriage’. Some editions that had been published in 2011 also include the additional short story of ‘Under the Weather’ which is about a married advertiser who’s fragile mind prevents him for accepting the awful truth of his situation and his attempts to hide from reality.
The plot of ‘1922’, which is probably the most well-known of the aforementioned stories, starts with the character of Wilfred James writing out a confession to a gruesome crime he committed in that same year. Wilfred introduces himself as a farmer who lived with his wife, Arlette, and their son, Henry, on their farmstead in Nebraska. 80 acres of the land belong to Wilfred while another 100 acres was inherited by Arlette. The discrepancy in the amount of land becomes a source of contention between the two especially when Arlette, using her position as the inheritor of the larger swathe of land, leverages this fact in her attempts to leave rural Nebraska and live as a city dweller in Omaha. After failing to convince Wilfred to move out in accordance with her dream, Arlette seeks to sell her land to a livestock firm that have plans to build a slaughterhouse on their turf. The outcome would result in Wilfred’s acreage becoming effectively useless, forcing him to sell his land and ensure Arlette would get her way in the end.
With no method of reigning Arlette in or dissuading her from her chosen path, Wilfred begins to poison the mind of his son against his mother for his own benefit. He carefully manipulates Henry into seeing things his way and plays on his son’s deepest fears with a great level of success. In particular, Wilfred stresses the very real possibility that Arlette’s decision would split up Henry and his youthful paramour. The neighbouring Shannon Cotterie had stolen the young Henry’s heart and the thought of being separated from her was torment for the boy. With the seeds firmly planted in his son’s mind, Wilfred slowly conspired with Henry and gets him to eventually accept a nefarious plan. The only way to prevent Arlette from destroying their idyllic lives was to remove her from the picture completely. Once Wilfred has convinced Henry that there was no other way to do this, he is eventually talked into the committing the act of matricide. Unfortunately for Wilfred, he discovers that sometimes the dead don’t always stay that way and sometimes they come back for revenge.
As with most of King’s projects, three of the four stories were adapted into films. ‘A Good Marriage’ and ‘Big Driver’ didn’t make much of an impression among audiences with the latter being debuted as a television movie but ‘1922’ made more of an impact when it was released as a Netflix original. The 2017 film was directed by Zak Hilditch and starred Thomas Jane as Wilfred, Molly Parker as Arlette, Dylan Schmid as Henry and Kaitlyn Bernard as Shannon. I found the movie to be quite an effective adaptation that stayed faithful to the written source material that inspired it. While the stories comprising ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ aren’t among Stephen King’s most compelling pieces they are still an entertaining and, at times, a rather grim read. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who gets a kick out of the celebrated author’s bibliography and is looking to get their fix.
Quote of the Day
Things are never so bad they can't be made worse.
The African Queen
Greetings, ‘Seinfeld’ is an American sitcom that ran from 1989 to 1998 and is the product of a creative collaboration from comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. The programme went on for 9 seasons, which were comprised of 180 episodes in total, and became an entertainment sensation during its run with its impact still lingering on in pop culture today. The show stars the aforementioned Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards as its four central leads who are mostly known for their ties to this franchise. Interestingly, the actors’ perceived lack of success in launching other programmes following on from Seinfeld gave rise to the notion of ‘The Seinfeld Curse’ in which the careers of those associate with the series were doomed to stagnate. Other actors involved in ‘Seinfeld’ include Wayne Knight, Barney Martin, Liz Sheridan, Estelle Harris and Jerry Stiller to name a few of the many who came to work on the series. The music was conducted by Jonathan Wolff who often interspersed Jazz and Blues into the sitcom.
The show begins with best friends Jerry Seinfeld, a stand-up comedian, and George Costanza, a real estate broker, in a New York City luncheonette as they discuss mundane topics. That particular morning they are having a much more in depth conversation about the placement of George’s shirt buttons than is warranted, highlighting early on the show’s intention to be humorous about workaday things and the minutia of daily life. The topic then switches over to a woman called Laura who Jerry had met during one of his stand up acts in Michigan. She is coming to visit New York and would like to see Jerry again when she arrives which causes him to wonder if her intentions are romantic in nature. Jerry and George put their heads together and try to analyse Laura’s previous behaviour to determine whether it is a platonic meeting or if something more could be gleamed from it. The following evening Jerry also tries to get a viewpoint on the situation from his eccentric neighbour Kramer whose opinions don’t clarify it much further.
Rather, it seems Kramer is more interested in lounging about in the neighbouring apartment and raiding Jerry’s fridge than of being any potential use. Jerry receives a phone call from Laura. She asks if she can stay at his place over the weekend when she lands in the city to which he, becoming increasingly convinced she is sending signals, agrees. Laura meets Jerry at the airport and he brings her back to his place where she gets herself comfortable by removing her shoes, discards excess clothing and partakes in his offering of wine. While she dims the lights Jerry makes up his mind that she is interested in him and he prepares to make his move. As he does, Laura receives a phone call from an unidentified person that she answers. Laura advises Jerry to never get engaged once the phone call is over and inadvertently solves his dilemma. With no possibility of pursuing romance, an annoyed Jerry realises he is stuck hosting a woman he has no other interest in for the rest of the weekend.
The pilot episode is a bit strange as it includes three of the main characters including Kramer, who became the breakout character thanks to his crazed shenanigans and slapstick routine, but it is missing the fourth member. Julia’s Elaine Benes was not present as the ‘woman character’ in the group as this was originally going to be played by another actress named Lee Garlington who appeared in the pilot as a waitress but was written out of the programme from then on. While I liked the series and can see the mass appeal of it, ‘Seinfeld’ declined in quality in my opinion after Larry David left with the characters steadily becoming caricatures of themselves. The much anticipated finale is also a divisive aspect among fans as while it had good calls backs to previous seasons, which I appreciated, it is effectively a glorified clip show in which the main characters oddly have little to do and are arguably not the main focus of the plot. Nonetheless, I’m glad I gave the series a watch but would certainly note that it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes.
Quote of the Day
I am God of the new world!
Light Yagami / Kira
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
Greetings, ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.’ is a 2023 film directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and is based on Judy Blume’s 1970 novel which shares the same name. Fremon Craig has been working in the entertainment industry since the 2000s as a scriptwriter. She had only directed one other movie prior to this latest instalment which was ‘The Edge of Seventeen’, a feature film that came out in 2016. ‘Are you There God?’, being a coming of age story, mainly rests on the shoulders of young actors and actresses who do a terrific job in their roles. The titular Margaret Simon is portrayed by Abby Ryder Fortson who would mostly be known for her work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Cassie Lang, daughter of Ant-Man’s alter ego Scott Lang. Other young stars include Elle Graham, Amari Alexis Price, Katherine Kupferer and Isol Young. Aside from the child actors, it does have a more established cast as well which consists of Rachael McAdams, Kathy Bates and Benny Safdie to name a few. Hollywood stalwart Hans Zimmer, who is partially famed for his collaborations with Christopher Nolan, conducted the score.
The plot begins in 1970 with an 11 year old Margaret who is enjoying her childhood in New York City with her parents, an inter-faith married couple named Barbara and Herb. Her mother is Christian while her father is Jewish and Margaret is currently not prescribing to any particular religion herself. Margaret is very close with her grandmother, called Sylvia, who lives in the city as well but her life takes an unanticipated turn when Herb informs his daughter that he received a promotion that will require the family to move to a New Jersey suburb. Margaret is distraught at the news which will force her to leave her grandmother and school friends behind. It also causes her to fret about having to form another social circle from scratch in her new home. At this point, the uneasy Margaret decides to reach out to God from the sanctuary of her room about her internal emotional struggles and lays all her hopes, concerns and dreams on Him.
Despite all her handwringing, some of Margaret’s concerns dissipate early on into the move when an inquisitive neighbour named Nancy Wheeler introduces herself to the new girl and quickly befriends her. From there, Nancy welcomes Margaret into her friend group which is made up of Janine Loomis and Gretchen Potter and they begin drafting rules for membership into their little club that they all must adhere too. Margaret encounters some more of her future classmates through socializing with this new found friend group. This includes a particular boy called Moose, who is quite plain, that she takes a shine too although the other girls overlook him as they swoon over the popular boy of Philip. As part of a yearlong assignment, Mr Benedict, Margaret’s teacher, encourages her to investigate into her family’s differing faiths once it is revealed that she doesn’t celebrate the holidays for that very reason. Margaret agrees, putting herself on a road to discovering the religious beliefs of both her parents and uncovering some long held divisive intolerances in her extended family.
While I went into this one with no real expectations, I left the theatre a satisfied customer as I had very much enjoyed it despite not being a member of the target audience the movie would primarily be catering for. This, in my mind at least, would mostly be for younger girls entering the realm of womanhood and women who wanted a nostalgic throwback to the heydays of their childhood in the 70s. Most of this appreciation was to do with the likeability of Margaret Simon, who made for an intriguing and in some ways relatable heroine, as well as the humorous script which kept things light when it needed to be. The film was well received by critics but unfortunately bombed at the Box Office in what has been a challenging year for Tinsel Town with significant titles such as ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ flopping. On a side note, the name ‘Nancy Wheeler’ had rung a bell immediately upon hearing it but it appears, after some research, that the monster hunting ‘Strangers Things’ counterpart wasn’t named in homage to this earlier character but the naming was merely the result of coincidence.
Quote of the Day
I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
A Shot in the Dark
Tear Along the Dotted Line
Greetings, ‘Tear Along the Dotted Line’ is an adult animated Italian show and a Netflix original that was created by Roman cartoonist Michele Rech, better known by his alias Zerocalcare. The unusual pen name means ‘zero lime scale’ in Italian which Michele was apparently inspired to don after listening to an advert jingle for a descaler product and, wanting to join in on an online debate quickly, he put that down as his user name which has stuck with him ever since. The series is comprised of 6 episodes and was released in 2021, many years after Michele became known for his comics such as ‘The Armadillo’s Prophecy’ which was also adapted for the screen into a live action film. Michele voices a fictionalized caricature of himself in the Italian version of the series but as for the English dub, Adam Rhys Dee uses his voice talents to cover most roles in the show. I’ve been most impressed by Adam’s performance as he is able to deliver the comedic lines flawlessly and hit the more emotional moments perfectly when required of him. The music was composed by Italian singer Giancane.
The story follows the day to day routine of Zero, an awkward cartoonist with not much of a social life to brag of. The situation isn’t helped by his own tendency to be a self-imposed hermit and his lethargic refusal to answer phone calls from even the closet of his friends. Nonetheless, he is an artistic soul that is fuelled by a vivid if neurotic imagination. For instance, he has conjured up in his mind an armadillo which serves as a personification of his own conscience and he is often humorously talked down to or scolded by this imaginary mammal. When not interacting with fictitious beings or locking himself in his apartment, Zero is hanging out with his friends Sarah and Secco. The former is an aspiring teacher while the latter is a gambling addict with no job to speak of and an unhealthy obsession with ice cream. Zero and his friends are meeting up to travel to Biella in the north of Italy for reasons that aren’t revealed to the viewer.
All the audience are aware of is Zero’s fanatical insistence in being punctual so the trio can get to Biella in good time. Naturally they encounter setbacks such as Zero’s car breaking down which he feels woefully unequipped to fix himself despite being an adult man. There is, however, a lingering and unspoken sense of subtle unease as they get closer to their destination. During the course of the day, Zero reminisces about his childhood years and young adulthood in which he has some fond memories to think back on but a reasonable amount of personal failings too that he dwells on. One of the most prominent regrets he admits to himself during his narration is that he never asked out Alice, a friend he always had a crush on. Despite the undeniable chemistry between them the two simply never evolved successfully into a relationship and the pieces slowly begin to fall into place for the audience as the non-linear narrative weaves together a tragic story.
I really enjoyed this unusual series and found myself hooked very early on by the first few minutes in the opening episode. It is full of nerdy pop culture references and the self-depreciating Zero’s humour is quite sharp, releasing a rapid barrage of jokes that can easily fly under the radar. Like Bojack, one of my other favourite shows, it does feature anthropomorphised animals and humans living together but it isn’t really clear whether this is part of Zero’s imagination or not. Asides from that similarity, they are both also brilliant in blending emotional scenes and effective humour together without any awkward shifts between the two. I also appreciate the way it was narrated with flashbacks giving an idea of who these characters are and it does a great job of building up a sense of mystery about their journey. ‘Tear Along the Dotted Line’ is certainly a show I’d recommend and there is also a much more politically inspired follow up series that I am currently watching, entitled ‘This World Can’t Tear Me Down’, that seems to so far to be of the same high standard as the first season.
Quote of the Day
The Naked Gun