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Showing posts from 2015

TURN: WASHINGTON'S SPIES

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I just finished the first season of AMC’s Turn. The series is a dramatized account of the Culper Ring, the spy ring organized at the height of the Revolutionary War during the British occupation of New York City. Despite having a terrible name (why didn’t they call it The Culper Ring?), it’s very good with high production values, solid acting, and some quality scripts. The first season moves expertly between several sets of characters, balances big and small personal drama well, and manages to offer lots of suspense and tension while still having a good bit of action.



If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it whole-heartedly. It’s engaging viewing and an excellent reminder that America began as an act of bold, political protest. It also further confirms my conviction that for spy fiction to be successful, it needs to be set in the past.

American Alien

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Are you reading Max Landis's Superman: American Alien? If you're not, then you really should be. Easily the best thing DC/Warner has done with Superman in years. Years. It's so refreshing, especially after the awful taste Man of Steel left, to see someone completely get Superman while still telling an intense, realistic story.

Eclipse Phase

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It's been a very long time since a role-playing game has excited me like Eclipse Phase

Opposing A Social Order

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You Should Be Reading

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Kelly Sue DeConnick's Pretty Deadly is one of the best comics around. It's a beautiful, violent, magical realism, manga-fueled spaghetti western. And I'd gladly tattoo Emma Rios's art all over my body.


Bad Vacations Ideas #38

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What To Do With James Bond

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I’m a longtime James Bond fan. I vividly remember when Channel 4 made an event out of airing Doctor No. My parents let me stay up late and watch it. After that I was hooked. I checked out all the available films from the library and then quickly moved on to the books.

While the first Bond film I saw in the theatre was Octopussy, my favorite Bonds are Dr. No through On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Connery was great as Bond, I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Lazenby could have been amazing if he’d been in more films. I’m glad though that OHMSS is getting a second look from fans. I think it’s a great Bond picture. Good action scenes. Good character development. And Bond does actual spying for a change—I literally think it’s one of the few movies where he does actual spy work. Not to mention, Telly Savalas made a chilling Blofeld thanks to a zero camp factor and projecting real menace.


I enjoyed the Moore films much more as a kid. All the funny, campy, pulp action with gadgets galor…

Diabolik

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In case anyone ever licenses the rights or the Italian publisher decides to do an English language run, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for Diabolik scripts.

Netflix Recommendations

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Dark Matter
Dark Matter is a Canadian science fiction series with a lot of promise for future seasons. Six people wake up abroad a spaceship with no memory of who they are. They name themselves One through Six, the order in which they woke from cryo-sleep, then set about solving the mystery of themselves. The cast is solid. I mean, if you’ve watched any science fiction or horror television in the last 5 years, you will recognize faces. And the creative team is just as polished; most of the episodes are written by the two guys who wrote the original comic book and contributed extensively to the Stargate television franchise. The first big reveal comes pretty quick and maybe isn’t that surprising but the show movies so well, you don’t mind. But the following reveals are handled very, very well.

Strange Empire
Strange Empire is another Canadian series. This Western drama is set along the border Montana-Canada border and follows three women who band together for protection and support after…

Today's Political Post

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Association Fallacy

The “Nazis were socialists” bunk started circulating again. First, this is a probably just a natural response for the right to take, based on the left’s insistence on calling everything we don’t like “fascist”. Honestly, this bit of anti-socialist propaganda is probably a sign of real momentum toward actual economic and social progress for all peoples. The opposition has nothing left but to play the dumb Nazi comparison. Association fallacy is often the weapon of the desperate and lazy mind.

Yes, the full name of the Nazi party translates to “The National Socialist German Workers Party,” but that still doesn’t mean they were actual socialists. You can call yourself whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it true. I know this is a hard idea for a lot of people to process. I work in a college town. All over town there are number of businesses with “campus” in their name. Everything from apartments to cleaners to pizza. Not a one of them has anything to do with the university. Yet, h…

Bat-Cow

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I love Grant Morrison. The Invisibles had a huge, huge impact on me. But this panel from Batman & Robin makes me ridiculously happy. It's Morrison summed up for me: meaningful, aware, and yet a little absurd in a totally meta way.

The Ground On Which I Stand

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The Party Over The People

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Socialism isn’t a foreign concept in America. At the height of its power, The Socialist Party held 1,200 public offices and boosted 135,000 members. So what happened? Well, a whole bunch of different things but socialism in America has always taken its biggest setbacks when the politicians chose political interests and holding office over the needs of the people.
We really need to start with Eugene Debs. Debs began as a Democrat. And it was as a Democrat that he held his first public offices. His radicalization began with the railroads. After goons, Pinkerton Agents, and the Federal Government killed the 1888 Burlington Railroad Strike, Debs organized the massive American Railway Union.

ARU won huge against The Great Northern Railway, but weren’t so lucky in their next big battle. The Pullman Company cut wages by 28% triggering an ARU strike. When the union applied the force of 80,000 angry workers against the railroad, the Government again intervened on behalf of business interests. …

Anime and Influences

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I’m going to show my age here but I remember when anime was hard to find.

Speed Racer and Astroboy were way before my time. The first programs I remember that aired in America were redubbed, rewritten and heavily edited for cartoon syndication. Gatchaman was reworked into Battle of the Planets, then reworked yet again into G-Force. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada were hammered together to become Robotech. While Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV were Americanized into Voltron. The success of these programs lead American companies to utilize Asian animation studios for a lot of 80s American cartoon classics like G.I. Joe. And Hasbro, never one to pass up on a way to sell toys, even purchased the licensing rights to the failed Diaclone and Microman Japanese toylines, combined them, rebranded them as Transformers and then hired writers to come up with a TV show.

But “authentic” anime was hard to f…

Baphomet Rising , Part VI: The Monstrosity of the Idol

Baphomet Rising, Part VI: The Monstrosity of the Idol
The Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments monument unconstitutional and ordered its removal in June of 2015. The Satanic Temple withdrew their proposed Baphomet statue in response.

Unfortunately, while the battle over the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma was playing out, Arkansas passed Senate Bill 939 for the exact same thing.

This July, the Satanic Temple unveiled the Baphomet statue in his full glory at a ceremony in an industrial warehouse in Detroit. Then, in September of this year, the Satanic Temple filed to have their Baphomet monument placed alongside the Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas. Finally, in October, only a few days from this writing, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called for a constitutional amendment to restore the Ten Commandments to her state’s capital.

In an interview with Vice, Lucien Greeves says the Satanic Temple is both a satanic and satire group. He then points out that their …

Baphomet Rising, Part V: The Devil for Fun and Profit

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Baphomet Rising, Part V: The Devil for Fun and Profit
Anton LaVey didn’t care about mystical opposites. For him, Baphomet was synonymous with the Devil, a particular devil—the one he could sell you for a $200 membership fee.

Born Howard Levey, he ran away from home to join the circus at age 16. For most of his life, he continued working in circuses and carnivals, but also played piano for burlesque shows. In the early 1960s, LaVey’s minor celebrity status in San Francisco drew a few notable locals to his regular parties. Supposedly, as reported by his Church, from that party scene came The Order of The Trapezoid which met regularly to listen to the showman lecture on philosophy and the occult. After LaVey ritualistically shaved his head and declared 1966 the Age of Satan: Year One, The Order of the Trapezoid become the governing body for The Church of Satan.

Whatever his faults, or perhaps because of them, LaVey was a master of marketing and branding. After introducing the world to his…

Thoughts On The Star Wars Boycott

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The best response to the assholes pushing ‪#‎BoycottStarWarsVII‬ and claiming it's "anti-white" because it features a diverse cast and people of color? It's not blog posts and flame wars and screaming matches on Twitter or whatever. It's pretty simple really. Ignore them and go see it. Don't engage. Make sure it makes money because that's going to have far more of an impact on what the cast of future Star Wars movies look like and whether this ushers in a real change for the faces we see on screens both big and small.

If you feel that you have to do something else, contact Lucasfilm, contact Disney, and let them know how happy you are to see people of color in Star Wars.


Everything else is probably going to do nothing else besides cause you grief. There have always been assholes and complainers in the world. Complaints in and of themselves are meaningless. I don't know where we got the idea that every single complaint matters or warrants the need to be…

Baphomet Rising, Part IV: The Great Beast

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Baphomet Rising Part IV: The Great Beast

“He is ‘the Devil’ of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection.”
—Aleister Crowley, Magic in Theory & Practice


Aleister Crowley is perhaps the single most famous figure in the entire history of magic and the occult. Often wrongfully dismissed simply as a debauched and drug-addicted Satanist, Crowley was a poet, a painter, a mountain climber, openly bisexual, and a rebel against a controlling society he felt imposed outdated morals based on ridiculous superstition. He was always a master at publicity, a flagrant attention whore, and could be exceedingly cruel.

Unsurprisingly, Baphomet was an important figure for the man who called himself “the Great Beast.” Crowley began his formal magical training in The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn before founding the Argentium Astrum (usually written A∴A∴), and finally reorganizing the pre-existing Ordo Templi Orientis under his own religio…

Forgettable Cases

I’ve been slowly making my way through the first season of Elementary since Hulu added the show to their streaming service. Currently, I’m a little over half way through the first season. I like the BBC’s Sherlock, but if we’re talking purely character and my emotional investment, then Elementary wins hands down. Miller’s Holmes comes off as a more honest portrayal of a human being. I buy that’s he’s super-smart and has a distant father, both of which make it more difficult for him to relate to people. Even though she’s not fresh from a war, Lucy Liu comes off as more genuinely wounded than Martin Freeman’s veteran. Miller and Liu is just a much more engaging relationship, and I like that there’s no hint of a hook-up. I like the actual use and acknowledgment of Holmes’s drug addiction, which most modern adaptations gloss over. The main problem for me with Moffat’s Sherlock is the same problem I have with most of Moffat’s writing. His writing often comes off as smarty pants, like he’s…

Baphomet Rising, Part III: The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

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Baphomet Rising, Part III: The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

“With more than his usual derision for the arts which he pretended to respect and interpret as a master therein, Eliphas Levi affirms that the Baphometic figure is occult science and magic.”
--A.E. Waite, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Arthur Edward Waite was a mystic, a scholar, a member and, after the expulsion of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, the leader of the Golden Dawn. Waite’s early interest in the esoteric turned fully to the tradition of western hermeticism and the occult when he discovered Levi’s writings in the library of the British Museum. Not only was Waite the eventual English translator for Levi’s work but he was also the first person to write of the occult tradition as its own unique and cohesive spiritual tradition we could take something from, instead of a disparate group of beliefs or practices that all served as a kind of combo proto-science/religion.

Waite was also an early influence and mentor to another important fi…

Baphomet Rising, Part II: The Goat of Mendes

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Baphomet Rising, Part II: The Goat of Mendes
Baphomet’s name would next be taken up by the son of a Paris cobbler named Alphonse Louis Constant. Constant was a smart boy, and despite being born poor, his parents groomed him for the priesthood. Accounts differ as to why he was expelled from the seminary; either he fell in love or he wouldn’t give up vocalizing “strange views.” Whatever the reason, he never fully shrugged off the fetters of his Catholic upbringing. The conflict between his religious education and his fascination with the weird and the esoteric is present in all his work. Unsurprisingly, in 1860 Constant reconciled with his church. When he died fifteen years later, he received the last rites. Before then, however, he would shape the entire concept of the occult in Western Civilization and become, perhaps unwittingly, a champion for Baphomet.

When he began his magical writings, Constant transliterated his name into Hebrew. His first treatise Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Mag…

Baphomet Rising, Part I: The Dark God of The Templars

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I wrote a non-fiction piece to submit to a specific market that ended up falling through. Instead of tossing the piece, I figured I'll break it up and post it here.



Baphomet Rising"And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion, Mystery of Mystery, in His name BAPHOMET."
—Aleister Crowley, The Gnostic Mass
In 2012, a private group funded the installation of a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol. This clear and bold violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution received its first real challenge in the media from The Satanic Temple. If one religion is allowed to have a monument, they reasoned, then all religions are allowed.

Through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, The Satanic Temple then raised $28, 180 to construct theirs: a nearly 9-ft tall statue of Baphomet sitting on a slab, flanked by two children eager to hear his words.
But who or what is Baphomet?  And what does this mean?


The Dark God of the Templars

Baphomet begins with The Knights Templar. Un…