DVD Film Review: Black Panther

Actor Chadwick Boseman who played T’Challa, the Black Panther died at the age of 43 of colon cancer. Everything I’ve read about him says he was an amazing human being, both talented and kind. He was married only last year but he and his wife had no children. According to his official biography, he was a Christian and actually prayed to get the role of the Black Panther.

I’m reblogging my review of the 2018 film “Black Panther” in his honor. Rest in Peace, Chadwick. Wakanda Forever.

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black panther Promotional poster for the 2018 film “Black Panther”

Okay, so last night, I watched Black Panther (2018) and loved it. Actually, for me, picking up the main themes wasn’t difficult at all, and yes it is more than just another superhero story. It’s both the epic tale of a new King who is struggling to determine the direction of his nation, and a spiritual journey for personal truth, especially between father and son.

I’m not being frivolous or unkind when I say that the latter reminded me of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King. After all, Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick) has to come to terms with his guilt over his father Mufasa’s (voiced by James Earl Jones) death and his worthiness to become a King. He is also challenged by his rival Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) and must risk death fighting for the right to ascend…

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Work in Progress Excerpt 8-28-2020

poker

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

Finally got some mojo back and am doing a bit of writing, but I’d better hurry, because the deadline for this one is just a week away and I’m still halfway through my first draft. Here’s an excerpt. Tell me what you think of it.

“A wise man once said, it ain’t over til it’s over. I got lucky enough to get a seat at the highest stakes poker game in the west coast underworld with who, a drug kingpin, a racketeer…” he winked at Harris as the butt suspending her three-hundred pound frame shifted, threatening to turn the ancient wood chair into kindling. “…an assassin…,” he nodded at Elias Swan, who looked more the part of a balding, frail accountant. He only spoke from behind his surgical mask when the game necessitated it, “…and the man who runs the unions and the docks from here to San Diego. Tell us why do they call you Daddy?”

Miller knew he was pushing them all, especially Cooke, but that had always his point. Still grinning like an all too visible Cheshire cat, he slapped his hand on the peeling varnish of the pine tabletop. “Read ‘em and weep. Straight flush in diamonds, six through ten.”

“I’m impressed Miller, but not impressed enough. Still can’t beat a…”

Cooke had just enough time to start tipping his hand downward revealing a royal flush in spades when Al Miller exploded out of his seat, violently shoving the table into the other three to his left. As if by magic, a Colt M1911 appeared in his right hand. He lunged at Daddy, whose…

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The Trouble with “The Trouble with Being Born”

trouble

Promotional image for the 2020 film “The Trouble with Being Born”

In 2017, I wrote a short story on my blog called The Girl from Svay Pak. It leveraged what I had read about a Japanese company that manufactured AI-driven sex dolls of little girls. I also added narrative details about the outrageous amount of children being sold for sex in Cambodia. The tale was fiction and in my wildest dreams I never thought someone would make a movie based on this premise (unless it was straight up kiddie porn).

Right on the heels of my commentary on Cuties, I find out that a German film called The Trouble with Being Born was released last February.

The story centers around Georg (played by Dominik Warta) who, as the film begins, is relaxing near his swimming pool while having a casual conversation with his ten-year-old daughter Elli (played by ten-year-old Lena Watson, though that name is a pseudonym). As the story unfolds, we find that Elli is a highly sophisticated android made to look exactly like Georg’s actual daughter who disappeared ten years ago at the age of ten.

However, Georg and Elli don’t exactly have a wholesome parent/child relationship. At night, he has sex with her.

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My Short Story “The Tenth Second” Has Been Accepted for Publication in the “Tick Tock” Anthology

james pyles

Promotional image for the Black Hare Press anthology “Tick Tock” featuring me and my short story “The Tenth Second”

My short story “The Tenth Second” has been accepted for the Black Hare Press time travel anthology Tick Tock. The tales were to be 500 words long, which isn’t a lot of room to tell a full story, and they accepted multiple submissions. My other submission “The Weapon” wasn’t accepted, but you can’t win them all.

Just signed the contract online.

Here’s a sample:

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Netflix’s “Cuties:” The Sexual Exploitation of Children for Profit

cuties

Promotional image for the Netflix TV show “Cuties”

By now, you’ve probably heard at least something about the new Netflix series Cuties. Netflix describes the show as:

Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.

I, like a lot of people, became aware of the show based on the promotional poster I’ve featured above. Really, a bunch of eleven-year-old girls dressed up like streetwalkers and prancing around in front of an adult audience. What does that sound like if not grooming pre-teen girls to be sexually exploited.

Except, that’s not how Netflix sees it.

But before we get into all of that, here’s the official trailer courtesy of YouTube. Duck lips presented for your entertainment:

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The Thirteenth Sign

ferry

Photo by Jayant Kulkarni on Pexels.com

“This is most unusual.” The ferryman, standing at the head of his riverboat, guided it steadily, pull by pull, across waters darker than pitch.

“It is allowed. I have Persephone’s blessing.” The voice from beneath the ashen robes and hood was deep, husky, even coarse, but still unmistakably female. It was the only sign of her identity besides a vague shape, for no part of her flesh was visible to him.

While the waters of the Styx were liquid obsidian, the mist surrounding them swirled white as smoke, perhaps belched out between the Underworld and the living by the furnaces of Hades.

“Sisyphus had Persephone’s ear, and you chose your timing well, what with the winter solstice coming upon the land above.” The old man took another stroke, and then listened as if someone might call. Even to the cloaked figure, he looked unkempt and foul, his stench could have been rotting fish, the breath of rats, or gangrenous flesh. His long, stringy hair and beard dripped an unsavory substance.

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The “Mars” Anthology Featuring “The Three Billion Year Love” is Available Now!

mars

Promotional image for the Mars Planetary Anthology by Tuscany Bay Books

I just saw the announcement on Richard Paolinelli’s blog that the Tuscany Bay Books “Planetary Anthology Series: Mars” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

It features my short story “The Three Billion Year Love”. This is a huge thrill for me, not only because it’s one of my older stories and near and dear to my heart, but it was the first tale I wrote after actress Carrie Fisher‘s death and is (informally) dedicated to her.

This is the second edition to the “Mars” and anthology, and mine was one of two stories chosen to be added, which is also quite an honor.

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Warrior’s Prize

oceanThe amber sands of the Elysian beach and the expanse of the ocean beyond called to the triumphant Erik Reeves, but not as much as she did. Leona, as young, as brilliantly beautiful as she had been before the war, stood waiting, the sea at her back. She had shed the ruffled skirt and cotton smock, naked toes clutching at sparse greenery beneath her feet.

He said nothing, consumed with concupiscence, his mind still filled with the lust of battle, and now he would conquer her as well, his prize, the spoils of victory. He doffed his own shorts and t-shirt and then advanced.

She smiled, pale blue eyes contrast against skin the color of coconut shell. He raised a paw toward her bare, heavy breasts, but she took a hasty step backward.

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Lovecraft Country, Tarzan of the Apes, and What is and isn’t Racism?

lovecraft

Promotional image for the HBO series “Lovecraft Country”

Every once in a while, I visit Mike Glyer’s File 770 SciFi fanzine. I used to follow them and get email updates of new posts, but either due to an accidental technical glitch or me being deliberately booted off for being an “undesirable,” those notices stopped.

Anyway, I was scrolling through Pixel Scroll 8/15/20 To Clickfinity And Beyond! and came across a link to HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ Brings Viewers To A World Of Monsters, Magic and Racism.

I didn’t learn about famed horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s racism until this last round of Hugos when he was denounced along with a lot of other dead white men.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Lovecraft’s monsters and his racism have both been twisted into a show set in the 1950s which features both:

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Retro Hugos, Dragons, and Why I Don’t Care (for the most part) About the Private Lives of Authors

family

© James Pyles – My brother, my parents, and me. I’m the one on the far left. Yes, I used to be thin. The photo was taken about 35 years ago.

Just when I thought I was done with the Hugo Awards and with all this year’s drama and trauma, I ended up reading Looking Forward on Looking Backwards at the Hugo Book Club Blog co-authored by Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne. I don’t know which one of them I talk to on twitter, but they seem like pretty good people.

Anyway, the blog post focused on the Retro Hugos, which are sort of “lifetime achievement awards” for science fiction and fantasy authors who were active before the Hugo awards existed. Being an “older fellow,” I’ve read more than a few in my day, plus a lot of old school Hugo Award Winners. That is, science fiction Hugo winners before the Hugos (in my personal opinion) became less about the quality of a story and more about the “wokeness” of the tale and the writer (both being a necessity these days it seems).

To quote their blog in part:

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