4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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The second Captain America movie is also one of the jewels in the crown of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as we meet the Winter Soldier and the Falcon, bring back Cap, the Black Widow, and Nick Fury, and if that’s not enough for this masterpiece of a superheroic thriller, we’ve got Robert fucking Redford! The great superhero movie rewatch raves over Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

An excerpt:

The pacing is fantastic, the characterization is strong, the acting is amazing, the dialogue is crackling. Things never slow down enough to get boring, nor speed up enough to be exhausting. The plot unfolds nicely, with revelations coming slowly and sensible, with only two really big “gotcha” moments—Rogers realizing who the Winter Soldier is, and Zola’s ghost-in-the-machine act under Camp Lehigh. Even those work, the former because it’s quick and brutal, the latter because it’s kind of important, and seeing a pixelated Toby Jones deliver it snidely makes it all work. And it even serves a purpose, as Zola admits that he’s stalling.

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Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Brother”

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Anson Mount as Captain Pike takes command of the U.S.S. Discovery as the second season of the new Star Trek series starts off with a bang filled with flashbacks, angst, dramatic rescues, and other fun stuff. Check out my review….

An excerpt:

The glue that holds this episode together, though, is Mount. His command style is casual, one that inspires loyalty. Pike is far more relaxed than he was in “The Cage” when he was drinking with Boyce and talking about getting away from it all, but the experience with the Talosians was meant to affect him deeply, and the Pike we see in “Brother” shows that it has. He’s rediscovered the joy of commanding a starship, one that had been beaten down by the battle on Rigel VIII that preceded “The Cage,” and which was responsible for the ennui Pike felt in that episode.

Best of all, though, is that when Discovery needs to bring a piece of the asteroid on board—having already failed to transport it because the transporter can’t get a lock on the exotic material it’s made out of—Pike makes a show of giving Saru command for that part of the mission, as that’s Discovery‘s true long-term assignment: scientific discovery. (It’s right there in the name and everything!)

happy book birthday to The Iron Codex

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Today is the official release date for The Iron Codex, Book 2 of the Dark Arts series written by my brudda from anudda mudda, David Mack. Where Book 1, The Midnight Front, took place during World War II in the 1940s, this second volume takes place during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s. (Next year’s The Shadow Commission will take place in the 1960s.)

The Midnight Front was up to Dave’s expected high standards, full of excellent world building, visceral action, and strong characters, and The Iron Codex is very much in the same vein. You should check them both out!

You can get the book from your local bookstore, or online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indie Bound.

 

opening the mirror

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Today was our dojo’s annual Kagami Biraki. The term literally means “opening the mirror,” and it’s a traditional new year’s workout that is about reflection (hence the mirror metaphor) and setting the tone for the coming year.

When I first started training, it was only open to adults, but in recent times, Shuseki Shihan has also allowed teenagers, and any kid who is a brown belt or higher regardless of age.

Today we had 40 students attend, and what was especially nice was that we had a ton of kids as well as adults, plus every belt color was represented: four white belts, four blue belts, two yellow belts, four green belts, ten brown belts, two junior shodans, four shodans, one junior nidan, three nidans, two sandans (myself and Senpai Charles), and all four of our yondans and our one and only godan. It was a glorious, intense, fabulous workout. We did hundreds of punches and kicks and dozens of pushups and lots more. We were all sweating profusely and feeling great, if exhausted.

And then we ended with a final set of one hundred of the following: a squat, followed by two groin kicks. (Groin kicks are low, so less strain on the hamstring and knee.) Shuseki had us all get in a circle and hold onto each others’ shoulders so we could squat and kick as a unit. We all fed off each other, the energy building, the kiais getting louder and louder as we reached a hundred.

What was especially impressive was watching so many pre-teen kids and lower belts who are not as well conditioned as, say, the fifteen black belts totally keeping up with us and doing the thing. It was a wonderful joyous example of how we can all push ourselves to do more than we think we can. It’s one of the two things karate has given me that I will always treasure, the knowledge that I can do more than I think I can. (The other is teaching, which has been awesome.)

While 2018 had its ups and downs outside the dojo, it was a very good year in the dojo, and last year’s Kagami Biraki was also superb, a good omen. Let’s hope today’s fantastic workout is the same.

Osu!

 

talkin’ Enemy Territory on Literary Treks

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On Episode #255 of Literary Treks on Trek.fm, you can hear Dan Gunther, Justin Oser, and Bruce Gibson discuss my third novel under the I.K.S. Gorkon banner, the 2005 novel Enemy Territory. It’s a great in-depth discussion of the book, which is not one of my best known, but honestly is one I’m particularly proud of, so I’m glad to hear it get such a complex treatment and discussion.

Check it out below or at this link!

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Friday fanfare: “I Hate Myself for Loving You”

On Wednesday, I went to a Hotsy Totsy Burlesque show called “Boob Trek: The Trouble With Pasties,” a burlesque show that was entirely Star Trek-themed. The whole evening was full of inspired musical choices for each act — there was Deanna Troi dancing to “Sweet Emotion,” a Borg dancing to “Freak-A-Zoid,” and, naturally, Spock dancing to “The Logical Song” — but the best was Nurse Chapel, she of the ever-unrequited love for Mr. Spock, dancing to Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ classic “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” So here’s the original……

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Thor: The Dark World

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Everyone tends to list the second Thor movie near the bottom of their “best of” lists for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I don’t think that’s entirely fair, as it’s a good continuation of Thor and Loki’s character arcs. Having said that, it does have its problems. The great superhero movie rewatch takes a gander at Thor: The Dark World.

An excerpt:

Unfortunately, both [Christopher] Eccleston and [Adewale] Akinnuoye-Abgaje are (a) slathered in a ton of makeup and (b) forced to speak a made-up language, and both factors deter from their performances. Both actors are known for their facility with facial expressions, a quality they’re denied in these roles. Both of them also have great voices—tellingly, many of the actors who do particularly well in tons of makeup, your J.G. Hertzlers and your Tony Todds and your Doug Joneses and your Andy Serkises and your Djimon Honsous, have superlative voices—but this other hallmark is equally muted by the Dark Elf tongue they’re stuck with. It’s not a coincidence that Eccleston’s most effective scene is the one where he kills Frigga, in which he speaks English the whole time and is way scarier than he is exchanging nonsense with Akinnuoye-Abgaje.