Val Lewton was a producer who, in a sense, made a bargain unheard of in the history of Hollywood ego, trading prestige for freedom. He took a job as head of the horror department at RKO, and was given only three restrictions: The movies had to be cheap, relatively short, and the studio would provide titles (so, for example, we have a revisionist take on Jane Eyre and scathing critique of colonialism titled…I Walked with a Zombie). Other than that, he had free rein. The apex of this period was 1942’s Cat People, a stylish psychosexual noir directed by Jacques Tourneur that was much more about repressed trauma and existential dread than monsters…but there were enough horror movie trappings to make it a hit.
The 1944 follow-up is a direct sequel, focusing on two of the original’s main characters and their daughter, but in tone, it’s wildly divergent. A ghost story of sorts, the young girl is haunted, literally, by her parents’ past, but the threat is more emotional than physical. It’s a wonderful, and wonderfully humane, treatment of deeply damaged characters, all of whom are worthy of empathy (living or dead). Director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Haunting, etc., etc., etc.) and company also build some stunning set-pieces, making the most of the film’s barely existent budget. I can only imagine the reaction of 1944 audiences who paid to see a horror movie about curses and cat people only to get a dark but big-hearted, fantasy. Surely the greatest trick Val Lewton ever played.
Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel is set in a dystopian 2045 and follows Wade Wyatt, whose obsession with a global virtual reality game is primed to pay off when he learns of an Easter egg that will grant its finder the keys to the entire kingdom. Finding the necessary clues requires a deep knowledge of games and movies, and Wade is well-prepared. It’s sort of a wish-fulfillment scenario in which all that otherwise useless knowledge will finally pay off. Likewise, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation includes dozens, if not hundreds, of pop culture callbacks: references to Back to the Future, The Iron Giant, Gundam, The Shining, Jurassic Park, Batman, etc. So many, in fact, that the movie could likely never have gotten made without Spielberg-level pull in getting all of the rights’ clearances. In the world of the OASIS, four-quadrant multi-billion-dollar global franchises are, apparently, niche concerns, and only the nerdiest of nerds would ever be able to identify.
Players fell in love with Skyrim’s vast landscapes almost ten years ago and many never left—there’s just so much to do and see. It’s also a great introduction to the series and open-world RPGs in general.
While the game’s main quest is good—you’ll slay dragons, travel to the lands of the dead, and get caught up in a brutal civil war—you’re free to play in whatever way you want. There’s just so much to do in this massive open-world RPG: unique landmarks to discover, countless side quests to take on, and ancient artifacts to acquire.
Players create their own unique characters then slowly specialize their abilities as they progress. You can be a lithe Wood Elf assassin, a magic-wielding humanoid cat, or even a nordic cheese collector. You can strike out into the cold mountains in search of vampires, build your own home and virtual family, join the ranks of prestigious guilds, and so much more. That might sound like too much freedom for inexperienced gamers, but don’t let Skyrim’s openness scare you away; it’s actually quite forgiving.
While some old-school RPG fans look askance at Skyrim’s streamlined gameplay systems, they’re perfect for new players: Skills, equipment, and other menus are snappy and easy to use; a quest log tracks your progress; and an onscreen compass highlights objectives and points of interest. There’s also a combat difficulty slider that lets you fine-tune the challenge level and options for playing in first- or third-person perspective.
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam, Microsoft Store), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. (Original version also available on Xbox 360 and PS3)
Another movie based on a European import, Dredd comes from the British comics anthology 2001 AD, the character having been created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Pat Mills. It’s, of course, the second go at bringing the character to the big screen and, while the Sylvester Stallone version has its proponents, this is the one that gets it right. It’s a dark, dystopian, and very effective action thriller in the style of The Raid, and yet somehow made no money and was seen by no one.
As the world enjoys our newfound freedom to leave our houses and the drama of the presidential election fades into memory, we’re all freed up to make up conspiracy theories about video games, pretend to drive invisible cars, and shove garlic up our noses.
This week in drama: Britney not free…yet
Despite the best efforts of her many internet supporters and an impassioned plea from the singer herself, reclusive pop star Britney Spears is not free…at least not yet.
This week, district court Judge Brenda Penny declined to change Spears’ conservatorship in response to a request filed a few months ago by her attorney. The court maintains Britney is “substantially unable to manage his or her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.”
The drama is sure to heat up in the days to come, especially since the firm in charge of Spears’ conservatorship has asked to resign, telling the court, “The Conservatee claimed irreparable harm to her interests in her testimony and, more specifically, the Conservatee’s objection to the continuation of the voluntary Conservatorship and her desire to terminate the Conservatorship…Petitioner has heard the Conservatee and respects her wishes.”
I’m not going to make a TikTok video or anything, but back in the ‘80s, my mom’s hobby was cheating casinos; she used a rosary to keep count at Atlantic City blackjack tables.
This week in music: Olivia Rodrigo steals…and that’s OK
Everyone is saying 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo is a thief. First, twitterers pointed out the similarities between the cover art for Rodrigo’s new album Sour Prom and Hole’s seminal Live Through This. Then, music fans noticed the likeness of Rodrigo’s new song “Brutal” and Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ late 70s new wave banger “Pump it Up.”
They’re not wrong, either. “Brutal” lifts the iconic hook from “Pump it Up” note for note and features Costello-style self-loathing lyrics like “I’m not cool, and I’m not smart. I can’t even parallel park,” too.
All pop music is theft, though, and “Brutal” is a great song. Elvis himself thinks so, too. He even gave a “Go ahead and steal from me, kid” message, tweeting “This is fine by me…it’s how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That’s what I did.” Dude stole his whole style from Buddy Holly anyway.
TikTok warning of the week: Do not put garlic up your nose
If you can hear my exasperated sigh from wherever you are, it’s because people on TikTok are putting garlic up their noses.
They say that shoving a clove in your nostril will relieve the congestion that comes from summer colds, and are happily posting videos of snot pouring out of their skulls. It’s very gross. Other TikTokers, like @kindminds_smarthearts, are not sold. She tried it and reports “I still can’t breathe and now it smells like garlic.”
Surprisingly, doctors say you shouldn’t put garlic up your nose. It might produce more mucous, but that’s from the garlic irritating the mucus membrane, not the result of it cleaning out your nasal passages or whatever.
Both my mom when I was five and Dr. Anthony Del Signore, director of rhinology and endoscopic skull bases surgery at Mount Sinai Union Square in New York, agree “We typically do not recommend putting anything into the nostril for the obvious fact that it could get dislodged or lodged up into the nasal cavity,” Del Signore told Today.
This week in video games: Is Hideo Kojima making a Silent Hill game?
The internet gaming world is abuzz with rumors that Hideo Kojima, the enigmatic creator of Metal Gear Solid, is working on a Silent Hill game.
The “clues” include an announced Silent Hill game that Kojima really was working on with Guillermo del Toro back in 2014, as well a teaser for a horror game called Abandonded from obscure developer Blue Box Games. The theory is that Blue Box is fake company and Abandoned is actually a Kojima-helmed Silent Hill game. When gamers started speculating, Blue Box fed the flames, posting “Guess the name: Abandoned = (First letter S, Last letter L). Reveal closing in… #PS5 #Exclusive.” And then deleting the tweet.
Like most internet conspiracy theories, this one probably isn’t true—Blue Box has walked back the tweet and denied being a Kojima-front-company, and the rest of the “evidence” is shaky at best—but still, it’s one of those stories that should be true, and maybe if we all wish hard enough maybe we can make it true. For more info, check out this reddit mega-thread and Kotaku’s deep-dive.
Viral video of the week: The Invisible Car
TikTok user @lightskinyogi can drive an invisible car and the weirdly hairless online swami has posted video after video of the trick, gaining millions of views and leaving minds blown in his wake.
So far this mysterious fellow has risen to every challenge, so I can only conclude that he, and other TikTok users of the hashtag #Pzoom, actually possess supernatural abilities beyond the ken of science, and they’re using their power over physics, matter, and energy make viral internet videos.
On a related note, the initial Rocky movies all work on different levels, but by the third, the formula was getting tired, and so the fourth took a gamble by going over the top (not to be confused with Over the Top) patriotic, and it paid off in a big way, earning the biggest box office of the series, before or since.
After boxer Ivan Drago (future movie He-Man Dolph Lundgren) literally kills Apollo Creed with the entire Soviet Union behind him, rugged individualist Rocky goes rogue, getting Drago to agree to an unsanctioned match in the USSR. It’s all laid out invia an all-time great, utterly memorable training montage: while Drago trains with a whole team, modern equipment, and the best steroids communism had on offer, Rocky does it the good old-fashioned way: by chopping down trees and pretending to be a doggie pulling Paulie around on a sled. Like a fuckin’ man.
Without giving too much away, the ending sees Rocky winning over the Soviet audience and earning the applause of Premier Mikhail Gorbachev himself. And that’s the story of the fall of communism.
The pantheon of movies about a pair of dimwits with an ampersand in the title (see: Dumb & Dumber, Batman & Robin) grew by two in 2020 with the pandemic-impacted direct-to-digital rental releases of Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar and Bill & Ted Face the Music. This month on Hulu you can live like it’s summer 2020 all over again, as both films are coming to the service just in time for it to get too hot to concentrate on anything more sophisticated.
Barb & Star is the latest movie seemingly built on the idea of “Kristen Wiig in a funny wig,” but the trailer seems to promise a few laughs if you’re into that sort of thing—a safe bet, given Wiig’s costar Annie Mumolo penned the screenplay; in 2011, she earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing Bridesmaids.
As for the third entry in the Bill & Ted franchise, well, it’s way better than any 30-years-delayed sequel has a right to be—it proved to be a perfect mid-pandemic pick-me-up when I rented it last year, and I’ll gladly watch it again for “free.”
Loki, Luca. Luca, Loki. Disney Plus is doing its part to keep you indoors in June as it premieres the third TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the next feature film from Pixar.
If you’re a Disney Plus subscriber, you’re probably already looking forward to the former. Loki (June 9)certainly looks to keep the MCU hype train chugging along after it burned through bothWandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldierearlier this year. It brings back everyone’s favorite antihero, Thor’s brother Loki (or a version of him, anyway) for a trip through time and the multiverse. The show seems primed to deliver plenty of fan service (with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki facing off against a Time Variance Authority agent played by Owen Wilson) and further set the stage for the next phase of the this interconnected galaxy of TV shows and movies that unequivocally cannot be allowed to tell a self-contained story.
Luca (June 18), a new Pixar film from first-time feature director Enrico Casarosa (the short La Luna) and writers Mike Jones (Soul) and Jessie Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), is less narratively intimidating. It’s the story of two young boys, Luca and his new best friend Antonio, exploring the Italian Riviera and trying to hide the fact that they are really from an undersea kingdom of monsters, and the sun-drenched backdrop will definitely give you those big summer feelings. (Though hopefully you won’t be too disappointed this isn’t the kid-friendly version of the queer romance Call Me by Your Name that some viewers of the trailer imagined.)
Like Soul last December, Luca will drop directly onto the service without an additional “Premiere Access” rental fee.
Other June highlights include the premiere of The Mysterious Benedict Society, a new series based on the popular, mystery-heavy children’s books (June 25); Wolfgang (June 25), a documentary following he culinary journey of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck; and the regular streaming premiere of Raya and the Last Dragon (previously only available with a $30 upcharge, it will be free for all Disney Plus subscribers on June 4).
Series with new episodes premiering weekly in June
Gordon Ramsey: Uncharted, Season 3
High School Musical: The Series, Season 2 (May 14)
It’s hard to argue that most of us have a little too much stuff lying around, but getting rid of your stuff can be difficult. Maybe you’ve formed a personal attachment to certain items or you truly believe you’ll have a practical use for it someday. Most of the time, though, “personal value” means “guilt” and “someday” never comes.
We’re not talking about going ultra-minimalist here, but rather making an effort to only keep the things in your life that you use and actually matter to you. To do it, you’ll need to know how to identify the crap in your home, how to get rid of it (so you’re not just sending it to a landfill), and, most importantly, how to keep unwanted crap from coming back.
Step 1: Identify the trash
Some crap is actually just trash, like a corporate T-shirt from five jobs ago or a birthday card from 1994 you’re afraid your grandmother will ask about at her next visit. If you still have any of this kind of stuff, stop reading this post and dispose of it immediately: Recycle the cards (or file them away for safekeeping), tear the shirts up for rags, and generally do what you need to do to get the trash taken care of first.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of your easily identifiable crap, we can start working on the rest—deciding what can stay and what can go.
Step 2: Cut down on excess
First, narrow your focus by sorting your clutter into categories. These categories should include things like books, clothing, cables, and gadgets, as well as any hobby-specific clutter you might have a lot of. With each category, sort every item into one of three piles: Stuff to keep, stuff to toss, and undecided. Be ruthless: When’s the last time you used that bulky electric juicer? Will you actually start using it in the future? If the answer is “probably not,” you should probably get rid of it.
G/O Media may get a commission
When you’re done sorting, go through the pile of items you’re not sure about and get rid of as much as you can. If you have duplicates (or triplicates), choose the thing you like best and get rid of the rest.
Step 3: Put it all back
Now that you’ve made a mess of your home by tossing your stuff into piles on the floor, it’s time to put it all away. To start, put the stuff you’re getting rid of in a cardboard box, trash bag, or whatever you prefer—so long as it’s clearly moving on to its next life. Next, put all the stuff you’re keeping back where it belongs (and admire all the storage space you’ve created). Last, grab the things you’re not sure about and put them somewhere separate, like one side of your closet or a separate drawer. Over the next month, keep track of how often you use the “undecided” stuff: If you barely touch it, it’s time to let it go.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3
No, not right away—you’ve just had to part with a bunch of things you care about, so you may not be emotionally ready for another breakup with your possessions. Wait 30 days, then repeat the process. After a month, when things have settled, you’ll find it much easier to let go of even more things you don’t need. You might even like it.
Step 5: Tackle the one-offs
By now, you’ve probably gotten rid of most of your unnecessary crap, leaving behind things you don’t have a lot of but still take up unnecessary space in your home. Do you have an electric guitar you never play, or an elliptical machine that you mostly use as a clothes rack? They’ve got to go.
Step 6: Get unwanted stuff out of your house
When the time comes to actually get rid of all that crap, you’ve got three basic options: Donate, sell, or trade. (Technically, “the dump” is the fourth option, but hopefully you’ve gotten rid of your literal trash by now.)
Always make sure any potential donations are clean and in good working order before you try to get rid of them. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are fine, but your old stuff is way more likely to get used if you keep it local. Many homeless shelters and other outreach organizations list their most-needed donations on their website; check to see if any of your stuff qualifies, then bring it over. Your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook and the Craigslist free section will take care of almost everything else.
Selling or trading higher-ticket items via Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or and/or eBay can help you make some money back, but it takes some work—so save it for stuff that’s worth the effort. If you have outdated electronics that aren’t selling, check to see if the manufacturer or retailer has a trade-in or recycling program. Amazon, Samsung, and Apple all do, to name a few.
Step 7: Digitize, if possible
You can also clear up some space by streamlining your physical records. Paper files, photographs, bills, bank statements, and other documents can take up a lot of room; digitize what you can, back it all up, and toss any physical copies that aren’t special or valuable to you. Going paperless is a bit of a process, but it’s more than worth the effort.
Step 8: Keep it up
De-crapifying your entire home is an enormous effort, but all that effort is wasted if you can’t maintain it. For that, you need some rules, policies, and tricks to ward off the excess stuff that once plagued your life.
You may have heard that you should toss it if you haven’t used it in the last year. This works great—for people who don’t have a tendency to hang on to stuff they don’t need. If you have that tendency, your guidelines should be a little stricter:
Institute a one-in, one-out policy: If you want something new, you have to get rid of something old. It doesn’t have to be the same type of item, but it should take up approximately the same amount of space (or more).
Set expiration dates for rarely-used stuff: Give yourself a certain amount of time to use an item, then set a calendar reminder. If the date comes and goes and you haven’t touched it, say goodbye.
Sleep on it—twice: Don’t buy new stuff until you’ve considered it for 48 hours (or more). If you still think it’s a good purchase, go for it.
The decluttering process isn’t exactly fun, but chances are that you’ll come to love the extra space way more than whatever was there before. Hopefully this guide will help you get your crap under control and out of your home.
This article was originally published in May 2011 and was updated on May 18, 2021 with new information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.
Valheim players worried about all the time they’re spending outside of World of Warcraft can now kill two birds with one stone. Thanks to a new—free—mod, you can explore the beloved realms of Azeroth from within everyone’s favorite Viking survival game.
The free mod, called Valheim of Warcraft, doesn’t change anything about Valheim’s core gameplay, but adds the majority of World of Warcraft’s zones to Valheim as playable landmasses. This includes Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, Quel’Thalas, Northrend, Pandaria, and lots more.
Note that this import isn’t a one-to-one recreation. The mod’s creator, who goes by “Kromek” on the Nexus Mod website, says each landmass has been shrunk by about 20% to make the map fit in Valheim, and the cosmic realms like Argus, Draenor, Outlands, and the Shadowlands are not yet included. The Maelstrom is also technically there, but without its iconic whirling vortex.
The custom map starts players off in a recreated version of the Timeless Isle that includes active portals to World of Warcraft’s various starting zones. From there, each zone has its own progression path and boss battles to play through, with further portals that ferry you around the land in place of World of Warcraft’s ship and zeppelin routes.
G/O Media may get a commission
That said, you won’t find major cities, dungeons, or other structures to explore, though Kromek plans to add optional prebuilt structures and flesh the map out with “burial chambers, sunken crypts, and goblin villages”where they would believably appear. But since Valheim lets players build their own towns, you and your friends could challenge yourselves to recreate Orgrimmar, Stormwind, and the rest on your own right now.
To add Valheim of Warcraft map to your game:
Go to Users/[Your User Name]/AppData/LocalLow/IronGate/Valheim on your PC.
Back up the “Worlds” and “Characters” folders to a safe, easily accessible location so you can recover your game data if something goes wrong.