Sunday, July 31, 2005

Feeling a Little Queasy?

You know, I had a friend who actually shoved a teacher into the blackboard. But he doesn't like to talk about it. But that didn't go to court like this incident.

The Mysterious Rosslyn Chapel

Ron Howard will be directing Tom Hanks in the film version of The Da Vinci Code. I'm on record here as being... how to say this politely? "Not favorably disposed" to the original book. But, so long as we understand the book is not the infallable history lesson, I'm not opposed to a good story, and I'm sure with the talent attached to this movie, it will be pretty good.

No matter how good the movie, the production is still dogged by the baggage the book carries. And so they've had some trouble securing the rights to film in certain locations. Westminister Abbey, for instance. However, they will get to film in the Louvre for key opening scenes, and they grabbed the rights to film in Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel.

Rosslyn is a mystery in its own right. It seems to hint at connections between the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. There is a widespread belief that the surviving Templars escaped the arrests of 1312 by going to Scotland. There they disappeared into the landscape, possibly helping Robert the Bruce achieve kingship over Scotland before completely disappearing.

Rosslyn Chapel was built by the Sinclair family, which may be descendants of fugitive Templars. There are several Templar symbols incorporated into the decorations. The Sinclairs were known to be active Freemasons, and there are also Masonic symbols. Whether or not the Templar connection is real, and what link might exist between the Templar and Masonic symbols is widely debated.

For Those Keeping Score

I found MSNBC is helping those of us at home keep track of all the terrorists captured or killed.

We constantly hear the bad news, but very rarely do we hear about the successes in our Global War on Terror. For those of you interested in the inside scoop on the action, you might try this book... Once it goes through the harrowing gauntlet of Pre-Pub Review.

While I have sympathy for those people trapped in desperate situations, once you pick up the asymmetric tactics of terrorism and put innocent lives in your sights, I feel you get what you deserve. There are other ways to change the world around you.

In related news, there are some people out there who seem to have "jerkdom" encoded in their DNA.


There's something eerie about the fact that a Japanese Engineer has constructed an "android" type robot that looks like a woman.

Sure, there's an obvious level of creepiness in simply moving closer to the dystopic future of Blade Runner replicants like our pictured friend, Pris. But consider that Japanes society still ritualizes the subservience of women in general. Consider that no new technology exists for long without being perverted to pornographic use (witness the iPod). Consider the strange erotic proclivities in Japanese pop art, such as manga and anime.

It just doesn't sit right with me. It just smells funny.

The Lloyd Dobler Effect

I feel bad for John Cusack. He has a new movie due out any day now -- Must Love Dogs, co-starring Diane Lane -- but everybody still wants to talk about his old movie, Say Anything...

I'm a huge fan of Say Anything... (although not as big as this person). I even wanted to be Lloyd Dobler. I consider it to be my first "adult" movie. Not in the Frankenblog sense, but in the sense that it was the first movie that I really loved that didn't feature explosions and assault weapons. I even tried my hand at writing a short story about what happened to Lloyd and Diane in London...

Lloyd's kickboxing career is determined, but failing. Diane is being intellectually stimulated by her classmates, and one dashing, young, British lord may be interested in stimulating something else. Things look bleak for the couple. I had this great metaphor: There was a scene where Diane invites Lloyd to an art show to meet her school friends. The pretentious Brits are teasing the meaning out an abstract painting, but all Lloyd can say is, "I think they hung it sideways." It's a typical Lloyd comment made in his nervous talking way, and it generates some condescending laughter. Anyway, later in the story when Diane is trying to choose between Lloyd and the Brit lord, she goes back to the gallery and sees them reinstalling the painting. It was hung sideways, of course. Anyway, that's the synopsis of the story I wrote. It wasn't too bad, but it lacked the essential originality to be any good.

But we were talking about John Cusack, (Check out that last link; it's cool) he is even more haunted by Llyod Dobler than I am. Probably because he looks like Lloyd.

Isn't it a shame that Cusack, who has proven himself to be a superb actor with some real credentials, has been locked into the image of the 18 year old he was. I'm not the same guy I was at 18, and I'm sure Cusack isn't either. Say Anything... was released in 1989. 1989! That's closer to two decades ago than it is to one decade. It was conceived, written and made during the Reagan Era.

In a weird sort of way, Cusack did try to artistically put Lloyd behind him when he did Grosse Pointe Blank. I'm not saying it's a direct sequel, but if you watch the two films back to back some Sunday afternoon, you see the similarities. You definitely have the impression that if Lloyd Dobler "freaked out and joined the Army" instead of working up the courage to ask out Diane Court, he could've turned into the symbolic, laid-back, black suited assassin Martin Blank. I don't think it's coincidence that Martin Blank (Cusack) kills a Bulgarian Assassin (who happens to be played by Llyod Dobler's kickboxing idol, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez) with a pen (much like the one Diane used to break up with Lloyd). There's a subtext there, I swear.

Cusack's career took a real hit when he did Con Air. His built-in audience has never forgiven him for that. Sure, we'll always have Being John Malkovich and High Fidelity, but nothing can help me forget his horrible cartoon portrayal in Con Air. I think what Cusack really needs is a TV role that will beam a completely new indelible impression straight into America's living rooms. Could any of the CSI series benefit from a new lead? Perhaps one not so squeaky clean? There are a slew of quirky genre-crossing shows he could fit into. I'm thinking of something like Desperate Housewives, Lost, or Alias. But there are several weird shows on the Fall schedule. What if Cusack took Lloyd's easy charm and boy next door style, and used it in the service of evil as a criminal or serial killer on a weekly basis?

That might open some doors for Cusack.

BTW, this has little to do with John Cusack, but I always loved this band's name.

More Cheesecake

Brooke Burke is getting a divorce. Single men rejoice on worldwide basis.

And Great Googly Moogly!!

"Big" Disappointment

There was scientific tease this week when Canadian researchers agreed to perform DNA tests on a tuft of hair found at the scene of a genuine Bigfoot sighting. Unfortunatly, the tests proved negative, the DNA matched against known Bison DNA. Now, Bison have big feet, but not the same size and shape. Of course, just because the hair proved to be from a bison doesn't mean that the witnesses didn't see a Bigfoot, but it doesn't help their contention that they did...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Talk about your unique antiques...

Here's an interesting story from the BBC. If you're into antiques, it doesn't get much better than this...

Girl of a Thousand Faces

Oh yeah, Jennifer Garner is pregnant with Ben Affleck's child. The world trembles.

For Katy Mae

Yum-Yum. Summer time. And is there any time better than summer time for old fashioned pork barbecue?

As a man of many interests and talents, Dear Reader, let me tease your tongue with something new for Occam's Broadsword: Secret recipes from JRF's very own kitchen.

5 lbs. of fresh Pork Butt (or shoulder, or loin, or whatever)
2 bottles of barbecue sauce

Directions: Place Pork in a roasting pan. Pour the two bottles of sauce over the pork. Place lid tightly on the pan. Place in oven set anywhere between 250 and 275. Slow cook all afternoon; about 4 to 5 hours. When you uncover, pull the pork apart with forks. Serve with corn bread, corn on the cob, potatos done your favorite way, and a side cup of more delicious barbecue sauce.

You can't possibly screw this up!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Kasai Rex

While researching weird stuff to titallate you, Dear Reader, I came across the story of the Kasai Rex. I've been reading about weird phenomena for most of my life, and I had never heard an inkling about this story. Initially, I was excited by a new find. There are reputable scientists who believe it is possible that the African interior, being a close match for prehistoric jungles and all-but-inacessible to modern man, might in fact still harbor a dinosaur species of some sort.

The short and dirty version of the Kasai Rex report is that in the early 20th Century, a safari hunter spotted a Tyrannosaurus Rex (or possibly a Tarbosaurus) near a place called Kasai in the swamps of Africa tearing apart the carcass of a Rhino. The hunter took pictures, but only one developed.

Yeah, right.

This is where Google came in handy. Googling on "Kasai Rex" produced only a handful of results. But they were illuminating. Several reproduced the actual report from the hunter, a short, detailess account that only called the thing a large lizard. The sites also reproduced the photograph. Far from being a T.Rex, let alone the more unique Tarbosaurus, the beast looks more like a gecko superimposed in the scene. Yet several sites, notably ones with agendas to promote, breathlessly believe the account, and do not attempt to do any more than paraphrase the hunter's story.

Is there a T.Rex stalking Africa? If there is, it isn't the so-called "Kasai Rex." It's more likely you'll spot a T.Rex playing ping pong than this story to be true.

A moment of serious thought

Hopefully you all heard that rumbling sound that roared through the Eastern seaboard a few weeks ago. That was the Founding Fathers -- all of them -- rolling over in their graves when the Supreme Court extended the government's right of Eminent Domain to mean that the State may take a person's real property (if "justly" compensated, of course) and turn it over to a second private "person" (generally a large corporation that can generate higher tax revenue for the government).

Well, turnabout is still fair play. And someone out there has a good sense of humor. Sorry Justice Souter, it looks like New Hampshire could use a little bit of your property...

Get it Right!

Someone caught up with me in the real world and said, "I heard you want a GI Joe movie."

Ah, another blog fan. I thanked him for his interest and congratulated him on his superb taste in web reading. Anyway, he proceeded to insist that someone had, indeed, already made such a movie. "Yes," I told him, "The Story of GI Joe; back in the fifties. It's a different thing -- but it was one of the inspiration for the name." NO, no, he insisted, this was back in the eighties.

And then he launched into a rambling description of a plot combining elements from two different, bad movies: Mega Force and Delta Force. Now, I'm unfortunate enough to say that I've seen both films. That's four hours of my teenage life I will never see any return on investment. I could've been home deep cleaning my acne to impress Gina, the cheerleader I had a crush on, but instead I watched this crap.

OK, the dune buggies in Mega Force were pretty cool. Chuck Norris's uzi-toting, tang soo do kicking, black uniformed hero in Delta Force kinda reminded me of Snake Eyes if I squinted really heard and muted the volume. But neither movie was remotely good enough to be confused with GI Joe.

I've managed to hide the deranged individual's body in my usual spot. He won't blaspheme ever again. Hopefully the Arashikage I-Ching ideogram I carved into his flesh with my spike handled trench knife will consign his spirit to an appropriate spot in hell.

I also had the hilarious fortune to see the Sho Kosugi movie 9 Deaths of the Ninja. This is the "Ed Wood" movie of martial arts cinema. It is so bad that it becomes good. It is perfectly suited to Mystery Science Theater 3000 viewing. (Too bad that show is gone.) I could describe the plot, but why bother? This is the kind of movie that has a main villain rolling through the jungle in a wheelchair, while dressed in a white suit, with a diaper-clad monkey for a pet. For good measure, his German "accent" consists entirely of random "Z" sounds in place of the "Th" sound. This is the kind of movie that has not one, but two scantily clad, all-girl armies, and a squad of kung-fu fighting midgets for good measure. I'm not exactly sure what relation the title had to the story, but I can tell you that this ninja nearly died nine times from laughing so hard he couldn't breathe.

Boldy Going...

Scotty's dead. He's beamed up to the great starship in the sky.

James Doohan passed away this week. Believe it or not, his family is going to shoot his remains into orbit. Maybe they can move quick and get some kind of package deal with Hunter S. Thompson's family...

But don't worry, other members of the Enterprise crew are still spry. Capt. Kirk even gets to reappear as Uber-lawyer Danny Crane on Boston Legal. (I thought they canceled it. Unfortunately for us all, they didn't.) Spock, at least has the good sense to stay retired.

Oh well, fire up the bagpipes for a few bars of Amazing Grace so we can send the old boy off in style. Somebody has to give this post some dignity.

All things Warhammer

As reported in an earlier post, my usual training partner, DW, ordered a wooden war hammer, or giant mallet, from a specialty dealer. I promised to do a product review of the item when it arrived.

Unfortunately, it never arrived. DW has tried contacting the vendor but received no response at all. (Of course, he did ask them if the hold-up on receiving his order had anything to do with the busy warhammer shopping season...)

Never fear, dear readers. I have discovered an alternative source! Now, these Japanese mallets are not -- technically -- warhammers. They are "gardening tools." However, this item is about the shape and size of a Japanese O-Tsuchi, or warhammer. Perhaps DW has not given up on his lifelong quest to re-enact the battle scenes from Conan the Barbarian.

In a related vein, I received my copy of Advanced Stick Fighting, by Masaaki Hatsumi. His previous book on stick fighting covered the Kukishin Ryu techniques for using the three foot stick, or hanbo, and a few techniques for palm sized sticks. This book covers the six-foot and five-foot staves, the Bo and Jo. For the unitiated, this might not seem related, but O-Tsuchi techniques evolve from an understanding of Bo techniques. In any event, the release of a new Hatsumi book is exciting.

And now for something completely different. Those of us who play Warhammer 40K, a sci-fi wargame, will be excited to learn that the pre-release buzz for the new edition Black Templars Space Marines is building. Next month's US edition White Dwarf will be featuring some teaser information on this army. The new rules book and figure releases will be coming in November, according to the best rumors. I play Black Templars (what did you expect) and all of us playing this army are hoping the publishers, Games Workshop, doesn't screw-up our army the way they did the White Scars and Raven Guard Space Marine armies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Give till it hurts... Or else!

My friend Victor, editor of a small town, Rhode Island newspaper, has a knack for getting the best stories. It doesn't hurt that he makes the assignments.

Victor has a weakness for kitsch, beer, and "dames." He's kind of a throwback that way, but I love him anyway.

Here's a story about how he took one for the newsteam and attended a fundraiser that included an all-girl roller derby team. Beer: check. Kitsch: check. "Babes": double check.

The girls in the attached photo are not the same ones that were featured at the fundraiser, but the pic was exactly like what I imagined the event must have been like when I read VPA's article.

Tough gig he has...

Big Brother isn't necessarily who you think it is...

With all the concern out there that the government might invade your privacy, we don't often consider that our beloved Bill of Rights still places many limitations on what the Big Law can do to peer into our lives. That's not so true of private companies, like Google or Disney.

Maybe I shouldn't have searched for belly dancer pictures for a previous blog post. What are the Google eggheads thinking about me now?

Duel of the Fates: St. Joe Commando Style!

This one's for Victor Paul Alvarez in Rhode Island. Watch out Spidey, I think Snake Eyes has your number!

Fan Films

If you think that people who blog have too much time on their hands. If you're still throwing up your hands over the dorks who waste time creating realistic websites about fictitious colleges in New England, then check this BBC article out. Some people are out there making fan films about Star Wars and even Batman! So, if you didn't get enough of a fix already this summer, follow the links for endless entertainment. Quality Control is not guaranteed.

Talk about "Product Placement"

Having children any time soon? Need to know what products will stand up to the abuse your little offspring will undoubtedly subject your babygear? Well you need a copy of Baby Bargains, and you need to read this article. No, really. The Army's Hummers should be built so well.

More on Morena

Since there seems to be some buzz about my belief in the truth to the rumor that Joss Whedon will cast Morena Baccarin as Wonder Woman, here's the Morena Baccarin website -- come on, you knew there had to be one...

Oh, Sandy, the aurora is rising behind you...

Sandra Bullock is the lastest celeb to get married (and therefore give me an opportuity to post her picture). She chose to hitch her star to "reality TV" personality Jesse James.


Comic-Con 2005

Hey, Comicbrowser... Did you make it to Comic-Con? This is quickly becoming THE Geek-fest to attend. No longer just comic books, other forms of Geek media are celebrated. This year, like the last few, special advertising has been done for the big movies coming down the pike. Toys also get big unveilings.

The D/L on the H/P...

Well, everyone I know in the bookselling industry seems to have survived the great Harry Potter Night of 2005. No reported fatalities among staff or customers. All sounded like they would be looking forward to the next one being the last. Here's probably the last of my Harry News Round-Ups for awhile.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

New Meaning of the Term

Here's an interesting little invention. It makes you wonder if you even need to keep liqour legal anymore. If we can induce the same effects mechanically, why bother going through all the trouble of drinking alcohol? Go to the bar, put on the goggles, act like an idiot, take the goggles off and drive home safely. Everyone wins!

I leave you folks alone...

Please stop baiting each other. (What am I saying? Go on. Bait each other. It's more fun that way.)

There is no such place as Miskatonic University. It is a figment of the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft. At least one of the linked websites is an elaborate prop for a role-playing game based on his fiction. The others are designed by bored fans with an abundance of spare time. I admit, they can be pretty convincing, but if you look close enough, you will see plenty of clues that they're fake. Anyway, this is my fault. I presented it -- tongue in cheek -- as real. My apologies.

Second, the Necronomicon is also not real. Believe me, this concept fools many people because quacks keep coming up with purportedly "real" versions of the book. Again, Lovecraft thought up the Necronomicon as a mcguffin for his fiction. Others have picked up idea and used it in their own stories. F. Paul Wilson uses the book in his novel, The Keep. Sam Raimi includes it as a major plot device in his Evil Dead movies. (Let's all give Ash a hand now.)

There have been 4 published versions of the Necronomicon -- all available in paperback (which ought to be a sort of clue). L. Sprague DeCamp had an "untranslated" copy published in psuedo-Arabic as Al-Azif. George Hay published a version which he claimed to be based on an unknown cipher text penned by the Elizabethan magician John Dee. Hay and his team of experts have never produced an original manuscript or their decryption notes. The most famous version is the so-called Simon Necronomicon which can be purchased at any of your finer bookstores. It too claims to be a translation, this time of an ancient Babylonian text. Neither the author nor the original have ever appeared to the general public. The final version does not claim to be "real," but is a compendium by a specialty press of various authors' attempts to flesh out (pardon the pun) their own Necronomicon versions. I have all four version on my bookshelf, and I have never detected any evil aura emanating from them. Nor have I experienced any invasion by otherworldly forces.

If you want to chase after the origins of the Necronomicon in Lovecraft, and the stories behind the fraudulent published versions, I recommend starting at this website, and continuing with the book of the same name. These two gentlemen have researched every mention of the Necronomicon in pop culture.

Now I should mention quickly, one of the authors, Mr. Gonce, is a practicing "neo-pagan" and an occult historian. While some of you may be uncomfortable with his lifestyle, I have never heard a report of Mr. Gonce sacrificing babies, poisoning wells, or turning anyone into a newt.

Movie Heores

I finally saw Batman Begins. I thought it was stunningly good.
But the American pop culure is notoriously fickle. Already the question is, "Who will the next great superhero movie be about?"

Some people think it will be Wonder Woman. And there is much speculation about who would play her. My money is on this rumor.

Others think it will be Ghost Rider.

They're planning a live-action Transformers movie.

I demand to know where my GI Joe movie is!

I'm taking votes for what the next great comic book movie ought to be.

Let's be careful out there.

I know some of you are disappointed that I hide quite alot about myself. I have no profile. There's no picture of me. I've talked about my family, but not been very specific. Part of that was by design. Most readers know my in the real world, so why bore them? Also, the whole idea was to give a stream of conciousness about the weird stuff I ponder. But mostly it has to do with the concerns mentioned in this article. Frankly, you don't need to know much about me, and it's safer in the long run for us all.

And Matt, I'm guessing this article means your chances of becoming the Supreme Court nominee are now nil.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

In Honor of the Arashikage in the Room

Separated at Birth?

On the Right: Freddie Mercury, Charismatic front man and creative force behind the Mega-Pop group, Queen.

On the Left: Vernon Wells, in his acting role as Bennett, the psychopathic villain in the Arnold Schwarzenneger movie Commando.

I think they both look pretty butch. Don't you?

Harry Potter Countdown Continues

As we get closer and closer to the big release date, the news from Hogwarts is coming fast and furious. Several copies have been leaked to the public. Professional Booksellers, of course, are not making these kinds of mistakes. In fact, I know that at least one major bookselling chain made their employees sign special nondisclosure forms to remind them of their responsibility to keep this information top secret.

Here comes the Bride

Do I really care if Tiffani Amber Thiessen is getting married? No. But it gives me an excuse to post tasteful cheesecake.

Gonzo the Great

Hunter S. Thompson died a few months ago. Apparently the only way they could tell was that he stopped writing and asking for drugs.

Unfortunately, before he stopped making bizarre requests, he did leave some thoughts about how he wanted to be remembered...


This just isn't right.

Cruise Control?

All the latest "News on Cruise." Why won't this guy crawl back under a rock? Please, please, please, stop begging for a blog flogging, Tom. But at least it gives me an excuse to post neat spy-action photos...

Curiousity Killed the Cat

I thought it was inconsiderate of them not to at least give us a hint about the joke in this article. But I have faith that Matt will eventually spill the beans on his Frankenblog. (Warning: Frankenblog contains "hot" content. I can't exactly call it "adult" or "mature" in good conscience. ***OK, that's not exactly fair, some of it is surprisingly mature and thoughtful. But most of it is smut.*** You've been warned. Don't go looking at it if all you have is a workplace computer that may be monitored. Don't look at it if such things disturb you.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More Spookiness in New England

It seems I'm not the only one who dabbles in writing about the paranormal. My friend, Victor, went out to cover some ghostbusting activity on his beat in Rhode Island.

Hey, that's not far from Arkham, Massachusetts, is it?

For the Muggles

The latest info from Hogwarts.

Chicks Dig the Car

I still haven't seen Batman Begins, but why should that prevent me from blogging about it?

I wasn't sold on the new Batmobile. I was a fan of the Michael Keaton and Tim Burton monstrosity (especially the twin-linked .50 Browning machine guns). Still, I thought the process the film makers went through to construct a new, strangely believable Batmobile was interesting. I know Shinobi.wind probably likes the iconic '60's version. It was cool too.


I just came back from the beach, where the footprints I put into the sand disappeared beneath rushing waves as the tides rolled into shore. So it surprises me that the footprints we leave behind aren't as transient as we might think.

I came across to stories about footprints that actually have scientific value. The first is about chancing on dinosaur footprints in Alaska. The second is about finding 40,000 year old human footprints in Mexico. It kind of leaves you stunned about how we leave our mark on the world in so many little ways. (Too bad our era will probably be dated by the Big Mac wrappers, Starbucks venti cups, and Old Navy t-shirts found in conjunction with every site of human habitation in North America.)

However, as you might've guessed by now, there's always something looney to go with these profound thoughts. Fossil footprints are being used by creationists to "prove" that scientists are wrong about the age of the earth, the end of the dinosaurs, Noah's Flood, blah, blah, blah... I don't feel qualified to even begin to explain this stuff away, other than to say that frequently people who want to believe something will find "evidence" when they squint really hard while looking at something. So here are some websites I found that try to explain the matter scientifically. The sad thing is that the number of "true believer" outnumbers the "skeptic" websites by an astronomically high number.

Back to School

I'm thinking of going back to the groves of academe to do a little more post-graduate work. Sure, I've already got a list of degrees that puts nice little letters behind my name when I want to sign pretentiously. But I can always use more.

I've been having a hard time choosing a program. My interests, as you can tell, range all over the place. But somebody turned me on to this school in Massachusetts that sounded very promising. It has a wide range of unique programs found nowhere else in the world. Some cutting edge research has been performed at its Medical School. Its rumored to have some strong connections to the Department of the Navy R&D programs. The Archeaology Department has some interesting excavations in out of the way locations.

Its athletic program has never been distinguished, but I don't count that as a major drawback. I've never been much of an athletic supporter. I'm more interested in the library, which has a number of extremely rare books in its collection. I think the opportunity to do some very interesting research is excellent at this institution. I'm going to apply today for the fall semester. It seems they have a diverse student body with many interests, talents, and backgrounds.

I should be able to get my degree in no time.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Giant Spiders

Actually they aren't really spiders, but distant arachnoid cousins. But does that matter to you if you're a National Guardsman called up for duty in Iraq? They are plenty scary looking.

Twas Beauty that Killed the Beast

Did anybody see the trailer for Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong? I was disturbed at first that I would be forced to tune into Fear Factor in order to see the preview, but I overcame my aversion to so-called reality television. I was not disappointed.

Kong is king! We probably do not need to have TV shows like Bewitched or The Dukes of Hazzard turned into film remakes, but if a genuine fantasy film genius can be given the opportunity to remake (or update) a classic like King Kong, I say "Bravo."

Although I'd known Peter Jackson was working on Kong, I hadn't been following the progress. I was pleased to see that the story was still set in the Depression-era Thirties. I applaud the casting of Jack Black as the film producer. I'm excited to see an expansion of the Skull Island environment (read as: I like dinosaurs). Dare I hope that Peter Jackson include the giant spiders that had to be cut from the 1933 version because they were deemed too scary? I anticipate this movie will inspire several blog postings.

Spoiler: This link purports to be a draft of the Peter Jackson script. I haven't read it. I think we all know the big monkey falls down and goes "boom" but I'm sure there are other surprises along the way.

Sixties Icon

Shinobi.wind, I have no idea who you are. However, I respect you opinion that Adam West is the real Batman.

I am of the opinion that Michael Keaton is the "Reel" Batman.

Val Kilmer is a weird actor who doesn't need the excuse of Scientology to be strange. George Clooney is a poseur; but we'll talk about that later...

The Tengu Were Kind to Me

It is always a pleasure when I encounter genuine, Traditional Japanese Martial Arts on the Internet. I usually end up surfing into somebody's website for a mish-mosh system of "Black Mantis Modern Ninjitsu-Do Ryu." Yikes.

I recently read an article in an out-of-town local newspaper in which a man claimed to practice and teach "kenjutsu" or traditional Japanese fencing. The accompanying picture had him standing in a photogenic, but somewhat awkward, pose brandishing a commercial-off-the-shelf katana with the usual gaudy gold bits. My alarms were sounding at this point, but I know enough not to judge these things too quickly.

For those of you who need to catch up... "Kenjutsu" is a very generic term for the swordsmanship skills of the Japanese warriors. Nobody was a student of "kenjutsu," rather, they proudly identified the specific style or school (or "ryu") they practiced; for example: Katori Shinto Ryu, or Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, or Itto Ryu, or Kukishin Ryu. Saying you practice "kenjutsu" is somewhat like saying, "I'm an engineer." Well are you a civil engineer, a hydraulic engineer, an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, a systems engineer?

Also, no self-respecting practioner of a traditional ryu would be caught dead with a glitzy, COTS sword. Glitz violates the principle of "shibumi" or simple, understated elegance inherent in most Japanese martial arts systems. Secondly, most COTS swords simply are not made for the physical demands of traditional kenjutsu practice. Don't believe the hype you read in catalogs. If you reach the level of dedication a student in a traditional ryu has in practice, you'll find that even the much vaunted Hanwei/Paul Chen swords will eventually fail you. (OK, to be truthful, if you abuse your swords and make them do things they aren't meant to do -- which is 90% of the things you see in movies -- ANY sword will fail you.) Thirdly, one of the most important things about traditional ryu is that they are "traditional." It is simply a matter of doctrine and faith that you will need a forged, folded, cutom-made nihon-to if you expect to be taken seriously as a student.

(Now, the art I practice is not quite so rigid in it's expectations. There are pros and cons to that. I own a perfectly satisfactory Last Legend field katana which is a semi-custom, made-to-order sword which holds up exceptionally well to the stresses I place on it. My Paul Chen swords have been retired before the hardware failed me. I also own, for conversation sake, a ninjato from Generation 2 which I am quite happy with. I am looking to someday acquire a Cold Steel Chisa Katana, because it is perfectly sized for Togakure Ryu sword techniques.)

But as I said, just because I had my alarms go off reading the article didn't mean he was a fraud. I knew it was completely possible, likely in fact, that the man didn't want to go into great boring detail about which ryu he studied when most readers would just want to say, "Oh, he plays with swords." As for the chintzy sword and swashbuckling stance, what looks good on film is often a far cry from what works in real life. The sword may have been a gift from some students, the photographer asked him to use it instead of that homely one stuck through his belt. (I've found that the "homelier" a swordsman's katana, often the more expensive and historically important it turns out to be.) Next thing you know it's, "Don't stand like that; try to be more menacing." I've seen all this before. You give the proles want they think they want and thank them for the opportunity to spread interest in your art. The real students will find you eventually.

So can I report that this man is, in fact, one of those rare practitioners of a traditional kenjutsu ryu? Not yet. I'm still looking into it. But he's looking good. I was able to link him to this website, which really excited me. I've seen these people before, and I recognize the names they drop as being reputable. If I find out anything definitive, I will report back. In the mean time, if you're interested in traditional Japanese martial arts, search the articles in this last link. It should be enlightening.

Nice Doggie

I hate zombies. So this really scares me.
It's a little eerie that one possible application for this is to assist those injured on the battlefield. There was a bad movie about this once call Universal Soldier, starring the inimitable (thank goodness) Jean-Claude Van Damme and stoic Dolph Lundgren. Proving that fact is stranger than pulp fiction.