Winter 2023 Digest

The State of the Blog 2023
Most Anticipated Films of 2023
[Patron Pick] The Menu – Bekah
[Patron Pick] The Wonder – Matt
[Patron Pick] Eternal Summer – Bekah
[Patron Pick] Hard Eight – Matt
Book Update – Jan/Feb

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Solo Tabletop RPG Review – The Portal at Hill House

The Portal at Hill House (Press Pot Games)
Designed by Travis Hill & Linda Farris-Hill

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt scared by a tabletop roleplaying game. Plenty of games fit into the Horror genre label: Vampire the Masquerade, Call of Cthulhu, the smaller horror games, the horror scenarios for other non-horror games, the list goes on & on. I’ve never been genuinely scared by tabletop games. Admittedly, I only really got into tabletop around 2012 and checked out of group play in 2018. I found most horror games to be action-adventure games with horror genre elements. It’s the same way Blade the Vampire Hunter isn’t horror; it’s superhero stories. Horror, for me, is a growing and eventually suffocating sense of dread. There is something you cannot explain, and it is slowly getting closer, and once it does, you have no hope. That’s horror. So, when I came across The Portal at Hill House I wondered how horror would work in solo play. Maybe in this context, it would be scarier?

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PopCult Movie Giveaway!!!!

For the first time ever, I am doing a giveaway. 

What’s the prize? 

A physical copy of or digital code for any film I’ve reviewed on the blog in 2022 (January – July) if it is available.

If the film is out of print I won’t be paying $100 for some rare copy. It’s got to be currently in print. The price of the film must be under $100 to qualify.

How do you enter? 

I’m so glad you asked. If you are a Patreon member on July 31st 2022, then your name will be entered into the random drawing. You must be a member at the “Sneak Previews” or higher level to be entered. 

You must be a resident of the United States to enter, I cannot do international shipping. 
You must be 18 years of age or older. 

Visit the PopCult Patreon page to enter today!

State of the Blog – June 2022

If you have been enjoying the reviews and other content I make for this blog, please consider showing your support on Patreon. Every amount is welcomed, and even a one-month donation helps in providing motivation. I like to think of it as a tip jar. At the $10 tier or higher, you can pick a film once a month for me to watch and review. You can add some of your thoughts to the review if you choose. Now, onto the State of the Blog

It has been approximately 14 years since I started PopCult. There was a pause of a couple years after I got married and started my teaching job. But since early 2016, I have been back and posting consistently. PopCult’s readership has grown considerably from 177 views in my first month back to a record 2,860 in May 2022. One of the things I realized I needed to do was establish a formal identity for the site. 

Continue reading “State of the Blog – June 2022”

Wake Up

I cannot move past this. I simply won’t. I cannot get the thoughts of this out of my head and honestly, I don’t want them gone. I feel the greatest clarity I’ve ever felt in my life, crystalline purity, I know with every fiber of my body this has to end. A society whose children are slaughtered like this has no future. A society who exports evil into the world through our weapons and propaganda cannot continue. There is no binary political angle to see this from, there is no Republican or Democrat here. Both parties clearly have nothing to offer us. The Senate has gone on their vacation. Joe Biden isn’t going to help us. Donald Trump isn’t going to help us. Tucker Carlson & Rachel Maddow are just yammering twits who sell advertisement time. None of them feel any need to help because the chaos and the violence is how it’s supposed to work, it’s how they and the people before them going all the way back to the start of this experiment designed it. The violence keeps us cowering in fear and doing whatever they tell us because they are the ones in charge, right?

I am so tired of fear & anxiety being the main driver in my life and I have a feeling you are too. It’s time to wake up. You have to wake up. You have to hold onto the best of yourself and burn away the parts that keep us afraid. They put that fear on us like weights to keep us dragging, heads always looking down and unable to look up, to see the light. 

Imagine you’re standing on the cliff, your back to the edge. In front of you are the Smiling Men and they bring you the most delicious greasy salty sweet crunchy treats and they hold screens playing the best shows & movies you could ever imagine. Just behind them are beautiful big amusement parks full of rides where your dreams can come true. But behind, just beyond the edge of that cliff you can hear screams & wails. You might peek a few times and notice the Void, dark and swirling and the people, the forgotten people being swallowed up in its mouth. But the Smiling Men keep tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Oh no no no. You don’t want to see that. Look over here. Don’t you want to be happy all the time?” 

We have to turn around and look into that Void, that mass of all the suffering, wars, destruction, hatreds, pure distilled evil perpetuated in our name and confront it. It is terrifying yes, I know, I have looked straight into it and it changed me. But I am better for it and you will be too. The thing about that cliff you are standing on, that you may have not noticed is that it stretches the entire horizon and there are people standing shoulder to shoulder with you. I’m there, shoulder to shoulder with you. The Smiling Men have kept us so caught up in their amusements and the fear of losing them that we forgot about that line of people that goes on forever. All you have to do is reach out to the hands of those people next to you, hold them. I will hold your hand when you look in the Void so you’ll know that you don’t have to face confronting that evil alone. But it simply has to be confronted.

There are three natural human responses to danger: Fight, flight, freeze. I choose flight. I understand the scope of history, I can look at where we’ve been, where we are, and get a strong sense of what comes next. It is going to be so horrible, worse than this even. I knew that because of my beliefs, because I’m married to someone who is not white, because my wife is bisexual that it was only a matter of time. That one day all that anger, confusion, pain, and hatred that is so large in my homeland would destroy me one way or another. Moving here was not a joyful experience because I am for lack of a better term a refugee from my homeland. Right now so many are frozen, that’s a natural response. But I am asking you to please start by looking into all that evil that has brought us here. One place that has had a strong effect on me is asking, “What must those children and those teachers have seen in that school? What horrors did they witness?”

No amount of guns, no amount of metal detectors, all the quick but thoughtless solutions aren’t fixing this. The year after I graduated from college I tried to kill myself. That’s not something I have told many people, but I am telling you, whoever is reading this, that face because I love you. And I want you to know that I’m so glad I failed. Because if I had been successful I would never have come to this moment where, despite how afraid they have made me for so much of my life, I’m done with the fear. We do that everyday, pushing away real human connection because we’re afraid. Those in power love that because the thing they fear more than anything in this world is solidarity, the people united as one to make this world a better place. And time is running out, we’re in the final part of whatever this is and things will get so bad. The only way we keep the good alive is by grasping the hands of the person next to you on that cliff. We turn around together and we face it. I can’t tell you the magic solution to solve it all but I can tell you we start by confronting what we have hidden from ourselves. 

You have to wake up!

Message me if you need to (huckabees @ gmail dot com) If you just don’t want to tackle this, I understand but I think this is where we part ways. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do but nothing isn’t a choice. If you’re seeking out what that is, talk to me. Let’s figure it out. We don’t have to do this alone.

America is Broken & I Want It To Die Already

Some thoughts I wrote down yesterday about that Hellscape.

I saw someone say the school shooting murders in Texas were “unimaginable”. I can’t think of a single fucking thing more imaginable in America than little children getting shot to death. I’m so fucking tired of seeing these things happen over and over and over and over and over and over and then it’s just “thoughts & prayers” from those in positions of power who then go on to do fuck-all to stop the next one. We were taught so many lies as children about America and I know it hurts to face that fact. It is not a great country when this happens so damn often. Life doesn’t have to be this way, I have seen that every day since I left in September. There isn’t a perfect place on this planet, but my God, there are so many places where children don’t get mowed down in a hail of gunfire. It is insane that so many of my fellow Americans have just accepted this. Don’t you know you shouldn’t have to send your child to school with the worry they’ll be shot to death? That is not an inevitability or the “cost of freedom”. I have come to understand how much abuse & mistreatment I and my fellow Americans have been taught to accept by institutions, political parties, and leaders so that they can live comfortably, safe, well fed, and constantly entertained. Something has to change and it it’s not going to happen through passivity. God gave us brains and hands and feet for a damn reason! And there are certainly more of us regular, working and struggling people than there are of those who sit in power. If we want a safer world we can demand it and we can take it. If we collectively do nothing then damn us to Hell for sitting by while our children’s blood flows in our schools and our streets.

I’m not even in the States anymore. But I am an elementary school teacher and I am feeling this loss so hard today. It hurts like I am there. I just think of all the experiences good and bad those kids won’t ever have. They will never be able to fall in and out of love. They won’t ever grow into who they want to be. I don’t give a fuck about your politics as sports man. This is fucking human beings, teachers and kids. I don’t understand a society that allows this to happen and then goes to work the next day like nothing of value was lost. Those people mattered goddammit. And the solution isn’t going to come from a dude in a suit in DC making a statement, or some blowhard pundit on cable news, or some reporter calmly reciting statistics, or a preacher at the pulpit finding the right verse. It’s us. We have to stop seeing people that are different in some way as a threat. Everyone is struggling to stay alive these days. That shooter was someone in pain and I can’t stop thinking about how different this morning would be if we lived in a world where he simply had someone to talk to or a world where he was taught how to feel and work through his pain. There would be some more kids smiling and playing and some teachers looking forward to their summer breaks. America is fucking broken and that’s okay, because WE are not whatever the fuck that system of institutions and business is. We’re humans and we lost some beautiful humans yesterday from something we could have prevented.

I used to think people who didn’t vote were shirking their duties. Who gives a shit anymore? I’m supposed to work myself into a fervor over which old man I think should be made Daddy America? Kids are having to be identified based on their clothing because the bullets didn’t leave much behind of their heads or bodies. You need to feel this, we all need to feel this. We have numbed ourselves for too damn long. We don’t grieve the way we’re meant to. People pushed back to labor after their allotted grievance period has expired. The monsters are not just the shooters, they are us for going about our lives.

TV Review – Tuca & Bertie Season 1

Tuca & Bertie Season 1 (Netflix)
Written by Lisa Hanawalt, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Lee Sung Jin, Rachelle Williams, Nick Adams, Karen Graci, Gonzalo Cordova, Shauna McGarry
Directed by Amy Winfrey, Aaron Long, Mollie Helms, James Bowman, Adam Parton

At first glance, Tuca & Bertie looks like an Adult Swim reject show that was influenced by the style of Bojack Horseman. The first two episodes were challenging for me to get into as they settled me into their universe. Tuca (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) is outgoing, loud, hard to focus, while Bertie (voiced by Ali Wong) is the more cautious, anxious, soft-hearted of the two. It’s the story of two best friends who are adjusting to the changes in their lives.
Bertie moved in with her boyfriend Speckle (voiced by Steven Yeun) in the same apartment complex and used to room with Tuca. Thanks to the default narrative, the immediate thought that crosses your mind is that Tuca will get in a lot of trouble, and Bertie will have to explain or tag along. Sort of a Sarah Silverman Show scenario.

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