Friday, May 29, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (Movie Review)

Since I don’t often review horror movies, let me first give you an idea of what I like and don’t like in horror flicks.

If I watch a horror flick, I want to be horrified. I don’t watch them to see barely dressed teenagers, or to drink in ridiculous amounts of gore. For my tastes, a good horror movie will be scary not just the first time you see it, but also the second and third. So “jump” scares do not win points with me, even when they scare me the first time through, because I’m looking for a movie worth seeing more than once. If I want to be scared by sudden, loud noises, I’ll give my 2 year old the car keys and see how long it takes him to set off the alarm. Doesn’t cost me a dime.

A good horror movie will stay with me and leave me unsettled even after the movie is done. I’m much more interested in something creepy, unsettling and disturbing than I am in something that is simply shocking or gory.

In my book, great horror movies include Saw (the first one at least), The Ring (also just the first one) and Event Horizon (that movie still messes with my head).

I really dig creature movies like The Thing and Jeepers Creepers, but I put these in a different category(Creature Feature/ Monster Movie) for the sake of this review.

Now to the review!

Before becoming a superstar director with the Spider-man films, Sam Raimi was best known for his tongue in cheek “Evil Dead” franchise of “horror” movies. If you’re a fan of these flicks, you’ll probably like “Drag Me To Hell”. This is all of my review you need. You’re welcome and enjoy.

If you’ve not seen Bruce Campbell in all his chainsaw/boomstick glory, or if you did not like the “Evil Dead” films, stick around with me for a minute.

“Drag Me To Hell”, like the “Evil Dead” films, takes some classic bits of horror and folklore and inserts some tongue and cheek humor to give them a new spin. This time around, the elements used draw heavily from gypsy folklore. Curses, evil spirits, that sort of thing. Throw in some childhood “fear of old people”, and you’ve got some concepts that are fertile ground for creepiness. Unfortunately, Raimi steals the power from these concepts within the first 40 minutes of the movie by playing them for laughs.

Now don’t get me wrong. Laughs are good now and then in horror flicks. Without them, unless the disturbing elements are paced very well, we will become numb to the horror. But the laughs should never be at the expense of the source of terror. (A movie like “Frighteners” is a good example of this. While far too humorous for a straight up horror film, it avoids making the bad guys “funny”.) When a bad guy becomes funny, you don’t fear them anymore. You may even start rooting for them to see what entertaining thing they will do next. (Freddy Krueger, anyone?)

In “Drag Me To Hell”, a young woman is cursed by an old Gypsy woman for not approving her loan. Sound like a joke? Actually, this plot point was ironically NOT played for laughs. The old woman is very creepy, for a moment, but soon little gags here and there turn her into a source of comedy. The same goes for the evil spirit haunting our leading lady. As if to compensate, the movie resorts to jump scares almost exclusively to provide its frightening moments.

As most bits of “danger” maintained a humorous touch, I quickly stopped fearing for anyone in this flick, hoping that at least some of the obviously CGI visuals would be interesting. And yeah, they were kinda neat. But nothin’ to blog about.

The script is pretty forgettable, as are all the performances in the cast. Not a third-dimensional character in sight. And Alison Lohman felt more like an actor making “choices” than a real person I could care about.

In terms of relevance to meaningful subject matter, you could probably strike up a conversation about concepts of hell or evil spirits and evaluate how we might validate or invalidate the various ideas floating around that feed into movies like this one. There is also an interesting moral dilemma near the end of the film that brings questions of judgment, punishment and justice to mind. But since the material is never quite treated seriously, you may not feel like any worthwhile dialogue after leaving the theater.

This isn’t a “bad” movie. If you enjoy jump scares, you may dig it. There are some images that may evoke a sense of Satanism for some, though I can’t verify any genuine connection to real religious practices. Still, if that sounds like a turn-off, you’ve been forewarned. I found the movie kept me emotionally engaged (intense music and sounds made it hard to relax much), but since my mind was incredibly bored and not invested, I found the jumps more annoying then fun and checked my watch often until the movie was over.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language

Quality: 7.0/10

Relevance: 6.5/10

"Pilgrim" Mixing Begins!


At long last, the first day of mixing has arrived! After recording my lines for the last two days, I'm ready to begin mixing on the first scene of "Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of A Dream"! The familiar process of sifting through takes and choosing the best ones has begun again and I couldn't be much happier to be at this stage of a project again.

To meet my goal of a September 1st release, I'll need to complete about 60 minutes of mixing and mastering over a period of three months, in addition to having a logo and some artwork put together for its presentation on the site. I still feel that this goal is very doable and I'll be sure to keep you posted!

As of this week, I am also about halfway finished recording the Spirit Blade Enhanced Audiobook, after which I will begin mixing it together. You can probably look forward to that project being available beginning early this fall. And as mentioned before, it will be free downloadable content.

That's it for now!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 11:1-16


The first statement of chapter 11 is more connected to the previous chapter than it is to this one. Being an apostle did not make Paul a perfect person, but he recognized that people need examples to follow. Verse 1 is a helpful reminder to look for people in our lives who are following Christ well, and learn from their example.


Paul now diverts to a new yet related topic. He’s been talking about the freedoms that Christians have and which ones are worth setting aside temporarily for the good of others. In that context, he spends a few verses discussing the behavior of men and women in group worship settings.


For multiple personalities to function as a unit, there must be a head. Someone who makes the final call after any deliberation. In verse 3, Paul outlines a structure for authority(though some scholars argue that “head” refers to “source” and not authority).


Christ submits to God the Father, Man submits to Christ and Woman submits to Man. Our tendencies toward sin have turned the word “submission” into an ugly one, and great damage has been done to women by men who abused their leadership role. God hates it when this happens. God’s plan for submission is a beautiful one. After all, Christ is constantly in submission to God! So submission is not by nature an ugly or harmful concept. It is OUR nature that does harm. For more on the roles of men and women, read Galatians 3:28(equality of men and women), Ephesians 5:22-33(notice the command here for husbands to “love” their wives), 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (that love is defined here) and 1 Peter 3:7(a husband’s prayers may be hindered if he does not treat his wife well!).


Before going further, we should notice that Paul is using some wordplay to make his point. He sets up the concept of leadership and authority using the term “head”, and then talks about whether or not the Corinthians should cover their physical heads.


For example, the first use of “head” in verse 4 is literal and the second use in verse 4 is metaphorical, referring to Christ. The same with verse 5. First literal, then metaphorical, then literal again.


As before, we’re dealing with how a Christian should live within their own culture, whatever that may be. In the Greek Corinthian culture, it was a mark of shame for men to cover their heads or veil their faces. It’s not right to reflect an attitude of shame when worshipping God, so Paul instructs men to remain uncovered, so that observers would not assume that God is a cruel master whose followers feel constant shame in his presence.


For women in Greek culture, things were a bit different. Hair was a distinguishing feature that differentiated women from men. Because of their conservative dress, females were most readily identified and admired for their hair and facial features. Seeing a woman’s hair and face turned heads in that culture in the same way that seeing a woman in a swimsuit would do today. For a woman to display her hair in a worship setting would disgrace her husband in the same way that she would if she shaved her head (a mark of shame in that culture).


In the context of Greek Corinthian culture, Paul wanted men and women to represent their God-appointed roles. Men reflect the image of God. They display his glory in some way, which means that they reveal something about who God is. For this reason, Men should not cover their heads, which indicated shame in that culture.


The Bible clearly teaches that women were also created in the image of God(Genesis 1:27).  Verse 7 doesn’t negate that, but points out that women also reflect who men are in some way. Because women in some way reflect men, they should not dress or behave in a way that brings disgrace to their husbands. That would, in turn, bring disgrace to God. First because women bear his image and again because they reflect another “image-bearer”.


In a nutshell, Paul is urging the Corinthian Christians to dress and behave in ways that will honor God and each other within the context of their culture. This is the core of Paul’s message here.


The reference to a “symbol of authority” on the woman’s head in verse 8 is debated over by scholars. Some believe it refers to her own authority as a co-ruler with man, and that her identity as a woman and therefore co-ruler is expressed publicly by covering her hair. This verse also refers to angels who are observing all of this. Our lives, and the choices we make, are in some way part of God’s plan for the angels. Since Christians will one day judge angels (remember 1st Corinthians 6:3?), they are urged to learn responsibility for every action now.


Despite these cultural differences, Paul wants to emphasize that there is complete equality of value and importance between men and women. They are both dependant upon each other and upon God.(v. 11-12)


Paul asks the Corinthians to judge for themselves what is appropriate. In verses 14-15, Paul implies that the natural pattern in the world is for women to have longer hair than men. Their long hair already serves as a built-in covering, as though concealing her beauty from the common observer is part of the natural order. By contrast, when a man has long hair, it is not the norm and can even be a disgrace to him in some cultures.


Paul seems to be arguing for the beauty of women not to be “on display” in a worship setting, but for women to be conservative in their appearance during public worship, probably to avoid drawing attention away from God and toward herself.


Paul has argued from several perspectives at this point, and finishes his argument with a statement designed for a philosophical group of that time called the Skeptics who, if nothing else, responded to arguments made from the point of “custom”. In essence, Paul says, “among the churches, there’s no other way this issue is handled. This is our custom.”


We live in a very different culture from the Greek Corinthians. So how can we look at all of this and apply it to our group worship today? We can probably draw a few helpful points from this passage.


  1. We should never come before God in worship with an attitude of shame. We are forgiven and made free by Christ’s sacrifice, and should celebrate that freedom in our worship.

  2. While worshipping with others, we should avoid dressing or behaving in ways that might draw attention to our looks or make us the focus instead of God.

  3. We should keep an eye on the standards of the culture surrounding us and be considerate of others.

  4. Men and women are equal in their importance, though different in their functions. These differences should be celebrated and valued.



Next Week- What Should Communion Be?


Coffee House Question


What do you think can be done to promote equality and also celebrate the diversity between men and women today?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator: Salvation (Movie Review)

The Terminator franchise is one that I have enjoyed quite a bit. Despite the first two films being very different from each other, they were both executed wonderfully and hold up very well today. Terminator 3 had some major shortcomings but I still found some things to like. And the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show has been a fantastic addition to the mythos.

Coming into "Salvation", I wasn't sure what to expect. The visual look of the film looked appropriately bleak in trailers, but the PG-13 rating had me concerned that it would lack the violence that makes this franchise what it is. My estimates were not too far off.

From the opening of the film, we're introduced to a new character, Marcus Wright. Surprisingly, he seems to have more screen time in the movie than Christian Bale does as John Connor. Although the Marcus character is interesting, the focus he stole from John Connor was a downside of the movie. This franchise has always been about the Connors, and to spend so much time on this character seemed to take the movie off center.

The story is alright, mainly focusing on the mystery of Marcus Wright and who/what he is. It also spends time developing John Connor's place in the resistance movement. Reportedly, before accepting the role, Christian Bale asked writers to re-write the script into something that would be interesting to simply hear read on stage. I'm glad he did this, since even in its finished state, the plot and characterization were adequate, but not gripping.

In Terminator 2, we saw a wonderful character performance by Linda Hamilton, who presented a very complex and damaged Sarah Connor, yet Christian Bale's John Connor doesn't have any traits that separate him from a number of other heroes in this genre.

Bryce Dallas Howard is given virtually nothing interesting to do, a complete waste of her talents. Hopefully she will be given more, should this planned trilogy continue.

The Marcus Wright story does pay off enjoyably in the end and gives a sense of closure to the film, though the climax doesn't reach anything close to the intensity of the first two Terminator films.

The last charge I have against this film is that the Terminators didn't seem to do much terminating. They capture people and sometimes manage to kill them, but we see very little of the cold, brutal killing so common to terminators in the movies and even the TV series. This is partially because there are (almost) no T-800's yet, which are made to look human, resulting in a more ruthless portrayal of their actions. But T-800's or not, this movie missed the mark on a vital component of the franchise.

I don't blame this on the PG-13 rating. The TV show has terminators doing a fair amount of killing, but shot in a way that minimizes the gore/violence. This film just seemed to avoid killing in general. A very strange decision. As a result, I never felt dread upon seeing a terminator or other Skynet machine. I didn't really fear for the characters and the machines did not make me worry.

Now, on to what I liked. The color scheme in this movie is wonderfully grim and captures the post-apocalyptic feel perfectly. In a world dominated by machines, seeing everything in shades of gunmetal grey feels right on target.

I don't say this often about films, but I really enjoyed the special effects! They used a combination of physical and digital effects when representing the machines and terminators that made the world feel real while still being fantastic. At one point, the film also uses special effects to digitally recreate an actor, and I've never seen this done better. They wisely used smoke and other ambient visuals to mask the imperfections of their CGI work. I would say that a full 50% of the digital character's "face-time" I thought to myself, "That looks completely real"! Hopefully, they will use this effect again in the future films, as it was a moment that definitely reminded me that I was watching a Terminator flick. Likewise, I hope to see film-makers take notice here and continue to push CGI forward, while hiding it's defects in the meantime. A VERY good use of the technology.

If you come to this movie to see action, you won't be disappointed. From top to bottom it has plenty and the accompanying explosions and other visuals do not fail to be fun. This is also a world that is VERY cool to look at. The variety of Skynet machines and the ways in which they behave create world worth exploring.

Now to Relevance. Does this movie say anything relevant to the human condition or the true nature of reality? Undeniably.

First, we unfortunately have to hear Hollywood's spiritual motto yet again. At one point, while listening to a recording made by his mother, John hears her instruct that when he isn't sure what to do, "just follow your heart". (Yeah, THAT'S the most reliable decision-making system.) Once again, I'd prefer that Hollywood say "do what makes sense and hope for the best" or even "Do what you think is right"(as opposed to what FEELS right). We'll do a lot less damage to ourselves and others that way.

The Marcus Wright character seems built into the story specifically to ask one question: What does it mean to be human? The premise of this movie, and stories like it (The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica) seems to lean toward the idea that humans are really just complex machines, with no spiritual component, since machines can apparently become "self-aware" and develop feelings and all the other traits that make us human. We're meant to sympathize with the machines equally, since they have become "just like us". These kinds of stories are usually implying (purposefully or not) that we either have no spiritual component, or we are able to give machines spirits like our own, placing humans in a pseudo-god position.

"Terminator: Salvation" says something surprisingly different at the end. In a voice-over, one of the main characters delivers the "moral" of the writer's story by saying that what defines humanity "can't be programmed into a chip."

With a few exceptions, sci-fi largely comes from a darwinian/naturalistic view, where there is no spiritual component to humanity. But this movie clearly implies that there is something beyond the physical that makes us what we are.

In the final analysis, this is a great movie that doesn't feel as much like a Terminator flick as it should, though many will still enjoy it with good reason. It also lends itself to meaningful conversation at several levels.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language

Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 8.5/10

Drowning In The Microphone


This morning I had a great time drowning an actor in my office. Krystofer James VanSlyke finished recording today as we covered my office in towels and protected the microphone with a bedsheet pulled taught between my hands and one foot.

Sound interesting? Wait until you SEE it. I've made a point of making video recordings of sessions with some of the actors on this project and will eventually edit together a video of higlights to put on

I've also made some great progress on remixing "All And Everything" this week. The song is getting a major makeover, though it retains the feel of the original. The last piece of the puzzle was a sweet electronic bass line I found on my keyboard for the second half of each verse.

I only have one actor left to come and record, though I will probably try to record all of my lines next week so that I can get started mixing a little early!

That's all for now!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outlander (Movie Review)

How in the world did I miss this movie in theaters? Goes to show that I should check the new DVD releases every week!

This movie had a very narrow distribution in theaters in 2008 and that's a real shame, as fans of fantasy and sci-fi should certainly check this movie out at some point. It's not the best movie in the world, but it's not a terrible film, either.

I remained interested in the film for most of it's 115min run-time and was even grabbed in a few instances by some scary or otherwise shocking moments. The script was written by Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain, who both wrote the script for "Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans", their only other writing credit. "Outlander" is also only McCain's second movie as director(though he's done a little TV as well).

For fans of bloody sword fighting and battles with clanking armor, you'll get a pretty good fix in this flick. The fights are not especially well choreographed, but they are still enjoyable and a few bits of shocking brutality serve as distraction from this minor shortcoming. The action scenes are shot pretty well and fun to watch, with a few very memorable moments. Good stuff.

Creature buffs may also find the monster in this movie interesting. When it was first revealed, I was unimpressed with the CGI, though it improves a little later in the film. The creature design, however, is visually interesting. The director uses a lack of light very well to keep the creature covered in shadow at times, letting our imagination do some of the work. But the creature is by no means hidden throughout the film. There are plenty of full shots of the monster in the second half of the movie that look great. I'll try not to spoil the conceptual design of the creature here, but it's definitely a visual highlight of the movie. I wish I could have learned more about it's strengths and weaknesses, but it looks like they had other priorities for the film.

The cast, which includes names like Jim Caviezal, John Hurt and Ron Perlman, performed their roles somewhat blandly, though Caviezal had at least one good emotion-filled scene. There were no characters of real interest in this movie, unfortunately.

The plot is where this movie really suffers. Others may tell you that it is too far-fetched, but that wasn't my problem at all. I don't mind combining spacemen and aliens with 8th century Vikings. (That was a really COOL part of this flick!) I also don't mind that the main character is an alien who looks just like a human. (Roger Ebert didn't like this because it didn't fit in a logical Darwinian framework. "Yer a smart guy, Rog, but does ALL science fiction need to come from a Darwinian framework?") My problem is that the story focused on the least interesting plots in the movie.

You've got an A plot(the monster), a B plot (the spaceman-princess budding romance), a C plot(who will be the next king?) and a D plot(the spaceman's guilt), all given priority in that order. But the romance story is completely uninteresting because of the lack of compelling characters. In my opinion, the B plot could be completely removed from the story, greatly improving the final product. (Predator and The Thing didn't need a romantic subplot, did they?) It's not that the B plot scenes are bad. They are just boring and slow the pace of the movie.

Were I to re-edit this film for my own personal enjoyment, I would remove most of the B plot scenes and dig through the NUMEROUS deleted scenes on this DVD (I can't wait to look at all of them!) for scenes that support the D plot and put them back in the movie. While trying to avoid spoilers, I'll say that the D plot brings a great moral dilemma to the movie that is directly connected to the monster, unlike the B and C plots. But in the theatrical cut of the film, the D plot is downplayed so much that it seems like an afterthought.

I really want to give this movie a higher Relevance score than I am, because this movie asks the question "Do two wrongs make a right?" It asks the audience to wrestle with the concept of justice a little and provides opportunity for some meaningful conversation afterward, but not much.

In the end, this is a movie that is not solid enough for general audiences to enjoy, but genre fans should probably give it a rent at some point just to make sure they're not missing something they'll dig. Because a few people will probably really dig this movie.

Rated R for violence

Quality: 8.0/10

Relevance: 6.0/10

Spirit Blade Music Remix


As some of you may know, in addition to developing our next audio drama, I'm also working on a music project that will include remixes of the songs from "Spirit Blade". Yesterday I spent some time listening to all of them (as painful as that was for me) and made some quick notes on how I want to remix each one. Although these ideas are likely to change quite a bit over the next several months of mixing, here are the notes I've jotted down so far for a few of them. Please note that some terminology means one thing to me that it may not mean to others. A few other notes may not make sense at all. Happy decoding!

Destiny Remix Notes

This is a "trailer song". Distort/rough-up main synth loop, possibly adding octaves. Add much more percussion from the start. hard rock feel. This song should EXPLODE at the start, be moderate for the verses, build in pre-chorus and rage during chorus (with all silence just after "listen to his voice" and during "go on and take it cuz its") only to drop off again after chorus and rebuild.

Major beats of measures punctuated with monosyllabic choral stuff and orchestral pounces.

Soldiers Remix Notes

This is an industrial/percussion song. Remove techno pulse-beat and insert more industrial sounds, like the crazy beat used in Necromancy. Preset automated melodic material should be either re-recorded from keyboard recording (if one exists) in stereo, reperformed and recorded in stereo, or played with extensivey using pan envelopes to make a more stereo effect. This just sounds small, stifled and boring.

Deadly Game

In General, this may not need much.

First, polish the orchestral/choral elements by bringing them up in the mix and adding reverb or other effects where needed. Then add additional orchestral choral materia las needed to fill this out and make it work as a orch/choral/organ/harpsichord peice.

Record some REAL guitar for this song. Then find a unifying electronic sound (this may actually be the guitar, depending on how much your guitarist wants to play.) to add over the top to unify this with the rest of Spirit Blade.

There may be a place for electronic/distorted rhythmic elements as well.

Default reverb is Taj Mahal 3

Fly Remix Notes

Remove Techno pulse beat. This song needs a beat overhaul. Something harder edged, rock-oriented?

Also an active bass part.

Use an "ascending effect", sound effect or musical effect.

Golgotha's Tale

This song you can actually keep!

Give it the same treatment you gave "silence". Soothing, Electronic and Epic. Keep the piano, but it can't be the core instrumental. Add some layers, at least one of which is a "dirty" sound electronic amidst the expansive beauty, reflecting the ugliness of this beautiful act. Add some vocal layers, too, especially at the climax. Use other swelling sounds to build the drama of this song.

See how you feel about your vocals after all this is done to decide of you want to re-record.

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 10:23-33



As Paul finished his thoughts on "idol meat", he returns to the argument form he used in chapter 6, stating a common argument(in this case, "All things are lawful") and then providing a counter statement(not all things are profitable). Paul is acknowledging the personal freedom we have as Christians, while also holding us accountable to our responsibility to think of others.

For example: Because of God's grace, there is nothing that should prevent a Christian from listening to raging, screaming, death metal, provided the lyrics are not influencing the listener negatively. However, if this death metal fan has a guest in their home who becomes uncomfortable around this style of music, it may be wise to take a break from that particular music style while the guest is in listening range.

Paul holds up the values of being profitable and edifying. The word here for profitable is the Greek word "sumphero" and means "bring together for the benefit of another". The Greek word for edify is "oikodomeo" and originally referred to building a house. (v. 23) Paul is certainly not invalidating our freedom, but he considers being united and building each other up more important than excercising our personal freedoms granted by God, when the two come into conflict. Our first thought should be "what can I do now that will be good for the person I'm with?" (v.24)

Paul advises his readers to buy meat without asking if it was used in a religious ceremony. Regarding this specific situation, he almost seems to say "what you don't know won't hurt you". (Though we should be clear that Paul is not advocating this as a broad philosophy of life.)

The real issue here is conscience.(v. 25) No object is made evil in and of itself by being used for evil purposes. Paul quotes Psalm 24:1 when he says that "the earth is the Lord's and all it contains". Everything is still God's, no matter how we use it. We can also reflect on what Paul says in Romans 14:14. "I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

If God has not directed in the Bible to avoid something, we're free to enjoy it! But if that activity leads us into sin, or distorts the truth in our minds or the minds of others, we should stay away from it.

In the scenario Paul describes in verses 27-28, everything is fine until religious significance is brought to the activity. We can enjoy traditions and activities from other national cultures(Native American, East Indian, etc.) or popular sub-cultures (Goth music, Role-playing Games, etc.) without sin, until genuine pagan religious significance or other overt sin is brought into the activity. At that point, we are in danger either of sinning ourselves, or indicating that biblical Christianity is compatible with sin or conflicting religious beliefs. (v.29)

Verse 30 hammers home the issue of conscience and expresses an idea similar to Romans 14:16. "Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;" In the "grey areas" not specifically covered by scripture, our conscience, the Holy Spirit and the "fruit" of our lives serve as guide, not the consciences of others. Even more, we should be ready to discuss why we believe something to be good that someone else considers a sin.

In verses 31-33, Paul tells us to do everything with a mindset that aims to honor God. He also tells us to avoid "offense". In the Greek, this phrase would more accurately be instructing us to avoid making others "stumble". We want to avoid activity that will "turn people off" to the truth. We should have a willingness to be flexible in our habits around others so that we can earn a voice in their lives that will encourage them, unite us to them, and bring them closer to God and the truth he has revealed about himself.

Next Week- The Bible says WHAT? (this should be interesting...)

Coffee House Question

What do you think are some modern parallels to "meat sacrificed to idols"?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spit Prep


In addition to a wonderful recording session earlier this week, a second highlight has to include the preparation I made for a "drowning sequence" that will appear in "Pilgrim's Progress".

If you've listened to Spirit Blade and Dark Ritual, you may have noticed that I like putting water in actors' mouths while they deliver their lines. Well now I'm going a step further and looking for ways to have actors cough and spit up water like never before, without damaging our microphone. After some experimentation yesterday, I discovered that one of our bedsheets actually does a very good job of letting sound through, while halting any water that may be flying through the air.

Next week, when Krystopfer James VanSlyke returns to finish recording with the "Swamp Of Dreadgloom" scene, I think we'll be finding all new ways to have fun with water.

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Great Recording Session!


Last night I had the pleasure of working with Kristina Rogers, an actor I met for the first time at her audition a couple months ago.

She came and recorded her lines for "Pilgrim's Progress" in which she plays an elven sage named Sophia.

I get a great sense of creative fulfillment when I work hard with an actor to discover and then fine tune the right performance, but it's a treat of a different kind when an actor like Kristina comes in, armed with the same instincts for her character that I have, or even BETTER ones!

We had a great recording session and even finished a little early! Woohoo!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 10:14-22


Paul has just promised that God will provide a way out of any temptation we are faced with, and in light of that, implores the Corinthians to “flee from idolatry”. Paul asks his readers to engage their minds and evaluate his words. (v.15) The Bible is not a book that asks to be thoughtlessly believed in. Jesus and the authors of the Bible invite rational investigation and Christians should do the same.


Paul’s argument to stay away from idol worship goes something like this:


  1. When Christians take part in the symbolic act of communion, we are connecting ourselves to the sacrifice Christ made and claiming the benefits of that sacrifice, made on our behalf. As Christians, we represent the “body of Christ” as it is present and active on earth. We are united as believers, because we all claim the benefits of Christ’s single sacrifice. (Verses 16-17)



  1. Likewise, the Jewish people participated with God in consuming the sacrifices offered to him by eating some of the meat themselves. (v. 18) (See Leviticus chapter 7).



  1. Although physical idols are not anything of real significance, those who worship them are actually honoring demons without realizing it! (v.19-20. See also Leviticus 17:7 and Deuteronomy 32:17) It would appear that demons are partially responsible for the creation of false religions, and to honor (or treat as real) phony gods honors the work of the demons that helped to conceptualize or inspire them.



  1. God becomes jealous when we worship anything other than him. God is not being petty in his jealousy, like humans. He is perfect and knows that our greatest fulfillment will come from an eternal relationship with him. He objectively knows that he is infinitely more worthy of attention and love than anyone or anything else, because he CREATED everyone and everything else! So both his sense of cosmic justice and boundless love for us are put into play when he becomes “jealous”. (v. 22)



  1. Therefore, worshipping the God of the Bible is not compatible with worshipping any other god of any conflicting religion. (v. 21) God does not tolerate an “all-inclusive” religious view, because it results in neglecting him and our true, eternal purpose. According to the God of the Bible, he is not one of many choices, or one interpretation of the same universal truth. The God of the Bible stands alone and above any other religious or philosophical system. Despite our sinful desire to change his fact, we are not stronger than God. (v.22) We cannot change reality or make him change into what we want.



To sum up the argument, Christians are united through Christ and made separate from other gods. To recognize/honor other gods disrupts the unity we have with God and with other believers. It’s like saying, “God, I love spending time with you, but sometimes I’d rather hang out and talk to my pet rock, instead.” Or even worse, “God, I love you and owe everything to you that I can define as good. But I also really like this person who calls you a liar, hates you, lies to me, hates me and wants me to stay away from you and any hope of ultimate, eternal fulfillment. Do you mind if I spend some time with them too?”


No wonder God wants us to leave bogus gods behind and worship only him! The alternative doesn’t make any sense!


Next Week: “Okay” vs. “Great”


Coffee House Question


Why do you think it is so tempting and popular to view all religions as compatible or “basically the same”?




Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek (Movie Review)

Before reviewing this movie, I should give you a sense of where I'm coming from in relation to the Star Trek franchise.

I began watching Star Trek around the second or third season of "Next Generation" and continued faithfully watching every Star Trek show and movie since, with the exception of "Enterprise". I think that the original Star Trek series and "Next Generation" were groundbreaking and changed the way we make and view science fiction television. I loved these shows and never missed an episode.

Having said that, Star Trek retained a fatal flaw that ironically, given Gene Roddenberry's Darwinian views, the TV franchise never "evolved" beyond. That flaw is summed up in one phrase: "Concept over character".

Although we loved the members of each crew, the real star of most episodes were the "aliens/singularities of the week". Problems were usually solved in a single episode, keeping characters from changing, and most episodes could be watched in any order.

This was great, for a time. I didn't know it could be done any other way. Then, along came a show called "Farscape", followed a few years later by the reinvented "Battlestar Galactica".

Farscape had wild new concepts and aliens every week that made the recycled plots of the Star Trek franchise look tame and sterile by comparison. The Jim Henson creature shop pumped out strange alien week after week, when Star Trek had stuck mostly to putting play-doh on people's faces and calling them aliens. Farscape's characters pulsed with passion and displayed the full spectrum of human emotions so tangibly you could almost smell them.

Battlestar Galactica showed us "military in space", but unlike Star Trek, allowed for unprofessional behavior among the crew. Relationships were constantly strained and lives were messy. There were "sweat stains" on those uniforms.

I look back at Star Trek with nostalgia, but no longer with any real interest. When I saw that first teaser trailer for the new movie, however, my hope was reignited. Maybe this movie would bring powerful characterization and life to the Enterprise bridge! Maybe this would be the Star Trek that the "Enterprise" tv series should have been, but was to afraid to risk itself on?

No "maybes" about it. This movie is what sci-fi fan's like me have been waiting for.

From the very beginning, the film is more action-packed and intense than any of the usual Star Trek episodes. Aliens also look unique and oddly shaped, putting visual effects, animatronics and make-up to wonderful use. Yet despite the explosive action and dazzling effects, this is not simply a summer popcorn flick. Care has been taken to look at the original characters and amplify the traits about them we love, using young yet experienced actors to get the job done right.

Chris Pine gives us a Kirk that actually acts like the renegade we were always supposed to believe Kirk was, but that Shatner never really gave us.

Zachary Quinto presents a Spock much more complex than ever realized by Nimoy, displaying the cold rational Spock we all expect, yet also revealing his inner struggle with his human emotions. His dual heritage was all too easy for me to forget in the original series. Not so in this version.

Karl Urban turns out a very sympathetic performance as Dr. McCoy, providing some of the earthy grounding that space opera often lacks.

Zoe Zaldana's "Uhura" serves a practical purpose in her position on the bridge and a dramatic purpose in relation to other characters that never seemed present before.

Simon Pegg stole every scene he was in, providing us with a genuinely funny, down-to-earth and likeable "Scotty". I only wish he had entered the story earlier than he did!

Although John Cho was not given much to work with in the script, Sulu's fencing background was affirmed and put to very exciting use, making him a welcome "action" presence in an already exciting film.

Anton Yelchin is a more interesting Chekov than we've seen before. He's the likeable underdog of the crew, and the language barrier he faces was acknowledged and used to charming effect. He made me want to put an arm around him and say "It's okay, buddy! You're doing great!"

Finally, Eric Bana was almost unrecognizable as the film's villain. He wasn't over the top "evil". Just insanely disgruntled.

People get angry and stay angry with each other. Roddenberry's utopian future is given a much needed reality check. Even in the future, people are still people and still very flawed. Although this story was by no means a "human drama", nor was it as character-driven as Farscape or "Battlestar", it was a HUGE step forward in both areas for the franchise. This was not a movie about ideas. It was a movie about people and some pretty crazy events they had to deal with.

A few conventions of the franchise are also modified for the better-

Teleporters were strategically "damaged" by the script, allowing for more leaping and death-defying stunts than would otherwise be possible with this oh-so-convenient technology. And in several instances, even the transporters are used in ways that stretch their capabilities, and those of their operators! Nothing is "easy" for these characters.

The steady beams of the old phasers have been replaced with percussive, short energy bursts. The result is that action scenes are more intense, subconsciously reminding us of modern handguns. Hand-held phasers have some kick in their wielder's hands, and ship phasers pummel other ships like massive machine guns. They are still energy weapons, but far from the tranquil, almost quiet phasers of old.

Lastly, ship battles are not lumbering, slow-motion "submarines in space". Both full-size starships and smaller "shuttles" maneuver in exciting ways that feel appropriate for their size, yet far more thrilling than what used to feel like a game of "battleship". (Commander! This time, try E4... Nothing? Okay, let's talk for a moment about our next move while the shields are holding so remarkably well and our enemies are so mercifully slow to kill us all.)

This is far more than a fresh coat of paint. It is Star Trek re-imagined. And while it embraces much that is new, I believe it retains the most important elements of the old.

On to my "Relevance" evaluation. Is there anything in this movie that is likely to result in meaningful conversation afterward?

Thematically, this movie looks at one key issue that is vital for everyone to examine. The role of emotions. Does the movie tackle it successfully? No.

What starts as an interesting setup for discussing the role of emotions finally comes to a stupidly simplistic close as one key character says to another, "Set aside logic. Do what feels right." The character who said this is a fan favorite, and the scene is written as one character passing on wisdom to the younger generation. So this is the voice of the writers, here, saying what they think is the right thing to say in this instance.

I have never in any movie seen this idea so clearly stated, and upon hearing it I couldn't help but mutter a "good grief" that hopefully only my wife heard. (I hate it when people talk during movies, so I feel a little guilty.)

Why do we have to polarize our views of logic and emotion so much? Biblically, there is a place for both, but we so often kill one and uphold the other. Lately, our tendency in America is to kill logic and "follow our hearts".

Unfortunately, our hearts are often wrong, or even tell us to do things that are harmful to ourselves or others. We have conflict all over the world because we are all doing "what feels right" rather than pursuing knowledge of objective truth and virtue, and then emotionally RESPONDING to that truth.

Emotions are wonderful things, but they are a terrible compass for decision making. Use of language requires logic, so logic has to be used to even SAY "do what your heart tells you". Otherwise opiuhas ljiq872 9rhjajlyas. Oops! I stopped incorporating logic into my communication.

On the other hand, logic is vital, yet our lives are meaningless if we are not emotionally invested in anyone or anything.

Back to the movie. What this character SHOULD have said, is: "Our knowledge is finite, therefore our ability to reason has its limits. So choose the path that the most reliable evidence suggests is correct, and then hope for the best."

Logic and reason are used to discern reality and truth. Emotions are meant to be a RESPONSE to what is true.

Not a perfect film, but very well done! Just what this tired franchise needed! And the continuous theme of emotions and their place in our lives couldn't be more relevant. This film provides a great jump off point for some very meaningful conversation!

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 8.5/10

Commentary, Recording and Audio Book


I was very happy to do some more creative work this week.

First, I recorded, mixed and released part one of the "Dark Ritual" Interactive Commentary! I'm still taking questions this month for Disc 1, Track 2 (The Enemy Strikes). If you'd like to be a part of the commentary for this section, e-mail me a question about it or leave me a recorded message by calling 206-350-1226! (Recorded questions will even be included in the commentary!)

Second, I had a second recording session with Krystofer James VanSlyke that was a ton of fun! We will be finishing up his last session next Friday morning.

Lastly, I was able to do more recording for the "Enhanced Audiobook" presentation of "Spirit Blade", the novella. I plan to release it for free at later this year, but they highly recommend that you release a new part of your audiobook every week. Since I can't control my schedule enough to keep that pace consistant, I'm waiting until the entire project is finished, after which I will release a new 20-30 minute chapter every week.

It's been really cool to revisit the source material for the Spirit Blade world. There are some fun subplots and action scenes that I'd forgotten about. Those familiar with the audio dramas will find many familiar elements, but they will also be yanked away from familiarity on a regular basis as this story often follows a significantly different path from the audio dramas. Can't wait for you all to hear it!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The "Dark Ritual" Interactive Commentary Is Here!


New this month on the "Media" page of is the first part of the "Dark Ritual" Interactive Commentary!

I've had alot of fun recording this and have enjoyed getting questions from you all as well! I only had one question to answer in this installment, but keep your ears peeled for more of your questions in future installments!

You can download this first part of the commentary at:


-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 4, 2009

In Searh Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 10:1-13




Baptize- This practice began in Jewish culture to symbolize the conversion of a non-Jew (gentile) into Judaism. It represented a spiritual cleansing, but also a commitment to leave behind previous life patterns to embrace something new. Paul uses this term symbolically in verse 2 of chapter 10, since the Israelites, though not baptized in the literal sense, had committed themselves to a radically new way of life by following Moses and God into the wilderness.




1st Corinthians 10:1-13


Paul has just spent some time discussing why he gives up some of his freedoms and rights in life. In chapter 10, he discusses the importance for all of us to watch how we make use of our freedom, so that it doesn’t cause us or someone around us to disregard the truth.


Although Paul has established that Christians can engage the culture around them without sinning, he wants to stress that the danger of cultural influence is still present. Even though Christians are forgiven before God and the Holy Spirit(God himself!) lives inside of them, they are not invincible in matters of sin and they are not free of sin’s consequences in this life, either.


Paul makes this point in verses 1-4 by comparing the Christians of his day with the Israelites who traveled with Moses. The ancient Israelites experienced God’s presence like no one before or since. God guided them in the form of a cloud.(Exodus 13:21) God separated the waters of a sea for them to travel through.(Exodus 14:22) God miraculously provided both food and water, daily, to this massive group of wanderers.(Exodus, chapters 16 and 17)


Likewise, Christians are guided by God’s word and the Holy Spirit. They are given more than food and water, they are given eternal life! But like the Israelites, Christians can rebel against God. And God is displeased with Christian behavior just like he was made angry by the rebellion on the Israelites.(v. 5)


The fate of the Israelites who rebelled was recorded as an example and warning to those of us who follow Christ today. Our freedom and forgiveness should not fool us into thinking that sin isn’t a big deal. We shouldn’t ignore God’s standards.


Paul covers a few issues, specifically:


First, Paul mentions sexuality here. In our sex-obsessed culture, it’s easy to have a distorted view of what sex is about and for. But God doesn’t want us to develop wrong or unhealthy views of it. It shouldn’t be something we pursue above everything else, and certainly not above our commitment to God. Some ancient Israelite men made this mistake and even worshipped the false gods of their sex partners as a result. (Let’s be honest, guys. Left unchecked, we’ll do just about anything for sex, so this shouldn’t surprise us.) But God had these men put to death. (Numbers 25)


Paul also warned against “testing” or “trying” God. This Greek word implies a refusal to trust God before he has manifested his supernatural power to us. It’s a willful rejection of him because he does not do what we think he should do. When the ancient Israelites took on this attitude, God sent poisonous snakes to them, and many died. (Numbers 21:5-6)


Paul also connects an attitude of grumbling and complaining to the death of many ancient Israelites!


This may seem a little extreme, but what we need to remember is that God is Holy. He is perfect and good on a level we can’t fathom. And his perfect sense of justice has no tolerance for sin of any kind, in any amount. This is an awesome thing, because it means that eternity with God means eternity without ANYTHING that is less than perfect! He doesn’t tolerate it, and so no one spending eternity with God will need to worry about having imperfection around!


And thankfully, in line with his perfect sense of justice, we can have complete and just forgiveness for our sins through the immeasurable worth of Christ’s sacrificed life. Those who trust in Jesus for their forgiveness and eternal life, will not only be forgiven, but ultimately, stripped of all sinful tendency, so that we can spend forever with a perfect and perfectly just God.


Before that happens, however, we have this life to live. And in this life, God holds us accountable and brings about consequences for our actions. This is what Paul is trying to save us and those around us from. The pain and consequences that come with sin.


Because God favors us in ways we don’t deserve, we may not have to worry about suffering immediate death as a result of our sins. But the consequences are often just as concrete and even more far reaching, as our life choices effect not just us, but those around us, potentially leading many away from the truth. And a disregard for truth is possibly the most harmful sin in existence. (Remember 2nd Thessalonians 2:10?)


We’re living in a time in which “the fulfillment of ages has come”. (v. 11) Today, because of Jesus’ sacrificed life, the followers of God have access to him like never before. But this can make us lazy and overconfident as well. “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (v.12)


The good news here is that God is present in the lives of Christians. We will never experience a temptation that God is not ready and able to deliver us from. But we have to have the willingness to ask for his help and really want a way out of the sin we’re facing.(v.13)


Next Week: Living In A Broken World Without Getting Broken


Coffee House Question


In what areas of life are you “standing firm”? In what ways can you continue to grow in those same areas?

Friday, May 1, 2009

X-men Origins: Wolverine (Movie Review)

Although I'm a big comic book fan, I'm not a mainstream Marvel fan. I pick up enough through cultural osmosis to know all the vital info, and I follow Wolverine's exploits in the Ultimate Marvel universe, so I'm no stranger to the character. But I didn't have a lot invested in this movie when I came into the theater. Mainly, I just wanted a better movie than X-men 3.

I couldn't have been much happier.

From the first scene, I immediately got the sense that this would not just be an action flick, but a movie with action driven by character. The film pulls from the comic book origins of Wolverine, though certainly makes modifications, to tell a highly entertaining story. We get a deeper look at Logan than we have on screen before, and the movie, while incorporating other mutants of X-men lore, isn't cluttered up with mutant cameos as X-men 3 was. Characters like Blob and Gambit, while not crucial to the story, were at least given functions that advanced the plot.

On that subject, the plot is not complicated, but that's not why you watch this sort of movie. Logan has an objective and he meets people and overcomes challenges to meet that objective. There are a few action beats that are unexpected and very fun to watch. Logan cuts loose with his powers like we've never seen before.

The acting is enjoyable by all and it's a special treat to have Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in the first part of the film. There are no Oscar moments here, but everyone appropriately invests in their characters and makes good use of what the script gives them.

The directing is done well, especially in action scenes, where good use of slow motion gives us the chance to appreciate some of the crazy mutant madness. Visual effects are solid, for the most part, although in one scene Gambit has some awkward looking wire-work, and in more than one spot, Logan's claws are identifiably computer generated. Yet considering the number of effects shots, this can be overlooked with very little eye-rolling.

Fans will notice that Deadpool in particular is adapted rather unfaithfully in several regards. Mainly his powers and costume. Though even amidst changes there are nods to the source material on both counts and his trademark humor is intact. There are rumors of a Deadpool spin-off, which would be VERY interesting to see done after watching this flick. You tell me if you think it will happen.

The movie ends with some degree of satisfaction, though it obviously leads into the first X-men movie, so you don't have the level of resolution that you would normally have in a film of this genre that has no sequels planned. You know certain people won't die, so only so much can happen, as massive as the action-packed ending is.

There is also a thread left hanging that I'm curious about. This is no spoiler, but my understanding is that Logan's brother becomes the mutant villain Sabretooth, who appeared in X-men, played by another actor. In the X-men flick, he's got completely black eyes, a lot more hair, and doesn't say anything. He's a silent brute. The Wolverine flick fails to explain how we transition from one character version of Sabretooth to the other.

You will definitely want to stay around for at least TWO post-credits bonus scenes. The first is nothing special and the second was cut short in my theater before it finished playing. (It felt too short and so I checked online when I got home. Yup. I missed something pretty awesome! But don't spoil it for yourself. Go see this movie!)

As for Relevance, there's not a lot, but one theme that comes up more than once is that of human nature. Okay, okay, MUTANT nature. But it still applies. Logan is fighting his genetic tendency to behave like an animal. He is constantly being prodded to be an animal by his brother, and Logan tries to avoid it. This mirrors our tendency for sin, as humans. We are born with a sin nature and we live with an internal struggle to go against our evil tendencies. The "animal" side of Logan isn't a perfect metaphor for sin, because he rightly says at one point that he should have followed his instincts. (He was deceived at one point in the film for not trusting his instincts.) This feels a bit like the tired "follow your heart" mantra we hear so much from Hollywood. Still, it may lead to good discussion. Our heart, or our "instincts", do not ALWAYS lead us in the wrong direction. Sometimes, our heart is right. But that doesn't mean we can TRUST our hearts. We need a consistent, objective source of truth to help us determine when our heart is desiring the right things.

At the end of the day, this is a movie that should not be missed by fans of cool action flicks and should be watched as soon as possible by fans of the genre.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 7.0/10

A Week Of Recording


Although my days this week have been filled with all the things you HAVE to do to run a small business and few of the things you LOVE to do, I've also had three great recording sessions this week.

It's great to have three actors finished already and nearly all other actors on the recording schedule! My goal is to be mixing full-time starting the first of June and that looks to be more than possible.

I'm finally all done catching up at this point and ready to make time for a few creative endeavors. Hopefully I'll have more to say on what those are next week!

-Paeter Frandsen