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Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice: Clinging to Christ but leaving Christianity

Is it possible to follow Christ but not to claim to be a Christian?

Some of us have pondered and discussed that question at great length. If you're one of my Facebook friends, you've probably noticed that I describe myself to be an "Irreligious follower of Christ" in my religious affiliation. And that's just what it means: my identity is found in Christ. He and He alone establishes and defines my spiritual nature.

Do I enjoy worshiping our Lord with other followers of Christ? Absolutely. And I enjoy that regardless of what kind of "denomination" they might happen to be. Christ is magnificently bigger than our feeble and flawed perceptions. Where we invariably fail, He does succeed.

That is how I can fellowship with many different manner of those who follow Him, be they Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian, or non-denominational, or whatever. Does that mean I agree with or understand everything that other Christians hold to? No, it does not. But those things don't really matter anyway. We don't have to agree with each other 100% on issues that in the end have nothing to do with our faith in Christ. When He is truly our focus, He will overcome our foibles and errors. As much as I have faith in Him, I have faith in that as well.

That said, I can understand where author Anne Rice is coming from. Unfortunately, the message she is conveying is going to get lost in the rush to proclaim that she is "abandoning Christianity".

You might have heard already that Rice has announced on her Facebook page that she is giving up being a Christian. And as this sort of thing is apt to do, it has generated a whole heap of interest and controversy.

Here's Rice's post that started it all...

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
That was on Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon, Rice made a follow-up comment on her Facebook page...
"1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians. St. Paul).
Between that one and her initial post, Rice made a few other posts. And in them she expressed what can only be deemed dire frustration with the expectation that as a Christian, she and anyone else with that label must be "anti-gay... anti-feminist... anti-Democrat... anti-science", etc.

Is she right? Let's ask ourselves, and let's be honest in answering this: Could it be that we as Christians define ourselves more by what we are NOT than by Christ who we claim to have?

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know about a certain cult in my area. This is a group of self-professed "Christians" who claim to be "the church that you read about in the Bible". And these people do nothing else but apparently spend every waking moment hurting others, harassing others, slandering others... all in the name of God. These "Christians" have nearly 10 hours of live television a week. What do they do with that airtime? Preach about how everyone else (especially Baptists, who according to them are without exception all damned to Hell) is wrong. These "Christians" are so overwhelmed with their hatred that they can't see that they don't have Christ at all. To them it is about "this is who we aren't", and not "this is Christ within us who has overcome us".

That is what Christianity does become, when it ceases to be about Christ. It will turn into a fixation on our own meager understanding: something that scripture warns us not to lean on or place our faith in. For without God, man inevitably places his trust in his own fallen nature.

And then, all too often, we actually excuse that away... in the name of God. In the name of Christ who came to love us and redeem us.

Reading Anne Rice's words of the past few days, I cannot BUT hear her frustration. And not with Christ, but with what is being done by some who proclaim Christ's name.

I don't see Anne Rice giving up Christ at all. And anyone who thinks otherwise should read the post that she made later yesterday afternoon...

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
Very beautifully put. And if I dare say so, Miss Rice has better articulated what it means to follow Christ than most anyone else that I have seen of late.

Read her words again: she has been led to be "an optimistic believer in... a loving God", from previously being "a pessimistic atheist".

Hey, I've been there too. Lots of us have. It's not something we're particularly proud of. But then, God never intended any of us to be whatever we might have once been. It's by His grace that we can grow from that.

So is Anne Rice abandoning Christianity? Apparently so... but I can't blame her. And that's no reason to condemn her either (as many will no doubt rush to do). Rice is asserting that her faith is in Christ, and that her faith is not in Christianity.

Anne Rice has perhaps grown more in ten years as a follower of Christ, than very many who spend their entire lifetimes boasting His name. We should consider what she is saying.

Chris is so lazy, he reviews PREDATORS, THE A-TEAM and INCEPTION with one post!

Dear Lord, it's worse than anyone thinks. Y'see, so far this summer I've only seen three movies. What does that mean: that there just ain't as much good stuff playing down at the cinema this season? More likely, it's that I've been so bogged-down with working on various projects that I haven't had much time to indulge in what is usually something that I look forward to each year: namely, summer blockbusters.

But somehow or another I've gotten to see the following, and will share my thoughts on them accordingly.


This was the first movie I've seen in a theater since April or May, and I saw it on opening day with my filmmaking partner "Weird" Ed. And I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this turned out. The Predator franchise holds a special place in my heart: Predator 2 was the very first movie that I saw after getting my driver's license. Maybe that's coloring my perceptions but I've never understood the flak that movie seems to get. Alien vs. Predator was okay, and I haven't seen Alien vs. Predator: Requiem yet (I've a cousin who swears its better than most people say it is).

With Predators, we get a smart and fresh throwback to what started it all: the John McTiernan-directed 1987 sci-fi action thriller that was almost certainly the first film ever to feature two future state governors (when does Carl Weathers get his turn, anyway?). Instead of it being one unseen alien hunter stalking his prey in the jungles of Central America, Predators brings some of the most cold-blooded and capable soldiers and murderers on Earth to the game preserve of an extra-solar planet: pawns in the games of several Predators.

This isn't a movie focusing on the Predators as a species or a culture. Rather, Predators follows the formula that made the original film work so well: making it the story of the humans and how they cope and try to survive their predicament. What the heck the Predators are exactly, is just two scoops of ice cream and a cherry on top of the real meat of the tale. And with a strong cast including Adrien Brody, Topher Grace and Danny Trejo among many others, director Nimrod Amtal and producer Robert Rodriguez deftly play up the characters' strengths and weaknesses against each other. My one big complaint about Predators is that Laurence Fishburne's character could have been turned into something much bigger and more compelling. As it is, he's barely in the story.

But that was my only real quibble with Predators. Perhaps the sequel(s) will make up for it. The film ends on, not the most ideal note but certainly one holding more promise than any other Predator film that I've seen. I'll be looking forward to seeing where Rodriguez takes it next.

The A-Team

So far this is my favorite movie of the summer, because The A-Team is everything that a summer blockbuster should be: big, dumb, loud, outrageous and fun!

Now being a good child of the Eighties, I was of course leery at how the much-beloved television series would translate to the big screen. Well, The A-Team succeeds in much the same way that 1993's The Fugitive triumphed as a movie: by not trying to be the original basic material of the television show.

How should I put this? Okay... this is the A-Team. It's just not The A-Team of the series that ran on NBC... and it doesn't have to be either. This is still about four crack commandos who get sent up the river by the United States government for "a crime they didn't commit", then "promptly escape" to become soldiers of fortune. All of the classic elements from the show are here, like B.A.'s van and Hannibal's plans. It's just different. Like how Frank Miller gave us a different Batman in The Dark Knight Returns and wound up giving that character a revolutionary and direly-needed makeover.

Two examples of this stick out in my mind. First, Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith. Neeson knows he's not George Peppard and that's fine: he's not attempting to channel Peppard's spirit into his own take on Hannibal. Instead, I saw Neeson bring his own talents and perspectives to the role: there's a kind of gravitas in 2010's Hannibal Smith that perhaps Liam Neeson is the only actor who could have done this with. I appreciated and even admired that.

And then there is Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus. The role that Mr. T played on the TV show (by not doing much more than just being himself). How the heck does anyone portray Mr. T as a character without it being Mr. T himself?! Again, as with much else in this movie, the answer is "by not trying to be Mr. T at all". Make no mistake: that is B.A. Baracus you're seeing in The A-Team movie. It's just a different interpretation of the character: one that is perhaps driven to more wild extremes of both kick-assery and penitent humility. How B.A. Baracus was handled was the biggest hurdle that this movie had to overcome in my mind in order for it to work... and with Quinton Jackson in the role it succeeds brilliantly.

But I can't let a review of The A-Team end without also saying something about Sharlto Copley as Murdock. The Howling Mad one is a scream to behold. In every scene that he's in (and thankfully there are many) Copley's Murdock brings a teetering, dizzying and completely crazy compelling performance. Sharlto Copley is fast emerging as one of my favorite people to watch on screen, between District 9 last year and now The A-Team. Not bad for a guy who not long ago was a filmmaker behind the camera, aye?

The A-Team is the first movie in awhile that I left the theater looking forward to buying the Blu-ray on the day it's released. But don't wait for that if at all possible: go check it out now while it's still playing on the big screen.


I want, nay, need to see Inception again. As with The A-Team, I'm also planning on getting the Blu-ray of this as soon as it comes out. And if my previous experience with The Matrix DVD is any indication, my Blu-ray machine will likely be spinning Inception more than any other title on my shelf in the foreseeable future.

I guess Inception qualifies as a science-fiction film. But it avoids the trap that too much of the genre falls into: namely, giving more time to the intellect than to the emotion. Inception barely gives us the nitty-gritty nuts 'n bolts of shared dreaming: we find out that it was originally developed by the military as a training method, before it wound up in the black market world of corporate espionage. And we do find out how stealing from a dream works: what the role of an architect is, what a "kick" is, etc.

But those represent what is merely the slick and fresh patina on the real core of Inception: an exploration of the human condition by way of a newfangled take on the old-fashioned heist film. This is a $160 million art-house movie: the kind of film that will be discussed and dissected at length for many years to come... and rightly so.

I don't know what else to be said about Inception that hasn't been said already by very many other people. This is certainly one of the best movies that I have been able to catch in quite a long time. And I'm looking forward to possibly seeing it again this weekend.

So that's what I've seen this summer so far. Still ain't watched Toy Story 3 (and you wouldn't catch me dead in a screening of Eclipse). And now that I'm caught up on that, I can be more timely in writing other movie reviews this summer.

If only we could finally see Tucker & Dale vs. Evil get distribution before Labor Day...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 10 politicians' lines... and why they're always lies

Good friend Danny de Garcia II forwarded this piece from his own blog: "Top 10 Politician Lines (And Why They're Lies)". I am directing y'all to it in turn because I found it to be a brief but noteworthy essay detailing the most commonly heard cliches out of the lines of incumbents and candidates... and why we should never take them at face value.

Here's a sample...

4. “I’m a leader that people can count on.”
Technically speaking, if elected officials obeyed the Constitution, there would be very little evil that they would be allowed to work against the people. It’s a dangerous thing to believe in men.

5. “I’m not dominated by party politics.”
(Yet they’re running with a party label. ‘Nuff said.)

For more of the list visit The Official FALCON Blog.

Fan-made GEARS OF WAR 3 trailer MUST be seen to be believed!

I wound up driving past Epic Games' studio in Cary the other week. Wasn't much to see. But I couldn't help feeling like Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: wondering if there were Oompa-Loompas inside. But chasing each other around with chainsaws.


What you are about to see is not an official trailer for Gears of War 3. This is something that a group of fans collaborated on and... honestly, I think this is a much better piece than the "Ashes to Ashes" trailer.

Focusing on Augustus Cole and with Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" helping to set the tone, here is "What Have I Become?"

That is just plum haunting. Hey Epic Games, hire these guys now!

Creepy new biotechnology

Researchers have created a new type of solar energy cell that uses the corneas of blowflies as the primary method of gathering light for conversion into electricity.

Meanwhile those brilliant eggheads at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - who previously brought us such wonders as the Internet and the Global Positioning System - have developed a new technology that turns humans into batteries for powering gadgets like cellphones (but for now is being considered primarily for use in the military). Thankfully, artificial intelligence has yet to arise that would no doubt enslave us to the Matrix.

Elsewhere in the world, the concept of the In Vitro Meat Habitat has recently been introduced. There's really no other way to put it: this is a house made out of meat.

And while you are lounging in your living room of liverwurst, what more fitting attire than clothing grown from bacteria?

After reading stuff like this, I can't shake the notion that somewhere, out there in this all too scary world, somebody is hard at work on making Soylent Green...

Yeah you laugh now. But just watch. It wouldn't surprise me if sometime during the lifetime of most of us that this will happen... if not at least seriously suggested by politicians, "experts", whatever.

The microbe-grown clothing is pretty cool though. If I recall my comic books correctly, that is much like how Tony Stark manufactures his current Iron Man armor: with bacteria "growing" it via nanotechnology. So that might be worth watching...

Guillermo del Toro is directing a big-budget adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS!

But that's not all: in addition to being directed by del Toro, At The Mountains of Madness is also being produced by James Cameron!

And... wait for it (like anyone wouldn't be expecting it these days)... it's going to be shot in 3-D!

Mash down here to read more about the news that will send waves of joygasm across legions of geeks throughout the world.

Lovecraft's classic tale of ancient horror in the Antarctic, brought to the screen by the director of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth, with the pioneer of the most groundbreaking 3-D filmmaking of the modern era on board as producer...

I am totally stoked about this. If it's going to be 3-D it might as well be done right and if it's going to be anything at all to do with H.P. Lovecraft well, I can think of nobody better to helm this than Guillermo del Toro.

And let's face it: there are some movies which should be made in 3-D.

And then there are some movies which should not be made in 3-D. And possibly even not made at all...

Truly, Yogi Bear in 3-D is this week's sign that the Apocalypse is upon us.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So busy lately...

...and there's been precious little time for blogging. A shame, that, 'cuz according to the stats this site's readership has been increasing this summer rather than going into the usual "lull".

For the moment, I'll try to make up for things by posting this portrait of Chewbacca riding a giant squirrel while fighting Nazis.

I can only wish that I had the skillz to pull off an image that awesome! As it is, somebody forwarded it to me this morning, and it was too good not to share. Kudos to whoever it was who executed this startling depiction.

EDIT 4:20 a.m. 07-29-2010: That picture has become crazy popular in the past 24 hours across the Internets and The Official Star Wars Blog has tracked down the artist who created it! A dude named Tyler Edlin is responsible for it... and this was a piece originally commissioned as a wedding present! Stranger and stranger. And I wouldn't mind having this hanging on my own wall, to be honest :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What happened when Westboro Baptist Church tried their antics at Comic-Con?

In a word: hilarity!

Rev. Fred Phelps and his demented progeny came to San Diego on Thursday to, for whatever reason makes sense to the inner fog of their warped minds, "protest" at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. What the world's biggest comic book/pop culture convention has done to rile the "God Hates Fags" loons, I have no idea...

...but the geeks of Comic-Con certainly knew how to respond in kind!

ComicsAlliance has a bunch more photos of the counter-protest, which also included numerous "robots, magical anime girls, Trekkies, Jedi and...kittens?"

This week...

...we begin shooting the craziest film project that I've yet embarked upon!

How crazy? Looks like I'm gonna have to be notifying the local law enforcement agencies about it so that we won't be getting arrested during filming. Considering that we've a special guest star who's come all the way from western Europe, the last thing we want happening is our lil' movie creating an international diplomatic crisis.

Expect some production photos soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

He shot his wife with toilet paper

I would pay good money to see that headline depicted as an illustration in the National Police Gazette.

It happened folks... and not just anywhere but right here in Reidsville, North Carolina (though more than a few friends have noted that this sort of thing is already inherent to this town's nature).

Here's the story from Fox 8 WGHP...

A 55-year-old North Carolina woman was taken to the hospital after her husband loaded a gun with toilet paper and shot her in the back early Tuesday morning, according to the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office.

Lonnie Irvin Pinnix, 38, of 951 Garrison Rd., was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly shooting his wife after she returned to their home shortly after midnight.

According to the sheriff's office, Darlene Pinnix came home and found her husband agitated. She lay down on the bed, but Lonnie Pinnix held a pistol and told her to get up. Before she could, he fired, hitting her in the back.

Darlene Pinnix suffered a powder burn from the gunshot. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Lonnie Pinnix told police he loaded the pistol with toilet paper instead of bullets and shot his wife because she would not leave.

His bond was set at $1,000. He's scheduled to appear in court August 11.

I know this area has been hit especially hard by the economic downturn... but it's still pretty bad when a man has been reduced to loading his shootin' irons with toilet paper. I mean, if you're going to get serious with non-lethal loads, at least consider using a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun firing a load of rock salt...

Let's see Charmin or Scott do that!

It's that new trailer for TRON LEGACY!

As of last night there's a bunch of us that are plotting to make it to Comic-Con next year in San Diego. None of us have been to one so we figured we'd make an epic cross-country road trip out of it.

I just wish I could have been at Comic-Con this year, 'cuz this afternoon that's where Disney unloaded this intense trailer for Tron Legacy!

If you can't watch the YouTube embed, don't fret 'cuz this thing is pretty much everywhere tonight.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Darth Vader robs Long Island bank

So I'm able to get back into blogging this evening and the perfect story lands in my lap for it...

A man dressed as Darth Vader - complete with helmet and cape but curiously camouflage pants - robbed a Chase bank in Setauket on Long Island in New York this morning. "Vader", described as being 6'2", brandished a handgun at the bank teller (I'm compelled to comment: "So uncivilized...") before fleeing the premises with a drawer-full of cash.

Ummm... just, wow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A thought about God and desire...

Regardless of who we are, in the end God gives each of us nothing less than what we most sincerely desire. If we desire God, He abundantly gives us that relationship. If we don't want God at all, He will grant that absence. When nothing else is left, it can't be said that He has been less than fair to us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Going to finally see INCEPTION tonight...

...which will bring the total number of movies that I've seen this summer to three. And I ain't reviewed any of 'em yet! So I'll prolly unload those tomorrow.

(Hey, it's hard to see and write about movies when you're prepping to shoot your own. And I ain't even mentioned the international cast that's coming in next week for this thing...)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is the kind of stuff that I think up at 5 in the morning...

Owning a Bible makes one no more righteous than owning a bicycle makes one Lance Armstrong.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Listen to Jeffrey Sykes' song "Eau Claire" on SoundClick

Local writer and musician Jeffrey Sykes has a song up on SoundClick that is currently burning a path up the charts! It's called "Eau Claire" and you can click here to listen to it. I thought it has a nice sound to it so as with everything else that I find particularly kewl or interesting, I'm passing it along to y'all as well :-)

Look! A trailer for the third TRANSFORMERS movie!

Made ya look! I should have been honest and said "Optimus Prime has a trailer for the third Transformers movie!"

Here is the leader of the Autobots, who finally gets a Generation 1-style trailer for his third live-action film outing...

There's plenty more photos of vehicular-mode Transformers and associated wreckage on Ain't It Cool News this afternoon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Congrats to Spain on winning the World Cup!

But if we have to listen to vuvuzelas again, it'll be only too soon!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

YouTube now supports 4K video

Read about it here on YouTube's official blog. In layman's terms, this is more than FOUR times the resolution of 1080P high-def video.

And for some reason, YouTube made sure to note that "IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors".

Ummmm... why is YouTube doing this? I haven't a clue. Perhaps someone could enlighten me about this. Because I'm having a very hard time imagining why anyone would need to display video at 4096 x 2304 (do they even make monitors that big?).

Heck, I've seen 1080P projected onto a regular-sized movie screen, and it looked just as good as regular film. Not really sure what mainstream purpose 4K could be serving at the moment.

Friday, July 09, 2010

"Weird Al" Yankovic and me!

Hey gang, just blew back into town after being gone for a few days. Take a looksee at who I met last night in Knoxville...

None other than "Weird Al" Yankovic himself!! We were at his concert at the Historic Tennessee Theatre and got to hang around after the show. Folks I cannot possibly begin to tell you how off-the-chain frenzied awesome a tour Weird Al and his band are doing for 2010. This was the fifth Weird Al concert I've been to since 2000 and it was by far the best yet! It was a nearly sold-out house as people from ages 5 to 75 and everything in between came to enjoy a rousing show! Al and the band went for more than two hours, leaving the stage just long enough to change costumes (during which we were treated to several great Al-produced or otherwise associated video clips, like faux interviews with Celine Dion and Eminem, the "Germs" educational film, etc.)

What did Al perform? It was a solid mix of some of his "classic" stuff like "Eat It", "Fat" (wearing the legendary Fat suit), "Another One Rides the Bus" and others but also a bunch of his newer material like "CNR" and "Craigslist" from Al's Internet Leaks collection (note to Prince: the Internet is NOT "finished"! That so many last night were singing along to music that hasn't even been released on physical media yet is plenty enough testament that for those savvy like Weird Al, the Internet is still the future of music entertainment!). What I keep thinking of most though is Al's performance of "Wanna B Ur Lover". The dude got out into the crowd, was walking on top of seats and serenading numerous lucky(?) audience members. It was great!

And then for an encore Al and the band came out in Jedi Knight costumes while a dozen or so members of the 501st Legion accompanied them dressed in full Imperial Stormtrooper armor in addition to Boba Fett, a guy in a Bossk costume (whoever made that, props to you!) and a fully-functioning Artoo-Detoo. Then Al did "The Saga Begins" and the show ended as always with Al and the band doing "Yoda"... which included the longest and most crazy choreographed Yoda Chant I've ever seen them do.

"Weird Al" Yankovic and his talented crew are touring now and if at all possible you simply must catch them! I came from 6 hours away to see this show and it was well worth it! Mash down here for Weird Al's official website and see where the 2010 Tour is coming next!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

About President Obama suing the state of Arizona...

What the hell does President Obama think he is doing?

Obama's administration is suing Arizona for that state's recently passed anti-illegal immigration law. Obama's rationale is that Arizona is overstepping its limits as to what a state can and cannot do. The official line coming out of the White House is that Arizona's getting tough on illegals is something that only the federal government should be handling.

Like hell it is. The people and government of Arizona would not have had reason to take up the initiative on their own had Barack Obama, George W. Bush before him, and too damned many other politicians actually taken seriously their own pledges and oaths of office to defend the integrity of the United States.

So in effect, Obama is trying to punish Arizona for doing the job that Obama and others have failed to accomplish.

When the federal government has that kind of disdain toward a state, and legally takes sides with another sovereign country bordering that state, well...

...I don't have a hard time envisioning - and I don't have a problem with articulating the possibility of - sympathies toward succession in that state.

If the people of Arizona come to sincerely believe that the federal government does not have their best interests in mind and is in fact working against them, then why would the people of Arizona or any other state in such situation believe that they have a moral obligation to be beholden to said government?

Neatest bit of history that I've discovered this week

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England is visiting the United States this week. Yesterday she visited the site of the World Trade Center in New York City and took part in a memorial service there for those who died in the 9/11 attack.

I didn't know until yesterday that Queen Elizabeth II had served her country during World War II. In fact, the Queen is the last surviving head of state who served in uniform during that conflict.

Here is a photograph of Elizabeth Windsor, all of 17 or 18 years old at the time, changing the tire on a British army truck...

The future Queen of England spent a lot of time as a truck mechanic and driver, enthusiastically doing her part to defend England against the dark of war.

I've always thought Elizabeth II was a classy lady. Knowing this about her now, my admiration for her has soared even more.

That was an incredible generation of individuals, sometimes in the most surprising of places. The thought of Queen Elizabeth II being a wrench-toting grease monkey once upon a time... somehow that seems just right, in ways I can't fully express.

Dude spends $4000 on a life-sized War Machine costume!

Last week this blog joined others in oggling with admiration a full-sized costume of a Covenant Elite from the Halo video games.

Then two days ago I shared with y'all the "impressive... most impressive!" video of a German Star Wars fan's General Grievous costume.

If you have yet to be astonished at the costuming creativity that is apparently running rampant through the land, then this should drop your jaw to the floor: Anthony Le's full-sized, fully automated set of War Machine armor! That photo on the right? That's not a still from Iron Man 2: that is Anthony fully suited up.

Meanwhile I'm sitting here, looking at my humble Jedi Knight costume, looking back at the ingenuity of these other outfits, a single tear trickling down my cheek...

(Okay someday, Lord willing, I will at last put together that movie-quality Boba Fett costume that I've always dreamed of, muhahahahaha!)

According to the story at GeekTyrant, Anthony spent $4000 on his War Machine suit, and took him but one month to construct! It's made from high-impact urethane and held together with 1,500 rivets. The helmet was sculpted from clay and then liquid resin used to cast the finished item (with servo motors making the faceplate open and close like in the Iron Man movies). Add some LEDs to the chest and a motor to make the machine gun spin, and Anthony was all set!

But why just look at the pictures when you can see War Machine in full glorious action? Behold the video, true believers!

Words fail to describe just how glorious a piece of work that is. Bigtime props to Anthony Le for his hard work and cleverness!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Oldest known illustrated Bible discovered in Ethiopia

I've long been fascinated by the history of Christianity in places like India and Ethiopia. There exist today in western India congregations of the faithful that claim - with some evidence - to have been founded by the apostle Thomas in the years following the earthly ministry of Jesus. And then there is Ethiopia: a land where Christianity is said to have arrived courtesy of the eunuch chronicled in the Book of Acts, chapter 8.

Add another page to the intriguing history of the faith in that land long known as Aksum: the world's oldest surviving illustrated Christian Bible has been found in an Ethiopian monastery. The Garima Gospels, printed on goatskin and written in the ancient Ge'ez language, is also said to be the oldest surviving book anywhere that still has the original binding.

So how old is this thing? The Garima Gospels have been dated back at around the Fourth Century A.D.

Sixteen hundred years old. And the illustrations - depicting the writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the earliest known Christian rendering of a building (possibly the Temple of Jerusalem) - are still as vivid and colorful as when they were first drawn.

This is turning into quite an exciting time for biblical archaeology. Late last month the earliest known icons of Peter and Paul were announced as being discovered in the catacombs beneath Rome (they used lasers to uncover them: wicked kewl aye?), and now this. Unfortunately whether that alleged thingy on the slopes of Mount Ararat really is Noah's Ark is still anybody's guess. But hey: there should be some things we can't know for sure with just our physical senses...

...'cuz that's why it's called "faith" :-)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Life-sized General Grievous costume

A few days ago this blog forwarded along a story about a full-sized costume of a Covenant Elite from the Halo video games. If that didn't stun and impress, maybe this one will...

A dude in Germany has built a costume of General Grievous from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (as well as being featured in numerous other Star Wars works of fiction). Yeah you read that right: a General Grievous getup. And it not only looks incredible but it moves incredible! Check it out!

This guy has a longer video here that has more detail of the costume.

I bet he's gonna get slammed with requests from people to loan Grievous' help on Star Wars fan films :-P

Better get some bloggin' done...

This is gonna be a wild and packed week ahead. Maybe even a surprise or two that I may be inclined to share. Just keep watching this space :-)

So while I was enjoying this Fourth of July weekend those industrious folks at Muppet Studios uploaded another new clip onto YouTube! It's der Swedish Chef in "Pöpcørn"...

I'd love to know if the Chef's hands are being operated by one Muppeteer or two. If it's two, that would make this clip even more impressive!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Taking off for the Fourth of July

I'm gonna step away from the blog for the next few days. Will return Monday. Perhaps then I'll even finally be caught up on my movies for this summer (if there might be anything good playing...)

In the meantime, have a great Independence Day weekend y'all! But don't let it be just about fireworks and hot dogs. Freedom, after all, is never free.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A thought regarding politics...

Politics, like sex and death, is terribly over-rated.

Truth in advertising?

If a law firm's TV commercials boast that they "know the local judges", is that really code-speak for "We know how to grease the right palms"?