Friday, August 31, 2007
Although I'm not a huge Marvel Comics fan, I am a huge superhero fan, and so it was only a matter of time before I picked up a copy of Marvel's latest animated feature film, "Doctor Strange".
Like it's three predecessors, the animation in this film was fantastic, and the visual design remarkable. After watching this film, I felt a strong desire to play some more "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance" and to swap Doctor Strange into my team. The score was a great compliment and the musical "theme" during the opening credits felt very appropriate, if slightly derivative of Danny Elfman. The voice acting was also very well and done.
The weaker point for this film, in my opinion, is the amount of time spent on the origin of Doctor Strange. The film is essentially just his origin story, and not until the very end do we see a glimpse of the real power that we know Strange has in the comics. So if you're looking for a Doc Strange film where he's really cutting loose and behaving like the "Sorcerer Supreme", you'll want to wait for a sequel and just rent this one. That said, there is still a lot of great magic happening through Strange and the large supporting cast of mystics.
In terms of Relevance, there's not a whole lot in this film that will spark meaningful coffee house conversation, although you might find some opportunity to discuss eastern philosophy or relativism after watching the movie with someone. As Strange is being trained, one of the lessons he must learn implies that reality is directly linked to perception. A very relativistic concept.
In the end, I almost wish I had rented instead of bought, but I was also a little sleepy while I watched it, and was interrupted a few times while viewing. I may have a better appreciation for it after watching it again in a few months. But for now:
It's been an exciting week for Holly and Paeter, although you may have noticed that things slowed down here at the Spirit Blade Underground. You can still count on the podcast to be up this weekend and starting this Monday we'll be back on track with our weekly look at the Gospel Of John.
Last weekend marked the end of submissions for supporting role auditions. We're looking forward to going over them at the beginning of next week. If you are cast in a role, you will be contacted by or before September 7th. And if you don't hear from us, don't be discouraged! After Dark Ritual we will launch into a new project, nearly finished being written, and your voice may be perfect for what we need!
Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
However, you may notice the strange, upside-down baby picture that I posted. This particular baby is our son, Asher. He is our first child and we brought him home from the hospital on Monday night. And, of course, I absolutely love him. Although I still have zero interest in other babies. (I suppose I've got a soft spot for my older sister's kid, but that's blood. You can't do much about that.)
It's no surprise to me that I love my son and still have little tolerance for other people's "crap factories". But I think the reason why is interesting.
Last night, my dad told me that he asked my older sister once why she loved her little boy, but not some other little boy across the room. Her answer was fairly predictable. "Because he's mine."
Dad reminded me of the simple truth this common familial love demonstrates. God loves us not because of anything we've done. He loves us because we are his.
In fact most of the time, a little like my son(although he hasn't fussed much), we cry and complain and demand, thinking only about our own needs, while producing large amounts of crap for other people to deal with. But God still loves us, because he made us, and we're his.
So although I'll maintain a comfy distance from other people's noisy little rats, when I look at mine I'll hopefully be reminded of a powerful truth.
And now... I'm off to bed!
Friday, August 24, 2007
The deadline for supporting role auditions is tomorrow. Hopefully soon thereafter we'll be receiving audio files from those cast in supporting roles, although most scenes can be mixed immediately.
We're always looking for new ways to network and get our name out to the public. To that end, we are FINALLY working on a MySpace page for Spirit Blade Productions. If you're clever, you can probably find it right now, although we're still working on customizing it. We've registered with MySpace as a "Band", which will allow us to put our own music and audio clips on the page. However, band MySpace pages are more difficult to customize than normal pages.
If anyone would like to volunteer some time to help us, we'd like to try and customize the background of our MySpace page using the image from the Spirit Blade CD cover, or something along those lines. We'll keep plugging away and let you know when we've got something worth looking at, but if you've got some know-how and are interested in helping us out, send an e-mail to paeter at: firstname.lastname@example.org !
As always, thanks for your continued support of what we're doing!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I still have to record about half of my lines, but that doesn't really count in my mind.
I also still need to cast about a dozen supporting roles and receive recordings for them. Just a reminder that if you're interested, the audition deadline is this Saturday the 25th.
In news that isn't near as exciting, I'm probably going to need to bump the release date to "Early Spring" instead of the previously aimed for "Christmas Season". But don't let that get you too down. I'm planning to have a significant price drop for "Spirit Blade" that will take effect sometime in November and make it easier than ever for you to bring your friends along for the ride! We'll also have a lot's of cool free downloads to add between now and Christmas.
Once I've spent a few weeks mixing scenes, I'll have a better idea of the new release date for "Dark Ritual", but I don't anticipate you all having to wait much longer than you were already planning on.
As always, thanks for your support and prayers for this endeavor. We're very excited about "Dark Ritual" and the effect we hope it will have on people's lives.
Monday, August 20, 2007
In this chapter, Jesus tells us more about who he is and what his plans are for humanity. Although the idea leaves us with many unanswered questions, it's compelling to think that Jesus is even now "preparing a place" for everyone that chooses to trust in him! We can only imagine what that existence will be like. But considering he's been working on it in some fashion for two-thousand years, it will probably be pretty neat.
Verse 6 is a famous quote, and one that makes blending the teachings of Jesus with the various religions and spiritual leaders of history impossible.
Someone might be under the impression that verses 13-14 mean we should think of God as a big genie. But notice that Jesus says that anything we ask for in his name, he will do. To do something in someone's name means that you are representing them and their interests. So asking for something that does not parallel the will of God will not result in it being granted. These verses are surrounded by commands to believe in Jesus and to obey him. Given the real meaning of these verses, and the context we find them in, it would seem that prayer is often less about getting what we want and more about trying to line ourselves up with what God wants.
In the last couple of weeks, we've asked the Coffee House Question, "What is something that someone has done for you that made you feel loved and appreciated?" Everyone has some kind of "love language". Maybe when someone compliments you, gives you a gift, or serves you in some practical way, you feel loved by them. Ever wonder how God wants to be loved? The answer is right here: Obedience. (Verses 15, 21, 23-24) Real love for God will be carried out through making choices that are in line with what he desires. Obedience to God doesn't "get us into heaven", but it is the way that we communicate our love to God.
Jesus also promises to send the Holy Spirit to those who trust in and follow Jesus. Although the Holy Spirit is mysterious, he is not an "it", as we sometimes think of him, but he is as much a person of the the trinity as Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit is our teacher(verse 26) and the one that "leads into all truth"(verse 17). In a culture where so much is relative and any and all things can be equally "true", it's refreshing to be reminded that God promises real, solid truth to those that follow him. Not a "maybe truth" or one "possible truth", but actual truth.
It's interesting that when Jesus promises "peace", he points out that the peace he gives is different than the peace given by the world. (verse 27) The peace referenced here is more than positive thinking, or the absence of conflict. It's the ultimate kind of peace that results from knowing two things:
1. God is in control of everything.
2. We can have a perfect relationship with God. (Who, by the way, is in control of everything. Good friend to have, huh?)
What makes the peace that Jesus gives different, is that it is real. The human mind is an amazing creation, and through various forms of prayer, relaxation and meditation, we can "feel peace". And there's absolutely nothing wrong with feeling peace that way. But until we trust in Jesus to make payment for our selfish choices, we won't have real peace between us and God, regardless of what we may feel.
Thankfully, God is anxious to restore our relationship with him and made it possible for us to do so when we acknowledge our sins and choose to trust Jesus with our lives, now and forever.(2 Peter 3:9)
Don't forget to read chapter 15 for next week!
Coffee House Question: What kinds of activities help you release tension and relax?
(Leave your comment here, or RECORD your comment with your computer's microphone at http://paetersbrain.blogspot.com/ or http://paeter.libsyn.com/. You may just hear it on our podcast!)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
After just a few minutes re-aquainting himself with the character, Randy began producing a sound that gives an even darker edge to Vincent's voice than he had in the first project! We know you'll love it!
Paeter also made great progress on mixing a song for "Raan". A mystical sounding ballad using middle-eastern flavors blended with electronic sounds. It's still in the infant stages, but we're excited about trying out some new sounds and styles!
Don't forget to leave us questions and comments using the one click recorders at http://paeter.libsyn.com/ and http://paetersbrain.blogspot.com/ ! We'd love to hear from you, and for you to be heard on the podcast! Say or ask whatever's on your mind, or give us your response to this week's "Coffee House Question" from Monday's post!
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I never made it completely through the terrible 1980's "Queen" rocked-out movie, but when I heard that the Sci-fi channel was making a series based on the classic sci-fi character, I waited anxiously for the pilot to air.
Eric Johnson, whom many will recognize from "Smallville", takes on the role of our hero. "Flash" is a noble, self-sacrificing character; A small-town hero thrown into a galaxy-wide conflict. Some nice bits of humanity have been introduced to the character in the pilot that made me pleased to see he was being taken seriously and treated like a real person. Real human drama can be a great ingredient for wild, imaginative sci-fi.
In the end, however, the pilot proved to be just... okay. Special effects were not up to par with sci-fi's hit, "Battlestar Galactica", and the alien costumes were certainly no match for what was common on "Farscape".
The acting was also stale (the alien princess) and at times annoying (the geeky scientist). Emporer Ming wasn't the least bit imposing or threatening, another bland performance. If they were going for that "B-movie" kind of bad acting, they didn't go far enough. (Although I really don't think that's what they were aiming for.) Eric Johnson played the part of "the guy next door" very well, but the performances surrounding him were not contrasting enough to highlight his very likeable "Flash".
Unless there is a dramatic (pun completely intended) change within the next episode, my hope is that this show will quickly disappear and keep people from once again singing the "Queen" song to me whenever I talk about one of my favorite superheroes(who bears no resemblence to this dud).
Relevance: No Score (This review was written before the use of the "Relevence" category was implemented.)
Hopefully, you won't be able to say that of this post, but I thought I should let folks know that if posting gets off schedule here, at "Paeter's Brain" or the Podcast, it's because my wife and I will be having our first baby very soon. Although I will take a week off when the baby arrives, I will plan to at least keep the blogs and podcast going with little to no hiccups during that time. But should something be a day or so late sometime soon, you'll know why.
We're very excited to turn our "Dynamic Duo" into a "Terrible Trio", but we'd also really value your prayers. We'll let you know either here or at "Paeter's Brain" as soon as "the package has been delivered".
Monday, August 13, 2007
Chapters 13-17 cover the last teachings of Jesus to the 12 people closest to him. And he started everything by performing the task of a lowly household servant.
After all his claims of being the Messiah and God himself, performing this task was extremely radical. This disgusting chore became an expression of love like nothing the 12 disciples could imagine. In fact, Peter REALLY couldn't imagine it. But Jesus made it clear that if he did not wash Peter, Peter could have no part with him.
The reference to Jesus' upcoming work on the cross and the resulting effect should be noted here. Jesus loves us. But if we want to have a real relationship with him, now and in eternity, we have to submit to his "washing".
Jesus also did this as an example for them to throw away pride and serve others. He is their Master and they are his messengers and servants. But as Jesus points out, "a servant is not greater than the master". So they will be expected to humble themselves and serve each other and others around them with the same genuine love and humility that Jesus did.
A challenging example! But also notice that in verse 17, Jesus says that following his example like this is "the path of blessing". So we are promised to be blessed in some way through loving and serving others.
It's interesting that no one had any reason to suspect Judas. The 12 disciples were completely clueless! This is an eye-opening concept. Could this mean that some of those that appear to be genuine believers in Christ are actually not? Absolutely. However, it's not our job to go on a mental "witch-hunt" and make assumptions about who is really a believer and who is not. Our real job is found in verse 34. Jesus said, "Just as I have loved you, you should love each other."
Woah. It's one thing to love your neighbor as yourself. That's nothing new. (Leviticus 19:18) The "new" part of this commandment is to love each other as JESUS loved! PERFECT love that thinks of others BEFORE ourselves is a whole new standard that Jesus is establishing here.
And check out the effectiveness this kind of love will have on the people around us.
(Verse 35) "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."(NLT)
If we really want to show people what it means to be a Christian, a real follower of Christ, than love is the first place we need to go. If we make practical love a priority, both the Christians and non-Christians around us will get a better picture of the character of Christ.
And let's challenge ourselves to put the emphasis on practical love here, if we can. Peter was ready to speak volumes about his love for Jesus, but in the end, his actual convictions were not near strong enough. (We'll see that after a few more chapters) We can learn from his mistake by loving through actions before words.
Consider who you can practically express love to today. A friend, a spouse, a family member? Who can you do a chore for, or sacrifice some of your free time for?
Next week, Chapter 14!
Coffee House Question
: What is something someone has done for you that made you feel loved or appreciated?
(We're repeating this one because...well, it's a good one!)
Don't forget to record your answer for us at either http://paeter.libsyn.com/ or http://paetersbrain.blogspot.com/ so we can play it on the podcast, or you can leave it here in the form of a comment!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
HERE'S WHAT WE NEED:
1. Your answers to our weekly "Coffee House Questions".
2. Tell us how we can make the podcast and blogs better or more interactive!
3. Become an "Underground Correspondent"! Record a review (books, movies, t.v. shows, ANYTHING!) for us and you may just hear it on the next podcast! (Please limit message length to 3 minutes or less.)
HERE'S HOW TO DO IT:
Or e-mail Paeter at email@example.com. Don't forget to include your name so everyone will know how awesome you are! (Names will be withheld upon request.)
We hope you'll all be a part of our exciting future!
Friday, August 10, 2007
We've had a great week here, finishing up the track to one song and starting on another. We've had to re-schedule Randy Hesson's first recording session because he grabbed a small cold and needed to get better in time for the musical he's performing in currently. His first recording session should be coming up next Tuesday.
We could use a little help from you! We'd like to have a way for you and our podcast listeners to leave messages for us to play on the podcast. We've tried both Odeo (which seemed to have some problems on their site) and Evoca (which would force us to spend more money) and haven't had any luck yet.
We'd like to avoid giving out Paeter's cell phone number or spending any money. Some blog widgets will allow you to record a message, but then only send a link to a flashplayer containing the recording. We need to be able to save the audio file for use on the podcast.
So if you have any ideas, we'd LOVE to hear them! You can leave a comment here, or e-mail paeter directly- firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Boy I'm tired of these guys. Combating this image of Christianity is a lot of what Spirit Blade Productions is about. The trend of megaphone wielding street evangelists has been around for a long time. And I'm not sure it's ever been very effective.
"Christians" justifying hate or violent and cruel behavior with the use of scripture has been around for even longer, one of the most horrific examples being the crusades and a more recent example being the bombing of abortion clinics.
What does the Bible have to say about this behavior? Can any of this really be endorsed by the words of God?
The Bible is littered with commands to teach the truth to everyone in the world. But right now we'll just look at what's become known as "The Great Commission". Here, we see that evangelism is commanded by Jesus.
Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
The Greek word used here for "make disciples" is Matheteuo, and it means: To instruct with the purpose of making disciples.
Also packed into the definition of this word is the meaning of "disciple": One who learns from and becomes attached to one's teacher through following doctrine and conduct of life.
Notice the order that Jesus places his instruction in. First, we are to explain truth to people, in the hope that they will become believers in Christ. It is not until they have become "disciples" that we should make an effort to hold them accountable to obeying Jesus. (While they, in turn, will now also hold us accountable.)
So, to stand on a street corner and yell out, "This is wrong and that is wrong! Stop doing these things!" is ridiculous. Because if someone does not believe that Jesus is God and that obedience to him is important, they have no logical reason to agree with the "Bible Thumper's" statements.
First, we need to present Jesus to them. We can certainly talk about the concepts of sin, as taught by Jesus and the rest of the Bible, but until someone chooses to place faith in Jesus, they have no reason to obey him.
So then, the question remains, how do we present Jesus to people? This is an endless pursuit that contains no single magical formula. But we can find some clear guidelines in the Bible.
1. Meet people where they are at. (Acts 17:21-28, 1 Corinthians 9:20-23) If you hang out with people who dig philosophy or comparitive religion, go buy a textbook (and not just some comparitive pamphlet at a Christian bookstore) and learn about some of the diverse religious and philosophical concepts that exist. Don't use churchy language, but try to speak about biblical truth using terms that are normal and down to earth. If you both like movies, use examples from movies. (My personal choices include The Matrix Trilogy, Superman Returns, and more recently Pan's Labrynth.)
2. Have genuine compassion for the people you're talking to. (2 Timothy 2:25-26) Be intelligent without being forceful. (Colossians 4:5-6) In high school I often thought that I could "debate someone into belief". I had my arguments down to a science and at lunch-time a circle would sometimes develop around me as I debated multiple students at once. But even as I successfully defeated every argument presented, my "opponents" walked away frustrated with me. We listened to each other only enough to formulate our next clever response. They didn't hear the truth I was presenting and I didn't learn anything more about where they were coming from.
I wish so much that I could go back in time and show more love and invest more time and interest in just one of them, rather than waste my time poisoning many of them against the truth.
3. LOVE them! (1 Corinthians 13:1-7) Not just a superficial love until they become a Christian and then you free yourself to go and "love" someone else. REALLY love them. (1 John 3:18) Hang out with them and talk to them(and not just about God, please). Invest in their life regardless of whether or not they seem to be "coming around". Maybe God has gifted you in incredible ways to teach the truth. Maybe you feel nervous and uncomfortable just saying "Jesus" out loud. In either case, love is more important than anything, and will speak volumes about Jesus. And without it, we're at risk of being like the Bible Thumpers, poisoning people against the truth that they need more than anything.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Don't forget to read this chapter youself before looking at our thoughts!
This chapter concludes John's account of the public ministry of Jesus.
Lazarus' sister, Mary, displayed incredible love for Jesus. Imagine spending what you earn in one year on a jar of perfume, and then pouring it all out on someone's dirty, dust-covered feet. Then imagine using your hair to clean up the mixture of dirt and perfume!
Mary didn't care about what others would think of her, she didn't care about the mess she would be getting in her hair and she didn't care about the immense financial cost of this act. She recognized the priceless nature of having Jesus right there with her, and wanted to express that love to him.
Although not his true motives, Judas makes an interesting point. Why not give the money from that perfume to the poor? Wasn't Jesus all about taking care of the poor and needy? (Matthew 14:13 and 21, Matthew 18:22, John 13:29) Absolutely. But this was a specific and, Jesus knew, rare opportunity to express love and commitment to him. We should remember that Jesus is God, and he knows that humanity's ultimate purpose is found through loving him. It is the most valuable and important thing we can do! (Mark 12:28-30) Mary would not have the opportunity to express love to him in this way for much longer, so Jesus honored and accepted her expression of love for him.
(Side note: For those curious, you can find the original prophecy about Jesus' entry on a donkey's colt in Zechariah 9:9.)
Starting in verse 23, Jesus explains why he has to die. He uses the metaphor of a kernal that has to "die" and then produce many more like itself.
1 Corinthians 15:20- But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.
Some people are ready to view Christ as a martyr or victim only, but Christ knew that he was dying so that all who trust in him could enjoy their fully realized purpose with the God of the universe... forever! Although, as we see in verse 27, Jesus was extremely troubled by what he would have to go through, he was very purposeful in his choice to go through with it.
In the middle of his "mission statement" we also see the sobering challenge he gives for us to throw away any love for this life. Because Jesus taught so much about loving God and being active in this life in loving others, we know that he doesn't mean here to commit suicide or live in a hole until we die and go to heaven. Instead, he wants us to throw away love for monetary or physical gain in this life. (Check out Matthew 6:19-20) Instead, he wants us to invest in God and in other people. (Mark 12:28-31)
The people had a narrow view of the Messiah because of the oppressive Roman rule they were under at the time. They empasized the prophecies about the Messiah as an immortal ruler (Psalm 110:4, Isaiah 9:7) but seemed to have forgotten the prophecies related to his suffering and death (Isaiah 53:5-9). Jesus will return and one day rule forever, but his suffering and work on the cross had to come first. This is a reminder that we should carefully examine our view of Jesus and ask ourselves the question, "Is my view of Jesus based on the truth, or on who I would like him to be?"
The reference to God blinding people's eyes and hardening their hearts comes from Isaiah 6:9-13. Although this may seem unfair, there are a couple of things to remember:
1. God (and only God) knows objectively what people are thinking and feeling. He knows every individual heart and whether or not there is "hope" for them to change their minds and choose to trust in and follow him.
2. Ultimately, there is not a single person that "deserves" anything from God. So if God chooses to take someone already irreversibly (by their own choice) antagonistic toward him and harden their hearts further to serve his ultimately good agenda, God has every right to do so.
(For a little more on this topic you can check out: Exodus 9:12, Romans 1:24-28, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.)
At the end of this chapter, Jesus sums up his ministry. He and God are one and the same (v44-45), he is the ultimate source of knowledge (v46), his mission was to save the world, not judge it (v47), but a very real judgment will take place for everyone and this judgment will be based on whether or not each individual has followed or rejected what Jesus has taught (v48). Lastly, although he is equal to God the Father, Jesus displays his willing submission to him (v49-50). Submission that will ultimately be demonstrated through his suffering and death.
In the coming weeks, we'll watch as Jesus turns his attention specifically to teaching his disciples, as we move closer and closer to his death.
Next week: Chapter 13! Don't forget to wash your feet before supper!
Coffee House Question:
What is something that someone has done for you that made you feel very loved?
(Leave any of your thoughts here or send them to email@example.com and you may just hear it on our podcast! Names withheld on request.)
Friday, August 3, 2007
Paeter also began recording his lines for Merikk Scythe.
The highlight of the week was undoubtedly recording a "flesh eating sequence" this morning with actor Krystofer James VanSlyke. Cooked lasagna noodles were involved and the results were chilling.
On that note, have a great weekend!
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
If you need a quick sword (and sorcery) flick fix, go grab the just released DVD, Pathfinder. Otherwise, wait until it plays on the sci-fi channel some night.
Starring Karl Urban, from The Lord of The Rings trilogy, this movie combines Viking Warriors with Native American mysticism, resulting in a concept that's interesting, although not fully executed, in my opinion.
Urban does a decent job, although he doesn't have much to work with. Clancy Brown of "Highlander" fame almost reprises his role as the Kurgan (evil immortal from the first Highlander film), but not enough to make his character very gripping. The battles are interesting enough and the special effects okay, but it could have used a significantly better score and more dynamic filming style to give it the energy it needed.
It's not much longer than 90 minutes, but still feels a little longer than it should be. Don't let anyone tell you this is a bad movie by any stretch. Conan fans should certainly give it a shot. Just don't expect anything captivating or new outside of the interesting blend of cultural mythologies.
Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout.
Relevance: No Score (This review was written before the use of the "Relevence" category was implemented.)
I get to tell stories and journey to incredible worlds. I get to interact with other artists and creative people. I get to share what God is teaching me and learn from others at the same time!
Sure it's not all perfect, and I have some crappy days I'd love to forget. But I wouldn't trade what I'm doing for any other job out there!
As always, thanks for your prayers and support as Holly and I continue cutting a path into unknown territory.
Speaking of unknown territory, our first baby (a boy!) will be arriving/emerging toward the end of this month. We'd love your prayers for a safe and incredibly fulfilling birth.