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April 2011 Movies April 29, 2011

Posted by vorpalkeith in Uncategorized.
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Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey
King Lear (1971)
Ong Bak 3
Shanghai Kiss
Raging Phoenix
Elizabethtown
Chocolate
Big Man Japan
Hot Tub Time Machine
A Complete History of My Sexual Failures
The Road to Emmaus, PA
Mystery Team
Triple Dog
A Film With Me In It
Illusion
Do the Right Thing
God Grew Tired of Us
4D Man
Half Nelson
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Looking For Eric
Natural City
Rotation
Alice
Electric Shadows
The Orphanage
The People I’ve Slept With
Macbeth (2010)
Tattooed Life
Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe
Le Samourai
The Dark Knight
Hanna
Source Code
Sweetmint
They Call Me Mr. Tibbs
Wizards
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness
The Woman in the Window

Supershow Schedule and Pricing Information April 28, 2011

Posted by vorpalkeith in con appearance.
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As many of you know I’ll be appearing at the CGS Supershow this weekend to promote Stale Popcorn.  I’ll be there both days at my table, come on by and say hello.

Pricing Information on Sketches, Etc.:

11×17 original sketches, fully inked on bristol board – $20

sketch cards – $1

The Last Confession of Jacob Valentine comic – $2 (while remaining supplies last)

9×11 “binder” sketches (I have a bunch of one-of-a-kind fully inked pieces on 9×11 bristol that I’ll be bringing in for sale) – these will be going for $5

It should also be noted that I’m going to be at the parties at 3rd and Spruce both Friday and Saturday night.  If you’re a reader, a Twitter follower, or a comics forum member that I don’t know, make sure you say hi!

Top Ten X-Files Episodes April 16, 2011

Posted by vorpalkeith in television review.
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I’ve been meaning to get to this post for a long time.  I think I promised it way back when I was doing the countdowns of my favorite episodes of the various Star Trek series, and that’s longer than I care to think about.

So without further ado . . .

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10 ) Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man

Attempting to humanize your villain is always a dangerous path. You run the risk of taking his teeth away and making him not a threat at all. This episode dealt with the Lone Gunmen explaining the rumored history of the famed villain, while all the while Cigarette Smoking Man listens in and watches them through a sniper scope. The viewers, and Cigarette Smoking Man himself, are given a guided tour of what may or may not be his actual life and shown how at so many places the life he wanted was just out of reach. In the end, Cigarette Smoking Man, feeling strangely affected by his own past decides not to kill our heroes . . . not today.

9 ) Redrum

The only episode of the Robert Patrick era to make it onto this list. The strength of this episode is in Joe Morton’s guest starring role as a district attorney who wake up one morning in prison, falsely accused of killing his wife – only to find that he’s living time backwards. The advantage of living backwards means that he’ll be able to save his wife, but only if he faces up to some sins of his own past.

8 ) Triangle

While investigating the history of a luxury liner that was lost in the Bermuda Triangle in the 1930s – long thought to have been destroyed by the Germans – Mulder finds himself thrust back into the past on the fateful day when the Nazis seize control of the vessel.

7 ) The Unnatural

Playing on the title of the baseball drama “The Natural” this episode – actually written and directed by David Duchovny – deals with the legend of an alien living the life of Josh Exley, a Negro League baseball player, facing both racism in the human guise he has taken, and in his true form, in his attempt to play the game he loves more than anything else. Passions are worth danger, and worth fighting for.

6 ) Terms of Endearment

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate when a scorched infant child is discovered – one bearing horns like a devil. Bruce Campbell guest stars as the demon father, and Mulder believes that he is desperately trying to have a child, destroying the evidence only when the children are stillborn. On the contrary, Bruce Campbell’s character is destroying the demonic children, and turns out a heartbreaking performance as a broken demon who just wants a regular, human child, only to have that dreams snatched away by the other demon he has unknowingly married.

5 ) Dreamland

During surveillance near Area 51, a faulty engine on a reverse-engineered flying saucer, causes Mulder to swap bodies with a Man in Black (guest-star Michael McKean). With hilarious consequences. Mulder is now deeper inside the conspiracy than he ever hoped, only he can’t get out.

4 ) Soft Light

Tony Shaloub guest-stars as a researcher in dark matter who has been horribly twisted by an accident at his research lab. His shadow is now fatal, destroying any organic matter that happens to cross its path. Shaloub gives a wonderfully frenetic performance as a many both attempting to escape government agents who seek to exploit his discovery, and to escape himself.

3 ) The Post-Modern Prometheus

The series’ best take on the “monster with a heart of gold” theme feels very much like the Frankenstein story that the title seeks to emulate, so much so that they chose to shoot it in black and white.  Mulder and Scully come to a town to investigate a case of a woman who claims to have been impregnated by a monster which looks exactly like the one drawn in her son’s comic book, only to be drawn into a bizarre tale of the town’s dark past, a mad scientist, and Cher.

2 ) Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”

Without a doubt the funniest episode of the series, but also with bitter sweet observations about the shallowness, and loneliness of the lives that Mulder and Scully live. Charles Nelson Riley guest-stars as the eponymous Jose Chung, a novelist writing about the alien abduction of two teenagers. It is a case which Mulder and Scully also investigated. The humor comes in the Rashomon-like circumstances in which the same incidents are retold from multiple points of view, with progressively more and more ridiculous takes. Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek, yes THAT Alex Trebek, also guest-star as men in black.

What follows are some selected hilarious quotes from the episode:

Jose Chung: [discussing the written statement of one of the witnesses to a UFO abduction] I don’t know which was more disturbing, his description of the inner core reincarnated souls’ sex orgy, or the fact that the whole thing was written in screenplay format.

Jose Chung: Aren’t you nervous telling me all this? Receiving all those death threats?
Blaine: Well, hey, I didn’t spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons and not learn a little something about courage.

Fox Mulder: You still gonna hold the boy?
Detective Manners: You bet your blankitty-blank bleep I am!

1 ) Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

I’ve found that so many of the very best X-Files episodes relied on the strength of the guest performance that week. Nowhere else is that as true as in the performance that Peter Boyle delivered in this episode as a man with the psychic ability to know how people died, or will die, using the gift/curse he hates one last time to try to stop a serial killer. It is at moments funny, haunting, tragic, and always bittersweet.

Honorable Mentions: “Small Potatoes”, “The Rain King”, and “Millenium”

The Long View on Films April 7, 2011

Posted by vorpalkeith in Movie Review.
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For those that listened to our best of 2010 episode of Cine-Rama you may remember that I placed “Monsters” in my top ten list in the number ten spot.  I’ts interesting to me how certain films will linger with you over time more than some others do and become fonder memories the more you watch them.  Well, I’ve since watched Monsters a second time, and I don’t think I placed it high enough in my review.  I feel I need to correct this in some way and say that “Monsters” has definitely shifted into my top five for the year.  There’s a kind of haunting beauty to the film that just gets into your bones.

So I guess the moral of the story is that your favorites will never always be your favorites.  The best you can hope for is what is resonating with you at that particular moment.

Some Open Thoughts on the Nature of Faith April 1, 2011

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I know there are some people who read my blog who aren’t religious.  Trust me when I say that this isn’t an attempt to preach.  I am merely thinking out loud, and perhaps giving the curious a chance to know me better, how I think, and the journey I find myself on each day.

Credit first where credit is due. Part of the reason I am doing this is because of the wonderful post I have read recently on Joe Boyd’s blog REBEL PILGRIM. It talks about why some people in the Christian community are hesitant to call themselves Christians.  This post isn’t fully related, but I think you should definitely check that out.

That said, I often find that I am hesitant to call myself a Christian, not out of fear for what people will think of me (despite the hurt so many people have felt from the church as a whole), but for fear of being called out as a hypocrite.  And for the shame I will no doubt feel when I know in my heart that I am a hypocrite.

In the mind, the picture I have of a Christian is a wholesome, a holy person.  Who understands the Bible in full, is never confused, is never frightened, never makes the mistakes I am so liable to make, never sins and falters as deeply as I sin and falter.

That picture is not me.  I don’t understand the Bible in full.  There are large swaths I have questions about and I struggle every day to learn more just so I can answer the innumerable questions that come from a curious mind and an intellectual training.  I am often confused.  Almost always frightened.  I make mistakes in my life both large and small.  I sin deeper than I would care to.  I falter.  I have hurt people in my life without intending to.  I have been careless with people’s feelings, and with my own.  I am as prone to the temptations of the material as anyone my age, more so sometimes it seems.  I often feel I don’t respect women enough (I am a young hormonal man with the imagination that goes with that).  I often feel I don’t act enough to bridge the gaps in race and culture in this world (I have been silent at times when I should have spoken out to intolerance).  I have made myself unavailable at times when people needed me.  I am never as charitable as I should be.  I hold grudges.  I have been selfish.

I am weak.

I feel I am weaker than most.  And that shame is hard to face sometimes.  Is that the result of personal failings, or of the nature of enforced guilt that comes in traditional religion?  The answer to that is probably both to be honest.

But as hard as it is for me to say sometimes, I do believe in God, and in Christ . . . and the reason I can say that is not despite all my failings and weaknesses, but BECAUSE of them.  I have them not because I am strong, but because I am weak, and the knowledge that I am loved despite all my failings is the only strength I will ever really need.

I am coming to understand that I don’t have to have all the answers all of the time.  It’s okay to say that I’m still learning.  There is always so much more to learn, and the joy is in discovery.

I am coming to understand that confusion is natural.  That confusion is nothing to be ashamed of, but a challenge to overcome.

I am coming to understand that fear need not be faced alone.  I have been blessed with a support network of family and dear friends.

I am coming to understand that I will stumble.  It’s going to happen.  But I am also coming to understand that it’s okay.  I pick myself up, dust off, and try every day to be a better person.  A better son.

So what am I going to do?

I am going to live.  I am going to face the world with curiosity, excitement, honesty, and courage.  I will face the adventure that is life with passion, and I hope a degree of humility.  I will attempt to forgive myself when I fail, and I will forgive others.  I will do as Christ said and love others unflinchingly.

As a favor I would ask those who know me, that when I say something hurtful without realizing it, or fall short of your expectations, call me out on it.  I can only grow through knowledge, and you guys are what make this journey worth it.

March 2011 Movies April 1, 2011

Posted by vorpalkeith in Uncategorized.
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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Uncertainty
Beautiful Losers
Ichi
Timer
Me and Orson Welles
The Nature of Existence
White on Rice
Ed Wood
Robot Stories
Monsters
Micmacs
The Quantum Activist
Exam
Scott Walker: 30th Century Man
Paul McCartney Really Is Dead
Listen to Your Heart
Pi
The Stranger
The Oath
Dark Matter
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Chrysalis
I Wake Up Screaming
The Human Experience
Adolph Hitler: My Part in His Downfall
Chocolate
The Bothersome Man
In the Mood for Love
Richard III