Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Blue ManThe Blue Man by Kin Platt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this book in Jr. high and was completely blown away. I guess this was the first book, other than say the Tom Swift, Jr. and Hardy Boys novels, aimed at 'teens' that I read and could identify with. Possibly because the lead character was also named Steve.

Very happy living with his parents in New York City, Steve is not thrilled when his parents decide to send him off to spend the summer with his aunt & uncle. They run a small hotel in a rural area, and he finds himself pretty bored. When a rather odd looking guest registers and Steve accidentally discovers he is blue, things take a very, dangerous turn. Believing that his uncle has been killed, Steve steals his car and takes off in pursuit. However, how can a sixteen year old kid track down someone who may very well be an alien.

This book hooked me like few others. I must have read the book close to a dozen times over the next few years and still find it just as entertaining now that I'm more than forty years older than I was when I first discovered it.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Official Final Trailer [HD]

Monday, December 21, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pass The Popcorn: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - A review with few spoilers

It was difficult staying away from all the social media spoilers that were popping up from the day of the Premiere until Thursday night when Kristina, Sarah, Michael and I hit the AMC Theater (La Jolla 12) for a 10:50pm showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Despite an embargo on reviewers requested by Disney for 24 hours, there were still things going around, plus the usual conjecture.  The only review I read, since I can trust him not to give things away, was the one by Leonard Maltin.  After seeing the film myself I could see that he pegged it.

I'll try not to throw in any major spoilers, but if you are still one of those who haven't seen the film yet, you might want to skip this until you have.  Otherwise, don't complain to me!

Happy was I that the film opened with the Lucas logo and then the scroll we have all come to expect.  I had told Kristina that if there wasn't a scroll I was going to walk out.  Probably an overstatement, but it wouldn't be Star Wars if we didn't see those words spreading before us. We hear the music of John Williams and we are transported (Can we say that about a non-Star Trek film?) to that galaxy far, far away.

We get desert planets, lush jungles and bars filled with the worse scum in the galaxy. More stormtroopers then we have ever seen before and an evil guy in a mask. All things we wanted and that were hinted at in the trailers.  We see characters we have grown to love over decades and get introduced to some new heroes and villains we will learn to love and hate over the course of at least two more films.  It is both an introduction and a reminder of worlds we have known in a lot of forms since 1977.

We meet Rey, a young woman making a living by foraging the broken technology from the ruins of ships and machines abandoned over the years. We get to see FN-2187, a member of the First Order taken from his family as a child and trained to be a stormtrooper. Never in actual battle before, he witnesses the brutality of those he serves for the first time and finds that he can not follow the orders he is given.  Poe Dameron, a member of the Rebel Alliance and one of their best pilots, finds himself captured, but is able to enrust an important piece of information to his droid, BB8 before he is taken away.  We also are introduced to Kylo Ren, a mysterious masked figure whose goal is to follow in the footsteps of Darth Vader.

Along the way we get to meet some old friends, some of whom have gone their separate paths.

There is a meme going around that if you've seen STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE you've pretty much seen this film. A bit of an exaggeration but one can see some similarities.  We do have Rey following in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker, as she seeks revenge for what has happened to her life at the hands of the Empire.  Lightsaber battles, ariel dog fights over a planet and the danger of a super-weapon.  Still J.J. Abrams and his team have taken those elements, added some new ones and brought back the Star Wars that many of us thought we would never see again, after those prequels.

I hate to rank my favorite Star Wars films, since each of the three original ones hold such great memories.  It's hard to judge them simply as films at this point. George Lucas created with them an entire universe which has become embedded in our culture.  I can't think of any other film franchise, excepting perhaps Star Trek that has gone from entertainment into almost a religion for some folks.

This is not a great film, but it is a good movie and reminded me of why I have loved these characters and this universe from my introduction in '77. (Okay, to be honest it was actually in '76, when I saw a presentation for what was to come at the San Diego Comic-Con of that year.)  I'm glad to see everyone back and I'm already looking forward to all that Disney/Lucas has in store for us.

Do yourself a favor and see the film, if haven't already.  It will remind you why you fell in love with this world years ago.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens ALL Trailer & Clips (2015)

Are they giving too much away?  I have to admit that with each trailer I'm growing more excited.  Nothing will touch the emotional impact of that first teaser where we first see Han & Chewie, but nothing has caused me to dampen my expectations.

Got my tickets for opening night and already thinking about what to wear.  My Chewbacca with skateboard is probably the right choice.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 - Saturday my final post

We were pretty wiped after Friday night, ending it with pizza and meeting Donna at the girl's house.  Still, for me a Comic-Con wouldn't be complete unless I got to see two of my favorite panels and pick up one of my favorite comics from its creator.

Sarah was nice enough to drive me to the Convention center and drop me off around 8:30 am.  You never know what the lines are going to be like, as Saturday is often the only day that some folks can take it in so the place is always mobbed.  Room 6B/C/F has three well attended panels in a row, so I learned a few years ago that if I wanted decent seats for the later panels I had to get there during the first event. After last year I decided that I wanted to get there for the entire thing.

Marvel Animation Studios always shows some clips and often entire episodes of their current television output.  This year we got to see some of Marvel's Avengers: Ultron Revolution, which will feature voice work from some of the cast of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D program.  We were also told that we'd be seeing their own version of Civil Wars. Since the Studio can use all the Marvel characters it would probably differ from the up-coming Captain America: Civil War film.  Following that we caught up with Ultimate Spider-Man who will be going up against the Sinister six, plus take part with other Marvel characters in a version of 'Contest of Champions'. That looks pretty cool!  Finally, we were shown the first part of the two-part Guardians of the Galaxy series premiere, which really has me excited and will probably have me setting the DVR.  I always enjoy this presentation and so it's become one of the panels to which I look forward. During the Q&A segment, the panelist were joined at the end by a young girl dressed as Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), who had to be the most adorable kid at the con. Both panelists and audience members were touched by this. Hats off to the guys from Marvel for making this so special for her. The happiness on her face when she was asked to get on the stage was clearly visible. By the way, if you are a Guardians fan, I recommend you start picking up both the Rocket Raccoon and Groot comics. A lot of fun, but also with moments that remind us of the deep friendship these two have for each other.

The next two panels are moderated by Mark Evanier and have been the things that generally wrap up my convention agenda.  Generally the rest of the day is just wandering around the exhibition hall looking to see if there is anything I forgot or overlooked the first dozen or so times I looked the previous three days.

The first is QUICK DRAW, which features three cartoonists drawing quickly the ideas or phrases that Mark gives them, or are suggested by the audience.  The three always includes Sergion Aragones (MAD magazine, GROO, etc.) and generally Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot, Annoying Orange, and other funny comics).  As Scott was recovering from medical issues, his place was taken by the legendary Disney animator, Floyd Norman (who was the guest artist last year).  Always a lot of fun and as usual the Room was all but completely filled. Keep in mind that while generally 'family friendly' the artists do sometimes push the envelope.

Following that one was Mark's first of two Cartoon Voices panels he does.  Each has 7-8 professional voice actors who talk about the industry, how they got started and do some of the voices for which they are known.  The last part has the actors read from a script they have not seen before, doing several voices and numerous characters each.  This year it was an abridged version of Wizard of Oz which was wonderful (no pun).

Every year I look forward to stopping by the WCG booth and chatting with artist/writer Randy Reynaldo about his comic ROB HANES ADVENTURES.  I can't recall the exact year I first met Randy, but it had around 1995 or so, since Randy was still publishing the early stories as ADVENTURE STRIP DIGEST featuring Rob Hanes.  It may have been Tony Isabella or another pro that recommended the book to me, since several were already reading and reviewing it.  Rob's stories have the feel of the adventure comic strips that featured Terry & The Pirates, Captain Easy and Steve Canyon.  Lone adventurers who traveled to exotic ports, met beautiful women and nasty villains.  Randy has taken that style and brought it to the current day.  The past few years, Randy has only been publishing about one book a year, plus keeping the older stories available in trade paperbacks. This year tracking down Randy was my final 'must do' at the convention, so it was good finding him at his booth where we could chat for a few minutes and catch up. Go to the WCG website, sample some of the digital material there and order some copies.  Tell him that Steve sent you.

Sorry that this thing took as many days to get through as the convention, but there was just so much going on that I couldn't possibly get it all into a couple of blogs.  Hope you enjoyed at least some of it.