Social Influence Film Analysis of They Live (1988)

Greetings friends,

An extra credit assignment in my social psychology class was to do a film analysis of any movie of our choosing on any topic that was studied in class. I chose to analyze the role of social influence in They Live by John Carpenter released in 1988. It is one of my favorite films of all time.

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They Live was inspired by the short story ‘Eight O’ Clock in the Morning’ written by Ray Nelson and first published in the November 1963 issue of ‘The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’.

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The short story can also be found in the short story compilation book ‘Reel Future’.

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The short story was also adapted into comic form and published as ‘Nada’ in the sixth issue of the anthology comic ‘Alien Encounters’. The ending of the comic is slightly different than the ending of the short story. Both end on an impactful note but the comic has more of a fade.

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They Live is about a drifter named John Nada that goes to Los Angeles to look for work. He finds work at a construction site but also ends up finding much more. The ruling class are revealed to be aliens in disguise that actually look like a zombified version of humanity in their natural state. Billboards, products, and advertisements are stripped down to reveal words such as obey, consume, and conform.

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There are two main cases of social influence prevalent in this film. The relationship between John and Frank and the relationship between humanity and the aliens. Frank has a wife and kids and just wants to work and keep living as he is. John does not accept this, he believes that it is important for Frank and the rest of the world to know about the existence of the aliens. Frank tries to plead his case by saying, “I’ve walked a white line my entire life, I’m not about to screw that up.” to which John replies, “White line’s in the middle of the road, that’s the worst place to drive.” Frank tries to walk away but John is able to persuade him and they both work together to achieve a common goal of getting rid of the aliens.  The aliens rely on common principals of social influence in order to keep most of humanity oppressed. There are some humans that the aliens have converted over to their cause. When someone finds out about the truth, they are usually hunted down and eliminated. John decides to return this violence with violence and at one point enters an establishment and says iconically, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Psychological Theory

John fights Frank in an alleyway and establishes his authority over him. Afterwards, he forces him to put on a pair of sunglasses in order to see what he sees. The lower class is comprised of humans and the higher class is comprised of aliens and a group of selected humans. The aliens have inserted themselves into positions of authority. Scarcity plays a major role in getting the lower class to comply with the higher class. The aliens control politics, law enforcement, and the media. The resistance is able to form a large cohesive in-group with the common goal of eradicating the aliens. However, some aliens are able to provide humans extrinsic rewards such as a higher social status or large sums of money in order to persuade them to their cause. These humans are more susceptible to persuasion due to their current status and pressure to conform to the social norm which is currently controlled by the ruling class. This also feeds into humanities need to affiliate with others. The resistance plays the role of nonconformity in a world where conformity is expected. Failure to conform could result in voiding your life. Since the aliens are in disguise, humanity blindly complies with the orders of the ruling class to obey. Eventually the curtains are drawn back and the aliens are revealed as they truly are. In my opinion, it is implied that humanity bands together as an in-group and overthrows the aliens that had subdued them for so long.

Have you seen They Live? If so, what are your thoughts on the film?

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

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Come What May

Greetings friends,

May 2018 is upon us. Finals week is over and I am happy to say that I successfully survived. May is mental health awareness month. Since my major is psychology and I also live with mental illness, I feel that it is important to talk about. If you have one major takeaway from this post, I hope it is that you should never feel that you are unable to talk about mental health issues that you may have. This post does not aim to replace professional guidance. If you feel you need assistance then please discuss options with your family doctor or seek out professionals in your area. If you need immediate assistance please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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Most people know what anxiety is and possibly have experienced it in one form or another. Anxiety for me usually manifests in the form of social anxiety and overanalyzing to the point of having a panic attack or sliding into a spell of depression. Sometimes what prompted the attack one time may not be what prompts it the next time. It is common that anxiety can cause depression or depression can cause anxiety. Unfortunately they complement each other perfectly. I have been known to take five minute conversations and analyze every detail including tone and inflections just trying to read into it all. Why did they say that? Why did they say it that way? What did I do wrong? What can I do differently next time? Maybe I should just wall myself at home behind a pillow fort just to avoid that situation again. Better yet, why move from the bed at all? I described it to my family doctor as an elephant sitting on my chest slowly crushing the life out of me. Her initial reaction was to make sure that it was not heart related, which it is not. When I was younger I did not know what is was, but since then I have discovered the true name of my villain. I am not afraid to call it by its name, anxiety. Knowing its name gives me strength to fight it. If you need more of a refresher, click here for a link to a comic that does a great job of depicting the struggle. Below is a video from Crash Course. They do a good job of explaining it as well.

An analogy that I like to think of regarding anxiety is video games. Those without anxiety are playing the game of life on normal difficultly while those with anxiety and/or other mental health issues are playing the game on hard or legendary. That is not to say that those without anxiety do not experience anxiety at certain times, grief, or other emotions. I do not mean to make light of anyone’s strife. I am going to now issue a trigger warning for those that have experienced loss and may be in the process of still grieving. Imagine going through something like the death of a parent. Then imagine going through that with the added angst of having social anxiety and having to go through the typical social expectations of grieving and the event of a wake. While at the wake imagine that one of your aunts walks up and tries to tell you how you need to be grieving, how you should be crying, and then proceeds to ask what is wrong with you when you just want to be left alone.

Click here for a link to a helpful article that talks about an antidote to the age of anxiety. However, I see anxiety as most likely a constant life struggle so to call it an antidote is stretching it a bit. I would consider it more like the power-up mushroom in the video game franchise Mario. There are things you can do to power-up for a while but eventually the villain is going to strike again and you will back to the non-powered up version of yourself.

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One of the biggest things that helps support me is knowing that I am not alone. You should also know that you are not alone. One of my favorite blog posts that I have read that gives tips on staving off the symptoms of anxiety is the Deadpool guide to self love that Amy Clover over at Strong Inside Out wrote for Nerdfitness. Many actors and actresses have spoken out about the importance of mental health recently as well. I think this is great because it increases awareness and helps provide support for those going through similar struggles. Jared Padalecki, Kristen Bell, and Ryan Reynolds all have articles discussing mental health (click their name to view the respective articles). Some have also posted videos discussing the issues they have faced.

Kristen Bell, whom I have been a fan of since Veronica Mars is perhaps the most outspoken on the issue. She has posted multiple videos, a couple of my favorites are posted below.

Even Captain America himself weighs in on the importance of mental health.

Some other things that really help me with fighting mental illness are my family, pets, and hobbies. With those things in my life, I feel that come what may, I will always keep fighting.

What helps you when are struggling with mental health issues? What are some ways that you practice mindfulness?

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

Romantic Film Analysis of The Terminator (1984)

Greetings friends,

One of the assignments in my social psychology class was to do a romantic film analysis of any movie of our choosing. The teacher requested that we try to think outside of the normal ‘romance’ films. The romance genre is not really my preference anyways so I was delighted with the aspect of being able to choose which film and ultimately chose The Terminator by James Cameron released in 1984. It can be streamed for free if you have access to HBO.

The Terminator was inspired by various works of sci-fi but most notably ‘Soldier’ the first episode of season two of The Outer Limits written by Harlan Ellison.

“Come with me if you want to live!” -Kyle Reese’s first words to Sarah Connor.

The Terminator is about a cyborg from the future that travels to the past in order to kill the mother of John Connor, the resistance leader of a future war between mankind and machines, so that he will never be born. A soldier from the resistance is also sent from the future to the past in order to protect John’s mother. John plays a pivotal role in turning the tides of war in favor of mankind.

Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese are brought together by a matter circumstance. Due to an unfortunate turn of events their relationship is short-lived but has a lasting effect on Sarah and the future of mankind. Kyle is a soldier sent from the future to protect Sarah, the only reason Sarah believes him is because they are both pursued by a relentless killing machine. In the future, John Connor gives Kyle a photo of Sarah and Kyle ends up falling in love with her.

He confesses his love to Sarah while they are on the run from the cyborg and they begin their relationship. Kyle is unknowingly the father of John and is ultimately killed by the cyborg while trying to save Sarah. Sarah is able to terminate the cyborg and continue living. Later she records some audio tapes for her son and at one point says, “Should I tell you about your father? Boy, that’s a tough one. Will it affect your decision to send him here, knowing that he is your father? If you don’t send Kyle, you can never be. God, a person can go crazy thinking about all this… I suppose I will tell you… I owe him that. Maybe it’ll be enough if you know that, in the few hours we had together, we loved a lifetime’s worth.”

A form reciprocal liking played a major role in Sarah and Kyle’s relationship. Kyle has been infatuated with Sarah since he laid eyes on her picture in the future. He describes her beauty to her which she is obviously flattered by. Kyle’s flattery is honest. Proximity plays a role insomuch as they are both on the run from a killer cyborg. Both of them happen to be in the same age range and attractive for their respective sexes. They have a high proportion of similarity. The main topic that they have communicated about has been the topic of wanting to keep Sarah alive. Sarah wants to live and Kyle wants Sarah to live. Consensual validation exists in the belief that the machine uprising is real. The three basic factors of passionate love as suggested by social psychologists Hatfield and Walster are present. Kyle and Sarah both have a basic idea of passionate love, they act as each other’s appropriate love object, and are both in practically a constant state of physiological arousal in the form of fear and anxiety caused by the pursuit of the killer cyborg. According to Sternberg’s triangular model of love, I would classify Sarah and Kyle’s relationship as fatuous love. They are passionate and committed towards one another but have not had the time for intimacy to develop. Likewise, they did not have the time for conflict to arise in the relationship. Most of the conflict between them took place prior to establishing the relationship when Sarah did not believe that Kyle was from the future and that a cyborg was trying to kill her. The cyborg was obviously not human and did try to kill her which validated Kyle’s story.

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

Top Ten Favorite Songs Based On Works Of Literature

Greetings friends,

These songs are based on works of literature. These are also songs that I personally enjoy and from genres that I normally listen to. I limited each artist to one song so that certain bands would not populate the entire list. I am going to begin the list with a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention. Black Sabbath – Behind the Wall of Sleep
This song is a reference to the H.P. Lovecraft short story Beyond the Wall of Sleep.

Honorable Mention. Metallica – The Thing That Should Not Be
This song is a reference to the creature Cthulhu which is taken from the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu is quite literally the thing that should not be.

Honorable Mention. Manowar – Achilles, Agony, and Ecstacy in Eight Parts
This song is a reference to The Iliad. It describes the battle between Achilles and Hector. The song goes on for almost a half hour of awesomeness. It almost made the main list, but I felt that some of the length of certain parts dragged on too much for it be considered a masterpiece as a whole.

I felt that the songs above deserved a mention even though they did not make the official list. Without further ado, I present the top ten songs based on works of literature!

10. Blackmore’s Night – Windmills
This song is a haunting tune that is inspired by the adventures of Hidalgo in the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. I have never read the book, but it is on my list to read. It keeps being referenced in other works that that I enjoy so I feel obligated to check it out myself. Despite not having read the book, I am vaguely aware of some of the themes of the story, especially in regard to chasing imaginary enemies. Recently, I have referenced the theme in the context of ducking out of battles that have no need to be fought. The story also stands as a testament of standing up for what you believe in even if it is not the common opinion, “still he braves his path, while windmills only laugh”.

9. Demon’s & Wizard’s – Love’s Tragedy Asunder
This song is my favorite track off of the Demon’s & Wizard’s album The Crimson King. The majority of the album is based off of Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower series, of which I have only read the first book and a short story prequel. Unfortunately, I do not think I have read far enough to get to the relevance of this song. However, the song makes sense and is a great song by itself, “She still has sunshine in her weary eyes. A bed of roses to testify my love. A promise made, now I will make a try. There is no power on earth to tear us apart”. This project is brought to life by the wonderful talents of the vocalist of Blind Guardian, Hansi Kürsch and the guitarist of Iced Earth, Jon Schaffer.

8. Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days
This song is my favorite track off of Soundgarden’s album Superunknown, followed closely by its companion song The Day I Tried To Live. The majority of the album is inspired by the works of Sylvia Plath, who was one of Chris Cornell’s favorite poets. I’ve read some of her work and quite enjoy it. Plath and Cornell both suffered from depression and the pain that they tried to deal with is reflected in their writings. Unfortunately, both of their lives also came to a similar tragic end. Knowing of the kind of pain that Chris Cornell was suffering from, the album, and especially this song takes on new meaning. “Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life. Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life. Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile. Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time”.

7. Delain – Such a Shame
Such a Shame is cover song originally by the band Talk Talk. Having heard both versions, I prefer Delain’s version. I feel that singer Charlotte Wessels brings the song to a better emotional level. The song itself is based off of the book, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. “The dice decide my fate. That’s a shame (that’s a shame). In these trembling hands my faith tells me to react”. I have never read the book, but I added it to my to read list because the premise of a psychiatrist choosing to live his life based off of the outcome of rolling dice sounds interesting.

6. Rush – Tom Sawyer
I have a feeling I might have a slightly unpopular opinion on at least the material this song is inspired by. I adore this song, it is one of my favorite Rush songs and it is based off of Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I have never read the book and will never read the book. I have read Huckleberry Finn…and it was one of the worst pieces of literature I have ever read. I am going to base by opinion of Tom Sawyer off of Huckleberry Finn, because I can. For the longest time, I figured I would just dislike anything by Mark Twain, but the guy does have a few quotes that I enjoy. I recognize his impact even though I do not understand it. The song however is a masterpiece of music, “What you say about his company. Is what you say about society. Catch the mist, catch the myth. Catch the mystery, catch the drift”.

5. Blind Guardian – Wheel of Time
It was hard to pick a single Blind Guardian song for this list. They tend to do a lot of songs based off of works of literature, most notably their entire Nighfall on Middle Earth album which is based off of The Lord of the Rings. They have other various songs based off of The Lord of the Rings on other albums as well as songs based off of Game of Thrones and Paradise Lost. However, I feel that above all of those stands the epic Wheel of Time based off of Robert Jordan’s work of the same name. “Wheel of time. Save my soul, find a way. May it be as the pattern has chosen. Oh, wheel of time. Turn the wheel of time. It keeps on spinning. There’s no beginning. There’s no end, wheel of time. There’s no beginning. Just keep on spinning”. It is only right that the fantasy epic has an epic song based on it. I have never read them, but I do plan on remedying that eventually.

4. Iced Earth – Dante’s Inferno
This song is based off of the book of the same name, by Dante Aligheri. I have read this one! In fact, I own three different editions of the book because I enjoyed it so much (I am not sure what that says about me). Thankfully I got the pleasure of reading it in high school which was one of the highlights of the entire high school experience for me. The book also inspired me to write a sort of tribute in the form of Grim Bureaucracy. You better believe that I listened to this behemoth of a song while writing it, it sits at approximately sixteen and half minutes long. “Abandon all hope who enter here. For this is where all things are left behind. Every doubt and every cowardice must die. Souls of rage and anger whipping in despair”. You feel as if you have traveled through the eight circles of Hell along with Dante and Virgil.

3. Iron Maiden – The Trooper
It was hard to pick a single Iron Maiden song for this list. Like Blind Guardian, they also pull heavily from works of literature. The Trooper is the quintessential Iron Maiden song, hell the quintessential metal song period. It stands as one of my favorite songs of all time. It is based off of Alfred Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, another work of literature I have never read. “You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too. You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through. So when you’re waiting for the next attack. You’d better stand there’s no turning back”.

2. Symphony X – Paradise Lost
I almost chose The Odyssey by Sympony X instead, which is based of the work of the same name by Homer. The Odyssey I have actually read, it was one of my favorite high school reads. I loved exploring the Greek mythology within it. Ultimately, I chose Paradise Lost because I believe that the song is a more consistent work of art. “Looking down from Ethereal Skies. Silent crystalline tears I cry. For all will say their last goodbye, to Paradise”. It is based on the work of the same name by John Milton, which I do plan on reading eventually.

1. Nightwish – The Poet and the Pendulum
In my opinion, only the likes of Nightwish could create such a masterful piece as to stand out above the rest of the songs on this list. I already feel a bit guilty for placing Sympony X ahead of Iron Maiden, let alone putting yet someone else above them. However, Nightwish has earned this position and it didn’t come easily. This song comes from their album Dark Passion Play, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. The title of the song, The Poet and the Pendulum is a play of the title of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Pit and the Pendulum. It is also apparent that the short story has inspired the song as well. The song is also inspired by the personal life of songwriter Tuomas Holopainen and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. It is possible that the song has further inspirations as well. The song sits at almost fourteen minutes long and is a compositional masterpiece.

A special thank you to Wikipedia, Songfacts, and Dark Lyrics for the research assistance.

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

Top Ten Favorite Songs Based On Films

Greetings friends,

These songs are based on films. I have not included songs that were made for films. These are also songs that I personally enjoy and from genres that I normally listen to. I limited each artist to one song so that certain bands would not populate the entire list. There are some bands like Iced Earth, Star One, Iron Maiden, Wednesday 13, and Metallica that have multiple songs that fit into this topic. Warning, I do talk about the movies that the songs are based on so I am obligated to give an alert for spoilers. I felt that it would be practically impossible to talk about the songs without talking about the movies as well.

10. My Chemical Romance – Early Sunsets Over Monroeville
This song was inspired by Dawn of the Dead (1978) (R.I.P. George Romero). I’m not a huge fan of “emo” bands. However, I did enjoy some of My Chemical Romance’s work, especially the two albums The Black Parade and I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. The latter of which is home to this song. George Romero is well known for his zombie films, this being one of his best. When it comes to zombie films I tend to prefer Lucio Fulci, that is beside the point though. This song does a good job of capturing the source material. The beginning of the song depicts the setting (which is a mall), “Up and down escalators, Pennies and colder fountains, Elevators and half price sales.” The middle and end of the song explores the dilemma of the character struggling with having to shoot his wife because she has turned into a zombie, “Not knowing you’d change from just one bite, I fought them all off just to hold you close and tight, but does anyone notice? But does anyone care? And if I had the guts… To put this to your head, but does anything matter? If you’re already dead…” Zombies are fascinating for reasons described amazingly well by IGN (I’ll let them talk about it so I don’t have to).

Loved ones turning into zombies is something that is explored well by sources like George Romero’s movies and recently with the series The Walking Dead. Some of my poetry explores this idea too. Most notably my poem Winter of the Dead. It has some similar inspiration as the song above. I wrote it around the time of The Walking Dead premiere.

Winter of the Dead
My love is lying in the other room.
The fever has already started to spread.
I got up to be beside her.
I placed my lips upon her head.
Why have the gone began to rise again?
This is the winter of the dead.
We were walking home.
When she was bitten by the dead.
It’s not the zombies I’m afraid of.
It’s the losing her that I so dread.
Why have the gone began to rise again?
This is the winter of the dead.
The evil ones they walked behind us.
As I ran home with her in arms.
We both knew she was infected.
She had the virus in her head.
Why have the gone began to rise again?
This is the winter of the dead.
Is it snowing yet? she asked me.
You see my love she loves the snow.
I opened the curtains and the white dust fell.
The beginning of my frozen Hell.
Why have the gone began to rise again?
This is the winter of the dead.
I kissed my love one last time.
Her lips they tasted so divine.
I felt the blood stop within her heart.
We had promised to never be apart.
Why have the dead began to rise again?
This is the winter of the dead.
I laid down beside her.
Gun in my left hand.
I put my arms around her.
I put a bullet in our heads.

9. Rush – Cinderella Man
This song was inspired by Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Rush did a great job with this song. Since Rush is one of the greatest bands of all time, it is no surprise that they made it on the list. The more shocking thing might be that I listed them so low. Part of this is due to the fact they have much better songs than Cinderella Man. If Tom Sawyer was based off of a movie then it would be much higher on the list. The movie Mr. Deeds starring Adam Sandler is a loose adaptation of the original movie. I have never seen the original movie but I have seen Mr. Deeds and I have listened to this Rush song many times. The gist of the storyline seems to be about a rural man that inherits a large sum of money from an urban relative, “A modest man, from Mandrake, Traveled rich to the city, He had a need to discover, A use for his newly-found wealth.” The rural man has to go to the city and is introduced to many characters that seek to undermine him for his inheritance. The rural man comes face to face with the greed that is an unfortunate characteristic of the urbanites that he is surrounded by. They mock him and do their best to break him emotionally, “Because he was human, Because he had goodness, Because he was moral, They called him insane.”

8. Wednesday 13 – Haddonfield
This song was written about Halloween (1978). 1978 was apparently a good year for horror movies. John Carpenter helmed this movie who is also a well-known horror director. Halloween is about the slasher Michael Myers. Myers escapes the sanitarium he is being kept at (for the murder of his sister as a child) and returns to his hometown to kill again, “It was the night that he came home, So you don’t go out alone, When it’s dark in Haddonfield.” Myers fixates on one of the teenagers in the town by the name of Laurie Strode and stalks her, “And now he’s looking for Laurie, But she doesn’t even know.” Anyone that gets in the way of him and Laurie gets killed in the process. Myer’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis finds out about the escape and knows about what Myer’s intends to do and thus tries to stop him, “But Loomis is trailing him, And he won’t go without a fight, oh no.” Loomis does end up finding Myer’s in the end and shoots him. However, the body is never found. The song does a good job of capturing the character of Myer’s and retells the story of the movie for us, albeit a cliff notes version. The comparison of Michael Myer’s to the bogeyman is a nice touch, “It’s only the boogie man, And he knows what he wants tonight.” No one is safe when Myer’s is in town.

7. The 69 Eyes – Lost Boys
This song is inspired by The Lost Boys (1987). It is from the perspective of the lost boys. It has been a long time since I watched the movie, it is a horror movie about vampires. It centers around a couple of brothers that move to Santa Carla, California with their mother in order to live with their grandfather. The brothers meet up with some of the locals and end up finding out that some of them are vampires. One of the brothers is turned into a half-vampire (they are not full vampires until they kill). The head vampire of the area intends to turn the brothers mother into a vampire so that she can in turn be a mother for his lost boys which is another name for his clan. I can’t help but nod my head along to the groove of this song. It is really catchy and in my opinion one of the best songs by The 69 Eyes. The lines, “Morning light hurts your eyes” and “We are dead until dark” reference the vampire condition. The indirect sunlight causes pain and the direct sunlight can be fatal. When the main character Michael is discovering what he is in danger of becoming he experiences sensitivity to the morning light. Sunlight keeps the vampires of the area at bay during the day so although they are technically the undead, in their own way they come alive at night.

6. Metallica – Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
This song is inspired by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). This song is haunting and I think tries to capture what it is like to be in an actual sanitarium (although I cannot speak from experience). Some of the lines that stand out are, “They keep me locked up in this cage. Can’t they see it’s why my brain says ‘rage’?”, “Whisper things into my brain, Assuring me that I’m insane.”, and “Keep him tied, it makes him well. He’s getting better, can’t you tell?” I have never watched the movie that the song is based on (it is on my to-watch list) but from what I can gather from the song it is about a mental patient that is stuck in a sanitarium and does not enjoy the experience (not that one would). The mental patient towards the end is planning an escape. Throughout the song the character calls out for the sanitarium to just leave him alone. This could be the caretakers at the sanitarium or perhaps it has a deeper meaning of the actual building having a presence of its own.

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5. Evergrey – Nosferatu
This song is inspired by Nosferatu (1922). Once again, I have never seen the film that this song is based on. The song is from the perspective of Nosferatu as they hunt their prey. They refer to themselves as an embodiment of darkness, an embodiment of despair, and classify themselves as the undead, “I am despair.”, “All the stories you’ve heard are true. The tales of my darkness too.”, “You must leave your breathing life. Only to be reborn in mine.” The song refers to the vampire bite as planting dark seeds. It also implies that in addition to drinking the blood that the soul of the victim is harvested.

4. The White Stripes – The Union Forever
This song is based on Citizen Kane (1941). I have not seen the film that this song it based on either. Some research led me to the site Songfacts. There I found the following breakdown that does a good job of explaining different aspects of the song.

3. Iced Earth – Dragon’s Child
This song is inspired by The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). There is beginning to be a pattern here of movies that I haven’t seen. I’ll have to correct that one of these days. This song is one of my favorite songs that comes from Iced Earth’s Horror Show album. The album also features songs based on other films and works of literature. The song Wolf is inspired by The Wolf Man films. The song Damien is inspired by The Omen films. The song Im-Ho-Tep is inspired by The Mummy. The song Jekyll & Hyde is inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The songs Frankenstein and Dracula are inspired by the stories of the same name. The song The Phantom Opera Ghost is inspired by The Phantom of the Opera. While I enjoy the entire album, Dragon’s Child stood out to me because when I listen to it I almost feel as if the creature is actually chasing me. The vocals capture the essence of the character and the music flows at a chilling pace setting the overall tone of the song. “Oh, beware the blackened water. The creature has come to take you away!”

2. Star One – The Eye of Ra
This song is based on Stargate (1994). I’ve seen this one! The movie is great and this song is an amazing tribute. Star One is a creation by man by the name of Arjen Anthony Lucassen that seems to exist for the sole purpose of creating songs with themes usually borrowed from sci-fi movies and shows. In addition to Lucassen, most of the albums feature guests from bands such as Symphony X, Nightwish, and Headspace. There were many to choose from and but this song stands out to me. In order to narrow the list down I started by picking my top five songs that follow the theme of this list. I then narrowed the top five down to my top two. From there it was agonizing trying to choose only one. Perfect Survivor (based on Alien) was the other contender for this spot until The Eye of Ra pulled ahead. I love how the backing vocalists complement the lead vocalist. It creates what in my opinion is practically a perfect song. The song switches perspectives throughout featuring a storyteller, archaeologist, marine, native girl (native to the planet they traveled to through the Stargate), and then all of them together. Archeologists on Earth discover what they call a Stargate in Egypt. After they find a way to activate it and program it, a team of archaeologists and marines travel through the gate to explore the other side, “I have finally found the key, to chart a course to the other side of the galaxy.” Unfortunately, once there they find themselves lacking the coordinates to program the Stargate on that world to return them home, “Unaware of our coming fate, we disappear through the ancient gate. We arrive in a desert land, and set up camp on the burning sand.” The team discovers a group of humans that are slaves to the god Ra and mine the planet for minerals for him. Ra turns out to be a member of another race that once had come to Earth in order to possess human bodies and extend his life. Ra enslaved the humans of Earth to mine for minerals and moved some of them to the new planet where the team find themselves, “Behold, a thousand slaves. Mining ores in the planet’s caves.” In the past, the humans of Earth revolted. Ra thus far has kept the humans on the other planet under his rule but the team of archaeologists and marines help the currently enslaved humans revolt as well, “A bloody battle has begun, we must destroy this king of the sun.” Eventually the final symbol for the coordinates to program the Stargate is discovered and the archaeologists and marines can return home, “We have found the seventh sign. Down in the catacombs. When the seven points align. They will lead us all back home.”

1. Iron Maiden – The Wicker Man
This song is inspired by The Wicker Man (1973). There is a remake of the The Wicker Man that came out in 2006. The remake is a steaming pile of shit. The original is a horror movie classic that is based on a book called Ritual by the author David Pinner. This song is in my opinion one of the greatest songs of all time. The movie takes place on an island called Summerisle where the islanders worship pagan Celtic gods. A police Sergeant by the name of Howie is sent to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl by the name of Rowan after receiving an anonymous letter. Howie is shocked to find out about the ways of the islanders. After doing some research Howie comes to the conclusion that Rowan was chosen for a sacrifice which is part of a celebration by the islanders. However, Rowan is actually not the intended sacrifice, Howie is. The chorus of the song I believe alludes to the world becoming anew at the start of every day. They are dancing to celebrate the coming of their May Day celebration where all must join hands around a burning wicker man that contains a human sacrifice. The chorus is as follows, “You watch the world exploding every single night. Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light. Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain. The shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again.” I believe the ending of the song, “Your time will come, your time will come” to be suggesting that eventually the wicker man will choose you.

A special thank you to Wikipedia, Songfacts, and Dark Lyrics for the research assistance.

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

The Dark Watchlist: June-July 2017

The Dark Watchlist: June-July 2017

Greetings friends,

This is a combined watchlist for the months of June and July. There have been a lot of family events lately. Some of those events include bad things such as deaths in the family and good things such as wedding planning and finding out multiple family members are planning on getting married.

Marco

My music interest for the last couple of months has heavily featured multiple bands that have one member in common, Marco Hietala. If you are unfamiliar with the name I recommend checking out the bands Nightwish, Tarot, Delain (he is a guest for many songs), and Northern Kings. I don’t know how he has the time for all of his projects. In my opinion, he is probably one of the most important figures in the music industry today.

yugioh.jpg

In order to distract myself from a lot of the stressors as of late, I have been playing the mobile game Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Growing up I was a fan of the show and the card game. I still have some of those cards from my childhood and it is great being able to log into a mobile game and get a swift kick of nostalgia and sharpen my mind with strategy at the same time. One of the best things about the mobile version is that the cards don’t take up as much space, you can store thousands in your virtual card catalog. I enjoy the animations (skippable animations I might add) that accompany certain cards when played by certain individuals. For instance, if you are playing as Yami Yugi then you are treated to a badass animation of The Dark Magician being summoned, assuming that card is in your particular deck and you play it. It does a great job of igniting my fiero into a blaze of glory.

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reality

This book is fascinating so far, especially as a gamer with a love of studying psychology. It goes into detail theorizing how games have been used in the past and can be used today as a fix for societal and individual issues. The author describes how her and her husband use games in their relationship and how she has used games in the past to help with symptoms of a terrible concussion. She talks about how games these days aren’t so much an escape of reality as they are tool to complement reality.

blues

This book is a companion book to one of my favorite books of all time, “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.” This book is setup like a daily desk calendar but with no particular year. Each page is different day and contains some bit of wisdom. Some are certainly better than others depending on what kind of mood you are in. The setup of this book slightly detracted from the overall feel of it but on the other side of that coin it added the flexibility to read a snippet here and there without fear of losing track of where I was at in regards to the cohesiveness of an actual story. In the future, I plan on referencing this book periodically and having fun with being reminded of what chunk of wisdom is on the page of the particular day I decide to read it. One of my favorite excerpts from the book is as follows, “Some children were raised without enough parental validation of who they were and what they were worth. When these neglected youngsters grow up, they usually don’t feel entitled to other people’s recognition of either the existence or the value of their identity. As if trying to ransom back their stolen identities, they try hard to please others so that they’ll validate their uncertain worth. Paradoxically, they are more likely to expect and accept criticism than appreciation in return, and they pay an exorbitant price of unnecessary accommodation and deference. Ironically, when people betray themselves in these needlessly degrading ways, they do not ransom back who they are. They become unwitting accomplices in the repetition of the original theft. ‘Once you’re a grown-up, no one can kidnap your soul unless you act as an accomplice.’”

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Death Wish Coffee is awesome. My favorite kind that they make is the barrel brand rum version. There is practically no bitterness whatsoever to the coffee and you detect a hint of rum flavor that the beans have absorbed from being aged in used spirit barrels. They also have whiskey and bourbon versions. Their coffee isn’t cheap, but using the adage you get what you pay for you can expect great things from Death Wish Coffee.

oreos

We finally have an Oreo that has the flavor of coffee infused into it! I have dipped Oreos in my coffee before and enjoyed the result and now I can have them combined into one and still get to dip them in milk. These are high up on the list of reasons why it is a good time to be alive.

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They make mini-bottles of sparkling apple cider! I am probably more excited about these than a grown man should be. Sometimes when I am eating dinner I want it to be classy and other times I just want there to be a little bit of class. This bottle is great for adding a dash of class to the evening without having to break open a larger bottle, which is great if you want to have a classy dinner by yourself.

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There is a recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook for sweet sausage rolls. It uses mini-smokey-links, crescents (that you have to cut up), and a mixture of stuff in a pan that gets baked. The clean-up for that particular dish sucks because it uses honey, brown sugar, etc. that just congeals and sticks to the pan. I wanted a simpler version. I came up with using regular smokey-links with honey-butter crescents in order to mimic the flavor of the more complicated version but with less ingredients and steps to the overall process. Of course, like every food item the ratio of crescents to links do not match but is fixed by making a couple of them with two links instead of one. I heat the oven to what it says on the crescent package and cook it for ten minutes. I cook them on a cookie sheet covered with non-stick aluminum foil and clean-up is as easy as removing the foil and placing the pan back in the drawer. It is a fairly low-cost meal as well.

bag

shenron

This is a must have for any Dragonball fan. It is a great addition to my Funko collection and pairs nicely with the other Dragonball Funko figures. It was made exclusively for Galactic Toys but I found it on Amazon.

ttobf-poster

This is a movie made by Jakob Bilinski whom I have the pleasure of being Facebook friends with. I have seen most of his other films to date and highly enjoy them. I went to high school with one of the actresses in a few of his films which is how I discovered him. I look forward to his future works and especially to checking this movie out. I plan on making it a part of the horror movie marathon this year.

Percy-Bysshe-Shelley

Percy Shelley is an author that I was unfamiliar with until recently. I had heard of some of his works, but never knew the man behind them. He is the husband of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. One of his quotes from Ozymandias was used in the movie Alien: Covenant, “Look on my works, ye mighty and despair.” His works also inspired the character Ozymandias in the comic Watchmen. I purchased The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley for $1.06 for the Amazon Kindle and highly look forward to reading it.

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries

The Dark Watchlist: May 2017

Greetings friends,

This is one of my favorite albums of the year thus far. I foresee it being in my top five if not top three albums of the year. The album is solid pretty much all of the way through. Their other albums had some tracks here and there that stood out but damn they brought their A game for this album. If you like classic rock, progressive rock, and being taken on a musical journey then I highly recommend this album to you. One of my favorite tracks from it is Gemini which is posted below. Some of my other favorite tracks include Midnight Flyer, Sad State of Affairs, Domino, and Something Mysterious.

May the force be with you. I’ve always loved Star Wars and re-watch them from time to time. This month I took the time to watch all of the currently released Star Wars films. Yes, even the prequels. Much to my surprise the prequels were better than I remembered them being. They still aren’t great by any means but if you subtract pretty much everything that involves Jar Jar and the entire romance between Anakin and Padme then they aren’t as bad. I re-watched Rogue One which is awesome! I loved that stand-alone film, especially K-2SO and Chirrut Îmwe. The original trilogy of course is classic and I am lucky enough to have the unedited versions that Lucas didn’t mess with. Every time I watch the original trilogy there are new things for me to take away from it. One of my favorite quotes this time around was from Yoda, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” The marathon concluded with The Force Awakens which I thoroughly enjoyed as well. I have also discovered that there are many psychology and philosophy books that are inspired by Star Wars, I have added some of them to my wish list: Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, The Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned, The Dharma of Star Wars, and Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful than You Can Possibly Imagine.

This cream soda is awesome. It tastes sort of what I imagine butterbeer tasting like. The only thing that I have tried that might be closer to butterbeer is Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. The Boylan creme soda I can get at my local Kroger. I have seen it at Elevation Burger and Jungle Jim’s. It is by far my favorite drink from the creme soda class. It is actually one of my favorite drinks period. The Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer I have only spotted at Jungle Jim’s.

Recently I found myself in dire need of a new device for transferring videos from VHS. I am one of the designated techs of the family and there were some important family videos that needed transferring. In the past, I used a device made by Diamond. However, it would not work when I tried to use it. Upon further research, I discovered that the Diamond device does not play well with Windows 10. Some people have had good luck but I was not one of those people. I had access to a Macbook Pro that I tried the Diamond device on, also to no avail. Enter the Vidbox for Mac. I wasn’t real happy with the price tag but in the end it paid off. I have never had an easier experience converting from VHS. The software that the Vidbox uses is way more user friendly than the software that came with the Diamond. I am hoping that the Vidbox will not suffer the fate of being too out of date when and if the time comes again for me to convert from VHS. If you need a device for a VHS converting project and have a Mac, then this is for you. They have a Windows version as well but I cannot say whether or not it works as well.

It has been on my list to check out some of C.G. Jung’s books. He is pretty much a must read for those that enjoy studying Psychology. I had some Amazon points that I traded in for The Undiscovered Self. A visit to Half Price Books added Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and Man and His Symbols to my collection.

I was looking for another book by Philip Zimbardo called Man, Interrupted. However, I stumbled across The Lucifer Effect instead. I went ahead and bought it because it sounded interesting and I have been interested in checking out Zimbardo’s work. He is primarily known for the Stanford Prison Experiment.

It has become apparent to me that I need to read more book by Alan Watts so using some Amazon points again I traded them in for The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. Thus far, I have not been disappointed by any Alan Watts book I have read and have gained many insights as a result of reading them.

The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am. The title alone was enough to warrant purchasing this item. My love of philosophy is icing on the cake. Lately I have been playing the Zelda games as part of my “studies” and I believe that this book with be a valuable primer to complement those studies.

Thank you,
Jake Jeffries