July 2022 Updates!!!

Yeah folks, it’s been a long time since I returned to the blog. Work’s kept me pretty busy. So much so that even my YouTube stuff is slowing down a bit. Hoping that it’ll taper off a bit in the second half of the year but we’ll see.

But let me be clear and say that 2022 (at least from a sociopolitical lens) is still in the ‘this is hell’ category. Living in the DMV area, you can kind of feel how angry folks are with institutions that are ‘supposed to protect us’, especially when it comes abortion and women’s health care. It’s hard to stay positive from a sociopolitical lens but it help to talk with friends and advocate for voices that do their best to amplify progressive ideas. Just don’t expect those kinds of thoughts from the Manchins and Sinemas of the world (and don’t ever expect that from crazies across the aisle – they’ll legislate ANYTHING that will hurt, imprison or kill people).

At least my love of film is helping me out here. My Wife is also inundated with work so we commiserate by eating out, watching shit on TV, movies or snuggling. In times like this, it’s what cha’ gotta do to survive.

Hope to write again on here soon folks. Until then, stay strong.

~Naika

2021 was Terrifying

Not gonna lie folks, I was not in the mood to write one of these last year because 2021 almost destroyed me from a professional standpoint. My coworkers and I lost a dear team member early last year (not COVID related) which devasted us when we got the call on a Sunday. Despite adding new coworkers to our research team, our morale was impacted massively. We were then hit with back-to-back research audits that literally killed us, with the most egregious one being an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ scenario with some of my pals working until 3am. The last of these audits finished around July but more questions persisted from August to September. Work was difficult last year, and it was the main reason why I didn’t want to write.

Which brings me to my next reason why I held off from the blog, and that’s YouTube. As of this moment, Naika Video is up to 282 subscribers and overall, I think the channel is doing well. I’m slowly working my way back up to 500 subs per the old channel, and with a few ideas lined up, I’m hoping we’ll add some more variety to the proceedings later this year. Movie reviews and the like will still persist here, but that’ll depend on how my free time unfolds. Twitter’s also eating up some of my blogging time since the algorithm makes it hard to gain a YouTube following, and the 2 avenues that are helping right now are Reddit & Twitter. I apologize to the few of you that still visit the blog but I hope I can at least drop some reviews here and there this year.

And lastly, 2021 was a long and winding road per my personal life. The Wife & I are doing fine but she’s had a job change and you can probably imagine how stressful that can be during a pandemic. I’m also proud to say that she’s finally a permanent resident here in the States and that despite the Trump’s best efforts, no one deported her (ROFL). However, I still haven’t seen my parents in over 2 years (she hasn’t seen them since 2014!) and the pandemic is still wrecking havoc for travelers, so much so that the both of us are too afraid to fly. And every time we ARE ready, another variant emerges, so I think we’ll be holding off on air travel for a while.

There are so many things I should’ve covered last year, given the blog’s 10th anniversary, but blogging is a contemplative exercise for me and given how thin work and life have stretched me, I found it difficult to just sit down, relax and write. The Horror of Dracula review last October was my first post in a long while and I hope to at least write-up a few things at some point this year (possibly a review on Van Damme’s Cyborg and a few other gems I saw last year). I hope I can write more this year, but for now, if you need anything from me, you can find me on Naika Video.

2021 also took away so many people from the world last year, including many in the film, music and comic book world that I greatly admired. From Hirotaka Izumi, one of T-Square’s longtime pianists, to Sonny Chiba, Golgo-13 creator Takao Saito, Kentaro Miura of Berserk, DMX, Yaphet Kotto from The Running Man, filmmaker Richard Donner, actor Dean Stockwell from Blue Velvet, Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice, Desmond Tutu and Golden Girls legend Betty White. When you add my coworker to that list, I can tell ya that 2021 was just not a good year for me in that front. Many of these people, my buddy included, were people that I aspired to be and I’m still gutted that they’re gone.

So yeah, I apologize if anyone is expecting another big new year write-up, but that won’t happen. 2021 was just too much.

~I luv ya all, Naika

10th Anniversary Post: Naika Reviews “Horror of Dracula” (1958)

It’s been awhile folks, and since this year is my 10th anniversary on WordPress, I thought I’d spice up my annual Halloween Movie review with a whack of da’ hammer. Hammer Horror that is!

That’s right you bastards, I watched my first Hammer Horror film last month & I loved every minute of Terence Fisher’s Horror of Dracula (or Dracula in the U.K.), starring Christopher Lee as the Count himself! It’s a gothic, theatrical thriller that’s a bit out of sync with the gory stuff I generally watch, but it nonetheless delivers & here’s why.

First of all, the film’s a masterstroke in production design. Though much of the film is lit conventionally, the sets & props combine to give off an eerie mood that’s hard to describe, with the standout being Dracula’s castle. It’s a foreboding structure that plays a pivotal role in the horror found here, where every corner or crevice hides a shadow that haunts its halls. The castle’s surrounding towns & villages look devoid of warmth during nightfall, and though all our actors are lit as bright as you like, the backdrops behind them feature so much stark color & contrast that there’s this unspoken dread hovering in each scene. The film’s mise en scene is so good that it heightens the suspense once Dracula enters the fray, where the shadows that surround him seem to darken further as he closes in on his next victim.

Secondly, the acting here is superb. All major & minor cast members earn their bread thanks to a fine script that even allows a few of them to bare fangs, so to speak. Michael Gough, Christopher Lee & Melissa Stribling are all wonderfully cast as Arthur Holmwood, Count Dracula & Mina Holmwood respectively, but the man who really steals the show for me is Peter Cushing as the great Doctor Van Helsing. Erudite, calm, and full of wit & drive, this was my first sight of him in a horror film and he does not disappoint. He eats up every scene he’s in, and when he’s not ramming a stake through a vampire, he’s hatching a plan to fuck more of ’em over. Hammer fans weren’t kidding about Cushing here, and I finally see why.

In addition to the film’s set design & acting, its rousing music deserves a standing ovation. For some of us 21st century horror fans who love the extreme, it’s nice to see how much a score punctuates a scene once its perfectly timed to a scare, a revelation, or a grisly action than renders a vampire dead at last. From Dracula’s first appearance to the horrors that overtake his victims, the strings and horns of James Bernard’s score set the stage for a different kind of horror that’s less about overt gore on a visual level, and more about how a scene, on the whole (through its pace, lighting and music), imposes dread upon you with every twist, death or unearthly discovery that befalls our heroes. It’s chilling music meant for that languid scourge we call Dracula, and it all fits like a fucking glove

But the last reason why this film delivers the scares this Halloween is ‘cuz its got ALL the classic tropes we grew up hearing about! Garlic, stakes, sunlight, crosses & dreadful scenery are mainstays of bloodsucking cinema, but what gives this film teeth is, well, Lee’s fangs! Though it ain’t the first film to feature Dracula with fangs, it’s the first to feature fangs & blood IN COLOR, making it the grandpa of vivid vampire visuals. Though it’s tame by today’s standards, these tropes were controversial back in their day and earned the film an X rating in the U.K. Prior to this, Dracula was an ‘exotic beast’ who simply frightened us in black & white, but thanks to Terence Fisher & Hammer, he became a tall & brooding wraith whose thirst for female blood was both graphic & sensual, making many a moviegoer blush. You can’t go wrong with these tropes, but it takes one helluva villain to tie it all together, and Christopher Lee’s Dracula is the king of the crop.

Overall, I had a blast watching Horror of Dracula, and thanks to its acting, production design, music & attention to Drac-tastic details, I’ve now begun my dive into more hits from Hammer. Though it’s easy to dismiss this movie as a bygone relic, I myself see it as a piece of horror history, and one that’s as entertaining as The Thing, Hush or Get Out. It might be the kid in me talking, or maybe it’s my knack for camp, but nothing about Horror of Dracula is an eyesore. If anything, it’s a sight to behold because I finally see why countless weekday cartoons & shows from the 80s & 90s referenced Dracula as a well-dressed creep who hates garlic. I’m sure Bela Lugosi had a bit to do with that, but I’ve got a hunch that it’s got a lot more to do with Christopher Lee. Furthermore, TV wasn’t the only place where you’d see references to Hammer’s Dracula. In 1986, Hammer’s Dracula films influenced Hitoshi Akamatsu, a Konami game designer who used the alias Trans Fisher (a parody of Terence Fisher) to help create a Nintendo classic: Devil Castle Dracula (or Castlevania in the West). This title became such a worldwide hit that it spawned one of the greatest franchises in console gaming history, giving Horror of Dracula way more street-cred than any food appropriator on Instagram.

All in all, I love this damn movie, but don’t take my word for it. If you want to celebrate some horror history this Halloween, then go and watch Horror of Dracula tonight. Be shocked, be mortified and be amazed at the sights, sounds and scares of this one-of-a-kind triumph in Technicolor terror!

The 100 Subscribers Special

I’m still shocked that I survived these past 5 months but here I am, alive and well. And guess what? The YouTube channel passed a 100 subs a few months ago so it’s time to celebrate. Hope you guys check it out, along with the newest citypop music video below. Will hopefully return to blogging soon!

OMG, John Oliver did an AAPI Segment!!!!

After a shitty AAPI Heritage Month, I can at least say that someone out there knew and decided “Hey, let’s devote an episode to the AAPI community”. This is a must watch peeps! This is definitely a good way to learn about us and unlearn the damaging stereotypes that are killing us today.

2020? No. No write up. Fuck that.

I was slowly working on writing up a review of 2020 but with work, life and YouTube commitments were all coming to a head recently and I’ve decided NOT to finish it. If anything; THE event that told me “Naika, don’t write this up” was January 6th. No. Really. The day I saw that fucking insurrection was the day I said to myself, “Nothing can close up 2020 than this event.” Not Biden winning the election, not Kamala making history as she was sworn in as our first African-American / South Asian Vice President, not the silence of Trump or the hilarious bewilderment of the QAnon establishment. Hell, not even my own personal write up can close out this hellish chapter of American life quite like a nationally televised rebellion.

It could only be that one singular moment on January 6th, 2021. I’m not wrong, and I’m sticking with it.

With this mind, as we come closer to this blog’s tenth anniversary, I’m going to have to go on a hiatus for a few months. Even YouTube will have to take a small break given my increasing workload with regards to research and, frankly, my co-workers and I have a big event to prepare for and, I assure you, it will NOT be fun (we’ve been prepping for months and there’s still MORE to do). It’s my hope that if we ALL survive this, I’ll return to blogging by August of 2021.

Until then people, please stay safe, stay healthy and, if possible, get the vaccine. I’ve gotten both doses already and I’m hoping that this, combined with masking and social distancing, will at least help me see this pandemic through. Be safe everyone, and wish me luck!

Plastic Love & City Hunter

Not gonna lie. I think this might be one of the best Anime Music Videos I’ve ever made. Hope you all enjoy!

Mask Up and Be Safe

At the start of each year on this blog, I tend to have a round-up of the previous year and, as you know, 2020 was a shit-show of farcical proportions so preposterous that I’m worried that the Bad will ultimately outweigh the Good on an infinite scale. Though a few things were good for me on a personal level, I can’t help but feel that it’s small potatoes. Nevertheless, I guess I need to take whatever I can get during this unprecedented time and hope that things get better.

As some of you know, the COVID numbers are ramping up again, so please please please do your utmost to mask up, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands thoroughly and often. As a person who works at a peds hospital, this is key and we can’t be seen doing the dumbfuckery that’s been touted by Anti-Maskers who know jack-shit about public health. It’s gotten so scary that during Trump’s Stop the Steal rally, my Wife had to work in the lab that Saturday and she feared for her health when Trumpers in her Metro car were just shouting at each other with their masks down despite keeping her distance (and this was on her way home).

And don’t look at me like I’m some fucking killjoy. Y’know that Halloween party you had? How ’bout that flight to see your folks during Thanksgiving? Oh yeah, and what about them Tinder dates or that rally you went to ’bout ‘election fraud’?

Here’s my take on this: if you’re paying up the ass in rent, then you’d be wise to find a fucking hobby, like knitting, reading, learning, music or watching TV. Ain’t no one gonna deny you a walk, a run, a bike-ride or whatever th’ fuck you need to do to get outta da house but for fuck’s sake THINK ABOUT OTHERS. There are postal workers, grocery workers and others who might be….I dunno, browner or have tougher lives than you that don’t have that luxury and STILL have to work through this. And then they see our pale assess taking a merry fucking stroll without a mask.

So please WEAR YOUR GODDAMNED MASK.

It’s the least you can fucking do. I ain’t asking for your guns or you first born. Just wear it. It’ll help others, and it’ll help yourself. Really.

Be safe everyone.

Naika’s 14 Tips to Help You SURVIVE your Thanksgiving Holiday

Though this is dated, I think it still holds true. Happy Thanksgiving peeps!!!

Naika's Lounge

Image result for thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has finally snuck up behind us and we haven’t a damn clue of what we are doing.  Are we cooking anything?  Do you know what you’re going say to your Trump-loving relatives?  Can Gary Johnson make Pumpkin Pie?  Who died and made you King?  Now before you answer these questions, here’s 14 tips to help you survive this Holiday without setting yourself on fire.  They are all obvious nods to the Onion, but this is my blog and I’m sticking to it!

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