Archive for October, 2004

When you return from polling — HA HAA! POLLING!

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

On election night from 10PM-3AM (central time), Adult Swim will have a Phil Ken Sebben Marathon celebrating one of the funniest characters on “Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law”.

For some reason, Adult Swim’s schedule is coming up blank, and when I try to see Harvey Birdman on the schedule it lists all the shows on that night as being an episode called Guitar Control. This is even odder, since there is no such episode on the episode guide. Whether this means that a new episode called Guitar Control is being show four times an hour for six hours or Adult Swim just has webmaster difficulties is anyone’s guess.

Halloween Horror Movie List

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Here’s that list of horror movies I promised.

Dog Soldiers – A band of Scottish marines go into the deep woods on a military wargame and encounter a pack of werewolves. Taking refuge in an isolated home, they use military tactics to fight off the monsters. A gory, freaky, FUNNY movie with a terrific surprise ending. Only flaw is the premise that you can find a place in Scotland where you are 100 miles from civlization in every direction.

Evil Dead – If you want full-on horror, this is the biggie. Raimi, Campbell, you know.

Evil Dead II – If there are people in your party who aren’t up for the full X-rated gore fest, go for this funnier remake (it’s not a sequel, it’s a redo!).

Army of Darkness – Not really scary. More like a Xena episode with corpses.

Peeping Tom – A movie so disturbing for the sixties British audiences that the director couldn’t get work again. It’s all about a seemingly nice but disturbed young gentleman who uses his camera to kill women.

Freaks – If you haven’t seen this movie, then you are missing out on all the references to it in the Clerks cartoon episode and Route 666 and Starman and that X-files episode with Vincent Schiavelli. Pretty much anything where a circus sideshow gives you the creeps is based on this movie. The plot sounds pretty basic: a beautiful circus aerialist and a handsome strongman scheme to steal a rich midget’s money. She pretends to be in love with the tiny man, wooing him until she can make a black widow play. However, his fellow freaks learn of their plan. I won’t give away any more. The film was made with a cast of several dozen midgets, pinheads, half-men, bearded ladies and other circus freaks. You couldn’t even make this film today without being branded “insensitive” 100 times over, even though the film is entirely on their side. This is one utterly creepy movie that will stick with you, and yet the scares are all psychological.

Ghost Story – Alice Krige, the Borg Queen, is in this one. Several elderly men recount a buried incident from their past. This one is rather forgotten, surprisingly, despite having a number of good frights. Like the bathtub…oh, I’ve said too much.

The Thing – One of the most intense, claustrophobic goreflicks.

Village of the Damned (original) – An entire English town falls unconscious. When they awaken, all of the young women are pregnant. George Sanders (the cultured voice of Shere Khan) stars as a father who thought he was too old to father a child, but realizes that these children are not born of the men of the village. He tries to support his son and the other children, but is appalled as they develop mental powers that strike out viciously at anyone who harms them in any way.

The Village of the Damned (New version) – John Carpenter’s remake with Mark Hammill, Kirstie Alley and the late Christopher Reeve (the last movie before his accident) moves it to a California town. That slight change ruins it; the kids are only half as creepy without British accents. Nonetheless, it’s worth seeing once, and I still remember the horror of the people waking up at a barbecue to find that a man fell asleep across the grill. Kirstie’s fate is equally terrifying.

Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are two zombie movies I enjoy. Every Halloween I have to listen to horror experts go on about the messages in these movies. I’m glad to say they go blissfully over my head.

Return of the Living Dead – A bit dated with all the punk rock stuff, and I really don’t know why the pretty girl is hanging out with a gang of degenerates, but still a major fun movie. The zombies run full tilt, talk and even use the radio to call for more cops (so they can eat them). Added bonus: naked chick.

Bubba Ho-Tep – More comedy than horror, this cult fave features Bruce Campbell as Elvis, alive, somewhat well and wasting away in a rest home. When a mummy begins killing off the other residents, he and his friend J.F.K. (Ossie Davis, who explains that he was dyed black in order to hide better) decide to take action. Some of Bruce Campbell’s best acting work, especially when Elvis (in flashback) meets the Elvis impersonator who takes his place and it is clearly the Bruce Campbell who plays himself in every movie.

Ghost Ship – Not the greatest horror movie, but the first five minutes features one of the most memorable horror scenes ever.

From Hell – Alan Moore’s heavily researched theory of the identity of Jack the Ripper was made into a 2001 movie.

Elvira’s Haunted Hills – A little-known movie from 2002, this gem is a sendup of all the old Hammer horror films and features an actor named Scott Atkinson who does the remarkable feat of unmistakeably evoking Vincent Price while not actually doing an impression of him.

Memento – The famous “unfolding in reverse” movie, a psychological chiller where everything runs backwards to reach a terrifying conclusion (or beginning).

The Others – If you haven’t seen this Nicole Kidman film, do.

If any other Monitor Duty contributors want to post their reviews/lists, you’re welcome to. There’s still time for people to run out to Blockbuster!

Oh, a perfect January movie

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

Hide and Seek looks like it will be the perfect Halloween movie to watch this weekend. That creepy girl is just the spookiest thing this side of “The Ring.”

Whose idea was it to release this thing in January?

I guess we have to content ourselves with Saw for Halloween.

On Saturday, I will post a list of good movies that I’d recommend renting for Halloween.

Well, it’s got Batman!

Friday, October 29th, 2004

This comic has Batman and Spoiler, but it’s not what you think: Spoiler

Election decorum and our link content

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Well, I had to do something I don’t like to do. I had to actually perform a bit of censorship and remove Seth’s second link in his post which pointed to a site scaremongering about the draft.

Why? For one thing, there was nothing comic book, movie or general geek-newsy about it. While certain deviations from that line are permitted and such decisions don’t have any hard-and-fast rules, I think we can all agree that if linking to just any political site were fair game, we all have tons of sites we could link to all day long. Most of us have our own personal blogs where we can spout opinions. I actually don’t, just because I devote all my spare time to other things and if I had a political blog I’d probably bury myself in it.

Still, I might have left the link up while posting this warning, except for one thing: all this draft business is a big bit of misinformation. Actually, “misinformation” is putting it lightly. That’s like calling Protocols of the Elders of Zion “misinformation”; a better word might be “hoax.”

President Bush does not have any plans for instituting a draft. The Republican Party does not, either. There was a bit of draft legislation making its way through Congress, and it was a bill introduced by Democrat Charles Rangel…and he didn’t do it because he wants a draft, but to make a point about how more people would be against the war if they were going to be drafted. And it was so much a bit of show that when it came time to vote on it, Rangel voted against his own bill…as did hundreds of other congresshumans.

There is no draft, no threat of a draft and no plans for a draft. So why are there web sites about the draft coming back? Because the Democrats found out that they could talk vaguely about a draft bill being in Congress, leave off the mention about it being a not-serious-bill by a joke of a congressman from their own party, and scare all the young people into voting for them just to keep from being drafted when it’s not going to happen. It’s a bit of dirty campaigning and I’m just not going to have someone on Monitor Duty furthering it.

The military doesn’t want a draft and they are not asking for a draft. This isn’t a war that you can fight with draftees. Our armed forces require highly-trained people who will learn specialized skills, not a bunch of dogfaces who can be handed a gun, forced through bootcamp and then dropped into the frontline whether they want to go to war or not. If our enemies in the War on Terror would wear uniforms, line up in trenches on one end of a battlefield and they outnumbered our side by 10-1…THEN we might have to activate the Selective Service just to get the raw numbers of gun-wielding soldiers up. But that’s not going to happen.

Our military is made up of people like my brother, who had to go through well over a year of intense training before he could serve in the AWACS. A draft would randomly bring in people of all education levels, but our military can’t take just any ol’ unejicated hick and put him to good use. They need high school graduates and would prefer college graduates, which is why our own Eric Spratling signed up to enter the service when he graduates. (He is, by the way, already being called a murderer of innocent people by the radicals on his campus. No crap. So much for the whole “support the troops” movement that would fix it so our boys wouldn’t be treated the way they were in the 1970s.)

The bizarre thing is that the left has spent four years screaming about things they hate about Bush; in addition to all the other reasons that are debatable, you have to tell a total lie to win?

Anyway, I could have just deleted the whole post, but this isn’t about squelching any old partisan thing I don’t like. It’s for that reason I left the link to the Richie Rich parody; it’s JUST comic-related enough to be tolerated. I mean, it’s so innaccurate that I could spend 10,000 words replying to it if I had my own political blog. It’s also hateful and bigoted and it makes me feel the way a Jew must feel when he sees a political cartoon of a big-nosed moneylender gleefully squeezing blood from a German child to make his bread. But at least it parodies a comic book so I can’t in good conscience just wipe out the post.

I still feel dirty leaving it up, but I will. I’ve always believed in countering speech with more speech, but I’m hindered by the fact that this blog is supposed to be comic-book-oriented and writing long political responses (like this one) isn’t the point of Monitor Duty. Also, I could link to Jack T. Chick tracts and they wouldn’t be half as hateful as that Richie Rich cartoon, so I don’t really know HOW to counter it.

Now, Ian does a lot of linking to the political hitjobs in comic book form (or today’s example, a disingenuous movie poll) and I leave them up because they’re just on-topic enough to squeak by…and we like having him around due to the added diversity of comic news he brings. It isn’t our fault that Monitor Duty can’t be fair and balanced, since there aren’t really any right-wing comics that aren’t the run-off-at-Kinkos variety while the left has Alex Ross.

My favorite classic book

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

cover If you’ve not read Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court,” or like my friend Robert (for whom I post this link) haven’t even heard of it, you need to buy it. It is a prototypical sci-fi/fantasy story, written before anyone ever talked of “time machines” or “rips in space/time”, which is why Twain’s mode of time travel is for his hero to get conked on the head and wake up in sixth century England.

What almost every movie adaptation of this book gets wrong is that they have the hero bemoaning his time-tossed fate and wishing to get back. In the real book, the hero, an engineer, realizes that he is the smartest person on the planet and uses his knowledge to promptly take over King Arthur’s kingdom, transforming it into a progressive technocracy. He overthrows the knights (by shooting them with handguns in the joust), makes Merlin look a fool, threatens Morgan LeFay, spreads education and hygiene to the peasantry and gets King Arthur to establish a republic. That’s a really bad summary of a hilarious book.

If you haven’t read it, buy it.

FallCon 2004 Report #1: Nice Guy Finishes Art

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

You know what? Every time I try to get the gumption to do my FallCon 2004 recap I shrivel, because it’s a big undertaking and it makes me want to put it off. So I’ve decided to just post little bits and pieces as they come to me, some big, some small.

I have to start with one of the friendliest, most enthusiastic guys working in comic books: Tom Nguyen (NOTE: some of the art on his site contains nudity), inker on JLA for the last few years and now working on JL Elite (amongst other projects, natch). I’ve met Tom at a few signings and conventions, and the amazing thing is that he’s always apologizing for not having enough time to wander around and talk.

Why is he so busy? Well, because he’s so talented that he can create art that looks like a photograph and everyone wants to meet him and get a sketch or an autograph! He usually has a line of people that never dwindles.

And yet, this Minnesota shy person thinks that no one will be attending his lecture on inking! Well, I did, and so did a few dozen other people, including a couple fans who kept going on about the state of the comic book industry due to Identity Crisis. Tom, bless his heart, let them talk…even though he hasn’t even read Identity Crisis. I, meanie that I am, asked him, “Is it true that inking is just tracing?” Tom’s got a pretty good answer for that one that I won’t share; I don’t want to give away his good material.

Tom and his frequent collaborator, penciller Doug Manhke, have two new DVDs debuting soon. One follows Doug’s development of a pencilled page from beginning to end. The next follows Tom’s inking of Doug’s page. In each one, they narrate their design process and give away some tips and tricks.

Tom’s has an added bonus: a plot. A certain editor calls Tom and tells him to get the page finished in a day or he gets the sack. Tom has to work under pressure, all the while surrounded by beautiful models. (Let’s all give Tom a big awwwwww.) You can download and view trailers for both DVDs.

I can’t wait to see these DVDs. I wish there was one on writing, but even I can’t think of a way to make THAT work for video!

Too late for DVD sets

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

If you didn’t take advantage of the FOX DVD box set sales, you’ll have to hope that they have one again. It appears to be over.

Eric Spratling is a marketing genius!

Monday, October 25th, 2004

Not since Kramer pitched the apartment that was “all levels” have I heard such a unique design idea as Eric Spratling’s Chairway. Let the record show (for the patent office’s reference) that this was pitched on October 20/2004.

Overlooked media controversy of the week

Sunday, October 24th, 2004

I’ve been too sick and busy this last week to comment on much of anything in comics, media or other geeky stuff, and I apologize for that. I’m going to try to do my best to improve my posting rate over this next week, and I hope the other contributors will as well.

One media controversy which I haven’t even touched is this whole Sinclair broadcasting thing. To recap: Sinclair Broadcasting was going to air the documentary Stolen Honor on its 60-some stations, but drew heavy criticism from the Kerry campaign. Understandable, in that this program focusing on the Viet Nam War protests of which Kerry took part would be devastating, and it IS rather close to the election. In the end, Sinclair caved, yanked Stolen Honor and aired a watered-down documentary of its own instead.

What is important is that there was more than just standard outcry: there were intimidating lawsuits filed “on behalf of shareholders.” This boils down to “if a company with shareholders airs a program that even POTENTIALLY costs them revenue they can be sued.” The precedent established here is nothing less than scary.

Look folks, I’m from the school that views the First Amendment as literally preventing the government and only the government from censoring people. The Stolen Honor guys are not guaranteed a venue any more than Michael Moore is guaranteed a venue (although notice how much more easily Moore gets one). I’m comfortable with the arrangement we have always had with network TV and our capitalist check-and-balance system: if we don’t like what a network airs, we can complain, tune out, boycott sponsors, etc. … and let the networks and sponsors decide if the protests outweigh the interested audience and act accordingly.

Now there’s a whole new precedent of using trial lawyers to sue on behalf of any complaining stock holders. Well dang, maybe I’ll buy some CBS stock just so I can join in the suit against CBS News when that eventually happens. Seems to me that the people giggling with victory are going to be aghast when this is used against the far more programs in the media that they support.

(JUST to be clear…I am not supporting its use against them. I think it’s a horrible idea no matter who is doing it.)

On a related note, Stolen Honor is now available for viewing for free online (albeit in a very small picture and a 13 meg file size).

I finally finished!

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Phew! After a week of stuffy noses and headaches, I finally finished and posted my “Team America: World Police” review over on the Reviews section.

Now to do my convention report from FallCon…

Luann hits a sad note

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Is Aaron Hill really moving away from Luann? What’s with all the guys leaving this strip?

I like Luann, but this soap opera goes on forever, especially when every subplot takes a week or two to play out and then may not be revisited for months. I’m still waiting to see what happens with Brad becoming a fireman. (I swear, since post-9/11 when Brad made his career choice, I’ve grown to like him so much I’d rather this was his strip!)

Ask and ye shall receive!

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

I was just talking with my brother about how I wish they’d put the 1980s version of the Twilight Zone on a box set.

Bingo! Twilight Zone:80’s Season 1

Now, as long as my wishes are being fulfilled, I’d like Special Edition DVDs of So I Married an Ax Murderer, Searching for Bobby Fisher, Without A Clue and The Quick and the Dead with commentaries, deleted scenes and other bonus material. I feel stupid chucking out money (as much as $25 for these titles) to buy movies I used to have on videotape when all I’m getting is a barebones DVD that’s little better than the VHS.

Yep. Mm-hm.

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Well, gol-dang. Good thing I didn’t buy that King of the Hill DVD set yet. Turns out that that Amazon site is now selling it, along with a buncha them other Fox box sets like Simpsons, Buffy, Angel, Roswell and 24 and such, for only $15! I tell you what…Bill paid $55 for that Buffy box set just last week!

I know Dale keeps telling me that he can get box sets for a quarter from his supplier, a Rusty Shackleford, but I have it on good authority from Texas propane commissioner Larry Hogarth that you can’t do much better than $15 for a box set that usually sells for $30 or more. Dale also read on alt.conspiracy.cheapdvdboxsets that the real reason they do this is so that they can get you addicted to the first seasons, which are often still “finding their voice” and then getting you to shell out more money for the better seasons that follow. Still, it’s a mighty good deal, especially for all you Futurama fans going through withdrawal.

And even more pages!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

NEWSARAMA has the NEXT three pages of Identity Crisis to preview, as well as an unobscured look at the cover which reveals who is next to die.

By the way, I have a workable theory as to the identity of Sue’s killer, although it makes me sick to my stomach: It’s Ralph.

3-page preview of Identity Crisis #5

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Click to see a three page preview from PopCultureShock

I’m so anxious for this issue. Today I walked into Jimmy Jams comics, beat down from a hard day at work. Mark, behind the counter, looked at me. I said, “I’m just here to pick up my comics.”

He said, confused: “It’s Tuesday.”

Bad enough I’m losing track of my calendar. Finding out it is not yet the King of Days is not a good feeling.

Seriously…how do I sign up?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Just finished watching The Biggest Loser on NBC, and now that I’ve seen it I have to second what I said earlier: it’s the first good reality show I’ve seen, and how do I sign up?

(more…)

What I’m watching

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

*breathe in* Ahhhhh.
*breathe out* Phewwwww.

I think I’m finally over my cold. That means I need to get around to those belated posts on FallCon 2004 and my review of Team America.

What else am I doing tonight?

Watching the Biggest Loser, of course. The show I wish I could be on.

I’m also setting my VCR to record “Rated R: Republicans In Hollywood” on AMC, which is on at 3:35 in the morning and won’t be on again until November 7th. Sure, the Democrats may have most of the people in the Oscars hall, but at least the Republicans have Pat Sajak, Kirk Cameron, Treebeard and a couple of the stars of Babylon 5.

Surprise!

Monday, October 18th, 2004

There is one country whose independent films always generate the same question: “Is it supposed to be weird?”

I honestly can’t tell if this is funny or weird…but it sure is German!

Much better, guys!

Monday, October 18th, 2004

The new International Trailer for Robots is nowhere near as grating as the first one.