Saturday, September 01, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Combatives 6

LXG 20th Century

I'm sure many of you are already aware of Alan Moore's incredible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics series.  No, not the movie (which was pretty crappy except for the marvelous appearance of Peta Wilson as Mina Harker, Vampiress).  The comic series.
The concept is that Moore smashes up Victorian and Edwardian literary genres and characters into a wacky, somewhat steampunk universe.  It works exceptionally well, with Mina Harker and Alan Quartermain leading Captain Nemo, My. Hyde and the Invisible Man against Professor Moriarty and Fu Manchu.  Other adventures see the bizarre heroes fighting the Martians in a war of the worlds by recruiting Dr. Moreau.  Weird, wonderfully weird.
But there's no reason to limit the concept to classic British Lit.  Others have cobbled together (one hesitates to announce these avengers "assembled") line-ups from other eras and transferred the action across the pond.
Behold, LXG 1988!
Lisa (the science genie from Weird Science), Angus MacGuyver, Doc Brown (super-genius from Back to the Future), BA Baracus (the A-Team's muscle and trained Ranger/Green Beret), and Jack Burton (truck driving adventurer and personally acquainted with weirdness from Big Trouble in Little China).

And check out LXG 1996: Edward Scissorhands (a biological experiement), Sarah Bailey (a young witch with knowledge of The Craft), Tequila Yuen ( a Hard Boiled, detective from Hong Kong with balletic ballistic skills), FBI Agent Dana Scully (fresh from her work on the X-Files), Zach Morris (another youngster with an uncanny ability to stop time, from Saved by the Bell), and the enigmatic Rufus (from Bill and Ted's excellent Adventure).

Even more fun than imagining the adventures of these teams is guessing about how their predecessors, remembered in portraits on the wall behind them, fared on their missions.  I'm desperate to know what kind of conversation Egon Spengler had with Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod as they traveled in KITT.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vikings: Ulfhednar

A wonderfully painted miniature of an Ulfhednar, or Wolfshirt, warrior.  These are semi-legendary fighters similar to Berserkers who wore wolfskin rather than bear.

Combatives 4

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cute Firefly Cast

The Cute Serenity Crew will fight for freedom to be cute against the oppression of the dour, grey-clad Alliance Forces.

Combatives 3

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Hammer of Thor!

Mjolnir is Thor's Hammer.  And while many jave tried to duplicate this awesome weapon of myth, few match the stark and terrible simplicity of Baltimore Knife & Sword's version.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Arnold Schwarzenneggar!

I'm so sorry, Arnold.  I completely failed to recognize your milestone birthday last week.  You turned 65!


As a consolation, I present to everyone the Expendables 2 trailer. 

Combatives 1

It should be surprising, but one of the things most frequently lost in translation about martial arts training is that the whole primary point of the exercise is combat effectiveness.  Yes, combat.  That moment when bad guys want to do horrible things to your all-too-squishy anatomy and you must fight back.

This is not the time for culturally appropriate uniforms, exotic weapons, pre-determined forms, or platitudes about inner peace.  It's also not the time for steel cages, championship belts, starter bells, or ring girls.  Training around those things can help -- in different ways -- but when your life is on the line, it's just about you and your ability to deal out the damage.

It's all too easy to get mesmerized by all the accoutrements of most modern martial arts training.  Every now and then, it pays to take a look at Combatives and see what they're doing.  So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to post some videos from Kelly McCann, a guy who is all about social engagements at close quarters.  One of my self-defense gurus turned me on to McCann's material and promised me he was the real deal.  My guru passed along the wisdom that the difference between Martial Arts and Combatives is that Martial Arts is what you do with people, but Combatives is what you do to people.  You might think about that while you watch this video, and the rest in my series...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let the Games Begin! Olympic Judo

Epic video to prepare you for the awesome spectacle that is Olympic Judo!

This year, The US is pinning any hopes for a Judo Gold Medal on Kayla Harrison, a 21-year-old woman who is already a champion on and off the tatami mat.

I wasn't able to download this particular YouTube Video, but it's worth watching to learn about Kayla's personal struggles to reach the top, and to watch her in a relaxed training session that may not be all that different from yours and mine -- except for the intensity that is!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Cost of Being Batman vs. The Cost of Cleaning Up Dirty Laundry...

On Friday, one of the most anticipated movies of the year -- nay, the decade -- will be released.  We will all finally know how Director Christopher Nolan, and his co-writer and brother Jonathon Nolan, will conclude their epic version of Batman's story.  This is, they promise: The End.

I'm a huge Batman movie geek.  The various incarnations of Batman on film reflect their times.  This was the story of Batman for the Post-9/11 world.  It was a complicated, scary, violent, costly, harrowing story.  But it was cathartic for the audience.

But at it's heart, the story weaved all the familiar elements from the Batman comic books into the mix.  Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy was still the behind the mask; and Batman fought crime with an arsenal of, as a great man once put it, "wonderful toys."

The Gawker blog, io9, posted a summary of one group's calculations about what it would cost to be Batman.  Bottomline?  Well, according to them: $2.8 million.  They also calculate the Wayne fortune at $11.6 billion (yes, that's with a "b").  Which means it ain't cheap to be Batman, but he can afford it.

We could nitpick the cost a bit.  You have to wonder if they figured in the cost of keeping it all secret such as using cut-out companies to buy, manufacture, and ship goods; research and development; hush money for those who must know; routine maintenance; etc.  Being Batman can't possibly be a two or three person operation.  Although I'm sure Wayne goes to certain efforts to keep certain support personnel from knowing what they're really doing. 

But does it really cost that much to clean-up the streets?  I mean, what if you went bargain basement?  Say you had a teeny-tiny budget?  Just what would you get, and how effective would it be?  What if you had a one-person operation?  What if you even had to do your own #Dirtylaundry?

Huh.  That looked like it cost less than $25 a day!  Seems pretty cost effective to me.  Frank even got the locals to pitch in and help.  I have to wonder if the Bodega owner even really charged him for the bottle of Jack.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Marvel Studios: Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, I've got to admit, I'm a little leery about the marketability of this one...  Marvel Studios announced recently, and then pushed at Comic-Con, they would be making a movie of their Guardians of the Galaxy property.

The what?  Unless you're a major Comic Nerd (and I say that lovingly...) you probably never heard of this team.  That's a potentially brilliant move on Marvel's part.  There's no baggage -- just pure storytelling possibility.  They are banking totally on the brand recognition they've built during what they call "Phase 1" which consisted of Iron Man through The Avengers.  There is no doubt in my mind that people will go see this movie.

But the risk is that the movie is bad.  I mean horribly bad.  It stars a Raccoon for Odin's sake...  But Marvel has made five hits (I'm not counting The Incredible Hulk) that a.) pleased the geeks, and b.) convinced non-fans to put their butts in the seats.  If it is bad, people will probably forgive them.  Especially if Iron Man 3 is satisfying.  (Which is different from saying it's "good" though not necessarily exclusive.)

But I don't think it will be bad.  I think it will be something new that people haven't seen before.  How often do we get that in a movie these days?  New, certainly, but wrapped in the warm familiarity of a Disney/Marvel brand.  Besides, they've made five hits.  Consider the fan buzz about Friday's release of The Dark Knight Rises:

"But what if it's bad?"
"What?  Are you kidding?  This is Christopher Nolan!"
"But it's the third in a trilogy...  What if it's bad?"
"Have you been watching Christopher Nolan's movies?  Name a bad one."
"But what if it's bad?"
"Then I'll be disappointed and wait anxiously for the next Christopher Nolan movie."

I don't think Marvel will make a bad Guardians of the Galaxy movie; this is a calculated move on their part and essential to Phase 2.  (BTW, do you hear geeks grousing too much now about The Incredible Hulk???  No?  Point made: fans get over a miss, especially if the story recovers.)  I think they know what they're doing.

And I remember the Rocket Raccoon mini-series back in the '80's.  It was pretty good and he was a better character than you might think.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jekyll; a BBC show with Joss Whedon Style

I'm sure I'll get in trouble with the Steven Moffat fans for comparing him to Joss Whedon, but I cut my teeth on Whedon-style, so that's the comparison I'll make.

Jekyll was a six-episode BBC series from 2007.  It was written by Doctor Who scribe, Steven Moffat, and starred James Nesbitt, an actor from Northern Ireland known in the UK for roles in Cold Feet and Murphy's Law.  Nesbitt played Dr. Jackman and his mysterious alterego, Hyde.  The show also featured Michelle Ryan, as a psychiatric nurse hired by Jackman & Hyde to assist them, and Gina Bellman as Claire Jackman, the doctor's wife.

I caught wind of the show while doing someo f my more eccentric online research on werewolves; the Jekyll and Hyde story is often considered a variation on the werewolf theme.  I was intrigued enough to track down a copy of the DVD set at the library and started watching.  Nesbitt is amazing as the title characters.  He wears very light prosthetics and manages the character change mostly through his acting and the acting of the supporting cast.

The plot is a sequel or continuation of the original story.  Dr. Jackman begins to experience episodes in which the Hyde persona emerges.  He realizes this is not a split personality, as the other persona actually exhibits different physical traits.  He then pursues the mystery and discovers a secret history and conspiracy afoot.

The writing is clever and in turns, dramatic, comedic, and scary.  Hence, I compare it to Joss Whedon's best work on Buffy and Angel. If you're into those shows, this is worth tracking down; you won't be disappointed.

Not to mention that Ryan and Bellman are HAWT!  Did I just print that?  Oh, well, too true not to point out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Short Action Film: Ghost Recon Alpha

This film was made as part of the marketing campaign for the video game, Ghost Recon Alpha.  It shows a US Army Special Forces special reconnaissance team in action in the near future.  The resolution is a little open ended to allow the game action to pick up, but the movie is really pretty good for its length and genesis as part of an ad campaign.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Medieval siege action starring Paul Giamatti as the evil King, and the ever reliable James Purefoy as a Knight Templar determined to hold the castle.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Warriors: Viking Terror! Part 5

The conclusion to the Warriors seriesViking Episode.

I should post their Samurai episode some time too...

Recent Seminar: Brotherhood of the Blade

I recently attended a Kali / Filipino Martial Arts seminar with Kuya Doug Marcaida.  My prior experience with Kali has been through my Jeet Kune Do training.  In fact, my JKD instructor suggested this seminar and invited me along.

The video shows the flashiest parts of the seminar.  I actually found Kuya Doug to be very practical minded and he stressed the same fundamentals of posture, balance, movement and structure that I am familiar with.

But flashy looks cool.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Warriors: Viking Terror! Part 4

Part Four of the Warriors: Viking Terror! episode.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Warriors: Viking Terror! Part 3

Part three of the Warriors series Viking Terror episode.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Warriors: Viking Terror! Part 2

Former Green Beret Terry Schappert brings us the second part of the Viking episode from the series Warriors!

Hank Reinhardt on Viking Sword & Shield

The late swordsman Hank Reinhardt demos some of his research into fighting with the sword and round shield.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Iron Man 3 Images

Uh, yeah.  That says AIM: Advanced Idea Mechanics.

UPDATE: A better view of the sign.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Iron Patriot armor is in the movie.  Which is weird, because Norman Osborn can't be in the Avengers movies.

Warriors: Viking Terror! Part 1

The first part of a series examining the Viking Warrior culture.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Stray Cats: She's Sexy & 17

"I got some roots of Retaliation right here..."

Okay, the weirdness surrounding GI Joe: Retaliation continues to grow.  One of the reasons released for pushing the movie back to next March is that the relationship between Roadblock and Duke (The Rock and Channing Tatum) tested so well with audiences that the studio wanted to add more of it in.  (It was also assumed this meant revising the script so Duke doesn't die.)


Channing Tatum says he hasn't been contacted and knows nothing about any reshoots

"I don't know. Truly, I haven't seen the movie. I did my part and then all this stuff is going on, so they haven't come to talk to me about anything. They talk about a lot of stuff; who knows if it's the industry or the actual studio? You never know."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Dress Blues

I think I posted this before...  No worries.  This is one of those things worth posting more than once.  The song is "Dress Blues" by Jason Isbell; it's about a friend he grew up with.  The video is from the funeral procession of another Marine, Jason Rogers, who paid the ultimate price.

Thank you -- all of you.  I'm flying the flag out front in your memory.  And I'll drink a cold one for you.

Van Halen: Dreams

Van Halen (or, if you prefer, Van Hagar) and the US Navy Blue Angels in the video for Dreams.

Memorial Day: Point Shooting

Another vintage video of shooting with the M1911 .45 pistol.  Proving that the "Old Guys" of yesteryear were badasses who could shoot too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Christopher Lee!

I'm sure the fact you have played Vampire Lord Dracula, Sith Lord Count Dooku, and dark wizard Saruman has nothing to do with the fact you're 90 years young.

He's to the right side of the album cover.  I swear...

Moviefone compiled a list of awesome things about Christopher Lee that is well worth reading.

A couple of my favorites?

36. He's the only member of the "Lords of the Ring" film production to actually meet J.R.R. Tolkien.

38. He received Tolkien's blessing to play Gandalf if there was ever a film adaptation.  [Whoops!]

47. Throughout his career, he has starred as, Mephistopheles, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, the founder of Pakistan and voiced both the Jabberwocky dragon and Death itself.

Memorial Day: Vintage Instructional Film on the 1911 Pistol

The .45 ACP M1911 pistol has been the work horse close combat tool of the United States Military for more than a century.  Although newer designs, from Beretta, SIG Sauer, and H&K and even Glock,  have tried to replace it, the pistol soldiers on and continues to be a favorite among our most elite units.

The Muppet Show: In the Navy

The Muppet Show had a unique twist on Vikings.  I wonder how the Swedish Chef felt about it?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pegaso's Berserker

Okay, technically he's an Ulfhednar, not a Berserker, but it's still an awesome model!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GI Joe: Retaliation release date is now...

I know better than anyone that GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra was a "disappointment" to the fans.  But rather than dwell on the downside (Can anyone really explain to me the purpose of putting the nanobot warheads in the particle accelerator was?), I chose to focus on the positive: Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow had an epic duel, and Sienna Miller looked hot as a brunette with glasses.

I was more than a little surprised to learn they were pressing ahead with a sequel/reboot, but I rejoiced that one of the most influential franchises of my childhood was being given a second chance.

I even got excited when the movie actually didn't look half-bad.  Bruce Willis was in it.  The Rock was in an action role I was interested in seeing.  (Please, Rock, don't ever dress up as the Tooth Fairy again...)  They got Ray Park and the Korean Guy who's name I can't spell to come back as Snak Eyes and Storm Shadow.  Ray Stevenson was playing Firefly.

This looked like fun to me.  I even had people who didn't bother with the first iteration tell me this looked like a GI Joe movie they would go see.

But all that was before The Avengers released.  Three weeks on top of the box office, in May, plus good reviews is huge.  I mean it won't win an Oscar, but it has raked in the cash and that's THE most important thing in Hollywood.

So if you're a studio with a team-based franchise movie about to be released, you can't be blamed for looking at that success and trying to figure out how to capture a little of that lightning.  But at this point, what can you do?

Convert your movie to 3D, of course.  Obviously that was the secret to The Avengers' success.  (To be fair, an honest case can be made that The Avengers made $1B partly because 3D and IMAX tickets are more expensive)  So that's what's being done to GI Joe.  But conversion takes time, and that means we need to bump the release date of the movie just a teensy bit.

GI Joe: Retaliation will now hit screens in March, 2013.

You read that correctly, folks.  I couldn't believe it either.  Here's some proof:

It's not the 3D.  It's the fact that this Summer has become obviously crowded: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, Brave, even The Expendables 2.  Assuming for the moment that GI Joe is good (and I know that's a big assumption) it was not going to pull in the kinds of numbers those movies will.  John Carter tanked, Dark Shadows bombed, the numbers look horrible for Battleship...  This Summer people are still going to the movies, but they will go to the quality product and they will do it over and over again.

There's also the fact that Channing Tatum is starring in a movie about male strippers called Magic Mike that will be released this Summer too.  I'm sure that unintentional cross-promotion didn't help.  Nor the news that Tatum was a stripper in an earlier career.

Of course, it's also likely the movie sucks...

Make the pain stop!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Streets of Fire: Nowhere Fast!



This is a miniature vignette by Andrea Miniatures of a Viking father making a model of a longship for his son.

Friday, May 18, 2012

There Can Be Only One?

Rumors of a Highlander reboot have been circulating for years now.  In theory, this is a reboot I could get behind.  Do the story right, planning a trilogy form the beginning.  Of course, there are some long odds on this working...

But here's the latest bit of rumor: Ryan Reynolds may be the lead.  I can't decide if this is a good thing or not.  What do you all think?

I could see this if they go in a slightly different direction and make the story as much a Romance as it is an Action film.

BTW, I'm convinced the real important point here is to make the swordfighting a centerpiece.  It not only has to look good, there should be authentic styles, and clever staging.  Rehash the hack-and-slash and it's a cheap grab at cashing in on the original idea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CuChulainn: The Demise of the Hound

Here's another take on the death of CuChulain.  The epic hero's death is one of several favorite motifs visited and revisited by artists.  Perhaps on of the most famous depictions of CuChulainn's end is the statue in the Dublin GPO.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dear Joss;

Curse your sudden, but inevitable, betrayal!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Modern Super Soldier 1:6 scale

Not one of mine.  But very impressive interpretation.

This features an excellent paint job and weathering.

CuChulainn: The Great Challenge

Queen Maeve of Connaught got what she wanted, one way or another.  And what she wanted was a magnificent bull in Ulster.

Cattle raiding was a regular occurence in Ireland for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

But this raid was different, because Ulster, and the bull, were protected by CuChulainn.

Countdown to the Avengers: Thor's Day!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Countdown to the Avengers: Wednesday

CuChulainn: In Love and War

Once he was old enough, CuChulainn was sent to a finishing school for warriors.  There he learned the "feats" which would make him famous, and earned his dreaded special weapon, the Gae Bulga.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

CuChulainn: Setanta & the Hound

So I've been posting the BBC shorts about Cu Chulainn.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate the next one in the series, which is really one of the more important ones: How Setanta got the name Cu Chulainn.

As we saw, Setanta went to Emain Macha and pleaded with King Conor to let him take his place among the Boy's Troop.  Setanta became a favorite of the King.  He also became an outstanding Hurling player.  (Hurling being an Irish sport similar to field hockey, or lacrosse if you're so inclined.)

One day the King went out to visit his smith, Cullen.  Cullen was known for his viscious hound which protected the homestead and smithy.  As he went out, the King saw Setanta playing Hurling in the field with the other boys and invited him along.  Setanta said he would come visit after the game.  The King went on his way to Cullen's hall and was entertained as evening fell.

Suddenly, there was a commotion outide!  The King remembered that Setanta was yet to arrive, and then noticed that the doors were bolted shut.  Cullen had locked them after he thought all the guests were inside, and then let out his massive hound to patrol the grounds.

The King feared the worst for Setanta... 

Ok, so this video subverts the story...  Setanta was found outside with the dead dog.  He had killed it with his Hurley, the stick used in the game.  Some versions have him batting the hard ball down the hound's throat.

The King was overjoyed to see Setanta was still alive.  Cullen, on the other hand, was very upset that his unique dog was now dead, and no longer available to protect his possessions.  So Setanta offered to come to Cullen's home every night for a year -- the time it would take to train a new guard dog -- and protect the property.

And so Setanta was given the nickname, "The Hound of Cullen" or Cu Chulainn.

GI Joe: Retaliation

So while I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Avengers, there is another classic comic book team I can't wait to see this summer.

I'm talking, of course, of the reboot/sequel GI Joe movie.  I hope this one manages to strike the balance a little more on the gritty side than the last one did.  I made peace with the fact that the GI Joe franchise was always more than the comic book and the cartoon was silly (e.g. Cobra-La?  Cold Slither?).  Why shouldn't the movie play both ends?  But the first movie was a little too silly for my taste.  And it messed with some of the relationships between the characters.  That...  I had serious problems with.

Anyway, this movie seems to go back to what made GI Joe so great: action; big, honkin' guns; and hot ninja-on-ninja action.  It also adds heaping amounts of The Rock and Bruce Willis.

Please, for the love of God: Don't suck, GI Joe: Retaliation.

Countdown to the Avengers: Tuesday

Please don't kill Agent Coulson, Joss!

one year

For some things, you can never say, "thanks" enough.

Monday, April 30, 2012

CuChulainn: Growing Up

The next in the series from the BBC about CuChulainn.  In this one, the boy, Setanta, leaves home and travels to the court of the king to learn the skills of the warrior.

Countdown to the Avengers: Monday

Hulk Smash!!!