Brother Clary

The Aliens are Coming!

I really enjoyed the film Cowboys and Aliens.  Some time ago, I had put together a little RPG setting called "The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X," which was a sort of a X-Files-meets-Walker, Texas Ranger-meets-The Wild, Wild West (TV series) mashup.  So you can probably imagine that I was stoked to see C&A.  Now, don't get me wrong: it wasn't the best cowboy movie, nor was it the best alien movie, but it was the best cowboy and alien movie.  The name certainly told you everything you needed to know. 

Having said that, I wasn't disappointed by the movie, but I was disappointed by the fact that more moviegoers didn't go see it.  I thought it was a pretty decent sci-fi action flick, and didn't buy most people's critiques of the film.  I wondered what could have turned people off.

The other night, I caught "Entertainment Tonight."  I don't normally watch ET, but for some reason, I didn't turn it off.  This particular episode featured an "on-the-set" segment of a new film Battleship, due out next spring, and then it hit me.  Moviegoers are dealing with Alien Fatigue Syndrome. (AFS).

Consider: since 2009 alone there have been over twenty films (not counting animated or superhero comic films) featuring an alien invasion motif, including some noteworthy films like Skyline, District 9, Battle: Los Angeles, Super 8 and the upcoming Apollo 18 (source).  This also doesn't count television series like V and Falling Skies.

Next we will be "treated" to Battleship, and I have little to no hope that it will fare any better than Cowboys and Aliens.  In fact, when I heard the high concept, I said it was Cowboys and Aliens at sea.

Once again, we see Hollywood beating a good concept to death.

You could post a comment here, but why not visit the spiffy new digs at my new site?

Brother Clary

Moving on up

Friends, for the past few years, I have been scribbling a few thoughts here at this LJ off and on.

Recently, there was a massive outage on LJ, and that coupled with the continual spam comments I get on old posts, have finally convinced me to pull up stakes and begin transitioning to another site. Starting today, I'll be making the move to a new Blogger blog, entitled "Limelight Department NA." You can read the inaugural post here.

I will still keep this journal up for a time, and I have archived all of my old posts. They may perhaps run as special features at the new site, but at least I haven't lost them. I'd like to think that there's some good stuff there.

At any rate, you'll find me hanging out more and more there, and less and less here.

It's been a good run.
Brother Clary

Characters I'd Like to See Rebooted: Rocky Jordan

As I pointed out in my review of the OTR series, Rocky Jordan is an American expatriate restaurateur from St. Louis, now the owner and operator of the Cafe Tambourine within the native quarter in Cairo, "within sight of the Mosque Sultan Hassan." The series was highly reminiscent of the film Casablanca, with actor Jack Moyles playing the part of Rocky Jordan, who can be described as perhaps "a poor man's Rick Blaine." But I'm not sure that characterization is actually fair.

Rocky Jordan, while similar in many respects to Bogart's Rick Blaine, was a different character. The radio series made Rocky a much more well-rounded character than what appeared in Casablanca: we learn that Rocky is from St. Louis, but for some unspecified reason, he cna never go back; at one time, he operated a version of the Cafe Tambourine in Istanbul before settling in Cairo; he has a reputation for somehow being implicated in murder cases; he has a love-hate relationship with the Cairo police - he respects Police Capt. Sabaaya, but at the same time tries very hard to stay out other people's messes and give as little information to the Police as possible.

This is a character who is street wise, tough, smart, and a danger/intrigue magnet. He has a soft spot for damsels in distress (even though he tries to hold them off for as long as possible). He is a rogue, but one that you actually root for.

I would love to see a Rocky Jordan TV series, or even a comic book. I think the character is that good.

Having said that, I would move the setting back a few years and put him in pre-WWII Cairo, with all of the intrigue that suggests.

I'm working on a novella that incorporates him in just this way, but this is a piece of fanfic; I want someone to really reboot this character.

Episodes of the OTR series can be downloaded from the Internet Archive
Brother Clary

Birthday Greetings

I am taking this opportunity to update this journal for the express purpose of wishing doc_mystery a very happy birthday.

I first encountered the Good Doctor on the Pulp_Games Yahoogroup a number of years ago, and always admired the ideas on the pulp adventure genre, especially as it related to role-playing gaming. Sadly, my gaming experiences are heavily limited these days, but I have fond memories of the aborted Seven Wonders campaign setting, his pulp genre criteria, and the legendary Pulp Avengers articles.

doc_mystery also contributed heavily to the first iteration of the Pulp Project 1557 wiki, designed to be repository of information to aid potential GM's of pulp games with information and ideas. The wiki is still alive in another format, and the name of Doc's alter-ego is still prominently displayed.

Seeing that this was intended to be a short note, I'll end it here, with a hearty Happy Birthday, Brian!
Brother Clary

[Opinion] Thoughts on the Detroit Robocop Statue

I read with interest on Thursday about a proposal for fans to donate a statue of Robocop to the city of Detroit.

My first response was simple. "Great!" I thought. I love when fans rise up and are unashamed to be fans.

But the more I thought about the more troubled I became.

Robocop featured a dystopic Detroit. One where crime was rampant, and the present and not just the future looked bleak. According to this website, the city of Detroit has undergone a mass exodus over the past 60 years, to the point where now the city limits would encompass the cities of Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan, yet is today nearly 50% empty. Its population today is less than the population of Detroit in 1920. This flight of people from a once-powerful industrial metropolis has led to a number of buildings in Detroit becoming abandoned outright as the original website illustrates.

My thought is that a Robocop statue would only further illustrate the decline of a formerly-great American city. It would be a tangible indicator that the writers of the film were somehow pointing us to this moment. An argument could be made that says this is no different than the statue of Rocky in Philadelphia. But the difference is Rocky represents perseverance and rising above the limitations before you; it is a message of grit and determination. Robocop represents despair and dehumanization.

If there is to be hope for Detroit, I'm not sure the right symbol for the city is a statue of Robocop.
Brother Clary

[Review] The Witch Hunter Chronicles

"Tell me your name and tell me who you were in your life?"

"My name was Ludlov, and I was a witch hunter."

So begins the opening for one of the best audio dramas I've heard in a while. The Witch Hunter Chronicles is a production (episodes are roughly 20 minutes apiece and released weekly) of a Dutch-based group called Audio Epics.

The Witch Hunter Chronicles is the story of Ludlov, the most successful witch hunter employed by the Church of the Goddess. His mission is to stamp out illegal magic use. However, Ludlov is rare animal in the city of Sevenpeaks. He is a witch hunter with a conscience. He entered the order after his wife was murdered by the mysterious cult, the Black Sickle. Of all the witch hunters, he alone seems to be immune to the hypnotic enchantments utilized by the witches. He attributes this resistance to the one thing he possesses fully: his Purpose. Ludlov does not believe that all who use magic are deserving of death, only those who use it for evil. This belief brings him into conflict with the superiors of his order, and leads him to befriend Samina, a young woman who employs magic to heal.

The series is set in a high fantasy world that just seems to nudge over into the Renaissance. Ludlov is armed with a sword, but also a pistol. The writing atmosphere, and plot remind me of something out of Warhammer. Production of The Witch Hunter Chronicles is remarkably high. They are currently on a hiatus so that the drama's musical composer, Peter Van Riet, can put the finishing touches on the pieces for the show. The music seems inspired by 'O Fortuna' from Orff's Carmina Burana, and yet, is still original, and very appropriate for the mood of the series.

What I find most intriguing is the way the show is framed. As the series begins, Ludlov is dead. He stands before Death to give an account of his life. What unfolds from there is a retelling of the events that presumably led to his appointment with Death. The Grim Reaper also shares details that might be referred to as 'the rest of the story,' parts that Ludlov might not be privy to but still informs the direction of the story.

The Witch Hunter Chronicles is dark fantasy, certainly, but we are presented with a complex character who knows his own mind and is determined to follow his purpose, no matter where it leads. And it leads to some very unwholesome places indeed. The drama is full of betrayal, madness, fear, corruption, persecution, and intolerance. Ludlov stands alone as perhaps a redeeming figure in this world.

The series is no "Princess Bride," mind you. It is a serious, gritty fantasy drama that sets the bar very high.
Brother Clary


I am in the process now of taking my notes in the notebook I alluded to in the previous post and moving them to a LJ client so that I can flesh them out further and then queue them up for posting.

This is real.

It will happen.

I just can't tell you when, yet.
Brother Clary


After today, none of my tweets will appear here. If you miss seeing the 'Today in Texas History' links, or you're really a fan of the <=140 character notes, they will be available on my Tumblr account.

But I'd like to keep this space clear of junk, so that I can use it as a place for honest-to-goodness essays and articles. I've been keeping a small notebook of blog entry seeds that will hopefully turn into something more than a few notes scrawled in a pocket-sized journal.

We shall see.
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Brother Clary

From Twitter 11-28-2010

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