Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

How Could I Forget Merantau!?

Merantau got a US home video release a few weeks ago.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What the fuck is Merantau, and why the fuck should I give a damn?”

Merantau is an Indonesian martial arts film, and you should be mindful to give a damn because it’s a martial arts film I’ve been eagerly anticipating for some time now.

Showcasing the Indonesian martial art of Silat, as performed by the film’s breakout action star-in-the-making, Iko Uwais; the film looks to be a solid entry in the martial arts subgenre.

I've heard talk of "next big thing" surrounding Iko Uwais. He's already got another movie lined up, so we'll see...

The trailer (from over a year ago) gave me the impression that the film was of the classic “country boy goes to the city, is forced to beat the shit out of city-folk” storyline, but with the added (and welcome) twist of being extremely well-shot, and possessed of surprisingly imaginative and varied fight sequences.

See for yourself:

Pretty impressive, eh?

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that aroused my interest when I caught word of Merantau, was the simple fact that it was an Indonesian production.

In my youth, I was fascinated by Indonesia, largely due to the famed Komodo Dragon being a fixture of the archipelago.

Pictured: The Godzilla of the Animal Kingdom.

While my interest started with the wildlife, I went on to study some of the culture, food, art, and even shared class time in college with a gamelan group.

Of course, me being me; I also took time to look into Silat, a beautiful and stylistically varied martial art that hasn’t gotten much exposure in the states.

I have my dad to thank for introducing me to Silat, as he was the one that first told me of it.

Merantau stands as the first Indonesian film I’ve had any reason to get excited about, and more importantly; the first I believe I will have seen.

For whatever reason, the release date of this film slipped my mind; but rest assured, I will seek it out, and I will (hopefully) enjoy the shit out of it.

The movie got Best Film at Action Fest 2010, so in the martial arts movie community; it’s a major player.

My expectations are high for this one, so expect a very critical review in the near future.

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Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heavyweight Boxing Ruined My Article!

As phenomenal a fighter as he WAS, it's never a good thing when THIS is the look of a top 10 fighter.

Heavyweight boxing has never been my thing.

Aside from the hype surrounding Mike Tyson’s post-prison bouts, I could never see the beauty in boxing fought North of 200 lbs.

Ever since Lennox Lewis dominated the division, with his superior height and reach, coupled with his fundamental based European-style boxing; I couldn’t help but be kinda’ bored by the heavyweights.

Pictured: One of Lewis' GOOD fights, against Frank Bruno.

Personally, I blame Lewis and the Klitschko brothers for being so fucking tall, and so fucking good at fighting tall, but that’s besides the point.

Honestly, I think my disenchantment with the heavyweight division has a lot to do with the era in which I grew up, an era where truly talented fighters were hard to come by.

Ask any old timer and they’ll tell you that knowing the name of the heavyweight champion of the world was common knowledge among most Americans back in the day.

Hell, I remember hearing that in WWII, the current heavyweight champs name, as well as the date and venue of the Rose Bowl (January 1st, Pasadena), were facts used as codes for determining friend from foe.

It makes me sad to know that boxing was practically the king of all sports back in the day, only for it to turn into a niche sport around the time I was growing up.

I blame the establishment of PPV, and the various belt factions, but again; that’s besides the point.

The point is:

The heavyweight boxing used to represent the pinnacle of the sport, but these days it’s reduced to a sideshow act with maybe 3 worthwhile fighters to go around, none of which are American.

 

Soda Popinski: NOT American.

While a lack of talent in divisions in relatively common in this age of boxing, wherein moving up in weight is treated not so much as a physical inevitability, but as a business tactic for seeking larger contracts; when there’s only a handful of good fighters at a weight, it’s downright painful to see them kick tomato cans back and forth between one another rather than fight each other.

Such has been the situation in the heavyweight division ever since Lennox Lewis vacated the undisputed championship (a title which, technically; has yet to be reclaimed).

It’s funny, this article was supposed to be a hopeful one, singing the praises of boxing and it’s promoters for finally getting Wladimir Klitschko into the ring with David Haye, but unfortunately; from the time I started writing this, to the present; that pivotal match-up in the sport has since fallen through… For the 3rd time.

That's one helluva' a mean-ass Godzilla impression, but that doesn't make him any less of a pussy.

Instead, we get the premier heavyweight champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko; versus unproven British prospect Derek Chisora in April, and then against former light heavyweight, turned cruiserweight, turned heavyweight contender, Tomasz Adamek.

While I don’t expect Chisora to make it to the final bell, or even the 6th round; I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Adamek’s pluck and tenacity; so I give him a fair chance to put on a good show.

Seriously man, after seeing Adamek’s brawls with Paul Briggs and Steve Cunningham, it’s hard not to be a fan of the big Pole.


On a side note, Paul Briggs looks a helluva’ lot like Sam Worthington if you ask me…

While Adamek has had a good run as a heavyweight thus far, we’ve never really seen him in there with anyone as large, skillful, or powerful as a Klitschko.

Needless to say, in the case of both Chisora and Adamek, both men will be at a severe disadvantage in terms of height, reach, and perhaps most important of all; power.

I don’t expect either man to topple Dr. Steelhammer, but like I said; Adamek will find a way to make things exciting at the very least.

Like I mentioned earlier, this post was originally intended to be celebrating the emerging sense of clarity that a Klitschko/Haye match-up would provide for the heavyweight division, but instead I’m forced to write about a champion defending his title against an undersized tomato can, and an undersized tomato can that can take a punch.

It should be noted, that I give Adamek about as good a chance against Klitschko as David Haye, but in this case; Haye’s value on paper is what counts, more so than his (questionable) merit as a fighter.

Goddamnit boxing, you ruined my article!

Filed under: Boxing, Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stop-Motion And The Azn Badger

I love stop-motion animation.

Something about the inherent tangibility of the finished product, the notion that the footage you’re viewing was created from materials you can touch with your own hands; is just so incredibly fascinating to me.

I’ve said many times in the past, that I find Photoshop, digital tablet devices, and other such digital art tools to be unwieldly and far too advanced for my tiny badger brain.

As an artist, I find that I have come to rely on the feeling of my pen streaking across the paper.

Digital art detaches you from your workspace, forcing you to rely on the borders and boundaries of the toolset provided to you, of the program you are working within.

While I am familiar with the most rudimentary of functions that Photoshop has to offer, this simple notion of detachment is what ultimately keeps me married to my pen and paper.

With a pen and paper, I am free to sketch and “work out” the images that I seek to produce.

More often than not, in the act of scrawling pencil hatch marks on my paper, I’ll usually find an accidental stray line or 2 that ends up being the key to solving whatever perspective/rendering issue that I’m having at the moment.

This doesn’t happen for me in the digital medium, as I feel daunted and moreoever; restricted by the tool based nature of the program.

Which brings me to my love of stop-motion.

The first time I can recall seeing stop-motion animation was on a VHS collection of 50’s and 60’s B-movie trailers that my parents gave me for Easter (don’t ask) called Fantastic Dinosaurs of the Movies.

The tape was prefaced by a short interview with Ray Harryhausen, with a series of clips from King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad playing over his narration.

Known as one of the most famous stop-motion animators of all time, Harryhausen was perhaps best known for his Dynamation technique that matted stop-motion characters over live-action footage, essentially serving as a primitive ancestor to modern digital compositing.

Upon first seeing the clip of the 6-armed Kali statue engaging in a vicious sword fight with a bunch of pirates and sailors, I was absolutely spellbound.

Though the clip was very brief, I remember being absolutely enthralled by the manner in which Kali moved.

I could tell that the motion wasn’t exactly 100% fluid, but even so; the character evident in the expressionless statue’s movements were enough to make me view this as potential plus, even as a child.

Before I could ask “how did they do that?” the tape answered my prayers by having Ray Harryhausen show us a model figure of a gorilla, both with and without it’s skin on; revealing a rigid metal skeleton beneath.

Harryhausen would go on to explain that, in taking a picture, moving the model a fraction of an inch or so, taking another picture, and then displaying the 2 images in sequence, he could create the effect of a once stable object becoming animated.

Though I was very young at the time, this simple explanation served as the start of lifelong fascination with stop-motion.

Not long after watching that tape, I would go on to force my parents to rent all sorts of stop-motion movies, most of which were Harryhausen’s classic works.

To date, Jason and the Argonauts remains my favorite of his, however The Valley of Gwangi is a very close second.

The first time I ever attempted stop-motion for myself, was when I was about 13 years old.

Using a handful of Gundam models I had, I set up the models on my bedroom floor and used the digital camcorder I had just received as a birthday gift to make a brief fight sequence.

Despite my inherent fascination with the technique, I think the reason I decided to try stop-motion back then was because of my lack of resources.

I wanted to make movies with my friends, but we didn’t have any cool props, nor were we all that physical, so most of the movies we wanted to make were ideas that were beyond our capability.

Stop-motion allowed me to side-step a lot of my 13 year old limitations.

It removed the possibility of actors being flaky, it removed budgetary limitations, and it allowed to film for as long as I wanted without anyone whining about it.

In essence, my desire to make films combined with my antisocial tendencies was most likely the catalyst for me trying my hand at stop-motion.

I don’t mind tooting my own horn and saying that I think I did pretty well on my first time out:

Sure, I did the whole thing in-camera, and my hand got into the shot a few times, but for the most part; without even really knowing if what I was doing was going to work, I think I did pretty well.

I took my time with my Gundam battle, staying up late into the night to get it done; and I’ll always be proud of it.

As soon as I made my first stop-motion animation, I went into a year-long period of cranking them out every month or so.

Everything came to a head when I made a 7-minute, partially animated film called “Pimpmastah” that ended up taking me several months to make.

Truth be told, the whole thing was shot over 3 days in total, however there was a several month long pause between each day of filming.

I can’t explain it, but the love for stop-motion that I had in my youth started to fizzle out around the time I was going into high school.

Call it life taking priority over art.

Regardless, I wouldn’t make another stop-motion film for 5-6 years, by which time I was already a year or 2 into college.

Living in a dorm, with very few friends, I found myself psychologically in very much the same place I was when I was 13.

In order to pass the time, as well as show off to my roommates, (some of the guys in the dorm also wanted to be filmmakers) I found myself bringing old action figures from home back with me to the dorm to use for animations.

As sad as it was that I spent a lot of my time in college watching Ultraman and making movies with action figures, I have to say; I had a lot of fun getting back into stop-motion.

It was also fun teaching myself how to edit my films, as up until then I had done everything sequentially and in-camera.

Hell, you can actually see the CD player I was playing into the camera speaker for live sound effects in the background of half the shots in “Pimpmastah.”

While I was using it as little more than a hobby, the extremely open-ended and liberal nature of my college allowed me more than a few opportunities to use stop-motion as a means of fulfilling class assignments.

You can bet I ended up making an animation every time I was asked to do a presentation on one of my writing assignments.

Another factor in why I continued to involve myself in stop-motion, was the fact that I was still plagued with the same limitations as a filmmaker, even in college.

Though I applied for them annually, I never got into a filmmaking class at my college.

Stop-motion became my pen and paper for the world of filmmaking.

Even with no budget, or actors, or even decent equipment, as long as I had some action figures and my old dead-pixel ridden camcorder, I could make movies to my heart’s content.

And I did.

I’ll never say I’m any sort of noteworthy talent in the art of stop-motion, as I know I’m not; but that’s not the point.

The point is:

Stop-motion is something anyone can do with a camera and a lot of patience.

I’m fortunate enough to have had both of those things since the age of 13, and while I’ve never had the organization skills or technical capabilities to put together a real movie; stop-motion has given me a venue to make movies of my own, on my own.

The reason I decided to type up this article tonight, is because I find myself feeling that old urge to get back into stop-motion.

It’s been almost 2 years since the last time I used a camera, and after years of consistent improvement in my technique; I think it’s about time I took another stab at it.

This time around I’m considering using more articulate and challenging models, something that is likely to drive me nuts if I actually attempt it.

Though the licensed one’s are absurdly expensive, I ran across a product line from Hong Kong based Hot Toys called True-Types.

Near as I can tell, they are essentially highly articulated 12-inch GI Joe figures that can be modified and fitted with various clothing and accessories.

One comment about the Azn Badger playing with dolls, and I swear I will find you and ram one of those candiru things that took out Eric Stoltz in Anaconda up your urinary tract.

This, but in your pee hole.

Trust me, you don’t want that.

Anyway, my buddy Macgyver Jr. has a bunch of clothing and equipment for figures of roughly the same proportions, so I figure I can borrow a bunch of props from him to suit my needs.

Here’s a hilariously bad, and totally non-animated collaborative video we made using figures similar to the True-Types in about, oh, 45 minutes:

Not only that, true to his name, Macgyver Jr. also happens to be a woodworking wizard, so any other props or scenery that I’d need would be just a friendly favor away.

Though I can’t really say as to whether or not I’m really gonna’ be making any stop-motion films in the near future, (we all know what happened last time I announced I’d be making a film…) if actually go ahead and try to do it, I’m hoping to put more effort into it than I’ve ever done before.

Most of my stop-motion efforts have boiled down to single day efforts that involve little more than a short battle scene.

While I’ll probably end up doing yet another fight sequence, as that’s what I like to do; I’d like to invest more time in the animation process, as well as maybe do some post-production processing of the frames to make for a more polished film.

Y’know, little things like motion blur, or digital removal of props used to balance the figures.

Who knows, if things turn out well enough, maybe I’ll end up filming a story around the fight.

Anyway, I’m done rambling and speculating about things that may never happen, thanks for reading!

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beowulf: Summarized by A COLLEGE GRADUATE

Let’s get one thing straight:

I read Beowulf.

Not only that, I read, and dissected Beowulf for school within a month of seeing the movie.

That being said, I know the story.

Well, no; that’s not entirely true, but for the purposes of this post bear with me.

If you ask me, the original Beowulf story (well, the translated/updated version that we all read today anyway…) was trashy and uninspired, even for it’s time.

The composition of the story is fractured, the characters are barely 2 dimensional, and the whole thing is downright caveman simple.

What I mean to say is:

Beowulf was a campfire story for DUDES, a story meant to entertain on the most visceral of levels, and one that was seemingly thrown together on the fly one night, probably by a drunk-ass dude with PTSD from killing and raping 5,000 women and children.

Wow, that was graphic.

Anyway, what follows is an intentionally stupid and ridiculous summary/reenactment of the original telling of the Beowulf story as I know it.

Try to picture this being told around an old-world viking campfire.

Please enjoy, and bear in mind, this post was brought to you by a 4 year college education:

“Okay, so there’s this monster, uh, Green- (no, wait…) Grendel!  Yeah, that’s right, Grendel!

One day, Grendel showed up at some castle, and was all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

With that, Grendel started cuttin’ bitches, so the peoples in the castle whipped out their celly’s and called the pimpest dude in the neightborhood:

BAY-O-WOLF.

Yeah that’s right, BAY-O-WOLF.

Only thing is, he’s so fuckin’ BADASS that he spells it “Beowulf,” ’cause he’s all like:

“I don’t want suckah’s soundin’ out my name n’shit.  That’s some bullshit right there, son…”

Anyway, Beowulf shows up and is all like:

“Yeah, I’ll kill your monster, but first let us all get drunk while I take some ‘roids and whip out my cock… Y’know, as a sign of good sportsmanship.

Don’t question me, I’m BADASS.”

Right as the parties startin’ to die down, Grendel busts down the door on a bad trip or some shit and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So, these 2 guys bein’ the dudes that they are, Beowulf and Grendel end up drinking themselves stupid.

Naturally, again; dudes that they are, the 2 of them get into a slap boxing/wrestling match, presumably over who the better Bond was, Connery or Moore.

(It was Connery…)

Despite what began as a friendly contest, Beowulf somehow accidentally tears Grendel’s arm out of it’s socket.

That, my good friends, is what shall henceforth be known as a “party foul.”

Anyway, that’s the story!  Goodnight!”

Inevitably, gathered around a campfire with nothing else to do, someone would eventually have to ask:

“Really?  That can’t really be the end, can it?”

Not wanting to upset his testosterone and boose juiced audience, our storyteller would most likely do what he could to improv a second act for the story:

“So, *cough!* turns out Grendel had a mom

Not only that, Grendel had, uh, a SAVAGE BEAST of a mom that was 10 times more SAVAGE than him on his most SAVAGE of days!

Yeah, that’s right, SAVAGE!

‘Cause, y’know how mothers are, am I right guys? *Wink* *Wink*

……….. How come nobodies’ laughing?

*Ahem!* Anyway, Grendel’s mom shows up at the castle and is all like:

“IMMA’ KILL ALL’AH’ YOUSE’!”

So then Beowulf, fresh after having just bedded every lady in waiting in the court, is all like:

“Yeah, ‘imma kill that bitch for yah’, just let me get juiced up and nak- (no, wait he already did that) I mean, juiced up and shit-faced and I’ll get right on it.

Then maybe I’ll get naked and score some poontang afterwards…”

(Hold for applause)

Yeah, thought you guys would like that part…

With that, Beowulf, being the BADASS that he is; goes and puts the ground and pound to Grendel’s mom like she stole from him.

Seriously, that bitch got tapped out so fast, The Flash was like “Waddah’ fawk jus’ happened!?”

During the after party, Beowulf gets laid, gets hammered, and becomes king.  The end.”

Despite the storyteller’s pleas though, inevitably some other loudmouth jackass would demand that the story keep going.

Hoping to satisfy his audience, and finally bring an end to the epic monstrosity he had birthed that evening, the storyteller would ultimately go balls-out with his final act, intentionally jumping the shark for fear of further demands of continuance:

“Okay guys, this is really the end now, so don’t ask for any more story tonight, ‘k?

So a bunch of time passes, and Beowulf’s real old n’shit, right?

He’s still king n’all, but he’s real fuckin’ old is all.

Anyway, everything’s good n’shit, but then A FUCKIN’ DRAGON shows up, and Beowulf’s all like:

“I’m old and the evils of gravity have made me ashamed to disrobe in public anymore, but imma’ kill the FUCKIN’ DRAGON for everybody, ’cause goddamnit; I’m BADASS and that’s what I do.

… Even though the dragon hasn’t really done anything to warrant it’s killi- Goddamnit I’m the KING, and I’m BADASS, so this is fuckin’ happening… Right now!”

With that Beowulf heads down to the FUCKIN’ DRAGON’S house and starts wreckin’ shit like no other while his little buddy Wieglaf hangs back and is all like:

“Oh snap!  Beowulf’s a fuckin’ beast!”

Shit goes wrong though, and Beowulf falls on his knife or some shit, leaving Wieglaf to pwn the FUCKIN’ DRAGON on his own (with a little help from aimbot…).

Anyway, Beowulf dies or some shit, I don’t know; I’m tired let’s go to bed.”

Well, folks, that was my summary/reenactment of the first telling of the Beowulf story.

Hopefully you all enjoyed it, and/or learned something!

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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