Monday, July 31, 2023

Paul Reubens Has Passed On

I remember several years ago when Double Dare host Marc Summers was interviewed on the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR where he revealed for the first time in public that he had suffered lymphocytic leukemia for several years. "In show business, if you talk about that stuff, it's hard to get hired afterwards. My agent said, 'Well, don't talk about it.' I've sort of compressed this thing and it's made me nuts." 

Since then, other celebrities were revealed to be suffering from cancer without letting the public know for similar reasons. Some were able to overcome it like voice actor Rob Paulsen and others had sadly succumb to it like actor Chadwick Boseman. But one I would've never guessed who not only went through cancer secretly, but had succumb to it recently was actor Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman.

According to his estate, the following statement was posted saying, "Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer and producer whose beloved character Pee-wee Herman delighted generations of children and adults with his positivity, whimsy and belief in the importance of kindness. Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit," it continued. "A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit."

Never would I have thought that I would hear such a heartbreaking announcement such as this! Literally, I was getting things ready for my sister's birthday when all of a sudden, this popped up on my social media outlets and I was reacted saying "What?! Are you serious?!" Over the past year, I have had people who I knew and loved pass away from cancer such as my aunt and a few acquaintances from church. Cancer is such a devastating disease that affects your entire body, mind, and emotions. You feel tired, weak, and hopeless. I hope that you or anyone you know never gets sick from cancer. It's not only devastating for you, but for those around you. Now that I think about it, it made so much sense why the Pee-wee's Big Adventure 35th anniversary tour didn't pick up after COVID-19 restrictions were gone or why there were no updates on Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie or the dark Pee-wee movie he had been working on for decades. He was very sick and couldn't do it. When I read more about Paul's death, I felt sadness coming into me. I was beyond crushed when people who I grew up with such as Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins, June Foray, and others had passed on. But I was introduced to Paul's work at a very young age which made this death a very hard one. Growing up in the late 80's and 90's, I knew about Pee-wee's Playhouse and Pee-wee's Big Adventure. I heard Paul's voice in many cartoons such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chowder, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Tron: Uprising, Adventure Time, and more. When Old School Lane first started in December 2011, I posted my top 10 Pee-wee Herman moments on my tumblr page because I was thrilled he was making a comeback and that became the first post that became viral because Paul himself Tweeted it. In a way, Old School Lane wouldn't have gotten its major start in the first place if it wasn't for Pee-wee Herman. So, if you loved my blog posts, podcasts, videos, and/or livestreams we've been doing for the past 10 years, Paul is partially to be thanked for getting us started. 

There was also the time I met him in person at MegaCon 2018 waiting in line for almost an hour just to meet him. I remember talking with two women who were in their 40s wanting to meet Paul because they grew up with Pee-wee's Playhouse. The reason why it took so long was because he was talking to a little girl no older than 6 and answering all her questions. When I finally approached him, I told him thank you for his work and gave him a printout of the Tweet of my blog post. While he didn't remember it, he did sign it for me. I will be forever grateful of that. 

The last thing I want to state before I conclude the question I asked to author and pop culture enthusiast Caseen Gaines about his book Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse way back in 2012. 

Patricia- Let’s just say, heaven forbid, Paul Reubens passes away unexpectedly. Do you think that people would finally forget about his indiscretions and focus on his great achievements?

Caseen- I absolutely think so. I mean, Paul Reubens has done an amazing service in this world as Pee-wee Herman.  Not only was the character entertaining, but it was inspiring to people like Kevin and a whole slew of other creative types. He has achieved great things and I think a lot of people are being reminded of that with his recent Pee-wee appearances.

Even though Paul had done his fair share of mistakes that had stilted his reputation and career, people still have fond memories of his work and how much of a sweet, kind, and gentle person he was. Craig Bartlett, the creator of Hey Arnold!, actress E.G. Daily, Stephanie Beatriz, Rob Paulsen, Wally Wingert, Lori Alan, Ricki Lake,  artist Wayne White, actress and comedian Laraine Newman, animator Jorge Guitierrez, and more have left their condolences to Paul. Pee-wee Herman is currently trending on social media of people posting about their sadness for his passing and their fond memories of his work. Sure, there will be a few people who will always bring up his incidents to give their reasonings on why he shouldn't be easily forgiven, but many people have since moved on. Especially, since there were a slew of other celebrities who have done far, far worse. But I digress. 

In closing, I'm going to miss Paul a lot! I will miss Pee-wee a lot! He was funny, quirky, sporadic, creative, and kind. He was one of the people I wanted to have on my podcast for an interview, but now I never will. I remember hearing about one of the last things he was working on was a memoir and a documentary about his life. I look forward to seeing them. 

Let me know in the comments below about your fond memories on Paul's work. Thanks for reading and hope to see you at Old School Lane soon. 


Saturday, May 20, 2023

MomoCon 2023 Panel Information & Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 201 Announcement

Patricia gives updates on the panel she's doing for MomoCon 2023 and what the next episode of Casual Chats is going to be about.

To learn more about MomoCon, check out the website at Head to the MomoCon Facebook page and click "Going" if you're headed to Patricia's panel "Writing Analytical Essays on Media".

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Metroid Dread Discussion/Review (Spoiler Free)

In June 2005, I remember reading on an article from Game Informer magazine of the reveals from Nintendo's E3 presentation of the games that were going to be coming out on the Wii and DS. There was one game that wasn't showcased, but caught my eye once I saw it: a new 2D Metroid game called Metroid Dread. The 2000's was the best decade for Metroid since the most amount of games were released that were critically acclaimed like the two Game Boy Advanced games Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion and the 3D 3rd person action adventure game Metroid Prime and its sequel Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. I was more than excited for more Metroid. Over the years, news of Metroid Dread became silent with little to no information on its release date. 

But that was fine since there were other games that came out such as Metroid Prime Hunters, Metroid Prime Pinball, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. But then the 2010s appeared and Metroid: Other M was such a polarizing game that it almost killed the franchise for over 6 years. Then, Yoshio Sakamoto, the director and producer of the Metroid games said that Dread was probably not going to be coming out anytime soon. We assumed that Metroid Dread was cancelled and people started calling it Metroid Dead. The first half of the 2010s decade was difficult for Metroid fans. 

The later half of the 2010s decade was slightly better. A fan named Milton Guasti aka DoctorM64 released his long passion project AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) a fan remake of Metroid 2: Return of Samus and Nintendo released Metroid Prime Federation Force and its own remake of Metroid 2 called Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS. There was even an announcement on E3 2018 that Metroid Prime 4 was coming out. Knowing that Metroid Prime 4 was going to be the next big game, the idea of Metroid Dread ever coming out had left my mind. But then E3 2021 appeared and what I saw was something I never would have thought in a million years: a trailer for Metroid 5 which was Metroid Dread. When I first saw it, I was so excited! It was the first time in many years that I was hyped for a video game to come out. Click here to learn more about my initial thoughts. I had to wait an additional year to play it because I didn't have a Switch at the time. But thanks to Arun Mehta from The Arun Mehta Show, I now have a Nintendo Switch and the first game I bought was Metroid Dread. 

Taking place after the events of Metroid Fusion, Samus had received a message from an unknown source that there was an X parasite located at Planet ZDR. The Galactic Federation sent 7 robots called E.M.M.I to capture the X, but it lost communication. Samus lands on ZDR to learn more about the whereabouts of the X and the E.M.M.I., but then sees an adversary she didn't expect: a Chozo soldier named Raven Beak who almost defeated Samus, but an unknown power source from herself activated and she was spared. Things get worse when the E.M.M.I. have been hacked to now attack Samus. Samus, being underpowered to take down both Raven Beak and the E.M.M.I., is told by Adam to escape the planet and head to her ship on the surface of ZDR. So the game is a reverse where Samus is traveling upwards instead of downwards. Without getting into major spoilers because I don't want to ruin it for anyone who want to play this game, what are my thoughts of Metroid Dread as both a fan and someone who has been waiting for this game for over 15 years? The wait was worth it! 

The gameplay is classic 2D action/adventure with some exploration just like the other Metroid games, but there are several new additions that make it standout. The introduction of Aeion abilities from Metroid: Samus Returns have returned here in Metroid Dread, but there are some new techniques such as the Phantom Cloak that makes Samus invisible for a short period of time. It's very useful, especially when you're trying to run away and hide from the E.M.M.I. It feels like the proper elevation from Metroid Fusion after Samus is trying to run away from the SA-X. Admittedly, the gameplay of the SA-X is starting to show its age a bit since the segments are planned. If you know what to do, you can easily avoid the SA-X with no issues. There are little to no changes or alterations on its movements or its reactions to when it approaches Samus. But the E.M.M.I. goes on a whole new level. When you enter an E.M.M.I room, you hear the eerie music, you hear the beeps and boops of the E.M.M.I. trying to find you with sensing your movements and hearing your footsteps, and you're trying to find a way out before it finds you before it catches you. There are 7 in total and each one is harder than the last making it a challenge even though you're collecting the items needed to become stronger. 

There are different sections of the planet to go around to make it towards the surface and each location is unique with a set of monsters and atmosphere to set it apart. The bosses are also great with its own set of challenges, fighting style, and strategic ways of taking them down. Some of them are the best in the whole series, with the final boss being my favorite of the bunch. The story is fairly simple just like the other Metroid games, but there are a lot of twists and turns that will make you shocked, surprised, yet satisfied if you've been following both the games' and manga's story and lore. But the story doesn't detract from people who have never played a Metroid game. The prologue and several cutscenes gets the plot of the series up to speed, but the gameplay is the most important part of the game and that makes up for it. Samus has never controlled this smooth before: she's fast, agile, and spry. The slide makes moving so much easier, the melee defense move takes down enemies in a pinch, and the wall jump feels so natural. As you get more moves, weapons, and Aeion abilities, Samus slowly becomes an unstoppable beast. I hope that future Metroid games keep this same gameplay style. 

If I had to bring up a minor complaint of Metroid Dread, the music left a lot to be desired. Sure, it captures the atmosphere of the locations and moments, but none of it was memorable. Other than the opening prologue which is a remix of the opening theme of Super Metroid and a cutscene featuring a minor side character with a remix of the lower Brinstar theme of Super Metroid, I couldn't recall a song that left an impact on me when playing it. As you know, I love Metroid music. Whenever I'm working on a script for a video and editing it, I listen to songs from Metroid, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, the Metroid Prime games, and AM2R. Sadly, I won't be adding Dread's soundtrack from my playlist. Another minor complaint I have is that the last chapter of the game felt very short and underdeveloped. I had made it to the surface and picked up the last power up and before I knew it, I was given the option to fight the last boss. I would've liked it if I was there longer or if there was another section of the planet to go to to explore. If you see the map of ZDR, there's an empty space over by the upper right corner. I thought that I was going to be exploring over there, but nothing ever popped up. If Metroid Dread ever has an update such as New Game+ or a patch, I would love either another section or make the last chapter a bit longer. But I doubt it'll happen. 

Overall, I love Metroid Dread. It's now in my top 3 favorites in the series. It may have surpassed Metroid Prime as my 2nd favorite. As for topping Super Metroid, that's too early to tell. Super Metroid is not only my favorite in the series, but my favorite game of all time. If you want to learn why, click here. If I was to recommend a Metroid game for a newcomer, Dread would be one of my first choices as a great introduction next to Metroid: Zero Mission. It's fun, fast, and challenging. Currently, Metroid Dread is the best selling Metroid game of the series with almost 3 million copies sold. Hopefully this will show Nintendo that we want more Metroid games. Let's hope and see if Metroid Prime 4 continues this momentum. 

That's it for now. Thank you so much for reading, everyone! Let me know in the comments about your experiences in playing Metroid Dread. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon.