Conan The Barbarian

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

Conan The Barbarian (1982)

I happened to be up at 3:00 AM and I flipped through the channels until I found Conan The Barbarian (2011) playing on SYFY. I missed most of the film but I got to see the final action sequence. And as Conan chased down the villains and strived to save the girl, I realized how different the various big-screen films about Conan have been and decided to write about it.

Conan The Barbarian, originally created by Robert E. Howard, has appeared in three films and two TV shows (one animated and one live-action both with the same name). I have seen all three films. I saw the first two in theaters when they came out. And the third on a video-on-demand service. (I’ve also seen a couple of episodes of the live-action TV show, Conan The Adventurer. It was bad. I’ve never seen the animated series.)

The first film, simply titled Conan The Barbarian, was released in 1982 and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the famous barbarian. It had an all-star cast including James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, and Mako. The plot follows the life and upbringing of Conan for the first half, and the second half follows Conan’s quest for love and revenge against the evil Thulsa Doom. The film, like many adaptations, takes many liberties with the original source material, but it is generally enjoyable and a fun ride. It is worth watching if you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while.

The second film, titled Conan The Destroyer was released in 1984 and also starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan. The second film was much closer to B-Movie quality but did bring back Mako as Conan’s crazy wizard friend. It also starred Grace Jones, André the Giant, and Wilt Chamberlain. The plot revolves around the resurrection of an ancient god called Dagon by an evil sorcerer queen. The story reads like a classic Dungeons and Dragons adventure with monsters, an evil wizard, dungeons, betrayal, and a cult. It is a bit of a predictable ride, but it is still fun and worth a watch. This is also my favorite of the three Conan films.

The third and final, so far, film is also titled Conan The Barbarian. It was released in 2011 and starred Jason Momoa as Conan. It also had a great cast including Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, and Stephen Lang. The plot follows Conan’s life as he seeks revenge on the man who killed his tribe and Conan’s preventing the reunification and activation of a mask that contains the power of a god. The story takes plenty of liberties with the source material but is fun and adventurous. I personally think it is a great fantasy adventure and is as much a Conan film as the first two. I like it and recommend it, but a lot of fans of the original panned it.

In the end, I liked all of the Conan films and recommend them. They are all fun fantasy films and, frankly, I think the first two hold up pretty well. Check them out.

Steampunk Revolution?

“We’ve got a steampunk revolution

We’re tired of all your so-called evolution

We’ve darted back to 1886

Don’t ask us why; that’s how we get our kicks”

Steampunk RevolutionAbney Park

I have admired Steampunk from afar for a while now. I’ve enjoyed the costumes, the machines, the music, and the creativity. I’ve read a few steampunk books. I ran one of the many steampunk role-playing games a long time ago. In fact, I recently discovered Professor Elemental’s steampunk-flavored hip hop. But in the end, I really don’t get it.

Was the age of steam really that great? I refer, of course, to the Victorian era. (And I hate to break it two you, but most of our electric power is still generated via steam. It is just heated by more sources than coal.) 

Don’t get me wrong. The Victorian era was an era of discovery and adventure. The world was still a big place then. It took a long time to travel from country to country. Ships and trains ruled the day. Much of the world was still unexplored.

What is steampunk trying to capture or recapture? 

Is it the romance of the Victorian era or the adventure or the discoveries? Or is it just a DIY movement with cool fashions? Or is it to satisfy a deep need in some of us to explore that modern life can’t satisfy?

I thought about putting together a costume and going to a steampunk event or two, but I would just be a poser. (I could see myself getting into a steampunk role-playing game, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to run one.) So I guess I will have to content myself with listening to Abney Park and Professor Elemental and admiring steampunk creations in pictures and videos.

Wars And Rumors Of Wars

“Get ready to draw the rockets of peace

There’s a showdown tonight on the bright milky way

Ambush the bad men, blow him right out of the east

We’ll be singin’, “yi yippy ky, whoopee ky yippy I aye”

Big GunsDaniel Amos

I grew up in the shadow of the cold war. I was a hawk as a child. Fed on the glory and heroics of movies like Von Ryan’s Express, The Bridge at Remagen, and Where Eagles Dare. I believed that evil could be vanquished with the appropriate application of violence. Just like we used to eliminate Hitler and Nazi Germany.

I believed the propaganda of the day. The USSR was the enemy. The communists were evil. And evil must be defeated. If that involved the use of American blood and treasure then so be it.

I was a fool.

Since that time, I have grown up. I served in the Navy during the first Gulf War. (I didn’t join for the glory of it. I joined for the education. Honestly, if I had wanted glory I would have joined one of the ground forces such as the Army or the Marines.) I got closer to the reality of war. I realized that when you go to war it has a cost both human and financial. I began to see the effects. People killed. Soldiers destroyed. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

Sure, I still believe that everyone who chooses to serve their country in the Military is a hero. Especially those that give their lives or limbs for their country’s cause. It’s the causes and the people who determine them that I no longer have faith in.

I no longer believe that a suitable application of violence can solve evil.

Part of this is the result of my Christian faith. Part of this is the result of seeing evil march on despite the wars waged against it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a fool. I understand the need to use violence in the form of self-defense and the defense of others. What I don’t believe in is the idea of a “just war”. 

There is no justice in war. 

People die. Both soldiers and sailors and the innocent.

Is evil defeated? No. At best it is displaced.

Defeat one evil and another will take its place. It is like a hydra. Cut off one head and two will take its place.

We defeated Hitler and the Nazis. A true evil. Unfortunately, we allowed the evil of Stalin to continue and even thrive for a time. Then we defeated the USSR through economic violence. Now they are superseded by communist China. Not to mention North Korea and all the terrorists out there. Where does it end?

It doesn’t. At least not until Jesus returns.

But that brings me to today. The drumbeat of war echoes through the halls of the American government. We are posed to use violence, both economic and physical, to defend Ukraine from Russia. But should we? 

Should we spend American treasure and spill American blood to defend this eastern European country? Is it true that Putin, the President of Russia, wants to recreate the USSR? Do we have diplomatic obligations to Ukraine? Or are we being sold a “bill of goods” by our leaders?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I am against war in general and until someone can make a case for me on how this is self-defense in some way, I can’t support direct action in support of Ukraine.