Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Fant4stic 4 Trailer is in no way exciting



I confess I hoped Fox would embrace the Kirby-ness of the FF, but, instead, they clearly translated this from Ultimate FF, a comic nobody ever cared about and I wouldn't recommend.

Maybe the next trailer will knock my socks off, but this looks as lackluster as the last two FF movies.  Which, wow, that's actually kind of hard to do.

Discuss.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Answering Questions - The Picky Girl asks Where One Should Start When it Comes to Comics

Picky Girl placed the following in the comment box

Ok, I have a question. So I was not a comics girl growing up. I read a ton - and a lot of stuff that was probably way above my head - but the only comics I ever came in contact with were Archie and Veronica at my grandmother's house (in the bathroom...).

In college, a prof handed me Watchmen, and I loved it. I read some graphic novels and did a lot of reading about comics and the superhero, but when it came to comics, I never knew where to begin. There are so many iterations that I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?

I'll go ahead and ask my fellow comics dorks to weigh in down in the comment section.  I know you've got your opinions, and my suggestions are just that.  They're just some suggestions by me.  So, chime in, buddies.

First of all, I think if you get down to it, a lot of people had their first and often their last exposure to comics through Archie Comics.  There's a reason everyone over a certain age recognizes Archie and Jughead, and enough people are aware of the Archie-Veronica-Betty love triangle so that you can use it as cultural shorthand.

I'm one of those kids, too.  I have a warm spot in my heart for Archie, even if I can't imagine how one remains a lifelong reader, but people do that, and that's kind of cool.

yeah.  every high school guy has two girlfriends who are cool with this situation.

Back in the 90's, you got to ride the wave of 1980's envelope-pushing comics and academics for whom bringing in anything on the edge of culture to teach was kind of a novel thing.  Watchmen has sold a lot of copies to kids taking a blow-off course where they could read comics, but it earned its rep as one of the very, very few comics that reads like a sprawling novel and talks to an audience of people who also read Thomas Wolfe.  I cannot stress how rare this is in capes and tights comics.  Less so in other genres of comic.

The 1970's brought in the first writers that wanted to push beyond kiddie-stuff and you wound up with Green Arrow seeing his ward shooting up smack (no lie!), but it still read as a 22-page adventure with only loose tethers to the past and future.  And, 95% of the time when comics think they're writing for adults or to make a point, it's still basically Speedy doing smack.

First it's comics, then you smoke one rock of pot, and then wham-o!  You've riding the white pony and defending Jethro Tull in public.

Almost nothing in capes and tights before or after Watchmen is Watchmen, and I've written extensively about how comics have learned all the wrong lessons from a superhero comic that wrote up to a literate audience.  We can cover that again some other time, and surely will, but that wasn't really your question.  What I'm doing here is: expectation setting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Single Question Posed is Answered - Star Wars or Star Trek?

Gerry asks:

Not sure if you've ever come out on either side of this, but the public demands an answer: Star Wars or Star Trek?
The short answer is:  Planet of the Apes.

pew pew pew!

The real answer is - I grew up loving both, and never understood why I had to pick one over the other.  To me, that was sort of like picking Dragonslayer over The Secret of NIMH.  I kind of felt they were two different animals (one is fantasy, one is space adventure) and I could enjoy both, but I do get that it's like the need to pick either DC or Marvel and then go online and defend your stance from a religious perspective.  It's the internet.  You want to feel that there's logic to your gut feeling.

In my youth, Star Wars certainly got a lot of extra weight as it was the franchise that was being merchandised like crazy.  I never had any official Star Trek stuff until college, I think, when Jamie's Dad got me a Next Generation badge for Christmas (I was touched).

But let's not take any short cuts.  Let's take a really, really long look at this, shall we?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

SW Watches: Raising Arizona (1987)

Truly, one of the great comedies and a movie everyone should see.  I like to think it has something for everyone, and it's one of the few movies in my life I actually kind of forced on my folks, KareBear and The Admiral.



It's also a movie that, if you grew up with it, you probably quote twice a day at this point without realizing it.  Just an absolutely brilliant script.  Good enough that you've seen a man's repeated crimes and incarcerations, a couple's entire courtship, and marriage, their failure to conceive and the hatching of a plan, and you haven't even seen the credits roll.

And, of course, the theme song, Way Out There, one of the most instantly recognizable movie soundtracks I can think of that wasn't the work of Johns Williams or Barry.

Jamie and I are Childfree or Childless Americans or whatever you want to call it, but that doesn't men we don't like the childrens.  We just want them to not be in our home 24 hours a day.  Or to touch our stuff.  This April, Steanso and Aimers are welcoming their own little Nathan Jr..  It's a blessed event and all that, but as HI is stressing over Dip-Tet tests and saving for the orthodonture, the stuff played for comedic effect is kind of much funnier.  It doesn't hurt that I've been watching all of y'all go through this, one after another.

Of course, that kind of makes me and Jamie Gayle and Evelle Snoats in this scenario.  I suspect this makes me Evelle.

So, we'll see if Jason starts to feel the pressure and returns to his old ways with arrival of The Wee Baby Seamus (as we've insisted on calling the baby until he arrives), but I'm not sure Austin is ready for that much bad guitar playing.

Anyhow, y'all don't need me telling you how good this movie is.  And I don't have the energy to write up anything about the deeper themes of the movie.  You guys can ponder than on your own.

But I guess I'm on a bit of a Coen Bros. kick.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream Merges With The Infinite

As noted in the title, we lost a musical pioneer this week.  Edgar Froese has merged with The Infinite.  (Thanks to Cavender for the link.)

My first exposure to Tangerine Dream was, oddly, as a reference in cult sci-fi book The Architect of Sleep that I read at summer camp when I was a kid.  The hero of the book was a Tangerine Dream fan who accidentally made his way to a parallel Earth where apes had not evolved to be the bipedal species.  Instead, raccoons were living in a sort of feudal, dark-ages-like society.  I dunno.  It's been almost 30 years.*

My take away was the hero was kind of a slacker-stoner who was into stuff even more mellow than Dark Side of the Moon's second half.  At some point in my youth, then, I was buying Tangerine Dream on vinyl and cassette and chilling out like a champ under my Captain America and Michael Jordan posters.

I also recall, not too long after reading the book - and I can't remember if it was before or after I owned any Tangerine Dream, this movie came on the local UHF station, and it was directed by Michael Mann and had a score by Tangerine Dream.  Thief?  you ask.  Ha.  NO.  The Keep, one of the most unjustly hidden gems of the 1980's.  (edit: this is now available on Amazon Instant!  holy cats!)



Anyway, after that I noticed Tangerine Dream did a lot of scores.  The aforementioned Thief, Sorcerer, Risky Business**, Near Dark.  Legend, anybody?

Yeah, Tangerine Dream can sound dated, but I put that up to how much they stamped a certain period of music, the massive influence they had and the army of imitators who flooded movie scores - never quite hitting the same level.

But we're not going to do this post and then not give you some examples.

So, here we go.

Your Questions Posed and Answered: What Can I Do For You?

It's been a pretty good start back to blogging.  It's been a lot of fun for me, so I hope both of you reading this site are enjoying my triumphant return.

So, are there any questions I can answer?  Solve any burning mysteries for anyone?  Anyone have any suggestions or requests before we get much further along?

in this scenario, you shall be the Luthors and Mss Tessmachers, and I shall be the all-knowing space-head

Just drop your questions in the comment section!

Keep it clean, and keep it friendly.  We'll see what we can't do to answer that which is posed to us.

And, don't worry about the topic.  I guess.  You know what this blog is about, so... consider that before asking me anything about astronomy or baking.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anyone else watching "The Flash" on CW?

After 10 years of Smallville and trying Arrow once or twice (I think because they were introducing Crazy Quilt or something.  I forget.), I was pretty skeptical about the CW's spin-off Arrow series, The Flash.

But, look.  I read some of the Wally West Flash comics a bit when I was a kid, and I like The Flash as a concept.  Truthfully, I am totally okay with any DC character who has had the name, from Jay to Bart.  Because of my comics habits of the time when it was going, I missed Waid's run (which is not collected in hardbacks, which kills me a little), but I got back into Flash during Geoff Johns' run and never really looked back.

Since then I've read all of the Flash stuff collected in Showcase Presents (I think.  I need to double-check), and these days, I'm a pretty solid fan of Barry Allen, especially those first few years when it really did feel like a different kind of book.  Look, no kidding.  Barry was so... nice, I guess, that the character gets a bad rap as being "boring", but I really don't find a whole lot of boring in those early Silver Age books.  Mostly, they were a sort of conceptual exercise to begin with as The Flash was largely about villains and the really pretty awesome things the writers came up with to do with superspeed.  And then...  They did something a little different in that Barry kind of knew his villains.  Maybe not best pals, but they were his, and he actually worked to rehabilitate a few of them (yes, Batman, I'm looking at you...).

I wasn't against Barry coming back to the DCU a few years ago, but I will admit to not keeping up with The Flash in the new 52.

Oh, and I actually watched The Flash (starring the terrific John Wesley Shipp) during it's run back when I was in high school.  The Flash and Amanda Pays on a single show?  Twist my arm.



What I considered, before setting the DVR, was: if Johns was working on the show - and he knows his Flash - how bad could it be?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SW Watches: To Live and Die in LA


It's not entirely clear how I've never seen this movie as I've wanted to see this movie since at least 7th grade.  Somehow I never connected free time + availability + making it a priority.  But that's the magic of being friends with SimonUK.  You can say things like "Hey, I've never seen To Live and Die in LA." and he'll say "Cheerio, pip pip!  Why, I 've loads of copies of To Live and Die in LA., Gov'nuh!"*  But, yes, it's SimonUK, so of course he owned a copy.  Because he's a hoarder and he has a problem I'm more or less enabling.

And, thus, with Manhunter included, I somehow watched two William Petersen vehicles in less than 24 hours.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Because life is funny, we watched both Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002) in the same week

Late edit:  It occurs to me I should have prefaced this post by saying - Manhunter is the 1986 adaptation of Thomas Harris' excellent 1981 novel, Red Dragon.  It was directed by Michael Mann, who brought us Miami Vice, Heat and a version of Last of the Mohicans that is one of manliest damned movies you'll see in this life or any other.  The novel and Manhunter predate the 1988 release of Harris' follow up, Silence of the Lambs.  To get you up to speed, both feature Hannibal Lecter, America's favorite serial killer.  Anthony Hopkins, of course, made the role famous in the 1991 film of the same name.  In 2002, seeing an opportunity to make some dough, someone decided to remake the book Red Dragon as a movie with Hopkins instead of Brian Cox as Lecter.

I didn't see Red Dragon when it came out for a a few reasons.
  • I had already read the Thomas Harris book Red Dragon
  • I had seen Manhunter at least three times
  • Brett Ratner is not my favorite director
  • I had skipped the other Hannibal Lecter movie, I think.  The one with Juliann Moore and Ray Liotta, because nothing about what I read made me want to see it.  And I never have seen it.


I've also never seen The Hannibal Prequel or the NBC TV show.  I just don't know that I'm that into a protagonist who consumes other humans.  That's not a judgment on the wide Hannibal Lecter  fanbase, that's more a "wondering aloud" sort of comment.  I will say this, having watched Silence of the Lambs again prior to the New Year, and then watching both movies did restore my appreciation for the subtleties that originated in Harris' novels that have made it to the big screen, and for how Hopkins and his fellow actors brought that to life.