It’s a new year! I intended to do one of those wrap-up posts that everyone does, but it’s already January 2nd so no one cares anymore. Suffice it to say that 2012 was a year of some pretty major ups and downs. On the ups, I published some stuff, including my first book, got an amazing agent which means my novel is now in excellent hands, and became involved with an extremely rewarding (and time-consuming) martial and cultural arts community. On the flip side of things, I lost a beloved parent, and as nothing else even comes close to that in terms of sadness, so that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

In re resolutions, one thing I’ve decided to do in this new year is blog more—but less about myself. To that end I’m going to start both posting my ongoing experiments with mixology, and also review kung fu movies. There’s nothing particularly thematic there, except that I like to mix cocktails and I watch a lot of kung fu movies. I’d love to inspire others to do more of both, so … okay!

But first, some (mildly hypocritical) housekeeping.

First! The Next Best Book Blog is hosting a giveaway plus an author/reader discussion of A Pretty Mouth. Basically you put your name into a hat for a free .mobi copy, then if you win it you read it and all through February I’ll be engaging in discussions/answering questions about the material. So pop on over and see what’s up!¬†This reminds me to remind you that yes, the kindle edition of A Pretty Mouth is available, so tell any of your friends who mentioned being given Amazon gift cards for the holidays!

Next! “Herbert West In Love” is, as I mentioned, available for free along with the entire December edition of the Lovecraft eZine. But! You can also support the amazing work done by the eZine by either purchasing the podcast version of the issue or buying the ebook. I listened to the podcast of my story and it was an interesting experience! I’ve never heard anyone else read my work before.

Finally, I sold a story! “Tantivy” will be appearing in Steve Berman’s anthology Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages, out in 2013 from Prime Books. Mine’s about devious 18th century fops eschewing fox-hunting for hunting zombies. Well, of course it is!

Ho-kay! Now on to stuff not about me!

For Christmas I asked for a bunch of ridiculous wuxia/kung fu DVD sets, and my girl Raechel got me one that includes Vengeance is a Golden Blade, Have Sword Will Travel, The Water Margin, and The Wandering Swordsman.

I began last night with Vengeance is a Golden Blade, because great title. Too bad the title turns out to be misleading, just a bit. The golden blade is actually the MacGuffin of the film, and less the instrument of vengeance. Ah, whatever.

It begins with a bunch of shady fuckers, aka The Vicious Long Brothers, who are pissed at a marginally less-shady fucker and want to ambush/murder him because the Long Brothers provide “protection” for traveling merchants, but they rob their clients. The marginally less-shady fucker also provides protection but, you know, doesn’t rob his clients, so he’s gotten all their business. They are many but he is few, but he has the Golden Dragon Sword so he fights them and they lose and just get more pissed off.

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Lead Shady Fucker of the Vicious Long Brothers has been carrying on a longtime affair with the wife of Marginally Less Shady. When¬†Marginally Less Shady finds out about the affair, he tells his wife that because of her philandering she must kill herself. She doesn’t really think this is a particularly great idea (go figure) so instead she poisons Marginally’s eyeballs, temporarily, and he is forced to flee with his toddler-aged daughter Xiaolang. They take refuge with a crazy old herbalist and his son.

Fast forward to 18 years later, Marginally Less Shady is crippled and can’t do kung fu anymore so he has trained Xiaolang in swordplay and taught her that one day she must avenge him with the Hanglong Blade he’s been forging for 18 years, coincidentally. But he won’t tell her who will be the object of said avenging so she mostly hangs out practicing and flirting with the herbalist’s son in the bucolic Chinese countryside.

Then one day she begs to go to town and is allowed to for the first time, whereupon, because of course, she falls unwittingly into her now-a-Madam-of-a-whorehouse mother’s hands. But Madam Mother doesn’t know who Xiaolang is, so she tries to sell her body to a foppish magistrate who saw her doing kung fu against some dudes and was “impressed.” After a narrow escape from worse than death and learning that her mom’s a bitch, Xiaolang is pretty eager to wreak some goddamn havoc, and it’s a good thing too because Mom has realized that Xiaolang is her daughter, Marginally Less Shady is still alive and conveniently close-by, and her lover is still pissed about that shit way back when (even though he is in possession of the Golden Dragon Sword, quizzically). In the end, things get really real in the form of Xiaolang murdering improbable numbers of brigands with a sword, so basically my bread and butter.

I enjoyed the film, but I can’t give Vengeance is a Golden Blade more than 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. The herbalist motif is awesome, and Daughter Avenges Father is a favorite theme of mine … but the film is a bit slower than it needs to be, even for a Shaw Brothers kung fu epic, and the girl who plays Xiaolang isn’t all that great of a martial artist. Like, distractingly not that great. Still, definitely worthwhile!

Happy new year, everyone!