Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cuttin' To the Chase

As much as I want to really dig in and review the rest of the Mixed Bag CDs, I'm worried I won't get it done before I start getting more discs in the mail! So, to try and remedy that, I'm going to tackle the few remaining in short spurts, and hopefully I'll have 'em done in the next few days.

So, here goes-

The Progressive Ruin Mix CD of Love

Mike's mix is...odd, to say the least. That doesn't mean bad, and in fact, the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. The highlights include 99 Reb Balloons by 7 Seconds, She Likes Girls by Celtic Elvis (I must hear more from these guys), Kiss by Age of Chance, By the Light of the Silvery Moon by LMP, Johnny Q by Crazy 8s, and Communist Love Song by Soltero. In the "so weird you have to enjoy it" department there's The Effects of Weightlessness in Space by The Deadly Nightshade Family Singers, Video Game Heart by All Girl Summer Fun Band, Organism by Honest Bob & The Factory-to-Dealer Incintives, How Much About Last Night Do You Remember? by Young Fresh Fellows, and Stairway to Heaven by Dixie Power Trio. In the "liked it well enough group" there's You Make Me Feel Cheap by Channel 3, LA (La Land) by Ookla the Mok, You're the Best by Joe Esposito, and Don't Bring Me Down by J Church. The rest (Bad News From the Stars by Stereo Total, Bad Party by The Tan, Science Fiction by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Take the Regins by Tsunami Bomb, I'm So Tired by Phooey, Nevermind the Mollusk by Disintegrated Einstein, He's a Flyguy by Curtis Mayfield w/Fishbone, Shiver Me Timbers by Victor Bannana and I'm a Little Weenie by Dick Two Ton Baker.) I can take or leave. I do like the various movie bits Mike threw into the disc, starting with a line from Animal House, gotta love it, but the topper is the Marvel Bullpen recording that features almost all of Marvel's greatest creators. I had a geek-asm when I heard it.

Next is the In One Ear Mix Vol.1- Baby Flies a Comet.

Thom wins the award for hardest amount of work put into a CD. Geeze man, you really shouldn't have gone to so much trouble, but hey, it looks friggin fantastic!

Looking at the track listing I was positive I was going to be disappointed in this disc. Boy am I stupid. The highlights: The Hand That Feeds by Nine Inch Nails, Baby Flies a Comet by LS Underground, Aching Heart by Cush, Like Titanic by Damien Jurado & Gathered in Song, Hey Man (Now you're Really Living) & Can't Help Falling in Love by Eels, Black Math by the White Stripes, Give Me Novacaine by Green Day, When You Say Love by Over the Rhine, We Give We Take by The Choir, What a Wonderful World by Joey Ramone, and Black Betty by Spiderbait (my favorite song from any of the discs, man it sounds fnatastic, and it wakes me up). The rest of the songs fall into the "definitely enjoyable, but not fantastic" group. Next to Dorian's, Thom's disc is my favorite so far, even though there were a few songs on Dorians I wasn't really into. For Thom's complete track listing go here, you may have to do a little scrolling.

The last disc for today is Scott's Songs For the Cynical and Sinful.

Highlights include: Wave on Wave by Pat Green, The Captain by Casey Chambers, Eurotrash Girl by Cracker, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon, Speed by Montgomery Gentry, The Boxer by Carbon Leaf, The Might Quinn by Manfred Mann, Angry All the Time by Bruce Robinson, Lady Stardust by David Bowie, Virus of the Mind by Heather Nova, When You Say Nothing at All by Alison Krauss, Fight Test by The Flaming Lips and Barbie Doll by Jack Ingram. The rest (My Old School by Steely Dan, Anastasia Says by Darling Violetta, and Past the Mission by Tori Amos) I can do without. Not too shabby, only three songs i didn't take to, but I do listen to them when I spin the disc. Scott's is pretty high for me on re-listen-ability, or whatever.

So, yeah, I hope to have these wrapped up in the next few days, so hang in there.

"You're Tearing me Apart!" (or The List of Things I Can't Afford)

A bit under the weather for the last few days, and unfortuantely I'm working a long day today, but here's this weeks DVD list. Go, buy!

Danger Mouse - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2

Anyone else remember this show? Nick used to show it when I was around five or so. I wouldn't mind having these, but maybe i'll rent them first just to see how well they held up.

Dragon Ball Z - The Movie - Dead Zone (Uncut)

The US is finally getting some uncut DBZ releases. If I remember right, this was the first DBZ movie. Now, if only we could get some Dragonball uncut for the cheap.

The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Third Season

Just some good ol' boys, coicidentally coming soon to a theatre near you.

The Essential Steve McQueen Collection

The second coolest man to ever walk the earth gets his second DVD collection, included are Bullit, The Getaway, The Cincinatti Kid, Papillon, Tom Horn and N ever So Few. All available seperate as well. Bullit and Getaway are special editions too.

Home Movies - Season Two

Great, great show. This season they went from that irritating squigglevision to the Adult Swim staple, flash animation.

Make Your Own Damn Movie

From the fine folks at Troma, includes all the know-how you need to make a Troma-quality product.

Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2

I'll pass, but I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who remember this show fondly. I was never a Shepheard fan, and i prefer my Willis a bit more macho.

Roger Ramjet - Hero of Our Nation (Deluxe Collector's Edition)

See, I'm telling you, p-o-r-n-o.

Underdog Boxed Set (Collector's Edition/Chronicles/Nemesis)

SEE!!!!!! Mabe I'm just getting perverted in my old age...

The Complete James Dean Collection

Includes East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, special editions all, and all available seperately. And for the record, this is the coolest man to ever walk the face of the Earth.


Sunday, May 29, 2005

What's it all about, Alfie?

I've never seen the 1966 film that starred Michael Caine, but this weekend I watched the current remake starring Jude Law. Based on a play by Bill Naughton, alfie is the story of an Englishman who's come to America, not to seek fame and fortune, but to womanize as many women as he possibly can. While that may seem a less-than-stellar motive, Law's all too charming performance as Alfie immediately wins you over to his side.

The film bombed at the box office, though after watching it, I haven't a clue as to why. Could be that Law's womanizing was played up too much to attract the female audience this type of movie thrives on, and not nearly enough to attract the interest of the "big dumb male action-junkies". It walks a fine line between standard romantic comedy, social satire and male fantasy, but director Charles Shyer does an excellent job of steering the film around the pot holes and speed bumps found in each of those genres.

The rest of the cast turns in pretty standard performances, with the exception of Nia Long, who holds her own with Law when the two share the screen. Susan Surrandon's performance as Liz is hands down the worst in the film, and still isn't bad, her character is just far too much a stereotype, making her action predictable as well as dispicable. Omar Epps brief role as Alfie's best friend Marlon is excellent, but he's barely in the film.

Bringing in Mick Jagger to compose some original tracks for the film certainly adds a lot. Though occasionally over-emotional, Jagger's songs add a great deal to the layers of the film.

It's a very good film, if for nothing else that Law's performance. I'll discuss more later if the mood strikes me, but for now I'm off to wish my Dad a happy birthday!


Friday, May 27, 2005

The Dog's Day

Finally, another Mixed Bag review!

Up this time is Tom the Dog's "You'll Play It and You'll Like It, Volume 1".

First, Tom was worried that the dsic may have a little noise on it, and unfortunately he was right, at least on my copy. It's not anything that is super annoying, and didn't take away from my enjoyment of the music, but I'll definitely be tracking a lot of these songs down for better versions I can add to my growing mp3 collection.

Track one is by The Presidents, who I have one album of, called Kick Out the Jams. It's not on the album I have, so I haven't heard it before, but i like the Presidents sound, always have. This is a damn goop opening track, and puts me in the mood for more Presidents music. It's no Naked & Famous, but I liked it a lot.

I'm now ashamed to admit having never listened to the donnas. I have to fix that. I hate the term "chick rock" because everyone tends to lump female musicians into one of only a few categories, and if you're a female band with a guitar player, you get labelled "chick rock", and it just sounds whiney to me. Most women I know who like "rock" usually like female performers like Avril Levigne, more pop than rosk i think. The Donnas are rock music, period. Their influences are clear, and if i had to compare them to any other current band it would be Jet. If the rest of their music is half as good as this tune (I Don't Want to Know), I'm in for a treat when I buy this CD sometime this weekend.

Track three is by They Might Be Giants, appropriately titled Number Three. It's catch and funny. I've never been a huge Giants fan, but i really liked this track.

Up next in the four-spot is The Boss with Further On (Up the Road). It's the Boss, how can you not like The Boss?

Track five is an odd one. Tom thought my inclusion of Stardust was out of place, but Marvin Gaye singing Let's Get It On hardly fits with the rest of these tunes. BUT, I love the song, it's a classic, and is welcome on any disc that resides in my CD player.

I'm not a big fan of Lit, and grew tired of Miserable's radio play, so I can;t really say anything positive about it. I found it amusing when i first heard it, now it just strikes me as a band trying way too hard to be clever.

Ben Folds Five comes in at number seven with The Battle of Who Could Care Less. Good song from a performer I've always meant to hear more of. The title makes me laugh, and the song is brilliantly written, it reminds me of high school.

Green Day makes an appearence with their Uptight at track eight. I like Green Day. Good song, fits well on the disc.

I say BLEH to Harry Nilsson's Coconut. That damn Coke commercial has ruined this song forever, as if it weren't annoying enough already. Ditto to Gary Numan's Cars. Sorry Tom.

Joe Jackson pops in at spot eleven with I'm The Man. Good tune, but not really a Jackson fan, so I doubt i'll be seeking out anything by him after this. It's catchy as hell though "You think you're immune but I can sell you anything" is a great line.

Dean-o croons his heart out on track twelve with That's Amore. Classic Dean. Love this tune, love this singer. I wish like hell somone hadn't stolen my collection of crooners and 60's pop CDs.

The Refreshments are another badn I knew I should be listening to. I loved their King of the Hill theme, and this song just reaffirms my thoughts. This is a great song to hear in the car, makes me want to just keep driving and never stop.

I haven't the foggiest idea who Kim Wilde is, but i enjoyed kids in America okay. It has an 80s pop feel to it, makes me think of sweatbands and those damn things people wore on their ankles.

AC/DC is always great, I prefer them live to studio recrded, but I'll take em any way they come. It's a Long Way to the Top is a classic.

Not a big Lemonheads fan either, and this song (Style) won't be converting me. sorry, just didn't enjoy it.

Therapy? makes me think of 80s hair metal. Not always a bad thing, it's sure to find its way onto a compilation disc I make of 80s songs. The song is Screamager.

I'm well on my way to becoming a Dropkick Murphy's fan. The Legend of Finn MacCumhail is a great, upbeat, catchy tune, with lyrics that don't really fit the style, but it's Irish-y folk-punk music, so, it's not a style that's really set in stone.

The Who shows up on track 19 with Who Are You. I know Tom loves The Who, so I'll avoid really laying into this song. I'll just say that my local station plays it enough that when I hear it i want to bang my head against a wall.

You could do worse than including Patsy Cline on a CD, but i think Crazy is just too overplayed to be repeatedly enjoyed. Still, it's a classic and rightfully so, and when I'm in the mood (I call it "drunk"), this song is a must listen.

Barenaked Ladies come inwith Shoe Box, not my favorite song, but I like the Ladies period, so I dig it.

Tori Amos' cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit weirded me out and puts the song in a completely different context for me. Following it with Foo Fighter's Times Like These is appropriate, and adds even more chill to Amos' version of Cobain's grunge anthem.

Saving the best for last, the Beatles sing on Her Majesty for the final track. Good song, but every song by the Beatles is a good song, so...

I liked Tom's disc a lot, despite the handful of songs I just couldn't get into, most of them due to too much radio/tv play around these parts, no fault of Toms or the songs performers. I listened to the disc several times before that background noise really bothered me too much. Like i said, i'll be seeking out a lot of these to own anyway, so no harm no foul.

I Think I Saw Something

I did. And it blew my mind. To those responsible, and you know who you are. Thank You.

Hopefully I'll get to finally post something of substance tomorrow.

And by "hopefully" I mean "you wish".


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Le Sigh

I remember one of those old Looney Tunes shorts with PePe Le Pew where he said that. Even as a kid I always thought it was hilarious. As and adult (well, sort of) I always think about it when I have a day like today.

I spent most of the day "getting things done", as they say. I worked on my car this afternoon, replaced my brake pads, which had become inexplicably cracked, and squeeled like the dickens, I could no longer take it, so I replaced 'em. I had to take my car somewhere to get the line bled, I can change the pads, but haven't a clue how to bleed the brakes, I'm a walking oddity.

Then I went to work Fun!

I got home, too tired to blog, but I had other obligations to fulfill too, so I finished up one of them, and I have to say, I'm proud of it. As proud as I've ever been of anything i've written. You'll all be seeing it soon enough.

As great as all that felt (nothing makes you feel better, in my opinion, than accomplishing something), the day still has a black shroud over it.

My motto has always been "there's nothing to worry about until there's something to worry about" when it comes to things like this, but I still can't help but worry. My brother has been having some problems lately that might be indicitive of a relapse (for those not in the know, he had lymphoma, and has been cancer free for almost four years now). In between my activities today I went to the hospital with him to set up an appointment.

It's a scary thing. I hope beyond hope that there is indeed nothing to worry about, but having gone down this road with him before, I know that if there is something to worry about, it's one of those things that keeps you up at night. I feel for him, and at times like this I'm glad we are twins, it makes the journey seem less lonely having someone so close to you right there.

I hope all of you out there with family never take for granted the time you get to spend with them. I used to, until i almost lost my brother to cancer. I honestly can't imagine my life without him in it.

Not to say those with siblings won't understand, but being a twin really is different. He is me and I am him. We are two parts of the same whole. It's weird, and so very comforting at the same time. There's a bond there that's unexplainable, I don't share it with either of my sisters, but I do with my brother.

I know him better than I know myself, and vice versa. We're both stubborn as hell, so there's no doubt in my mind that he can get through this again, if it is indeed a relapse, but I hope beyond hope that it isn't. As a good friend of mine told me a few days ago, if you're any good at praying, do so now. If not, cross your fingers and repeat after me, le sigh.

I hope to actually get to those mixed bag CDs tomorrow, as well as finish off my next one. My internet seems to be holding up lately, but I'm sure I just cursed myself there. So, yeah, even more tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's the List Bitch!

Hahahahaha. Man, i hope at least some of you get that. Here's what hit your local Wal-Mart today...errr...yesterday!

Airwolf - Season 1

Is it me or can most 80's TV shows be identified by some sort of vehicle. Magnum, A-Team, Dukes, this show, hell every time i see a boat in the ocean I think of Miami Vice. Anyone ever see this? was it any good?

The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Second Season

The only thing that gives Seinfeld the boost over this as The Best Show EVER, is that Jerry and company went out on top, while Andy attempted to try and remake itself in color. It was never as good without Barney.

Are We There Yet

Did you know it was bad luck to end a film in any type of punctuation? I did. Amazon lists this without the "?". While I'm sure that wasn't the reason the movie failed, it was released under the titlke "Are We There Yet?" And if "There" refers to, say, a good movie, my answer would probably be no.

The Aviator (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Now I can finally see it! Yay!

The Batman - Season 1, Vol. 1 - Training for Power

Ummm...I bought Catwoman and I don't see myself buying this... (actually, I got it for free...but let's not argue over trivial details).

Batman - The Animated Series, Volume Three (DC Comics Classic Collection)

Awww...dammit, I haven't got Vol. 2 yet!!!!!

Chappelle's Show - Season 2

Poor Dave, he got a hit TV show and went nuts...bitch!

The Day After Tomorrow (2-Disc Collector's Edition)

What would be great, is a DVD version of this that was totally self destructive. To, you know, sort of weed out all the idiots in the world who keep clamoring for disaster films. And, if you liked this movie, that was a joke, I swear.

The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series

Add this to the list of things I'll never be able to friggin afford. Anyone wanna buy a mint copy of X-Force #1? I'll give you all five covers, unopened for $175! No takers? Damn. Stupid Rob Liefeld and 90's gimmick comics. Smart investment my ass!

Everybody Loves Raymond - The Series Finale

Ummm...okay, I just watched this last week.

Fat Actress - The Complete First Season

This DVD is so fat, when it sits on your shelf. it sits ON your shelf.

Doesn't really work for DVDs does it?

Garfield Fantasies

Is it me or do a lot of childrens toons and DVDs sound like porno titles? There's a Bob the Builder set out today too that's suspicious. Maybe that idiot Faldwell is right!

The Job - The Complete Series

Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit.

Still no takers on those X-Force books? Bastards!

Law and Order - The Third Year (1992-1993 Season)

Is that supposed to make it more dramatic? Because it doesn't. Everyone will just say "Season 3", so just friggin' call it season 3!!!

M*A*S*H - Season Eight (Collector's Edition)

DVD pet peeve #2865402, calling something that only has one edition a "Special Edition". What the hell man?

Man on Fire (2-Disc Collector's Edition)

DVD pet peeve Numero Uno: After-the-fact special editions. Son of as bitch, now I'll have to buy this movie again! It was damn good though!

NewsRadio - The Complete First & Second Seasons

Anyone else miss Phil Hartman? I do. Every day. Phil wherever you are, you fucking rock man.

Pooh's Heffalump Movie

You see cartoon, I see almost-porno-name.

Samurai Jack - Season 2

I'll buy this eventually, it has my favorite Jack episode, the one with the Sctsman. Friggin brilliant I tell ya.

Speed Racer - Episodes 24-37

Awww man. The DVD Gods really hate me this week!

Super Friends, Volume Two

You know...they never did anything friendly really. I always thought Superman was kind of a dick.

The Wiggles - Wiggly Party Pack

See? I'm telling ya, borderline porn!

Ummm...yeah...more later.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Alive & Kicking

Sorry for the lack of posts, my internet connection has been iffy and I've been getting some CBG work done. It's exciting stuff, and I can't wait to show it off. That's about all I can say.

I've been enjoying my Seinfeld Season 4 DVDs lately. I'm torn though, I bought Scrubs Season 1 and I'm dying to get into it as well, but I just can't stop watching Seinfeld. Heh. The Bubble Boy, man that's classic TV. The Moops, heh.

So, yeah, probably a good update later, mostly Mixed Bag stuff though.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III- The Revenge of George Lucas

Turns out he may not be as incompetant as we'd all thought. Well, up until the final moments of the film anyway. The film could have easily been titled: Fuck You Fanboys, I Know What I'm Doing!

Were all my questions answered? Mostly. I still have to draw some vague assumptions about a few things, but in the end Lucas did a damn good job of covering his ass. I guess he decided he better rewatch the last two clusterfucks as well as the Original "I can't believe people love these movies" Trilogy. Yes, I do love them, why do you ask?

I'll avoid really duscussing the film just in case there are some real scragglers out there who haven't seen it yet, plus, I usually need at least two viewings to be confidant about a real review.

First things first, the fact that I loved the movie is no doubt influenced by my hatred of Episode I (which is becoming more of a fond dislike, similar to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, only it knew it sucked) and my ho-hum attitude towards Episode II. It's not hard to remember those two films misfires and falling-on-our-faces plotlines as the movie opens, it's easy to just assume it's not going to work and that you'll walk out of the theatre upset that the saga is done and Lucas has just ruined any chance of redemption he had. So, bitter and jaded, and not in the least bit excited, I sat down at my local cineplex to watch this new movie.

I guess going into movies like that more often might pay off.

Seeing recent interviews of Lucas admitting that he ultimately failed with the first two films, and that it was indeed him holding Christensen back from his tremendous acting abilities (don't believe me? Watch Shattered Glass. The kid has chops.) and that the plot for Episode I was probably a really bad idea has lightened my mood about the man. You also have to admire the fact that he is willing to do things his way, and he acknowledges the fans will see it anyway, so fuck em, if they don't like it they should quit buying into it. He made his movies, audiences and critics be damed. Of course, there's also the reverse side to that, and aging wannabe filmmaker, with ambition and little talent screwing up the one right idea he ever had, and running it into the damn ground. But, he's rich, he can do it if he wants, he owns it. He doesn't come to your house and laugh at your gajillion longboxes of comics bagged and boarded, so laughing at his little geek-like traits is a little hypocritical. We all have our obsessions I guess, and sometimes we take them one step too far.

So, yeah, Christensen SHINES in this film...well as much as a Sith Lord can shine anyway. He's evil incarnate, and I was actually disappointed when we see him in the Vader armor, it just detracts from the character he created in this trilogy. You can't say enough about Yoda and R2, so I just won't say anything, but I can say that Palpatine is just so friggin evil, knowing that he dies in Episode VI is the only thing that keeps you from tearing your hair out when he converts Anakin.

It's the best in the saga since Empire, the best film Lucas has ever directed. Hell, it's arguably the best film in the saga.

But, I did love it, can't wait for the DVD, and I'll probably go see it again soon, maybe next weekend.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Hembeck Mix One

Fred Hembeck’s contribution to Lefty’s Mixed Bag project. Fred’s mix is like finding an old pair of comfortable shoes underneath your bed and discovering that not only do they fit, but they’re still comfortable. I’ve heard about 85-90% of the music on this disc many, many times before, and I still really enjoyed it. No, it’s no eye-opening, for me at least, but so what, that just means you can jump in there and tap your toes to those familiar beats.

He opens with the Raspberries’ Go All the Way, and I have to say, I’m not fond of this tune, never have been, and it’s probably the only song on the disc I just out and out don’t enjoy, but I listened to it a few times, giving it its due.

At least he redeems himself on track two, hard to go wrong with Sweet City Woman by the Stampeders. It’s a good ol’ summertime tune, that’s just in time for summer! Speaking of summer tunes…he follows that with All Summer Long by the Beach Boys. Fred’s swinging for the fences with this tune (hey look, it’s an analogy I’m not supposed to use! Heh, I hope SOMEONE gets that joke.), two for three in his first three at bats, I loves me some Beach Boys.

I can take or leave It’s Raining Men (by, heh, The Weather Girls), depending on my mood. But, once you get into the song, especially in your car, you’re sure to find the people around you staring oddly at you. I love Bing Crosby, but Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande is not one of my favorites by him. It’s a good song and fits well within the disc, but if I heard it on the radio I’d likely change the station (what are the odds of that happening?), but I never pass it up when I’m playing the disc. It also brings weird glances from the people around you, especially when it’s pumping out of a top notch car stereo.

My Sharona is a classic. I always think of Reality Bites when I hear it. I love, love, L-O-V-E this song, all the way to the end. So, what does Fred follow that with? Another catchy-but-oh-so-wrong-song, Every Breath You Take by the Police, that’s what. It’s the perfect little song duo. Just don’t think about the lyrics too much!

After that is another song about the slightly-obsessed, One Fine Day by the Chiffons. Hearing it after Sting’s ode to stalking puts it in a completely different context. Brilliant mixing that is. What’s a Hembeck mix disc without a Beatles tune? Well, it’s not this disc, that’s for damn sure. The song is I’ve Just Seen a Face, and I never realized how short it is. Man, thanks for whetting my appetite for a Beatles tune and then giving me the shortest song ever!! After that I just wanted more Beatles. Instead I got Erasure singing A Little Respect. Not a favorite, but like It’s Raining Men, hard to resist once you get into it.

Then he goes and gives me the best crooner of all time, Dean friggin’ Martin, singing I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. A classic song by a classy, and classic, guy. It’s impossible to follow that act. And to prove my point I get a Sheena Easton track , no, I’m kidding. I like Morning Train, but it always makes me think of that old Burger King commercial, which makes me want a crossanwich.. Don’t worry Fred, you’re still 11 for 12, batting better than Ted Williams it seems.

Next up was the Reflections singing (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet. This is a like it or hate it tune, I like it. After that is a song I don’t really like by a band I don’t really like, Steely Dan’s Bodhisattva. I just never “got” Steely Dan. Next is No Time by the Guess Who. This is a staple of every classic rock station in the country, and if I listened to radio I’d probably hate the song. Fortunately I don’t.

I have to admit hating the Bow Wow Wow song at first (C30 C60 C90 Go!), but it leads in to Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing, which I love, listening to them as a whole makes for an excellent, and lengthy, time. So, see, I can change my mind. I didn’t get into the next track though (Unit 4 plus 2 Concrete and Clay), no matter how many spins I gave it. After that is (finally!) more Beatles, this time it’s The Word. Sweet.

The Sonique tune feels oddly out of place, but enjoyable nonetheless. Reminds me of my clubbing days, I used to hear it A LOT back then. Yes, I used to go clubbing. Speaking of clubbing, it’s a disco-era tune! On and On and On by ABBA. Again, like it or hate it, I like it.

The last two tracks are the Greg Kihn Band singing Renevouz and SpongeBob and Friends singing I Ripped My Pants. I didn’t much care for Rendevouz the first few times I heard it, but it’s growing on me, but I love SpongeBob. This song was a riot.

All in all, great disc with the occasional song I didn’t care for. Fred’s got a better track record there than about 90% of the new music I pick up. Can’t wait to see what Round 2 brings from he that is Hembeck.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Power Pack #1-2

Written by Marc Sumerak
Drawn by Gurihiru, Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics, $2.99 USD

Power Pack is Marvel’s latest effort to revive some of the characters from their past and market them to a younger crowd, and it definitely succeeds in what it attempts to do, but I fear that without any kind of mass marketing promotion, all Marvel is really doing is getting its dwindling “zombie” fans to buy more books.

All of that aside, Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru do a wonderful job with this title. It’s very reader friendly, and about as appealing to the eye as any book that Marvel publishes. Each issue has two complete stories, something that is probably shocking to anyone who currently reads the material coming out of Marvel these days.

The main feature in each book is, of course, the Power Pack, which follows the misadventures of the four Power’s children, who happen to have superpowers. There’s Alex (or Zero-G), the oldest, who can either lift things or hold them down, including himself; Julie (or Lightspeed) who has super-speed and can fly; Jack (or Mass Master) can control his density, and the youngest member of the group, Katie (or Energizer), who can absorb and release energy.

Titled “I know What We Did Last Summer”, issue number one opens with an interesting retelling of the team’s origin. Done up as a children’s report, complete with crayon drawings and narrated by young Katie. The bulk of the story though is about the other three Power kids trying to convince Katie why telling the world their secret would be a bad thing (even their parents don’t know). A point illustrated to her when one of their enemies locates their home.

While the first issue’s focus is on the youngest member, the oldest, Alex, is prominently featured in the second issue, titled “Misadventures in Babysitting”. When he scores a date with his high school crush on the night of his parent’s anniversary dinner, Alex must choose over his responsibility to family and his own personal desires. Being a teenager, he opts for the latter and like Katie the issue before, finds he’s made a definite error in judgment when a monster finds its way into the Power’s home.

Sumerak probably has a better handle on this decompressed style of story telling than anyone to come along in recent years. Each issue starts off relatively slow, building up to the more exciting events later in the issue, and while that is a pretty common thing to see in action-oriented television these days, it’s becoming less and less prevalent in the superhero comics world, and even then it’s rarely done successfully.

None of the plot developments feel forced, which can often be a problem in kids and young adult entertainment. The dialogue is very hip, yet doesn’t ever feel as if the author is trying to hard, or is disconnected from the audience he’s trying to reach. One of the big drawbacks to comics, specifically in the genre, is often continuity, but Sumerak handles it with ease.

Long-time fans will feel right at home in this book, with references to the Snarks, the aliens who were after their father’s invention, and to the Marvel Universe in general. But none of that ever feels alienating in any way, in fact if anything it’s inviting and should pique the interest of unfamiliar readers.

Some may be disappointed that Sumerak seems to be ignoring most of what has happened to the Power children in favor of making them more accessible, but it does work, in fact he’s able to do what the Ultimate books were intended to do, write a book that has it’s own continuity, one that shed’s most of the dead weight the Marvel Universe has saddled itself with, only Sumerak seems to favor permanently putting it to the side (which isn’t nearly as detrimental as some fans would have you believe) rather than just reshaping it into a “cracked-mirror” version of itself.

Gurihiru’s art will probably bee seen by most as manga-influenced, but it really has very little in common with the format except for the characters big eyes. Gurihiru’s work here looks closer to most modern cartoons than manga, and Gurihiru infuses it with enough energy that it does feel like you’re reading a cartoon. Every panel seems to be alive with movement, even the calmer ones. There’s a series of scenes in the first issue where the family is eating dinner, and each one is similar enough so that it feels natural, but different in key ways so that you get that sense of motion. Something similar appears in the second issue when Alex becomes so elated that he begins to hover. At first glance it seems to be the same panel, but the background is off-kilter enough so that you really can sense him lifting into the air.

Not to be left out of the joke-telling department, Gurihiru squeezes in a few visual gags now and then, often via the kid’s expressions. There’s nothing incredibly elaborate here, which is likely a good thing for a book that’s supposed to attract a younger audience. Everything is clean and clear, easy to follow and very vibrant, and being that there is no colorer credited, one can only assume Gurihiru is responsible for that as well. In a book like this simple is often better and it couldn’t be much better than it currently looks.

The back-ups featured in each issue feature, Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, are written by Sumerak and drawn by Chris Eliopoulos. They follow the son of Reed and Sue Richard (Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman for those not in the know) as he gets himself, along with his constant babysitter, H.E.R.B.I.E., into all manner of trouble. In these first two issues, Franklin takes a trip into his father’s body (think something akin to Innerspace), to make his science homework “more fun”, and then he devises a way to bulk himself up in the hopes that he’ll be seen as a “big guy” so he can have a snack.

If Power Pack is a cartoon, then Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius is a Sunday comic strip. Fans of the uber-popular Calvin and Hobbes should feel right at home with the misadventures of Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E. Sumerak has clearly drawn his inspiration from these strips, and while Eliopoulos’ art doesn’t necessarily look similar, the kinship is undeniable.

Being that it’s shorter than the Power Pack feature, the jokes come far quicker here, but it definitely works to its advantage. Long time Marvel followers will appreciate the slightly annoying H.E.R.B.I.E. as well as get a kick out of some of the more juvenile jokes, like Reed Richards picking his nose.

Unlike Power Pack, the art and dialogue here aren’t really self-reliant; they both depend on the other one to punch up the joke, working together to make sure that you get the gist, and while in an older book that could be seen as overkill, here it works rather well.

As a whole Power Pack is one of the best mainstream kid’s comics to come along in quite sometime. Marc Sumerak knows how to appeal to his targeted demographic, and has enlisted two excellent pencillers to make it visually appetizing. The jokes are funny, if occasionally juvenile, the action is sensibly goofy, and it’s not bogged down by the weight of the past like so many other books coming out of the mainstream publishers. It’s really a shame that comics aren’t more accessible to those outside its base readership, because this is a book that hits ever mark it aims for.


--Logan Polk

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Hey. Wonder Woman. How you doin'?"

I've been lax in my link blogging duties lately. Apologies to everyone.

CBG is having another contest. This time it's for some Crumb comics. Go, enter, you know you want to.

I finally discovered the joy that is Dave's Long Box, which is where the above quote comes from. It falls in the "dammit I wish I'd done that!" realm of blogging. VERY enjoyable, and I have to limit myself on visiting there because I get wrapped up reading the posts for hours.

There's also some new links added to the sidebar. I urge to visit all of them daily anyway, but take a gander at some of the new ones at least.

It's Wednesday, which means a new Permanent Damage. Steven Grant never disappoints, and I look forward to reading his column more than I do visiting my LCS.

Lefty's got the rules up for the next round of Mixed Bag. If you're interested in signing up there's a few spots open. It's a great experiment.

On the review front I'll be posting a few things here shortly. My desire to read good comics has been overwhelmed of late by my love of Star Wars. Expect at least one review later tonight. Maybe more.

In other Star Wars talk: Why are people so upset about the outside promotions, such as the M&M's, Pepsi, 7-11 and Burger King ones? Movie tie-ins are not new, and the fact that companies would want to jump on the bandwagon of what's sure to be the movie event of the year is a no-brainer. Plus, they're funny as all hell. The Vader/King showdown is brilliant marketing and the "I am your father! I am your cousin!" is even funnier.

I bought the Mr. Potato Head Vader recently, and I have to say it cracks me up, can't wait to give it to my newborn baby brother.

Also, I'd forgotten about the dance number at Jabba's place in Jedi. Stupid, that's another scene that we could surely do without, so that makes three I think. That scene where Luke catches his light saber on the skiff still makes me smile. Mark Hamill ruled as the dark jedi.

Via Tom Spurgeon, my X-Mas present. Also, his Top 10 Reasons for not seeing Episode III. I agree about explaining The Force. It was a dumb move, but not the dumbest. Making Anakin out to be the anti-christ (virgin mother, what?) is just weird.

Chris Allen nails down why Grey's Anatomy is a waste of my time. Bleh.

RIP Frank Gorshin, via JB. His last film also stars the fairly recently passed Rodney Dangerfield as well as reuniting him with Adam West. I hope it comes out soon.

Why Rob Vollmar is The Man: Q: "What song would you say sums you up?" A: "You're So Vain. I think it's about me."

Adventure, Excitement, a Jedi Craves Not These Things

So, like any geek worth his weight (and trust me, that's a lot) I've been concentrating on Star Wars for most of the last week. I am excited to see the new film, but I won't be going on opening day. Like Lefty before me, I was unsure of where to start me re-watching of the previous "Episodes". I started with Episode I, but that was a mistake, The series works better out of order, watching it sequentially raises too many unanswered questions. To prove I'm a geek, here are a few:

A New Hope- Ben doesn't recall R2 or 3PO?, somewhat confusing, but Owen does say he's a crazy old man, and it has been awhile since he'd seen them...and they are droids, not people. Nevermind, that was a dumb question, I retract it.

Empire- Ben says that Yoda trained him? Only possible answer is that Yoda trained him as a young padawan, like he was training the kids in Episode II, BUT! on Dagobah Ben again mentions Yoda training him and how angry and hard-headed he was. Is it possible Ben forgot Qui-Gonn altogether? I dunno.

Empire-The Emperor says that he feels this new "young rebel" is the son of skywalker. Vader says "How is that possible?" This one's a toughie. Maybe Anakin never knows about the pregnancy? Doubt it. Many possible answers tho, Vader hides his knowledge of the pregnancy from just about everyone, basically blocking it out and keeping it from the Emperor. Makes the most sense I think. Tied into this is the fact that he probably knew about the birth, and of at least Luke, but not Leia, because he never reacts to her presence in A New Hope. Why was Luke sent to Tatooine? My guess, out of the reach of the Empire, as Qui-Gonn says in Episode I, the Hutts are on their own, out of the reach of the Trade Federation, so, less influence from the Empire in the long run, which also adds to the "Vader knew, hid it from the Emperor" school of thought. This whole scenario brings up far too many questions, I think, and i hope the new movie brings some answers.

Jedi-Leia says she remebers her mother, that she died when she was young...okay, well everything I've read (I have avoided real spoilers like novelizations/adaptions/games) leads me to believe Amidala dies and Leia is adopted by the Organas and raised as their own, if so the Leia cannot remember Amidala. It would make sense if she dies, because it would be the final push to the Dark Side for Anakin. again, a lot of questions, too many guesses to nail anything down.

I think Lucas has laid some clues in there to lead you in the right direction, but ultimately there's just too many things he hasn't laid the foundation for.

I will say this, the OG Trilogy looks fantastic on DVD, even on my piddly ass TV, and sounds terrific. The scene where Han shoots first has been re-re-edited so that they shoot at practically at the same time, it's less jumpy and works okay, I'd still rather have it the way it was. The scene in A New Hope with Han and Jabba LOOKS better, and the goofiness has been toned down, but in the end it's a useless scene that just reiterates what Greedo and Han already discussed, plus Jabba is like Jaws, the less seen the better.

In Empire everything is great, it still holds up as a fantastic sci-fi film, a love letter to old movie serials. Great movie, glad to see it looking so damn good and holding up so well. Most fans were irate about the "replacing" of Anakin at the end of Jedi but didn't cause a fuss over Empire's two replacements, Fett's dialogue was re-recorded so that it is Temuera Morrison doing it instead of the original actor. I think it adds more to the film continuity, the original actor still gets the credit and it sounds fantastic. By this logic I assume all the storm troopers aren't clones, since their dialogue wasn't re-recoded to make it closer to the new episodes. Ian McDiarmid was edited over the old Emperor to add even more to the continuity, seeing as how he played the part in every other film, again the original actor gets credit, it looks flawless and Lucas even re-recoded Vader's dialogue and added to it. So, yeah, it looks great, sounds great, no big deal.

Jedi is probably overall the weakest of the three, but I think it has the best opening, the scenes at Jabba's are still my favorite series of events in all the movies. But, as ADD noted, it's all Ewoks from then on (by whicxh
I mean crappy). I think Christensen looks great edited into the film and though I originally had a problem with it I actually like it better this way now.

Overall the series looks amazing, Lucas and Co. went to great lengths to improve the quality of the special effects, and for the most part they succeed. You have to give the man credit for constantly breathing life into the series and getting fans to keep coming back. There are only two scenes I think should be restored (the two in A New Hope), but if I want to see it in original form, I always have my VHS copies!

Now, I plan to rewatch Episodes I&II again after finishing off the OG Trilogy, just so they're fresh in my mind before I see Eps. III, so I guess I'll post on them and the Clone Wars DVD later.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The List-Not that There's Anything Wrong With That

The Adventures of Pete & Pete - Season 1

Nick seems to finally be catching on with it's announcement to release some classic shows onto DVD, about damn time.

Batman - Return to the Batcave

Adam and Burt return to their crimefighting glory, I didn't get to catch this on TV and I'm dying to pick it up.

Cheers - The Complete Fifth Season

Bye-bye Diane!

Clarissa Explains It All - Season One

Hello Clarissa!

The Golden Girls - The Complete Second Season

Did you know Tarentino appeared on a few episodes? Isn't that a hoot?

The Grudge (Director's Cut)

Well, that's a kick in the ball, ain't it?

Kinsey (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Qui-Gonn Jinn gives sex ed. Creepy.

The Mask (New Line Platinum Series)

The special edition of the movie has a few extra features than the original release. I picked one up, because I actually enjoyed Carrey's perfomance.

Scrubs - The Complete First Season

Get it at Best buy, they have an exclusive bonus disc. I'll be buying mine this weekend.

Seinfeld - The Complete Fourth Season

Alreadt bought my copy, it's the show I can't live without.

Six Feet Under - The Complete Third Season

Nice to see HBO is lowering their sets as of late, still too damn expensive though.

Son of the Mask

Ummm...pass...I may rent it.

Son Volt - Live from Austin, TX


Team America - World Police (Uncensored and Unrated Special Collector's Edition)

Got it, can't wait to watch it.

White Noise (Widescreen Edition)

Seems Batman got married during his time off from movies, his wife died and now he can talk to her through the TV.

And if you'll excuse me, The Shield is on.

Because I'm Bored

There's plenty of things I should be working on (mostly stuff for CBG), and I've got a stack of GN's and TPB's about three feet tall that I could be reading, instead i'm on here crusin' the net. Since I have nothing vital to post, I figured I'd post a list of my comic-related DVD's, so, yeah, here they are:

Comic Book Movies

1. American Splendor
2. Barb Wire: Unrated Version
3. Batman: The Movie (1960’s)
4. Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero
5. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
6. Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
7. The Batman/Superman Movie
8. Blade
9. Blade II
10. Bulletproof Monk
11. Catwoman
12. The Crow: Special Edition
13. The Crow: Salvation
14. Daredevil
15. Daredevil: The Director’s Cut
16. Elektra
17. From Hell
18. Garfield: The Movie
19. Ghost World
20. G-Men From Hell
21. Hellboy
22. Hellboy: The Directors Cut-Limited Edition Box Set
23. The Hulk
24. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
25. The Mask
26. Men In Black: Limited Edition
27. Men in Black II
28. Monkeybone
29. Mystery Men
30. The Punisher
31. The Punisher (2004)
32. Road to Perdition
33. The Rocketeer
34. Spider-Man: Special Edition Boxed Set
35. Spider-Man 2: Special Edition Box Set
36. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
37. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
38. Ultimate X-Men: DVD-Rom-Digital Comic Book Series Vol. 4: Issues 1-5
39. Vampirella
40. X-Men
41. X-Men 1.5
42. X2: X-Men United

Comic Book TV

43. Batman and Robin-The Complete 1949 Movie Serial Collection
44. Batman-The Animated Series: Volume One
45. Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season
46. Daredevil Vs. Spider-Man
47. The Incredible Hulk: The Animated Series
48. The Incredible Hulk: The Incredible Hulk Returns/The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
49. The Incredible Hulk: Pilot/Married
50. The Incredible Hulk: The Death of the Incredible Hulk
51. Justice League: Secret Origins
52. Justice League: Justice on Trial
53. Justice League: Paradise Lost
54. Smallville: The Complete First Season
55. Spider-Man: The Return of the Green Goblin
56. Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown
57. Spawn Volume 1-3: The Complete Series
58. Superman: The Paramount Cartoon Classics of Dave & Max Fleischer
59. Tales From the Crypt: The Robert Zemeckis Collection
60. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season One-Original Series
61. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vol. 1-Attack of the Mousers
62. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vol. 2-Meet Casey Jones
63. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vol. 3-The Way of Invisibility
64. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vol. 4-The Shredder Strikes
65. The Tick: The Complete Series
66. X-Men: The Legend of Wolverine
67. X-Men: Sanctuary Parts 1&2/Weapon X, Lies, and Videotape/ Proteus Parts 1&2
68. X-Men: Reunion Parts 1&2/Out of the Past Parts 1&2/ No Mutant Is an Island
69. X-Men: The Phoenix Saga
70. X-Men Evolution: UnXpected Changes (Season One, Vol. 1)
71. X-Men Evolution: Xplosive Days (Season One, Vol. 2)
72. X-Men Evolution: X Marks the Spot (Season One, Vol. 3)
73. X-Men Evolution: Xposing the Truth (Season One, Vol. 4)
74. X-Men Evolution: Mutant’s Rising (Season Two, Vol. 1)

I've also got a pretty decent VHS collection, well, depending on your definition of the word decent, that includes Dick Tracy, Return of the Swamp Thing, the complete Superman Serials, Steel (Ha!), Pryde of the X-Men, Heavy Metal, The Fifth Element, and Phantom 2040. Add to that my "bootlegs" (Complete animated series of Batman Beyond, X-Men, Silver Surfer, The Avengers, The Hulk & She-Hulk, the 66 Marvel toons, the 60s Aquaman and the DC Filmation series, as well as various episodes of Witchblade and Birds of Prey, the Justice League live-action pilot, the Roger Corman FF movie and the "student" Spidey vs Green Goblin flik.) and it's a big enough collection to sustain my position in the land of geeks.

Any recommendations?


Monday, May 16, 2005

More Mixed Bag Goodness

Dorian titled his disc simple enough: (postmodernbarney.com). But, it's not a simple disc in the slightest.

Tom claims to have not been gay enough to fully enjoy the CD, so I'm suppose I'm ten times gayer that Tom because I loved it. I'm gonna start an online petition for Dorian to ditch comics and open his own club, Club Gay with DJ Dorian.

Dorian opens with a great mix of Shirley Bassey singing Hey Big Spender, which I'm unashamed to admit I knew the words too. It definitely gets the blood pumping.

Then, instead of holding that tone he hits you with the Polyphonic Spree's bittersweet Wig in a Box. It's a sad/happy catchy little song about, well, a man reminiscing about dressing up as a woman. I love how the sound of police sirens morph into the sound of a tea kettle whistling (at least, that's what I took it to be, and what it sounds like in my stereo). Like Papa was Rodeo before it, this song will have even the most avid anti-gays singing along by the songs end. ("I put some make-up, turn up the 8-track, pull the wig down off the shelf!)

Then he gives you uncomfortable comedy! Admittedly I don't know what Avenue Q (EDIT: I get it now, Avenue Q...heh, that makes it even funnier) is, but from what I've read everywhere else, it's some sort of play? (Help me out here Dorian.) If so, I must see it. The song, If You Were Gay, is hilarious, and uncomfortable because the first time I heard it I immediately though of Sesame Street, because the two singers do in fact sound like voices from that kids show, maybe it's Bert and Ernie and they've finally come out of the closet?

Magnetic Fields' I Thought You Were My Boyfriend is an okay, but ultimately forgettable song, I've listened to it several times and cannot remember the beat to save my life (in comparison, I already know most of the words to the songs before this, as well as being unable to get their melodies out of my head).

But, Emily Simon's Flowers brings the disc right back to it's glory. It's an observational tune, kind of funny, but very,very catchy. I love it.

You can never go wrong with Robbie Williams, and Supreme is a great example of the Brit pop star's ability to do, well, good pop music. I'm not a huge fan by any means, but after seeing him interview once on the Daily Show I rushed right out and bought his CD. He's funny as hell and a damn good singer ta boot. And this is a good pop song, in fact, maybe his best.

Next is Dolly Parton singing Jolene. I really don't have anything to add to that, other than maybe: It's a classic.

More uncomfortable comedy with Phil Ochs singing Pretty Smart on My Part. Like the Avenue Q song, it's catchy as hell, but far more disturbing. Remind me to never cross Dorian. I'm now amazed he hasn't killed some of those idiotic customers of his.

The next few songs fall in the forgettable realm as well for me. Hidden Cameras' Doot Doot Plot, Peter & Gordon's You've Had Better Times, and Jeffrey Altergott's Runt. I will say that Runt is the better of the three, but I could take or leave all of them.

Eartha Kitt singing I Want to Be Evil is fantastic though. She has one of the sexiest voices ever, and I can't even mention her name without bringing up images of her in the Catwoman oufit. Damn she was hot. Good song too.

The rest of the disc falls back into the "good but forgettable" pile until the final three songs. Nina Simone on Pirate Jenny is just disturbing though, I have to skip it now, it just creeps me out. The rest are as follows: Franz Ferdinand-Michael, Paul Williams- Phantom's Theme, Scissor Sister's Backwoods Discotheque, and Johnny McGovern- Soccer Practice.

Finally we have Harvey Fierstein singing Love For Sale. It's disturbing, catchy, and hilarious. Again, I knew the words, not ashamed to admit it. After that is the uber-catchy, mind-numbingly enjoyable cover of Cabaret by Me First and the Gimme Gimme's (Best Name EVER!). I've listened to this too many times to count, and yes I already knew most of the words. If the rest of their stuff is this good, I'm buying something by these guys very soon.

Then there's a hidden track of Rubber Ducky, German Disco-style (I think it's German anyway...). Took me a few minutes to recognize it, and it made me laugh, so, yeah, it's enjoyable.

It may not seem like I liked most of Dorian's disc, but that's not really true. Overall I loved it and have listened to the songs I really like more times than any other disc. Even the songs I don't love were good and worked well enough as holding places for the disc. Definitely my favorite disc so far, and if that makes me ten times gayer than Tom, well, consider me out of the closet...but I'm not Gay!, as one of the Avenue Q boys might interject. Heh.

More Zissou

Nik posted a comment which prompted me to check out his site (why oh why isn't it on my links yet? I dunno, but there's a lot of sites coming to the side bar soon, I swear...), so, yeah, Nik talks about The Life Aquatic in one of his more recent posts and a previous one as well.

I agree with him on pretty much everything (big surprise, I know), and I never tire of Anderson's seeming endless eye for visual and audio detail. He's so aware of the frame and what it can hold and crams so much into it that you HAVE to watch the movie(s) again and again to catch everything.

I have to echo what he says about the "comedy" as well. It's so deadpan and quick witted at times that it's not really comedy until the moment has passed (ex: "Steve, have you come to rescue me? :::pause::: "I fold."), when your brain finally registers what just happened. And no, it may not be a perfect movie, but damn does it ever come close. I forgot to mention Seu Jorge's singing Bowie tunes in my original post, and so, yes, they are beautifully haunting and so well timed, never interrupting the flow of the film.

Plus, there's highjackers.

"Out here we call them pirates."

Oh, sorry Steve, I mean pirates.

EDIT: Fitting that as soon as I link to him he goes on vacation. Life is so funny.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

It is my un-professional opinion that Wes Anderson is one of the most important filmmakers to come along in the last ten years. His library of films may be small (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic), but every one of them shines as an example of excellent fillmmaking.

In The Life Aquatic, Bill Murray (Anderson's most frequent collaborator outside of Owen Wilson) plays Steve Zissou, an oceanographer whose best friend was killed by a mythical shark while filming their current documentary of life underwater. Returning to dry land, Zissou and his crew seek the fubds for yet another documentary, this time they're going after the shark to kill it.

Anderson assembles yet another brilliant ensemble cast for this film. Murray's Zissou is both a complete and total ass and arguably the nicest man you'll likely ever meet (very much like Gene Hackman's Royal in his previous film). While on land he takes on another crew member, Ned Plimpton (played by the underrated Owen Wilson), someone who may or may not be Zissou's son. The act is both generous and self-serving, and the film acknowledges this, it never tries to put Zissou in any negative or positive light, it just allows him to be, which is probably the greatest achievement in all of Anderson's films. His characters never feel like actors, you see them as the people Anderson has created.

Angelica Houston shows up as Eleanor, Zissou's wife, in this, her second film with Wes Anderson. To say her performance was understated would...well...be an understatement. She's soft spoken, never interefering, she never chews the scenery, her appearences never feel forced, and the fact that her role is relatively small, but ultimately very important, shows how much she thinks of the film's stability.

Cate Blanchett plays pregnant reporter Jane, who, like Zissou is looking for something, though she's not sure what. Both Zissou and Ned fall for her Lois-Lane-like charms, despite her pregnancy, or maybe because of it. Unlike most of the main characters, Jane never feels vulnerable. She's strong willed and even in the face of Zissou's unwanted advances as well as many other adversities, surrounded by nothing but water, she stands her ground. She all but steals the movie. The only times we even get a glimpse at her "softer" side is her infrequent phone calls to her editor/father of her baby, but even then she never gives in to it. She walks to the edge, looks over and spits into the canyon.

As mentioned, Owen Wilson plays possible-son Ned. Ned has come from Kentucky after the death of his mother to seek out the man she said was his father. Wilson has made a name for himself as a more comedic actor, but Anderson seems to be able to bring out the best in him, and consistently prove that he is indeed a talented man capable of all sorts of range. Like Jane and Zissou, Ned is looking for something, essentially it boils down to lost time. He wants that thing that he never had, a relationship with his father, or just a father, because as easy as it would be to get a definite answer, neither Zissou or Ned ever press the issue. They choose to live with their doubt and accept what they hope in their hearts is true.

Willem Dafoe plays Zissou's second in command, Klaus; the Riker to his Picard if you will. Klaus is the heart and soul of the crew of the Belefonte. Dafoe plays him with such childlike attributes that he becomes both lovable and slightly annoying (in that way that kids who aren't yours seem to be) through the course of the film. He longs for Zissou's approval and adoration and becomes jealous when Ned recieves it instead.

Like Houston's Eleanor, Jeff Golblum's part in the film is both very small and very important, but unlike Houston he overstates everything he does. Anyone who's ever seen the man act knows how over-the-top he can be, and it seems Anderson wrote this part with Golblum in mind. He plays Alistaire Hennessey, the ex-husband of Eleanor and Zissou's arc-nemesis (He says as much in the film: "Don't be nice to Ali, he's my nemesis), a flamboyant scientist who manages to get himself kidnapped by pirates, his boat sunk and his crew killed. Goildblum was born to play this part.

Ther rest of the cast fills out nicely, with Noah Taylor popping up as Wolodarsky, and while Taylor deserves as much, and more, screen time as he can get, he's perfect in the role. Bud Cort as the studio flunkie Bill is hilarious, and like Taylor he does not get enough screen time. Micheal Gambon is brilliantly cast as Zissou's agent Oseary, and Robyn Cohen plays Anne-Marie, the only female member of the crew.

The Life Aquatic is definitely Anderson's most ambitious, and expensive, project to date. While the special effects aren't bad, they certainly aren't up to today's standards, which is unfortunate because it is probably the films only drawback. But, Anderson more than makes up for it by bringing back cinematographer Bob Yeoman (he's worked on every film but Bottle Rocket) and bringing in the art direction of Stefano Maria Ortolani for a first time collaboration.

Every frame of film is alive with detailed scenery, and the few journeys Zissou takes through the bowels of the ship are something that has to be seen to be believed. It also sounds wonderful, thanks to the score of Mark Mothersbough. It's not as prevalent as his score for The Royal Tenenbaums, but it doesn't need to be. In a film like this the silence of a scene says far more than the one's filled with music. Anderson never uses anything to influence the audience in any way, he has a brilliant knack for just letting things exist as they are and allowing you to feel about them in whatever way you chose. A prefect example is the death of Zissou's partner, Esteban. Zissou surfaces, the water around him turning red, he screams some statistics about the creature "Shark-like fish... ten meters in length... irregular markings... I tagged it with a homing dart... " while Klaus and company look frantically at the water around him.

Zissou: Esteban was eaten!
Klaus: Is he dead
Zissou: He was eaten!
Klaus: A shark bit him?
Zissou: A shark ATE him!
Klaus: It swallowed him whole?
Zissou: No, chewed

Is it funny? You bet your ass it is, but it's also horrifically tragic, and Anderson allows it to be both at once, there's no music that lets you know what you're supposed to feel, it just is.

Time and again Wes Anderson has proven his clout as a director; he seems to intimitely understand the filmmaking process as well as the filmwatching experience. His deal with Criterion for the exclusive distribution of his movies is amazing, and it shows both their belief in his work and his belief in himself. He is creating some of the most intriguing films of our time, and if The Life Aquatic is any example of things to come, it's only going to get better.


Friday, May 13, 2005

More Mixed Bag Fun

As Uncool as You Thought it Would Be!- Greg's Mix

You can find the proper track listing as well as some thoughts behind them right under that first entry, for some reason I can't link directly to the post...

Okay, Greg start's his mix with P Control by Prince. That makes it not work safe, but it's a hell of a way to open a mix CD. There's not much I can say about Prince, I like him, you may not.

Track 2 is the Indigo Girls song Come on Home. I liked it very much, very weird track to have behind that particular Prince song, seeing as how this feels like a woman putting up with a crazy man, where P Control is about woman empowerment and doing things on your own terms. It works surprisingly well. I think this may be my first taste of the Indigo Girls. It won't be the last.

In the #3 spot is one of my favorite songs on the disc-The Truth by Steve Earle. It's a prison blues song sung in a folksy way. I liked it ALOT, particularly this line "He's no less a prisoner cuz he holds a key", and this one "Admit what scares you is the me in you." I've never heard anything by Earle, I'll have to track some stuff down now.

Theres a few Marillon tracks on the disc. I don't know Marillon, but the first track by them, Genie, wasn't really my thing. Not bad mind you, just not my thing. I'm sure this will upset Greg, as he seems to love them.

Track four (Let's Get Lifted) is John Legend, a guy who seems to be all over the place lately. It's kind of hip-hop R&B, which, like country, is always something I'm weary of. But, this was a fun song, nice beat, Legend is a great singer and I'm considering getting his album after hearing this.

Coming in fifth is more Indigo Girls, this time it's Tether. It's kind of political, but really emotional and very well done. Again, I must be checking out more of these gals.

The choice to follow that with a hard song had me scratching my head a bit. But, I guess it works as a contrast. Track six is Streetwalkin' Cheetahs singin White Collar Money. I didn't like this song the first time I heard it. I'm now successfully brainwashed and friggin love it.

Gay cowboy trucker love songs? You got it! Track seven is Papa Was a Rodeo by Magentic Fields. This song was so good even the most narrow minded hate mongers woud love it. Seriously. It rocked.

Next was more Marillon, again, not really my thing. I liked this tune (You're Gone) more than that first one, but it just didn't grab a hold of me.

More Steve Earle is a good thing, this time it's You're Still Standing There with Lucinda Williams. I'm buying some Steve Earle very, very soon. BUT! I didn't like Lucinda's singing. She just sounded like an idiot with that awful twang in her voice. Just me I guess.

A band called Liquid Jesus comes in at #11 with their song Better or Worse. This song is the shit. I take back what I said, I forgot how much I loved this tune. This is the best song on the disc. Liquid Jesus now rocks my world.

Never heard of the Pogues, but this song (Streams of Whiskey) was really fun. Makes me want to get drunk.

Every white male even slightly emersed in geek culture knows the words "Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" sung by the Getto Boys. Why? Because Office Space kicks ass, and this song was so appropriate for the scene it was used in. Good place for it on the disc too. Damn it, now I want to see Office Space.

Not a PJ Harvey fan, so I didn't really like this song. Just not my thing

What's a mix CD without ABBA? Some might say a good one, but I like ABBA okay. The tune, When All is Said and Done, isn't one of my favs, but it works well.

The last track is morew Marillon, this time a 12 minute song titled Neverland. Again, not really my thing, but okay enough to end a CD with.

All in all a great mix, despite the, what, fours songs? I didn't really get into, I enjoyed the hell out of this one. I'm so going to buy some Steve Earle this weekend.

About Damn Time

No internet access for a few days left me with plenty of time to kill. I noted to ADD earlier that I'm amazed at how much time I spend on my computer. Also, I get simultaneously sad and pissed when I can't get online. I really should spend more time away from this infernal machine.

Did I? Not really. With all that extra time I basically did nothing. I looked at my computer desk and said "I should rearrange everything in my room". So, I did. I thought it would be a simple task, but it wasnt. I'm still not finished, but the grunt work is done, and it took me well over six hours in the last two days to do it. It also makes me want to get rid of these damn action figures that are threatening to come alive and kill me. But, I've got a baby brother on the way, and that should take care of that, at least my dad won't have to buy him very many toys.

They decided on a name as well, Avi Craddock Polk. Craddock was my grandmothers name, and since the kid was concieved around the time of her death I think it's a lovely tribute, I just wish it were a better name. I got saddled with Gabriel and hated it for most of my life, mainly because teachers always assumed it was the female pronunciation, Gabrielle. You'd think you had to be smarter to teach high school, turns out that's not true, at least not in the south. I'm rambling... Avi is because my dad is in love with those two Spider-Man flick and think Avi Arad practically hung the moon. While he doesn't read comics, you slap Spidey, Venom or Ghost Rider in or on something and he just friggin loves it. Go figure.

So, I just spent the better part of two hours catching up on all I've missed. Turns out it wasn't alot, but there were some crucial developments that happened that I couldn't immediately respond to or discuss. I'll inform more when I know more, but there may be a promising new adventure coming my way.

I missed out on posting the week's DVD's, but i'm sure you all managed. There's a new Special Edition version of 12 Monkeys out, circuit City has it for the low, low price of $7.50. It's got a commentrak by Terry Gilliam. That rocks my socks. I also bought The Life Aquatic, which makes me one DVD shy of a Wes Anderson collection, but I can't afford the $35 for the Criterion DVD of Rushmore right now, and I'm not buying the regular edition, even if it was $10.

I also bought and watched Fargo, a movie I've tried to watch several times but always fell asleep. I'll get around to "reviewing" that, along with some Mixed Bag stuff tomorrow.

I was going to talk some TV, but after watching Smallville last night I just can't muster the desire. God did that episode ever suck. What the hell was the point of Lana opening the bag with the rock? I'm too busy scratching my head at this show lately to really like it. I'm glad the finale is next wekk, it'll give me time to miss it and forget how much I'm not liking it.

For now though, I have to finish the job I began two days ago. Wish me luck.


Monday, May 09, 2005


You want reviews? YOU WANT REVIWS? You can't handle reviews.

I do a great Jack Nicholson, no?

So, as promised, I've got several things to talk about, and first up, is a movie recently viewed!


Okay, I'm now convinced that the Hollywood Hype Machine only spits out one of a handful of phrases when it wants to promote a movie. Comedy, Drama, Action-packed!!, For the Whole Family. There may be a few more, but these are probably the most common. As if the people in this country wouldn't go see a film unless one of these were attached. And now it apparently can't tell the difference between those words. Psh.

So, Sideways is NOT a comedy. Yes, there are some funny moments, but this is not comedy folks. This is DRAMA. D-R-A-M-A. So, if you rent this movie expecting to smile and laugh your ass off, man will you ever be disappointed.

BUT! It's a great movie. Giamatti has been consistently robbed of any Academy accolades for some stupid reason, dating at least back to his supporting role in Man on the Moon, maybe even further. The man is absolutely brilliant, and if you loved him in American Splendor, then you must see this movie. It doesn't have the lasting power of a movie like American Splendor (the character seems like a higher class Harvey too, just without the weird charm), but it's worth at least one viewing. Church shows off some chops too, which is nice, he's mostly languished in acting hell for the last few years, and he seems to have finally kicked "Loyle" out of his system, either that or the new directors and producers aren't old enough to remember that character.

It makes for a bittersweet view, I know a few folks who had problems with the ending, but it worked for me. I'd like to get a chance to check out the special features with another rent, or possibly buy if it's cheap enough. Sometimes it's a little too smart and most of the wine stuff is so far over my head it's not funny, but all in all I enjoyed it, but I'm not in a hurry to see it again anytime soon.

Hey, looks like it's Mixed Bag Review time!!

Today's listen was Papa's Got a Brand New Mixed Bag or Captain Eclectic Strikes Back! mixed by Johnny B. himself. I had high, high hopes for this disc, and, as usual, Johnny B. does not disappoint.

He starts off with a Zappa tune, and while I'm no fan of the late Frank, I'm no snob either. It made for an interesting intro track. The first tune to really catch my ear was track 3, T.Rex-King of the Mountain Cometh. I've heard the occasional T.Rex tune, never thought it was anything special, but it just goes to show you what having an open mind will do. After hearing this I might be tracking some stuff down.

The Robyn Hitchcock song (I Saw Nick Drake) was a bit too melancholly for me. In the right mood I'm likely to love it though. But, the next track, The Waterboys-Glastonbury Song, took me for a nice ride. It reminds me eerily of Billy Joel's River of Dreams (was that the name of it?), only, you know, good. Great tune from a band I know nothing of, hopefully that will change. Track 8 was a Beatles tune. I wouldn't have expected a mix CD from J.B. without one (though, no Brian Wilson or Beach Boys songs struck me as odd, where's the love Johnny!!) Baby in Black has never been a fave Fab 4 song of mine, but even a bad Beatles song is twice as good as any old good song. The fact that the Monkees are on here as well, that just rocks my world. I like the Beatles, but dammit, I LIKE the Monkees. I'd say love, but, I doubt I even could name half their albums. I'm getting ahead of myself...

There's a Dylan tune on here, Catfish, which makes for an excellent lead in for the Neil Young song, Revolution Blues. Young is one of those people who I always like when I hear, but I've never bought a single one of his albums. I'm sure I've heard this song before, mostly because I knew who the hell it was as soon as the intro started. "I won't attack you but I won't back you" may be the most relevant lyric the man ever wrote. This would easily been my most favorite song on the disc, except....

I don't know who Maria McKee is, but dammit that is one catchy little song (Everybody). Who is this woman and where can I find more of here please! It works wonderfully as a followup to Revolution Blues. "We've all been lucky, we all wake up, we all do something to fill our cup" "Everybody gets to be somebody sometime" it's like pop music with a soul!

Track 15, Nilsson-Subterranean Homesick Blues, is just the kind of thing I'd expect to hear on a mix CD from J.B. I really can't put it any better than that. Oh, I liked it, catchy little beat.

The Monkees- St. Matthew follows it. It's the Monkees. They kick ass. I so dig that bluegrass intro.

Angel by Peter Holsapple & Chris Starney reminds me of some Son Volt tunes. I dig it. J.B., if you like this you should definitely check out Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo or just Jay Farrar's solo stuff.

The last song on the CD is a Yoko Ono tune, I Have a Woman Inside My Soul. I liked it. Really. I never thought I'd say that, but it works. Really well.

To see the tracks I didn't list (there were a few, I enjoyed them, but mostly they worked as filler stuff for me), go here.

I will say, for some reason, There For Her by Lloyd Cole sounded to me like Weird Al wrote a love song, a serious love song. Quirky, and growing on me.


Well, just one really. Due to my busy work schedule I haven't been able to read much, but I did get through The Intimates #7. You all know my bitch about Joe Casey, I'm sure, so it's pointeless too keep bringing it up (yet I just did...), but damn if he doesn't write one swell superhero book. This issue added some much needed mystery to the goings on of the school, just in time for summer break! A good, solid read, but mostly just a filler issue. I see big things coming for the cast, I hope the book is around long enough for Casey to see them through.

Got Street Angel #1-5 in the mail. I'm dying to dive into them, but haven't yet. I read issue #1 awhile back and finall tracked the rest down, so now I have two #1's. Someone will be getting lucky in the near future I think!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go jam out to some mix tunes.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Double the Fun

I won't jinx myself, but that thing that was doing much of anything is now doing well, so I've been working double shifts to make up for my unwanted vacation time. So, yeah, no real updates.

Happy Belated Greeting Card Day to all you Mothers out there. You know who you are.

I have been enjoying my mix CDs, but lack the time or energy to discuss them. I will say this little idea of Lefty's has boosted my desire to make some mix stuff. I sat down and made another one today that turned out really well.

Hopefully a big update tomorrow, including some mini-reviews and some TV talk, and possibly a movie review and some Mixed Bag stuff.

Cross your fingers!


Friday, May 06, 2005

A Quickie

Y, the Last Man #33

Bian K Vaughan rocks my freakin' world. Looks like Yorick might make it to Australia after all. How can this book be so consistently great? It seems impossible.

Does Not Compute

I just fixed a few blogged errors, including a place where I called Olive from CCE Violet. Odd.

I also just finished a massive review of Marvel's Power Pack #1-2.And, while I was a tad prechy in it, I could have been infinitely more so. It really pisses me off that Marvel has a book that could very well grab them some new readership with kids, but they market it with a $2.99 price tag and it's doubtful you'll ever see anything about it outside of in-house promotions. This book is damn good, Sumerak is fast becoming one of my favorite writers, but I fear in the end his efforts will be for naught. Fanboys likely won't accept this because of the lack of real continuity, and it may be as doomed as his Guardians book, which was also excellent.

So, if you're reading this, and you haven't picked this book up, do it. Even if you don't enjoy it there's sure to be a youngster nearby who will. Support a good book for once, the X-Men and Spider-Man, even the Avengers can wait until next week. buy this book. NOW!


Thursday, May 05, 2005

What's a Blogger to Do?

I should be working, be it of the paid variety (can't deliver without a car, now can I?) or the free (So many reviews not finished, and so many more not even begun!). Instead I'm here, answering the call of fellow blogger and my editor at CBG, Alan David Doane.

(Sidenote: Ever get in the habit of calling someone something, so when you refer to them any other way it sounds wrong? I can't imagine just calling him Alan, I'm so often using ADD or his full name to address him. Kinda like actors with initials in their name, like Michael J Fox, I could never just call him Mike, or even Michael. Maybe I'm just weird like that.)

So, what TV shows do I watch?

Well let's go day by day:


King of the Hill, Malcolm in the Middle, The Simpsons, Arrested Development, Family Guy

No, I don't always watch all of them, but that is essentially Fox's Sunday lineup, and it's usually the only good thing on for awhile. I miss KotH and MitM usually, but I always enjoy them when I catch them.

Extreme Home Makeover

I'm a sap, I know, and I never watch the whole thing, I just flip to it when Fox has a commercial.

Desperate Housewives

I'm in love with this show. I want to marry it.

Boston Legal

What ADD said goes double for me and add in Candice Burgen, she makes a pretty sexy older woman. Too bad ABC sucks and delayed the rest of the season until next FRIGGIN' YEAR!!!! The bastards.

Adult Swim- Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen hunger Force, Sealab 2021, Venture Bros., The Oblongs, Home Movies

That's the current line-up, minus Tom Goes to the Mayor, which I hate. Reruns or not, I never miss this, and sometimes I catch the repeats starting at 2am. Those shows are what get me through the week, I live to see Adult Swim on Sunday nights.


Still Standing

I like this show, it reminds me a bit of Married with Children, only maybe not quite as dumb.

Everybody Love Raymond

I didn't, not for awhile, but once I started watching, I loved him too. Peter Boyle is the best.

Two and a Half Men

This is a show I never thought I'd see on CBS. It's often racy, though not really controversial, but it is ALWAYS funny.



It's rare that I catch an episode, but I love it when I do.

The Shield

Damn is this ever a good show. TV drama done so right it's often painful to watch.



For the geek in me. I don't get enough geek TV.


Well, I'm off on a Thursday night and I'm blogging instead of watching TV, so that might tell you something, and as for the other days, they're usually reserved for DVDs.

Occasionally Viewed


Love it, but I never remember when it's on. Good fun, gotta love Ace the Bat-Hound.

Ed, Edd, and Eddie

This is on daily, so if I'm around a TV when it's on, I'm watching it. I just can't get enough of those darn Eds.

Teen Titans

Always good for background noise if nothing else, but I usually enjoy the episodes I catch.


Not as fun as the old show, for me at least, but still pretty darn good.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

If I'm up in time on Saturday, I always catch this. if you have kids, there's no reason you should not be watching it as well, with them preferrably. It's funny and imaginative, one of the most original cartoons to come along in quite some time.

Adult Swim-Futurama, Family Guy, Harvey Birdman

That's the weekday line-up, and if I'm not busy I tune in for at least Futurama.

Viva La Bam

Man, this is the oddest show, and I just love it. I miss the Sunday airings, but if it's on during the week when I have nothing to watch, I catch it.

Pimp My Ride

I actually like seeing the tech aspects of what they do to the cars, I hate all the "bling" that the show hypes though.

The Daily Show

I echo what ADD said, this show kicks uber-ass.

South Park

Definitely NOT good clean fun, but oh so enjoyable.

Celebrity Poker Showdown

It's alway either dramatic or funny, sometimes both.

I'm sure there's more I'm not remembering, and that doesn't include the vast array of reruns via Nick and other channels I always have on in the background.

Yes, I watch too much TV, and probably waaaay too many cartoons. But, I love me some cartoons.

When Life Hands You Lemons...

You should line them up and take shots at them with a Magnum, because lemons just suck.

Turns out something IS wrong with my car after all. But, it's not the radiator, it's some kind of mystery ailment. I think it may just be the water pump, a $50 part, actually I HOPE it's just the water pump, but the symptoms are becoming increasingly odd, so there's just no telling right now.

Couscous Express

So, as part of the Mixed Bag deal Larry Young sent out a copy of Brian Wood's Couscous Express GN from his publishing house AiT/PlanetLar with his mix CD, which serves as the unofficial soundtrack to the work.

I just finished reading the GN, which I've read before, but it's admittedly been awhile.

The story focus' on Olive, a delivery driver (on a vintage Vespa no less) for her parents restaurant, Coucous Express. Anyone who knows her will tell you she's a spoiled brat, that she doesn't appreciate her family or the things they do for her, but all of that is about to change. It seems there's someone out to extort money from the family, an old boyfriend of her mother's, and current head of the Turkish Mafia, who claims their hummus recipe was stolen from his family.

Olive really comes to life when she sees what this man is threatening to take from her, and with the help of her boyfried Moustafa, his partner Special, and a load of their friends, she's going to take back the people she loves, and in the process she may learn what family and friends are all about.

Written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Brett Weldele, Couscous Express is, essentially one of the coolest graphic novels ever. Take that as you will. The book has it's faults, and may not really be the most sound idea ever commited to the written page (taking down the Turkish mafia with a few people on scooters and rollerblades, only in comics!), but there's no denying the feeling you get when you read it. You wish you were these people, they come to life in a way that few books could achieve.

The characters are those classic Hollywood actors, or at least the image they personified, reimagined in the punk rock world. Olive is Katharine Hepburn from Bringing Up Baby. A girl that's always had everything she ever wanted, in the way she wanted it. All the reasons for you to hate her are right there, yet as the story progresses you begin to love her more and more, and by book's end you admire her, despite those faults you find so unattractive. Moustafa is the epitome of cool, he is the Steve McQueen in the world of Couscous Express. He's the guy girls want to be with and other guys just want to be. Sure, he may not always be on the right side of the law, but you'd follow him to hell if asked you too. And the there's Special, the third wheel. As weird as it sounds, Special is every character Cary Grant ever played blended into one. She's sexy, she's funny, she's a little on edge, you want to hang out with this girl, she's just got so many sides to her, you always want to see what she's going to do next. At least, that's the way I see it. Classic Hollywood gone punk rock.

Weldele's art is occasionally distracting, but mostly enjoyable. Sometime's the panels look too "rough", like watching a film that's coscious of the genre it's trying to place itself in rather than just letting the work flow. But, like I said, it's mostly enjoyable. One of the book's better artistic aspects is the change in tone, even style to a degree, when the end comes, it's reflective of Olive's change in attitude to her life, and even though it's only a few pages, it's something to note.

Overall the book is very enjoyable, it's fun, exciting, action packed. No, it's not the greatest GN ever published, but it's still a damn good read.

The soundtrack, as Dorian noted, makes for excellent driving music. Like the GN it's fast, heart-racing, exciting music. I haven't heard of many of the artists on the disc, but after a few listens I'm becoming a fan of quite a few of them. The Bosstones track is great, How Why Wuz, it feels slightly out of place with the heavier stuff, but it does allow a bit of a down time. Bring Back the Skins was a nice little brit-reggae type of tune. It's weird, but very enjoyable. Bill Withers Lovely Day is one of my favorite on the disc. It's kind of disco-pop mixed with some soulful singing. Good stuff. the two Desmond Decker tracks (Pickney Gal and What Will You Gain) are also favorites, the music feels a bit reggae, makes for nice tunes to mellow you out in traffic. The Pete Rock stuff is excellent, reminds me of some Wu-Tang style mixes, I'll definitely be looking onto some stuff by him. Skinhead Girl by Fat Holligans feels like a drinking song, or maybe something you'd hear at a soccer match.. There's a cover of Shania Twain's Still the One that made for a very interesting listen, I've gained an appreciation for the song, it's fun and funny at the same time. Dilated Peoples and the Offspring show up, and that's always nice. I like both of those groups, and She's Got Issues is just a great song for a Couscous Express Soundtrack. Minor Threat's Goog Guys Don't Wear White is equally fitting for Moustafa, and a good song to boot. But, hands down the best track on the CD is Dropkick Murphy's The Guantlet. It's the theme song, or better yet, the anthem of the book, easily, and has already climbed its way into my brain, nestling with my other new favorite songs. It's a great CD, a perfect soundtrack and companion piece to the GN. I could have done without the instrumental pieces (I crave any kind of dialogue, so music without words, at least modern rock/rap music, gets old very fast, but fortunately most of the tracks are pretty short, and all have catchy beats.

Big thanks to Larry Young for the CD and GN. I enjoyed both tremendously and am glad to have them in my collections. When Lefty provides a complete track listing I'll shoot a link out to it for anyone wanting to compile their own copy. Trust me, it's worth tracking the stuff down.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Your Opinion Doesn't Count

John Byrne is infamous in the comics community for being...obtuse, to put it nicely, but his latest little rant may be a step to far. In a discussion that can be found here, Byrne equates calling thought balloons "thought bubbles" to calling someone of African-American descent a "nigger."

First, let me say, as Steven Grant pointed out, it is thought balloons, not bubbles. I've never heard anyone call them bubbles, but if they did I'd hardly go off on a tangent about it. So what? But, Byrne has to be Byrne, here's his exact words:

"There are lots of people who call Black people "niggers". Are both terms "right"?
You seem to have missed the rather important point that my response indicated roughly the same percentage of fans and pros use the improper terms for various elements of what we do -- but that percentage does not approach a balance. It is not that roughly half say "balloon" and half say "bubble". It is that some say "bubble" and they are wrong. "

Language is a tricky thing folks. Up north I've heard soda drinks called "pop", but down here in the sticks it's a "coke" no matter what the hell it is. Up north there's different kinds of "tea", here in the south when we say "tea", it better be sweet and have ice in it. It's just one of those things. But nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE! in this country is the term "nigger" used without negative connotations.

If you'd like to get technical, there is a definite difference in the two terms "nigger" and "nigga", the latter often heard in rap tunes. Am I the only white guy watching Chappelle's Show? Ask Paul Mooney, he'll set you straight. So, Byrne is talking about the first version of the word, that's the one he wrote, that's the one he's talking about. Unless, * shock * he's thinking the two are one and the same! Surely he's not so stupid as to believe that! Not him, this guy has his hand on the pulse of the ethnic communities! Why, he even knows that Hispanic women with blonde hair immediately look like sluts! He's clearly got his ducks in a row.

This poster certainly tries to show the man the error of his ways:

"Back to the bubble vs. balloon thing: I'm a New Jersey native who now lives in Wisconsin. Something I've gotten used to is that what I call "soda", most people around here call "pop". I'm not about to tell the vast majority of the people here, some of them my friends and neighbors, that they're wrong. And they're not wrong. Neither term is invalid; they are synonyms, different words to describe the same thing.With stuff like "reboot", "retcon" and "revamp", we're talking about precise meanings that shouldn't be confused. However, "balloon" and "bubble" are two different words for the same thing. There aren't separate items called balloons and bubbles that we shouldn't confuse with one another.Furthermore, it wouldn't even matter which one is used more; hold a vote on "soda" vs. "pop" and you still wouldn't establish any objective truth in the matter. These are simply the words that different people use. All that matters is that they're clearly defined and easy recognized.I'd also object to JB's references to racial slurs. While there are the same denotations involved, there are obviously different connotations. "Soda" and "pop" are synonyms that carry the same connotation. People don't go around reffering to what they like as "soda" and what they don't like as "pop" or vice-versa. Some people say one word, some people say the other. The same situation applies to "balloon" and "bubble".

He makes a keen observation there. Like I pointed out, that term ALWAYS is negative.

Not to get sidetracked, but this little Byrne-ism made me laugh:

"Not long after I first came online, I encountered a poster was was the self-declared "World's Greatest Spiderman Fan" --- and I, of course, pointed out to him that it is "Spider-Man". He responded by saying a Google seach of "Spiderman" produced just as many hits as "Spider-Man" so it "must be right". Eventually he even started announcing that he was spelling it "Spiderman" "because it bugs Byrne". Talk about needing to get a life! "

Okay, Byrne is right, but come on! Is that the kind of stuff you sit around thinking about? Who cares how some guy spells it, leave him alone and you get a life.

This person also chimes in:

"Um, we don't avoid using the word "nigger" because it's incorrect usage. We avoid using it because it's incredibly racist and hateful. Is there an ethnic group that's impugned when someone says "thought bubbles" instead of "thought balloons"? Mind you, I usually say "balloons" rather than "bubbles." But from now on, I'm calling them "wops."

Correct and funny, give her a cookie please.

Byrne comes back with:

"Um..." in point of fact there are plenty of people who use the word "nigger" because that is the word they use, not because they imagine it has any negative racial connotations. That's precisely why I chose that word as my illustration."

No, no, no, no, no, no, N O !

Finely illustrated here:

"Enough already with the casual tossing around of racist epithets!
John, you cannot possibly be that ignorant to believe that people who use racial slurs do so without any negative intent or connotation. If you do indeed believe that, I strongly encourage you to seek some counsel and educate yourself on the matter, if you don't want to take my word for it. I've only been black and lived in this country for, oh, my entire life, so I may not be aware of how things really are out there...
We spend an awful lot of time on this board dealing with the issue of respect, as it pertains to comic book characters, comic book terminology, reverence for creator's original visions, nicknames for comic book characters, etc. People tread lightly on eggshells out of fear of upsetting you and your many rules for how seriously this wonderful hobby of our should be taken, both by us within it and by those civilians outside of it. How about we extend that same measure of respect to the people who participate in this board?
We're supposed to take your word for how things should be in the industry, how characters are supposed to be treated, etc because of your years of experience. How about you extend me the same courtesy on this issue?
This isn't about political correctness, or "looking for something to be offended by." It is simply a matter of consideration and manners...
There were an infinite number of comparitives you could have chosen to illustrate your point about correct comic book terminology. The fact that you chose the one you did...why?
I think we get your point. They are balloons, not bubbles. Fine. Your comparitive example sucked. Just as you ask us not to use terms that bother, offend or piss you off, I'm asking you publicly to not use racially insensitive terms and epithets on the board as well. Or is that something you would have a problem with?"

Fiesty, I like where this is headed.

John's response?

"Ignorance is the key, but not on my part. There are many places in this country where people to this day use "nigger" when refering to Black people because that's the word they use. They don't think of it as a racial slur. They don't think about it at all, in fact. It simply is.
This is not even considering Black people who themselves use the word. We cannot, surely, imagine that it is used in that context as a racial slur?
"Nigger" is -- like so many others -- a word with a complex etymology and an even more complex pattern of use. "

Byrne goes on to post:

"Isn't it just wonderfully reflective of internet messageboards that all this brouhaha about the "acceptability" of the "n-word" was spawned by my using it as an example of a word that does not became "right" simply because people use it?
Political Correctness gone mad! "

Yes, isn't it wonderful?

The best one yet is this little pearl from Byrne:

"Hey, if calling 'em "graphic novels" somehow makes comicbooks acceptable to the steaming masses, I say let's encourage the misuse! I have been searching for years for a term that would be more accurately descriptive of the product than "comicbook". If, in the end, we must accept a term that really does not apply per se, well, so be it. After all, I call myself a freelancer, but I've never even held a lance in my hands! "

So, it's not okay is some people say bubble because that's the wrong word, but saying graphic novel instead of comic book is okay just because it might make this little hobby of ours more acceptable to the mainstream? WHAT THE HELL? He just overstepped his own boundaries, let's see if anyone calls him on it!

Nope, not yet, instead Byrne insults Manga:

"It's been years -- about 35 -- since I saw my first manga, but whenever I hear the word I am still inclined to look toward the fruit department at the grocery store. "

Yes, bash the successful medium, that always works! Yes, yes, he wasn't being mean or evil, but still, what the hell's the point?

And that's pretty much the end of that. I suppose everyone wants to let sleeping dogs lie, but I really don't understand the people on his forum. Why would you hang around for this guy to insult you? He's a prime example of what's wrong with the industry.

Yeah, I promised a music review, it's coming, I swear.