The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #247 – Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on the Ladder Fight from Jackie Chan’s First Strike and Like a Hood Ornament 7 – Cliff Fights a Giant and Survives!

Episode #247 – Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on the Ladder Fight from Jackie Chan’s First Strike and Like a Hood Ornament 7 – Cliff Fights a Giant and Survives!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-247/Podcast%20247.mp3

This week, Jeremy Lesniak from whistlekick.com rejoins the show as we do another fight scene analysis of the famous ladder scene from the film, First Strike.  You can listen to a similar version of this episode on Jeremy’s show as episode 497.

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It’s a great example of the use of everyday items that can be used as weapons of self defense.  There’s a little scene in The Thirteenth Hour interlude, Empty Hands, that discusses this very idea:

After we’d finished for the day, I eyed the wall of weapons.  Frankly, I wasn’t especially attached to any of them.  Not the way Aron was to the sickles or Lance to the sword.  In fact, the idea of cleaving someone open with a bladed weapon and seeing their tortured expression was nauseating.  I’d grown up around bows, since they were tools to put meat on the table, and while the Army ones were nicer and more powerful than the rough ones people in my village had used, I didn’t think of them much differently than, say, rakes or fishing poles.  The only one I’d taken any interest in was the sling, and that was only really because in order to use it, we had to go hunting for smooth stones to use as ammunition.  The stones reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes as a child – skipping rocks over the water – though my accuracy was so horrendous that I might as well have thrown the damn things. 

The only weapons exercise I actually enjoyed didn’t even involve weapons in the traditional sense.  It was a weekly session jointly taught with the wizards where we were given random objects from daily life, like umbrellas, gardening rakes, toothbrushes, and in one case, potted plants.  We then had to defend ourselves from a partner coming at us with a haymaker or an overhand sword strike (supposedly the two most common attacks we would be facing).  You could use whatever orthodox unarmed or magical techniques you wanted to defend yourself … or you could think fast and come up with a creative way to jury rig the household item you were given for your defense.  I was only fair with the unarmed stuff and horrible with magic, but coming up with a new way to use an ink bottle or a folding chair for self-defense was probably the only fun I had in our combat training.  However, that was a very small part of the curriculum, and before long, it was back to more repetitive drills with the sword or spear.

Speaking of a long weapon like the spear, how would you use a ladder if that’s all you had?  Would you spin it around, unfold it, throw it, etc?  Interesting thing to thin about as you watch the clip.  Speaking of which, let’s get to the clip!  We’re watching this scene at 1/4 speed, starting at 3:17 (should load at that time by clicking on the link below).  You can follow along in real time by clicking below:

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This little animated .gif is, of course, from the point in the movie where the Rocketeer, not above a little self conscious vanity, asks how he looks.  Peevy, not above a little blunt honesty, says “Like a hood ornament!”  The Rocketeer blasts off for the first time, Peevy gets blown backwards into the hangar, and I get a name for this part of the podcast!

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This week’s Like a Hood Ornament section is also a fight scene analysis of a short altercation (plays not long after the .gif above) in the 1991 film … starting at 1:00 in.  As before, the clip will be playing in the background with commentating occurring in real time.  Cliff loses his weapon (in this case, a Mauser C96 pistol) and has to improvise – in this case, using his rocket pack to accelerate his flying tackle).

Stay tuned for more Rocketeer talk next week!  Stay safe!

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #246 and Like a Hood Ornament 6 – The Reluctant Hero

Episode #246 and Like a Hood Ornament 6 – The Reluctant Hero

https://archive.org/download/podcast-246/Podcast%20246.mp3

This week’s show is about the idea of the reluctant hero, an archetype in literature and film to describe an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and as a result does things beyond what he or she could ever had imagined.  We also talk about various definitions of the word “hero,” from the ancient Greek usage, to hero in terms of an idol, to a hero in terms of someone who does something selfless to help someone else, whether in the everyday or out of the ordinary sense.

I didn’t read this segment in the show, but here a chapter in The Thirteenth Hour which describes this idea where Logan, the main protagonist, first becomes a reluctant hero:

The day before the end of basic training, I went into town to find a shoe repair shop.  A buckle on my left shoe had broken a few days ago and now, every time I stepped down with that foot, my heel would slide out of the shoe.  It was getting annoying, but I’d finally managed to put together enough money to cover what I thought it’d cost.  One gold piece came from a poker game where I’d gotten lucky, and the rest I’d gotten from picking pennies off the street, which is what you do when you don’t get paid.

I asked a man on one of the crowded streets for directions. When I got to the shop, there was a big sign that said, “CLOSED FOR REPAIRS, WILL REOPEN IN TWO WEEKS.”

“Figures,” I thought to myself.  “Two weeks?  Maybe there’s another shop in town.”  I went back to kicking a stone and trying not to fling my boot off in the process as I wandered through the downtown merchant sector, considering what to do next. 

So there I was, minding my own business when I heard an ear–piercing scream.  I spun around, forgetting all about my shoe and the rock.  Right in the middle of the dirt road lay an old man, struggling to get up.  About ten yards away, barrelling down the road at full speed was a four horse carriage.  The driver in front was shouting out commands to his horses, but they weren’t listening.  There was a big crowd of people watching from the sidewalks.  I saw the woman that had screamed; she was still screaming. 

“Somebody do something!”  Apparently, that didn’t include herself. 

In fact, everyone stared around blankly, waiting for someone else to make the first move.  A few people new to the scene made faces and hurried off. 

“Do something!” she screamed over and over.

Aw, shit, people, the lady had a point. Though I had half a mind to throw something at her to get her to shut up, I pushed past the people on the edge and jumped into the middle of the road.  The next few seconds seemed to be in slow motion.  Unfortunately, in what was to become regular pattern until progressing to a more advanced stage of cognitive development, I didn’t think first before doing something idiotic. 

At any rate, the man was sitting up, dazed.  I don’t know how close the carriage was, but it couldn’t have been far, because as I dove at the old man, tackling him around the waist, a horse clipped the loose heel of my boot, the busted one, sending it spinning off into the gutter.  We rolled to the other side of the road, missing the remaining hooves by a heartbeat.

I sat up and looked around.  The old man looked all right as far as I could tell, just a little shaken.  Suddenly what seemed like hundreds of faces crowded around us.

“Are you all right?”

“Bravest thing I ever saw.”

“Somebody call a doctor!”

“That was a pretty rough fall that old fella took, is he okay?”

I stood and bent over the old man.  He was breathing, but his eyes were closed.  He looked like he was in pain, but he didn’t utter a sound when I asked if he felt alright. 

 “What happened?  What happened?  I didn’t see,” someone yelled.

“Well, this old fella was walking across the street, he tripped, and he couldn’t get up … mebbe ’cause he’s so old.  Anyway, doesn’t matter now ’cause that’s when the kid jumped in. Tackled him around the waist.”

“The kid’s a hero!” said someone else.  They looked at me, expecting me to say something.

“Well …”  As usual, words failed me.

“Now, don’t be modest, you’re a hero, son.”

Okay, if these people wanted me to be a hero, then what the hell.  Heroes are entitled to certain privileges, like new boots.  Any takers?

Just then, a man in a white coat pushed his way through the crowd saying, “It’s okay, I’m a doctor!”  He bent over the old man, briefly examining him.

After he had finished, the man said, “Probably just a twisted ankle.  No serious injuries I can see from here, but let’s get him on that stretcher.  Watch his head, and keep his neck still.  We’ll carry him to my office.  It’s just a few blocks from here,” said the doctor.

“I don’t need no damn stretcher!” yelled the old man.

“Everybody goes on the stretcher,” the doctor said emphatically.

“Ah, go to hell!  At least let me talk to the kid that saved my rear end!  Hey kid!  Come over here!”

I walked over.

“I just wanted to thank you.  My name’s Wally.  What’s yours?”

“Logan.”

“Well, nice to meet you, Logan.  I’m been living in this stinking kingdom for eighty–five years, and now I guess I’ll be able to stay for a few more years, huh?”

Now was that a good thing?

“You know, kid, you got a real set of marbles to do something like that.  Hell, I wouldn’t have done that even for me!  But hey, no complaints, glad you did.  I could use a kid like you.  What do you do for a living?”

“I’m … a soldier, I guess, in training.”

“No kidding!  That’s perfect.  Meet me at this address tomorrow; you won’t regret it!” he said, handing me a little white card.

“What’s it for?”

“Let me put it to you this way.  You ever see a magician?”

I said I had once.

“And did you like it?”

I said I’d enjoyed the show.

“But weren’t you disappointed when you discovered that he was a fake?  I mean, that he wasn’t using real magic, just tricks?”

I said I was disappointed when he told us that there was no such thing as magic.

“Nonsense!  The lousy bastard didn’t know what he was talking about!  See, you have to understand, real magicians like to keep that a secret … until it’s needed!  So, of course there’s magic.  I’m really not supposed to be telling you that, but, what the hell, kid, you just saved my life.”

“How do you know about magic?”

The old man looked both ways suspiciously.  Motioning for me to come closer, he said, almost in a whisper, “I’ll get to that in a minute.  This is what I’m proposing.  How would you like to learn some genuine, old–fashioned magic?  No bull now.  Just the real thing.  And get paid for it!”

“Well, sure, I guess.”

“Alright.  You like traveling?  Seeing new places?”

“Well, I haven’t really done any, but I would like to.”

“Great!  How about sports?  You like running, climbing, jumping, fencing, things like that?”

“Um, yeah, they’re okay.”

“Would you like to be better at those games?  You’ll get better in this job!”

“Sure … I guess.  What is this job, anyway?”

“Yeah, so it’s all set then.  Meet me tomorrow.  I’ll see to it that an announcement is made tomorrow morning.”

Just then the doctor motioned to his assistant, who picked up the other end of the stretcher.

“Umm, that’s nice and all, but I live in the castle training grounds.  It’s awfully hard for anyone from the outside to get inside there.”

“Oh, silly me!  Did I mention that I am one of King Darian’s wizards?  Well, that’s me.  Wally the Wizard at your service.  I’ll see you tomorrow!” he shouted as he was being carried away.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself.  Something sounded fishy here.  What was one of the King’s wizards doing outside the castle walls?  They supposedly always stayed locked up in one of the remote wings of the castle.  This one was an awfully smooth talker.  I wondered if this had something to do with what those two knights were talking about; one of them had mentioned the King’s wizards.  Something didn’t sound right.  He never even told me what the job was.  And …

“Wait!” I yelled. “What’s the catch?”

But the wizard was too far away to hear.

“Ah, shit,” I muttered to myself, finding my left boot wet and slime–covered in the gutter.  I wiped it off on some grass and secured the loose buckle as best I could.  It squished every time I stepped on it.  Something wasn’t right, but like the proverbial stinking turd, I’d stepped right in it.

Well, I thought, kicking another stone the rest of the way back to the castle, on the bright side, at least I am walking away.  Of all the ways to end up dead or in the hospital, getting trampled was not one I’ve ever wanted to experience. 

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This little animated .gif is, of course, from the point in the movie where the Rocketeer, not above a little self conscious vanity, asks how he looks.  Peevy, not above a little blunt honesty, says “Like a hood ornament!”  The Rocketeer blasts off for the first time, Peevy gets blown backwards into the hangar, and I get a name for this part of the podcast!

I first learned of the term “reluctant hero” from an ad for The Rocketeer.  Cliff is not motivated initially by much other than a desire to make some money and get in the good graces of his girlfriend, a rising starlet with an eye for the finer things in life (at least from Cliff’s perspective).  There are lots of other great examples from cinema and literature.

One of my favorites is from the 1992 movie, Hero, with Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy Garcia, and Joan Cusak.  The Dustin Hoffman character is a minor conman, if I recall right (I need to watch the movie again) who becomes a reluctant hero after he saves a bunch of people from a plane crash but can’t take credit for the act.   I love this ending scene – both for its life lessons as well as its insight into human nature.  As hinted above in The Thirteenth Hour passage, a lot of people don’t want to do heroic things, especially when eyes are on them.  They might act when someone else initially steps in, but making that first step (like Logan does above or Bernie does in the scene below), takes a certain, well, heroic disregard for what other people think, and as social animals, that’s not always the easiest thing for humans to have.

Although I hadn’t seen Hero yet when I originally wrote The Thirteenth Hour, I had seen The Last Starfighter – many times, in fact – and the way Alex Rogan behaves through most of the movie is very much in keeping with the way of the reluctant hero (as well as one of the influences in the creation of Logan).  Here’s when he’s first offered the chance to be a Starfighter:

Stay tuned for more Rocketeer gear talk next week!  Stay safe!

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #53: Rocketeer Reflections

Episode #53: Reflections on Rewatching The Rocketeer and How it Influenced The Thirteenth Hour 

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/Podcast%2053.mp3

I recently rewatched the 1991 film, The Rocketeer, one of my favorite films from childhood, if not my all-time favorite.  It encapsulated just about everything a kid could hope for – airplanes, jet packs, shootouts between gangsters and Nazi storm troopers – not to mention a great cast of characters with a plucky heroine and a dashing hero that was just enough of an Everyman to be easily relatable.  Sometimes, movies that seemed great as a kid don’t always make for great films for adults.  So although I owned the DVD of The Rocketeer and have rewatched bits through the years, I was always a bit hesitant about watching the film start-to-finish again, I guess out of fear that it would inevitably fall from grace after years had tarnished the nostalgia factor.

Nope.

I’m glad to say that didn’t happen.  Not only did I watch the whole thing, I was glued to my seat and daresay I enjoyed the movie more than I did when I was a kid.

In many ways, it was ahead of its time.  Superhero movies weren’t really as big at the time as they were now, and in this age of global terrorism, it is comforting to think that heroes exists in our midst that can stand tall when they’re needed.  And in many ways, that’s what the Rocketeer (a.k.a. pilot Cliff Secord) was – just an ordinary guy who, though a mixture of good/bad luck (depending on how you look at it) and the serendipity of circumstance, becomes a reluctant hero in an uncertain age (at the dawn of WWII).   Part of me suspects that the original creator of The Rocketeer comics, illustrator Dave Stevens, created Cliff with exactly that I mind – not so much a hero chosen to have superpowers but an average citizen who ends up in the role and has to balance using his rocket pack for the greater good (fighting crime/Nazis, saving innocent people) vs. his own personal agenda (making money, impressing his girlfriend).

While I was watching the film this time, I was struck by how many similarities there are between Cliff Secord and Logan, the protagonist of The Thirteenth Hour. In many ways, it’s not surprising, since The Rocketeer was one of my favorite movies all throughout high school, and The Thirteenth Hour was written the summer after I graduated.  Both have a boyish, child like sense of gee-whiz! wonder about them.  While both are, at heart, good people doing their best, both are getting by on a lot more than special abilities and natural talents.  They’re carried along as much by a combination of pluck, luck, help from others, and just, plain old bumbling incompetence that favors the optimistic, idealistic, and brave … the very image of characters that are holding it together not because they are super prepared or organized but with a combination of chewing gum, spit, and twine.  (In fact, Cliff’s rocketpack is held together by chewing gum at one point.)

So, it’s not surprising that there are some parallels, both in character and appearance.  Here are a few of the latter:

-I think ones of the reasons I drew Logan with the haircut he has was largely due to an the unconscious influence of Dave Stevens.

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This is one of the tamer pictures of Cliff Secord’s do out there.  He usually is a bit more disheveled:

-Cliff also worn a leather button-up jacket that, while looking a real pain to put on and take off, sure looks cool).  I gave the Imperial Rangers in The Thirteenth Hour tunics with a similar aesthetic, though I didn’t opt for the buttons.

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-And then, of course, both characters can fly owning to special machines.  Logan’s flying machine, Lightning, is talked about in episode #45.

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I recently found a little replica of the hoverboard from Back to the Future 2 in a thrift store – that made my day.

If you’re interested in learning more about real-life attempts to create rocketpacks, you can check out the book Jetpack Dreams (an excerpt on The Rocketeer is below):

You can also read more in this magazine article:

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More on the Rocketeer in the future!  Listen for the clip from the soundtrack by James Horner on the podcast as well as more postings on social media.

There are many excellent depictions of the Rocketeer since Dave Stevens’ passing.  This is a fine example by Alexey Mordovets.

As always, thanks for listening!

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