Thursday, December 20, 2012

Captain Marvel and Superhero Movie Reviews

Ben Avery shares his thought clouds on Captain Marvel, Travis talks about Superhero Movie and Paeter takes a look at The Incarnation.

Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:


visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!
(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Holiday Break

Beginning tomorrow I will be away from my office until Wednesday, January 9th, at which time I'll begin reading/answering e-mails again and processing any physical product orders. (Digital product orders will be processed automatically as usual in the meantime.)

I'm still putting out the podcast this weekend (as early as today or tomorrow if I can manage it), but I'll be off-grid otherwise. Also, my plan is for the podcast to return on the weekend of January 11th.

I do sometimes still pop in to the forums briefly once or twice while on vacation, so you may still see me there. But if not, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebration with friends, family and hopefully a few geeks among them! It's been great to spend the year with you and I look forward to what 2013 holds, whatever it may be!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Search Of Truth, The HOLIday Season, Part 2- Christmas

In the last few months we've been looking at some Old Testament passages that lay the groundwork for an examination of the sacrificial system, which God put in place in order to maintain a relationship with humans that was also just. (In some ways similar to how we visit convicted criminals in prison that we care about, but still do not allow them to live free of consequences for their actions.)

God loves each person far more than any other love we will ever know. But at the same time his perfect sense of justice will not allow evil to run unchecked in the universe or in his presence.

Thankfully, God is willing to delay justice, instead of carrying it out immediately. (If he didn't do this, there wouldn't be a single living person left on the planet!) Although he has every right to eliminate evil instantaneously, he delays carrying out justice to give everyone a chance to turn to him for forgiveness. It is this very character trait that made what we call "The Incarnation" possible.

Fair warning, we're about to get into some theological brain-bending, where metaphors are required but are also limited in their descriptive power. I'll do my best to walk us through the topic at hand, but if you think of better descriptive language, or something occurs to you that I may have not considered, always feel free to bring it up.

The Incarnation is God taking on all human attributes except those involving sin, adding them to himself in some way. God didn't change from God into man, because God does not change. (James 1:17) He didn't subtract any of himself, grow or evolve.

God has always been three persons, identifying those persons to us as "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". The Incarnation didn't create this status. However The Incarnation does directly involve one of these three, The Son.

The Son took humanity onto himself. I'm trying to avoid saying that he "became" human, because to "become" implies change. And The Son didn't change when he took on the name and essence of Jesus. But something monumental and permanent happened here that we don't often think about.

Usually, when we take a moment to soberly reflect on the significance of Christmas, our minds fast-forward from the manger to the cross. This adorable, precious baby we sing about would grow up and suffer unimaginably for his love for us.

But consider that what Jesus did, this change he experienced (not to his being, but to his status quo), was eternal. When Jesus rose from the dead, he did so physically. In his resurrection appearances he had a body that others could see and touch. He walked on the ground and ate real food. (Luke 24:38-43) His body was "glorified", in its ultimate state, but still physical.

This is huge because God is spirit. (John 4:24) A non-physical being. (Luke 24:39) A non-linear being unlimited by time or any other dimensions. So unfathomably different and "other" that we have to just give up trying to describe him and use the word "Holy" to imply all those things about him we're unable to put into words with our limited minds.

We tend, in an effort to relate to God better, to make him too much like us in our minds. But despite his intimate love for us, he is unimaginably different from us.

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. "

Stretching back into eternity he had always been this way. But in The Incarnation, God entered into creation on a deeper level than ever before, and linked himself with it...forever. The body of Jesus will never perish or be destroyed. Think about that.

We're all familiar with John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life." But how often do we reflect on the fact that God didn't just give his son up for humanity for 30+ years. He invested his son in humanity...for eternity.

Humans are not a little project that God, in some distant age, will grow tired of before he moves on to something else. God is all in. He is invested in us, connected to us, forever.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review (SBU Podcast)

A review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Paeter's thoughts on the latest Superman and Star Trek Trailers and a look at the first year of the Wonder Woman monthly comic book since DC Comics rebooted their universe in September 2011. Plus, a look at Hanukkah and its potential relevance to Christians in part one of a two part look at December's Holidays and their connection to the Holiness of God.


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Movie Review)

I should start by saying that I'm not a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's books. That's not to say I think they are bad books, but the writing style is too dry and formal for my tastes. I read The Hobbit in Junior High for a reading class I was in, and re-enacted Bilbo's slaying of the giant spider in my book report presentation to the class. But I soon moved on to Terry Brooks, then later Terry Goodkind and Brent Weeks, and have never been able to force feed The Lord Of The Rings books to myself. Today I remember more about presenting that book report than I do about the book itself.

That said, I'm a huge fan of the fantasy genre, which owes much of its existence to Tolkien. I also loved the Peter Jackson Lord Of The Rings movies. So when I heard that he would be back in the saddle to direct a movie based on The Hobbit, I was more than interested.

Of course then came the news that his film version of The Hobbit would be split into two movies, which smelled a bit like a money grab from the studio, but ah well. Should have expected as much. However not much later it was announced that The Hobbit would not be two movies, but three. And though I heard that Jackson and company would pull from other Tolkien Middle Earth material to fill things out, I couldn't help but sigh and lower my expecations. It sounded like studio execs were hoping to relive the glory days of the Rings trilogy box office sales, rather than create one really great movie that would perform well for them.

Trailers looked just as great as the previous Lord Of The Rings films, but I went into the theater wondering if story points and action would just be too spread out to amount to an experience of the same calibre as Jackson's previous Tolkien films. How much would this movie rely on our love of what has come before and how much would it stand on its own merits?

From the very start it's clear that this is a different story from Lord Of The Rings with a very different feel. From the opening music to the last moments, this is not a "quest" movie as much as it is an "adventure" movie. The visual design, the score, the script, the characters, all have a much lighter feel to them when compared to the largely serious tone of the Lord of The Rings, even though you still see limbs being chopped off now and then to earn that PG-13.

Much of this shift in tone is because of the underlying motivation for the quest. This movie is not about saving the world or defending against a coming evil. It's about seeing and experiencing the world and reclaiming something that, although wonderful and good, is not vital to anyone's survival. The stakes are much lower and we all know Bilbo will survive the tale. There are also numerous action sequences that are extremely improbable, even in Middle Earth. Much of the film feels more like a funhouse ride than a quest that actually puts anyone in danger.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit scooped up into a quest by Gandalf the wizard, who is traveling with 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim their homeland. Although by the end of the film his motives become a little deeper, Bilbo initially joins this quest purely out of a spirit of adventure.

The displaced Dwarven prince leading the expedition has a much deeper motivation, and I think the story would have been strengthened by making his story more central, perhaps even making him the lead character. Of course then we'd have to call the m ovie "The Dwarven Prince", but honestly I think that has a better ring to it and would have made a more compelling central story. (Yes, yes, Tolkien fans. You may now scream "blasphemy" in response to my ignorance and disrespect.)

The narrative as a whole also has a slight "anthology of Middle Earth stories" feel to it, as flashbacks are dipped into a little more often than you'd expect. At one point the story even awkwardly shifted to focus on another character in another place, whom I thought might have nothing to do with the main story until he eventually joined the main characters later on.

The camera work is as superb as ever and the performances, though serving a lighter story, are all high caliber. I'm a little dissapointed that the effects don't look any better considering how many years have passed since Return Of The King was in theaters. Orcs and Goblins were also mostly CG creations instead of using make-up, even in close-ups. A choice I'm confused and let down by. Peter Jackson didn't seem to be putting quite as much effort into this film (though it's hard to blame him as he put his health at risk at times whole working on The Lord Of The Rings).

Even so, this is a very good movie that fantasy fans will probably enjoy more than most fantasy films released since Return Of The King.

There are a few relevant moral themes in the film, but they don't stand out too strongly. One I notices was that of courage, and the idea that sometimes courage is about NOT killing your enemy, but letting them live. The principle remains true in less dramatic circumstances as well. Sometimes it takes more courage and strength of character to walk away from verbal fisticuffs than it does to pummel someone in a heated exchange.

Selflessness also comes into play near the end of the film, as Bilbo's motivation shifts from wanting to have an adventure to wanting to help the dwarves have a place to call home again.

While you shouldn't let your love of Lord Of The Rings force you into seeing this movie in theaters, if you're a fan of the genre you definitely ought to see it sometime.

Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 6.5/10

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New 52: Wonder Woman - One Year Later

Review by Comikate

This is a review one of DC’s New 52 comics that I don’t hear very much about – because it’s a pity if you don’t try it out just because you’ve never heard people talk about it. Fair warning though, my review contains some mild spoilers, since its main point is to encourage you to start reading it from issue 13 – that is why I will summarize the main story of the first twelve issues for you so that you don’t have to buy and read them all yourself. I will then share some likes and dislikes, tell you whether you should buy, borrow or ignore this comic, and finally, give you my quality and relevance scores.

Wonder Woman has a certain nostalgic meaning to me: when I was seven years old I lived in the US for about eight months because my parents had to be there because of my father’s job. It was 1978, and Wonder Woman was one of the popular tv series of the time, with Lynda Carter playing the role of Wonder Woman. While we may not have heard very much about Lynda’s career lately, she has recently done some voice acting for several parts of the popular game series The Elder Scrolls, with Skyrim as their most recent hit.

Being from the Netherlands I didn’t know Wonder Woman at all – we didn’t have any superhero tv series in the Netherlands back then. Nor now, for that matter. But from the moment I saw her on tv in our family apartment in El Paso, Texas, she touched something in my very soul: the part that wants to be both a princess, and a warrior and a superheroine!

I think that these precious childhood memories have stopped me from reading Wonder Woman as a comic up until very recently. On the one hand because I couldn’t imagine how a Wonder Woman comic could be a great read – I mean, she was like Superman in that she was invincible and practically invulnerable, which – frankly - sounded rather dull. And on the other hand I really didn’t want to spoil the nostalgia of that old tv series from my early childhood by reading a comics version of her that was no doubt way more modern.

However, since I’ve started a series on the first year of New 52 comics on my blog Gadgets and Geekery (which, I’m sorry to say for all American and English readers, is in Dutch) I felt I couldn’t leave out one of the DC Trinity, you know, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. So, with some apprehension I decided to read the entire first year of the New 52 Wonder Woman after all, issues 1-12.

And lo and behold, this series managed to very pleasantly surprise me. The first twelve issues of this series consists of one big story arc, has a very interesting story concept and its artwork, though taking a little getting used to, is frankly nothing less than very beautiful. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s truly written very well – something I find can really not be said about every comic.


We meet Wonder Woman as Diana, princess of Paradise Island, an island populated only by women. These women still live like in Roman times – though not very ladylike: instead they are amazones, female warriors that train for battle like gladiators.

Their queen is Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother. Or rather, adoptive mother for legend has it that Hippolyta was barren and one day formed a baby out of clay. She then prayed to the Greek gods, fell asleep and woke up to find her clay baby transformed into a little baby girl, who she called Diana and raised as her daughter.

Despite all of the amazones, the story does take place in our own time. Wonder Woman takes on the task of protecting a young woman, called Zola, who is pregnant by Zeus, the supreme god of the Greek pantheon. This is why Zeus’s jealous wife Hera threatens to kill Zola and sends supernatural assassins to hunt the girl down.

Wonder Woman and Zola are assisted by messenger god Hermes and find an extra enemy in the goddess Strife, daughter of Zeus and Hera, and sister to the god of war, Ares.

Zeus himself remains mysteriously absent during the entire run of the first twelve issues, with no-one knowing where he is. His absence kindles ambitions in several of his divine children and it doesn’t take long for gods Apollo and Artemis to hunt for Zola. They intend to deliver her and her unborn child to Hera. This way Apollo intends to buy Hera’s allegiance, his ultimate goal being his father Zeus’s throne.

When Wonder Woman strikes a deal with Zeus’s brothers Poseidon and Hades, the deal goes south and it takes everything she’s got to not only keep pregnant Zola alive but also to simply survive herself.

And as if she hasn’t got enough on her mind already, Wonder Woman also has to deal with the discovery that the legend surrounding her own origin is not exactly true – and turns out to be quite a bit less romantic than she thought.


I’ve always loved Greek mythology ever since I was about 13 years old, so I was not exactly thrilled when I found out that this comic sported all kinds of Greek gods, fearing the writer would concoct a story that would not be consistent with Greek mythology. However, the original way in which writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang modernize the Greek pantheon enough to transport it to our modern day society is actually quite believable – after you suspend your disbelief of course. In fact, they manage to pull this off so greatly that they really won me over to this comic!

Almost every god in the story has characteristics of both ancient mythological times and our modern day era. For instance, Apollo’s black metallic skin makes him look truly as a being not from this world, while at the same time he wears high fashion 3-piece suits. Hades, while still being king of the ancient underworld, looks like he’s been designed by a painter of the modern arts, and Hermes, while looking like some kind of bird-human hybrid wears very hip outfits that would almost let him blend in with young adults. Almost. Best of all, Eros, the god of love we also know as Cupid, still shoots at people’s hearts to make them fall in love, only this time he doesn’t use his famous bow and arrow, but a couple of slick guns that have the same effect.

Is it a bird, is it a plane…?! No, it’s…… Hermes…?

I really recommend Artist Chiang for the way he draws the goddess Strife, who looks particularly cool with her shaved head, heavy make-up and fashionable mini-dress – I don’t know whether it’s punk or high fashion, but it’s an original nowadays rendering of what’s supposed to be an ancient goddess.

Of course Wonder Woman herself shows that same combination of ancient and modern times: when “on the job” she looks the amazon we know and love, sometimes even carrying a sword and shield, but in her spare time she dresses like any modern day woman and lives in an apartment in 21st century London.

But enough about the gods. Like I said before, the story is well-written and often reminded me of tv series that I like to watch. An example of this would be the dialogues between the several rivalling gods, full of layers and hidden agendas, which could be taken from scripts of series like Boss (which is an awesome series btw).

Hera and her rebellious daughter cross verbal swords

Another instance is the way in which Hera transforms ordinary farm horses into aggressive centaurs – this definitely contains horror elements and seems straight from a particularly bloody episode of the X-files or something.

Thirdly, I really got to like the artwork although it took me a little while to get used to Chiang’s somewhat stylized way of drawing the human form. His cityscapes are gorgeous and together with colorist Matthew Wilson he succeeds in adding specific atmospheres that contribute to the storylines in the comic.

Furthermore, I liked the subtle humor in the story, like the way in which one of Wonder Woman’s brothers in arms consistently tries to light a cigaret by holding them against gods that either contain or work with fire. It may sound a bit strange when I describe it, but the humor is in the art itself.

And last but not least, I appreciated the fact that gods in the comic are not immediately mentioned by name, so that readers have a couple of panels to figure out for themselves which god this is. For instance, when a certain god says “I’m the sun of a king” this is clearly a hint for the reader – for it is only the reader who can see that he is referring to the sun as in “star”, instead of son as in “male child”, thereby enabling the reader to figure out that this is in fact the god of the sun, Apollo – who is of course also the son of Zeus, the king of the gods. Oh well, perhaps most of you are bored to tears by these things, but to mythology geeks like me these kinds of hints are totally awesome.


Frankly, I couldn’t really find many negative things to say about this comic – and not for lack of trying. I only have two real criticisms.

To begin with, like in most other New 52’s there was a change in the artwork team somewhere along the way, for a couple of issues. I can not get used to this, however much I may understand deadlines and that artists need their time off as well, etc. I always immediately notice, probably because they always seem to choose fill-in artists that have totally different styles from the original artist. I cannot begin to understand why they don’t even try to find someone who does a serious attempt at keeping the artwork at least somewhat consistent. Fortunately it only lasted for a couple of issues and I sighed with relief when Chiang returned.

And secondly, on a related note, Chiang’s coverart does not do much for me. His human forms are even more stylized and the backgrounds are either boring or ugly. And I really dislike the color schemes. So no, hating the cover art. Of course other opinions are available (although they would be wrong).

So, should you Buy/Borrow/Ignore this comic?

This is a definite buy! Yes, it is, just try it.


I give Wonder Woman’s first year a quality score of 8/10 and a relevance score of 7/10 – since all this mythology should have some potential to lead to meaningful conversation, for instance about the existence of gods in this day and age – and their true nature.

So, please let me know what you think, and if you’re going to try out the New 52 Wonder Woman!

Katja from the Netherlands, ComiKate on the Spirit Blade forum

Monday, December 10, 2012

In Search Of Truth, The HOLIday Season, Part 1- Hanukkah

Hanukkah began on Sunday, and though I don't know any Christians who celebrate it, there still may be something of value in it's history that Christians can remember and celebrate in a way that honors Yahweh.

Hanukkah, or "The Festival Of Lights", finds its origins during the reign of Antiochus IV around 160 BC, when his forces occupied the Temple and desecrated it. When the Jews reclaimed the temple, they found only enough oil remaining to keep the menorah lit for one day, although it was supposed to remain lit at all times. This was a huge problem.

The menorah was a lampstand for seven candles that God instructed Moses to make for use in the tabernacle and temple. It was kept in the same room as the ark, where God met with his priests. (Exodus 25:31)

We'll take a closer look at the menorah and this special place in the temple when we look at Exodus in the coming months. But at the very least we can say that the menorah was a vital component in ancient Israel's connection with God. It facilitated worship of God and relationship between God and his people.

As the story goes, the Jews that reclaimed the temple only had enough oil to keep the Menorah lit for one day. However, the menorah miraculously remained lit for eight days.

Do I believe this story is true? I'm undecided. And it's still not clear whether or not Jesus celebrated The Festival Of Lights. (References to him possibly doing so are very vague, and it was not a day that scripture required the Jews to observe.) But it sounds like Yahweh to me.

God is holy. In other words, he is perfect, and totally different from us. He is so indescribable, so... "other"...that the only rational response is fascination and obsession with him, or as the Bible calls it, "worship". And this is what we were made for.

Unfortunately, we made the choice to separate ourselves from God and his will. Ever since then, in order to connect with God and know him more, God has had to "stoop down" as it were, and help us out. The Bible shows us repeatedly that, although we were made to be in God's presence, we fall incredibly short of that amazing role. As a result, God instituted the sacrificial system, which culminated in the sacrifice of Jesus. He knows we can't properly meet his standards on our own, so he does the work for us.

This is what we see happening in the story of The Festival Of Lights. The Jews had reclaimed the temple, wanted to worship God in the way he instructed... but were unable because there was not enough lamp oil.

It makes perfect sense to me that God saw the sincere desire of their hearts and took care of the rest himself. God doesn't need or want the various sacrifices and rituals he designed in and of themselves. They are merely tools and illustrations to help us understand who he is and who we are. What he really wants is our hearts. (Hosea 6:6)

Next time we'll take a look at God's BIGGEST example of "stooping down" for us, as we take a look at Christmas in light of God's Holiness.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rift Jump Review and Geek Games For Families (SBU Podcast)

Our review of Greg Mitchell's "Rift Jump" and Geek Games even your non-geek families will play with you this Christmas!


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Geek Games Your Family Will Play This Christmas

For many, a big part of the Christmas season is spending time with extended family. Family gatherings with food and games are fairly common, but these aren't exactly the best opportunities to get your geek on. Most non-geek adults don't enjoy playing games with complex rules, preferring light "party games" instead. And there are also kids to think about, as large family gatherings tend to be littered with them and you may be called upon to help keep them busy.

Is there any hope for geeking out in times like these? I can think of at least two games to help get you started.

The first is "Ultimate Werewolf", a conversation-based party game that plays anywhere from 5-68 people. (Yep, 68!) One person serves as the moderator and a kind of storyteller. (This should be you the first game or two with family.) The moderator gives each other player a card which they keep secret from all other players. Each card contains a "role" on it. (Though you can assure your more mundane relations that this is not a "role-playing game".) The game includes a wide variety of roles, but the most common are Villagers, Werewolves and Seers.

The game plays in day and night cycles. At night the moderator tells all players to close their eyes. He then tells all werewolves to open their eyes and select a victim through silent communication with each other. All werewolves then close their eyes and the moderator tells the Seer to open their eyes and point to a player. The moderator then silently indicates whether or not the player pointed to is a werewolf, and the Seer closes their eyes again.

During the day cycle, the moderator tells all players to open their eyes and informs them which players has been killed by a werewolf. The killed player is removed from the game and must remain silent but may now keep their eyes open at all times. (I hate player elimination, but this game is just as much fun to watch as it is to play!)

All players now nominate and vote on one or more players to execute (removing them from the game) in hopes of killing all werewolves. (At least those who are really just Villagers hope for this!) This is the meat of the game as players passionately accuse each other or defend themselves until the final vote is called for.

When a player is killed (by werewolf or execution) they reveal their role card at last and "I knew its" and "I told you sos" are exchanged as the game moves forward.

The werewolves win if they are ever equal in number to the remaining Villagers. The Villagers win when the last werewolf is executed.

Now, if your extended family is like mine, getting them to play a new game called "Werewolf" might be a hard sell. Especially if they have a sensitvity to supernatural fiction. The good news is that Ultimate Werewolf can easily be re-themed and re-titled. (In October I ran a version of the game with my adult Sunday school class that I based on John Carpenter's The Thing. They loved it!) You may also be familiar with the game "Mafia" on which Ultimate Werewolf is based, and which simply uses a normal deck of playing cards to assign roles to players.

"Ultimate Werewolf" comes with a wide variety of roles that endlessly spice up the game and alter winning conditions. (For example, the "Tanner" hates his job and life so much that if he is executed, he wins the game! And the "Ghost" is a villager who sits out the whole game with their eyes open, but gives a one letter clue to the villagers each day cycle.) The cards also come with point values to easily self-balance the game no matter what combo of roles you use, and great thematic art to get everyone in the mood.

But you can just as easily play the basic game using the rules for Mafia found on its Wikipedia page.
Just create a variant theme that will work for your group (such as silly B-movie "pod people" or "secret agents") and you're good to go!

If you're stuck playing with the kiddies and would rather claw your eyes out than play Uno one more time, give "Dungeon" a try. This game is only $20 brand new. While the components aren't made of the best materials, the art is great and surprisingly not "kiddie-looking" or cartoony, despite the game's 8+ age recommendation.

My son just turned five, and with just a little help with math now and then he is able to play the game just fine (four games and I still haven't beaten him!) and begs to play it every week.

In Dungeon, each player takes on the role of a Fighter, Rogue, Cleric or Wizard, moving their piece through dungeon rooms, defeating monsters and gaining treasure. The first to get to the exit with their allotted requirement of treasure wins. (A Co-op variant is also included.) The roles each have different strengths and weaknesses against the numerous monster types in the game. Although there is some strategy involved, there is plenty of luck too.

This game can also serve as a simple introduction to the serious fantasy genre for those afraid of complex rules or "concerned" about games like "Dungeons and Dragons". Inviting parents to try playing this game with their interested kids may open some wonderful doors for worthwhile conversation about the fantasy genre in general.

While the game is very simple, it's inexpensive, comes in a portable thin box, and passes a babysitting geek's time far more enjoyably than most of those boring kids games you can find at Walmart.

So have no fear! This year you can make plans with family and bring your inner geek along too!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Genesis 4:1-7

For years this passage puzzled me. What was wrong with Cain's offering? Why were Cain and Abel even bringing offerings, since the "official" sacrificial system isn't mentioned until the time of Moses?

Not all of my questions about this passage have been answered, but I've gained much better understanding since the first time I scratched my head over it.

First off, the difference between Cain's and Abel's offerings has nothing to do with the materials themselves. Both animals and produce would later be a part of the sacrificial system. And although blood sacrifices would eventually be required to deal with sin, this offering is not about sin, but gratitude and love.

And given the separation that now existed between humans and God because of sin, it makes sense that some kind of regular but limited "meeting time" would take place during which God and humans could still connect, but in an appropriately "distanced" manner given humanity's general rejection of God.

The Hebrew word used here for "offering" contains the idea of a "donation", or a voluntary gift. We don't know whether this was the first time Cain and Abel brought gifts to God, or if this was a pattern they had developed. But each brought something they had produced to give to God.

Why would anyone do this? God doesn't need to eat. And if he did, he could make food for himself. (Psalm 50:9-13) I think the answer is love.

When we love someone, we give to them. We give them time, money, or effort. And the gift costs us something. (We have less time, money or energy for other things.) We are wired to love and be loved. And although God doesn't need our love or anything else from us, we are meant to love him and he enjoys it when we love him. This is why God had "no regard" for Cain's offering. Cain's offering lacked genuine love for God.

How do we know this? What was the difference? Look closely at the description of their offerings. Cain's gift consisted of "the fruit if the ground". Pretty vague and generic sounding. Abel's gift is a little more specific. He brought "the firtsborn of his flock". Abel brought the very first "profit" he achieved in his work and gave it to God.

That's a scary thing to do sometimes! We prioritize our time and money to take care of ourselves and our families. We don't know what tomorrow holds, so we take what we can for ourselves right now. But Abel gave his first profits to God, apparently trusting that more profits would come and his needs would be met. He believed he could afford to give the first or the best to God and still be just fine.

Although we don't know that Cain necessarily brought the rotting leftovers of his crop, he certainly has more of a sulking attitude of entitlement here than one of trust and gratitude.

The writer of Hebrews confirms the "trust" factor in this story by singling out Abel's gift as one motivated and carried out "by faith". (Hebrews 11:4)

As we eventually move into looking at the formalized sacrificial system, this "faith" idea is foundational and important to remember. Sacrifices are about trusting and loving God. And when that trust and love is not present, when we give to God by just going through the motions or from a sense of reluctant obligation, we're missing what "sacrificing" to God is about.

Our "sacrifice" can become empty routine motivated by pride or guilt. But God designed us for a relationship with him based on love, gratitude and trust.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Arrow and Swords Of The Six Review (SBU Podcast)

Christian fantasy author Scott Appleton was kind enough to give us a review copy of his novel "Swords Of The Six" and we'll be sharing that review today. Then a few perspectives on the TV show "Arrow", and a look at what's on Paeter's mind now that he's crossed over to the dark side and finally bought a smart phone.

Plus, a continued look at the consequences of The Fall that we live with every day, and a big announcement about a new site Spirit Blade Productions will be launching in early 2013!


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Christian Geek Central!

I wanted to let you all in on something that's been bubbling and brewing for a few months now that I'm very excited about and hope you will be, too!

As I mentioned last month, in early 2013 I plan to launch a new website called "Christian Geek Central". I've already secured the domain name but I've been keeping the details under the radar until now.

Christian Geek Central will not be replacing Spirit Blade Productions but will rather be a product of Spirit Blade Productions. One YOU are invited to help me develop!

My goal for Christian Geek Central (or as I've already started calling it, "CGC") is that it will serve as the central hub and gateway for the best "Christian Geek" content that can be found on the web. It will aim to be both a portal to other sites and a producer of content and community that will interest Christian geeks of all kinds.

The idea for Christian Geek Central came out of brainstorming and discussions with my web designer about the new Spirit Blade Productions website (which is still in development with the aim of launching in the first half of 2013). Some great ideas came out of those conversations, but we soon realized we were talking about a new website that would be distinct from the Spirit Blade Productions website. And since the initial content for Christian Geek Central will determine some choices we make for the redesign of the Spirit Blade Productions site, it makes sense to get Christian Geek Central going first.

Christian Geek Central will first launch "unofficially" in early 2013 (I'm anticipating January or February), at which time I will only be telling the existing Spirit Blade Underground community (that's you!) about it. At first, it will be a very simple site, possibly based on the blogger platform, or something similar that will be easy-peasy for me to manipulate. (I'm open to suggestions!) From there, work will continue on the Spirit Blade Productions website as we build content and community for Christian Geek Central. (Speaking of which, if you'd like to recommend a site for inclusion, send me an e-mail with the URL!)

Once CGC has a good amount of content and the kind of community activity supporting it that I'd like to have in place, we'll probably do a complete site redesign for Christian Geek Central and officially launch CGC to the rest of the world!

For those wondering how CGC will impact the production schedule of Spirit Blade 3, have no fear. December is a very busy month, during which it's almost impossible to schedule actors to audition or record. So with the exception of some initial development on the songs for SB3, December was going to be a low productivity month for SB3 anyway. So instead I'll be giving most of my available time in December to exploring the web and collecting potential content links for CGC, including websites, blogs, podcasts and communities.

Speaking of which, community is something that I want to make a big part of Christian Geek Central. I'm currently brainstorming ways to help that happen, so I'm open to ideas and suggestions. I'd love to somehow take the wonderful community we've developed on the Spirit Blade Underground forums and share that experience with those Christian geeks who may have not discovered the SBU yet because of its strong ties to Spirit Blade Productions. (Not everyone is cool enough to be interested in audio drama and podcasts.)

I'm hoping to connect with a few other people to gain some counsel on the subject. In the meantime, I'd value a slice of your prayer time as I work to discern what God may want to do with this idea and how he would want me to do it.

I'll be sure to give you more details as they come. If you have any questions, ask away! I'd love to hear what you're thinking or wondering!

Thanks for your support!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Song Download!

The Christmas season is here again, and that means it's time for me to put my rendition of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" up on our website again for free download!

I've loved this classic carol for years. In 2006 I decided to try my hand at re-interpreting it as a dark electronic piece that brings the words into today's world and acknowledges the years of violence and conflict that have plagued Israel.

I hope you enjoy listening to it, and also take a moment to pray for peace in Israel, and that Jesus would come quickly to end the violence and conflict that defines so much of our world.

You can download the song from now through the end of December on our Free Stuff page.

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Genesis 3:19-24


Death is probably the most significant consequence of sin. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree Of Life, which would apparently sustain them so fully that their bodies would live forever. But God says in verse 19 that Adam's body is destined to perish and be absorbed into the earth again.


"Eve" comes from the Hebrew root for "life". Adam naming his wife isn't a random insertion into the story. It seems as though Adam suddenly understands the significance of his own mortality and recognizes the treasured and vital role that his wife will play in the survival of the human race.


Even in the midst of passing judgment, God extends undeserved favor to Adam and Eve by providing them with more durable and protective coverings than the leaf-based clothing they made for themselves.


Before sinning, Adam and Eve had no concept of "good" and "evil". The only thing they knew was God and who he revealed himself to be. They didn't need a concept like "good" to differentiate something from evil, because they had no knowledge of evil. But now they had knowledge of both.

They discovered that there is a "non-God" option. And though God, being God and perfectly consistent with himself, never chooses the "non-God" options, humans do. And every time we choose these "non-God" options in life, we destroy a little of ourselves or someone else.

God is a perfect, just and loving God. Though he wouldn't be if he allowed selfish, hurtful people to harm themselves and each other without restriction. And if God had allowed Adam and Eve to live forever, the world we would live in would be crammed with immortal beings who hurt each other and themselves with exponentially growing intensity for all of eternity.

So ironically, because God is perfect, just and loving, he took immortality away from sinful humanity. However, the invitation is extended to every person to return to God, surrendering themselves to him so that he can rid us of our sin problem and make us compatible with immortality again.

We long for this kind of existence. It's why there are so many fantasy concepts centered on longevity or immortality. Elves, vampires and Duncan McLeods are all expressions of our desire to live forever.

Of course many of these same concepts showcase why it is NOT good for us to live forever. We are broken. In our current state, living forever would be emotionally devastating, exhausting or even horrifying. Immortality only works when those possessing it are completely without selfishness and sin, and are completely fulfilled by a relationship with the infinite God of the universe.

The Tree Of Life is waiting for those who admit their sin problem to Jesus and rely on him to fix their broken and sinful nature. (Revelation 2:7, 22:14) And the life we share with Jesus in eternity will be more amazing than any story we've ever read, seen or imagined.

Next Time- What the first "offering" tells us about humanity and God

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mars Needs Moms and Superman Vs The Elite (SBU Podcast)

Reviews of Mars Needs Moms and Superman Vs The Elite DC animated movie.


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30% Off Christmas Sale!

Our Christmas season sale has begun!

Now through December 20th, save 30% off all of our CD products!

Get Spirit Blade: Special Edition and Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual (normally $12.99) for just $9.09!

Get The Spirit Blade: Special Edition Collector's Set (normally $23.99) for just $16.79!

Our archive CDs make great stocking-stuffers for "special features" junkies! Get them both for just $3.49 each!

Discounts also apply to our CD/Download combo packs! (The added download version is less than two dollars more!) Buy one today and keep the download for yourself while gifting the CD to a friend!

And as always, tax and shipping are FREE!!

Don't miss out! Visit our online store right now!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mars Needs Moms (Movie Review)

Review by "Ken From Honolulu"

Directed by Simon Wells

Voiced by

Seth Green as Milo
Dan Folger as Gribble
Joan Cusack as Mom

A young boy named Milo gains a deeper appreciation for his mom after Martians come to take her away.

Review(Contains Spoilers):
This movie is sort of an animated film. But they use live actors instead of computer generated characters. They wear suits that catch their actions and the computer turns the actions into a type of animated film.

It is only 88 minutes, so it is not long. I believe the demographic it was aimed at was the 8-12 year range.

The film has a message and doesn’t mind beating you over the head with it. The message is “moms are great, you should love them for all you’re worth.” It almost goes to the point of saying that moms are some kind of demigod. The other message is that men are not involved in the raising of the children.

When Milo gets to Mars, he finds the men are a bunch of dread-locked guys living in the dump. All they seem to do is party all day. Even Milo’s dad is not around. You don’t see any examples of real men in this film.

The only man Milo interacts with is Gribble. As a 12 year old, Gribble’s mother was kidnapped and he tried to save her but failed. If you do the math according to the movie, Gribble is something like 37 years old. The Martians only have babies every 25 years.

Gribble seems to be stuck with a 12 year old mind. The men are portrayed as either stunted with 12 year old minds, or a bunch of losers.

Milo meets up with a Martian girl, who has to be at least 25 years old, since they have babies every 25 years. She acts like a 15-16 year old. At the end of the film her and Gribble get together.

The film glorifies tagging. This girl goes all over the place tagging the gray walls of the Martian city. The film also says you should rebel against those who are older than you, because they are mean and stupid.

The production was great. It was a great film visually.
The story got kind of boring.

Rated PG for sci-fi action and peril

Quality: 8.8/10
Relevance: 7.5/10

What do these scores mean?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Table Top Special, Part 2 (SBU Podcast)

First impressions of games played at "PenningCon" including a playtest of the Spirit Blade Card Game. Plus, a look at the consequences of sin for humanity.


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Genesis 3:16-19

A special role exclusive to women is childbirth. Many women would say it's the greatest joy they've ever experienced in life. But as a consequence of sin, childbirth is very painful. Even with the advances of modern medicine, there is often more damage to the body, complication in childbirth and greater recovery time required for those who seek to avoid labor pain through medical intervention. What should have been a beautiful experience is now a painful, frightening, or at least complicated and taxing one for most women.

Likewise, the relationship between men and women became damaged at this point. Men and women were created to be equal partners, but verse 16 indicates that there is now a strong tendency for men to not only lead their wives, but rule over them like tyrants. (Some have also concluded that the specific usage of the Hebrew words in verse 16 indicates that a woman's "desire" for her husband includes a desire to dominate him.) So today we live with the reality of conflict in every marriage and frustration as our wills collide. Apart from sin, we think of our spouses first. But in our sin, we try to manipulate and dominate our marriage partners.

Adam's sin was not simply listening to his wife. The Hebrew word used here for "listened" contains the meaning of "obedience" as well. Adam allowed someone who was on the wrong path to influence him to go along with them. As a result, a primary joy of Adam's is tainted as well.

On average, men are more driven to achieve, produce, provide and "succeed". This isn't to say that many women aren't the same way, but in broad strokes, men are more driven to go out and "take on the world". For many men, what they achieve in their career defines who they are in their minds. (When men meet new men one of their first questions is often "what do you do for a living"?) Men seem wired to take great joy and pride in their work. And again we see this great joy tainted as a consequence of sin.

Even though most of us don't directly grow our own food, the difficulties now inherent to growing food have a trickle-down effect on the entire working world. Ultimately, we all have to work in order to eat. We work to pay the grocer, who pays the farmer who pays his workers to labor and toil over uncooperative soil. The frustration of the worker requires higher pay for his work, requiring the farmer to charge more to the grocer and the grocer to the customer.

Sin has made both the soil and our fellow humans uncooperative, resulting in a work experience in life that is frustrating and unproductive. As a result of Adam's sin and our own contributed sin, attempted productivity is often a discouraging, difficult thing that we face everyday.

I think fans of Skyrim or the board game Agricola intuitively feel this. For some reason, I LOVE collecting herbs and plant samples to mix potions in Skyrim or Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning. For some odd reason I can't describe, I love taking my piece of land in Agricola and making it productive. I believe this is because we were created to create and produce. And a number of games we play as geeks give us a taste of what work would be like without the real frustrations that come with it in day to day life.

The good news is that for those who love and follow Christ, work will one day be restored to the exciting, fulfilling activity it was meant to be. In fact it will be far more enjoyable than the best games we play right now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

Taking the day off with family today, as some of you might be doing. I'll be back with a post later this week, but in the meantime feel free to join me in thanking God for the courageous protectors he's provided in our U.S. military branches, or in your own military if you're a friend from overseas.

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, November 9, 2012

Table Top Special Part 1 (SBU Podcast)

Thoughts on the big Star Wars news from last week, and Part 1 of a two part table-top gaming special. PLUS, an attempt to answer the question "Why did God curse the serpent in Genesis?"

Star Wars/Disney Topic On Spirit Blade Forums-

Paeter's "Thunderstone" Review-

Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:
visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!
(For more information, visit

For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Two Week GameCon Special Starting This Weekend!

Usually I post the main feature content of the podcast each week in blog format before sharing it on the show, but this week and next that just won't be practical.

The next two episodes of the podcast will focus on two table top game conventions I attended recently, including my thoughts on the games I played and the experiences overall. But the content is just a bit too lengthy as a reasonable blog entry this week, and next week the content is all audio content I recorded at the second "convention" (more on those quotation marks in the second ep.) I attended.

So this is basically a plug to stay tuned and check out the next two episodes of The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast as they are posted right here beginning very soon!


Monday, November 5, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Genesis 3:14-15 (Why did God curse the serpent?)


As I mentioned in a previous post, the idea of Satan turning into a talking animal has long been a strange idea to think about for me. I've already talked about why I choose to believe this encounter literally happened as written, but I'm still left asking myself about the nature of this transformation, and why it is God seems to be condemning a species of animal with no free will that at most was somehow hijacked by Satan to carry out his evil agenda.

It's not very common for biblical commentaries and study aids to address this question, but after doing some research and listening to a few responses to the issue, I've arrived at a conclusion that satisfies me. (Though I'd love to hear your thoughts on this if they differ from mine.)

God is God. He created everything and everyone. He's not just the owner, he's the maker. He is entitled to do whatever he wants with whatever he makes. (Romans 9:21) He is entitled to curse the ground for Adam's sin (Gen. 3:17) or curse serpents, one of them or all of them, because of Satan's sin. (Gen. 3:14)

If this still feels "unjust" in some way, then after further attempting to correct our perspective on God's rights, we should consider the following.

1. I've never once heard a serpent complain that they have been treated unjustly. They're doing as well as any other animal in this fallen world, and the whole curse issue seems pretty far over their oblivious heads. In short, they do not feel as though they have been wronged. They are content, if they can even feel something like our concept of "contentment".

2. These curses are not "compensation" for wrongdoing. If they were, the cosmic scales would be balanced and we would have no need for any future justice to be dispensed from God. Given the clear teaching of a future time of judgment, we know this isn't the case. (Acts 10:42, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:5)

If not compensation, then what are these curses for?

In part, they are consequences (which differ from compensation), and in part I've concluded that they are teaching tools set in place by God, which remain to remind generation after generation of our sin problem, and also God's promised solution to it.

Which brings us to the curse on the serpent itself. Let's attempt to pick this apart a little more. The first part of the curse reads:

"on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life."(ESV)

By far the most popular assumption here is that serpents once walked on legs of some kind, and that the curse removed their legs and forced them to crawl on their bellies as we see serpents do today.
I don't have any problem with this assumption. God brought about other significant physical changes as a result of sin, such as the curse on the ground and the increased pain in childbirth. (Genesis 3:16-17) However I wonder if the text requires serpents to have had legs before this curse, and how much of this curse is directed at both the serpent as a species and Satan, who took a serpent's form.

A serpent on its belly is not as threatening as a serpent raised and poised to strike. (This was also common knowledge in ancient Egypt, where the author of Genesis was raised and educated). So it may be that God simply made the serpent, which already had no legs, less powerful or apt to strike somehow. It wouldn't be hard to believe that Satan was also cursed to have less power after this encounter. So a "removal of legs" for the serpent doesn't seem to be the only plausible scenario here.

Dust was also closely related with death and the netherworld in ancient Egypt. (Which may be why the author made a point of mentioning Adam's fate to become dust.) Serpents don't thrive off a diet of dust by any means. But their proximity to the ground means they are bound to digest their share of dust throughout life. Of course as curses go, eating a little dust now and then isn't so bad. Which is why I again am persuaded that the symbolism of dust is important here as it pertains to Satan. God seems to be telling Satan that his domain is one of death and hopelessness. He is meant to live knowing that he has already lost his battle with God and death is his path and destiny.

The second half of the serpent's curse reads:

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."(ESV)

Obviously we can all relate to the antagonism that naturally exists between humans and serpents. They strike at our legs and we bash in their heads. It's an "understood arrangement" we've had with them for ages. (And one more reason I'm an "indoor nerd", preferring giant-sized fictional snakes over teeny tiny real ones.)

Like serpents, Satan and those who follow him are the enemies of humanity as well. But unfortunately we can't bash in their heads. They are too strong for us, too elusive. Thankfully, there was one human who bashed in the heads of Satan and his servants once and for all.

Satan "bruised the heel" of Jesus by moving men to crucify him, but Jesus crushed Satan and his power over humanity by using the cross to pay for our sins and balance the scales of justice on our behalf. Genesis 3:15 has long been understood as the first prophecy regarding the Messiah.

So I've concluded that, without abusing the serpents of the world, God used them to timelessly describe our enemy, illustrate for us our need for a savior, and set the stage for Jesus, who has defeated evil on our behalf once and for all. The battle is over, sentencing has been passed. Now it's only a matter of time before justice is carried to completion.

Next Time- A look at the consequences of sin for humanity

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 Review (SBU Podcast)

A review of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Ben Avery is back with some thoughts on Marvel, Season 1. Plus, a look at the nature of God as he appears in Genesis Chapter 3. Some of the details may surprise you!

Paeter's Interview at The Strangers and Aliens Podcast-


Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:



visit to leave a recorded message with your phone or computer for me to play on the show!I'd love for you to be a part of this podcast!

(For more information, visit


For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
Spazzmatica Polka by Kevin MacLeod ( effects provided by: FreqMan

Direct Download-

In Search Of Truth, Genesis 3:8-13

As often happens, my study has taken a bit of a rabbit trail, or moved at a slower pace than I predicted. We won't be getting to "the consequences of sin for humanity" as I indicated last week, because we've hit another section I'd like to "zoom in on" before moving forward.

The focus of this journey we're taking through portions of the Old Testament is on the nature of God, the nature of humans and what the Old Testament and its customs tells us about the relationship between God and humanity. But now and then we may come across some things that don't fit those categories perfectly, but would feel like a major oversight if we just breezed on by them. So today and next week, although we're continuing in Genesis, we're going "off theme" a bit to tackle some unusual verses I just couldn't pretend not to see.

I enjoyed doing this week's study even more than usual, because it was an opportunity to force myself to find satisfying answers to questions about this material that have sat in the back of my mind for years. Such as, "How does an infinite God walk in a garden?" Or "Why does God curse the serpent if it was really Satan?" And "What is the significance of the serpent being cursed to crawl on its belly and eat dust?"

With these and a few other questions in mind, I dug into all of the best resources I could find and discovered some interesting answers. Not all of them are conclusive, but they certainly satisfied my curiosity and helped me better see the relevance this account has for my life today.

There are two explanations of this verse that I found compelling. The first, more popular explanation, is that God took on some kind of humanoid form while in relationship with Adam and Eve. He didn't give up any of his infinite nature, but rather temporarily added to it a finite representation of himself, in some ways similar to Christ being both fully God while also being fully man.

The second explanation involves some background info on the Hebrew words here. The Bible Background Commentary published by Inter-Varsity Press says, "Akkadian terminology has demonstrated that the word translated "day" also has the meaning "storm". This meaning can be seen also for the Hebrew word in Zephaniah 2:2. It is often connected to the deity coming in a storm of judgment. If this is the correct rendering of the word in this passage, they heard the thunder (the word translated "sound" is often connected to thunder) of the Lord moving about in the garden in the wind of the storm."

In my own examination of the text, I also noticed that the Hebrew word for "walking" used here to describe God's movement in the garden, is commonly used figuratively. And the Hebrew word for "cool" comes from the root word for "wind".

So another explanation is that God did not take physical form, but instead represented his presence by a storm that may have been frightening and appropriate to God's agenda for judgment.

Although God knows everything, he is likely asking about Adam's location in the same way that a parent asks a child caught in the act, "What are you doing?" In fact God's entire line of questioning parallels a parent's instructive discipline of a child, walking them through their actions to show them how and where they went wrong.

And like a child, a politician, or the average adult if we're honest with ourselves, Adam and Eve both attempt to deflect responsibility for their poor actions to someone else.

Next Time- Why did God curse the serpent?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spirit Blade Special Edition Commentary, Part 5!

This week I've released Part 5 of my all-new commentary for Spirit Blade!

I talk about the role music and EQ balancing play in "improving" an actor's performance, how my artistic influences have changed since first creating Spirit Blade, and the mistakes I had to undo when re-mixing "Deadly Game". Plus, how "Deadly Game's" vision of Hell compares with what the Bible actually does or does not teach.

Download it now on our Free Stuff page!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

A few weeks ago, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD. If you're a serious comic book fan, you've probably already read or at least heard of the original graphic novel by Frank Miller. Along with Alan Moore's Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns was one of the most influential comic books of the 80's, and gets much of the credit for the launch of the "gritty era" of comic books, which continued through much of the 90's and still leaves traces today. This animated movie attempts to adapt and condense the original story into a two-part movie series.

The story takes place 10 years after Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman. There are suggestions that his retirement has something to do with a tragedy that befell Robin. Wayne is now at least in his 50s, although he remains in great shape for his age and busies himself with dangerous hobbies, such as automobile racing. He is clearly unsettled and still haunted by the deaths of his parents, and as a new breed of criminal takes hold of a spineless Gotham, he finds the ghosts of his past pulling him back into the persona he left behind.

While the citizens of Gotham are either victimized or willfully ignorant, Batman resumes his one-man war on the criminal element, and with more grit and ferocity than ever before. But although Batman is a supernatural creature of legend, Bruce Wayne is just a man, and his aging, battered body continually reminds him of the fact. It may be that this new breed of criminal is more than he can handle.

This is a great story with some of the most iconic Batman moments you're likely to encounter on screen. Paraphrasing to avoid offense, Frank Miller said that with this story he "gave Batman his [manhood] back". And that's certainly the sense this movie gives. Batman is more brutal and tough than ever and he is rightfully feared by criminals.

But this is not just a "tough guy" movie. An argument could be made that this is the most character-driven Batman movie ever made, as we are given a glimpse into how truly haunted Bruce Wayne is by the tragic past he can't forget. For those who felt Bruce Wayne's final status in "The Dark Knight Rises" was inconsistent with the perpetually haunted nature of Bruce Wayne's character(at least as presented in the comics), this movie will feel like a satisfying follow-up, or maybe even a pseudo sequel, to the Christopher Nolan films.

The visual design and animation is very well done. Although it has a slightly cleaner look than the art from the original comic, the color pallet helps maintain the bleak flavor, and the general scenery and character design strongly evokes the original art. The animation is also smooth when it should be, and more abrupt when appropriate. A skillful blend of both computer and cell animation that plays up the strengths of both.

The sound was also well done, though I would have preferred just a little more of the lower tones. (Of course in home theaters this can be adjusted to taste.) And in the very first scene the dialogue falls so deep into the mix that I had to use subtitles to understand what was being said beneath the roaring sound effects.

The music takes a cue from Nolan's recent Batman films with a grand, slow-moving strings melody representing Batman, aided by strong percussion and some electronic elements as well. A great score that gave weight to the entire experience.

Once again, DC does a solid job with their voice casting and direction. Although they don't quite hit it out of the park. They fall back on using one or two familiar voices from the animation world (including at least one of the "animaniacs" if you're old enough to remember that show) that took me out of the story with their easily distinguishable voices. And Peter Weller, while a good choice for an aging Batman, was not a great choice in my opinion. I think the role would have been served better by simply casting the best fitting voice, rather than drawing from a pool of actors with star power or "geek cred", as this choice seems to be motivated by.

The adaptation is done very well. Although it's been awhile since I've read my copy of The Dark Knight Returns, I didn't feel like anything important was missing. In fact, the adapters smartly removed much of the dated social/political commentary that was a product of the 80's.
That said, there is still a noticeable theme of activism. It is frustrating to watch the people of Gotham shut themselves off in a self-serving corner as the world goes to pot at their doorstep. This movie screams out, "C'mon! Get up and DO something about this mess!" Batman and a precious few answer that call and viewers may feel a small desire to do so as well.

The second part of The Dark Knight Returns will be released in early spring of 2013, but there's no reason not to watch or buy this movie in the meantime. Part 1 certainly leaves the impression that there is more story to be told, but doesn't end on a cliff-hanger either, and provides satisfying resolution to the first half of the larger story.

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

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 7.5/10

What do these scores mean?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cloud Atlas Review (SBU Podcast)

A review of Cloud Atlas and an addendum to my Little Shop Of Horrors Review. Plus a look at what Genesis chapter 3 tells us about the tendencies we live with every day. 


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The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast is written, recorded and produced by Paeter Frandsen, with additional segments produced by their credited authors.
Copyright 2012, Spirit Blade Productions
Music by Wesley Devine, Bjorn A. Lynne, Pierre Langer, and Sound Ideas.
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Cloud Atlas (Movie Review)

I'm a huge fan of the Matrix Trilogy. I love the way the Wachowsky Brothers combined crazy cool sci-fi action with rich symbolism and philosophy. Even though I find myself often at odds with some of the philosophies expressed in those films, I appreciate their presence in a genre that is too often based on mindless explosions and bad one-liners.

Cloud Atlas was completely off my radar until I saw the first trailer a few months ago. Since then I've been waiting to see this movie with great curiosity, and as it turns out "curiosity" is a great word with which to describe this film.

Although Larry Wachowski was not involved in this film, Andy Wachowski, his wife Lana and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International) share the director's chair for this multi-story experience.

I say "multi-story" intentionally, rather than "multi-thread". Although the film regularly cuts back and forth between multiple stories, it never connects them beyond some extremely loose ties and the fact that each story features the same set of actors playing re-incarnated versions of the same people in different time periods.

IMDB describes the film this way:
"Everything is connected: an 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future."

"Everything is connected" is clearly meant to be a theme in this film. Unfortunately, everything is mostly disconnected. Yes, we have the basic premise of reincarnated people and the different lives they live, but beyond that there is almost nothing connecting these stories aside from theme. There is no brilliant plot element that unites all of these stories into a single larger one in the last 10 minutes, as you might expect or hope. In fact, despite a few sequences of editing that show some rough parallels between the stories, I think you could just as easily enjoy all of these stories one at a time, if the film were edited to play them that way. (In fact, it might be more coherent and enjoyable experience!) As it is, the movie bounces from story to story with no significant payoff for doing so, and only makes it more challenging to follow each story and invest in the characters.

This is a shame because the film employs some all-star talent. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are at the forefront, and are interesting to watch in all of their scenes. Additional familiar faces abound in every story. It seems only a matter of time before the same handful of actors show up one by one in different make-up and sporting a new accent. Eventually it felt gimmicky, and the novelty of wondering what make-up and accent I would seen an actor in next took me out of the stories.

The cinematic style still has that great, compelling Wachowsky vibe and alternates between cool, beautiful and epic in scope. The visual effects (though looking like visual effects) are very enjoyable and the designs of the future worlds are fascinating.

The music is also a nice touch, and the recurring musical theme the film is named after is haunting and tender.

The make-up jobs, which the film relies on so heavily, are hit or miss. They were good enough in several instances to have me guessing which actor was hiding under the latex, but just as bad in those instances because I could tell some actor was covered in latex. And the odd "asian-ating" of several cast members leaves me wondering if the Asian community will find the prosthetic make-up offensive in its representation of their facial features.

There are some quick flashes of unnecessary nudity and one brief sex-scene in the midst of a narrated montage that frustrated me a bit. I always wonder how female directors feel about this kind of objectification of women and would love to pick Lana Wachowski's brain about these bits. Of course she may have not directed those scenes.

I think there is a lot that the writers and directors want us to ponder during and after watching this movie. The primary influencing philosophy seems to be Hinduism, as reincarnation is a major part of the film's basic premise. There is also a clear theme of desired freedom in most of the stories. Either freedom from obvious social institutions, such as slavery, or freedom from a presumed fate the characters have imposed upon them by "the universe". This lines up with what some unsettled Hindus may feel regarding their "dharma", or the duty they were born into and are intended to fulfill in life.

Cloud Atlas, like American pop-spirituality, rarely commits to or defines a consistent representation of reincarnation, or a specific eastern faith from which it draws inspiration. And although the film is clearly saying some things, it never provides grounding for its values or says anything bold. It has such a strong thematic sense to it, but never commits to a primary message. (A mistake, in my opinion, if your plot and characters aren't holding the movie together.) But this is a classic representation of pop-spirituality: Affirming many ideas, but not committing to any of them. In this way, Cloud Atlas is a great representation of post-modernism and pop-spirituality, brought to life onscreen. But it also steals satisfaction if you're hoping for some answers to your questions or a plot that is ultimately unified.

In the end, this is a movie to watch someday when it won't cost you a dime and you've got three hours to kill. (Yeah, the run time is a hefty 2 hours and 40 minutes) I think it will be forgotten by most (despite how well it reflects popular thinking) and remembered by others mostly as a lengthy, unusual, cinematic curiosity.

Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use

Quality: 7.0/10

Relevance: 8.5/10

What do these scores mean?

EDIT: I mistakenly referred to Lana Wachowski as Andy's wife. Andy is married to Alisa Wachaowski, who was not involved in the film to my knowledge. It was brought to my attention that Lana is the new legal name of Larry Wachowski, who has transitioned into living life as a female using the name Lana.