The Haunting of Hill House: The Greatest Series You’ll Watch This Year

I wasn’t expecting to review this series, or any series for that matter. I was going to keep it to music and movies, but after watching the first season within a few days, it was hard not to talk about this amazing story. Not only was the story told very well, but the visualization was beautifully done, despite it being a sad and dark tale.

The first thing that’s to be mentioned is the plot. So the story involves a family of seven named the Cranes that moved into a mansion for the summer to renovate and flip later that year. However, everyone soon realizes they bought more than they expected forcing them to abandon the house. The season goes back and forth between the siblings from their childhood at the house to their dark and twisted adult lives, which I thought would be much to take in but the director, Michael Flanagan, did a great job with the flow.

The show is mainly centered around the children, although the parents do play a prominent role. There’s Steve, the oldest child who became a writer and used his experience at the house as a selling point for his latest novel. Then there’s Shirley, who is the oldest daughter. She’s somewhat level headed and sometimes acts as the oldest. While she comes off as a stubborn perfectionist, she later shows that she’s far from that. Next we have the middle child Theo (my favorite) who’s pretty badass. She takes their family tragedy pretty hard and resorts to reckless decisions just to feel again. we next have the twins, Luke and Ellie. Luke turns into a junkie and Ellie might be the most mature and most together character in the show. Finally there’s the parents, Hugh and Olivia, whom do play a major part in the story but I don’t want to give too much away other than saying it started with the mother and ended with the father.

One of the things I loved about the show was the visualization and the use of color throughout the season. When the show would go to a flashback scene/episode, the style was more colorful and warm displaying an easier time in their lives. But when the show returned to the present, the scenes were colder and much darker, reminding everyone the grief the family is going through, even through jokes.

Another fun feature on the show was the Easter eggs of ghosts in every episode. I didn’t catch every ghost (mainly because I wasn’t looking immediately), but some are more exposed than others. Some play a prominent role in the season while others are there simply there for fun. And I’m pretty certain there was a Michael Myers ghost in the kitchen at one point which I think was in the appropriate halloween episode. Guess I’m going to have to watch the show again.

Even though halloween is slowly winding down, I highly recommend watching this series whenever you have a moment to binge watch. The episodes are roughly 40 minutes minus the finale which clocked at just over an hour, and there’s only 10 episodes so it won’t take long to finish the first season. I’ve caught a few Netflix shows, but this might be the best series they’ve released, and I’m including the Marvel shows. Punisher is an awesome series, but this takes the crown. I’m also not one to flinch during a spook, but there is one season in an episode that almost had me spit out my water. Did not see it coming at all. A holy s*** may have been yelped. I’m a man. I’ll admit, freaked me the hell out. Well done Michael Flanagan for directing this show. Looking forward to see what season 2 has to bring.

I. Hate. HIIT

The title says it all. It’s the worst nine minutes during weight training and the worst hour during cardio days. It’s that agonizing point between death and going Super Saiyan (oh there’s going to be TONS of odd references on Friday’s so keep up). Even though you feel fantastic afterwards and feel so accomplished in your workout, doing the actual training itself is a nightmare and I genuinely dread walking toward the treadmill or the stair climber. And it’s definitely no picnic dedicating an entire day to HIIT.

So what is HIIT? For those that don’t exercise that often or utilize this technique, HITT is the acronym for High Intense Interval Training. It’s when you push your body to its maximum potential for a short period, then rest for another short period before repeating the interval. For example, when I use the treadmill, I’ll sprint for 30 seconds, then take a 30 second break before continuing the routine. I generally do this for 8-10 minutes. And then I go to the locker room let out man tears for a few minutes because you never realize how long 30 seconds is until you haul ass for that time frame.

I do, however, have a favorite that gives me a rewarding feeling afterwards. I don’t know if it has a name, but I’m sure it’s every Spartan racer’s nightmare. It’s when I grab a kettlebell (preferably 20lbs to start) and I do 20 reps followed by 10 burpees. I rest for 30-45 seconds before doing it again for about 4 sets. It’s probably the reason why I flew through my burpee penalties during the Super Spartan race earlier this year.

So what’s the purpose of HIIT as opposed to running for an hour? By going this route, you’re keeping your heart rate up which helps burn fat a lot quicker. Another big plus is having a high metabolism which means MORE FOOD. And you know, the ability to burn fat while at rest, but MORE FOOD. The only downfall I found in HIIT is that it doesn’t really help with your stamina. For that, you should incorporate standard cardio for a lengthy time. But it does help you shoot out of the gate like Seabuscuit on speed.

I hope this helps a little. I know some people ask what I did to lose all of my fat J weight and honestly I used a bunch of techniques. But I think HIIT has helped me the most once I knew what kind of body I wanted. It’s still a work in progress but training is a never ending education. Plus I’m still in the search of going Super Saiyan Blue. Seriously, you guys might want to learn a thing or two about Dragon Ball Z.

TBT: The Addams Family *snap snap*

With Halloween being less than a week away, I thought of using this week’s TBT on something appropriate. A little wholesome for us halloween fanatics. This TBT goes to the creepy and the spooky, the Addams Family movies that came out in 1991 and 1993. Seriously, who didn’t love these movies growing up? They were goth before goth was cool. Gomez and Morticia were relationship goals, Uncle Fester was everybody’s favorite uncle, and I’m pretty sure my issues with women can be traced back to my crush on Wednesday Addams.

Addams Family Values was just as funny, if not funnier. Don’t remember if it was well received in the box office, but I didn’t care. Still don’t. To me, it held up with the first one. Poor Fester falls in love with a deranged killer that’s actually crazier than the collected family. The kids get sent away to summer camp where they deal with overly cheesy and painfully narcissistic campers. And don’t get me started on the councilors. Points for anybody who knows who the blonde camper is and what she becomes known for later. Hint: it’s not Willa Ford….might need to do a tbt on her if you’re going “who?” I didn’t even mind the newest addition to the family, Pubert. The kid was adorable, but I don’t think one parent thought to name their child that after this movie came out. Oh, but it’s clearly acceptable to name your child after a fruit. Cool cool.

These cult classics are still talked about and still on the ABC Family/Freeform playlist (I don’t get why you keep changing the name of the station if the content is the same. Stop confusing me. You’re ruining my channel lineup). If you’re decent people, you’ll pass this franchise on to your kids so they can appreciate a solid Halloween franchise. Sure there’s Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas (I’ll get to this one later), but did any of them have a pet hand? I rest my case *snap snap*.

Women’s Evolution (sorta)

Before I start my post, I want to use this moment to give my thoughts to WWE superstar Joe Anoa’i a/k/a Roman Reigns and his second battle against leukemia. Cancer is a cruel and unfair disease, but I, along with his fanbase believe. We KNOW he’s got this. Stay strong big dog.

And now to the main story. This Sunday, WWE is holding their first ever all womens ppv. It seemed that for decades, upper management has been holding down the womens division by placing these ladies in a series of lingerie and paddles on a pole matches. Now don’t get me wrong, teenage J was very grateful for this approach. But, believe it or not, it does get tiring seeing these women in 20 second nonsensical matches. I wanted to see more. We all wanted to see these women reach their highest potential. And a few years ago, after several chants and #givedivasachance started sweeping Twitter, WWE finally heard their fans and restructured the division and turned the term Divas into Superstars. The women were getting decent airtime, they were given specialty matches the men had, and they’re even headlining shows. So everything should be fine in the land of sports entertainment, right? Eeh, not exactly.

See here is where my love/hate relationship with WWE gets kicked into high anxiety level. I’ve been a fan of the company since before I was able to talk. I’ve always wanted to be a part of it in some capacity whether it was being a wrestler, an announcer, or even work behind the scenes. And one of thejobs I wanted to take on was being a writer because I felt I can contribute in some ways. Also their writers are flat when it comes to content and delivery. This is where the womens evolution comes in.

Watching Raw and Smackdown this past week was a bit frustrating. They’re promoting this ppv that’s taking place this Sunday, yet the women didn’t enough screen time to promote said event. They didn’t even main event any of their shows. It was more like “yeah, we got history in the making. First ever all womens ppv….and here are some of women. Now back to the main event”. Seriously? You STILL don’t have faith in these women that you’d rather talk about a failed ppv taking place in Saudi Arabia than a historical all female show that has high potential (I’ll talk about the Saudi Arabia controversy next week)? You got talent like Sasha Banks, Bailey, Naomi, and Asuka but you couldn’t give them more time to plug what is essentially their show. Hey, WWE writers, you couldn’t shift the attention on the ladies on both shows for a few weeks and have the guys take a backseat for awhile. I’m sure some of them wouldn’t mind healing for a week. It’s not like women haven’t headlined Raw and Smackdown already. You got Ronda Rousey on one show and Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair on the other. Trust me, you’ll be fine.

Another gripe I have is the lack of attention on the ppv itself. Granted, there are a couple of key matches I’m looking forward to, but hey, let’s throw a battle royal in there because reasons. Were you not able to make a Queen of the Ring? Or how about a womens tag title tournament since that’s what the fans have been asking for. Nope, let’s do a battle royal because we can’t multi task. I am literally putting together a ppv right now while typing this and STILL coming up with an idea for next Monday’s show. But hey, I’m just an amateur writer that has zero soap opera experience.

I clearly went into a rant mode almost immediately there. But that’s because I genuinely love the business. Like a parent that sees his child make a stupid decision, but you love them and want them to learn from their mistakes. I’m not some mark that will scream “we riot if Cena wins” I respect what all the talent brings and want to see their story get told the best way. You see the matches these women put on and you KNOW they can carry a show by themselves. Hell, I’m confident they can headline Wrestlemania and I hope they do it this year because yours truly will be there (MetLife Stadium in East Ruherford if you’re wondering). So I’ll be watching Evolution this Sunday enjoying what I’m sure is going to be a solid show and I hope this is the first of many for the women in WWE.

1 Billion Dollars (Insert Dr. Evil Theme)

Let’s face it, we all want free money. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blue collar working 12 hour days, a 9-5 office employee, or some executive running a fortune 500. It’s the one interest that blurs that line between the lower, middle, and upper class. And when the state lottery reaches an insane prize, most of us sprint to the local gas station for a ticket….or 17. Seriously, I watched a man grab that many tickets from the dispenser. I’m pretty convinced I witness a man throw away his life and became prepared to leave his family.

But is it worth it? I mean REALLY ask that question. Sure, you can call yourself an overnight billionaire that’s fully capable of paying yours and your family’s debts. But think of the nightmare it could and probably will bring. You’re going to have the media in your face asking about “that feeling when you knew you won”. People from all over the country are going to suddenly emerge from the shadows claiming they’re your long lost relative. I don’t care if you’re my fourth cousin you found on, I don’t owe you squat, Maria!……I think I lost myself just then.

You also have those stories of these winners spending their winnings like it’s life or death on useless items. These people will throw millions away on drugs, hookers, and booze. I mean I would only pay for one of those things. Prioritize people! It’s actually sad to watch these people take a free pass and manage to make it worse. It’s true money changes you. How it changes you I guess you’d have to find out if your number comes up.

Now I’m not discouraging anyone from getting a lottery ticket. Hell I honestly wish you all well if you’re playing tonight. And I don’t want to hear that self righteous “I’m above taking easy money”. Nooo you’re not. If you had the chance to never worry about life again, you’d take it. I guess if I were to give advice, it would be to be smart if an honor like this was presented. And to remember the people closest to you. I on the other hand don’t know any of you and would take that money and build a Batmobile and fully functional batsuit.

May the odds ever be in your favor.

Four Decades of Michael Myers

I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t the biggest Halloween fan growing up. I was more partial to Jason Vorhees in the Friday the 13th series. I still believe Jason can kick his AND Freddy’s ass by beating them with a Chucky doll to death. But I am a huge fan of the holiday and it would be wrong to not give this a view during the season of ghosts of goblins. I’ll try to keep this spoiler free.

The movie takes place 40 years after the original Halloween, completely negating all the sequels, which I’m completely fine with because honestly, I skipped them aside from the Rob Zombie reboot. Even though the movie briefly describes what happened in the original, I would recommend checking out the 1978 film. You’ll appreciate the dynamic between Laurie and Michael that much more. While the movie is about the showdown between the two original stars, we are introduced to Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter and how Michael Myers affected their relationship.

It’s a typical horror film mixed with some gory scenes that the 70’s could not replicate. Sidenote: if you’re a Walking Dead fan and got squeamish over Glenn’s death, you might want to close your eyes on a particular scene….you’ll know when it’s coming. The director, David Gordon Green did a great job keeping the vision John Carpenter created. Even though the film takes place 40 years later, the flow and style remained consistent which I enjoyed. And of course, just like every horror film, there’s always that moment where you want to yell at the actors for making a stupid, reckless decision, resulting in you turning to your companion and say “that person needs to die”. You won’t be disappointed. The third act was definitely intense. It was one of those moments where you are at the edge of your seat, waiting for what’s going to happen next. Is he going to pop out now? What happened to this person? Who’s blood is that?!

If I had a complaint for this movie, it would have to be the very end. It was abrupt and left more questions. Now I get it, it’s a horror/slasher film. They all have that ending open to interpretation or to leave room for a follow up in case the box office numbers exceed expectations. But this felt way too sudden. Like you’re just calming down from the climax. You want a breather. Maybe a bottle of water. Nope. Wham. Bam. Get out, I got work in the morning. So degrading. And TECHNICALLY there is a post credit “scene”. It’s actually more like a post credit moment. Nothing jaw dropping, but it does leave the possibility of a sequel.

Overall, this movie is a must see. It totally captured the essence of a classic horror film in the year 2018. Green respected John Carpenter’s creativity and kept the franchise to its roots which, in a world full of reboots, is a refreshing pace. Considering I’ve always been #teamJason, I would revisit this franchise if this is how they’re going to handle the series. Old school slasher films gets the victory.

18 years of Disturbed

So I’m going to post two entries today. One for music and the other for movie since two major releases happened this Friday. Not something I’ll be doing every week, but since this weekend was pretty crazy for horror and metal fans, what the hey?

First I’ll bring up one of the baddest, hardest bands in the 21st century, Disturbed and their new album Evolution. These guys arrived in the metal scene in 2000 with their debut album The Sickness. Since then, I’ve placed these guys on my top 5 favorite bands and have continued to remain strong in my workout soundtrack. They have excellent energy on stage and genuinely appreciate their fan-base. So when they announced their highly anticipated album, I got stoked. But did they deliver? Are they the same Disturbed that had us metalheads moshing our skulls for almost two decades? The answer….No. And that’s totally a good thing.

When I played Evolution the first time, I won’t lie, I felt underwhelmed. It wasn’t the usual heavy tone that they carried. It lacked the aggression their previous albums inherited. But then I heard it again (in all fairness, I heard it the first time at 3:30 am and before my coffee) and to be honest, I liked their message. Clearly the band, individually and collectively went through a lot and their latest project exudes that emotion. There’s definitely pain and anguish in some of the tracks but they also remind you of hope and light at the end of tunnel, which is what they’ve always done in their albums. They’re just grown up now and decided to send that message in a different way (get it? They’ve EVOLVED) My personal favorite is Stronger On Your Own because it’s a reminder that you don’t have to compromise yourself for others and in the end, you are better off on your own than being something you’re not. No More comes in a close second, but I will totally understand if this one isn’t everyone’s cup of tea mainly because of the political message it sends. Not bashing anyone in particular, but I know people want to use music to escape from that climate. There is however one track I will admit felt way out of place, even for them. I won’t name which one, but when you detect the folky sound, that would be it.

So that’s my take on Disturbed: Evolution. If you like to see a more mature and developed group, then definitely get this album. But if you were fine with what they’ve brought for 18 years and don’t care for change, then you might want to stay with Immortalize as their last album. Personally, I like it a lot. They still have some heavy tunes, but brought out a more melodic tone to their musical arsenal. Not something I’ll be able to jam out to during a workout, but I can definitely play this during a long car drive.