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Hugh Likes Theatre: Six Stories, Told at Night

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Six Stories, Told at Night
Directed by Blair Haynes
Written by KT Bryski
Starring Blythe Haynes, Alexandra Milne, and Isaiah Kolundzic

The Skinny – KT Bryski and Blythe Hayne’s award-winning audio drama shines as an independent theatrical production.

I wrote about Six Stories, Told at Night when it was first podcast back in 2016. Since then, it has gone on to win a Parsec award, and is now a black box theatre production in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival! The conversion between one-woman audio drama and stage production is outstanding, and the work blossoms under the talents of not one, but three amazing actors.
The story remains largely the same. When Sam’s childhood friend Joelle disappears, she resolves to find her. But Joelle hasn’t gone just anywhere. She’s gone to Elf Land, the world all stories come from, and it will take a very special story for Sam to follow her there. Along the way, Sam examines their relationship and the stories they grew up sharing, a series of French Canadian folktales that are the only clues she has to finding her friend.
“Six Stores” stars Blythe Haynes, the original actor from the audio drama as Sam, and Alexandra Milne as Joelle. They both trade off parts in the stores as well, shifting seamlessly as the present to the past and from Sam’s Imagination and memory to the folktales themselves. Isaiah Kolundzic rounds out the cast as Coyote, as well as any additional male parts as required. The benefit of seeing the drama as a play is seeing the actors bounce against one another, and watching as they slide from role to role, from story to storyteller. Each of them inhabits the stage differently, and the tension, dramatic and personal, sparks off of them.
Haynes, as Sam, is a coiled spring, all still nerves and unspent energy. Milne practically dances across the stage, all grace and calculated action, while Kolundzic is pure chaos as he shifts from Trickster God to werewolf to other, more terrifying monsters.
“Six Stories, Told at Night” is presented at the Theatre Passe Muraille as a part of this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival through July 15th. If you can get to Toronto to see it, go check it out!

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Hugh Likes Video Game: Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Published by Nintendo
Played on Nintendo Switch

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The Skinny: I don’t know what to tell you. if you haven’t heard of it by now. It’s really good.

So, yeah, Zelda Breath of the Wild has been out for a year, and praise has been heaped upon it. And it is well deserved. Like most of the core Nintendo franchises, Zelda games tend to iterate on a formula. Installments have stayed closer or farther from this formula, but in general, the pattern of travel around a persistent map and complete X number of elemental dungeons before fighting Gannon persists. Breath of the Wild reduces the dungeon count and instead focuses a bit more on the sprawling map, that is none-the-less filled with things to do.
Zelda BotW takes several design cues from Western RPGs like The Elder Scrolls in that there is always something interesting around the next corner. It also follows the design choices of A Link Between Worlds in that it gives the player his tools up front, and lets them tackle the game’s challenges as they wish, although there does feel like an ideal path.
While the game doesn’t offer the robust character development you typically see in Western RPGs, it does have a huge map full of things to do. Breath of the Wild replaces the hidden heart containers from previous games with Shrines, little formalized puzzle rooms scattered throughout the map, which also function as fast-travel points after you activate them. There are lots of mountains to climb, stuff to collect, and monsters to fight, and it rarely feels like a chore.
The four main quests do feel somewhat repetitive, as they each have the same basic structure, although the design for the dungeon-sized Divine Beasts are quite cool. The game has a very aggressive weapon and shield durability system, which will mean you will be spending a lot of time collecting replacement swords rather than relying on the familiar Master Sword. Fortunately, there is a huge variety of new ones to collect, so it does add some variety to the experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a huge, beautiful adventure with a new surprise over every ridge. It brings back a refreshing sense of freedom to the series, and is a must-play, in my opinion. You can find it for the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Wii-U.

Hugh Likes Comics: Coda

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Coda #1
Written by Simon Spurrier
Drawn by Matias Bergarda
Published by Boom! Studios

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The Skinny – A cynical wanderer navigates a lost magical world in this beautifully illustrated post-apocalyptic dark fantasy.

It is a given in a certain field of fantasy fiction, from Lord of the Rings to “The Legend of Zelda” that when a good, magical, noble fantasy kingdom is faced with annihilation from a Dark Lord, Good will, no matter the odds and no matter how long it takes, triumph in the end. But what if it doesn’t?
This is the central concept behind Spurrier and Bergarda’s “Coda.” A cynical wanderer, and former Royal Bard is searching the wasteland for his missing wife, until he stumbles across Ridgetown, a seeming oasis of magical and technological might out of the ‘old days.’ And they have the enchanted cannon to prove it. But where is their magic coming from? And what would happen to them if they were to lose it?
Coda is “Mad Max” with magic. Or more accurately, with a drought of magic. Just like water and gas running short in that series, we see how the world has fallen apart when the source of magic, a race of magical beings, are wiped out. And a world that seems to have been a black-and-white battlefield between the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is revealed to be a lot more complex as the survivors struggle to keep on living.
Spurrirer’s writing is intriguing, but it is brought to life by Bergarda’s sumptuous art and colors. The panels have a flow to them that carries you through the story at a disquieting rhythm. The colors have this soft-focus wash to them that establishes the fallen glory of the world perfectly.
Coda is available now from Comixology and Your Local Comics Shop. If you’re looking for something a bit different to tide you over until the next season of Game of Thrones, I heartily recommend it.

Hugh Likes Tabletop Games: Villages of Valeria

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Hugh Likes Tabletop Games: Villages of Valeria

Villages of Valeria
Designed by Rick Holzgrafe and Isaias Vallejo
Art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Published by Daily Magic Games

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The Skinny – A richly illustrated, strategic Tableau building card game that is quick to learn and fast paced.

Villages of Valeria is a great little card game. Players each take the role of a Duke, competing to make their town the capital of a fantasy kingdom. Using hands of cards drawn from a central area, players gain resources, build up their towns, and recruit a variety of citizens, from butchers to arch-mages in order to have the best town.
The game is easy to learn and strategic without being overly complicated. It is played with one to five players, even including a solitaire variant. A more open take on deck building games like Dominion, players build their towns up in the open, so everyone can see what everybody else has. The really interesting mechanic, though, is follow actions. Each turn, one player decides what action they are going to take, such as building by playing a card or paying cards to gain more resources. The trick is, after that player goes, his opponents can follow up with the same action. There is usually a benefit to going first, such as a cheaper cost or a better reward, but this still adds a nice layer to the gameplay, and you have to consider your opponents’ potential action as well as your own. This also keeps the gameplay fast paced, involving players even when it isn’t their turn. A typical game usually only lasts about 20-25 minutes.
The art on the cards is also great, with a nice use of the fantasy theme, including five gorgeous player staring cards of castles in different seasons.
Villages of Valeria is a quick, fun strategy card game that doesn’t require a PHD to play, with exciting fantasy art. You can find it online at dailymagicgames.com, or ask for it at your local game store!

Hugh Likes Comics – Ghost in the Shell FCBD 2018

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Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network Free Comic Book Day sapmple
Written by Max Gladstone
Art by David Lopez
Colors by Nayoung Kim
Published by Kodansha Comics

The Skinny: This single issue adventure gets a lot right in this Free Comic Book Day release.

When I first heard of “Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network,” I was skeptical. Western reinterpretations of manga and anime have a tendency to lose something in the translation, and the less said about the live-action film, the better. But I was pleasantly surprised by this single-issue story, distributed as a teaser for an upcoming anthology for Free Comic Book Day.
Gladstone’s story could be a slice of Masamune’s original manga, or a single-episode story of Stand Alone Complex. The Major accompanies Director Aramaki to a trade conference, where he immediately gets kidnapped, and she runs into an old war buddy while tracking him down. The characterization is spot-on from the two old spies philosophically discussing their natures to Aramaki glibly critiquing his interrogator’s technique.
The art is a bit rougher, and the only real flaw of the issue. Lopez’s technical art is spot on, reproducing the Masamune’s design elements and the 90’s cyberpunk aesthetic of the original comic. The character art is lacking, however. His faces in particular feel dated, as though he were copying off a circa-1990’s model sheet. Kim’s grimy colors are atmospheric and serve the story well.
Free Comic Book Day may be past, but if you can find a copy of this one-and-done story, and the character designs don’t throw you, this is a fun little cyberpunk tidbit.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Gluttony Bay

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Sin Du Jour: Gluttony Bay
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor

The Skinny: Matt Wallace returns for the sixth installment of his Sin Du Jour series, and the penultimate volume is just as nasty, brutal, and short as you’d expect. And that’s why it’s great.

After building tension over the course of five novellas, Matt Wallace’s “Sin Du Jour” Series is reaching the end of its rope, and it’s been one hell of a climb. Focusing on the misadventures of a supernatural catering service, the series has had a solid thematic line of making deals with the devil. The first novel involved a celebratory dinner for a whole tribe of demons, in fact. And the consequences of those decisions are finally coming home to roost for Wallace’s huge cast of characters.
As the crew of Sin Du Jour’s relationship with government contact and string-puller Allensworth continues to sour, he reveals to them his most closely guarded secret: Gluttony Bay, a combination black site prison/five star dinning experience for his most discerning supernatural contacts. I’ll leave you to guess what’s on the menu, but Bronko, Lena and the rest will have to make a difficult choice, and hopefully live with the consequences.
We’re nearly at the end of Wallace’s masterfully crafted rollercoaster ride, and the tension is so thick you can cut it with the finest of chef’s knives. Wallace doesn’t pull any punches with this one, and he leaves us with more of a statement than a question. The supernatural catering company has always danced around the question of how do you serve monsters without becoming one. And the answer is, simply, that you don’t. He makes his characters face an impossible choice, and the writing is as juicy and delicious as a perfectly prepared steak.
SIn Du Jour book six, “Gluttony Bay” is available from amazon.com, or your preferred ebook retailer. If my previous six reviews haven’t swayed you, don’t sleep on this one.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked it, please share it! Visit my Patreon for more content and to help me keep the lights on!

Podcast: CCR41-Revenge of the Zombies

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh of HughJODonnell.com, Rich the Time Traveler, Opopanax, and Jurd, must use a hidden ritual to survive this truly revolting film.

Click HERE to listen!

And if you must, click HERE to watch this dreadful movie.

This podcast was originally posted on 12/5/2017 at Skinner.FM.

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on your favorite podcatcher!

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