Bleeding Fool

Some "think pieces" at Bleeding Fool

So far, I haven't gotten much in the way of complaints about abandoning (temporarily?) the Geek Guns project.  I found having a weekly deadline really restricted me creatively, and since I wanted to start doing another book, I needed to clear some space for that.

At the same time, I also wanted to clear out some of the drafts I'd left lingering around the place, and so I've put a new (and somewhat long) piece at the other site about the role of fear in making brave characters.

Having written that article, I was inspired to do another, and I foresee at least one more musing on the elements of good writing and compelling storytelling.

Of course, I'm not exactly a smashing success myself (although I am technically a best-selling author, if only for a day), but most of my negative reviews deal with poor editing, not the actual content.  Alas, I fear that as grammar and spelling continue to be condemned by the educational establishment, things will only get worse in those respects.

I think a good story can overcome those defects - even if it takes multiple post-publication revisions.

To put it another way, the craptastic character development of Anakin Skywalker wasn't the result of a typo.

 

 


Geek Guns on hiatus

After 23 consecutive installments, I've decided to take a break from Geek Guns over at Bleedingfool.com.  The decision is based on a thinning of material to work with and also declining feedback.  People used to comment on the articles and now they're not.

I'm not writing this stuff for my health, so I figure I'll take a break, recharge, and maybe write more later.

There's also a sense that in trying to sustain a weekly column, I'm siphoning off creative energy that could be used for bigger projects.   When I was writing Long Live Death, I basically abandoned that site, and I started writing again only after the book was published.

So I'm going to take a break and see what happens.  I've got some ideas for a book and I know I'm being horribly indecisive, vacillating back and forth between projects.  My hope is that if I dam up the creative energy for a bit, it will cut a new channel and I can roll with the flood.


The Crow is a profoundly Catholic movie

I have to say that the Lord of Spirits podcast is fundamentally changing how I think about everything, not just religion.

I've got a post up at Bleedingfool.com comparing Deadpool and The Crow.  Both in subject and structure the two are strikingly similar, but I want to dig a little deeper into the moral aspects of The Crow. 

Previously, I always thought of it as a spiritually-tinged revenge movie with proto-emo imagery and music.  That's still true, but the broadly Catholic-influenced themes and actions really stood out to me.

From a this perspective, Brandon Lee's character isn't a ghost bent on revenge so much as a soul in Purgatory who is cleansed of sin by carrying out divine judgement on unrepentant sinners while also helping those capable of redemption to find it.  The titular crow is his guardian angel, guiding him on the path to salvation and peace.

The late Brandon Lee did a great job in this film, and one can't help but see similarities in his fate and that of his character, Eric. 

On the face of it, Eric isn't a paragon of virtue.  He's a rock and roller who has a live-in girlfriend - not exactly a poster child for the Holy Family.

And yet, he intends to marry her, proposing in the proper way.  Even the wedding dress is modest and traditional.  The date - Halloween - seems like a hipster conceit, but that means their first morning as husband and wife will be All Saints Day.

Okay, maybe I'm reaching there, but it's interesting to look at how he approaches his task.  Each one of the guilty party he approaches has the opportunity to seek mercy.  Only the pawn broker asks for it, and so he is spared (though his continued sinful behavior inevitably catches up to him).

The bag guys aren't just bad, they are objectively evil.  The witch practicing blood magic?  Yeah, that's a big call for some divine retribution there.

Finally, there's the big confrontation between Lee's character and the arch-villain, Top Dollar.  As is customary, the villain gets the upper hand and seems sure to triumph but our hero suddenly turns that tables - in this case by summoning the memories of his fiancee's suffering and giving to the bad guy all at once.

What's interesting here is that Eric does the only after Top Dollar has admitted that yes, he was ultimately responsible for the double murder.  He may as well have said mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

In fact, the fact that Eric is able to obtain those memories at all is another Catholic 'tell.'  Officer Albrecht stayed with Shelly throughout her ordeal - a corporal act of mercy.  Albrecht also looks after Sarah, buying her dinner when they meet, which is of course an act of charity.

Throughout the film, these moments knit together a tapestry of religious symbolism that may appear purely spiritual, but all have a basis in Catholic theology.  Note how Eric purges the heroin from Sarah's mother and then tells her to go forth and sin no more.

When the mother then tries to be 'motherly' and her daughter gives her grief, the film could take a darker turn, but Sarah chooses the path of mercy, and accepts her mother's repentance.

The final scene where the again-dying Eric sees a vision of his fiancee approaching in a luminescent white light may appear to be simply traditional good vibes, a vague spiritualism, but a Catholic would note that her ordeal had already purified her, and that she was waiting for Eric to cleanse himself of sin as well.  Having done so - offering forgiveness to some, justice to others - Eric is now able to ascend with her.

Make no mistake, the film abounds with Christian symbolism, right down to the showdown in what appears to be an abandoned cathedral.   From my view, the entire film is permeated with not just religious themes, but ones that make the most sense if one views it from the Catholic perspective.

 


No Love for the Luger at Bleedingfool

My 20th Geek Guns column is now live and it's interesting to see what draws interest and what doesn't.  Older movies don't get much commentary, nor do classic weapons - unless they have a contemporary tie-in, like Captain America.

Even something I figured would surely get interest given all the attention The Mandalorian has been getting - Boba Fett's Blaster - was largely ignored.

This isn't a particularly profound observation, but it does show something of a generational shift.  The demographics at Bleedingfool lean strongly to the newest hardware, so anything used by John Wick is likely to draw interest.

And since the first rule of being an author is knowing one's audience, that's probably the direction I need to go.

 

 


Buffy sticks a stake in Joss Whedon

Sarah Michelle Gellar is, by modern standards of celebrity, a hermit.  She isn't tweeting constantly, blabbing to media about every issue and her political positions are generally unknown.

She got married and stayed married, and unlike Angelina Jolie, her face isn't a fixture on tabloid magazine covers.  She only surfaces when she's doing a project and wants to draw attention to it.

During the initial onslaught of #MeToo, I don't recall her expressing an opinion regarding "male feminist" uber-hypocrite Joss Whedon.  Now, however, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has driven a stake into Whedon's tottering career.

I'm of two minds on Hollywood's infamous casting couch.  On the one hand, it's exploitative and grossly immoral. 

On the other hand, such things have always been part of show business.  Throughout human history "actor" and "prostitute" have generally meant the same thing.  It was only in the last few decades that performers began to climb the social ladder and become respectable as a class.  I blame World War II, because so many entertainers (particularly movie stars like Clark Cable and Jimmy Stewart) dropped their careers and went to war.  That gave show business a reputation for honor and decency that it didn't really deserve.

To put it another way, I don't think anyone goes into an industry notorious for nude sex scenes and thinks that everything is totally moral and proper.  I'm not even going to mention the drugs and other goings on.  When a producer or director points links couch performance to movie roles, the obvious thing to do is leave.  Yes, it means giving up dreams of celebrity and fabulous wealth, but some prices are too high to pay.  Life is all about self-denial.

However, not everyone is that strong, and predators have ways of boxing in their prey, which is why I think the only way to win "the fame game" is not to play.

The key issue seems to be not that bad people did bad things, but that they failed to honor their contract.  The movie moguls of old really could make you a star if you catered to their whims.  Nowadays, Hollywood's audience and reach continues to shrink.  I'm not the first to note that Weinstein got dimed out in large part by middle-aged women whose careers had flatlined.

Whedon has similarly lost his golden touch, which makes his increasingly angry persona intolerable.  Hollywood itself has a whole genre of films about washed-up stars and their despair. 

The collapse of the studio system ushered in the era of the writer/producer/director auteur, and I think we're now seeing a similar collapse, with advanced yet affordable technology and online streaming allowing talented artists to bypass Hollywood altogether.  The day of having to find a distributor or raise millions of dollars from backers are quickly fading.  There is a massive audience hungry for content that Hollywood simply refuses to provide, and it will be interesting to see what comes next.

What that means is that the casting couch will have to find a new habitat.  The social ostracism of former apex predators isn't so much about a shift in values as it is about a declining population of prey.

 


Death Wish and putting the toothpaste back in the tube

Last week I watched the original Death Wish, which is currently streaming on Amazon.  I may do a bigger write-up on it for Bleedingfool.com, but one of my big takeaways from the film is that it was uniquely suited to a specific time and place.  While it may still have applicability in other settings, it cannot have the same impact.

This is because many of the questions the film raises about public order and personal vengeance have to a certain extent been answered since 1974.

People may speak of a "Great Reset" but it's devilishly difficult to get toothpaste back into the tube.

In a sense, it's like watching the original Red Dawn: that particular possible future is now impossible.  The Soviet Union is gone.  Perhaps the US will fall under some other form of foreign domination, but it won't be led by the Warsaw Pact.

People of every political persuasion are susceptible to appeals for a lost "golden age," and pushing policies that will get there, but there is no going back.  Any push "forward to the past" has to acknowledge the changes in societal composition, moral values, and public expectations.

Back to Death Wish, one of the most interesting aspects of it was how much it cut against the cultural/political grain of the time.  Hollywood was overwhelmingly liberal even in 1974.  The studio system was in ruins and the Golden Age stars were fading into retirement or the grave. 

Even so, there was a surprising diversity of voices seeking to spur discussion.  I doubt such a strident film could be made today.


A minor update to my catalogue

Hitherto, I've been content to link my various articles over at Bleedingfool.com on an individual, named basis.

Last week I broke down and created a Geek Guns page.  This in turn led me to think:  "Gosh, if only there was a way to link all of my items there at once..."

Which I've now done on the main page.  You'll likely have seen that before you get to this, but if you've visited here before, you might have missed it.

So I'm pointing it out to you.  Enjoy!


Geek Guns at Bleedingfool.com

Over the past couple of months I've been doing a new feature at Bleedingfood.com on firearms featured in various pop culture media like comics, movies and television.

Unlike the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I also provide a review of the firearm in question - what it's like to shoot as well as how much they run for people who want one of their own.

This post will be my ongoing archive of those articles and updated as they appear.

Geek Guns Part I: Han Solo’s Blaster

Geek Guns Part 2: El Mariachi’s Twin Ruger KP90s in Desperado

Geek Guns Part 3: The Desert Eagle

Geek Guns Part 4: Deckard’s Blaster from Blade Runner

Geek Guns Part 5: Hellboy’s Hand Cannon

Geek Guns Part 6: Sean Connery’s Guns – Walther PPK, Webley-Fosbery

Geek Guns Part 7: Battlestar Galactica’s Beretta CX4 Storm

Geek Guns Part 8: Army of Darkness – Ash’s Double-Barreled “Boomstick”

Geek Guns Part 9: “Welcome to the Party Pal!” John McClane’s Beretta 92F

Geek Guns Part 10: The Rollerball “Incinerator”

Geek Guns Part 11: Indiana Jones’ Revolvers

Geek Guns Part 12: Malcolm Reynolds’ Sidearm from Firefly

Geek Guns 13: DEATH WISH – Paul Kersey’s Colt Police Positive

Geek Guns Part 14: Rambo’s M-60 Machine Gun

Geek Guns Part 15: John Wick’s Glocks

Geek Guns Part 16: Kate Beckinsale’s Walther P99 from Underworld

Geek Guns Part 17: Boba Fett’s Blaster Carbine