All posts by Jonathan Hardesty

Co-host/Video Producer/Writer for After the Hype. Created an animated fantasy webseries called Flagon. GM for Demon Dayz: An Actual Play Podcast, which you can conveniently find here on this site.

Pandemic Picks: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

Hey guys, do you ever feel too flustered, concerned, or worried to do much more than click your mouse or tap on your phone? Does this pandemic have you unable to do much more than simple actions? Well, have I got a video game for you!

It’s called Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms and it’s a Dungeons and Dragons idle clicker game where all you do is click to get gold coins, experience points, and cool unlockable characters. You can engage with this thing as much or as little as you want and the game adjusts to your interest and abilities. Just want to click on baddies and make them burst into violent blood stains on the ground? You’re all set. Want to figure out which battle formation will yield the highest DPS so you can reach level 100 and possibly unlock a golden chest or a special new character? Yeah, the game got you, boo.

Lots of things to click and it’s glorious. Engage…or don’t. It’s fine!

Idle Champions is free-to-play, but the grind is part of the appeal. There are times where I don’t have enough in me to play a super complex RPG or get invested in my tasks in Animal Crossing. There are also times where I simply don’t have a lot of time while, like when I’m waiting for an appointment or I’m in line to get into Trader Joes.

Give it a try, it will help pass the time and will scratch your Dungeons and Dragons itch until you can get back to the table. Ahem, the virtual table. You can find this game on pretty much every platform except for those refrigerator and car operating systems…although that can still happen. Cheers!

Pandemic Picks: Mickey Mouse Shorts

If you’ve followed me for any length of time online you’ve probably come across me throwing shade in Disney’s direction. Up until recently I’ve been pretty vocal in my disapproval of their business practices, and while I still have major problems with them as a company, they’ve won some points with me for their Mickey Mouse shorts.

The Mickey Mouse shorts first premiered on June 28th, 2013 on the Disney Channel and then eventually made their way to the Mickey Mouse YT channel – which is where I found them and immediately fell in love with them. I was taken in by the animation, which was fun and energetic, as well as the super-stylized and colorful backgrounds. I found myself binging through them pretty quickly and even subscribing to the YT Channel so I could catch the latest one when it dropped.

For today’s Pandemic Pick I thought I would make this my recommendation and give you a few of my favorites from this long-running series. Enjoy, and let me know which one is your favorite.

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Hey, Check This Out: From Here to Eternity

I haven’t been all that interested in music exploration for years now, letting that hobby languish in favor of others such as movies, videogames, television, and most recently Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not hip with the latest indie music releases, and I haven’t been to a show at the Echoplex in years. At this point, anything new I come across is strictly accidental. However, I’ve started taking an interest in older music, and I owe that completely to film. Case in point: From Here to Eternity, by Giorgio Moroder.

Came across this album via Gaspar Noé’s 2018 perverted Busby Berkeley fever-dream psychological horror film CLIMAX, which has an amazing soundtrack to go along with its delightfully alarming visuals. One track in particular stood out:

I quite enjoy the likes of Daft Punk, Justice, Ratatat, and The Chemical Brothers and all of my favorites from their works claim Giorgio as an influence, whether they explicitly state that or not. So, I decided to check out this album and start digging into this musical blind spot, and wow was I rewarded for my efforts.

From Here To Eternity came out in 1977, and it’s really cool to be able to connect the dots between the music I enjoy today with its influences. You should really check it out.

Mystery Men (1999)

A LOOK BACK AT A DUMB, IRREVERENT SUPER HERO FILM THAT REMAINS MY FAVORITE.

Man, 1999 was such a vibrant year for film. You had movies like Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, 10 Things I Hate About You, Office Space, American Pie Fight Club, The Mummy, and even Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut. A veritable cinematic feast, if you will. I can’t think of another time period that such an impact on my taste, humor, and sensibilities.

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It’s Time To Bury Our Firsts

We have a hard time letting go of our childhood favorites, and we’re worse off for it.

 

My geek and nerd history is filled with some wonderful firsts. The first time I saw Star Wars, sitting in front of a small TV watching the trilogy back to back on cable. Seeing Indiana Jones get chased by the boulder through the decrepit ruins for the first time. Witnessing The Delorean’s maiden voyage into the past. Seeing how far down the rabbit hole went in The Matrix. Experiencing Middle Earth for the first time, and then seeing it adapted for the screen. Discovering that Cowboy Bebop was merely the tip of the Anime iceberg. Playing my first tabletop RPG. Saving the galaxy from Reapers and breaking hearts as Commander Shepard. And yet, when I sit down and contemplate these firsts, I find myself wrestling with a desire to relive and repackage the greatest hits of my youth versus putting them to rest and moving on.

 

Today the media landscape has become a veritable King’s Feast of nostalgic geek and nerd content. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the multiplexes since Iron Man in 2008, and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. We’ve had a Star Wars film come out every year since 2015, as well as comics and cartoons to fill in the blanks. We got a Blade Runner sequel, two more Jurassic Park sequels, a Ghostbusters remake, a Trainspotting sequel, a Beauty and the Beast remake, two Alien prequels, A Mummy remake, and so on. Stranger Things has even tapped into our collective nostalgia for the 80s, giving us familiar synth strings and exceptional set design to transport us back in time. What a wonderful buffet of memory! Grab another plate, stay awhile.

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A Hype To Remember: Hanna (2011)

A Dark, Violent and delightful surprise, with a kickin’ score!

I hadn’t been in Los Angeles all that long, really. Wasn’t acclimated to the temperature, and still thought sixty degrees was “warm.” In-n-Out was a novelty for me, and so were all the movie theater options available (you mean I can go to the theater Tarantino owns whenever I want??).

 

Joe Wright as a director was on my radar, but I had only seen his Pride and Prejudice, which I thought “was fine.” Both Atonement and The Soloist were a skip for me based on the marketing, which made the trailer for Hanna a bit of a surprise when I saw it.

 

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POWER RANGERS IN 30 SECONDS

 

Friend of the show Christopher Hayden joins us on this week’s episode to break down the plot to the 2016 POWER RANGERS movie.

 

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A Hype To Remember: Hannibal (TV)

It was a gory, three-course meal with complicated start and a ravishing finish.

My favorite television show of all time is Hannibal, the surprising NBC adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. The show focused on FBI Special Investigator Will Graham and his relationship to Psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a relationship that the internet would lovingly dub “murder husbands.”

 

SEE??! MURDER HUSBANDS ARE REAL AND IMPORTANT!

 

As someone who enjoyed Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, found an amusing appreciation for Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, and found himself bored by Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon, I was interested to see how NBC (of all channels) was going to take a stab at the polite cannibal.

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A Hype To Remember: Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns turns 25 this week, and to celebrate we’re looking back at the hype for the movie!

 

My introduction to Batman Returns wasn’t typical in that I came to it much later and played the video game first. As a young kid my Batman was the Adam West Batman, so this darker take from Tim Burton never really connected. It certainly looked cool, and piqued my interest thanks to its edgier tone, but it felt “other” to the goofier Gotham I was used to.

 

I decided to take a look back at the hype surrounding this movie, especially since I don’t remember much of the marketing for it compared to the ’89 Batman film.

 

 

For some this was probably “their” movie Batman, and the trailer definitely brought the hype for that. For me, I had much of the same reaction I had for the first movie: “It’s fine.” What I didn’t expect was that in the marketing for this movie (and for the movies themselves) Gotham would feel like a tangible location and not some dressed up “insert-city-here.” That’s unique, and in my opinion one of the legacies of the Burton era of Batman.

 

Do you remember the marketing for Batman Returns? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!

 

It’s Our Fault We’ll Never Get The Next Star Wars

Nostalgia is a big part of our current pop culture landscape, but maybe it’s keeping us from getting the next Star Wars, or TMNT, or Doctor Who.

I think it was either Universal Studios’ announcement of their DARK UNIVERSE franchise or the latest round of “Cowboy Bebop is REALLY getting a live-action series” news that I came to the realization that we’ve given the next generation a bit of a raw deal when it comes to entertainment. Much of the movies, television shows, comic books, and pop culture that have defined our childhood have undergone a revival to aggressively cash in on our nostalgia.

 

In some cases I’ve been very receptive to this; see 2012’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which struck a balance between reminding me what I loved about the 80s/90s cartoon, and making something new out of it for a younger generation of turtle fans. Still, it wasn’t new, and I’d be willing to guess that it won’t have the same impact on the new generation of fans that it had on me and my generation. They inherited the heroes in a half shell from us olds, but we saw its origin.

 

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