Enter the Ninja
We need more ninja movies. More ninja tv shows. More ninja video games. In the mid 70s to late 80s, there was a blip in our collective consciousness. It came and went, forgotten like so many other ephemeral fugue states, like the 90s swing revival or democracy. But lately, I’ve been immersing myself in all things ninja, and it’s made me nostalgic for that strange era of martial arts magazines and throwing stars bought at flea markets.
The current spate of pop cultural archaeology lead me to a rewatch of ENTER THE NINJA. Sho Kosugi AND Franco Nero?! Grindhouse legends.
I also made my way through its sequel, Revenge of the Ninja, as well as American Ninja 1 and 2. While historical accuracy probably didn’t come up in the scriptwriting meetings, I’m still enthralled by the idea of colorful super-assassins, jumping around a forest in the service of some ancient and mystical order.
Why yes, I do read comic books. Why do you ask?
Speaking of grindhouse and comic books, that’s all my novels really are, if you’ve ever been interested in my fiction. (Someone noted that I don’t talk about my books nearly enough, so here we are.) The base of my storytelling knowledge comes from old horror films and Chris Claremont-era X-Men. It’s not exactly a literary pedigree, but please remember that expertise was taken out behind the abandoned donut shop and shot twice in the back of the head.
Necromancers on Drugs is the most recent. It’s Book 2 of the Occultex series. For those of you interested (hi Chris!), Book 3 should be out later this year. If I can get my act together, I may have a few other surprises for you. I currently have 7-8 novels on my hard drive, all in various stages of completion. It’s time they start earning their keep.
And more ‘grindhouse’! For my recent birthday (hold for applause), I had my semi-annual viewing of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2.
It’s an odd film, and one some purists would argue is one of two good TCM films. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that, but also wouldn’t put up much of a fight. While I’ve written way too many words about the original film - a sun-bleached, arthouse nightmare - its sequel is certainly not that. While the first film showed an unbelievable amount of restraint, part 2 unleashed a barrage of gore that will tie your soft parts into knots. Once, after a lot of effusive praise on my part, I screened it for Brian Brushwood.
He was angry.
It’s a black comedy. The blackest. An absurdist, filthy descent into madness. In a lot of ways, it’s like a parody of the first film. Anyway, YMMV.
Most everything I do these days ties into some sort of research for a project. That’s how I excuse my media consumption, anyway. Let me have that one thing, okay? My research - for the same project about the aforementioned ninja - lead me to the Beast of Gevaudan.
For the uninitiated, it was a wolf-monster-thing in France a long time ago. It ate people. Terrorized the countryside. Etc. Wolves were apparently a really big deal back then, as you can imagine. I often have trouble wrangling my terrier, so the very real shroud of fear a man-eating wolf casts over someone’s life is a bit out of reach for me.
That’s a fancy way of saying I love reading about people who might have really been killed by a monster. (They weren’t.)
Once again, Hollywood has provided something much more rousing and sumptuous than the truth. They gave us Brotherhood of the Wolf.
This is a fun, if at times nonsensical, monster movie and a lush period piece. Even if it never quite comes together, you get to stare at Monica Bellucci, see Vincent Cassell be Vincent Cassell, and watch some kick-ass Iroquois kung fu.
No. I didn’t know that, either.
Some time ago, we did a Modern Rogue episode where we tested an infrared camera. In my digging for Modern Rogue, I came across this article about blocking thermal imaging. It’s covers much ore ground than we did and makes me want to revisit the topic.
For those of you interested in keeping up with my D&D adventure, the second game ramped up the excitement considerably. In Rime of the Frostmaiden, the party, now tracking the mysterious serial killer, Sephek Kaltro, have found themselves closing in on a remote cabin outside the village of Targos.
Much like the first season of a television show, you can see the characters starting to emerge from mayhem. The actors are finding their voices and how they relate to each other. Those interactions, and whatever threads the players provide about their backstories, are some of my favorite parts of the game. Acting as a DM is an invaluable exercise for a writer, particularly when you try to give the players the ability to run around in a sandbox full of gods, orcs, and wizards.
I was considering writing up their adventures and making them available here. Is that interesting at all?
Here’s a curveball. Treat it as a confession, if you need. I’ve been listening to this song a lot. Mostly while drinking my morning coffee. I don’t know if the two are related.
I feel like I should leave now.
Please be safe, friends. Stay in touch. Hold fast.