2017: A Look Ahead

2016 is near its end or it’s over based on when you read this. It was a rough year in many respects, but it gave us a ton of excellent pop-culture. 2017 as of now promises to do the same. There’s SO much to look forward to. To list it ALL would take forever so I thought I’d just focus on a few things here and there.

NETFLIX is hitting hard with a multitude of shows debuting or returning. Amongst them:
Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 – Available January 6, 2017.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1 – Available Jan. 13
Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 – Available Feb. 3
Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1 – Available March 17
Sense8: Season 2 – Available May 17
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later- Date TBA

In terms of Network television I can highly recommend the 12th and final season of BONES on FOX premiering Jan 3rd. I’ve seen the first three episodes and they are very hard to comment on without spoilers, but plot twists, reveals, robots and one of the greatest actors of any generation Hal Holbrook are involved.

The reimaginging of the L. Frank Baum saga by Matthew Arnold finally happens with David Schulner (creator of Do No Harm) and so far poorly reviewed but keeps getting work Tarsem Singh at the helm. If anything NBC’s Emerald City looks like it’ll be definite event TV or fail drastically and get cancelled before all 10 episodes even air. One or the other should be fascinating to watch.

legobatman

In terms of films I’d have to say LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is high on my anticipated list. Sure it’s not by the actual writer/directors of Lego Movie (they’re busy making Lego Movie 2) but it has a good pedigree and every teaser and trailer has me excited.

I’m also intrigued by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. For his first follow-up to Instellar to be a WWII flick is fascinating. It’s also his first SOLO project since Inception as brother Jonathan was busy creating and developing the excellent Westworld. Equally fascinating is the amount of work put into this film. It’s not a remake of the late 60’s film, so it’ll truly interesting to see what stories Nolan chose to build upon to coney emotion, gravitas, and character even when the lead character is still the operation and Dunkirk itself (the film was actually filmed there).

Also pulled in by the adaptation of Dave Egger’s The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. James Pontsold makes visually enticing, perfectly paced films and chose the easiest and simplest yet not simple Eggers novels to turn into a film.

There’s a ton of amazing video games coming 2017 too but this site is still without an XBoxOne or PS4 so the focus is on PC games but those that will not require a $5000 rig to run.

First up on the excitement board is Full Throttle Remastered the next rebuild of the classic Lucasart’s games designed by Tim Schaeffer which Double Fine was able to get the IP rights back for. I’m really curious to see how they update some of the worse parts of the game like the combat and the maze puzzles. I’m not completely sold on the art actually but I’ve been happy with DF so far, so I’m in.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier (First Chapter out, but the rest hits 2017) is awesome. I already reviewed it and I’m excited for the rest.

thimbleweedAlso excited for platform point & clicker A NIGHT IN THE WOODS.
Third person action adventure co-op player TROLL AND I.
2-D Shooter with old school animation CUPHEAD.

and most especially, Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, David Fox and teams’ THIMBLEWEED PARK, the pixel point & click dream of a game I think many thought Broken Age would be. I loved Broken Age, always will, but Thimbleweed Park is looking bigger and better then I ever imagined it could be. I didn’t get to back when I wanted to, but I wouldn’t been able to back what I wanted anyways. This is probably number one on my experiences for 2017 I look forward to.

There’s a share of BOOKS coming out as well.

First up two genius female writers tackling heroes from Marvel and DC.

Shannon Hale (with Dean Hale) does The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Meets World and Gwenda Bond comes forth with a third in her awesome Lois Lane series with Tripleflaminglips Threat.

There’s a really cool STEVEN UNIVERSE ORIGINAL GN coming out called TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL by the show’s co-creator Ian Jones-Quarterly, Jeremy Sorese, Asiey Barbie and Josceline Fenton

Michael Crichton’s never before published posthumous novel DRAGON TEETH comes out May 23rd. It’s a Western during western times but about dinosaurs!

Neil Gaiman ventures into both old and new territory retelling the tales of Odin, Thor, Loki and more in NORSE MYTHOLOGY scheduled for February 17.

George Saunders first ever complete novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO comes out February 14In music I’m mainly excited for one album.

The new The Flaming Lips titled Oczy Mlody. AFAIK I believe I’m seeing them live in March as well so that makes 2017 awesome.

#I am CHIKARA

If you read Twitter through Discover or #RAW while watching WWE RAW on the night of September 30th, 2013 you may have noticed that there were many posts that included #IamCHIKARA or if you tend to follow many wrestlers or people who write about wrestling you might have noticed it as trending if you have trends marked for tailored (which I’d say 98% of people do).

If you aren’t a member of the CHIKARA 101 message board or a fan of CHIKARA who didn’t jump ship when you thought it sank at the end of  iPPV Anniversario: Never Compromise earlier this year you were probably scratching your head. If you don’t know what CHIKARA is (other possibly being a Japanese word) then you REALLY were scratching your head.

To explain CHIKARA is not the simplest thing in the world. While clips of slow motion action, amazing comedy bits, impressive action, and some of the most ridiculous costumes ever will let you get the visual and aural treat, I’m not sure if you aren’t already indoctrinated to appreciate wrestling or the concept of wrestling as a quality style of entertainment equivalent to watching your favorite sci-fiction or fantasy Television show then these videos will be just be mind numbing drivel to you.

Showing you a clip even of some hilarity inducing chuckles even one where a man dressed as a marching band leader hiding in a closet discusses his age with a lawyer who mysteriously looks a lot like him but is NOT him yet shares the same birthdate to the year, day and time will be lost on you. [1]  Even if you catch and appreciate that the marching band’s leader last name is Peck and when speaking of his father he seems to be speaking of Walter Peck, the lead human “bad guy” from Ghostbusters who went onto to work for mysterious government organizations (as seen in both the 80’s cartoon and the 2009 video game) it just is also a bit confusing, especially as this nugget of information or the true explanation of this character, who is known as Archibald Peck has claims of time travel and apparently he has doppelgangers created by time paradox. Although it is things of this nature that have kept the fans on their feet.

It is not the first weird thing to have ever been done though. This same company has been basically a bastion where every weird, silly, strange, and now looked upon poorly but with reverence silliness that happened in 1980’s WWF and early 90’s WCW is considered something to be treated with respect and a better understanding of where it comes from. These aren’t just talented performers playing out roles, but people who LOVE and admire what influences their roles. These are Power Ranger, Pokemon, Voltron, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel Comics, Airwolf, Back to the Future loving geeks who also happen to love working out, being acrobats, acting and of course wrestling. If they weren’t working there, they’d be fans. Hell, there are MANY talents who are seriously respected (as much as one is respected in the world of sports entertainment) whom would would say their greatest times in wrestling and enjoyment came from watching or being part of CHIKARA.

What CHIKARA gives to me a self proclaimed wrestling geek going all the way back to 1986 isn’t even an alternative to the product produced by the current WWE (which features many former CHIKARA talent at this time) or TNA mainstream product or even the awesomeness of Ring of Honor or Dragon Gate USA (both whom has used current or as the case may be in the current storyline former CHIKARA talent). It’s so much more, because there’s a sense of community and family that exists in the fans of this company that I have never thought I’d experience in this particular hobby. I always felt wrestling would be the ONE place where I’d never really gain not more than 1 or two friends who I felt could look at wrestling with the same eyes as I do or at least eyes and responses that I respect and appreciate. It is through CHIKARA I am reminded of what brought me to wrestling in the first place.

The current storyline has truly made that family aspect come alive. In mid 2013 after months of crazy story-lines involving time travel, grand plans, magical items, corporate stooges and more, the company was shut down by its “director of fun!” in the middle of the main event. The PPV was yanked off the air as a security force kicked fans out of the building. For a couple months fans didn’t even know what to think, they were left to assume that CHIKARA was done and this was their closing story, but it was ONLY just beginning. I honestly can’t recall the order of events but there were multiple happenings.

On what was/is the official forum community board for the fans known as The 101, where the company had conducted contests, reported information and actually developed storylines previously, in the midst of most of the roster lamenting the death of CHIKARA and unexpected voice, that of pro wrestler Icarus (at one time one of the most hated men in the company, but in the last few shows before closing seeming to possibly change, AND a competitor in that last unfinished match) saying CHIKARA would only die if we let it die. He rallied the fans. He even stated that he would be at one of the canceled shows and if you could be to be there to. A nice amount of fans showed up to that Easton, PA rally. I think shortly after is when the Youtube channel for Wrestling Is… a group of companies called COOL, HEART, INTENSE, FUN, AWESOME, RESPECT and ART (which spell out CHIKARA, the F stands for K because the championship belt in FUN is a banana and bannas have Potassium and the element sign for that is K… it makes sense, trust me) premiered what was called ASHES – “Prelude” which showed the founder of CHIKARA, Mike Quackenbush seeking a place to open a wrestling school with a very apparent CHIKARA logo at the end. Since that video there have been two other episodes, one which had elements only longtime CHIKARA fans would really get and which the happenings of have not seen any actual repercussions as of yet. The third though definitely let us know that the efforts of Icarus were not just fun and silliness but tied deeply into the larger storyline being told of the death and rebirth of CHIKARA.

Before this third episode aired, there was a second rally conducted on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At the time this happened a few weeks ago I was completely already pulled into the drama and excitement of all this hullabaloo and used it as an excuse to finally visit Philly in three years. I had an amazing trip there, in which I visited the offices of Quirk Books, ate amazing meals, met comedian and America’s Got Talent contestant Doogie Horner at his book signing and coincidentally at the same event the performer of the aforementioned “director of fun” who had ‘shut down’ CHIKARA, shot lots of photos streetart, visited historical places and eve by chance after the rally on the steps hung out with one of the new family members I had made I this fan community in which we had lunch and even went to a local wrestling show (which happened to one of the better wrestling shows I’d ever actually seen live or otherwise). Of course in between all that was the rally and I filmed and edited it and shared it on Youtube.[3]

That brings us to Monday night with the #IamCHIKARA call on Twitter and now the next step on the plans. Icarus has asked us to reach out to our brethren, those who may not realize they could LOVE Chikara as much as we do, but if they open their hearts and minds they will discover it is truly a place for everyone and it has something for all. Ants, Clowns, Monkeys, Pirates, Knights, Apes, Gentleman, Living Nightmares, Cult Figures, Monsters, Living Icecream, Toilet Demons, Sexy Women, even Sexier Men, Old Time Baseball players, Action Movie Fights in Furniture Stores, Video Game Parodies, Duck, Duck, Goose, Leather Jackets on Emo Bad Boys, Cocky Jerks, Girls from Space, Gods of the Cosmos, and even… yes, even the kitchen sink.

I am CHIKARA… and so are you.

[1] http://youtu.be/ATkfGtqiKRg?t=59s
[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djqqgSEoW9U
[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCDF3y4svXo
[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glF-HpJKfAw