Tag Archives: urban legend

Supernatural (2005- TV Series)

The CW

Status: Ongoing (13 Seasons)

My rating: 5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience/rated TV-14

Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, travel the country in the 1967 Impala that is more home to them than any building has ever had the chance to be. They start out searching for their father who has disappeared while hunting the demon that killed their mother years ago. Along the way, Sam and Dean hunt as well–fighting monsters, ghosts, demons, the stuff of nightmares, and saving people from horrors they can’t even imagine. Sometimes their efforts go utterly unnoticed; other times, they meet incredible people who help them on their journey. Regardless, they always have each other, except for those rare, horrible times when they just don’t. And somewhere along the line, hunting simply becomes who they are–it’s no longer just a revenge mission or a search for their father. Sam and Dean are, quite simply, hunters; they save people, they save the world. A lot.

I’ve put off reviewing Supernatural for, like, 2 years now because I love it so very much, and I know I can never do it justice in a review. So know that first, before I delve into details; this show has my heart in a crazy way that almost no other story ever has, and it has continued to consistently for years now. I couldn’t say exactly what makes this show so incredible, largely because it’s a lot of little, subtle things combined. I love the characters, first and foremost. Jensen and Jared do such an amazing job of getting in their characters’ heads and of portraying them deeply and transparently, as do the immense number of wonderful guest cast members. So much so that, although this is at times a monster-of-the-week kind of show (much less so as you get to later seasons), it manages to be highly character driven. The characters grow and experience a lot of internal conflict over the course of the series as well, which is another thing I love–the show evolves as it goes, so that just when you think they’ve done it all (I mean seriously, we hit the biblical apocalypse in season 5) you find yourself seeing things afresh, finding new frontiers. And the writers do such a great job keeping the balance between all the angst (and yes, here there be angst) with family support and outright humor (e.g., recently in the midst of this big series of episodes focusing on busting into an alternate dimension to save family members–lots of angst and tension–we get a random crossover with Scooby Do that, while darker than typical for the cartoon, is brimming with laughs and fun as well). I guess what I’m trying to say is that Supernatural somehow manages to be a lot more than hot guys fighting scary monsters and saving the world, although yes, it’s definitely that. It’s family and understanding and acceptance and so many things that I long to see more of, and I highly recommend this show.

Created by Eric Kripke/Starring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, & Alexander Calvert/Music by Jay Gruska & Christopher Lennertz

 

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The Schwa Was Here

Author: Neal ShustermanThe Schwa Was Here

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Antsy Bonano can’t remember the first time he met Calvin Schwa, known to one and all as “The Schwa”. But then most folks can’t; the Schwa’s just like that. You can be right next to him and forget he’s even there . . . sort of like he chameleon’s into the surroundings. And he’s hard to even think about for long, your thoughts just sort of wander off to other things. The Schwa has been aware of this circumstance–something Antsy refers to as being “functionally invisible” or “The Schwa Effect”–for most of his life, but it’s only when Antsy notices him enough to actually pay attention that someone finds a way to capitalize on this phenomenon. The two quickly become partners, raking in money from jobs and dares. But even in the midst of his newfound popularity, the Schwa still worries what will happen if his deepest fears come true and he’s forgotten altogether . . . a fear that seems less unlikely the longer Antsy knows him.

Neal Shusterman’s novels are always exceptional and original, and The Schwa Was Here is no exception. This is a delightful middle grade/high school contemporary novel that slips comfortably into the realm of the tall tale, similar to how Louis Sachar and Daniel Pinkwater’s stories tend to. The characters are robust and interesting, and as long as you accept the premise of “The Schwa Effect” the story is absolutely fascinating. It makes you take a slightly different look at daily life and the people around you. Plus there’s that element of mystery scattered throughout. The story ranges from enigmatic to funny, commonplace to philosophical in an instant, examining a variety of situations and relationships and surprising the reader in wonderful ways. Plus, the whole tale is told in Antsy’s delightful Brooklyn tone–his voice is really fun to read. And I love the way he sometimes wanders off topic, clearly illustrating his point about how forgettable the Schwa really is. I would highly recommend The Schwa Was Here to basically anyone, but especially to those who enjoy a fresh, fun look at middle grade stories.

Note: The Schwa Was Here is connected to Shusterman’s Antsy Does Timetechnically it precedes Antsy Does Time–but it’s totally ok to read them in either order. No major spoilers or plot problems either way.

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

Author: Alice Hoffman

In the city of New York, 1911, many strange and unspeakable things are happening. A girl, Coralie, has lived her entire life in the small world of her father’s museum, obedient to this charismatic yet unstable man. Now, at his wish, she is nightly swimming the Hudson River in costume, breeding an urban legend he intends to cash in on. But it is impossible for the smart, headstrong, curious girl Coralie is deep within to remain demure and obedient forever, especially in the face of such injustices as her father puts her through. Across the same city, a young man going by the name of Eddie has fled the darkness and burden of his past: losing his mother to the Russian pogram, watching his father’s seeming cowardice, always being expected to quietly conform. Turning from the ordered Jewish life of his birth, Eddie has gained a measure of freedom, and even beauty through the lens of his camera, yet the past still seems to pursue him. When these two pained, disillusioned souls meet by chance one day, neither could have expected the consequences or the hopes born in that moment.

As with so many of her books, Alice Hoffman does something magical in The Museum of Extraordinary Things. She creates at the border between the real world and the world of magic, between the mundane and the wondrous. In this story, Hoffman honestly, with great historical detail, displays the harsher sides of life in New York in the early 1900s–people put on display or sold for a pittance, workers in brutal conditions for impossibly low wages, and worse. Yet still, somehow, there is a thread of wonder winding throughout the story. I suppose this is the sort of story that makes one believe amazing things are possible, even when life looks darkest. And that love is possible, even for those who are battered, worn, and disillusioned, afraid to even believe in the possibility of love. I would note that this book is fairly graphic in its description of both great and violent tragedies and of sexual and personal abuses–I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 18, maybe even 21. For mature readers, though, I think The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a moving, mysterious story that is fascinating to read.

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Durarara!! (Manga)

DRRRStory: Ryohgo Narita/Character Design: Suzuhito Yasuda/Art: Akiyo Satorigi

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Welcome to Ikebukuro, home of crazy otakus, sketchy doctors, sketchier business dealings, information brokers, urban legends . . . and now home to Mikado Ryuugamine. Mikado–just moved in from the suburbs that the urging of his friend Kida–is rapidly immersed in the excitement of the city. And underlying that excitement is the ubiquitous whisper of the rumored color gang “Dollars.”

This manga adaptation of Ryoho Narita’s light novel, Durarara!!, is incredible! The story is dynamic and multi-faceted, the characters are credible and interesting, and the art captures the dynamism of the story with style. I would definitely recommend this manga.

Note: There are currently four volumes of the manga available in English, which covers the story through the end of Narita’s first light novel. (By the way, Narita has favorable words to say of the manga.) It sounds like there won’t be any more manga volumes for now, but I’m holding out hope that they will continue the manga sometime in the future.

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