Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Terrific Concept Is Wasted on 'Batman: Bad Blood'



Batman: Bad Blood is the sequel to last year’s Batman vs. Robin, and completes the trilogy that started with Son of Batman.  Here’s what it’s about in a nutshell:
  • Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman goes missing after saving Batwoman from a group of supervillains led by the enigmatic Heretic.
  • Batwoman investigates on Heretic.
  • Unsure of whether Bruce is alive or dead, Dick Grayson a.k.a. Nightwing decides to take up the cowl of Batman to fill up the void left in Gotham by Bruce’s absence.
  • Damien Wayne a.k.a. Robin cuts his Himalayan sabbatical and returns to Gotham after learning of his father’s disappearance.
  • Talia al Ghul is plotting to take over the world which involves the use of mind control, and it’s up to the Bat family to stop her.
  • The son of Lucius Fox, Luke Fox, is drawn to the conflict and becomes Batwing.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

'Oh My Venus' Is Amply Cute to Make Up for Its By-The-Numbers Flaws



Just finished watching my first Koreanovela this year: Oh My Venus.  It had most of its run during 2015 but its last two episodes were released last January, so I could be flexible about it and qualify it for 2016 TV (It’s my blog anyway; I make the rules. Lol).

Oh My Venus follows the story of a 33-year old lawyer named Kang Joo-eun (Shin Min-a), who used to be a heartthrob during her teenage years, earning her the nickname “Daegu’s Venus.”  However, at present time, she has gained a lot of weight, and is dumped by her boyfriend of 15 years.  She gets a shot at regaining her former glory after a fateful airplane ride lets her meet Kim Young-ho (So Ji-sub), a chaebol heir who happens to be harboring a secret life as “John Kim”, a mysterious and highly sought personal trainer.  Discovering this, Joo-eun obliges Young-ho and his friends to help her lose weight.  As Joo-eun and Young-ho labor for the former’s metamorphosis, they learn to fill each other’s emotional gaps and eventually fall in love.

Monday, February 01, 2016

“Love the Lord with All Your Mind”: A Call to Pursue the Enrichment of Christian Intellect



One of the aspects of modern Christianity that I lament about is the seemingly lack of focus on developing intellect.  It’s as if there’s an unwritten, tacit paradigm that the intellect is irrelevant and irreconcilable with the spiritual.  Thus, many Christians tend to undermine or neglect or even reject the sharpening of the mind, which result to distressingly widespread gullibility, paranoia, and shallow – or, worse, false – theology.

Such Christians have no solid belief foundations, thus, they are easily swayed on what to believe in.  They easily embrace false doctrines (i.e. prosperity gospel, universalism) which they derive a feel-good feeling from, and eagerly adopt and switch to the current hot “Christian” fads – books, preachers, music, teachings – without thoroughly discerning if they are indeed supported by Scriptures.

Such Christians would rather waste time and effort on pursuing and promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories (e.g. “research” that “prove” that the world’s celebrities and elite are Illuminati) and sensationalized, unbiblical prophecies (e.g. the world will end at a particular date) instead of sharing the objective truths of the Gospel.  They burn Harry Potter books because they believe that these encourage children to practice witchcraft.  They share absurd “facts” or links on Facebook without verifying its authenticity (e.g. LOL means Lucifer is Lord).

A common practice among Christians these days is to take a minimalist stand when it comes to theology.  They say, “All that is necessary for me to know as a Christian is that Jesus loves me, I love him, and I want to tell others about him.  That should be enough.”  It sounds noble and humble, but in fact, it’s pretty dangerous.  Such approach eventually leads Christians to be exactly as what I’ve described in the past two paragraphs.  I also have to disagree that that “should be enough” for a Christian.  If we truly love Jesus, we want to represent him and his teachings with thorough Biblical accuracy – cautious and apprehensive that we might dishonor Him in painting our picture of Him to others.  Furthermore, according to the so-called “love chapter”, i.e. 1 Corinthians 13, an aspect of love is that it rejoices with the truth (v.6).  Hence, if we truly love Jesus, we should then sincerely pursue having a deeper understanding of His Truth and upholding it.

Furthermore, the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-38) says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  It means that it’s essential for us Christians to love God with the utmost full extent of our being, and this includes utilizing the best of our minds.

Thus, I believe that the development of intellect is something important for Christians.  Now, I’m not saying it’s the most integral thing.  Of course, no matter how intelligent one is, without the Holy Spirit’s active revelation, discovering truth and obtaining wisdom are impossible.  But it’s nevertheless important for a Christian to make the effort of thinking with the best of his or her capability, and to be consistent and logical in his or her beliefs.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reflecting on Kobe’s 81-Point Game



One afternoon, during my senior year in high school, a couple of my classmates skipped the first period and came late because they decided to watch Kobe Bryant make history – making the second best scoring output ever in the NBA.  When they got to school around the second period, they immediately told everyone – especially to me, since they knew that I’m a big Lakers and Kobe fan – about it.  Everyone was blown away, and we couldn’t stop talking about it.  I was, of course, ecstatic and proud.  I couldn’t wait to get home to watch the replay – hoping I could catch a replay (we only had dial-up Internet connection then; not good enough for streaming videos).

That was a decade ago, and it was one of the best feelings I’ve had in my Kobe/Lakers/NBA fandom.  Since then, I’ve several times re-watched highlights of Kobe’s 81-point game as well as the entire game itself.  And with its tenth year anniversary having recently come and gone (January 22), I re-watched it once more.  But this time around, with the sentiment of Kobe’s career drawing to its close hanging in the air, there were some things that I was reminded of and fully realized as I watched.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Alexander Dane Is My Most Favorite Alan Rickman Character



Beloved English actor Alan Rickman passed away earlier this month at the age of 69 (he would have turned 70 next month).  He shall definitely be missed.  He was an easy celebrity to like.  He has a refined and charming personality, and he has this terrific, distinctive accent that everybody finds adorable and which other celebrities (e.g. Benedict Cumberbatch) love to impersonate.  Most importantly, he’s an “important” actor – and a genuinely talented one at that.  Now, there are only four movie characters that he portrayed that I extremely liked: Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves, Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest, and Severus Snapes in the Harry Potter movies.  But he played these four characters to perfection, making them too memorable and striking that they were already enough to establish and solidify his reputation in the world of cinema and winning movie fans’ hearts.

Among these four Rickman characters, my most favorite is Alexander Dane.  I acknowledged that Snapes is arguably the most complex and iconic – maybe even the best – and it’s either him or Hans Gruber whom Rickman is most associated with.  But Dane was the character that I enjoyed the most.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Top 10 Fantasy Books


I had already made respective lists for science fiction and science fantasy – the mashup of science fiction and fantasy – books.  So it’s only right to complete a “trilogy” by doing another list, this time for fantasy literature.  This list is exclusively for “pure” fantasy – books that exclusively use fantasy elements and tropes.  If you’re wondering why an important “fantasy” property is missing in this list, check first my list for science fantasy books for it might be there.  Also, there are no horror books in this list for I don’t count horror as fantasy even if they have supernatural or fantastical elements (someday, I will make a list for them, too).

Nonetheless, I admit that this list will feel incomplete.  I know there are tons of notable works of fantasy that I haven’t read yet.  I’ve been meaning to read the Gormenghast series for years, but I can’t find a copy.  I enjoyed the TV mini-series, but I haven’t read the Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell novel yet.   I haven’t read a single The Wheel of Time book (I want to get into it at book one, which I’m having a difficult time of finding).  And I’ve yet to get into the hottest fantasy property these days, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Furthermore, the rankings of this list are dependent on my personal taste and on it alone.  So some of these books might be ranked higher or lower than their positioning in an “objective” all-time list for fantasy books.

10.) Redwall series by Brian Jacques

Once I got to read enough Redwall books, I found the plots and themes repetitive and thin.  Still, they are a delight to read.  Set in a fantasy, medieval world occupied by anthropomorphic critters, the books feature various tales from the history of Redwall Abbey, Mossflower Woods, and other surrounding places.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

2015. In Pictures.


This is my recap of 2015: a set of images, in no particular order, summarizing the notable stuff of this year...
   
"Back to the Future Day" came and went...
...but we still don't have commercial hoverboards around.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Photo Biography Update (01-07-16)


Some notable photos taken during the period of June 27, 2015 to January 7, 2016...

Top 10 Comics of 2015


I love comics, and I love reading them in general.  That will always be the case, and 2015 was no different.  I’ve read plenty of titles.  However, unlike the previous two years in which I did “top 20” lists, I will just be doing a “top 10” for 2015.  It’s not because 2015 wasn’t a good year for comics – it was.  Comics have gained higher recognition and status as an art form in recent years, and have since been a fantastic medium for profound storytelling and stunning graphic art year in, year out.  However, I feel that 2015’s crop of comics – or at least those I read – isn’t that noteworthy to warrant a top 20.   Also, I feel too lazy to write a top 20. Hehe.

Honorable Mentions: Bloom County (the awesome cartoon strip is back as a web comic!), Superman: American Alien, Spider-Man & the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Batman and SupermanInvincible Iron Man, Action Comics

10.) BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

I enjoy inter-property crossovers, and it’s been a while since something as cool as this has been done.  Only the first issue had been released in 2015, but the premise and mood it had set appealed to me considerably, enough to get a spot in this list.  I’m excited to see how the rest of its run will go in 2016.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Top 10 TV Shows of 2015


Before we start with the list, let me first present, for your reference, all the TV shows I watched and followed in 2015 but didn’t get in the top 10 --
Anime: One-Punch Man season one, Kuroko no Basuke season three (end), Haikyuu! season two, The Seven Deadly Sins season one, Your Lie in April, Assassination Classroom season one, Sound! Euphonium, Parasyte –the maxim–
TV Series: Castle, The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow (I dropped this during the latest season), Elementary (also dropped this during the latest season), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Defiance (cancelled), True Detective, iZombie, Constantine (cancelled after just one season. Bummer. At least, John Constantine showed up in Arrow), Agent Carter, The Big Bang Theory, 12 Monkeys, Supergirl, The Muppets

Now, unto my choices for the ten best things on TV in 2015…

10.) JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORELL

Excerpt from my review:
“Set in an alternative history around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell focuses on the partnership of the title characters, the last two magicians of England, and then their inevitable rivalry. There’s actually something more to its premise than this, but I believe that the less information you know about it – especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book yet – the more enjoyable and fresh you will find the series to be.”