Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week’s entries come from: Brian Krikorian, John Bernardy, Samantha McNesby, Hawk Ripjaw, and Abbie Sears.
Brian: Last week, David Lynch collaborator and audio wizard Dean Hurley released the followup to 2017’s Anthology Resource Vol. I:△△, a collection of soundscapes for Season 3 of Twin Peaks. As expected, it’s mesmerizing.
Anthology Resource Vol. II: Philosophy of Beyond (Sacred Bones) collects Hurley’s work for a recent Masters of Modern Sound installation alongside cues for the 2018 sci-fi thriller Perfect, but it’s no mere compilation. Hurley has threaded the material into a unified set of haunting meditations on life after death.
If that sounds pretty Lynchian, it is—to a point. Traces of the Lynchverse certainly remain. More melodic synth dreams like “Far Boundaries” and “Knowing” sound not so far away from Angelo Badalamenti, and Hurley seems to have applied some of Vol. I’s science-project spirit here (his label references “comb-filtering experiments, tape loops, and sampled field excursions”). Sonic mystery abounds, from the eerie voice/strings blend in “Dissension” to the ocean-floor atmospherics of “Exotic Matter” and “Splendor.”
But the crucial difference from his work with Lynch is the increased movement and buildup on the best tracks, like on the rumbling “Low Harmonic Fanfare” or the quietly epic “Birth.” In these moments, when he applies his magic to fully developed themes, Hurley is at his thrilling best, finding a middle ground between the visceral, often terrifying landscapes of his Twin Peaks work and the more soothing realms of ambient music. Hurley’s work approaches the afterlife less with dread than with an icy, cautious sense of wonder.
I can think of worse ways to face eternity.
Hawk: I have fallen back in love with FromSoftware’s PlayStation 4 masterpiece Bloodborne, and I have fallen back in love hard. FromSoftware rocketed to superstardom with Demon’s Souls, one of the original modern “I’m going to throw this fucking controller across the room and never play video games again” games in terms of difficulty.
These games are hard. They are very hard. But while I love that about them, this week what I’m really marveling at is how well these games, and specifically Bloodborne, tackle storytelling.
Bloodborne is an intense, dark, violent gothic horror action/RPG that owes a great debt to H.P. Lovecraft. Like FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series, the “narrative” of the game is less a straightforward story and more a slow, steady drip-feed of information that you may or may not fully understand or even be able to access. There aren’t long cutscenes of exposition. Certain characters you speak to will cryptically offer some perspective through light observations or pieces of information, and as you traverse the hellish beast-besieged town of Yharnam and beyond, you slowly learn more about it.
At the beginning, you awaken in what’s called the Hunter’s Dream, a haunting hub from where you access the rest of the game. There is a plague spreading through the town of Yharnam, and it must be stopped. Ferocious men have departed from their homes to kill the beasts wandering the town, and homes have lit lanterns in a certain way to either indicate aid or repel any visitors. As the game progresses, the monsters in the town and beyond become progressively more fearsome and something far more sinister and otherworldly may be involved.
The brilliance of Bloodborne’s storytelling is twofold: sometimes, the horrors will unfold before they are explained, and other times they will be hinted at before they’re shown. Gameplay is often affected by this. An early example is the first real boss, Father Gascoigne. Gascoigne, a Hunter just like the player character, intends to kill the player to prevent him or her from transforming into a beast. However, halfway through the battle Gascoigne himself transforms into a beast. The fights ends violently.
Earlier on, if you happen to recognize the pattern of helpful lantern-lit doorways, you may visit the home of Gascoigne’s daughter. She gifts you a music box. If this box is used during the Gascoigne fight, he shrieks in pain and is weakened. By visiting his home, additional context is added to the fight and turns it from a simple boss battle into a tragic slice of story wherein Gascoigne was a well-intentioned Hunter and father figure who fell victim to the plague. It’s really clever storytelling that encourages methodical exploration.
Sometimes you’ll just come across a message in the environment that hails the pale moon, or states that “the sky and the cosmos are one” or similar things that add creepy flavor to the cosmic underpinnings of the town of Yharnam. Other bits of lore are pieced together through item descriptions or loading screen messages. It really pays to look at everything. By the time one is challenging boss Vicar Amelia, a shrieking former member of the Healing Church who was driven to beasthood through tainted blood, a deep sense of melancholy sets in against the tension of a difficult fight and the fear of the cosmic horror of FromSoftware’s character design.
Yeah, these games are great.
John: The Inside Star Wars podcast dramatizes real life moments that happened behind the scenes during the making of Star Wars. This podcast miniseries is from Wondery, the same studio that’s already brought us the docudramas Inside Psycho, Inside the Exorcist, and Inside Jaws.
They did a good job of reenacting conversations between people, such as between George Lucas and his father, or later with Fox Studio executive Alan Ladd Jr. The podcast team is transparent in saying that they’re not going for word-for-word accuracy but work with that whenever possible. Such is the case with the inclusion of Alec Guiness’ words, which were taken directly from his autobiography. The voices aren’t going for realism either, with host Mark Ramsey doing the voices of many people, including Carrie Fisher.
That said, the flow of information is easy on the ears. Just when we’re getting tired of pre-film school Lucas fighting with his dad, there’s a scene about how Harrison Ford was doing some carpentry jobs while trying to avoid actual acting jobs. Over the course of these seven half-hour episodes, we get a look into all the principle actors’ lives as they accept and say goodbye to their Star Wars roles, and we get Lucas’ story of getting involved in film all the way to selling Star Wars to Disney.
As the first four episodes happen before Star Wars was even a finished movie, I wasn’t sure how they were going to cover everything, but they do a good job summarizing the before and after effects of Star Wars on Lucas and the actors involved. We get a good idea of what the Hollywood system was like in the 70s, the state of science fiction, and Fox compared to the other studios as well. The miniseries frames well just what Star Wars did to movies, and how precariously close to falling apart it was while getting there.
It’s a little engine that could story about an unlikely juggernaut, both in terms of Star Wars, and Lucas himself.
As an epilogue, there’s a bonus eighth episode with Mark Ramsey interviewing Lucas biographer Brian Jay Jones. It reframes Lucas yet again, and shines a light on how Inside Star Wars was made. The whole thing is interesting, from how Star Wars was made to how a docudrama is made. It’s worth the four and a half total hours this trip takes.
Samantha: There’s something strange in the neighborhood at Halloween Horror Nights 2019:
He’s cute, he’s fluffy and he is ready to smash the streets of New York—unless the Ghostbusters save the day. If you know “who to call” and you’re ready for a lighter, more humorous approach to the traditional house of horrors, you’ll love the latest Halloween Horror Nights theme announced by Universal Studios. I was thrilled to see another nostalgia-themed house join the ranks of the typical slasher flick and zombie horde themed locations.
Each year, Universal Studios presents an elaborate lineup of themed horror experiences at a series of special events in the eight weeks leading up to Halloween. This popular event sets fresh attendance records every year and is scary enough to restrict younger guests from entering. Makeup and set pieces are movie-worthy and past entrants included houses, mazes and experiences themed on The Purge, Poltergeist and Stranger Things.
I am excited to see what else is coming; only a few themes have been revealed for the event, which launches September 2. If you’re in Orlando or LA this fall and want a once in a lifetime encounter with the Ghostbusters or that skyscraping marshmallow man, 2019 is your chance.
Abbie: So last night YouTuber Shane Dawson uploaded a video for the first time since his two part Conspiracy series back in February. I’m someone who spends most of my days on YouTube, and I have watched Shane’s videos for nine years. I absolutely love what he is doing with his channel, his Jeffree Star/Jake Paul series have taken over the internet, and there has never been a time where I have been so invested in a creator’s projects.
Last Sunday, only five days before the video landed, was when Shane chose to let us know something was coming. With fans waiting for months for an insight to when his make up series might begin with Jeffree Star, there was plenty of speculation for those five days on what this might be.
After refreshing Shane’s youtube page 50 times last night I had no idea at all that I was about to see “The Return of Eugenia Cooney.”
I was, and am still, completely surprised.
If you’ve been around on YouTube for some time, you probably will have come across quite a lot of drama surrounding Eugenia and her health. For a while, she has been visibly losing a lot of weight in her videos, and like most public figures with a serious health condition she has been met with criticism, support, and people using her for attention.
Until yesterday, Eugenia hadn’t uploaded a video since January, and hadn’t tweeted since February. I honestly think that a video with Shane was the perfect way to return. He is the most trustworthy person to turn to when wanting to put out the truth about a situation. He listens and he understands, and wants to explain the detail without pushing anyone too far.
“The Return of Eugenia Cooney” went into Eugenia’s life while she was absent from the internet. It did this through detail of her day to day life at rehab, and her progress with her health, and how her mental state has transformed since before deciding to find help. Shane went to Eugenia’s house, and had a pretty in-depth discussion about how she felt and how she had been affected not only by her eating disorder, but also by the incredibly varied reaction on the internet.
They also sat together and filmed a video for Eugenia’s channel called “What I Missed While in Rehab.” I love this suggestion, it feels like a light-hearted way to approach the topic of being absent with a fun twist, and making it together, Shane can ensure that Eugenia is comfortable actually addressing the fact that something was wrong in front of her audience.
I’m so proud of Eugenia for wanting to put this out for the sole reason of wanting to help anyone who may be in need. It is an expression of how lovely she is. Shane is an incredibly respected and loved man in the YouTube community and I think that’s why so many people requested for him to make this particular video, he is the only one who could have gone into the topic while remaining respectful, and with his own personal experience with the subject matter to relate to.
One note I did have is that I’m not sure how necessary it was to bring back Kati Morton, a therapist and YouTuber who appeared in the Jake Paul series last year. In that series, Kati wasn’t particularly well received. She is obviously trying to be helpful, and if Shane needed advice on how to approach someone with an eating disorder, that could have been discussed in private, but in the video it honestly wasn’t needed at all.
During the video, I noticed Shane reference and include clips from a number of channels who had made videos about the topic. I’m not surprised to see that he left out Onision. Onision is a channel that gets more hate than most, but when it comes to people talking about Eugenia, Greg has made countless videos on the topic—all based around getting her some help, but arguably using her name and pictures to gain attention. I do believe when Eugenia made a comment about “certain people making videos about [her] and talking about [her[ body,” and how that affected her, she was referring to Onision in particular.
Overall, I was firstly incredibly happy to see Shane’s face again. I’ve been waiting and waiting for months to hear that laugh and see his glances towards cameraman Andrew, and we got all the fun of that while also addressing a serious topic that the internet has wanted to hear about for years. For something like this to finally be addressed, Shane had to be the person to do it.
Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!