Magical Girl Punkin Spice leapt lightly from her broomstick, which with a flash of light shrank into a small dust broom. she clipped it to her belt. Flipping her braided ponytail off her shoulder, she cocked her enormous pointed hat, and her bright blue eyes surveyed the scene. The other magical girls stood tense, and the normal humans slowly backed away. Over near the bubbling cauldron of cider, Pretty Dynamo rested a hand on the wand holstered at her side.
Jake shrugged and took another bite of his pizza. Margherita’s pizza was good when it was cold, too.
“You there!” Punkin at last shouted, jabbing a finger toward him. “What is this blasphemy?”
She marched his way. Jake merely raised an eyebrow and sucked up a wayward strand of mozzarella. “Excuse me?”
This night was unlike any other. A tension, a frisson of excitement hung in the air like that melancholy tingle of expectation before a thunderstorm. The entire city of Urbanopolis, that last refuge of beleaguered humanity, glowed with multicolored lights and resounded with music and chatter. On every stoop grinned a fiery Jack-o’-Lantern eerily flickering with candlelight. Children laughed and ran pell-mell down sidewalks, their boots or sandals slapping against the concrete. Or they gathered in timid clusters, clinging to the hands of longsuffering parents. They wore garish costumes, like fairy creatures arisen from some dark corner of a half-forgotten world: Here was a ghost, there a goblin, there a ballerina in pink lace. Hastily made outfits of cardboard and brown paper crackled and crinkled as their wearers clumsily walked. A few children shivered with cold. Others had, at the behest of nervous mothers, forced themselves into parkas before climbing into their costumes, so they were plump and round as pumpkins under their elaborate dress. The clear sky was black, a hint of frost clung to the air, and the last remaining leaves hung brown and blood red on the trees.
Okay, I confess: I intended to have a JAKE AND THE DYNAMO short story ready to go for Halloween, but I have been so busy, I didn’t get it done. Perhaps it will appear later in the week, and you can enjoy it while eating the candy corn you picked up for fifty percent off out of the discount bin while you contemplate stuffing a rotten pumpkin into Mrs. Shushley’s mailbox because she gave you a toothbrush for Halloween instead of candy.
Halloween is, as you might expect, the most important day in the liturgical calendar of Urbanopolis, more important even than Walpurgisnacht (April 30) or the birthday of the Moon Princess (June 30). On Halloween, at midnight, it is the Witching Hour, when the girls’ power is at its greatest. At that hour, they customarily renew their oaths to their familiars and sign with fresh blood the contracts by which they have sold their souls.
It’s also a good time to pick up free junk food. Halloween is the one day of the year on which it is socially acceptable for children to take candy from strangers. Just don’t eat the apples; they contain razor blades. At least, that’s what my mom always said.
It’s also a good time to engage in disgustingly unhygienic pastimes like bobbing for apples. Do you realize you’ve indirectly kissed, like, the whole town when you play that game? That’s gross, dude. And you should’t be trying to catch apples in your mouth anyway—they contain razor blades.
Although I’d make an exception if the other players were ponies. It’s my lifelong dream to indirectly kiss a pony, though that’s not the kind of thing I’d admit to complete strangers on the Internet.
Um, where was I? Anyway, in honor of Halloween, have some images of cute witches:
Today, I was discussing cover art for the Jake and the Dynamo novel. I don’t have a contract in hand, so it’s probably best I don’t give any specific details as of yet, but things are moving ahead. It appears that the book should be out sometime next year.
I have a big project looming, but my schedule will ease up a little after next weekend. The rest of today I’m planning to spend on a short story I want to submit to an anthology project.
I feel the need to apologize again for the lack of content. I’m moving into the final phase of my second-to-last term of school, so I’m naturally swamped with school work, plus I’m working two jobs.
I’m just stepping in to say that things appear to be slowly creeping forward on the book publication project, though it is still too early to give official details. I’ll keep you all posted. I’m going to be permanently indebted to L. Jagi Lamplighter, who’s gone above and beyond the call of duty to help this project, but she seems to be as enthusiastic about it as I am, if not moreso.
In other news, the second season of Miraculous Ladybug is finally underway … in Spain. I’m unsure yet when it reaches the U.S., but I intend to keep an eye out for it. Its first season was one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had watching television in a long while.
Also, when I can, I’m snatching occasional episodes of the second half of Sailor Moon S, which I will of course have to discuss when I’m finished.
James Rolf of Cinemassacre is reposting several monster movie reviews for Fall (or what I like to call “Pumpkin Spice Season”). His overview of the Alien franchise is entertaining and informative.
I always respect Rolf’s thoughtful reviews. I have a slightly better opinion than he does (and than most people do) of Alien 3, and I note that he doesn’t mention either the bizarre, disjointed sexual subtext of Alien, nor the dependence of Aliens on the Rambo movies, but this is nonetheless a thorough set of involved reviews. His discussion of the influence of Alien on video games such as Metroid,Xenophobe, and R-Type is interesting; certainly, the influence of its set and creature design is felt still today.
And I agree with him that Alien vs. Predator: Requiem totally sucks. I don’t remember why I even saw that, but I do remember it being my second worst experience in a theater, right after Pluto Nash.
Okay, I admit I’d never heard of Grape-kun before yesterday, but all of a sudden, my social media timelines were full of him.
The handy website Know Your Meme breaks down the facts. Grape-kun was an elderly Humboldt penguin in the Tobu Zoo in Japan. For a while, the zoo had placed cardboard cutouts of characters from the manga and anime series Kemono Friends in the pens of various animals as an advertising gimmick. I’ve never seen Kemono Friends, but it is apparently yet another of the innumerable manga/anime about random objects anthropomorphized as little girls; in this case, the random objects are animals. The anime series is on Crunchyroll.
Anyway, the zoo placed an image of a character named Hululu, an anthropomorphized penguin, in the pen of Grape-kun. Thereafter, people noticed the penguin frequently staring at the image.
Grape-kun died yesterday, October 12th. The zoo reported that the cut-out of Hululu was with Grape-kun through his final moments.
Four months ago, this comic showed up on the Internet. I’ve been unable to figure out if this is from the manga version of Kemono Friends, or if this is someone’s fan art, but either way, it is now relevant:
On this Waifu Wednesday, are you alone? Are you lonely and miserable, sitting in your mom’s basement with your fedora askew on your unwashed hair as you scratch your unshorn neck and pick at your acne? Are your hot pockets tasteless, no longer satisfying? Does your anime character body pillow no longer comfort you as it once did? Do you wonder if this is all there is to life? Do you yearn for something more? Are you in need of a warrior dame named after an autonomous community of Spain to lift you out of your doldrums?
I think so. In fact, I know so.
That’s why, in honor of Waifu Wednesday, our one-of-a-kind Magical Girl Lady Paladin Andalusia trading cards are half off for one day only! Featuring Andalusia’s genuine signature and the professional photography of artist Roffles Lowell, this card depicts Andalusia in a striking yet sensitive pose, eyes humbly cast down as she thanks God and the Moon Princess for her latest victory over monsters and Saracens … or maybe she’s just thinking about the Backdoor Boys, because, I mean, Donnie in those tight jeans? Like, OMP.
So don’t delay. Shut up and let me take your money … or something like that.
That being said, I honestly don’t know what the complaints are about. I thought this was a great movie. My only (mild) criticisms are that none of the musical numbers are among the franchise’s catchiest, and some of the animation could be better, but aside from that, this is a fine, if not exactly stunning, children’s film. Looking at a few of the negative reviews, I get the distinct impression that the critics are turning up their noses not because it’s a bad movie per se, but simply because it’s My Little Pony.
However, in my humble opinion, this may be the best thing ever to come out of the franchise. I daresay this is the first time My Little Pony has come close to living up to its potential.
“But why are they in space? There’s no reason for them to be in space!”
Cleopatra in Space, written and illustrated by Mike Maihack. 3 vols. New York: Scholastic, 2014-2016.
We have before us a highly entertaining space opera swashbuckler aimed at a younger audience but also suitable for adults.
Author and illustrator Mike Maihack has worked on several different comics projects, including the webcomic Cow and Buffalo. He also produced an earlier webcomic version of the present story under the more facetious title of Cleopatra in SPAAAACE, which he halted abruptly in order to reimagine Cleopatra’s tale as a series of graphic novels, published through Scholastic’s Graphix Imprint. The stories of the graphic novels and webcomic differ in some details and do not overlap.
The series currently stands at four volumes, the fourth having released recently this year. I am here discussing only the first three, which are all I’ve got my hands on so far.