Laika (Underground) Pt. III

Laika (Underground) Pt. III

The third part in Laika's strange adventure.



(Read Part Two)


It didn’t take her long to reach the edge, though clawing up its unsurprisingly unstable surface certainly slowed her escape as the sand repeatedly gave way and smoothly rolled downwards across itself. Finally over the top she groaned, spitting sand as she got her bearings again. Directly in front of her, only about a kilometre or two off, was a grouping of the same kinds of craggy rocks she had seen earlier.

Hoping against logical hope that the shopkeeper's final statement wasn’t some farcical trick Laika pushed onwards. The arid atmosphere was beginning to really get to her and if there was some way to wake herself up or get out of… whatever the hell this was… then she would gladly take it. Clamouring over and around each unwelcoming geological formation wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience either. She repeatedly thumped and scraped against the harsh shapes, cursing and mumbling the whole way through.

After a particularly nasty flop headfirst into the sand (swiftly followed by a creative string of salty language) she finally came across the door. Just like the last one it stood by its lonesome, in a small circular clearing free of the pesky rocks she had quickly grown to hate. If this is locked I swear I’m going to go back there and kill him. Though, to be completely honest with herself, she knew she was far too unnerved to ever go near that hole in the ground again.

She sucked in a breath, puffing her chest outwards in a show of dominance to no one in particular, and opened the door. Once again she found herself stepping into darkness. Once again she felt organs shifting as if falling into a deep, unknowable cavern below.

---

Laika coughed, feeling the course grime sticking to her face as she looked up. She was on a beach, no, an island. A perfect circular little island of light, pleasant sand. A far cry from the harsher browns of the desert world beforehand, but it was still sand. What is it with all this fucking sand?! She swung herself about to face the door only to find that nothing manmade stood in the miniature desert. Around her she could see nothing but ocean and cloudless sky stretching out for miles. The floaters and dancing atoms of her vision coated the oppressively blue scenery, a layer of TV snow she often forgot was normal in human eyes.

"Wh-what the hell?" Laika shouted into the serene emptiness that expanded endlessly in every direction. She stood up and brushed the excess sand off her clothing, still feeling the harsh particles nestling into obnoxious positions against her skin. This is even worse than the desert!

She was yelling in her head, trashing an imaginary hotel room built specifically for catharsis. On the outside she just looked sour, annoyed and vaguely disappointed by the door’s false promises of reality. Though, to be fair to the door she had been projecting her hopes onto an inanimate object, which wasn't exactly healthy behaviour.

Laika walked around the island in circles, searching desperately for something, ANYTHING to break the monotony of the latest world she had fallen into. She kicked at the ground, little grains dispersing into the air before showering down into the calm waters below. Each impact a tiny ripple almost indiscernible to a human observer.

Her foot tapped, her nostril twitched. She needed a cigarette. A loose cigarette was yanked greedily from her pocket, followed by the Zippo lighter that at one time had made her feel so cool and adult. She lit up and puffed nervously, almost cartoonish in her anxious jittering. “There’s nowhere to go! At least in the desert I could walk around or SOMETHING!” She shouted, pulling the cigarette from her lips to tap the sullen ashes out over the water before returning to suckling it once again.

She stood there, internally stumbling through one angry lack of possibilities after another. Her first cigarette fizzled to its filter, tossed aside for another as she stood there on the pointless little island.

Laika glanced at the water, a weird, stupid, impossible thought growing in her head. She wiggled her toes in her crusty shoes and shook her head. Well, I guess I’ll find out if I’m dreaming or not.

She walked forwards into the water, following the downward slope of the sand as the waterline crept up her body. It was cool, but not cold. Soothing almost actually. Cigarette still hanging from her mouth her head disappeared beneath the glasslike surface with nothing but a gentle plop to mark her passing.

Okay, definitely dreaming. She thought to herself, and with good reason. She could breathe perfectly fine. Her walking was slowed as she made her way to where the ocean floor leveled out into a mixture of muck and sand, plumes of dirty water kicked up with every step, but she could breathe with ease. The sounds around her were still muffled as they should have been, and when she tried to speak it gurgled and formed bubbles as was normal. Yet there she was, walking and breathing as if strolling through a park in slow motion.

Glittering streaks of light pierced the depths creating shimmering pillars around her as she walked steadily forward to nowhere in particular. Though there was nothing in the way of fish or crabs or any other marine animals for that matter there was a great deal of flora to admire. Seaweed and other strange plants of varying colours rippled as if caught in the gentlest breeze. Her cigarette, which had gone out by this point, floated away as Laika’s mouth hung slightly open, her anger and fear from before almost drifting away with whatever light tides this strange place experienced.

She could have been wandering for hours, days even, mesmerised as she was by the oceanic wonderland she found herself exploring. All time disappeared, all anxiety dissipated, as if caught within some sort of lilting trance, a siren’s song of scenery.

Laika was almost angry when she found her leisurely stroll abruptly interrupted by a large, solid object. She stepped back, rubbing her forehead where it had thunked against whatever she had walked into. To her great surprise, and sudden joy, it was another door. Alone and in the strangest of places, as usual. It was a little worrying that the phrase “as usual” could now be applied to this situation, but there wasn't much she could do aside from continuing on.

Taking one final glance around the serene wanderlust that had occupied her mind for a now unknowable stretch of time, Laika grasped the handle and made her way inside.


End Part III

Cover Image Credit: wallpapercave.com

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Why YouTube's New Regulations Discriminate Against Small Channels

No 1,000 subscribers? No money.

On January 16th, YouTube made changes to its Partner Program. These changes pertain to the threshold for monetization. Originally, content creators were eligible for monetization if they had 10,000 or more lifetime views, that is, 10,000 public views.

Now, creators will be required to have 4,000 hours of watch time from the past twelve months, as well as at least 1,000 subscribers. If a content creator does not meet these criteria, they will be unable to monetize their videos.

In a blog post, YouTube announced that this change in monetization regulations is being put in place in order to "prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube". YouTube also claims that they have arrived at the decision to create these new regulations after "conversations with creators". However, the online response by creators towards YouTube's new policies have been almost entirely negative, with many people saying that it would be better to simply punish the channels that are misusing the platform instead of punishing the platform as a whole.

YouTube themselves have stated in the previously mentioned blog post that these changes will effect a significant number of platform users, but have tried to write this off by explaining that 99% of the effected users are making less than $100 a year on YouTube. However, this really isn't a fair excuse.

Yes, $100 is not a lot of money, but think about it this way. This is money that these creators could be using to improve their videos and grow their channels. Now, however, they no longer will be earning the money to do so.

If YouTube wanted to gain more users and dedicated viewers, it is more likely that they would of implemented a different policy, perhaps one that makes stricter guidelines for content. By making it harder for small channels to monetize their views, YouTube appears to only care about their larger channels, often run by internet celebrities who partner with YouTube's streaming service, YouTube Red, to create or star in feature length films or television shows.

It is worth noting that the majority of the top comments on the YouTube blog post are "sub for sub", that is "subscription for subscription". Most of the people commenting this have also included additions such as "if everyone reading this did a sub for sub we could all get at least 1,000 subscribers".

It's clear that while the new guidelines are definitely a blow to smaller channels, many smaller creators are banding together and supporting each other. Many larger creators have spoke up online, offering smaller creators ways to make money while they build up their subscriber base, such as starting up a Patreon (a membership platform where people can give money to creators and receive small gifts or prizes in return).

If YouTube wants to continue to gain users, they shouldn't make changes to the platform that penalize smaller users. Yes, the bigger users bring in the money for YouTube, but in order to continue to grow as a platform, they need to appeal to new users, and encourage smaller channels to keep creating.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Is A Hidden Gem Of The 90s

The first film based on our favorite pizza-eating dudes is a lot deeper than you'd think.

Like many, I have been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise since I was a young boy. I have fond memories of watching the original cartoon, playing the various video games, playing with the toys and reading the comic books. Also, like many, I have fond memories of the live-action films that were released in the early 1990s.

While looking back on the first three film I noticed that films two and three didn't exactly hold up well. While "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" is fun, it's overall a shallow experience. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" was a straight-up bad film with obnoxious writing and characters. However, that wasn't the case when I decided to watch the first film.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was released in 1990 and was a really big hit that year. Looking back at the film, I was surprised to find a sizable amount of thematic depth in the film. I know that sounds surprising coming from a movie based on a cartoon that was used to sell toy, but if "The LEGO Movie" has taught me anything it's that even films based on products can have great characters and depth.

The film's theme is primarily that of fatherhood. Through the characters of Splinter (Kevin Clash) and Shredder (James Saito) we see examples of loving fatherhood and exploitative fatherhood. Splinter is portrayed as an old fashioned father who disciplines the turtles, but always shows them that he loves them and would risk his life for their well being.

By contrast, the Shredder is a surrogate father figure to many of the disenfranchised children and teens of New York City. The Shredder uses their adolescent love of games, smoking, and a sense of belonging to lure them into his criminal empire (The Foot) and uses them to commit various street crimes. He he gives these emotionally troubled youths a "family" and in return he receives loyalty from them.

In many ways this is how real world street gangs maintain a sense of loyalty among its members. Most gang members start as children from broken homes and families. These young people find their escape in the gang which becomes a surrogate family to them. In return they pledge loyalty to that "family" and do everything in their power to protect their "family" from those that would harm it, such as police or rival gangs.

We see both of these examples of fatherhood play out in the film. We see Splinter try to reason with one of the members of the Foot and tells him the story of his origin. This act of kindness and the desire to understand the boy results in the boy helping our heroes in the final fight. We also witness Splinter putting his own life at risk to protect his sons, both when he is being interrogated by Shredder and during the final battle.

Shredder, on the other hand, cares only for his criminal empire and his desire to wipe out his enemies. He may seem like a "cool dad" who brings you games and totally "gets" you, but he eventually reveals that he wasn't all that great and wasn't the type of father you needed. This is punctuated by the boy beginning to fear him when Shredder discovers that he's been talking to the imprisoned Splinter behind his back, and when Shredder's henchman takes out his frustration on one of the Foot ninjas and doesn't seem to care.

The films is good for many other reasons as well. The characters are likable and the costumes are great examples of practical effects work. The fight scenes are really well done and impressive, especially when you remember that actors in hot and bulky costumes had to perform them. The film also has a well-realized gritty aesthetic that reminds viewers of the original comic Ninja Turtles and give New York City this realistic, lived-in feel.

While the film's dialog isn't that great, and the pacing and cinematography are nothing to write home about; it is still a well made children's film that may go a bit deeper than you realize. If you are a fan of the franchise or you have children who are curious about the things their parents loved as kids, then I recommend you give it a watch. It's certainly better than most of the Ninja Turtles films you see nowadays (wow, do I feel old saying that)!

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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