Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sounds like...KONG!

I haven’t yet seen the Peter Jackson version of KING KONG, but I hope to get a chance on DVD one of these days. I’ve always loved the original and even saw the 1976 version Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. As a kid, even watching it on a small b&w 15 inch screen in my bedroom, the original film kept me captivated. I always felt such sympathy for Kong, which I think was the intent of the filmmakers.

The new Jackson film has inspired a number of books to be written (officially and otherwise) about the various films and for Blackstone Audiobooks to come out with a special unabridged reading of the 1932 novelization of the film. Written by Delos W. Lovelace and based on the script by Edgar Wallace & Merian C. Cooper the book expands a bit on the film actually giving us a bit of background on some the major characters, especially Ann (played famously by Faye Wray in the original).

Read by award winning narrator Stefan Rudnicki, the audiobook brings the book to life and you can visualize the scenes in your mind as you listen. Rudnicki, who I’ve heard on other audio adaptations, captures the ‘voices’ of the dozens of characters convincingly enough so that you’ll instantly recognize them throughout. If you're a fan of Jack Black, you might not like how his character, Carl Denham, comes across in the novel. A tad more P.T. Barnum, mixed with uncaring business man (perhaps not a inaccurate mix at that) than likeable showman. Also, the Kong in the book is closer to the savageand brutal beast we remember from the early film.

An added bonus is that following the adaptation you’ll hear interviews with such folks as Ray Harryhausen, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison each of them speaking about the influence (positive & negative) the film has had on them and the American public since its release. Highly recommended for Kong fans or lovers of good audio.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cleaning my collection!

Even though I didn't get the OCPL job, Donna and I still intend to move eventually. With this in mind it's time to start ridding myself of thousands of comics that I've collected over the years (or the last two decades to be precise).

Most of this stuff is from the 1980s & '90s and at least in VG or better condition. I don't have the money or interest in sending anything out for slabbing and most aren't even bagged. I have most of it cataloged so I'm going to begin putting information out here for anyone interested. As I go through them you'll find that the majority are DC and independents (as we used to call smaller publishers), with very few Marvels.

I have a number of TMNT comics from the B&W days, including stuff like SHELL SHOCK, the First Comics TPB collections and Mirage's own THE COLLECTED Eastman & Laird's TALES OF THE TMNT TPB from '89. Also have a few of the Archie series around somewhere.

Got gaps in your CEREBUS collection? I have an almost complete run beginning from #50 thru #300 and the CEREBUS Bi-Weekly #1-26. Even got a slighly yellowed and chipped SWORDS OF CEREBUS #1 signed by Dave Sim from his 1992 New York Tour, with a small CEREBUS head he drew.

Drop me an e-mail or post a reply here if interested. I'm not expecting to make a fortune, but would like some of this stuff to go to another fan.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cutting down on links

If you check over to the Right you'll note that I've removed a number of links. I don't have anything negative to say about any of them, but it was just getting ridiculous. More than half of them I haven't gone to since I placed them there to begin with. Several have not been updated for months and a few were to sites no longer active. I may be adding or dropping others as time goes by, as I'd like to keep things interesting for myself and anybody reading this blog.

I want to apologize for not posting more often here, since my mind has been on other things. As I have been reporting over on Parting Shots I have been actively looking for library jobs in southern California and my online time has mostly been directed towards resumes and want ads.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum: a review

Here's the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. I finished the book prior to my California trip, but only just now had a chance to put my review notes together.

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Published by Atria Books; ISBN: 9780743452908

I don’t recall reading any of Robert Tanenbaum’s previous novels, but I suppose it’s possible I may have listened to one on audio book as I only started keeping track of that for the past year or so. I also wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy the book after the first chapter or so. Perhaps, if I had read an earlier “Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi” novel I wouldn’t have been so quick to judge.

This is the seventeenth book in the series, so I was unfamiliar with the characters and their history. Fortunately, Tanenbaum fills in the new reader once the story begins to unfold. On the other hand, as Joe Bob has said in some of his movie reviews “there’s a whole lot of plot getting in the way of the story.”

It begins with a flashback to a brutal rape in Coney Island, reminiscent of the well known Central Park incident, with a gang of ‘wilding’ black youths beating and nearly killing a jogger. Convicted of the crime four members of the group are later freed when another who took part confesses that he was the only one involved. Now the “Coney Island Four”, with the aid of an attorney (part Al Sharpton, part Johnnie Cochran, and totally corrupt), is bringing a law suit against the city, the NYPD and the District Attorneys who worked the case. Throw in a crooked judge, another lawyer looking toward her own political career, police union officials, and some other dishonest types all tied together, things look bad. Apparently not satisfied with all this, Tanenbaum tosses in some Islamic terrorists, Russian gangsters (with ties to Karp and his family), and some underground dwellers who may be led by a serial killer thought dead. Besides the central case, we also have Marlene looking to defend a university professor wrongly accused of rape and a dirty bomb being constructed to go off in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There’s enough going on here for several novels and a movie or two.

The mere fact that Tanenbaum is able to keep all these balls in the air is a feat in itself. Helped by a few coincidences and good luck along the way Karp & Co. are able to come out ahead for the most part, even apparently tying up some loose ends from previous books and setting things up for the next. Kind of a cheat in my book, but it’s easy to see why the author is so popular. If some of his characters come out less than three-dimensional I think I can forgive him since he more than succeeds in telling a pretty good tale.

Three stars (but kick it up another half for the closing chapters).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Viewing at Thirty Four Thousand Feet!

The past few years Donna and I have flown almost exclusively on either Jet Blue or Song, so I've gotten used to having those individual TV screens and dozens of channels to watch during flights. This time out to the OC I went on American Airlines so it was plugging into the feature film choice and other stuff.

On the westbound flight we saw THE THING ABOUT MY PARENTS with Paul Reiser & Peter Falk, as father and son taking a road trip when Falk's wife of forty plus years (played by Olympia Dukakis) writes and tell him she's leaving. Mostly light comedy with some slapstick moments and tender bits thrown in. Nothing special, but enjoyable enough with an overall 'made-for-TV' feel about it. Prior to the feature American has a couple of hours of CBS network material, behind the scenes stuff and bits from 60 Minutes, The Early Show and an episode of one of their sitcoms. After the film they had episodes of TAXI, and FRAISER, which was an odd switch to NBC product.

Eastbound they showed FUN WITH DICK & JANE, a remake of the '77 George Segal/Jane Fonda comedy, with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni where husband & wife turn to robbery to pay the bills. Made in 2005 the film takes place in 2000, with Carrey losing his job after the CEO of his firm (played nicely by Alec Baldwin) bankrupts the company. The film ends with a more timely joke and the credits aim a dedication at some well-known firms, many of which are no longer with us. A cute bit and a safe political jab at the same time. Since the flight was shorter (had to switch planes in Chicago, as opposed to the direct flight I had going out) we had the feature first with only part of the CBS segment getting in before we landed. I barely recall the Segal/Fonda comedy, but found the remake enjoyable enough. Again, a safe non-offensive film for a trapped general audience.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hotel San Diego

If you click on the headline above you'll find an item Mark Evanier posted a couple of days ago (I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading before going cold turkey while I'm in California) on the up-coming implosion of the Hotel San Diego.

When I was in the Navy in the mid-1970s & stationed in the area, the Hotel SD already had a shakey reputation, at least among the sailor's I knew (the joke being that it should be called the Hotel STD). It was notorious for the hookers working the area, and it was also known that late night you could get the guy at the desk downstairs to send one to your room. I stayed there a couple of nights when I had a weekend off, but after a couple of run ins with the 'ladies' in elevators and the lobby, I began spending those weekends out of town.

Elayne Riggs will back me up when I say that our stay at the hotel during a Comicon in the early 90s wasn't the most enjoyable evenings we shared in southern California.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Play ball!

Only three games into the season, but the Red Sox have a nice 2-1 record, taking a couple from the Texas Rangers. The Damned Yankees on the other hand are 1-2, falling to Oakland which always gladdens my heart.

If I end up getting the job in California, do I have to start following the Dodgers or the Angels? To be honest, when I was stationed in San Diego in the 1970s I had a nice time watching the Padre's play in their home stadium. Yumm! Padre Dogs & beer!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

That trick never works!

Perhaps forgetting that female anchors for the network news hasn't worked in the past, CBS has announced that Katie Couric will be taking over the spot once held by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Not really known for hard-hitting interviews (except when talking to the likes of Howard Stern or Michael Moore), Couric seems to me an odd choice.

On the other hand, CNN seems to be doing well with Paula Zahn and Robin Meade so maybe the American public is ready for this.