Prep Time!

I’ll be spending most of today trying to wrap things up and pack things up for this weekend’s journey. I’ll be flying up to Chicago tomorrow morning that I may enjoy 24 straight hours of marginal fare at Northwestern University’s annual B-Fest.

It’s a time of conflict for me. On the one hand, there’ll be people I only get to see once a year (if that); visiting with them is my favorite part of the trip. The dark side is the increasing popularity of B-Fest; last year’s sold out a half-hour after the doors opened, and this year the event sold out the day advance tickets went on sale. I have a nervous condition, apparently inherited from my grandmother, which renders me very claustrophobic in crowds. It will be time to, as we tell my son so often, “Cowboy up.”

See you next week, if I survive.

UCC in the News Again

At their own Website, the United Church of Christ has posted SpongeBob welcomed by UCC, and the accompanying photo alone is worth the trip.

For those of you who value sanity in your news, you were probably unaware that SpongeBob Squarepants is gay. This is news to many people, not least of which are the people who make the cartoons. Were I one of them head-shrinker-type people, I’d say someone was projecting.

The UCC, of course, is the church whose “Jesus didn’t run people away – neither do we” commercial was deemed “too controversial” for the major networks – they’ve cropped up in this corner of Blogistan before, and before that.

The Brave Archer Huh-ology

I’ve now finished what has been referred to as “The Brave Archer Trilogy” with more than a bit of confusion. Mainly because it turns out it’s not a trilogy.

The Brave Archer movies, directed between 1977 and 1981 by Chang Cheh, are based one of those million-page Chinese novels I keep hearing about , Eagle Shooting Heroes. It seems at least half of the wuxia movies ever made are based on Eagle Shooting Heroes (a slightly less bizarre translation is Legend of the Condor Heroes), or at least use it as a template. I should probably try to dig up a translation at some point, if only to find out how well the movies follow the book.

Though each movie does rather wrap up one of the conflicts laid out, there are still plot elements unresolved from picture to picture, leaving the viewer with an Empire Strikes Back sort of denouement. The movies are one damned thing after another with a bewildering roster of colorful characters – anyone who read Jademan comics during their too-brief American run knows what I’m talking about.

So having heard about the trilogy, I settled in with the new remastered Region 3 discs from IVL, expecting some sort of closure at the end of Brave Archer 3, only to find… I was out of luck, and movie.

Alexander Fu Sheng, playing the lead character (even if he never engaged in any archery), died in a car wreck in 1983, in the midst of making Lau Kar Leung’s 8 Diagram Pole Fighter. There is a Brave Archer 4, with Andy Lau substituting for Fu Sheng, but IVL does not have it on their release list for this year. Admittedly, that list only goes through March, but… I rather wish, since they released the three Fu Sheng movies in a row, that the 4th would have followed thereafter.

Or that I knew where I could get a copy of Legend of the Condor Heroes.

I don’t want to give the impression that this diminished my enjoyment of the movies in any way – though it might have had I known I couldn’t get the full story arc going in. There’s the usual Chang Cheh exterior sets everywhere (like a kung fu flick filmed on the Ponderosa), but there’s also the usual hyperbolic Chang Cheh fight scenes, and the cast is like a Who’s Who of Shaw Brothers flicks. I spent entire scenes thinking, “Wait… isn’t that…?”

IVL, you’re gonna get my money sooner or later. For my satisfaction, though, I definitely wish it was sooner.

More New Stuff

I was so busy caressing the shiny new box of Forever Evil that I forgot to mention that I actually finished the review for the Bad Movie Report that had to be put aside for most of the month. Ghostwatch is now on the air, so to speak.

As a not-so-closet Anglophile, I dearly love British takes on the various genres – familiar enough to be comfortable, but just culturally different enough to be strange and exotic. This is the 1992 television production that caused a War of the Worlds-type panic, and is a fun view both as entertainment and technical achievement.

It’s a shame it will never see an American release, especially since the BBC appears to have disowned it, so I don’t think it will ever show up on the BBCAmerica cable channel.

Brave Archer 3 on the player tonight. The protagonist still hasn’t touched a single item of archery, in any form.

Look, Ma! I’m a Moviemaker!

I don’t know if this is good or bad news – as mentioned by BeckoningChasm in yesterday’s post, my crappy little horror movie, Forever Evil, has finally appeared on DVD. This was first promised something like four or five years ago, in an ad in Videoscope magazine. Now it has come to pass, in a two-disc version no less, featuring a 5.1 Dolby remix and a “Restored Director’s Cut” that also has a commentary track by yours truly, and the movie’s director, Roger Evans.

No, before you ask, the commentary track is not nearly two hours of Roger and me saying, “I’m sorry,” over and over again.

Amazon dropped the ball, as far as getting a copy to me (yes, I had to buy my own copy). Props to Digital Eyes, a nice little company that has never failed me, for getting a copy to me in only a couple of days. It’s ridiculous how giddy I was, pulling that box from the mailbin. I’ve calmed down somewhat since then, but it was an undeniable rush.

Listened to a bit of the commentary, to make sure I didn’t sound like a total dork (the jury’s still out). Fun fact: all those pictures in the Photo Gallery? I took ’em. Ditto for the photos on the back.

A startling discovery: the Director’s Cut has the original score by Houston artist Maryann Pendino, which I had thought lost to the ages.

Of course, all this really means, besides the realization of a couple of my self-aggrandizing fantasies, is that it’s going to be open critical season on me all over again. If I ever need to come down to earth, all I need do is look at the user review sections of Amazon and the Internet Movie Database: those will knock you off a cloud very damn fast.

Incidentally, when I am famous, I’m going to take out a full-page ad in every major newspaper in America detailing the difference between “Premiere” and “Premier”. That’s just dumb.

It’s Heeeeeere….

AAAAAA! RUN!!! Posted by Hello

Look! New Stuff!

Ah, crunch time. You gotta love it. Or you’ll be tempted to blow your brains out.

I handed in what are theoretically the final versions of the scripts for Project One last night, and in celebration wrote a review of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village for 50 Foot DVD. Then I did something I haven’t done for quite some time: watched a movie without the intention of reviewing it. The movie was Chang Cheh’s The Brave Archer, so I didn’t got totally mainstream on you.

It was enjoyable, in that comic book “world of martial arts” kind of way. I’m surprised that more comic book geeks don’t embrace these old school kung fu flicks, as they resemble nothing less than groups of superheroes in constant conflict. Brave Archer even has the obligatory “super heroes meet each other for first time and mistakenly fight” bit.

There are three Brave Archer movies, and given that only one plot thread is resolved by the end of Part One, apparently it was always intended to be that way (especially since our title character has yet to even put a hand to a bow or arrow). I’ll hopefully spend the rest of the day (with the exception of Lost tonight) working on a long-delayed review for my other website, which was rather brutally back-burnered to accomodate last-minute changes and brainstorms on Project One. I’m soon going have to take up the trouble-shooter hat for the way-behind-schedule Project Two, but for right now, I get to spend some time with a semi-obscure British TV show and Alexander Fu Sheng.

Ah, it’s like a vacation, except I still have to answer phone calls.

The World Changes

I use that phrase a lot – “The world changed again today,” to get across the protean nature of my current work. Objectives seem to change on a weekly, capricious basis, rendering large percentages of work previously done superfluous, if not useless. Ah, well, it’s a living, even if the smiling “Well, you’re the genius! You figure it out!” is wearing thin.

But then, there are other ways in which the world changes; real perceptible ways. While driving into town at lunchtime to find out how the world changed this week, I was listening to 740AM, it being one of the very few hours of the day it was actually allowed to broadcast news. They took twenty minutes to play Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech in its entirety.

Rarely has that drive seemed so insubstantial, so common. This was history I was listening to, history that occured during my lifetime. I remember watching this speech on TV, Dr. King standing before the statue of Abraham Lincoln, resonant and iconic. This image will always be in black and white and scales of gray in my head. I am sure there are color versions somewhere, but this is the way I experienced my history.

How old was I then? Ten, eleven? Yet even then, I somehow knew this was Important. That this was a struggle between good and bad, and with that sort of imagery, that sort of pure, unadulterated presence, bad didn’t have a chance.

You can say that the struggle still goes on, because it does. You can say not that much had changed, and in a lot of ways, you’d be right. But that moment, that moment lives in the heart, and it keeps me warm at night.

Long ago, almost twenty years ago, I remember being asked outside a grocery store to donate to a foundation, or a monument, or something for Dr. King – regrettably, I was in danger of becoming homeless myself at the time, and had to say no. The young man with the can in his hand cursed me for that, then the woman behind me cursed him, because – and I quote, “My daddy told me Martin Luther King was the most evil man who lived!”

But I thought of that moment, that glorious black and white moment, and felt a weight lift from my heart. I saw these two as the sad, hateful creatures they were, and went on with my life. Dr. King argued for the dignity of all

Uh… umm….

From | Research at Oxford really is torture (January 13, 2005)

“PEOPLE are to be tortured in laboratories at Oxford University in a US-funded experiment to determine if belief in God is effective in relieving pain.”

Though the opening paragraph makes it sound like the gov is financing this, the US-based entity supplying $2 million is the John Templeton Foundation.

Okay. I admit it. I canNOT wrap my head around this one.

Wait, here’s a slightly more detailed story from AFP via Yahoo:

Volunteers will be either have a gel made from chilli peppers applied to their skin, or have a small box which heats up to temperatures of 60 degrees Centigrade (140 Fahrenheit) placed on the back of their hands.

The scientists will then study their brain as they are showed a religious image, or perform other distractions such as saying a list of numbers backwards.”

On the other hand, I understand this story from Wired Online, “Real World Doesn’t Use a Joystick“:

(After a three-day binge of playing Katamari Damacy) “I was driving down Venice Boulevard,” recalled her husband, Dan Kitchens, “and Kozy reached over and grabbed the steering wheel and for a moment was trying to yank it to the right…. (Then) she let go, but kept staring out her window, and then looked back at me kind of stunned and said, ‘Sorry. I thought we could pick up that mailbox we just passed.'”

There is no need for expensive research into this (and other incidents reported in the story); the principle here is obvious: “Do not play video games if you are a dumbass.”

And What IS the News from Twin Peaks?

Just to prove what a desperately geeky life I lead, this story at Twin Peaks – It sounds like we’re finally making progress! – makes me happy. Of course, I’ll still stop watching after the episode where they wrap up the “Bob” storyline, and pretend the series had the good grace to end there.

Of course, though this alleged DVD box set won’t allegedly ship until late 2005 (when the rights revert from Artisan to Paramount), I’ll still have my laserdisc box sets to keep me warm.

Of course, I still have that shrinkwrapped VHS box set that has the whole series at SLP speed.

Of course I still have the videos that I taped off Bravo.

Of course, I still have my tapes of the original broadcast.

Of course.