Star Wars

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”

 

 

 


Music to write by

Last night I was bit by the writing bug, and cranked out 500 words on a new project, but I have no idea if it will go anywhere.

I seem to do a lot of that lately.  It isn't exactly writer's block, since I'm not under any obligation to write anything at the moment.

A big part of writing is mood.  With each book, I've had something of a soundtrack to facilitate creativity.

Battle Officer Wolf was written while listening to Enya's Amarantine album, over and over again.

For much of A Man of Destiny, I had a Star Wars mix of the darker ("imperial") pieces playing.

I had a special mix as well for Vampires of Michigan, which drew heavily from the Blood and Chocolate soundtrack.  (Yes, I know that movie was about werewolves, so sue me.)

Long Live Death didn't really have a soundtrack.  I just wrote it in a manic frenzy perhaps sensing the parallels between the faltering Second Spanish Republic and our own.

As for my other books, there was nothing specific, though Three Weeks with the Coasties sometimes caused me to look up the music that was popular at the time.

In any event, 2020 is winding down and so it will soon be time for me to start my 2021 book. 

Perhaps instead of thinking about topics, I need to think about music?


The difference between a movie and a genre movie

The other night I watched You Only Live Twice and followed it with For Your Eyes Only - sort of an oddball Bond-fest.

What struck me is that the former had already embraced the "Bond genre" while the latter differed from it considerably (which is why it is the best Roger Moore Bond film).

This reminded me of my occasional rants about Star Wars and how it's transitioned from a superb space fantasy epic to just another genre, replete with its own conventions, in-jokes and so on.

The thing is, genre movies are often diminished - they're judged on being faithful to the genre rather than simply being good in their own right.

To put it another way, it's a rare thing when a genre breaks out beyond its core audience.

For example, everyone agrees that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is by far the best film in the series, but does it make sense to anyone who doesn't know anything about the genre?  I don't think so.

This brings me back to the Bond films.  Originally they were just spy stories based on some racy books (which I keep meaning to read but haven't yet).

The whole conventional format of the title sequence, ritual visit with M and then Q to get gear - none of that was a given.  The early films are a little jarring in that sense.

By Goldfinger, however, the pattern was set.  It was reinforced in Thunderball and by You Only Live Twice the concrete had hardened.  Indeed, that's what struck me about You Only Live Twice - the series was already descending into something approaching parody.

The opening of For Your Eyes Only was also pretty bad, but the way the wheelchair bound Blofeld was dispatched was almost like a purification, as if the producers were saying "Okay, you're kind of expecting this stupidity, so let's get the yucks out of the way so we can be serious."

It's very different from the other Bond films - no supercar, no bunch of gadgets to be discarded, just Bond following a trail.  There are Bond girls of course, but the movie has some fun by having Bond put off by the young sex kitten and preferring the jaded countess, who is more his style.

Bond himself is also more serious and the tension more personal.  I'm not saying it's great drama, but it's quite different from the cartoonish exploits of Moore's earlier films.

At any rate, I see the same thing happening to Star Wars.  The prequels had a chance to broaden the story and fill in its gaps, but instead they simply recited the same tropes, providing Jedi-worshipping fan service and little else.  The sequels were even worse, and will age about as well as the AMC-sponsored car chase in The Man with the Golden Gun.

They'll be part of a growing list of films, but each one will be diluting the original formula.  The best of the lot will still be hemmed in by the need for potential viewers to know the back story in order to make any sense.


The uncanny parallels

I try to keep this blog free of politics, but the last few weeks have brought out a series of very alarming parallels between the current situation in America and that in pre-Civil War Spain.

As Stanley G. Payne pointed out in great detail in his Spanish Civil War, by 1935 the Spanish Left reached a point where it believed that no other party should be allowed to govern Spain.  This repudiated the constitution that they themselves had written only recently.

Time and again, they broke laws, ignored customs and always chose to escalate rather than calm.  Payne goes through an entire checklist of "off ramps" the Left ignored, any one of which could have avoided the resulting carnage of war.

The fact of the matter is that it is difficult to push a war on people who don't want one.  The Man of Destiny series was written in calmer times, but I recognized that one of the fatal flaws in the Star Wars prequels was how arbitrary and random the start of the Clone War was.

Thus when I began telling my story, I spent all of the first book and half of the second chronicling the downward spiral, including opportunities for both sides to de-escalate.

All historical parallels are inexact and one can rightly note that the standard of living, technology, international reach of modern American cannot be compared with that of Spain in 1936. 

Still, I cannot deny that part of the frenzy that drove me to write Long Live Death was a desire to get out in front of events and supply the book as a cautionary tale.  Spain's leaders in 1936 did not have many examples of how a seemingly united and peaceful society can disintegrate into conflict.  We do, with not just Spain but the breakdown of Yugoslavia serving as grim reminders that the bonds that keep nations together can collapse with frightful speed.

I will conclude by asking those of a religious bent to include a plea for reconciliation, forgiveness and renewed unity in your prayers.  We need all the help we can get.


Another harsh take on Star Wars

I've already written my latest Star Wars anti-review, but over at bleedingfool.com, I go a bit farther and ask the question that leaves me increasingly frustrated:  When will people stop making excuses for these terrible Star Wars movies?

There's a bonus reference to Rise of the Alliance, since the movie's title is so similar. 

Check it out!


Movie Anti-Review: The Rise of Skywalker

This is my second anti-review, which I define as an explanation of why I'm not going to see a particular movie.

The first anti-review was The Last Jedi, so I'm sure this isn't a huge surprise to my readers.

Indeed, I'm even less interesting in this film than the one before it.  It's clear to me that Disney has used Star Wars as a strip mine, extracting every bit of cash out of it and leaving nothing but desolation.

I've seen some of the reviews and once again, I'm troubled by how they keep referring to it as a "Star Wars movie."  Once, Star Wars stood in a class by itself as the ne plus ultra of popular entertainment.  Now it's been demoted to a sub-genre of space fantasy.  It's primary features are thin plots, flat characters, familiar music and lavish special effects designed to induce nostalgia for older, better movies.

One of the thing that galls me is the fact that by all accounts, Disney brought back old actors and characters and essentially did nothing with them.  Well, other than kill them.  Or bring them back from the dead.

Basically, it's a mess. 

I will go out on a limb and predict that the lukewarm reviews this month will morph into full-on hatred a few months from now as the hype and nostalgia die down and people realize just how terrible this "exciting conclusion to the Star Wars saga" really is.

 


The wild raspberries won

The crazy weather has delayed the wild raspberry harvest, but it's a pretty big one all the same.

This of course reminded me of the lesson of the wild raspberries: in nature as in fiction, something what you want to work, doesn't.  The cultivated raspberries I planted years ago have been completely overrun.

Meanwhile, the wild ones are flourishing - so much so, that I'm having to cut them back so they don't take over the entire back yard.

The similarity to writing has only grown more pronounced.  Since I wrote the post linked above, I've written two more novels and am now working on a third.  This is a project I'd set aside years ago when it was roughly halfway finished.  I figured it was but a short sprint to the end.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the final draft - I realized the story didn't work as well as I thought it did all those years ago.  Thus, I've ended up not just heavily re-writing it to improve its style and flow, I've actually jettisoned the entire cast in favor of a new one.  Only a couple of bit-part players have managed to survive, and even they got some form of re-working.

Unless you have the courage to do that, you end up with a stilted piece of bad writing.  We see this all the time in contemporary culture where characters do things the writer wants them to do rather than what would organically flow from the character's prior behavior.  It's jarring and wrecks the story.

Maybe the next book will stink, but it will at least have a consistent flow.