Monday, February 23, 2009

Into the Breach--

I'm packing for the field, and I don't know if I'm going to have Internet access or not. Anyway, I realize I've promised a movie review, and I realize it's a bit behind--and we meant to have it today, but I'm rushing to pack for the field, and I'm also talking to illustrators about my comic, and, well, things get delayed.

Speaking of which, I can give no details whatsoever, but two illustrators have expressed interest. Both have talent. Meanwhile, though I've been churning out scripts for this comic for over a year now, I have been stumbling in the difficult task of finding a beginning. I love my characters, perhaps more than I've loved any characters I've created, and I love the situations I get them into, and I love the big, seamy world they have to explore and blow things up in. Everything in the middle has been great, but every time I've tried to write a first issue, I've flubbed it and flubbed it bad. Then I talked to St. Philomena about it and now things are getting done almost too fast, which is perhaps not so weird, since she happens to be my muse as well as my patroness, which means she has to pull double-duty, which isn't really fair, but who said afterlife was fair?

Now I have a first issue, and I'm quite happy with it. Now things are flowing great. This is really gonna happen. I don't mean you'll be reading issues of my comic within a year, but I mean you will be reading them. Eventually. If you want to. So, if you like "Dragonsaint"...then I have no idea if you'll like this, because it's absolutely nothing like "Dragonsaint," except they both have cute girls in them, but that goes for pretty much everything I write. It's like my signature.

So I'm here for two reasons.

Progress update: Progress is good. Formerly seven-issue miniseries is now probably ten issues because the beginning needed completely redone. Issue 1 is done. Issue 2 is done except for the last few pages. Issue 3 needs rewritten but has large chunks done. Large chunks of the rest are done.

Reminder: Tomorrow is Phat Tuesday, so be sure to do something appropriately phat, because after that is Ash Wednesday, a day to get ash and take names. And fast. Ash Wednesday, of course, begins our annual fiction fast and Lenten Read-a-Thon, the text for which, this year, is Pope John Paul II's Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body. If you're joining us for the read, get through about 20 pages a day and you'll make it before Easter Vigil with time to spare.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cartoon Break!

"Frank, you've been a Christian for over a year now.
Isn't it time you wrote your own apocalyptic novel?"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oh Yeah, Baby...



It's so true. Especially that part about archaeology not being all it's cracked up to be.

(Hat tip to Orthometer.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour



Okay, I've been dealing with other matters over here and I've been neglecting the blog again. Unfortunately, I chose to neglect it during a Blog Tour, so that means somebody gets the shaft.

Getting the shaft this month is Jeffrey Overstreet, whose novel is Cyndere's Midnight. I cyndere you to make fun of that title. No really, I cyndere you.*

Jeffrey Overstreet has a website and a blog, but who doesn't? What makes Overstreet's blog unusually good is his unusually good batch of movie reviews, which you ought to be reading instead of the reviews around here. I'm rather fond of his review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

But let's talk about his new novel, shall we? The man's obviously quick on his feet, or on his keyboard; he churns out movie reviews like nothing, and here's a new novel, and it seems to me it wasn't that long ago we were talking about his last novel on this blog tour. High marks for being prolific.

The Least Read Blog indicates the novel is so stunning that John can't think of anything to say. Nothing to say, and he's Lutheran! That's something. I think. I dunno, are Lutherans known for being wordy?

Novel Teen, which I assume is written by an unusual teen, has a good review.

Then there's Books' Hidden Corner, which has...*shudder*...anime characters...but it also has a valiant attempt to read the novel during the Blog Tour itself! Now that's a stunt I can get behind. I might even try that next time. Books didn't make it through, but she does give a little discussion of the novel's themes, and that's worth taking a look at.

Finally, FantasyThyme gushes about the story's revelations of secrets, suggesting that it has a solid, steady pace and an engaging plot. That little blog post also mentions the book's symbolic use of "the midnight hour," which of course reminds me of this.

In the Midnight Hour, the Blog Tour Cries More, More, More:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Magma
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Jill Williamson

I'm pronouncing that "sin-dare," but I'm probably wrong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wow!

Four whole Gregs!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, Fanboy



Ah, here we go again. It is easily the most miserable holiday for fanboys, since it's commonly known that none of them have girlfriends. Poor, poor fanboy. Well, look on the bright side: At least you're not like this guy. I hope not, anyway.

That guy in the news video I just linked, by the way, fulfills some predictions I made. The future is now, I guess. Notice what the guy says: He prefers his girl robots to real women because, unlike a real woman, they can't cheat on him or betray him. Lucky the Goldfish, when she heard that, snidely remarked, "Yeah, and this woman would like to point out that there are a lot of other things your doll can't do, fanboy."

Just so.

Notice, too, that the dude can't be satisfied with just one girl robot. He needs a hundred of them, even though they're expensive. Has he discovered, perhaps, that he is unsatisfied with a fictional relationship with an inanimate object? Does he keep buying more and more of these things in the hope that a hundred toys will give him the love that one cannot? Sad, very sad.

So, getting away from that subject for a moment, we find that today is St. Valentine's Day. In addition to honoring the renowned saint, I like to celebrate the day with heart-shaped chocolate boxes that play Elvis Presley songs when opened. And because the closest thing I have to a significant other has been transformed into a goldfish, I get to eat the chocolate. Now that's Valentine's Day the way it should be. Mmm mmm. You see, we here at The Sci Fi Catholic believe holy things and schlocky things can go hand-in-hand. We believe that because, well, they always have. Those SSPX-types might complain long and loud about badly painted plastic icons sold in Catholic gift shops, but at least those are an improvement over the ambulatory vulvae you could get at Catholic shrines during the Middle Ages.

The same blog I just linked has a fine article on the association between Geoffrey Chaucer and St. Valentine's Day, Chaucer's being, apparently, "the first extant reference to 'St. Valentine's Day' as an occasion for romance" (more...). So go read that, as it's better than all the stuff I usually write at this time of year about birds (whose language I speak, by the way, thanks to this ring I got that used to belong to Solomon, but that's a long story).

Now I have to go, because I think Snuffles is going to force me to watch The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?



And this one goes out to Xena, in the hopes that she may recover from my uncharitable posting of a Corey Hart video...

Friday, February 13, 2009

What the...?



Snuffmeister here. Okay, I've got nothing against somebody wanting to make an anime series into a live-action movie, really, but of all the anime they could have chosen, they chose Dragon Ball? We're talking here about a series famous mainly for its stories that involve two people who stand opposite each other and talk smack for six episodes, occasionally showing off their "power" by flexing so hard that small rocks lift off the ground, and then finally hitting each other really fast for thirty seconds, all while other characters, whose spatial relationship to the aforemetioned combatants is vague at best, make inane comments. Meanwhile, the twelve-year-old male target audience snickers every time somebody says "Dragon Balls."

What's next, a live-action Pokemon?

I assume this is in the wake of Speed Racer, but at least that movie, in spite of its flaws, was obviously made with real love. The previews for Dragonball: Evolution, on the other hand, suggest something generic and indifferent, rather like the film adaptation of Mortal Kombat.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kung Fu (?) Night! Dynamite Warrior



It's Dy-no-mite! (Ugh, that was bad.)

Dynamite Warrior (Khon fai bin), directed by Chalerm Wongpim. Starring Dan Chupong, Puttipong Swriwat, and Panna Rittikrai. Produced by Prachya Pinkaew. Magnolia Pictures (2007). Not Rated.

Read other reviews here.

How do I put this? Days later, I'm still...blinking at this movie. Like every time I think of it, my eyes can't believe what they really saw and so they try to clear themselves for another look. It's one whacked-out film, though, come to think of it, it's not nearly as whacked out as some of the stuff Hong Kong has produced.

Since I can't find a theater in Utah showing Chocolate, I've had to go elsewhere for my Muay Thai fix, and I landed on Dynamite Warrior. Not a bad choice. It's a film that leans heavily on fun visuals and succeeds in spite of its hard-to-follow plot.

Let's see if I can get this right. It's the 1920s, I think, and Thai farmers are in need of buffalo to run their bigger farms, so buffalo traders move their herds across the countryside doing their buffalo-trading thing. But evil villain Lord Wang (Puttipong Swirat), a cackling Thai version of Snidely Whiplash, wants to sell the farmers his evil new-fangled Western tractors. When the buffalo-loving farmfolk refuse to buy, he hires an evil criminal (Somdej Keawlue) to kill all the buffalo traders so the buffalo shortage will force everyone to buy his tractors! Ha! And the evil criminal's secret weapon? He becomes invincible whenever he gets hungry.

In the midst of this is Jone Bang Fai (Dan Chupong), a Robin-Hoodish hero who uses a combination of of bamboo rockets and wire-Muay...er, Muay-wire...er, martial arts stuff, to beat the living daylights out of cattle traders and give their buffalo to poor farmers. He also shoots flinty sparks out of his fingers and occasionally rides the rocket, literally. The reason for his behavior? Well, when he was a young Buddhist monk, a tattooed cattle trader killed his parents, so now he's out for revenge. Get it?

It so happens that the tattooed cattle trader is a wizard with the power of touch-free-fu, with which he can smack people around from a distance just by pointing his fist at them. When he at last encounters this nemesis, Jone Bang Fai is so heck-bent on revenge that he teams up with the odious Lord Wang and that hungry dude, and together they all go to visit the Black Wizard, who happens to be the nemesis of that other wizard, and the Black Wizard has a beautiful daughter Jone Bang Fai has the hots for, and they need her menstrual blood to disempower that other wizard...oh man, I just got lost.

Never mind the plot. It's all about the visuals. The wire-enhanced action sequences are excellent if not exactly unique. The most fun fights are the ones where the wizards hit people from a distance, but Jone Bang Fai's unique use of rockets as both weapons and vehicles is a lot of fun, and it's great when he sets off hundreds of rockets simultaneously simply by flicking sparks from his hands. The film opens with a prolonged, expansive fight sequence in a pasture, where Jone Bang Fai single-handedly whoops about fifty people, all of whom get up afterwards, only a little hurt--because Jone Bang Fai is the good guy, you see, so he only tries to kill his archenemy; his use of deadly attack moves and explosives doesn't seriously harm anyone else. The same cannot be said for the film's villains, however, who hack limbs, slice throats, and sometimes bite off hunks of bloody flesh in sequences that would easily earn an R-rating from the MPAA on account of their having subtitles and not being made in Hollywood.

But really, it's the little, atmospheric things that make this film a visual treat: the rockets, the landscapes, the straw hats, the ponchos or whatever those are, and the loads and loads of really bad teeth. I've never seen a movie with so many bad teeth. Want to know if a character's evil? Check his mouth. Also, this movie has probably the most over-killed archvillain in cinema history. I won't explain that; you'll have to see it for yourself because you won't believe me if I tell you.

Where was I? Ah yes, the revenge motif. Why is it, anyway, that most martial arts films are about revenge? You killed my mother/father/best friend/girlfriend/sensei/third cousin and now you must die! You and your six hundred incompetent henchmen!

Overdone high-flying martial arts action is almost always fun to watch, except in slow-paced, sucky, artsy martial arts movies like House of Flying Daggers (arrggh!), but the cold-blooded vengeance that often moves these films doesn't exactly make for a compelling hero, at least not by itself. Sometimes a martial arts film may play on that fact, as in, for example, Bruce Lee's debut, Fists of Fury, in which Lee's character breaks his promise never to fight and slays a mobster (and the mobster's six hundred incompetent henchmen) for murdering his family. But in the end, Lee is arrested for the killings and he has nothing to show for his day's work except a heap of corpses and a few gratuitous naked breast shots. It lets you revel in the violence, as a martial arts movie inevitably does, but the message is clear: Revenge doesn't pay.

Rather than showing gratuitous naked breast shots, Dynamite Warrior takes an approach to the revenge theme that's surprisingly elegant considering the deliberately goofball storyline. Jone Bang Fai, on account of his revenge-seeking, ends up in a very bad crowd, hanging out with characters who have been clearly established as the real forces of evil in the film: the cackling tractor salesman, the limb-hacking cannibal, and the creepy Black Wizard dude. Although it's easy to enjoy Jone Bang Fai's outrageous rocket attacks and his devastating Muay Thai stunts, he is, at least for half the movie, easy to dislike and hard to sympathize with. Right from the start, he's beating the living daylights out of people who, for all we know, have done nothing wrong. Because of the revenge motif at the movie's heart, this lack of sympathy for the hero actually works in the film's favor--and gives it a chance to build sympathy for the very man Jone Bang Fai is trying to kill, a man who appears to be a simple, honest trader who enjoys herding buffalo and gossiping with his friends (and occasionally indulging some touch-free-fu).

The real drive of the movie, then, is the transformation of the hero, who has to realize that maybe his life's work hasn't been such a good idea. Maybe he shouldn't beat the crud out of people for no reason. Maybe revenge isn't so hot a motive. Maybe there are other villains in the near vicinity who are much more in need of an old-fashioned, down-home Muay Thai beatin'.

But the really golden scene of the movie is the one where two men are arguing about menstruation. I'm sorry, but that's freakin' hilarious.

Content Advisory: Contains stylized action violence, brief scenes of blood and gore, and occasional coarse language.

The Sci Fi Catholic's Rating for Dynamite Warrior:

Myth Rating: High (you know, all those typical themes and stuff)

Quality: Medium-High (good-looking and fun with some elements that get lost in the mix)

Ethics/Religion: Medium (pretty good for this kind of film; ultimately has very likable characters; some especially violent imagery)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cartoon Break!

Don't expect a lot of these or anything, but from time to time I'll try to give you a funny cartoon. Here's the first. I, at least, thought it was funny--



Hannibal Lector

Monday, February 9, 2009

Almost--

Yes, we are almost back to having regular content, because I almost have a movie review finished, but right now, it's almost my bedtime, because I have to drive almost the whole way to Salt Lake City early in the morning.*

*That's almost true, because I actually do have to drive the whole way to Salt Lake City in the morning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

St. Philomena's Cord

I write fiction. Therefore, I fake having more knowledge than I actually have.

Some of you by now (?) have read "Dragonsaint," which is in the current issue of MindFlights, a magazine for titles made of inappropriately compounded nouns (no, not really), and have no doubt noticed my innovative and oh-so-clever use of St. Philomena's Cord. See, I already knew about this devotion before I wrote the story and so it is not at all a coincidence that St. Philomena, in my story, happens to have an important cord. Really. Not a coincidence. Because I already knew about it.

(Man, I've heard of things like this happening to other writers, but it's kind of creepy when it happens to you. With the looking up I did on St. Philomena, how come I never heard of this cord before? Is the saint playing games with me?)

And speaking of "Dragon Saints"...

Or, for that matter, Dragon Saints...

Or...dragonsaints?

Good thing you can't copyright a title or I'd get my butt sued!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Update

Yes, I know this blog hasn't had any real content since even-I-don't-know-when, and as usual, that means readership is up (what's wrong with you people????). This is because we have actually been quite busy, not merely depressed from reading MegaTokyo...okay, that happened too. (I have extremely low angsty love story tolerance.)

Anyhow, I'm just popping in to tell you I'm finally going to the field tomorrow, but because we're back in Rump's End, Nevada, I cannot guarantee Internet access. Also, I just came back from Slumdog Millionaire, during which I cried at the angsty love story and I'm man enough to admit it. I might review that later. That movie, which intersects my present project in themes and scenery, made me realize I'm a bleedin' amateur.

So there you go. Now don't complain about the lack of real content or I'll punish you with this.