When you think of rock, who comes to mind? When you’re browsing through Spotify, or Apple Music, who comes up in your shuffle rotation? Forget your mainstream artists who release the same music and perform at those annual cringe-fests; you need some flavor in your life. You need a little funk, a little jazz, and a charming rock star to swoon over. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce y’all to Andrés Aparicio.
My first exposure to Andrés began sometime last year, and the more I listened to his music, I could tell that Andrés was gonna be a rad up-and-coming artist. Once I managed to reach out to Andrés, I realized how much of a super down to earth guy he is, and with his sense of taste and style, I knew I’d love to ask him a few questions about his work.
Last year proved to be massively difficult for a lot of people, and it definitely took a toll on musicians who lost world tours, or performances at music festivals. I asked Andrés how last year went for him personally and as an artist. Andrés said, “Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. I was stoked that I had plenty of time to write a new album!” Writing a new album is impressive, but that isn’t all that Andrés has been up to. Since 2020, Andrés has also managed to put out new original music, new merch (facemasks included), held some socially distanced performances, and even conducted his own Q&A session live on Instagram! Andrés managed to make the most of the year, as the chaotic year was a blessing in disguise in some ways. “To be completely honest, I’m very grateful for the break,” Andrés said. “I just want to use it as a time to write and record a new album and take the time to make new music videos.”
When it comes to music videos, Andrés has the most fun with it. A lot of his music videos are references to cool media from pop culture, like where Andrés dresses up as Archie Andrew and brings the whole gang from Riverdale to the movies in his music video for High School. He does another where his friends jam in a car in a That’s 70s Show style of fashion for his Bad Boy music video. His videos are fun, and you can tell the man has fun putting out content like this for his fans, both for the die-hard fans of his music and fans of the shows he dresses up for!
Archie and Fez aside, his alter egos aren’t the only things that make his music stand out. It really means something to me when another Latinx artist manages to delve into the rock music genre, and really rock at it. It’s more than inspiring; it really brings me hope for what music will be like for young kids that come from Latin heritage. I asked Andrés what it was like to sort of create a barrier-less genre and collaborate with former lead singer of the rock band Dance Gavin Dance not once, but twice.
“I just kept working hard at my own music, and eventually I gained the interest of a few fellow peers,” Andrés said. “Ultimately, it’s always been a process of working hard and putting out music that you’re proud of and working hard to promote it via shows, tours, videos, and the internet.”
After getting to listen to more and more of his music, I found myself jamming to his album Heroes, Villains, and all that Jazz the most. I wondered a few things; firstly, how fun would it be to wear a spandex supersuit for an album photoshoot? Secondly, how BIG of a superhero fan is Andrés?
I asked the hard questions; pulled zero punches. I asked what superhero team he’d prefer to have travel alongside him in a tour bus as a security team (hypothetically, you know, post-pandemic). His response?
“Man…Teen Titans all day. But, more importantly…Tim Drake as Red Robin, Cassie as Wonder Girl, and Conner Kent as Superboy. Those Teen Titans.” Andrés is a DC fan! That’s rad! “I’m a huge DC fan. Shit, Red Hood, Starfire, and Arsenal, that would be tight too.”
Hell yeah, it would! I also managed to ask Andrés if there are any upcoming projects or music that he’d be willing to tease. Turns out, he had something! That’s right, an exclusive here at Stars and Monsters! “I plan on releasing a new album this year! The DIY Astronaut!”
There you have it folks! Stay tuned for the new album by Andrés, The DIY Astronaut, and in the meantime, check out his music and merch here.
I want to thank all of my readers who have supported Stars and Monsters and our blog site this far into the year. It began as a small endeavor to make use of a writer’s free time, and it became something more. Between discussions about books and comics to interviews with inspirational connections I’ve made, I knew there was nowhere else to go but up from here. Thankfully, that’s where we are headed now, thanks to my guest on this week’s blog post.
This week, I had the privilege of being able to interview someone very special; someone who has not only garnered so much internet fame and success in the music industry as an independent artist, but has also become an inspiration by fighting through dark battles, slandered reputations, and a chronic illness that has made living in a post-pandemic world a lot harder for her this year in 2020. Her name is Jessa Furches, of the singing duo, the Furches Twins.
Jessa Furches: A Star
From Greensboro, North Carolina, Jessa and her twin sister Gwynne were both thrust into stardom and music at such a young age. When they were both only four years old, the Furches twins were brought into community theatre year after year, partaking in loads of different productions.
“The Wizard of Oz and the Music Man were always my favorite movies,” Jessa said, “and after I learned how to sing songs from the Wizard of Oz, we auditioned in community theatre productions for six years, and we did it until we were twelve years old.” They did Wizard of Oz every year, with Gwynne and Jessa both given identical roles as the Gatekeeper, having the two girls stand and walk side by side in unison. Audiences loved the twist in the character, and from there, the twins knew music was their calling.
Following those years, Jessa and her sister became victims of severely cruel bullying in middle school and high school. Between being made fun of for her body image, being called flat chested, or flat-assed, and being called too skinny, or ugly, nothing hurt Jessa more than being ridiculed and made fun of for her love of Michael Jackson. “People were not only mean to me, they were nasty,” Jessa described. “Around 2010, I had no group of friends to fit in with. The only ‘friends’ I had, told me I needed to eat cheeseburgers…they were the only friends I had because nobody else gave me a chance, and the ones we had bullied us.” There was little to no help given to the twins. Even when Jessa and her sister had to switch schools in the 8th grade in hopes of ending the bullying and harassment, nothing had changed. It got severely worse; it got so bad that Jessa and Gwynne had to fake an entire fight with each other during gym glass so they would be suspended and leave school. It was what they needed to do to get out of the awful environment. “One of the preppy, popular students encouraged the other students to yell and shout nasty, incestuous remarks about us, about my sexuality, and about my issues with my own self-harm. They’d target me when I was alone, asking ‘What do you like to do, cut yourself?'” This was something Jessa struggled with for the entirety of her teen years, up until she was 18 years old. By the time high school came around, kids were only more cruel.
One of the things that got Jessa through the harsh mean girls and hating trolls of those adolescent years was the fact that her twin sister, Gwynne, was by her side. “I vividly remember a guy who’d bully us in a class with Gwynne and I, where him and three other guys got the whole class to say ‘You don’t belong here! You need to go back to where you came from!’ And Gwynne and I just sat next to each other. Having each other made it easier for sure.” The bond that Jessa and Gwynne share, not only as twins, but as friends, is something that has saved these twins time and time again. Seeing their love and loyalty to one another brought tears to my eyes as we discussed Jessa’s childhood growing up.
Jessa and I went on to talk about what motivated and inspired her. “I adored Michael Jackson’s music,” Jessa said. “See, when I was ten, my dad left us. It was a huge blessing in disguise, to not have him around.“ He left a woman who loved him for 14 years and her two chronically-ill children, so I’d be inclined to agree as well. Jessa went on, explaining how her role model shifted when Michael Jackson’s Thriller came on the radio one night. “My mom was all like, ‘Listen to this! He is a legend!'” Jessa’s mother began to share all of his different albums with her and Gwynne, and played all of his music videos for them. Michael Jackson and everything he was became a safe haven for Jessa. “I’d cry by his posters, wondering why he’d gone, and my mother would hold me and, with tears in her eyes, she’d say ‘Listen to Michael; Keep the faith.'” He was always meant to be placed in her path, and it was Jessa’s single mother who gave her someone great to look up to.
Michael continues to be one of Jessa’s biggest influences in her music career. From when she was just starting out in choir, taking after Jackson himself to not sight-read sheet music, to drawing vocal influences in her music and covers of pop songs and classic ballads, her stylistic voice is what got Jessa and her sister the internet fame and stardom that launched their music career. They started uploading to YouTube, creating singing videos, and gained a following. By 2015, the Furches Twins had 100k subscribers on YouTube channel, and a combined Instagram follower count of over 900,000 followers. The two had garnered so much recognition from their music covers on social media, the twins were even able to sign with a record label in North Carolina called Othaz Records. Since then, Jessa has managed to begin writing and creating her own original music as a solo unsigned music artist, with new music available on YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify.
Gwynne Furches – My Other Half
When Jessa told me about her music endeavors as a solo artist, I asked about her sister, Gwynne. After a traumatic vehicular car accident that cost someone their life last year, Gwynne was charged with a felony, and it shook the Furches family in ways that are almost beyond words. When asked about the night Jessa got the news of the incident, she said, “I didn’t know what was going on. My girlfriend at the time woke me up, because I was asleep. I was confused, and went to the hospital and received the tragic news.” As we talked, I realized we were dredging up memories that were best left alone, but Jessa faced this heartbreaking event in her life, and she reaffirmed that she was willing to confront this with me during the interview. She asked me to include the following statement from her:
“I, myself, and Gwynne as well, know what she has done, and she made a horrible mistake, but it was an accident. She’s willing to do whatever she has to do, however amount of times, for the family of who was hurt. I support my sister, but I do not support her actions on that night.”
With that, I ask my readers to be kind, considerate, and continue to help each other move passed horrible traumas, regardless of what they may be. As I told Jessa, 2020 has been a year that’s required so much reevaluation and insight into ourselves, that even facing the most discomforting moments are meant to better us and, eventually, others around us.
Admittedly, I shed a few tears as Jessa and I talked about her sister. As someone who has an older sister, I dread the possibility of losing her. With Jessa’s sister also being her twin, I wondered if, despite everything, she still feels as close to her sister as before. “I will always feel close to her,” she said, “no matter where she’s at. She is my other half. I cannot think of one moment when my world fell apart…other than that horrible tragedy that could have been prevented.”
With all of these sudden changes in Jessa’s life, between what changed for her personally, and the sudden changes that took place in our world this year, 2020 was all around a drastic shift in perspective and awareness. Jessa mentioned her desire to go and help make a difference with recent protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, to the racial conflicts and broken tension in the nation, and the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I mentioned, she and her sister have chronic illnesses. “Withcystic fibrosis, being immunocompromised makes things difficult for me,” she mentioned, “it’s hard to go to the grocery store, or go to work, and it’s been even harder because of the conflicts going on right now. I wish I could go and protest so much.“ I asked about her condition, and whether the pandemic has caused any issues in getting treatment. Thankfully, Jessa is still able to treat her cystic fibrosis twice a day, for twenty minutes a day. Because of her condition, however, leaving her home becomes quite difficult. Thankfully, her mother has been able to remind her to continue to move forward day in and day out. “‘You’ve got to keep going’ she’d always say. It’s why I won’t give up on this; the Black Lives Matter movement, the fight against COVID-19, the bullying and conflicts. It’s why I’ve continued to make music.”
One of Us
So much lies within Jessa Furches. Between her passions and love that she brings into the world, and her adoration of legends like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Marilynn Monroe, she continues to forge success triumphantly. “Marilynn Monroe was trying to be taken seriously as an actress instead of a sex symbol. I myself want to be taken seriously as a singer, and not just a sex symbol. In that regard, I see myself in her, but I began to make money selling my photos of myself and other NSFW content.” In a post-pandemic world, jobs have become more difficult to come by, and whether it’s the new gig-economy that saves our asses, or the success of platforms like OnlyFans, people need lucrative ways to maintain sustainable income. For Jessa, it was more about empowerment for herself more than anything else. “Of course it’s empowering. It’s less about the money, but it has been good to save up for my family and such. The money doesn’t bring me happiness; the rich that comes from it means nothing when it feels like nobody cares about you.”
That’s the stigma with OnlyFans, it seems like. More people seem to have a lot more to say about empowered women taking advantage of a platform that allows them to profit off of their own body and image while maintaining ownership of their work, but keep quiet about the pornographic sites that exploit women and content without any accountability for those who steal from content creators and abuse platforms that way. Just my two cents as a fellow content creator.
Anyway, I lastly wanted to share a final word from Jessa Furches, who was so kind enough to say to my readers.
“I want whoever is taking the time to read my story, who may be a little inspired, or feel like they can relate to, we all deserve love, and we all deserve to be accepted. I ask that you all take care of each other, take care of yourselves, and wear a mask. I’m compromised with cystic fibrosis, and it’s BORING, and it’s lonely. Always worry about your families, friends, those around you, including your pets, and God bless all of you. So much love, no matter where you are, and who you are, and stay safe.”
I agree. Be sure to follow Jessa Furches on Instagram, YouTube, and OnlyFans, and check out her single, L.O.V.E, available on iTunes and Spotify now. If you’re a longtime fan of hers, then y’all will be pleased to hear, exclusively here at Stars and Monsters, that she’s got an upcoming new single being released sometime in November 27th, titled Seeing is Believing.
And, again folks, stay safe, and stay lovely to one another.
Hi, folks! I’m back, after a long week and an even longer Wednesday. After the blog was updated late last week, I had hoped to get back on track with uploading weekly every Wednesday. That being said, I officially have been brought back into my day job and am back as a full time employee, er, essential worker, whatever you’d like to call it. With that, my blog’s weekly schedule with be a little less consistent, but ideally will still be occurring weekly. I have more of a fluff piece over a fluffy animated series. This one is a neat little Mandarin anime, a Netflix Original titled Scissor Seven.
Mild Spoilers Ahead!
I’m sure at least one of my readers is going to ask themselves “Gee, I wonder where this guy found this obscure anime?” and to be quite honest, there’s always this innate urge to delve into something obscure. For some, that may be Neon Genesis: Evangelion, or maybe it’s CowboyBepop, or even the wickedly metal and weird anime series Devilman. Today, after it’s remarkably well received second season debuted, I decided to shed some light on the beautiful obscurity that is Scissor Seven. It follows the lead, Seven, as he makes his way as a skilled barber and aspiring assassin, with his telekinetically controlled pair of scissors, as he pairs up with Da Bao (Seven’s mentor, also is a chicken) and other wacky characters, ranging from quirky Chicken Island locals to dangerously armed foes and cyborg scientists. Despite the action set pieces and epic clashes executed in each short episode, the series also delivers lighthearted humor and witty casual storytelling.
On paper, Scissor Seven may not make its targeted audience very clear to most viewers, but that’s the beauty of the series; it’ll draw you back in time after time with a laid-back narrative and goofy plot points, but the fun kind! It’s not like the show is comprised of filler or anything, because the stakes never arise from the high tense action sequences. No, no, that’s the misconception of this slice of life animated series. No, the scenes with the most impact are usually the quieter moments, the calmness and the relaxing aspect that comes from a series that pokes fun of itself, while also creating heartwarming character development. It comes from moments like Seven using his expertise in cutting hair and assassinations to cut a young bride’s hair on her wedding day, or turning down the contract to kill a young girl, whose solution to her terminal illness was to hire a killer to put her out of her own misery. Little things like this. It really tugs at your heartstrings in the best way possible.
Some of the best action sequences are the ones where the animation artists have the most fun with it. You can see the passion put into a project like this anime, and it definitely shows from the immense creativity put into shots, like the one above. A duel in which Seven utilizes a friend/rival of sorts to take on an enemy in classic Street Fighter style art, or a guitar playing dog named Mad Bark using rock as a form of fighting, are just a few of the awesome creative directions that this series has taken to make the “Shonen” aspect of the series some of the best content I’ve seen in a really long time.
This show has the prettiest presentation of artsy shots like this one up above, and even better music, namely Mad Bark’s romantic rock ballad that he sings to his feline love interest, and the intro/outro music themes. After having binged the entire first season, you can see how the team behind the series can manage to create such gorgeous set pieces and wonderful music without the largest budget in the world. This ain’t no Naruto or My Hero Academia, but it’s a darn good series that can rival those shows by its execution in art alone.
Now, with the “slice of life” aspect covered, let’s talk about the action that satiates my hunger for stone-cold anime fights. Again, this isn’t a typical Shonen written by a big budget studio. That being said, the animation team does not hold back when creating action sequences to remind you of why you stuck around in the first place. The action is seamless, the music is always perfectly matched with the stunt choreography, and the variety of characters and character designs allow for the writers to utilize consistently fresh action after every 12 minute episode. Between each type of fighter that is introduced in the series, there is at least enough character development hold up at least four seasons of this action anime, with the slice of life aspect drizzled all over, and to be quite honest, I hope this series continues with the most success. Give it a peek if you’re able to on Netflix, because if this show didn’t already cross your radar at some point this year, it definitely needs to be.
Hope y’all have been doing alright, as well. Times are really weird right now and we’re all doing what we can do v i b e 💫 and decompress to relax. If any of y’all are looking for a good Twitch stream to check out some chill vibes and fresh gameplay of things like Fortnite, y’all gotta check out my boy at twitch.tv/drippyxthree. I also have a new song out, the first time I’ve done any music in 2020! It’s a new wave, folks, and it’s always good to mellow out the best y’all can. Stay safe, and stay toasty, y’all 🤙🏽
If Gods blessed you with powers, would that make you one? Or does that just place you on a tier-level below the source of your abilities? It’s okay, don’t dwell on the existential question for too long, because thankfully we’ve got the answers for you. Hi, folks, and thank you for being patient with this anticipated post (just getting back to the day job grind) and welcome to my first ever Official Stars and Monsters comic review!
I was honored to be offered an opportunity to review the comic series Leaders of the Free World by one of the creative minds behind it, Corey Pruitt (better known as Task on Twitter) and quite frankly, it might have been the one of my most exciting experiences since the initial launch of this blog. Task is not only a comic writer, but also a podcast host on Supersuit Show, but also a major source of influence in the vortex that is the comic twitter community (Spider-Man fans hate Spider-Man, it’s the truth!) Task allowed me to preview his first two issues of his series, drawn by Elijah Johnson (also known as @artbyatlas0 on Twitter), and share some of my thoughts on Leaders of the Free World #1 and #2. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
I dove right into the first issue with the same initial thought that new readers to any series worry about; “Will I be overwhelmed by the world that was built before me?” I suppose the breakdown of the Free World mythos stems from the origin of the Godsend, a group of super-powered gods who arrived to the planet, each instilling themselves in one nation, and essentially committing to their nation’s image, government policies. In return, the Godsend provided tech and knowledge to help advance the world, which inadvertently birthed a new generation of super-powered beings: the Archetypes, a less powerful group of people who created more conflict than safety in the world. After a war killed a third of the world’s population, the Godsend issued laws to limit an Archetype’s activity to only their respective country. This is the lore of Leaders of the Free World.
This series starts with an excellent brief look at the world’s history in the form of a history class, narrated by Surreal, a teenage Asian-American descendant of the an ancient god known as the Monkey King. He fits every relatable aspect of being a teen whose heritage holds more power than they realize. With great power comes great responsibility, and thankfully, we don’t have another Uncle Ben-esque character to reminds Surreal of that. Instead, he meets Eco, the Son of Gaia, who is a superstar wrestler with abilities drawn from, well, Gaia. When these two characters meet and share scenes together, there’s definitely an undeniable chemistry between the two when it comes to the hilarity in their bantering back and forth, and Eco’s unconditional support towards Surreal. The young Monkey King doesn’t know his own true worth yet, and thankfully, the powerful and wise Eco stands beside him from the very beginning, showing a kind of trust that makes me reminisce about the days when Luke Cage and Iron Fist teamed up in Marvel’s Heroes for Hire series.
As I continued through the issue, I enjoyed the spotlight on these two characters a lot, while also finding myself more enthralled by the joy in seeing Surreal’s old school hip hop playlist scattered across text-boxes in the comic. It creates an entertainingly new and fun experience in a comic book that feels as authentic as a classic comic series as you go through each panel. It was one of the things I was most excited about discussing with Task. When asked where the inspiration for this came from, Task said, “I always listen to music when I write. So I thought ‘What if each issue had its own soundtrack?’ It’s a way for the reader to see where my headspace was at during the creative process.” Nicely done, Task. We love it.
One of my other favorite story threads in this issue specifically included the introduction of Moonshine, the wildly erratic and drunken female superhero whose abilities appear to rival even Superman. It was just one of the many things I enjoyed in this first issue, and I could easily list more, but I have LOTS more to gush about!
Aright folks, this is my favorite issue of the two for sure! In Leaders of the Free World #2, we are introduced to my absolute pairing of characters in this set universe. Like Ying and Yang, we meet Medic and Doctor Seance. Medic is, well…if God was a woman, to put it perfectly. As an angel of war and peace, she’s a balance between life and death. In nothing but merely scrubs, she manages to kick enough ass to make Jessica Jones second guess her career as a comic book badass. Alongside her is Doctor Seance, an evil necromancer whose character visual design homages aspects of Robbie Reyes’s Ghost Rider, with a symbiotic relationship to Medic like that of Venom, and a sinister and calculating villain mind that crosses between Lex Luthor and the Batman Who Laughs. These two characters, joined together by a holy and flaming halo over Medic’s head, embark on a quest to join the other lead heroes as they prepare for a crisis of epic proportions.
This, however, prompted me to ask Task about the bonds between the various characters, like the development between Surreal and Eco, or between Medic and Doctor Seance. Task’s response was, “When I came up with the characters I had to ask myself ‘Who would get along the most? Who would hate each other?’ Surreal and Eco are both mythical beings born into a life that they never asked for. So they relate to each other the most. Medic and Seance have history that will be explored throughout the series. I don’t want to reveal everything now but let’s just say you will be surprised.”
As I continued on in this issue, completely enthralled by the concept of Medic and Doctor Seance (and Surreal’s Mix scattered through this issue as well to help set the tone), we soon learn more about the hardships that some of these characters hold in their personal lives. Medic, being a superhero and all that, is still a medical doctor, and has a duty to both the world she saves and the world she inhabits. When she turns to work from battle, she unfortunately fails to save her patient’s life. She storms out, completely broken, and her coworker consoles her by stating a sad, but accurate fact of life. She says, “You can’t save everyone all the time.” When I read this comic panel, it was then that I knew this was going to continue to become a really powerful story, with a really exceptional writer behind this stunning and beautiful line work. And, just as the moment on the page was beautifully had, it was interrupted by a beautifully nostalgic shot…
*CUE FREEZE FRAME*
The story returns to the initial group, with Surreal. Eco, Tech-Neek, and Moonshine briefly meeting, but it’s just as an invasion brews in the sky above them. From that, to their hilarious first encounter with Doctor Seance, we get really funny dialogue, awesome action sequences, and super dope nostalgic homages to things in nature of, say, giant mechas, or Power Rangers, or maybe even Dragon Ball Z, or just plenty of West Coast classics to keep the action seamless like a swift breeze under Surreal’s feet. Another one of my favorite shots out of this back half of this issue is most definitely Eco’s greeting to the invaders, known as the ominous Outreach. We get some top-tier Samoan representation, some more amazing character moments amidst the action, and an epic finale shot that may tease an epic clash between two of the most powerful beings on the team. Both beautiful and strong women, might I add.
One of my last questions, more of a fanboy-gushing moment, was me asking about what could be teased to other fans of this series, whether it be epic shonen-styled fight scenes between certain highly powerful characters, or the brief tease of the mysterious Mr. Excellent. Task answered with, “I’m trying to make this world seem as big and alive that I can. And that there’s more going on than what is happening in the books. Mr. Excellent’s story will lead to another story arch that I am excited to share. And it’s funny how you brought up the fights with Lunar because let’s just say she’s not entirely sold on the idea of this team up yet. Where she comes from she reigns over these beings, not collaborate with them. Issue 3 is on the way folks. Stay tuned.”
Well done, Free World. You have a special place in my love for comics now, and I cannot wait to see what an amazing franchise this becomes soon.
No weekly plugs this week, folks. Not like I usually do, I mean. No, all I want to suggest to my readers is to check out this new comic book ASAP. This is seriously one of the most enjoyable comic reads I’ve had in a very long time, for sure. It’s pretty amazing, and the series is available on Comixology right now, or, if you’d like, you can follow the writer @uptotask, or the artist @artbyatlas0 on Twitter.
Switchin’ up my outro like I usually do too, folks. This time, I’m quoting Gamer Presidential Candidate, Mr. Ace Watkins.
Hi, folks. Welcome back! Just your friendly neighborhood vibe-loving mystic sage back with another message from the stars! Or, if you prefer, just another self-proclaimed freelance writer writing to celebrate Mother’s Day today. That’s right, folks, this one goes out to your moms out there.
This is a love letter to all moms; all moms who, today, feel incredibly special, but tend to later forget how special they are.
This is for enduring the nine months of childbearing, stomach-kicking, and craving-inducing babies that moms goes through.
This is for the cradling and rocking of our infant selves as we quiet our cries, to bask in the sound of a sweet motherly song.
Thanks, for if it weren’t for you, we’d have one less pair of shoulders to cry on when needed.
Thanks, for the warm hugs as we say goodbye and goodnight at the end of each day.
And thanks, for the sweet relief of inviting scents of delicacies and warm treats for us at the start of each day.
This is for tilting our chins up, when we are uncertain, as we are reassured with a gentle smile.
This is for being the backbone of our lives, as we struggle, and eventually, continue to build the foundation of ourselves.
This is for those who walk alongside us, with care and kindness, as we embark onward without a clue in the world.
And even when the lights are turned off, and trifling terrors and malicious menaces haunt our naive selves, mothers somehow show us the light within the dark.
The stars, and the moons, and all of the celestial bodies up above, and somehow, each of us found a mother.
Mothers, motherly souls, and others who have adopted the mom-aesthetic to carry out the strength and love that have helped us grow, blossom, and rejuvenate this world,
This is a love letter to you.
Those who are lucky enough to be with their mom today, hug them a little tighter today. I want to help share this with anyone who is struggling right now. Spread this message that’s encoded with love, kindness, and an energetically charged motherly hug to those who may or may not be able to see their mother today. I promise you, they love you. And they’re with you. ✨💫
Hi again, folks. Hope everyone is doing alright these days. It feels like anytime somebody ever looks at a screen of any sort, we kind of get lost in this dark and massively draining vortex of, like, chaotic fear and anxiety. There’s always something to have to “look out” for, so to speak, anytime we log onto the Facegram or Tweet Tok or Snapbook. All of the social media platforms are all kind of the same again anyway, you know what I mean? It’s hard to find content that’s worth viewing and taking in, so here are some things that I’ve come across that I think is worth sharing!
“The Midnight Gospel”
One of the most recent things to drop this past week was The Midnight Gospel, an animated series from the creative minds behind Adventure Time. The series follows Clancy, a purple witch boy, as he uses a thick-lipped universe simulator to traverse across space and time to converse with the denizens of these imaginative and psychedelic looking realms, drawn by Pendleton Ward. Each episode follows the format of an interview for Clancy’s spacecast; It goes out into space!
I highly recommend this series, as it’s a quick eight-episode binge, each being 22 minutes long. Despite Ward’s background in kids animation, this series is 100% for you, the adult who has lost their inner child. It isn’t just cute doodles and colors that kids would enjoy on a Saturday morning; it’s got vulgar ass language! This series is real. It literally takes audio from podcast recording sessions between Duncan Tressell, real-life podcast host, and his guests as they discuss the lessons learned from reminiscing about discovered truths and philosophies as they explore spirituality and acid trips. The series dropped exactly when it needed to, as it explores the mental toll on individuals as they explore this existential realm, which many viewers will find to be both challenging and terrifying to watch during the isolation as the series premiered. That being said, one can enjoy The Midnight Gospel as a stoner-treat, while others who are looking for a little guidance in their future may find answers to the universe they didn’t think to find in this series.
Speaking of guidance, I’ve had some guidance in taking up meditation! It’s such a fun and excellent hobby for anybody who feels antsy and anxious at home, or not. You don’t have to be flexible, or a yoga master, or any sort of guru in order to learn from the art of meditation; you just need to remember how to breathe. It’s extremely beneficial for one’s mental health as well, which should be at the top of everyone’s priority. Whether you’re at home or not, whether you’re overwhelmed and stressed, or if you’re just bored and tired, then I would suggest checking out Lorie Ladd’s Instagram here, at https://www.instagram.com/lorie_ladd/ You can find a ton of posts about mediating, spiritual guidance, and focusing on your path to good vibes! Lorie knows we need that, and thank goodness we got it! Thanks Lorie!
When it comes to good vibes, though, it’s hard to come by sometimes. Usually the right song or soundtrack can make a good vibe, but the top hits lately have been…lacking, to say the least. These days, I never listen to any mainstream musical artists, unless it’s, like, Chance the Rapper or something. I go off vibes! It’s how I’ve always been. A song has to resonate in a deep frequency within you, while lyrically gives you chills. GUZO’s latest song, “Ken’s Interlude” is a good vaporwave underground hit that for sure needs to be on y’all’s radar. Check it out below!
On a last note, I hope everyone reading is out there being safe and healthy, but most importantly, being gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. Be conscious of others, and of yourself. Self-care is mucho important, folks; never forget that. Much love ✌🏼✨
Hey folks! Hope everyone is having a great week. I know I am! Met up with some great people, just got my first paycheck, have been in a really great state of mind, and have gotten to enjoy some REALLY GOOD television this last week! Just peeped the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Arrow‘s series finale, and I have THOUGHTS! Also came across some good animated shows recently, notably, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.
The show is a Dreamworks show, so expect the beautiful worlds that they create, like She-Ra’s world designs, with a whole other level of fantastical imagination. Kipo is set in a world where humans live underground now, and at first, we don’t know why, but quick into the first episode of the show, we learn that the surface world is now overrun by mutated monsters, or “mutes” as they’re referred to in Kipo, or as I like to call them, “the Wonderbeasts”, as per the wholesome title! The mutes are the sole reason for roping me into this new age that Kipo exists in, and you’re amazed EVERY episode when a new mute is debuted, from lumberjack kittens and mafia frogs, to lesbian metalhead snakes and a sentient body of water.
This show also does something I didn’t think would happen for me, which is create another group of friends that I’d love as much as I did with She-Ra‘s group. I fell in love with the dork that is Kipo, the killer smol bean Wolf, and the hilarious pairing of Benson and Dave. They all have such lovely chemistry, going from a group of kids just trying to survive through an adorable post-apocalyptic world to becoming a found family that would fight tooth and nail for each other. Not to mention they are all POC, one is biracial, one is LGBTQ+ AF and I love it!
A reason I stuck with this show, not knowing it should fill my She-Ra shaped hole, is the soundtrack. The music is SO good, and when I say it’s on par with Into the Spider-Verse, I am not exaggerating. The music is hip-hop influenced with some songs taking folk country inspiration and even some rock and R&B too! My favorite thig about this show, which I wished more shows would do, is they acknowledge the dope music that comes on in each sequence by having a character play it off of a cassette tape. It’s smooth i how it transitions from a plot detail of “Oh, I’ve got the PERFECT track for this trip,” to the immersion of an action sequence with hype music, similarly to Spider-Verse and their ost.
As I said before, the action is stellar! No cap, it is by far the most interesting and visually exciting action oriented animation that I’ve seen from an American animation studio since Young Justice, going as far as to almost borrow some anime visual designs as well! After just coming off of MFZK, this show does that thing I loved from that movie, which is do the most dope action sequences with banging music! If there’s any good show that you wanna start that is lighthearted, but carries stacks, while taking you on an wondrous journey of imagination with an amazing setting and fun characters and sick beats, then check out Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeats on Netflix!
Hi there, folks, it’s ya boy. I’m back after a week and, honestly, I feel bad. I told myself I’d post weekly, but I just had a rough time trying to piece together a post last week, so I needed some time to let some ideas mull over. I was tempted to do another Crisis on Infinite Earths post after the Arrowverse crossover ended, but I might hold off on making another big fanboy post about that for a while, just to let things sink in.
Instead, I wanted to talk about what I was aiming to write about last week, which is this animated sci-fi action movie on Netflix called MFKZ. It was originally an animated short called Operation: Blackhead, then a comic series that went by MFKZ, which all got made into this collaborative anime styled movie between a French production company and a Japanese animation studio. It’s directed by the same anime director that worked on Batman: Gotham Knights (which was anime-inspired, at least) and a French rapper.
Now, when you ask anybody about this movie, they’ll tell you one of two things. Either you’ll be told that the movie is a must-see for its visuals and animation style, which I agree with, or you’ll be told to not watch this movie because it’s an incoherent mess of a plot, and a ludicrous waste of time, which is, like, partially true. This movie is an aesthetically pleasing trip with sick visuals and an amazing soundtrack, with the occasionally jarring sequences that are definitely meant to act as a sort of vibe check for the viewers, as a sort of way for the movie to ask “Hey, are you still with us?”
So, if I were to provide a synopsis for MFKZ, I would describe it as sci-fi action/crime thriller about this cartoony kid, Angelino, and his equally cartoony flaming skull headed companion, Vinz, as they endure misadventures through the crime-infested corrupted Dark Meat City, which is this weird urban combination of Los Angeles and São Paulo. We see what it’s like for these two outcasts living in a city with issues like poverty, gang-related crime, and oppressive police forces, all through the perspective of an anxious and self-conscious kid. Looking at the world from this viewpoint makes the movie really enjoyable for the first half of the time, considering how refreshing this sort of environment is for an anime styled flick.
The characters are my one of my favorite bits about this movie, even though some people argue that the characters aren’t written well at all. You’ve got these three, the most goofy looking cartoons, reminding you to not take this movie so seriously, even though there are moments where the movie asks you to do so. With the orange cat named Willy, you’ve got the friend in the trio that is a literal vibe killer, banging on your front door shouting loud enough for your neighbors to hear. He’s the character that is kind of just…in the way of everything? Like, he’s the friend that’s just there, but you go to when you need a favor or something. His first appearance sums this up a lot. Aside from him, you’ve got Vinz, the flaming skull. He’s voiced by Vince Staples, so, cool tidbit there! He is Lino’s best friend (and arguably is in love with Lino, but that’s another conversation) and is sort of the ride-or-die that you grow to rely on. Vinz lives with Lino as they both struggle to make their roommate situation work, which is actually a funny scene with well written irony sprinkled there, but as plot progresses, Vinz sticks by Lino, regardless of what happens, and believe me, a LOT happens. He’s the MVP for sure.
Lino, the hero and prodigal messiah or whatever, is the guy just trying to live his life, and gets thrown into battle with sketchy suit thugs, local street gangs, and a conspiring government made up of aliens in disguise. He’s arguably a poorly written character, but I don’t necessarily agree with this, mainly because while others see his lack of interests and goals make him a bad character, his entire character is written around the fact that he doesn’t know what he wants. There’s this cute anime-looking scene where the trio is resting after a chase sequence with the suited thugs, and as they see shooting stars, Willy asks Lino what he’d wish for, and the guy says “I dunno…I just wanna be a somebody.”
And that’s sort of where Lino’s character is rooted in. He’s anxious because he’s lost his job, he’s on the run all of a sudden after a run-in with thugs in suits (which, after watching the scene during several rewatches, I’m convinced it all happened because Lino was genuinely paranoid and spooked the thugs), and he’s losing control over his life, control over these prophetic visions he gets (which leave him convinced he’s tripping, just like I did my first time watching) and over powers he starts to gain after each violent encounter (these moments are depicted with a shot of his heart bursting into flames in his chest and his eyes grow animal-like, which was actually a really cool detail for each action sequence). Lino is a mess from the start of the movie, because he and Vinz want to leave DMC, but they don’t. Lino says something along the lines of them having “No jobs, no money, no car, ain’t got a shadow of a prayer,” and it sort of sums up Lino’s anxieties. As the movie progresses, we see Lino exhibit these anxious tendencies, starting from an accident and him losing work to gaining these visions, trippin’ out, convincing himself that police and priests are monsters (more on that later), to taking charge in these encounters with thugs, cops, and other adversaries, and you can see the anxieties in those situations shift from him to Vinz, the only other person with him throughout all of this, and Lino ends up, as he so cleverly puts it in the sickest car chase ever, “fucking handling it”.
Okay, I mentioned the visual aesthetics of this movie, but what if I told you that there was LORE? Yes, we get a brief scene at the beginning of the movie that alludes to, like, “plot,” but then the first half really is just focusing on Lino and Vinz getting through everything. Towards the middle of the movie, the plot shoves lore at you by introducing the antagonist, which is a government suit who is actually the leader of an alien race called the Macho (which might be commentary on toxic masculinity, but that could be just me), and we also have the Luchador sequences, where they’re wrestlers, but are also, like, ancient guardians tasked with fighting against evil, but they are waiting on ANY evil to emerge? And they randomly team up with a scientist (who is visually very cartoony, which makes me wonder if using cartoon-looking people is an artistic choice or if there’s lore attached to that too) who defects from the Macho scientists or whatever, and there’s stuff there. Meanwhile, we learn the origin of Lino’s powers, stemming from being half Macho (it’s why he’s a black ball headed cartoon I think) and his mother died at the hands of some enforcer as she protected Lino and his father, who is Macho, but…takes the form of a dog with an eye hanging from his eye socket? So Lino MIGHT BE HALF DOG? ALL UNCLEAR.
See, this is the thing that people begin to complain about. The story makes no sense when you REALLY buckle down and try to digest the lore and plot that’s handed to you after a while, because a lot of it is just weird. Like, you can tell there were a lot of ideas and creative story elements at some point, but they really don’t mesh well after a while. Luckily, none of this is the movie’s strong suit.
The action is why we stay for this film, though, along with the music it’s accompanied by. This is what took me a while to really figure out. The movie is great for so many reasons, while also being stupid. Watching it is most definitely a trip as you start being spooked around the same moments Lino gets spooked with dark visions, trippy visuals, feeling a wave of mild hypnosis with a cleverly done black and white hypnotic sequence, but the real fun lies in the action. As I mentioned, Lino gradually becomes more and more capable with each action sequence, with the first stemming from true paranoia as he takes down threatening thugs stooge-styled to horror music, followed by a sick dubstep fight sequence with Nazi-looking SWAT police (which confuses me because the next action sequence has a normal looking police officer on the street, which might be the first time the local authorities got involved in the antics in the film), and then we get my favorite scene, the ICE CREAM CAR CHASE (the music makes the scene the best, with the synchronizing of the ice cream truck’s music with a sick beat), and, like, a few scenes shot to hip-hop and reggaeton, which ALL are great. Even the songs playing in these character’s downtime rules! It’s calming, it’s urban, it sort of brings the world to life a little more (excluding mythical wrestlers and alien goo monsters).
The soundtrack for the movie really proves to be the highlight of the movie, which really is only enhanced by the action sequences. That being said, the story might’ve been written AROUND those scenes, but I can live with that. Visually, the movie is great, and like I said, there are a lot of cool creative story elements thrown into MFKZ. I wish I could go on about the romantic subtext between Lino and Vinz, the Macho-alien being an analogy for toxic masculinity, and the subliminal details that all seem to allude to entirely different ideas that most viewers would ignore because of the mindfuck that the movie is, but as I went through my notes that I jotted down about the plot during my second viewing of the film, I realized how much of a mess those thoughts are, and as much as I tried to capture and articulate the ideas that MFKZ is trying to express, it’s just so hard to do. So we’ll just say that the movie is a fun time if you maybe, like, smoke a bowl, turn your brain off for an hour and a half, and enjoy the visual trip and sick music.
Anyway, stay tuned next week because I’m gonna go on about ANOTHER amazing animated property that utilizes music in a similarly sick fashion, but maybe better!
Hey there! It’s like the blog says. My name is Sameer Diab, and if you stumbled across this page, you’ll see what I’m all about. I’m a freelance writer and musician. I’ve been making content for almost ten years, but after all this time, I have finally gotten around to placing all of my original content in one place. All of my writing, both fictional and fan-fictional (some of you will eat that up), and all of my music, both original tracks and bootleg remixes, will be found here on this site. On this blog, I’ll be posting my creative content, but old and new, and also cover new shows, movies, books, and a whole lot of good stuff. Stay tuned!