Eartha was a unique and wonderful presence and talent. The world is a bit duller with her absence. Good bye Eartha our Santa Baby who was purrrfect.
Archive for December, 2008
Merry Christmas all!
And what’s christmas without a wonderful christmas tune from…
(Is it just me, or do the daleks seem to be better singers than the humans?)
Time for a very on-topic (yet undeservingly-short) plug for a documentary being produced by a good friend from film school:
Dibujante de Munequitos explores the life, career, artwork and relationships of Ric Estrada, former comic book penciler who spent much of his career working at DC Comics and was the first artist to draw such popular characters as Power Girl. Ric has led a very interesting life filled with connections with interesting people, such as the late Ernest Hemingway.
In viewing some of the unedited footage of the film (such as this interview with Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics), what intrigues me most about Ric is his religious convictions and how he implemented them in his every day life and work. The comics industry is rampant with atheism, and Ric stands out as a man who isn’t afraid to make his convictions a part of his projects and known to his coworkers.
Seth, Ric’s son and my friend, is striving to raise funds for this film to pay tribute to his father, who is currently undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. Ric is currently in good spirits, according to Seth, but the nature of cancer is such that nobody can be sure how much longer he’ll be around, therefore time is of the essence in securing these funds and completing this project.
If it is within your means, support this film and show your support for artistic expression through the comics medium. See the links in this post for more detailed information on Ric’s life, the film’s progress & content, and benefits of donating.
Anyone know what’s up with Dixonverse.net? The message board and the blog is reset to back in September.
I never realized how much I needed that board to stay in touch with my friends.
(ACK! I just thought, for a second, “If only they were all on Twitter so I could reach them.” Nooooooo, I’m becoming a Twitter Cultist! Next I’ll be showing up at your door asking whether you’ve joined Twitter yet and handing you a pamphlet.)
Frankly, I find Twitter users insufferable (I’m talking to you, Hugh Hewitt!), but I joined Twitter just to shut people up and to make sure I had a good username.
(Ahem. First, a brief aside: SEE, Turner Classic Movies? See? This is why you don’t do your “tribute to the stars who passed away in 2008” montage two weeks before the end of the year!)
Majel Barrett has passed away, going to join DeForrest Kelly, James Doohan and her husband Gene Roddenberry in the great beyond. R.I.P.
I am sad to report that Majel Barret-Roddenberry has died from complications of leukemia. It was recently announced that she would be the voice of the computer in the new Star Trek film. Hopefully they were able to get her recorded before she passed. http://trekmovie.com/2008/12/18/majel-barrett-roddenberry-passes-away/
A teen movie that actually looks funny instead of raunchy!
Aside from licensed properties such as Iron Man and Batman, it has been quite a while since I saw a trailer for a movie that made me anxious to see it. This film “Knowing” looks very intriguing. its premise is somewhat unique, it looks fantastic, and it’s by the director of “I, Robot.”
Yes, I enjoyed “I, Robot” very much. Even with some of the most egregious product placement in years, I liked it. (Vintage shoes off of eBay indeed!)
Epica is one of the bands that pops up on my Fantasy Shredding Metal channel and lead singer Simone Simons is gorgeous. But it’s not often that you see a beautiful woman willing to make a fool of herself.
BTW: Is it just me, or is the picture at 1:19 an Ann Coulter book cover with photo-shopped red hair?
If I’m going to be spending some hours in the kitchen doing dishes or making meals, I will often grab a movie or two from my library to pop in the DVD player. (I have a small set on the counter, natch.)
By sheer happenstance, I grabbed “The Rookie” and “October Sky”.
The Rookie is a good film. Standard sports fare, heightened by Dennis Quaid’s performance, about a man whose dreams of playing baseball professionally were ended by an injury…but who finds himself at 40 able to throw a ball better than ever before. (One of the better lines: “Now, if I call the office and tell ’em I got a guy here almost twice these kids’ age, I’m gonna get laughed at. But, if I don’t call in a 98-mile-an-hour fastball, I’m gonna get fired!”) I hadn’t seen this in a while, so I popped it in.
Next, October Sky. Rookie’s good, but October Sky is simply an unappreciated masterpiece. Almost operatic in its themes, telling the tale of a miner’s son who would rather explore outer space than descend into the Earth to grub for coal, the film remains a feather in Joe Johnston’s cap. I have yet to watch it without choking up at the end. In a better world, this would be the kind of film that gets Oscars instead of “American Beauty.” If you have not seen this, you’d better buy it right now or I will find you.
Now, I grabbed these movies at random, just trying to find a DVD that I don’t have memorized. But I noticed something:
Both movies are about chasing after your dreams.
Both movies are about kids trying to escape the confines of their go-nowhere hometowns.
Both movies have protagonists who have a strained relationship with a grumpy, work-obsessed dad.
Both movies have the dads give some appreciation at the end.
Both movies have high schools where the sports team is called The Owls.
Bettie’s very sad life was retold in a marvelous film called “The Notorious Bettie Page”. Gretchen Mol is stunning in her ability to recapture the Bettie Page smile. The movie shows how Bettie, plagued by a lifetime of abuse and rape, is able to somehow retain a positive attitude about her career, life and God. (Granted, it does this by ending the story before she was placed in a sanitarium.)
The film contrasts well with “Auto Focus,” the biopic about the downfall and death of Bob Crane. The tale of how a whitebread, Republican, family man with a secret yen for nudie mags became an adulterous, swinging amateur pornographer is disturbing… and quite a shock for the Hogan’s Heroes fans who don’t know just how sadly porn-addicted he became. What’s also surprising: I didn’t know you could make a movie so focused on sex and have it come across as not at all titillating. in a way, it reflects Crane’s mental state: sex isn’t about fun anymore, it’s just an addiction.
Oh: If you ever DO make these a double-feature…watch the Bettie Page movie last. You’ll sleep better.
Here’s an Internet Trend I don’t mind hopping on: Pandora radio!
For the uninitiated: You name an artist you like, and it creates a “radio channel” featuring that artist as well as similar artists via the Music Genome Project. (This identifies songs by a wide range of descriptors. Very music brainiac stuff.)
Getting the right channel for you may take a few tries. By thumbing up or down a song, you craft whether you want more songs like that one or fewer. If you played a soft Sinatra tune and suddenly you’re getting Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow, just give them the thumbs down…and give thumbs up to Tom Jones, Mel Torme, Louis Prima and the like, and pretty soon it gets the idea that you like Sinatra for the crooning, not the easy listening. (This is just an example. It’s not amongst my stations.)
One artist whose genome is much more difficult: Weird Al Yankovic. You’d think it would link to other song parodists, or players of odd instruments, etc. Instead, I get Coldplay, Ween and the like because of the pop stars he is imitating and how their songs are described. It took some doing to get it to be more of a funny channel.
I like the song “High Enough” by Damn Yankees. However, a Damn Yankees channel was disappointing. Then I created a channel based on that specific song…and the resulting station is awesome!
The best part of Pandora, and probably why artists are glad to “give away” their music, is that it introduces you to artists you have not heard of. I created a Symphony X channel, based on a band my brother (a guitar enthusiast who makes custom guitars) really digs, though I wasn’t really familiar with them aside from their version of the Star Wars theme (which is gorgeous). I built the channel and then quickly fell in love with a few bands that were completely off my RADAR, such as Dragonforce and Nightwish. Noticing how many of the songs were goblin and dragon-related, I retitled it “Fantasy Shredding Metal“. It’s just the right thing to put on for a night of D&D or comic-reading.
Dragonforce’s “Soldiers of the Wasteland” was so good that I immediately added all of their albums to my Amazon wishlist, and I’d never heard of them before Pandora…
…which is probably the point of Pandora.
Other excellent songs: “Mirror Mirror” by Blind Guardian, “Dark Chest of Wonders” by Nightwish and “Wake Up The King” by Edguy.
I’ve been debating where to go next with Monitor Duty. I love this blog, but ever since Jimmy Jams closed here in Rochester, MN, I have been without a comic book shop.
And sadly, I have yet to even miss getting new comic books. I bought a huge pile of old trades from conventions and from Scott Beatty, and I’ve been working my way through them ever so slowly. Given the choice between paying $3+ for Final Crisis tie-ins or reading a “Showcase Presents: Adam Strange”… well, is there any comparison?
My Metal Men Showcase is an absolute joy. I think about all the trouble I went through hunting down errant Metal Men comics one by one all throughout the 1980s and 1990s, paying through the nose for them, and now the whole series can be read in a few fat volumes.
Meanwhile, for roughly the same price of those two Showcase volumes at a convention I bought the recent “Metal Men” #s 1-8 and it was atrocious. Poor storytelling, confusing art, and a plotline that involved flashing backward and forward between two time periods of the Metal Men without any way to really tell the difference. There’s even one issue that ends with the Manhunter android removing his mask to reveal a full splash page close-up of the man inside it…and to this day I’ve no idea who it was supposed to be. At no point did anyone say, “Gasp! No, it can’t be… [name]!” It’s just assumed that you can tell from the artwork, and the art was not up to the job.
I LOVE the Metal Men. Even the most sexist, repetitive, nonsensical stories are more straight-forward entertaining than the recent mini-series. That said, I think the Metal Men could absolutely rock if you just did a Metal Men formula like in the old days but with a more modern sensibility. Instead, there’s always some need to get overly-intellectual and ironic when doing the Metal Men…or Adam Strange, or any number of characters that the snobs think are hokey if done straight. Can’t just have a rocket-guy saving his girlfriend on another planet from weird alien menaces, so how about if the zeta beam is all a plot by her father to find a fertile male? Can’t just have an inventor who doesn’t know how to respond to a robot that behaves too much like an attractive and flirtatious woman, so how about if he’s got mental problems, or she’s his brother’s wife and they’re both trapped in metal forms, or they’re all aspects of his own personality and Mercury’s queenie personality means that Magnus is possibly gay? (I’m not making that up…that was in the recent series.)
I gave up on pitching to DC. My lifelong dream was to write some comics for DC, but I’ve given up on that dream and the weird thing is that I don’t even see it as a failure! I just realized that DC doesn’t make the kind of comic books I’d want to do. I’d rather write little stories than 176-page epics. I doubt my stories would have enough sex, swearing and gore to satisfy the readers who like DC’s current product. I suspect that the only way I could do the Metal Men I’d want to do is if the art was really cartoony and it was released as a Johnny DC title for kids!
Not that I’d be writing kids books, but the only difference between the Justice League comics I was reading in 1982 and the Justice League Unlimited comics of today is that the latter looks like more like Richie Rich. Seriously, you could take a 1980s JLA comic script, send it to Gordon Purcell and tell him to draw it in cartoon style, and suddenly its a kids book! This summer I bought a JLU comic where Batman, Elongated Man and Detective Chimp are trying to solve a problem with Gorilla City… and it was a really good read. If instead of going cartoony they’d given it to George Perez, it could have passed for a fine old issue of JLoA.
Then I pick up this Teen Titans East special that Scott Beatty sold me for a quarter… and I’m stunned how much sex is in it. Hawk is showering (full shot of her nude body, except for the conveniently placed hair) after a one-night stand with a guy she doesn’t know, Power Boy is getting recovering after having sex with a freaky girl who was willing to wear a Supergirl costume while they did it… oh, and it turns out that once the team forms Hawk and Power Boy recognize each other. Jeez, I remember being scandalized when longtime boyfriend/girlfriend Nightwing and Starfire were shown in bed.
The last few years of comic collecting, it’s just Green Lanterns being pelted with hundreds of eyeballs from their dead family members (suddenly one girlfriend in a fridge isn’t traumatic enough, I guess), Psycho Pirate having his magic mask pushed through his skull (with more flying eyeballs), Clark Kent attending Green Arrow’s stripper-filled bachelor party, Bizarro(!) murdering a World War II hero and Kathy Sutton asking Red Tornado why he doesn’t watch porn up on the Justice League satellite. Oh, and one of my favorite characters getting raped and killed.
These aren’t really what I want to read comics for, and ever since Jimmy Jams closed I have enjoyed having an extra $40+ to spend on other things each month.
So…where does that leave my comic book blog? I love the title, but these days the last thing I want to do is read about what’s going on in comics, so there isn’t much “monitoring” going on.
Well…what about G.I. Joe? We’ve got a new comic book line starting up, and a new movie. I seem to recall starting a 3-part Joe saga (back in the days when the “U.N. organization based in Brussels” controversy was raging) that ended up only covering the toys, and then my life got complicated around the same time that I didn’t want to think aobut the movie anymore.
I want to keep this blog a going concern, so what does everyone want to read? Should I finish the Joe article? Post more funny videos and trailers? Do more game reviews? Movie reviews? Rant about old comics from my collection? I need your input!