Gavlak: A Rock Punk Rap Metal Band You Must Check Out


I saw a recent gig of my friend Michael Lee’s band, Gavlak. They played at the Canyon in Agoura Hills, CA. They don’t play much so they’re hard to find, but if you can, you will be glad you did.

I wrote about one of their gigs last year here.

I wrote in that article that I don’t like loud banging music and I especially do not like live performances, I am a studio music lover. But I have to say, Gavlak may make a punk concert-goer out of me yet.

Their pounding melodies are memorable, and their lyrics are profound and spiritual. I don’t mean religious, I mean transcendent truth cyphered through real world experience.gavlak2

The band is solid. Hey, it’s no secret they ain’t Millennial spring chickens. But that’s what makes them so fascinating. Their age brings a maturity in both skill and insight that it takes years of life experience to create.

Their music could be compared to Rage Against the Machine, Primus or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Stone Temple Pilots or Faith No More? Maybe. But really, Gavlak is not quite like any of them. They have a unique sound that is hard to pin down.

But their melodies stick with you, and their lyrics make you think.
Their showmanship has just gotten better over time. I would echo what a photographer had said after the gig: Lead singer Michael Lee is a rock star. He bounces around on the stage, not with anarchic lunacy, but dramatic flair that makes you enjoy the music that much more.

In that previous post I wrote about most of their songs, but they have two new ones that I absolutely LOVE… Continue reading

The Birth of a Nation: Black Braveheart or Black Paul Hill?


True story of a Virginia slave uprising in 1831, led by literate religious slave Nat Turner, who, with a group of seventy slaves, rose up against their slaveholders and killed close to sixty men, women and children in a 48-hour period. The rebellion was quashed before Turner and his men could attain their goal of securing artillery from a local armory to advance their cause.

Though not the only slave uprising in the Antebellum South, the Nat Turner Rebellion was certainly one of the most tragically fascinating.

Monsters That Should Not Be Downplayed

I got to see an advance screening of the movie, and I have to say first off, that the title of this movie is a brilliant subversion of the old 1915 silent epic, The Birth of a Nation, a racist tale of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan of the Democratic Party depicted as heroic. D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking filmmaking techniques gave the film historic significance as a landmark in the history of cinema. So it is only apropos that this new film reclaims that title, subverts it, and redefines our nation properly, by illustrating some of that origin as drenched in the blood of black slaves.

Writer-director Nate Parker reveals the atrocities of Southern slaveholding with artistic restraint. Rather than exploiting the suffering of Nat and his fellow slaves with gratuitous shock and gore, he effectively captures the mounting violence against them without losing the horror so necessary to the heart of this story. He deals with the monstrous evils of sexual abuse of slave women, the gang rape of Nat’s wife, and the brutal whipping of Nat, by showing the aftermaths rather than the unwatchable acts themselves.

Unfortunately, one of the monsters that is also not portrayed in the movie is Nat Turner… Continue reading

Deepwater Horizon: Explosive Portrait of Heroism and Survival

The true disaster story of the 2010 explosion and destruction of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, that became the largest man-made disaster in history.

Watching the first third of Deepwater Horizon was like watching The Big Short or Wall Street. After a brief introduction to the protagonist, Mike Williams, played by Mark Wahlberg, and one other female character, we are plunged into the politics aboard the semi-submersible oil rig, famous for its safety awards, but now facing the mounting pressure of corporate executives trying to skirt safety regulations on a delayed project versus the safety concerns of rig chief, Jimmy Williams, played by Kurt Russell.

Insider lingo and tech talk fills the screen in such a way that the viewer cannot quite understand, making him feel immersed in an authentic environment, but not so detached as to be unable to interpret the emotions and tense human drama that are occurring.

Tension mounts with rising concern under the direction of Peter Berg, a fine visual director of past films like the phenomenal Lone Survivor.

When the series of explosions begin that will utterly destroy the rig and ultimately kill eleven of the workers onboard, the movie becomes a non-stop, white-knuckle ride of terrifying real life disaster, accompanied by acts of heroism, as Mike and other workers pull together to save as many people as possible.

I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for true stories of heroism because they move me, they inspire me, and they give me hope that men and women can pull together in crisis for the better part of our humanity. That’s the second best kind of transcendence in a story that makes it worthy.

So I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and the human will to survive. We need more of these movies to counter the nihilism and cynicism that permeates our culture.

Godawa’s Quibble Corner

What did not inspire me was the very thin development of character, not merely of the protagonist, but of all of the characters. There were no significant personal internal journeys that would have created a much more human interest story. It amounted to an explosively well-filmed disaster survival documentary with two dimensional characters. I longed for the kind of transcendence that movies like these can attain, if they only seek the deeper meaning that is waiting to be discovered embodied in the event.

One particular moment at the end of the film was like a loud backfire of missed opportunity. After most of the men are aboard the rescue ship, and the proper villain is shamed, all the men kneel down and pray the Lord’s Prayer together. But there is nothing prior in the movie that would set up for this otherwise moving scene. What a powerful spiritual potential to a story that was never set-up to be released with real impact. Patronizing instead of inspirational as it could have been.

Well, counter that with the pleasant surprise that the end credits did not blame the big bad oil companies involved with causing global warming, and my respect for Berg just rose several notches. It’s gotta be difficult to keep insane Hollywood politics out of your movie, and that’s about as heroic as you can get in my book.

Crop Circles: Aliens, Plasma Vortex or Human Creation?


I was a cohost on this Peeranormal episode on Crop Circles.

Crop circles are well known — patterns that appear in fields of crops when certain areas of the field are compressed. Investigators have long noted how the stalks are bent uniformly, without visible damage. This episode of Peeranormal takes a look at some of the sparse academic peer-reviewed research on crop circles to discuss if they are man-made, created by an unknown natural force, or something paranormal.

Listen to the podcast here.

Free Book: When Giants Were Upon the Earth – Watchers, Nephilim and Biblical War of the Seed

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Fargo the Series: Good is Sexier Than Evil


I am posting this way too late. Oh well. TV series are no longer time bound anyway.

I watched the first two seasons of Fargo when they came out. The last one was I don’t know how many months ago. I have been meaning to write about this. Now, I won’t remember all the details as I should, but that’s okay cause I just want to hit the broadbrush strokes anyway so I don’t spoil the good stuff.

I found the original movie Fargo by the Coen brothers to be fascinating and carrying their usual quirky, dark, but hopeful worldview. When the series came up, I thought I wouldn’t want to see the movie redone as a series, and didn’t think there would be enough to hold it through 10 hours.

I was seriously wrong.

Fargo is one of the best series on TV (I hate that term TV. It’s got a negative stigma and doesn’t even apply anymore. I watched it online). It captures the original spirit of the Coen brothers and repackages their thought-provoking storytelling in a way that quite frankly I find much more satisfying than the original movie.

Here is why I love Fargo the series so much… Continue reading

Ben Hur: An Epic Movie of Christian Forgiveness in an Empire of Hate

Ben Hur

Adaptation of a famous fictional novel by Lew Wallace about a first century wealthy Jew, Judah Ben-Hur, and his pursuit of revenge against an adopted Roman brother who betrays his family.

Chances are, you have heard of the classic movie of Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston in the lead role. But if you’re young, you probably haven’t seen it. Look, for those of us who have seen the “original,” it’s pretty hard to live up to the grandness of it because Heston was so legendary. But the truth is, when I watched the old one again some years ago, the actual quality of filmmaking and acting, even the famous chariot race, was not as good as my memory of it. Modern filmmaking is simply more sophisticated on many levels.

Enter, the modern reboot

Judah and his family live in Jerusalem, but his adopted Roman brother, Masala, never feels welcome with his pagan ideas and desire to make his own name in life. So Masala goes to Rome and becomes a highly placed military leader, who ends up at Jerusalem aiding Pontius Pilate at the time of Christ.

Judah begins the story as a Jew who scorns the extremes of both the Zealots, who seek to rise up against Rome, and of the way of love that he sees a young carpenter preaching to his followers. Judah seeks to protect his family and stay out of trouble. Self-preservation. And isn’t that really the desire of most of us, if we are honest? (Zealots were kind of like ancient “Social Justice Warriors” or terrorists)

The problem is that the family gets falsely accused of a Zealot crime, and is punished accordingly. Rather than execute Judah, Rome prefers to enjoy him dying slowly by putting him as a slave on a Roman galley ship. I have to say, this part of the movie was the most excellent surprise of the experience. I remember that part of the Heston movie as being a bit boring: guys rowing in dirty sweaty grunge with the quartermaster pounding the drum and the slaves getting whipped and yelled at.

But in this version, the experience of the sea battle by the oarsman from their perspective was a powerful action sequence. It captured the experience of what it might feel like to be there, helpless in those cramped quarters being bashed and battered around and sinking during a battle. And only being able to see what is going on through cracks and oar windows as they row. It reminded me of the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan, how it made you feel like the first time you ever really got a true sense of real battle in a movie from the individual’s perspective.

More Bread and Circuses!…

Continue reading