Showing posts from 2013

Twenty minutes into the future: 2013 edition

First off, please understand I am not a fan of A & E network's "reality" series DuckDynasty. I think it perpetuates a myth that people from the south are loud, coarse, obsessed with hunting, and backward, which then encourages others' belittling attitudes. On the other hand, I do appreciate their strong commitment to their family and their faith.It is this commitment to faith that has ensnared the patriarch of the Robertson family. In an interview with GQ magazine, Phil Robertson was asked about what he considers sins worthy of death, and roughly quoting from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, he listed "Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers." Out of that list, people zeroed in on the denunciation of homosexuality, which led to Phil's being suspended from the show "indefinitely." Immediately pundits on both sides of the issue blew up social media, …

[Review] Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may recall my experience with comic books goes back to my childhood where I was introduced to many characters. One book in particular was an issue of Daredevil (vol. 1, #123) where I first met Nick Fury. In this issue, Foggy Nelson (Daredevil's friend) was kidnapped by HYDRA and was held in HYDRA's secret base beneath Shea Stadium in New York. Not only did Daredevil attempt to rescue Nelson, SHIELD was sent in, led by Nick Fury (as an aside, I didn't remember that Black Widow was also in this book, and so this was also my first introduction to Natasha Romanov).
I love Samuel L. Jackson as Fury, but his is not the Fury I remember from my childhood.  Not too long ago, I was flipping channels and saw this 1998 movie, and realized that David Hasselhoff was cast in the title role. This surprised me, but as I discovered it well into the movie, I didn't stay, as I wanted to watch it all the way from the beginning. And then…

The Hands, Head and Heart of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In an earlier post I explained my theory of the tripartite composition of man. In short, I believe that people can be explained as being governed by their heads, their hands and their hearts. I believe that this composition is visible in the ensemble cast of Marvel's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Agents Ward and May are the Hands, i.e., they are people of action; they get things done. In episode 2, "0-8-4," Ward even says that he is trained to be the 'solution.' The first two episodes very clearly revel them to be action-oriented.  They do not speak much, but let their deeds do the talking for them. 
People of action often act and then consider the consequences afterwards. They  live by the motto "shoot first, ask questions later." Indeed, Agent May appears to be suffering from regret for some (as yet) unspecified action.  Agent Ward is still young and gung-ho, and perhaps we will see May help him reconsider determination to always act first.
Fitz and Simmons

Agents of SHIELD premiere: The Day After

Note: lastnightIlivebloggedthepremiere. NowthatI'veslept on it, I'veputtogetheralittlemorecoherentreview. BeWarned - thereAREmildspoilers.Okay, so its a day later. I've read some initial responses to the premiere, ranging from "it was awesome," to "it was underwhelming.". I'm falling along the awesome side of the continuum, though not necessarily saying it was perfect. Strong, yes. Perfect, no.WhatIliked:
I loved the way the events of THE AVENGERS were tied in to the opening, establishing a world where superheroes and aliens are now revealed in full. I enjoyed the way Agent Coulson was shown to have somehow survived. Stepping out of the shadows and making a quip about a "bulb out" was perfect.The writing was fun, especially the dialogue. Joss Whedon has a golden ear for the spoken word.The message about character, responsibility and who you are trumping what you have gave me a lot to chew on.A cameo by Ron Glass and a "special guest&q…

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Premiere

Tonight, I'll be live-blogging the premiere!Nice cameos of the Avengers!A hero is a guy running into (or climbing up) a burning building when everyone else is running out...Special guest star Colbie Smulders No wonder this guy gets recruited by Level 7"We stand between the world and a much weirder world"And there he is!"When you get shanked by the Asgardian Mussolini you can tell it your way."What is the Rising Tide?Ron Glass!He can never know what?  My wife is afraid he might be a LMD...."With great power comes...a ton of weird crap"That IS a nice bus!And there's Lola!So Skye is "The Rising Tide?"Centipede?Love the drones checking out the lab!Great truth drug!But a hero doesn't kill....(not even Super- oh, wait)
So, this centipede device is messing with his moral compass?I'm not liking this origin story.Extremis. Huh. So they're coupling this with IRON MAN 3?  And Extremis is a reverse engineered Super Soldier serum? Tying a…

[Fandom Friday] Six-Gun Gorilla Reborn!

Oh, my.  I'm actually giddy with anticipation.  I just received word that a character that I'd considered nigh-legendary in the sub-sub-genre of speculative fiction, that of the Weird Western, has been rebooted.  I speak, of course, of none other than Six-Gun Gorilla.
Regular readers of the stuff I throw up on this virtual wall will recall that I have a short list of characters that I would love to see rebooted.  As of now, what I have written about are radio characters, like Chandu the Magician, Rocky Jordan and the lead characters from the Ghost Corps.  I never expected that Six-Gun Gorilla would get a reboot in the form of a comic, because, while I loved the idea, I thought he was such a niche figure that almost no one else would be interested in him.  In my mind, he would remain a lone pioneering figure, back when the idea of the Weird Western had not been fully articulated as it is now.
The plot is simple. An old west miner has a pet gorilla that he teaches to do things,…

[Theology Thursday] Hope and the Superman Myth

Note: thispostwillcontainmajorspoilersfromTHEMANOFSTEELfilm. Ifyou haven'tseenityet, feelfreetowatchitandcomeback. I'llwait.

In the film, Kal-El (not yet called Superman) calls attention to the fact the symbol that looks like a big red "S" to American earthlings is actually the symbol for his family on Krypton, and that it also stands for hope there as well.
Throughout the film it seems as if writer David Foyer and director Zack Snyder are going to reinforce this theme: several times in the course of the film (presumably due to the upbringing of his adoptive earth parent's the Kents) he is seen finding a way to save lives.  Indeed, this has been a major refrain of most reviewers that I've heard that it is this stubborn refusal to end a life that marks Superman as an iconic comic book hero. So what happened in the third act? Why was Superman not able to save both the family in the Metropolis train station andGeneral Zod?1 Why do we get an odd snapping sound ef…

[Fandom Friday] Ben Affleck and Nerd Rage

"OMG Casting Ben Affleck as Batman just set us back another 10 years in our efforts to cure cancer, end poverty and bring peace to the Middle East. OH WAIT IT'S ONLY A MOVIE" - Berin Kinsman, from his Facebook Page (used with permission)

Why do we in the geek/nerd community get so bent out of shape abut things like the recent announcement that Ben Affleck has been cast as the new Batman in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman/Superman film?  People have been bringing up disastrous Affleck films like Gigli, Daredevil and Armageddon. Others have defended the choice citing his recent directorial triumphs like last year's Argo, which won him an Oscar for Best Director.

Me? I'm willing to give Ben a chance, although I must admit he was not my first choice.

But the question remains: why the vitriol here, when other things are so terribly wrong with the world?

To begin, I'm not sure that individuals in the geek/nerd community were not outraged by the recent charges of…

[Theology Thursday] The Nothing New Lament

In a recent article in USAToday, writers Scott Bowles and Andrea Fuller report on the idea that original stories seem to get eaten up by "sequel-itis" and "reboot raves".  To bolster their argument, they bring out an impressive assortment of statistics:

Original films accounted for just 39% of box office from 2003 to 2012, down from 65% in the 10 years before.So far this summer, original stories account for just 30% of sales.Original movies accounted for less than half (47%) of the top summer releases from 2003 to 2012, down from 70% the decade before.Pacific Rim cost the studios $190 million while only earning $94 million as of the publication of the article.

They quoted University of Nebraska film professor Wheeler Winston Dixon, who is generally unhappy about the trend: "Films routinely cost $100 to $200 million, and with that kind of money at stake, who has time for originality? It's much safer to bank on a franchise."  On the other hand, Robert Mc…

[PODCAST] Sex, Lust and Video Games - Theology Gaming

Just over five years ago, there were very few podcasts and blogs devoted to exploring geek culture through the lens of faith. In the time since, there has been a virtual explosion in the number and quality of entries. I am very excited by the possibility that the church is slowly embracing those who are traditionally within an often ostracized community. This past week,  I discovered a great new podcast: Theology Gaming. Recently, they had a Theme Week where the various hosts posted individual blog posts relating to the theme of sex, love and lust in video games. They then came together in a round table format to discuss the issue.I liked their final takeaway that it just seems that our culture is so hypersexualized that it seems as if we expect every relationship to somehow culminate in a physical relationship, that there doesn't seem to be a place for the simple, chaste phileo friendship, but that it must develop into a relationship marked by eros.This will most likely join my l…

Comics and Me

I tell people that when it comes to comics, "I am conversant, but not fluent." What I mean by that is that I am familiar with most of the mainstream superheros (and a few lower tier ones), but I don't regularly follow them on a monthly basis.

I remember as a child visiting my aunt and her family. In their home were dozens of comics, featuring characters from both DC and Marvel, and I read them all for years.  I discovered Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Avengers, and many others for the first time this way. From this humble introduction, I watched the Super Friends as a Saturday morning cartoon and the Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman as live action network TV shows.

As I grew older, I supplemented my awareness of comic book heroes by buying certain books (Spider-Man was always a favorite), or picking up used copies of others.  As a science fiction fan, I enjoyed Marvel's serialization of the original Star Wars film, even though they lost me in the following storie…

In Defense of Bad Genre Fiction, or why I like The Mummy 3

I love bad genre fiction. I enjoy movies like National Treasure and the Mummy franchise, as well as the subpar movies based on comic books and other big-budget, low-rent script CGI-fests. I also like the purple prose of stories from the pulp era of the 1930's and '40's that are long on action and short on logic.
By all rights, this shouldn't be the case. My degree is in film and television production, and I enjoyed classes in film and television criticism.  But I still loves me some low-brow entertainment.
Why is that so? That's a valid question and one I really couldn't answer exactly until after the premiere of the third Mummy movie with Brendan Fraser.  Then, someone who I don't normally agree with actually helped me crystallize my thinking. To be clear, I don't agree with his conclusions, but in modifying his approach, I came up with the following theory: we were wired to enjoy a little visual junk food every now and again.
My theory is based on th…

Accountability update

So I'm a little late in my quarterly review of the resolutions I made on New Year's 2013.  But I haven't given up, and again, I want to be accountable, so here we go.  For review's sake, Here is the original post of my Goals and Resolutions, and my first update.
1.  Lose at least 15 pounds. There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that I didn't really begin walking like I said I would a few months ago, and as a result, I'm not nearer my 15 pound loss goal.  The good news is that I did begin this past week, and I have refined my reasons for pursuing fitness as a goal:

In my everyday life, we move every 3-5 years. We are in year 4. I want to be stronger for the next time we move, and therefore better able to lift boxes without doing myself potential harm.We are planning an educational tour to the Holy Land in early 2014. I want to have stamina while on the tour so that I can enjoy what I'm learning.I want to look a little more like the guy my wif…

Thoughts on Podcasting

I love podcasts.

There. I said it.

I enjoy listening to other people's thoughts on subjects near and dear to my geeky little heart. I am thrilled when I agree with them, and disappointed (and occasionally nerdraged) when I don't.

I listen to podcasts when I travel in my car. They have taken the place of traditional radio when I drive anywhere for the most part. I do have a musical playlist of tunes that I love, but I don't listen to them as often as I used to.  In all fairness, I have a pretty good collection of Old Time Radio (OTR) shows I love as well, but its the podcasts that have pretty much locked up pride of place in my listening habits.

I once tried podcasting myself, back in 2007. I produced two episodes of what I called the Geek Orthodoxy podcast, which was designed to explore geek entertainment through the lens of faith.  I had some good ideas, and had basically plotted out a third episode, but Everyday Life interfered with my lofty goals and I let it slide by t…

[Review] The Lone Ranger

On the 237th anniversary of American Independence, my wife (who I lovingly refer to as the Princess Bride) and I saw The Lone Ranger.  I had very high hopes for this film, based on the articles I had read and the trailers and other promotional items available.  There were a couple of things I wasn't crazy about prior to the film (like the scene with Silver in a tree wearing the Lone Ranger's hat, and Tonto saying "Something very wrong with that horse"), but for the most part, I was excited.
In a previous post, I discussed the idea of the Western as an "American Fantasy genre," (an idea I credit to the guys at the Strangers and Aliens podcast) and I consider the Lone Ranger character as a highly venerated member of that pantheon.  
A little history is in order at this point. The Lone Ranger began life on the radio. in 1933, on radio station WXYZ in Detroit, The Lone Ranger debuted. It was part of a trio of radio adventure series developed by Fran Striker and G…

[REVIEW] Nickel Children

(Note: this is a review I previously recorded for The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast with Paeter Frandsen)

The Western has been considered by many people as an American mythology.  It features very archetypal tropes like good versus evil and law and order versus crime and chaos. 

In 2010, writer director Kevin Eslinger produced the 16 minute short film titled Nickel Children (not to be confused with the 2005 feature film The Nickel Children), which could be variously called a steampunk or a weird western film.  

The basic plot is that in the late 1800's Kansas, a young orphaned boy is held captive with other children for the pleasure of adults. The boys are forced to fight each other while the grown ups bet on the winners and losers; the girls dance with heavily made up faces to entertain the men.

For a 16-minute indie film shot in only five days, Nickel Children has a lot of promise.  The costuming, sets and effects place it squarely in the steampunk/weird Western realm. Acting is …

Westerns as American Fantasy

(NOTE: I previously recorded this as a response to the "Westerns: The Original American Fantasy Genre" episode of the Strangers and Aliens Podcast)

I never thought much about it before listening to the episode. As a Texan, I grew up with a great appreciation for the Western as a genre; that probably started with reruns of The Lone Ranger and other shows on TV.

Speaking of The Lone Ranger, it started off as an Old Time Radio program. The creators also launched another  OTR program that featured the great grand-nephew of the Lone Ranger: Brit Reid, also known as the Green Hornet

As an adult, I've developed a fondness for the "Weird Westerns," which are Westerns that have been "nerd-troped" by taking the classic Western and adding supernatural, horror, sci-fi and straight up fantasy elements. The best examples of this are The Wild, Wild West TV show and Cowboys and Aliens.

Looking at Western movies, especially those of John Ford, they emphasized the mythic n…

Geeky Playlist

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In celebration of Geek Pride Day, tomorrow (May 25), I am loading up my mp3 player with my favorite geeky tunes. Below is the playlist (with some additional comments as I felt necessary).
A-Team Song Airship Pirate by Abney Park (Abney Park is a steampunk-themed band)Battlestar Galactica Theme (from the original 1979 series)Breathe by Abney Park Buck Rogers in the 25th Century by Neil NormanBuck Roger’s In The 25th Century ( this is the TV version of the theme)  Cup Of Brown Joy (Tea Bag Remix) by Professor Elemental (a british hip-hop song extolling the joy of tea)Dragnet 88 by The Art Of Noise  Existential Blues by “T-Bone”Tom Stankus (digs into philosophy and turns the Wizard of Oz on its head) Florin Dance by Mark Knopfler (this is from The Princess Bride Soundtrack –my #2 favorite movie)Green Hornet by Al Hirt Nerdy Girl by Nerdy Girl Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might…

First Quarter Resolution Update

Here we are, closing in on the end of the first quarter of 2013. It has been an interesting year so far, full of busy-ness that I hadn't expected.

However, I did have some expectations for what I wanted to accomplish by the end of this year, so I thought it might be a good time to review progress so far on my resolutions I made at the first of the year.

For review's sake, Here is the original post of my Goals and Resolutions.

1.  Lose at least 15 pounds. Not a good report here. Although I have been monitoring my weight weekly, I have not lost an appreciable weight.  Of course, I have not gained any appreciable weight either.  I'll take maintenance as a positive thing, and since the weather is warming up, I'll start walking my neighborhood soon.

2.  Read through the Bible in a Year. I can't say that I have been terribly consistent with this either, but I rather than beat myself up over the lack of consistency and then quit, I have found that with the Word on the Str…

Geeky Childhood Influences

On a recent episode of the podcast The Sci-Fi Christian, the hosts (Matt Anderson, Daniel ‘The Other Guy’ Butcher and Koby Radcliffe) spotlighted their “Top 5 Childhood Influences.” It was a pretty cool episode and got me reminiscing about some of my favorites from my not-quite-misspent youth. I list them below, honorable mentions first, followed by the top five, ranked from five to one*: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: The prototypical steampunk adventure movie. It was also my favorite ride at Disneyworld. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Spielberg's classic movie about an alien invasion that turn out to be benign. Incredible Hulk: This was the second superhero series I saw. I think the recent movies (except for The Avengers) fail to capture the pathos of the character. Mission: Impossible: I loved this uber-cool spy series that relied a lot on misdirection. Six Million Dollar Man: The series about transhumanism before transhumanism was ever in the public consciousness. Space:…

Spiritual Lessons from The Tick

I am the wild blue yonder. The front line in a never-ending battle between good and not-so-good. Together with my stalwart sidekick, Arthur, and the magnanimous help of some other folks I know, we form the yin to villany's malevolent yang. Destiny has chosen us. Wicked men, you face The Tick.Just the other day, I recently watched the entire series run (minus one episode) of the live-action version of The Tick, starring Patrick Warburton.  I was not familiar with the character, and had never seen either the original comic, the animated series or this version.  My initial reaction was unprintable; not because it contained bad language, but because I couldn’t find the words.In short, it is a funny, silly take on the superhero genre.  I loved the absolutely blithe innocence that the title character has. He has only one drive and that is to fight crime, wherever he finds it. Along with his trusty sidekick partner, Arthur. Arthur, whose moth-inspired costume gets him confused with a rab…

The Snow Queen

Let me begin by stating up front that I am not a ballet guy.One reason I started this blog was so that I could explore the themes and tropes that I find in in the stories within the geek culture and see how they relate to what Tolkien referred to as “the True Myth.”  So I enjoy speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy and the like.  Those themes are indeed present in many, if not most of the great stories – redemption, self-sacrifice, heroism the overwhelming power of good over the seductive yet ultimately self-defeating temptation of evil.Speaking of Tolkien, he found much of the inspiration for his great masterpieces from what he called “fairy stories,” tales told and retold by Andrew Lang, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.  One Anderson story, The Snow Queen, has been adapted by a troupe called Ballet Magnificat, a group based in Jackson, Mississippi by Kathy and Keith Thibodeaux. Kathy is the 1982 Silver Medalist at the II USA International Ballet Competition. …

Goals and Resolutions

LiveJournal Tags: ,,,,,,, This is a list of the things I’d like to accomplish by the end of this Year of Our Lord, 2013:1.  Lose at least 15 pounds.  In order to do that, I need to pay more attention to my diet and get off my rumpus and move (i.e., exercise);2. Read through the Bible this year.  I will be using a reading plan and Rob Lacey’s edgy Word on the Street paraphrase. Yes, I know its cheating, sort of, but I gotta start somewhere, right?3. Be more creative.  I like to write some, and I’m drawn toward fiction. I’d like to write some short stories for the Ranger Co. X setting that has been recently published by Asparagus Jumpsuit. I’ve also started what was known in the pulps as a ‘novellette’ featuring my favorite characters from three of my favorite Old Time Radio series, Rocky Jordan, Chandu, the Magician, and The Ghost Corps. I really want to finish this one this year as well.Also, when I was back in high scho…