Archive for December, 2005

The Shark Byte: Now More Universal!

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Hate to toot my own horn and insert a seemingly-shameless plug, but I’m so proud of myself right now that I have to post this: The Shark Byte, my website that hosts several of my video projects (including a short animation of The Flash), is now viewable in all Java-enabled browsers! I’ve spent months trying to fix the HTML in my pages so that the videos would play in more than just Internet Explorer, and I finally got it right today — it will play in at LEAST IE, Firefox, and Safari! I assume it will work in other not-as-popular browsers, such as Netscape.

Anyways, I post this because you may be someone who tried to get to my website earlier but gave up when the videos wouldn’t play. Well, give it another whack! Let me know if there are any problems.

P.S. I’ve also added several new videos in the past couple months… go check ’em out and let me know what you think in my new forum!

MST3K’s Mike Nelson has a rummage sale!

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Did you miss out when Best Brains auctioned off all of their Mystery Science Theater 3000 props on eBay? Don’t despair! Now you can buy Mike Nelson’s used amps!

You’re welcome.

Forum archives for Monitor Duty are shrinking

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Based on the results of the “How big should our archives be?” poll, I’m setting the forum archives to 12 months as of January 1, 2006. If you want to preserve some old favorite threads or conversations, you should head over to the forum and give them a bump now!

(For the uninitiated, “bump” means reply to them and say something to keep them alive.)

Libertas reviews Spielberg’s Munich

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

I’m a bit behind on my movie-watching for the holidays. I’ve got a free ticket to see King Kong, which I will allow myself to do next week if I get enough of my comic writing done, and Melinda wants to see The Producers for New Year’s.

But after reading Jason Apuzzo’s review of Munich, I wish I could go see it soon…and that’s saying a lot, as I had little wish to see it at all before today. It’s not so much that I’ve been worried about Spielberg’s leanings as I am concerned about Tony Kushner’s politically-obvious writing and the questionable book the movie was based on.

I’ll summarize Apuzzo’s review, though it’s well worth reading in full: Spielberg has created an exciting thriller that is staunchly on the side of Israel almost in spite of the screenwriter, and it is only in the last 1/5th or so that the movie gets Kushner-heavy with “circle of violence” hand-wringing.

Granted, this seems to be a movie where viewers all take away different messages. Over on Dixonverse, Calamari Kid spoiled the ending shot and there was some discussion as to what it’s really saying.

What’s more, it seems as though 2005 was the year for Spielberg and Lucas to give interviews that gave viewers the wrong preconceptions of the movies they were making. In this case, Spielberg has talked of the movie being a message about “intransigence,” and it sure doesn’t sound like that was the message Apuzzo took from the film. Earlier this year, the public got the impression from interviews that Obi-Wan Kenobi was calling Dubya a Sith Lord and the Martian invaders were representing the American military, though the actual movies didn’t really emphasize such a message. All such interviews manage to do is infuriate part of the potential audience and lead to negative commentary, and despite what they say about “no such thing as bad publicity” I have to think that hurts the box office in the long run. (Well, as much as ANYTHING can hurt a Star Wars movie’s box office.)

A real, honest to goodness ANNUAL?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Just perusing the DC releases in upcoming months and spotted this: Teen Titans Annual #1 by Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman!

Holy cow! An honest and for-true boney fido annual! An annual just like my mother’s comic book company used to make. The kind of epic extra-long story that needed extra pages but didn’t cost quite as much as twice the price of a regular story. I loved these things. Annuals were those comics that the writers saved their BIG stories for. Sometimes a major story arc would build and build and then conclude in an epic annual where Terra has her showdown with the team she betrayed or Professor Stein dies just as the U.S. Government tries to nuke Firestorm. Dang, but I loved annuals back in the 1980s.

Then they decided to do theme annuals. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it started in 1991 with “Armageddon: 2001” in which we got to see fantastic stories of the possible future. That was fun! Then came Eclipso (meh!) and Bloodlines (BLECH!) and Elseworlds (awesome!) and Legends of the Dead Earth (oh, what sweet bilge is this?) and Pulp Stories (so-so)…and I don’t even recall the order anymore, but there were Ghosts (a maudlin revisit to dead characters), Planet DC (made the multicultural SuperFriends characters look great), JLApe and others, mostly JLA-centered and all mediocre.

From 1995 onward, I can recall only a few truly great annuals and they were all ones where a writer managed to turn out an excellent story despite the theme. The two Starman annuals being the best such example.

There was a Legion Annual where Xs met Barry Allen. I loved that, though it does have a silly moment where Barry opens his secret ring and changes into his Flash costume right in front of his granddaughter who can see at superspeed. (I don’t think they thought that through.) Unfortunately, that’s only a diversion for a few pages before a regrettably boring “Dead Earth” story.

Anyway, the Annuals seemed to die off a few years back. I’m sure it was mostly due to lack of interest and partly because the stories couldn’t compare in “epic” feel to the epic stories that are now told in 1/6ths proportions in every comic book on the rack. Plus, what will an annual cost in an age where a plain ol’ comic book now costs $3? (Answer? $5.)

But I’m glad to see that DC has not only brought back the annual but they’re going for a REAL annual. Just a self-contained (well, maybe, it’s all tied in to Infinite Crisis, etc.) story told well; no crossovers, no themes, no events. Keep it up!

It’s Minnesota! We just assumed it’s cold!

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

When the temperatures are in the upper thirties, don’t park your SUV on the ice!

Wonderful character actor Vincent Schiavelli now haunting subway

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Vincent Schiavelli It is with much sadness that I must bring this obituary to your attention.

Actor Vincent Schiavelli, 57, Dies in Italy. If the name doesn’t strike you as familiar, check out the picture. You may not have memorized the name like I did, but he’s one of those “Hey, it’s that guy!” character actors that you love to see.

I’ve liked this guy in everything. He was funny as a Russian spy in the first Gilligan’s Island movie. He was funny in his brief appearance in an episode of “Head of the Class.” He was funny as one of the alien lectroids in “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.” He was funny in my favorite Bond film, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” as a ballistics professor who could fire an assassin’s bullet from Stuttgart and still make it look self-inflicted. Salesman on Minos He was funny as the hologram of a weapons salesman who tries to sell Captain Picard the device that has killed everyone on the planet and is now gunning for his crew. For some reason, none of these are even mentioned in his official obit.

However, his range was wider than just the goofy appearances that capitalized on his, er, goofy appearance. I remember being quite moved by his performance as the spirit haunting a subway in the hit film “Ghost.” He also portrayed a sideshow freak on The X-Files His list of dramatic roles is just as lengthy as his comedic roles.

57 is just way too young for Vincent Schiavelli to leave us. I’m sorry we won’t see him in more films. R.I.P.

More movie remakes!

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

I’ve never seen the original version of The Hills Have Eyes, but I understand it’s already one of the all-time great horror classics that did everything right. Why a remake? Are they going to have anyone as good and weird as that Michael Berryman fellow in the first one?

We have Santa on RADAR!

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

NORAD Tracks Santa

…for this reason, I have sent them my only son

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Remember what I said the other day about Christ figures? Remember how some people were annoyed about the obvious Christian symbolism in the new Superman Returns trailer? Well, just in time for Christmas, Dial B For Blog puts together quite an interesting presentation.

INFINITE CRISIS Continues On Infinitely

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

In an interview at Newsarama Dan Didio has revealed that in addition to the year-long maxi-series 52 there will be 2 mini-series spinning out of Infinite Crisis: the 3 part Spectre: Dead Again (written by Will Pfifer) and the 6 part Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Battle For Bludhaven (written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey).

And the mobius strip that is Infinite Crisis continues to get larger.

Chris Rock spoils Christmas for kids

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Grinch … on ‘Everybody Hates Chris’

Chris Rock’s TV show (he has a TV show?) on UPN (UPN is still on the air?) featured a plotline in which a young child is told “the truth about Santa.” Parents are upset that their little children saw this.

What kind of parent lets their kids watch a show featuring Chris Rock? Heck, what kind of parent lets a six-year-old watch anything on broadcast TV?

“The Ringer” vs. South Park

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Fake cripple fight!!!!

In 2004, South Park did an episode called “Up The Down Steroid” about the Special Olympics. One of the two plotlines involved Cartman faking a mental handicap so that he could compete in the Special Olympics and win $1000 since he easily beat the retarded kids. However, he learns that the Special Olympians are great athletes and he’s a fat kid who is terrible at sports.

Today, the movie “The Ringer” (see trailer) opens with the exact same plotline. However, it’s a live action movie that has taken seven years to go from development to movie, while South Park infamously completes its episodes in a week. So who has wronged who?

Find out in Entertainment Weekly Feature: Did ”Ringer” rip off ”South Park” — or vice versa?

I haven’t seen “The Ringer” yet, but I want to. Producers the Farrelly brothers (“Dumb and Dumber”, “There’s Something About Mary”) often feature the mentally disabled and treat the subject with depth while still having a good time. Plus, the movie has gotten a big thumbs up from the Special Olympics organization.

Funniest honeymoon ever

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

If you remember the Aquaman swimming naked post from the other day, you’ll love to read more of Peter’s Problems on his honeymoon Disney cruise. It involves honeymoon costumed fantasies and a guy in a bear costume.

This guy either has the start of a very interesting life or his honeymoon will be so interesting that he’ll never be able to top it.

Ghost Rider movie site

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Ghost Rider movie site is up. It requires Quicktime 8. The movie’s release has been pushed back to 2007.

Thanks to Brianiac for the tip.

A Very Beau Smith Christmas

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Beau Smith caves in faces with a fistful of Christmas in Beau Ho! HO! 2005

Christmas song stuck in your head

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Merry Christmas, Badger-style.

It’s a couple days early, but when I saw it I couldn’t resist.

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Alan Kistler’s Profile On: THE FLASH – Part 1

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

There are characters who don’t reach the level of Superman or Batman, but who are none the less easily recognized by most non-comic readers as well. Characters who, when you mention their name, the non-comic reading guy on the street will have a vague idea of the guy’s powers and what his costume looks like. The Flash is such a character.

Maybe it’s because he’s one of those guys where his name says it all. Flash. Super-speed. It’s like Aquaman living underwater, you’re told a lot just in the name. Maybe it’s because the costume is so simple and sleek. Maybe it’s because people still remember the live-action show or his appearances on cartoons here and there. Or maybe it’s just that he’s so straightforward in his major abilities revolving around speed that he’s more of an icon, an elemental, than a super-hero. He almost seems to represent motion itself.

So let’s talk about him. Or rather THEM. For there have been several to wear the mantle of the Flash.

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Steyn (and little ol’ me) on Narnia

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Mark Steyn reviews The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

I saw the movie myself last week, and enjoyed it, though it’s a bit too tame for my tastes. I don’t want LOTR-style head-lopping, necessarily, but the battle of 1000s of creatures has fewer injuries than a battle with Cobra on the G.I. Joe cartoon. (You remember how all the Cobra jet pilots managed to parachute out of their planes in time because they saw the laser coming?) My parents and I have always disagreed about the portrayal of violence. They belong to the school which says that a film where a cowboy shoots 15 bad guys can be PG so long as every one of the baddies immediately covers the wound with his hand to spare us the sight of blood. I think battle has physical consequences and showing the realistic result of bullet wounds, stabbings and slashings is healthier.

As for all the non-Christians fretting about the story being a Christian allegory… I think it’s a bunch of hype over nothing. Anyone with any understanding of film knows what a “Christ figure” is. The mass-murdering computer hacker Neo in the Matrix is an obvious Christ figure. OK, he doesn’t care about anyone and is willing to kill pedestrians to save the hottie he loves, sure, but he is the savior anticipated by prophecy, etc. Speaking of Christ figures, how about Darth “virgin birthed by Midichlorians” Vader, the Chosen one? Lots of parallels there, but no one would confuse the youngling slasher with the Son of God. There are Christ figures all over our media.

When a movie has a vaguely respectful Christ figure and the production company thinks it will help sales to aggressively pursue a Christian audience to help their numbers, there is nothing wrong with that. Disney saw the dollars the Passion raked in by taking their show to churches and thought it would be profitable to get some of dat for themselves, so they used the same marketing firm and similar methods of outreach despite being very different films. Disney could use the appeal to a Christian audience after years of boycotts because of Gay Day at Disneyworld and other controversies. Promoting this film to Christians seems to be merely a sensible business decision, not one made out of a desire to proselytize. (I do think the Disney execs now saying “it’s NOT a Christian film” are being weasels.)

Production company Walden Media is a company on a mission, but it’s committed to family films of all kinds, not Christian films. (I linked to the assortment of upcoming films last week.) Most importantly, Aslan is a Christian allegory within a mythological fantasy family film; it’s nothing to be overly worried about. Sure, the Narnia books and films may result in some additional Christians (unlike Harry Potter which hasn’t led too many kids into witchcraft) if it is subjected to thought and analysis, but most people watching a fantasy film don’t hold discussion groups afterward. Cal Thomas was quite happy that the film wasn’t up to the preachy standards of Tim “Left Behind” LeHaye.

Movie sales picking up in ’06?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

iowahawk: The Reel World has a list of 2006 films. Love this:

“If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that the market is really hungry for more good, slow, imponderable stories and dim lighting,” and industry analyst Tim Jarrard of the trade journal Hollywood Reporter. “The industry has listened, and I think the public will be pleased with the direction it will be taking in 2006.”

Hat tip: Libertas, again.