Don’t Look at Brain Scans at 75+ MPH

I finally saw “Dr. Strange.” It wasn’t exactly Sherlock vs Hannibal, simply because Benedict Cumberbatch and Mads Mikkelsen are both great actors. Sure, Goth Ponytail Guy is painfully shallow in terms of character depth compared to other Marvel villains, but Mikkelsen does a good job with what he has.
When Isaac wrote about this movie, he said the Christian-compatible morals would be too spoiler-y. I disagree. Besides, there’s an even better chance our readers have seen it by now.

The movie pretty much beats you over the head repeatedly with its Christian-compatible message. Dr. Strange’s most prominent character trait is arrogance. This is, of course, his biggest character flaw, as well, and it is his downfall early on. That and distracted driving.
As the ever-brilliant Jenny Nicholson pointed out in her YouTube video about “Dr. Strange,” this isn’t exactly a new concept for Marvel movies. Tony Stark and Thor shared this character flaw. Selfishness became Stark’s main superpower, but only through self-sacrifice could Thor regain his power. Unlike those stories, selfishness remains Strange’s major obstacle for most of the movie.
Really, selfishness is a major obstacle for most superheroes. Before they can save the world, they need to care about the world more than their own safety. Marvel’s projects have played with this concept in various ways. Luke Cage learned to consider where the bullets went after bouncing off of him; Jessica Jones could have run from her fears, but she faced them to protect others; Rocket Raccoon beat up grass when he realized Groot was right.
But selfishness and learning to fight it is central to Dr. Strange’s story because *Incoming Spoilers in 3…2…1* he doesn’t even become the Sorcerer Supreme by the end of the movie! He’s still learning.

On the other hand…magic. But as the Film Theorist pointed out, a lot of the so-called spells might be explained through quantum mechanics. The magic users siphon energy from other dimensions of reality, which isn’t exactly occult and isn’t even too far outside of science. Only the bad guys draw power from an uber-powerful demon.
Of course, it still needs a warning label: kids, do not try this at home. Don’t go to Tibet hoping to learn magic. It won’t be the nice kind.
Also: if Strange had turned to the church rather than Eastern medicine, he might have found peace with his condition, if not miraculous healing.

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@noahspud
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Cult of Cthulhu: My Gripe with Lovecra–[retching noises]

So while everyone was watching the inauguration last Friday, I was poking about looking for anything else. Had I known what I would have found, I would’ve gladly watched Fuhrer Trump take over the executive role in our government. But, enough politics.

I found a trailer for an upcoming video game adaptation of Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft.

[retching noises]

So, why do I feel negatively about this fandom?

Oh, where do I begin?

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the concept of mythos, where a fantasy world has a rich and deep backstory. Lovecraft [retching noises] has mythos down to a tee, due partially to his works being open-source and people adding to it over time.

My chief gripe with the Lovecraft [retching noises]—okay, you know what? This isn’t going to work. I’m calling him by his first name.

My chief gripe with the Howard fandom is that it strikes me as though his fans take the mythos way too seriously. It’s like they picked up Call of Cthulhu, read it, and their entire life was redefined. I picked it up and was unimpressed. I came for scary monsters, and the only description I got was “unspeakable eldritch horrors!” Sounds more like “unspeakably lazy writer” to me.

Not to mention, the story I read felt very anti-religion. The only form of religion shown was, in fact, the cult of Cthulhu, and they were a group of raving madmen worshiping an unknown deity that will eventually destroy the world, regardless of how many followers it has. The only deity I know of being called unknown is God, in Acts 17, and Scripture makes it very clear that God has no malevolent intent.

So, instead of digging deeper into the mythos, I took a long look at the fandom. Needless to say, it got weird. I am not one to compare a fandom to a religion, but this fandom felt a lot like the robed cultists from Howard’s writing, sitting around, chanting gibberish nonsense, passing a statue of the tentacle-faced piece of c…lay.

In closing, I originally titled this post, “Can Fans Ruin a Fandom?” I say yes, citing this as an example. It was overhyped, and the fans were a little…too overboard at times.

no-lovecraft-symbol

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The Most Terrifying Doctor Who Story I’ve Ever Seen

Happy One Year Anniversary! Let’s talk about Doctor Who.

I once made a list of my personal Top 10 Must-Watch Doctor Who Stories. It includes some of my favorites from the classic and modern eras, like “The Pirate Planet,” “The Fires of Pompeii,” and “The Crimson Horror.” It also includes a three-part story from 1989 called “Ghost Light.” I keep it on the list because it is hands-down the scariest Doctor Who story I have ever seen.
I don’t get scared by movies or TV very easily. None of Steven Moffat’s creations have gotten to me. But this classic-era story with 1989 special effects made my stomach churn, like the feeling you get on a roller coaster right before you go over a high hill. I can’t describe the specific things that scared me, because I don’t want to spoil anything. You’ll just have to trust me.
A Plot Synopsis: The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) takes Ace (Sophie Aldred, one of the top five most popular companions in the show’s history) to an old and creepy house. In Ace’s time period, the house is abandoned and “haunted,” so the Doctor wants to help her discover what happened there. What actually happened is…well, complicated. There’s a mad scientist using his houseguests as guinea pigs for his experiments, and in the basement there’s a 2-billion-year-old spaceship and a minor deity running his own mad science experiments. The Doctor fixes the problem by dressing Ace up in a tuxedo and getting her to teach a woman how to be ladylike. It’s hard to follow, but gosh darn it, it’s entertaining. And terrifying. And Lovecraftesque.
I did say “2-billion-year-old spaceship” and “minor deity.” Those mad science experiments are based on Darwinian evolution being true. There’s a Neanderthal and references to primordial soup. It’s all pretty un-Christian, and that only made the story more uncomfortable to watch. But I still enjoyed the heck out of it, because unlike, say, “The Lazarus Experiment,” this story makes sense within the context of a universe where evolution is true. It even manages to draw a moral out of the naturalistic nonsense.
Fin.
Nope. No deeper point. Carry on.

Nintendo Switch’s Big Releases and…Parental Controls?

“I wouldn’t recommend anything to kids.”

I like to think that this is my catchphrase, especially for reviews, but I don’t think I explained it properly. I like to put it into my reviews in the off-chance that a parent stumbles across my post while researching it for one of their kids. What I mean when I say, “I wouldn’t recommend much to kids” is closer to “There are things in here that I would not show to a four-year-old, but that’s just my opinion. Why are you asking me? Your kids are your kids. Train up your children in the way they should go, so when they are old, they will not depart from it.”

I bring this up because Nintendo unveiled a lot about the Switch this last week. Each of Nintendo’s big franchises are getting new games for the Switch, and all of them look amazing. But the one release that caught my eye was their video regarding their Parental Controls.

This first struck me as odd. Why would Nintendo want to put their Parental Controls next to announcements for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. So, I shrugged and watched it.

Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bAayBtcb0

Now, I own a WiiU. I am familiar with it’s Parental Control system. It is nothing like the Switch’s.

I say this because the Switch involves the parents. Sure, this doesn’t make it a major selling point, but it is something that raises my eyebrows and makes me say, “I like what I see.”

In my opinion, Nintendo is doing a good thing. The other home consoles are geared more for single-player, occasionally (but hardly) obliging splitscreen. Games now are becoming a singular experience that one person can enjoy apart from the other people who enjoy it. From the way it looks to me, Nintendo isn’t marketing the Switch to singular gamers; they’re marketing it to families.

And, until Nintendo does something otherwise, I almost feel comfortable saying, “I can recommend this for kids.”

Now if they could bring the price down to something more manageable, then we can talk. I’m nowhere close to having enough for Breath of the Wild when it comes out.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me, BREATH OF THE WILD IS COMING OUT!!

 

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@Isaac_Trenti

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The Social Network: The Supervillain Wins

A while back, I asked our audience who their favorite villain was. My own answer was Lex Luthor, because he’s a nerd. He sees Superman as a potential threat and believes he’s smart enough to eliminate that threat. He gets a little obsessed, but he also gets elected President of the United States. Lex Luthor successfully conquered the free world. Game over. Nerds win.
Hold that thought.

In my second post on this blog, I explained how Mark Zuckerberg is a great example of a nerd. This is made abundantly clear in “The Social Network,” the movie adaptation of the story of Facebook. I love that movie. And yes it’s a nerd subject, because a) Zuckerberg is a nerd, and b) Zuckerberg has more in common with Lex Luthor than having the same actor.
serveimage
Nerdiness is a superpower. As I’ve said a couple of times before, according to human nature, it’s more realistic for someone with superpowers to be a villain than a hero. The Social Network demonstrates that when you’re as smart and nerdy as Mark Zuckerberg and you stumble on an idea as good as Facebook, it is the easiest thing in the world to screw over everyone around you because they did something to annoy you. If you don’t particularly care about people – a common thing for super-nerds – you can roast marshmallows on the bridges you burn.

Consider Hamilton. In the uber-popular Broadway show, the titular character cheats on his wife with a married woman. How could our hero do such a thing? Because he’s a real person. That happened. This is dramatized, exaggerated history, but history nonetheless.
The Social Network is the same way. Yes, Zuckerberg set his best friend up to take a fall and did all those other questionable things. That’s what would happen, and that’s what did happen, in real life. Zuckerberg is not a conquering hero. He’s basically a supervillain. But we all root for him, and he gets away with everything in the end. A bit like Lex Luthor.

If I was a film geek, I would appreciate the movie’s cinematography and stuff. Regardless, I love the story, because I relate to the main character so much it’s kind of scary. It’s the Nerd Experience – it’s the human experience. It may not be a particularly pleasant thing to contemplate, but it works as a cautionary tale if nothing else.

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@noahspud
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What Do We Do With Mythos?

So, I haven’t really been doing much in terms of fandoms. At least not relevant fandoms. I sat down to watch another of 2016’s video game movies: Angry Birds. Four word review: don’t bother, not fantastic.

Other than that, I’ve been playing a lot of video games. Notably The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. Four word review: easily best Zelda game.

But one thing I’ve been picking up from my playthrough of Wind Waker is the mythos of The Legend of Zelda. All of the games connect to each other through this mythos, this deeper backstory that has little-to-no relevance on the actual story. The thing with the Zelda mythos is that, like many fantasy video games, it is polytheistic.

So, with that said, what are we to do with the mythos of any story?

I say the best thing to do is appreciate it for what it is: back-story and world-building. Lots of fictional stories have a mythos. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, for example, have very deep in-universe histories. And not all are that complex. Avengers has a mythos; it’s the other movies of the MCU.

Not to mention, it helps point out that this story is made up. The way I see it, when a work’s depiction of the origin of the universe differs from the one in Genesis, then it’s safe to assume it’s a work of fiction.

I mean, there’s a reason it’s called “myth-os”.

And, well, that’s about all I have to say for this week.

 

…Myth-os. That sounds like a breakfast cereal. “Try Myth-Os! Part of a complete, nutritional, Asgardian diet!”

 

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Blind Faith in Rogue One

*Here be unavoidable Rogue One spoilers.*
I said once before that Star Wars was Christian-compatible because it’s about faith in a higher power. I say now that Rogue One is the very best example of that. “What?” I hear you scream. “But there aren’t even any Jedi?” Exactly.
Chirrut “Are you kidding me? I’m blind!” Imwe’s epic Stormtrooper-killing scene is a combination of a) Daredevil-like skills, b) Stormtroopers’ famously hilarious aim, and c) the Force protecting him. But maybe those last two are really the same thing, and always have been.
There have been various theories for how the Stormtroopers are so bad at hitting what they’re aiming at, unless they’re aiming at Poe Dameron’s ship. Here’s my theory: the Force is with the heroes. It’s so simple, yet it took a blind guy to demonstrate it.
Even in the end, when the cream-of-the-crop Death Troopers are firing at Chirrut, he makes it all the way to his goal. The Force protects him because he believes it will. It may not be guiding him like a Jedi, but it was probably guiding his Hawkeye-style crossbow laser bolts after he had fired them. He believed they would hit something, and then they did.
YouTube’s Ben Carlin pointed this one out: when the Rogue One team is “flying casually” and trying to get into Imperial territory, they e-mail the password to the guards and cross their fingers that it will work. Jyn “Walking Plot Device” Erso grabs her mom’s magic-rock necklace and, presumably, trusts the Force. And then the guards let them in.
But maybe they get lucky. Maybe Chirrut really is Daredevil/Hawkeye. Only Darth Vader’s “be careful not to choke on your aspirations” scene and his 30 seconds of epic Rebel-stomping show clear examples of Force manipulation. Still, I say this movie shows you don’t need to be a Jedi or a Sith for the Force to be with you. You just need faith.

Do I even need to explain the Christian connection?
I’ve never personally witnessed a sun-stand-still, mountain moving miracle (like Force telekinesis), but I’ve seen many, many instances where a Christian trusts God that something good will happen and then it does.

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@noahspud
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