Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sheldon: LoTR gag

Dave Kellett is having fun with Lord of the Ring gags this week. I forgot to share an earlier one, but loved this as it was such an amazing scene (and pivotal) in the movie.
If you aren't already a fan of the strip you really should check it out. Last week he had a wonderful adventure featuring Time Travel and nano-hair. Who wouldn't love that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I won't be blogging, at least until next Monday, I wanted to take a moment before getting too busy.

Donna and I want to wish you all a very, Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you'll have a chance to share the day with loved ones. Many things have happened over the past year, but family & friends have been there to see us through. I hope that it has been that way with all of you.

Our cruise will keep me off the 'net for several days, but many of you will be in my thoughts (between dips in the pool and the buffet). Take care and be well!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Zombie Jamboree!, pt.1

My first ‘encounter’ with zombies was probably watching either “I Walked With a Zombie” (with Tom Conway) or “White Zombie” (starring Bela Lugosi as ‘Murder’ Legendre) on CHILLER THEATER as a kid. Of course, my favorite magazine back then was FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, so it wouldn’t have been unusual to read about other zombie movies or zombie lore there. Good ol’ Forrie Ackerman loved to toss in a bit of myth and legend along with the black & white stills from the movies he discussed. By the mid-‘60s Warren Publishing was producing CREEPY & EERIE where they could put in a zombie tale or two, something the mainstream comics couldn't due to the old Comics Code.

When “Night of the Living Dead” by George Romero appeared in theaters in 1968, it opened up the floodgates for the walking dead. Each filmmaker and each entry into the field seemed to up the stakes from that point. By the time Lucio Fulci released his ‘Zombi 2’ in 1979, there was nothing to hold things back.

Next to vampires, it seems that zombies are the most prevalent of movie monsters, if not quite as romanticized. While both are beings returned from the dead they seem to have their own rules when it comes to walking amongst us. Vampires, as they are portrayed for the most part, look like ‘normal’ folks and can easily pass for your next-door neighbor or co-worker (which they seem to do in many contemporary vampire flicks). If it wasn’t for the fact that the vampire might decide you have a tasty blood type, it probably wouldn’t be impossible to have a decent conversation with one. Of course, having a wooden stake, or crucifix on hand might not be such a bad idea.

(Aside: The vampires in ’30 Days of Night’ and the “Blood Trails” prequel, really aren’t the good looking kind of blood-suckers you’d want to hang with. While not zombie creepy, they still might get a sideways glance even in Greenwich Village. Hmm..then again, maybe not!)

On the other hand, zombies look more like the folks you run into at Denny’s at 3:00 in the morning. You really want to sit a few tables away when their order comes.

The original Romero zombies were creepy enough, with their pasty appearance and head tilt. The undead we see nowadays generally looks like they were the non-survivors of a recent head-on collision or had been dug up a few weeks after they had gone ripe. These guys make the banjo playing kid in DELIVERANCE look like Brad Pitt, if you know what I mean? You can tell these are dead folks even before they knock on the door asking to chew on your skull for a bit. Also, a wooden cross or Holy Water really aren’t going to do much to keep them at bay. You’d probably want an AK-47 or something of that order on hand when they come around. (I’m going to hold off on jokes about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Amway sales persons, as easy as that would be.)

Next time out I’ll explain the point of all this zombie stuff.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Four Color Fiend: Countdowns, Running and Searching in the DCU

I’m putting Spoiler warnings here because it allows me to b**** about things that nobody but me cares about, but still warns folks that I’m giving everything away.









COUNTDOWN #25 & 24: Sadly, Trickster and Pied Piper haven’t been killed in a horrible fashion yet, although both have easily outlived any usefulness to the plot of this series. Also, the constant moaning by Trickster that he will be identified as ‘gay’ because he is accompanying Piper is a pathetic running gag and borders on homophobic. It is no longer funny, if it ever was, and I think that certain writers (if not the overall editor of the project) should put an end to it.

Poor Jimmy Olsen is on Apokolips and not doing well. I’m sure that he’ll eventually be rescued but not before nasty things happen to our favorite cub reporter. Also, on Darkseid’s world is Mary Marvel who, after doing nasty things to normal folks and meta-humans for the past two-dozen issues tells the Lord of Apokolips that he shouldn’t do likewise. MM is hardly the person to moralize at this point. Eclipso stands around looking smug for a few panels and then cowers for another. Yeah, she’s a force to be reckoned with all right!

Karate Kid hasn’t died yet, but hope springs eternal, as apparently does Desaad, the chief torturer for Darkseid. For several pages Desaad acquires the powers and abilities of Firestorm, which he barely uses before getting taken down by the Atomic Knights of all folks. KK is still kicking people and spitting up blood, sometimes simultaneously at issues end.

Holy crap! SUPERMAN PRIME kicks serious butt, in fact, laying waste to several entire planets. This is one incredible nasty and hard to believe that he was the na├»ve Superboy we saw way back in the original CRISIS. Dressed in black, this Man of Steel has no mercy for anyone so mentally blinded is he in his search for ‘his’ perfect Earth. It’s fascinating to see glimpses of several alternate Earths with their heroes before SP appears and destroys them. He wipes out several alternate JLA teams in a single issue and I can’t imagine what else he’ll do before the series wraps up.

Things are getting worse in the DCU, but certainly more interesting for this reader. At this point I’m leaning towards continuing to pick up the series if only to learn where SP will turn up next.

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS The Search for Ray Palmer: Red Rain – Branching off from the main series we follow the quest of the “Challengers” as they continue to stay one step behind the Silver Age Atom. Jason, Donna, Kyle & Bob the Monitor pop up on an alternate Gotham which was used in an “Elseworld” book. In the Red Rain world there is a plague of vampires and one of them is Batman. Having turned bloodsucker he sleeps beneath his city during the day, hunted by Dick Grayson, to avenge his parents whom the Dark Knight had killed. The Challengers attempt to track him down but arrive too late (as they tend to do pretty often) to save the Dynamic Duo from their shared fate. I believe that this version of Batman is scheduled to turn up in the up-coming ‘Arena’ spin-off later this year. The Challengers will be showing up on several other Elseworld/alternate earths in this series, as well as that of the Wildstorm Universe. Personally, I’m waiting for the RR Batman vs. Marvel Zombie crossover. :-)

SALVATION RUN #1 (of 7) - Not so much a spin-off of Countdown as a series which takes place at the same time. The U.S. government, using the agents of Checkmate and the Suicide Squad, is rounding up all the costumed villains it can catch. Along with all those already in captivity, including the revolving door inmates of Arkham Asylum, the newly arrested are being sent via a captured Boom Tube (see any Kirby Fourth World book for that technology) to a supposedly non-hostile planet. They are allowed to keep their weapons and powers (always a grand idea), but given no food, survival equipment or medical supplies. They are told that they must learn to survive on their own and that they have no threats to face other than their own animosities. We can assume from the outset that things are going to go bad and see from a couple pages in that the world is not what the government promised.

The first group sent is comprised of those members of Flash’s old Rogue’s Gallery who killed Bart Allen. The last two members of that group, Trickster and Pied Piper, still being on the run over in Countdown don’t accompany their former teammates. We get the usual bickering between these folks and a bit of finger pointing as to whom really was to blame for the death of the then Flash. By issues end we get an idea of how many dangers there might be and the appearance of another dozen villains, including The Joker who is really not happy being out in the country. The final panel reveals ‘mysterious figures’ watching the situation on a screen and it’s pretty obvious to anybody paying attention the past thirty years who these two might be. In other words, if you didn’t already guess that this series would eventually tie into COUNTDOWN the last panel leaves no doubt. Not a bad issue, but I’ll wait until reading at least one more to decide whether I’ll stick it out for the next six months.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 3D

It's Godzilla! If you don't love this you are reading the wrong blog!

Review: Political Suicide by Alan Russell

The latest Joe Bob Briggs review has been sent in. Here's the initial draft.


Political Suicide by Alan Russell
Published Leisure Books
ISBN: 0-8439-5612-7

When a book starts out with the hero reciting General MacArthur’s ‘farewell’ to West Point, you really don’t know what else to expect. The book then jumps ahead more than a decade to the present day where Will Travis, having been ousted from the military academy and the career path his family had long followed, is now working as an investigator in his own small agency. Will has a gift for memory and for being very observant, which works well in his role as a sort of ‘mystery shopper/patron’ for hire. What he does is visit restaurants, bars, hotels and other establishments to observe just how well the employees are or are not doing their jobs. He then submits a report to inform upper management or the owners just what is being done in their absence.

Alan Russell does a great job bringing Will and his colleagues to life. In fact, it would be a shame if the author doesn’t use Will, Jenny, Stevie and other members of TLR Enterprises in another book. To be honest though, the end of the book may take Will into a whole other direction, so we’ll have to wait and see.

While on assignment, Will notices that a female bar patron has just been slipped something and he goes to her rescue. It quickly becomes apparent that this is far more than the ‘date rape’ he suspected and is in fact a kidnapping for other reasons. Claire Harrington, who Will rescues, is the daughter of a former Senator who may or may not have committed suicide. It’s the uncertainty of that which brought Claire to that bar and it soon involves Will in a fatal shootout. Will finds himself drawn to Claire and it’s possible that she may return his affections. Unfortunately, Claire has several secrets that put both she and Will in constant danger and on the run from law enforcement.

It seems that one of the leading Presidential candidates has a hidden agenda, part of which has already caused a number of deaths and may end up adding Will & Claire to that number. Will knows that there are people he can trust, but what is not clear is if Claire is one of them.

Along with MacArthur’s speech we also get a brief history of dueling in the U.S. and how it helped shape the early American nation. Russell also gives us several chapters of the late Senator’s autobiographical book and other tidbit along the way. In lesser hands, I think that some of this would be padding, but Russell brings it all together in the end.

I would have given the book a higher mark if the end didn’t seem a bit too pat, but given everything else I’m going to go with a better than passing grade. I’m also hoping to see Will and some of his friends again.

Three stars

Friday, November 09, 2007

Now what do we watch?

If you click on the headline above it will take you to the Los Angeles Times website. There you'll find lots of information, photos and related articles on the Writers Guild of America strike.
As you can imagine it is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, stories out here in SoCal.

If you really want to keep up with news on the WGA strike you might also click on the links of both Mark Evanier and Mark Verheiden who are directly involved in the situation. ME especially goes out of his way to answer questions about the strike in reply to some of his readers.

It will still probably be weeks if not the beginning of the New Year before some of the shows Donna and I watch regularly are effected. Of course, I miss The Daily Show and the occasional Letterman, but we don't watch either on a regular basis, since we are usually already sleeping. Not a lot of excitement in Chez Chaput past 10:00pm during the week.

To be honest, most night we only watch maybe an hour or two of network television and some night even less. We are already among those viewers who get most of their entertainment from various cable stations, either new shows or reruns. You would think that the producers would keep this in mind but they seem to believe that millions will continue to tune in to their Prime Time programs despite declining ratings each and every year.

Just to be on the safe side though, we're finally going to break down and join Blockbuster this weekend. There's one close by and either Donna or I can stop by after work to pick up something for an evening. Heck, a long strike might give us time to catch up on all those movies we've skipped the last year!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Peter Serafinowicz Show: Darth Vader in Love

This has to be seen to be believed!

I'm dedicating this to my step-daughter, Kristina.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Four Color Fiend: Counting Down

Things are finally beginning to come together in the Countdown series. Countdown #27 brings some things to a head, if not clearing them up. Piper & The Trickster decide to make themselves scarce when they discover that a number of other villains who have been taken have seemingly disappeared. It looks like Jason Todd is going to join up with Lord Havok and Donna Troy doesn’t look so good. Jimmy Olsen joins with Forager to try and find those responsible for the “Death of the New Gods.”

With #26, Countdown picks up the new title of “Countdown to Infinite Crisis”, something already known to most of us fan boys & gals. Using the technique of having one of the Monitors (we’ll call him M-1, just to make things easy from now on) explains to all the other Monitors (who should know most of this since they are supposed to be keeping track, which is their job after all) some of what has been happening for the previous twenty plus issues. It also reminds us what we readers have seen and possibly forgotten, since some of us are reading more than this one title.

One thing I’m grateful for is that it is finally explained to we readers why the Monitors, who are supposed to be identical and appear so in some issues, look very different in others. M-1 tells the others that this is due to the tainting of the multiverse by Monarch and others breaching the Source Wall (originally TM Jack Kirby). Not only with the Monitors begin to differ physically but will also gain some individual traits, which may play out in interesting ways later on.

To be honest, it seems more and more that this entire crossover event is an attempt by DC’s Powers That Currently Be to eliminate everything remaining of Kirby’s Fourth World. I’d be surprised if they do away with Darkseid though, since there is no villain/presence anywhere in the DCU who comes close to him. Just about every writer working in the mainstream DCU seems to want to use Darkseid at some point.

Monarch seems to be bringing together quite a huge group of nasty folks and the Monitors have decided (again if memory serves me right) to unite in opposition to him. It also appears that M-1 may not be controlling things as much as he may believe, and the same holds true with Monarch. Again, I’m going to place my bets on Darkseid, who has always been a master at manipulation.

Countdown to Mystery #2 – The latest incarnation of Doctor Fate may just have begun to realize what has happened to him. Steve Gerber does a nice job with Dr. Nelson’s internal dialogue and he becomes a bit more sympathetic. Gerber also gives him a sense of humor, which will certainly be needed as Nelson must confront his own and other very real demons. Nelson is off the streets and working as a handyman/janitor in a sleazy motel run by the slovenly Mr. Swinburne. I don’t think Swinburne will be a likable character, but it should be interesting to see what Gerber does with him.

In the second story in the book we see very little of Eclipso (the less the better in my book), after Darkseid roughs her up a bit and orders her to Earth to spread discontent amongst the heroes. Most of the pages are taken up with Plastic Man acting totally out of character, and decades of characterization of Woozy Winks are tossed out the window for no good reason. I know that Eclipso is manipulating Plaz, but not Woozy so why have him act in such a manner? We then switch scenes to see TV talk show host Jack Ryder acting as much like a jerk as always, but even questioning (no pun) himself. Walking to his dressing room he is confronted by *yawwnn* Eclipso who tells him that she actually wants to see The Creeper, Ryder’s alter ego. We then switch back again to see Plaz walking into a bank, which he means to rob with a firearm. Why? Another tale like this I’m just going to cut the non-Fate pages out of CtM and keep the rest.

Countdown Presents Lord Havok and the Extremists #1 – Who knew that I’d actually find this book more interesting than some of the main Countdown story? I really didn’t know that much about this group, since I barely remember them from their JLA appearance years ago. It seems that Havok and his followers appear to see themselves as ‘freedom fighters’ and Havok actually has a moment where we see a bit of sympathy. I haven’t been reading the “Civil War” stories over at Marvel, but events on Havok’s world seem to mirror some of that. There might actually be more to this character than I thought. I’m giving writer Frank Tieri props for turning what I thought was going to be a single purchase out of curiosity into something more. I’m actually going to reread some of Lord Havok’s Countdown appearances and see if I’ve been missing something. (You can read up as well via the link in the headline to Wikipedia.)

By the way, the first issue of this series gives us the back story of Havok, and brings us up to the point at which the Challengers (Jason, Donna, Kyle & Bob the Monitor) show up at his fortress in Countdown #29. Unfortunately, Havok believes these costumed folks are soldiers for the government, which he is fighting. We’ll see where things progress from this point for Lord H and his minions.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Zombies in Plain English

Hope this isn't too late to save you from those nasty Zombie attacks the other night.

Get ready for zombie relatives coming over for Thanksgiving.