Thursday, July 23, 2015


As part of my ongoing "everyone's at gencon so why bother" series, where I relax the tone and content of the blog, I am going to talk today about some shows, movies and series I've been watching. 

This is a new martial arts fantasy series. It just came out so episodes are still appearing in the US and being subbed. I don't want to give too much away but it is about a character named Hua Qian Gu who learned martial arts from an immortal master in a realm called Chiang Liu and falls in love. However she has unusual gifts and isn't everything she seems. I'm only about fifteen episodes in right now (I have about ten more to watch this week before I am caught up). The show features plenty of martial arts, magic, fantastic locations and interesting characters. The quality of the sets and the production are also quite good. Definitely worth checking out. 

This is a movie about James Randi, the skeptic and magician. I've only really known him as the debunker who goes on television shows to expose fraudulent supernatural claims. I had no idea he was one of the all time great escape artists. This film follows his rise and evolution but it also illuminates his personal life (which I knew nothing about before hand). An Honest Liar was engaging but there were a few parts that dragged. Still totally worth watching, with some great interviews from people you'll recognize. 

This is something I just ended up watching on netflix to unwind when I was working on the Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate manuscript. I like documentaries and I like General Tso's chicken, so this seemed like it might be an easy way to pass some time. It was surprisingly good. The aim of the documentary is to find the origin of General Tso's chicken. This leads to a rather interesting conclusion, but I think what is more interesting about the documentary is it gives a history of Chinese Restaurants in America. This is something people don't normally think a lot about and I found it fascinating. 

When I'm reaching the end of a project, my brain starts to fry because I only allow myself to read, watch or listen to things related to it. This helps fuel my enthusiasm, but it has a downside, because you aren't allowing other things to filter in. So I made a deliberate decision to take a day off and watch Metal Evolution, a 12 part series about the history of Heavy Metal. In high school I was a metalhead and a guitarist in a band that played doom and death metal. So metal has always been an interest of mine, but I've never really taken an academic look at it, I just enjoyed it and understood it as a fan and musician. In metal evolution Sam Dunn attempts to construct a thorough history of the evolution of heavy metal. This isn't an easy task and there are lots of gray areas. Each episode focuses on a particular subgenre or period. So there is one on Thrash, another on Power Metal. I really liked the show and couldn't stop watching. My only real quibbles were I wasn't too sure about his categorization of King Diamond, he devoted an episode to Grunge (which I don't really consider metal) and he didn't cover Doom that much, if at all. Technically he didn't cover Death Metal either, except as an extra episode they did later called Extreme Metal. I certainly suggest watching it. If your a fan of the music, you'll find things to complain about, but that is bound to happen with this sort of thing (especially when we all lived through it and have our own memories of how things unfolded). 

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