Sunday, June 29, 2008
Many people are unaware of this wonderful themed nightclub at Pleasure Island but those hip to it know it's the place to be every night of their WDW visit. Outfitted like a 1930s club for adventurers this is an interactive experience with various shows throughout the night. In between shows the action never stops as visitors can interact with actors for a different experience every time you visit. The walls are alive and the objects d'art speak to you, and the exploration never stops as you notice something different every time you're there.
We have a visit to WDW planned for September, and of course on the agenda were nightly trips to the Adventurers Club. And then a friend hipped me to this: On September 28, 2008, they will be closing down the clubs at Pleasure Island and will be replacing them with shops and restaurants. Some sources say this is due to lack of attendance at Pleasure Island. If this is in fact true, perhaps Disney could have instead invested some advertising for such wonderful and largely unknown treasures like the Adventurers Club.
There is an online petition going around to save the Adventurers Club. You can see it and sign it here.
Mr. Wu ~ This is a silent 1927 vehicle for Lon Chaney in which he plays two roles, the title one, old Wu and young Wu. Surrounded by Asian extras, Chaney and Louise Dresser, as his daughter, are Americans playing Chinese aristocrats. Legend has it that Chaney was so convincing that he rode buses and wandered Chinatown while in this make-up unnoticed. As convincing as the make-up may have been however, in the presence of true Asians, the Americans are revealed as just that – whites in yellow face. Ah, simpler minds in simpler times perhaps?
When the daughter of a powerful Mandarin is seduced and abandoned by a wealthy Britisher, Mr. Wu, the Mandarin, takes his revenge. The sets are beautiful and elaborate, even having as much a German film influence, or at least as much as the American black and white silent film industry would allow at the time. The music relays the story as much as the actions and the words, a perfect blending.
The Oriental lettering of the title cards also lends to the film’s uniqueness. Also the passage of time via caption cards does contrive the story a bit, but in the time and the place there was no other way to do it, I suppose, Hollywood not being as slick as it is today. However the emotion and expression performed by Renee Adoree and Holmes Herbert confirm them as masters of the silent field right along with Chaney. Acting without words and conveying feeling perfectly is not an art I doubt that Ben Affleck or Jennifer Lopez or any star of our day could pull off easily, if at all.
The tension of the tea party is wonderfully Hitchcockian before his time and well portrayed. While there is precious little Chaney in this Chaney starrer, when he’s onscreen, he dominates. As is his strong suit, when he gets angry, he is positively frightening. Wu’s horrible revenge is right out of a Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu novel, and fitting for the characters and the story. Despite my misgivings above this is one of my favorite Chaney flicks and a must see for Chaney fans. Brilliant.
Mr. Wong in Chinatown ~ This is the third of four films in which Boris Karloff plays the San Franciscan amateur detective. It’s a role that shows off Karloff’s charm and elegance, qualities not often revealed in his horror parts. The character of James Lee Wong was created for Collier’s Magazine in 1934 by Hugh Wiley.
Mr. Wong went on to star in twelve short stories, six feature films (two of which were remade as Charlie Chan flicks) and a handful of comic books. This one is one of the best, with Karloff playing against Grant Withers as the hard-nosed detective and Marjorie Reynolds as the plucky girl reporter. It’s fun and mystery in the 1930s pulp flavor for everyone.
Daughter of Shanghai ~ Starring the incomparable Anna May Wong in one of her heroic lead roles. Also look for a very young Anthony Quinn, as well as Buster Crabbe in a rare bad guy role. Anna May’s acting and dancing are hypnotic in this B-thriller about smugglers of human cargo. Recommended.
Daughter of the Dragon ~ Once again Anna May Wong is in the spotlight in this early cinematic outing for the insidious Fu Manchu. This film is notable as one of the first featuring an Asian actress playing Asian in a lead role, in this case the title role, the equally insidious daughter of Fu Manchu. Acting against his later known type as Charlie Chan, Warner Oland is Fu Manchu here (his third time in the role), and extra props go to legendary Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa in his role as one of Scotland Yard’s Chinese detectives. The story, based on Sax Rohmer’s “Daughter of Fu Manchu,” is weak but the performances more than make up for it in this often overlooked B-picture.
The Mask of Fu Manchu ~ Speaking of Fu Manchu, this is probably the flick most people think of when they think of this legendary Asian villain, this time played by horror king Boris Karloff. In my opinion, Karloff’s portrayal is the best in cinema of this sinister villain, who I might add was author Rohmer’s first choice. It’s perfect, the ultimate movie monster playing the premier super-villain, it just doesn’t get better than this.
The rest of the cast is flawless as well. Andy Hardy future dad Lewis Stone is perpetual Fu protagonist Nayland Smith, the future Durango Kid and cowboy superstar Charles Starrett plays leading man action hero, and in perhaps her most unforgettable (and frightening) role (and yes, I’m counting Nora Charles) Myrna Loy as the daughter of Fu Manchu.
The film, based on Sax Rohmer’s classic of the same name, has the heroes and villains racing to find the tomb of Genghis Khan, which contains a mask and other relics that shall bestow ultimate power on the mad villain. All of the trappings and dynamic qualities of the pulps and the early serials are here, but stepped up to the next level. This fantastic adventure is highly recommended.
Unfortunately it's with great sadness that I must inform everyone that Michael Turner tragically passed away last night, June 27th at approximately 10:42 pm in Santa Monica, Ca. Turner had been dealing with recent health complications arisen in the past few weeks. More details concerning Turner's passing, and services, will be given shortly.
Anyone wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner's family is encouraged to send to:
Aspen MLT, Inc.
C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230
Aspen also encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation to please send to Michael Turner's requested charities:
The American Cancer Society
The Make-A-Wish Foundation
He was one of the more exciting artists of recent years, and despite his affection for more outlandish bad girl and bad girl art, he was for the most part a fave of mine. He’ll be missed.
More about Michael Turner here.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Having been a writer and hanging around writers for quite some time now I realize there are folks who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. It’s rare to find someone who does both. Author Kim Richards is one of those folks. When she talks about writing, she’s not only serious, she’s passionate. And that passion comes through in her writing. Her words are alive.
Her words are alive, just as alive as protagonist Bill Cristo is in Death Masks. He is an identifying character in the Stephen King mold, he is us. We are frustrated at his job and happy with his girlfriend. We feel for him and with him. Just as many of us approaching that nether zone of not old but not young any more the doctors have come down on him hard. He’s overweight and needs to do something about it – or he won’t get much older.
So Bill decides to start exercising, maybe a walk or a jog in the park. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention there’s a nutjob stalking the park with a syringe? Yep, and that is when, as they say, hilarity ensues. As the mystery deepens so does your interest. The author has a stranglehold on your attention and never fails you.
This thriller is always on. When we’re not on the roller coaster of suspense, we’re exploring the psyches of Bill or our killer. As I said, Kim Richards is a writer with passion, and that passion propels the reader through the story at an alarming pace. I read Death Masks in one sitting, not because I wanted to or intended to – but because I had to. Kim’s prose wouldn’t let me do otherwise. Highly recommended.
For your copy of Death Masks, check out Eternal Press.
And don’t forget to hit the last two stops on this Virtual Book Tour, with Sheri McGathy on Sunday and Arwen Spencer on Monday.
EP: When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel?
Kim Richards: I’ve been writing in one form or another most of my life. After my first marriage broke up, I decided I wanted to take writing seriously. Then I found out how much I still needed to learn so I went back to school and took journalism, started attending conferences and reading everything how-to I could get my hands on. I’ve been lucky to have found mentors online and some great critique groups along the way.
EP: What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story?
Kim Richards: The most difficult for me are transitions from one scene to another. I often get my point of view mixed up there in the first draft.
EP: Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?
Kim Richards: I’ve never experienced that. I have had a secondary character end up being my protagonist after I got to know the characters a little better.
EP: If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?
Kim Richards: I wouldn’t let anyone discourage me and I’d not let making money replace the writing. For me writing is something I need to cope with depression so it’s more than just an occupation. It’s my life and I need it.
EP: Do you have the support of friends and family? Meaning, do they understand when you are writing that you cannot be disturbed? Or do you have friends that think since you’re home, you don’t work?
Kim Richards: I do now and it’s wonderful. My previous mother-in-law used to ask when I was getting a ‘real job’ and I took business classes because I believed others who did not find writing an occupation. I’ve had to make it important to ME and shrug off what others think. And yes, when my sons were young, many of their friends’ parents would send their kids to my house after school. You simply learn to deal with it. I figured at least I knew where my sons were at, even if the house regularly got trashed.
The best thing I did for writing is get a ‘do not disturb sign’. I haven’t had to use it in years but it does get the point across when you can hang it on the door and just point to it when you are interrupted. At first people laugh; then they get the point.
EP: What was the biggest hurtle you had to overcome in your career?
Kim Richards: Taking myself seriously and believing my writing worthy.
EP: What genre do you write? Do you write more than one, if so, what?
Kim Richards: I write mainly horror, fantasy and some science fiction. However, if an idea comes, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Sometimes you don’t see it in your story. I wrote a children’s book back in 2000, thinking of a fantasy market. It was another author who saw it as a kids book. It was published that way.
Death Masks is a thriller. When I wrote it, I had horror in mind. It wasn’t until I started to submit it, that I realized where it best fit. You have to write the story and then worry about what mail slot it fits in.
EP: How do you research for your books?
Kim Richards: I love research and have to be very careful or I spend more time doing that than writing the actual story. I start online but am picky about my resources. If a website doesn’t list resources of its own, I tend to skip it unless there’s a bit of information I think I need...but I focus the research on finding supporting documents (or the lack thereof). I always end up with new books on my shelf when I research. I’m full of what my sons refer to as “useless trivia”.
EP: How do you develop your characters?
Kim Richards: My stories usually start with a what if. When I start worldbuilding and researching, the characters form on their own from the culture, the setting—it often falls into place naturally.
EP: Are any of your characters a person you’d like to be? If so which one?
Kim Richards: Lots of them. They’re usually stronger or smarter or more admirable than I am.
EP: Who inspired you to write?
Kim Richards: Many, many people. An 8th grade teacher who taught me to write my dreams in a notebook; a high school teacher who taught me to journal; authors I’ve met; hokey stories I thought I could write better. It amazes me how there are many more people who do inspire me to write than discourage me, yet in the past it was the negative ones I listened to. Maybe they talk louder.
EP: What is the most humorous writing experience you’ve ever had?
Kim Richards: Meeting a man in an elevator at World Horror Convention. He saw my name tag and had read my science fiction novel out at the time. He lectured me on how I killed off his favorite character.
EP: If a new writer came to you for advice what would you tell them?
Kim Richards: Perseverence. Wrap it around your shoulders and tie it tight.
EP: Do you have a book coming out? If so what? Do you have a web site? Do you have a blog? My space?
Kim Richards: Death Masks is available from Eternal Press. I also have a story out in an anthology of dragon stories by another publisher.
Check out the trailer for Death Masks. The metal band is from my home town, Roswell, New Mexico. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2zpDNMfmM
My website is: www.kim-richards.com. I’ll be doing a virtual book tour in June, 2008 so check there for the blog visit schedule. There will be prizes!
You can find me at Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Blogger, Good Reads and Writer’s Chatroom. All under the username Kim Richards.
I do have one announcement I’d like to make. I’ve just accepted the position of Marketing Manager for Eternal Press. I’m thrilled to be accepted on the team and excited about the upcoming possibilities for me and for the publishing house.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions for the Eternal Press blog. Good luck with your writing.
Here's an excerpt from Kim Richards' Death Masks:
“Shhh. Please listen.” Her words dropped to a trembling whisper.
Bill hesitated a moment, thinking she might go on.
“Bill?” She sounded so small and vulnerable. He immediately wanted to reach out through the phone and pull her close. He longed to make whatever it was better.
“I’m here, Hon. What’s going on?” He shut down his computer as he talked.
“Someone keeps calling me.” Once she started speaking, her words came fast and clipped. “At first he kept hanging up. No heavy breathing or anything so I decided it must be those kids next door.”
“He? How do you know it’s a guy?” Bill used one hand to hold the phone and the other to begin stuffing his things into his carry bag.
“Because…” Dampened, low sounds came over the phone.
Oh God, she’s crying.
“Because I know what a man's voice sounds like. This last time, just a minute ago, he said I’m next.”
“Next for what?” As Bill said the words, he’d already guessed the answer. All the clues were in place, the footprints on the porch, the maniac figuring out Bill knew about him, and now the calls to Dix. He didn’t hear her answer.
About the author:
Kim Richards lives in Northern California; with wedding plans for May 2009. She writes horror, fantasy, erotica and science fiction, as well as non-fiction chapters and articles. She has seen one children’s story published and Death Masks is her first thriller. For more information on all of her published works, check out her website at www.kim-richards.com.
Kim is an avid costumer and amateur bellydancer. She loves her coffee. She works as an editor for MyShelf Reviews and for Eternal Press as an author, editor and marketing manager. You can find her at Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal and Goodreads under the user name Kim_Richards
Here's the book trailer from YouTube:
Here's the super-cool back cover blurb:
Bill Cristo takes up walking a per his doctor’s orders to lose weight and improve his health. While at the metro park, he witnesses an assault. The assailant turns on him and he wakes in the hospital with a nasty bump on his head, wondering why he isn’t dead.
The news reports nothing on any attack in the metro park but Bill can’t let it go...not when he realizes there are other young men missing from the same area. He digs up what he can on his own, drawing further attention from the murderer. Will he be able to figure out who the killer is before it reaches his live-in girlfriend?
Interested in picking up Death Masks? Check out Eternal Press for details.
Friday, June 27, 2008
If you’re like me and like chilling in the shallow end of the television ghetto with the reality shows and the cartoons – you’re going to love this. “Total Drama Island” is an import from Canada made last year by Teletoon. Twenty-two animated teens split into two teams at Camp Wawanakwa and compete until the losing team has to vote someone off – to walk down the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers. Yes, it’s the bastard child of “Survivor,” but that’s a good thing. At least it’s not like Comedy Central’s “Drawn Together,” which is just an excuse for animators to draw wee-wees, talk dirty and do potty jokes. “TDI” is nothing like that at all.
That’s not to say it’s not adult. “Total Drama Island” has a dual sensibility similar to the old Warner Brothers cartoons. The teens will love the characters and the adults will love the situations. The best part is that is does play out exactly like a reality show. One character leaves every episode, counting down to a finale where the last player wins a boatload of cash. Check it out, well worth it. Now showing on the Cartoon Network.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
That’s what Jumper is all about. There are folks could can teleport at will, called ‘jumpers’ and folks who hunt them down, called ‘paladins.’ Hilarity ensues, as they say. Hayden Christiansen discovers he’s a jumper and escapes from his horrible home life to be a world traveler and a bank robber until he’s finally caught up in the jumper/paladin war he was unaware of until that time. All he wants to do is court the girl of his dreams.
Hayden Christiansen is the lead who comes off much more likable here than in the Star Wars debacles. As a matter of fact, the entire cast is very effective here except for Rachel Bilson who just feels insincere. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the character or just bad acting. I’m leaning toward the latter. Michael Rooker plays to type as Christiansen’s abusive father, Diane Lane is looking very good lately and not just here. Look fast or you’ll miss Tom Hulce and Samuel L. Jackson is back in bad ass mode as the flick’s main bad guy. The prize of the cast is little Billy Elliot all grown up – Jamie Bell as another jumper who tries to show Christiansen the ropes. This guy, already a proven star, is an actor to watch. Bell’s star is definitely on the rise, and higher than before.
Jumper takes advantage of all the special effects at its disposal, and as a story it does just about everything one could imagine could be done with the concept. This is a very full movie. There could be a sequel, and I guess, after the box office it’s done, one will be made, but I hope that won’t happen. Like any number of other sequeled flicks, one would only dilute this movie. Recommended.
Things pick up from the last feature as if we hadn’t had to wait a few months. Amy and Kif get hitched, Fry gets a polyamorous girlfriend and there’s a rip in time and space above the earth. As with any extra-dimensional rift, it must be explored, and there a polyamorous tentacle monster named Yivo, played by Cross, is found. It goes downhill from there.
Little things like the Death Ball Arena, the Upscale Human Domicile, the Exorcist 2 and Wishmaster references and of course everything with David Cross are kind of amusing, but for the most part, this feature doesn’t come close to Bender’s Big Score or even the TV series. The subplots are boring and I’m being kind. If only there was more David Cross, love his gonorrhea joke though. Nothing on the DVD special features either this time out, although the preview for the next one looks fairly interesting - a spoof on Dungeons & Dragons. There are two more of these straight-to-DVD Futuramas coming so maybe they can make up for this one.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As much of an advocate for free speech as I am, I think it's time for Don Imus to shut up, or be shut up.
This is the commercial that Heinz has removed from the airwaves, in the UK of all places. The UK! Not a redneck red state in the hate-filled south, but the United Kingdom.
Over two hundred complaints were filed, some calling the advert "inappropriate," "unsuitable" and "offensive." Wow. I thought the rest of the world outside of the US was a bit more advanced, especially the UK.
"It is our policy to listen to consumers. We recognise that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it," said Nigel Dickie, director of corporate affairs for Heinz UK.
So Heinz buckles like a belt. I don't think I'll be buying their products any more. How about you?
Monday, June 23, 2008
“Kidnapped” – the Complete Series ~ The 2006 TV season had two new shows that completely blew me away, and then both quickly went away. I’ve talked about “Day Break” before, but what I’m talking about today is “Kidnapped.” While I was able to watch the former series online, I waited for the DVD set of “Kidnapped” to catch up on this one. Much like “Day Break,” the complete series resolved the story for the most part. But much like “Lost” or “24,” it felt like perhaps they didn’t know how it would end when it began.
That aside, this was one of the best shows on television and I think it’s a sin that perhaps less than the whole series was actually aired. The young son of wealthy, powerful parents is kidnapped and they hire a freelance and unorthodox kidnapping expert to get their son back. Between him and the FBI, a massive conspiracy is uncovered that spurs a mystery that spans the complete series. Action and suspense television at its best.
The breathy and dangerous Jeremy Sisto plays kidnapping expert Knapp. This is probably what got him the Batman voice role in New Frontier. Christian Bale should take notes. Knapp is both opposed by and aided by FBI agent Delroy Lindo who proves that age doesn’t take anything away from being an action star. Rounding out the cast are Timothy Hutton and the sexy Dana Delany as the parents. Each episode follows another day and another aspect of the case. This is great television, recommended for fans of “The Wire” or “The Sopranos.” As a matter of fact, this is so good, it’s amazing that HBO didn’t make it.
George Carlin passed away yesterday. We have truly lost not just one of the funniest men in the business, but a genius as well. He will be missed.
My first exposure to the man's comedy was TV of the early 1970s when he would appear occasionally as the 'hippy-dippy weatherman,' of which I loved when he would say, "the forecast for tonight is ...dark." I remember him on "Saturday Night Live" doing the bit on the differences between baseball and football which I thought it was brilliant. I remember his cab driver in Car Wash as well.
My next important exposure to George Carlin was as a comic, specializing in observational if controversial humor. Cassette tapes of Carlin and Richard Pryor would circulate through school like dirty magazines. "Shh, keep this on the downlow." I remember one routine where he's talking about a single parent saying, "I have to be both mother and father to you," to which the child replies, "Go f*** yourself." And then there was the "Seven Dirty Words" routine that became important when I was in radio. Great teaching tool.
Later in life, I loved him (as did a whole new generation) in the Bill and Ted movies and more recently in Kevin Smith's work. He was a giant among comics, speakers and thinkers. I was fortunate enough to see him in concert recently. I remember being concerned when he struggled at times during the performance, but that's the point - concern, like you would have for someone you cared about. He'll be missed. Some say he was the next Lenny Bruce, but now that he's gone, there'll never be another George Carlin.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
It's finally here! Prism Comics, which promotes LBGT comics and creators, is proud to announce that Prism Comics: Your LGBT Guide to Comics 2008 is now on sale! This year's Guide is bigger and better than ever, with 100 pages of original comics (bumped up from last year's 30 pages), along with over 20 fun features, interviews and more. It's available exclusively in comic shops now, distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors.
"The Prism Guide is bigger than ever in every way--we have more content, more comics, and a new, larger format," says editor Jonathan Riggs. "We're so proud to pick up where we left off with last year's fantastic guide and--we hope--outdo ourselves in promoting the amazing talent of Prism Comics!"
This year's Prism Guide features a "Prism High" yearbook theme, recounting everything LGBT in this year's comics. Highlights include a report card on LGBT portrayals in everything from JSA to the X-Men books and beyond; interviews with famous alumni such as Chuck Kim, writer for TV's Heroes, and Darren Davis, the founder of Bluewater Productions; an erotic comics roundtable discussion; a celebration of the Transgender Day Of Remembrance by Jenn Dolari; an exploration of the role of religion in LGBT comics; a tribute to the 25th birthday of Jeff Krell's Jayson; and an intro by Erica Friedman to Yuri Manga (lesbian manga). Original comics include work from LGBT comics giants such as Paige Braddock (Jane's World), Leanne Franson (liliane bi-dyke), Tim Fish (Cavalcade Of Boys), Allan Neuwirth and Glen Hanson (Chelsea Boys), Patrick Fillion (Deimos), Justin Hall (Prism grant winner for Glamazonia), Tommy Roddy (Prism grant winner for Pride High), Chris Companik (HIV + Me), and many more.
The Guide's editor, Jonathan Riggs, also serves as the Managing Editor of Instinct Magazine, the largest gay male lifestyle magazine in the U.S. Design was provided by Erik Baxter.
The Prism Guide is being sold exclusively through comic book shops. To find a shop near you, use the handy Comic Shop Locator Service at http://csls.diamondcomics.com. If the Prism Guide is out of stock, your shop can order it for you—just ask. The Guide will also be for sale through prismcomics.org in late June.
About Prism Comics
Prism Comics is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) creators in the comics industry, as well as LGBT themes in comics in general. Incorporated in 2003, Prism Comics makes appearances at conventions across the country and awards an annual grant to develop and encourage new talent.
Visit Prism Comics!
Shark Attack ~ Seeking to cash in on the theatrical release of the clever horror flick Deep Blue Sea and the always bankable shark phenomenon, this 1999 made-for-TV rip-off doesn’t really have much going for it. Casper Van Dien is always at his best playing the same character he always plays, and the sharks are good, even when they don’t match the footage of the humans they are supposedly attacking. It’s a blatant steal from a much better movie. The only thing worth watching here is another brilliant performance from one of Hollywood’s most underrated character actors, Ernie Hudson. When are he and Samuel L. Jackson gonna make a movie together?
The Strange Case of the End of Civilsation as We Know It ~ back in the 1970s when PBS realized just how popular Monty Python was they also started to show this under-an-hour long ‘movie’ starring John Cleese as the incompetent grandson of Sherlock Holmes. As a huge Python fan in my early teens I thought this was hilarious. Unfortunately the years have not been kind. Somehow the repetitive jokes, Dr. Watson with a bionic nose and multiple impressions of TV detectives of the time (a la Murder by Death) just don’t do it for me any more. Other derivative Python projects like the Rutles are much better, and much funnier.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I used to be huge REM fan, but that was a long time ago. Way back in the innocent 1980s I thought they were cool. I had all their tapes, and waited at record stores to buy new ones when they would come out. When a fire destroyed my wardrobe, my REM t-shirt was one of the first things I replaced. Still to this day, “Can’t Get There from Here,” “Orange Crush,” “Driver 8” and “So. Central Rain” are among my absolute favorite tunes.
Right around the time of “Everybody Hurts” and “Man on the Moon” when they were at their highest MTV saturation point and Michael Stipe was at his most talkiness about politics and such, I lost interest. For me, the flavor of the band, as well as their music, just got to be too… cliché, maybe? All the songs began to sound alike, REM-like. When I heard Corky and Juice Pigs do their REM parody, “REMember,” it just felt so on target, and ruined any recent music by the band for me. They were a joke and over time I became a rabid anti-REM fan.
And eventually they faded away.
Then suddenly in the last few months I started hearing new REM music on my XM, and more troubling than that, new excitement about REM. The album is called Accelerate, and unfortunately the songs that being played on the radio, most notably “Hollow Man” and “Until the Day Is Done,” sound just like the same old REM that drove me away. But it’s not all like that.
This album is a rocker, yes, peppered with a few old annoying REM-like tunes, but for the most part a rocker. Mostly due in part to the additions of Bill Rieflin formerly of Ministry and Scott McCaughey formerly of the Young Fresh Fellows, also two of my favorite bands of days gone by. These guys seem to be the boost that REM needed.
Tunes like “I’m Gonna DJ,” “Living Well Is the Best Revenge” and the title track rock hard and also seem to channel a long lost sound as well as lyrical fuel from old albums Reckoning and Fables of the Reconstruction. Don’t listen to your radio, listen to me and get the CD. The real REM songs aren’t being played. This one rocks. REM is back.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
25. “Veronica’s Closet” – This catches Kirstie Alley at her hottest in my opinion, before “Fat Actress” and after “Cheers.” Hot yes, but funny? I’d have to say not. Bad show or not, Kathy Najimy rocked the closet.
24. “Charles in Charge” – Chachi and Bibleman. Need I say more really?
23. “The Nanny” – When Fran Drescher would laugh, it was charming and cute. But when she pretended to laugh, it was like a nail gun in the ear. On this one it was more the latter than the former.
22. “Webster” – The poor little kid wanted so bad to be Gary Coleman. Even now, and that says a lot.
21. “All-American Girl” – I liked this show a lot. Margaret Cho rocks, and any sitcom that has Quentin Tarantino on has my vote. It’s a shame that the network tortured Margaret and destroyed the show.
20. “Babes” – Want to kill the inherent comedy and acting skills of the great Wendy Jo Sperber? Put her in a show where the only joke is that she’s a fat girl. I’m sorry, but even in the politically incorrect world that Fox was so at home in at the time, there are really only so many funny fat jokes.
19. “Mr. Belvedere” and 18. “Family Matters” – Are we sure these weren’t the same show?
17. “The Ropers” – How to kill two shows at once. To make the series they removed the funniest part of the “Three’s Company” ensemble and gave them their own show. The problem was without the rest of the cast the other was no longer funny. And of course, when “The Ropers” got canceled, both Norman Fell and Audra Lindley got screwed, as their contracts said they couldn’t return to “Three’s Company.” Good old ABC.
16. “Life on a Stick” – I remember this one and thought it had potential. But what do I know? I also like Godzilla, comic books and talk radio.
15. “It’s a Living” – This was kind of like an adult version of “The Facts of Life” in that the female cast just got older and fatter as the show went on. Never cared for this one, and I remember the piano player was pretty obnoxious.
14. “Shasta McNasty” – If it had had Gary Busey instead of Jake Busey, this would have been a runaway hit.
13. “George” – If only it were an infomercial for the Foreman Grill it would have not only been more entertaining, but more folks would have watched.
12. “Harry and the Hendersons” – Proof that Bigfoot really isn’t as funny as he should be.
11. “We’ve Got it Made” – The world is a much more lonely place without Teri Copley on television.
10. “Double Trouble” – Can’t you just see the network pitch meeting? “Hey, guys, let’s remake “The Patty Duke Show” only we’ll just take out all the funny parts…”
9. “Perfect Strangers” – An example of ABC trying to recreate the frenetic comic success of Robin Williams on “Mork & Mindy.”
8. “My Two Dads” – Is this the poor man’s “Full House?”
7. “Baby Bob” – Oh come on, you mean we weren’t sick of Look Who’s Talking by this time?
6. “Mama’s Family” – Like “The Ropers,” this is another example of destroying an existing ensemble success. This popular skit from “The Carol Burnett Show” was neutered when Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman were removed from it.
5. “Cavemen” - This one is a disgrace. Not only was it based on some really annoying Geico commercials… but the commercials were funnier and more entertaining than the show itself.
4. “Woops!” – This is another early effort from Fox, and this one I actually liked quite a bit. To my mind (and don’t laugh) this was an intellectual version of Gilligan’s Island, only the seven were survivors of a nuclear war. Given a chance, I think this could have been really good.
3. “Yes, Dear” – How did this bastard child of Everyone Loves Raymond survive six seasons?
2. “Homeboys in Outer Space” – What began as an American version of Brit scifi-comedy hit “Red Dwarf” mutated into this mess. Man oh man, why couldn’t the WB have just shown the old “Red Dwarf” reruns?
1. “Small Wonder” – The secret that no one talks about is that VICI really was a robot…
I have to say that this is a somewhat reasonable list but many were left off that deserved their rightful place among the worst. The first that comes to mind would be “Life with Lucy,” featuring a very aged Lucille Ball doing pratfalls and stunts that would make Chevy Chase blush. The problem was every time she did one, the reaction of the audience at home was the same – horror – just like that old lady who couldn’t get up on the Life Alert commercials.
Caveman ~ Oddly the thought of this movie brings back vivid memories of listening to WIFI-92 FM back in the late 1970s. This, along with flicks like Grease, Sgt. Pepper and Moment by Moment were treated like serious event movies with promotions and contests running constantly on the station. Caveman, notable for its own caveman language and that it featured superstar couple Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach, is actually a pretty funny visual joke piece. It kinda reminds me of what might have happened had Mel Brooks wrote and directed One Million Years B.C.. A hundred times better than any Geico commercial. The funniest part of the DVD however is that if you plug the captions in, all of the nonsense words are there to follow along. Zug zug.
Red Doors and the short subject Educated are wonderful and deservedly award-winning films by writer/director Georgia Lee about the Asian experience in America with quirky funky casts, characters and storylines. I just wish she would get over her seeming obsession with urination. Despite that, highly recommended.
Queen Sized ~ Like Ricki Lake a generation ago with the first version of Hairspray, the star of the new one, Nikki Blonsky, seems to have a stranglehold on every ‘big girl’ role in Hollywood. Here she plays an outcast girl (guess why) who is picked on by the cool kids until she triumphs over evil and becomes the high school Homecoming Queen. Harmless ABC Family fun.
Steambath ~ This was one of the shows that cemented my father’s opinion that Public Television at night was either educational documentaries or pornography. Good thing he never saw “I Claudius” later on in the decade. This was a television adaptation of Bruce Jay Friedman’s brilliant off-Broadway play. As good as I remembered as a kid, and watching it now as an adult I not only get the jokes but I understand just how really good it is.
27 Dresses ~ This chick-lit-style chick flick starring Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” is a bit predictable but on the whole quite entertaining. She plays a woman whose been a bridesmaid twenty-seven times but is secretly in love with the man who’s about to marry her shallow sister. Add in American-talking Brit James Marsden and hilarity ensues. Honestly not as bad as it sounds, and the best part is where Heigl models all twenty-seven bridesmaids dresses. “Really, you can shorten them and wear them again.”
Monday, June 09, 2008
If you've never done a book tour before, this is how it works: on the date listed, visit the corresponding blog where you'll find reviews, interviews, information regarding Kim Richards’ thriller, Death Masks. We will also be promoting the anthology Firestorm of Dragons, containing Kim's story, "Dragonfruit."
Whenever you visit a blog, be sure and leave a comment. For each comment, your name is put into a weekly drawing for prizes such as pdf copies of either book, t-shirts, music from the band, Children of a Lesser God (who provided the music for the Death Masks video book trailer) and more.
Kim will be visiting the blogs so feel free to ask any questions you may have. It's all about having fun and talking about books. Consider yourself invited!
June 9, 2008
June 10, 2008
June 13, 2008
Mike Philbin http://mikephilbin.blogspot.com/
June 15, 2008
Heidi Martinuzzi w/Pretty Scary
June 16, 2008
June 18, 2008
Billie A. Williams
June 19, 2008
Eternal Press Blog
June 20, 2008
June 23, 2008
Pamela K. Kinney
June 24 2008
June 25, 2008
June 26 & 27, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 29, 2008
June 30, 2008
Other places promoting the book tour include Jordan Dane, Kathy Ptacek @ Gila Queen, Starmerrow @ LiveJournal, Karina Fabian, The Writers Chatroom and Carolyn Howard-Johnson.
Please patronize them for their kindness.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Sybil ~ I had trepidations about this 2007 remake of the award-winning 1975 mini-series starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward. This version, however shorter and leaving bits of the original out, also adds in new information either from the original book or things learned since the mini-series.
Jessica Lange is as always wonderful, again proving why she’s one of our greatest actresses. Tammy Blanchard however, in the role of Sybil Dorsett, is just hideous. She just passes through the film like a parody of the original version. At times she is a bad imitation of Sally Field at her most surreal, and at worst, she is the Gilda Radner version from the old “Saturday Night Live.”
I also have to wonder why CBS chose to air this now. It was finished in 2007, broadcast in Europe last year, but not here until this evening. What gives? One would think this would be a high profile telemovie. I guess not.
The best reason to watch this, and this can be found on Google much easier, are the footnotes at the end regarding what happened to the characters later in life. Watchable, but not recommended.
Friday, June 06, 2008
1941 ~ Infamously known as Steven Spielberg’s only notable box office flop, this movie about the hysteria that strikes California days after the attack on Pearl Harbor is not really as bad as its reputation suggests. It rolls on with a madcap flair similar to that of Animal House and Meatballs and has many of the Spielbergian elements that would reappear in his later more successful films.
The best scene in my opinion is the opening, which is a parody of Spielberg’s own opening of Jaws. In this age of Scary Movies and other movie satires, it’s ironic that Spielberg may have been the first person to throw that spin on his own work.
While pushed initially as a Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi flick, they are barely in it, but what little they do do is entertaining. The real stars here are Slim Pickens and Nancy Allen who are just hilarious. Also good are the performances of Toshiro Mifume and Christopher Lee is surprisingly comedic roles in the Japanese sub lost offshore finding their way with a Crackerjack compass. Good stuff.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Uncle Monsterface is one of those bands that has to be seen and heard. You just can’t get the full effect from listening to their music, even though the tunes are very cool. The Massachusetts-based 'sock puppet rock band' is an experience. Taking their musical cues from Devo, Ookla the Mok, the Dead Milkmen and They Might Be Giants, and their lyrical inspiration from videogames, comic books, television and even Harry Potter – throw in some "Muppet Show" sensibility, a little improv cabaret and some "Kids in the Hall," and you’ve got the full Monsterface stage experience.
Like their previous work, the new album "This is an Adventure!" is another loving musical journey back into geek pop culture. Superheroes, videogames and Dungeons & Dragons permeate the tunes as well as the most fun you’ve had since you played your Nintendo 64. My favorites are "Kill Your Boyfriend!" "Save Our Superheroes," "The Gary Gygax Song" and especially that clash of the titans, "Mashed Potato Vs. Vampire." But the whole CD is marvelous. And if you hurry, you can download it for free, with a promise, at their website. Your favorite Uncle is also available on iTunes as well.
Don’t forget to check them out when they come to your town with Harry and the Potters and Math the Band on the Unlimited Enthusiasm Tour this summer – in Philly on June 29th. Come on out! After all how many bands have their own sock puppet monster?
Album artwork by Daria Tessler, band photo by Shannon Casey Splain. Uncle Monsterface can also be found on MySpace. And special thanks to the original Potterdelphian, Andrea, for turning me on to this band.
Saturday, June 7th is Worldwide D&D Game Day this year. This year the day also corresponds with the release of Dungeons & Dragons, the 4th edition. I know, I know, most of us never saw a reason for a 2nd edition but apparently the folks at Wizards of the Coast really do need two Ferraris in their driveways.
Also for those of you local to the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, stop on by All Things Fun! to enjoy the festivities of the day.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
AVENGERS/INVADERS & CAPTAIN AMERICA chat
Monday night, 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, June 9th
That's right, we'll be talking Avengers/Invaders for roughly an hour, or more depending on how many show up late, and then we'll move to Captain America for an hour. If you're not reading either title, but like the characters, I encourage you to show up anyway, as there will be plenty to discuss.
Topics will include:
* 1st two issues of the Avengers/Invaders maxi-series
* What should Marvel do with the Invaders now?
* The Golden Age Sub-Mariner and Bucky meeting themselves in 2008
* Captain America #38 & the current storyline, "The Man Who Bought America"
* Bucky as Captain America
* Avengers in Cap's supporting cast: the Falcon, Black Widow, and Iron Man
Monday, June 02, 2008
WIZARD WORLD PHILLY
The day began much earlier than expected with a family breakfast at the Pop Shop, and no argument, it was a pleasant surprise. From there it was prep and travel time to WW Philly.
The first panel of my day was Prize No Prize hosted by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort along with Dan Slott, Molly Lazer, and C.B. Cebulski among others. This trivia contest is a hometown event, having started at WWPhilly two years ago. Grand prize – an advance copy of Secret Invasion #3 and a statue of Captain America, although many cool prizes were given out throughout.
My old Movies Unlimited co-worker Gary did pretty well here, almost as well as he did on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" a few years back. Can you name eight women who dated Peter Parker? How about nine Avengers who have never had their own title? Twelve mutants depowered in House of M? Then you should have been there. Try again next year.
Later I checked out DC Sunday Conversations: For the Love of Comics. I walked in late to what seemed to be an exercise in Dan DiDio (who was running it) asking when we all started reading comics. I have to admit a dislike for DiDio based on previous convention appearances but I also must confess the man showed a genuine warmness and openness during this panel. It’s a better look for him than his usual antics.
The discussion took a turn in the Aqua-direction. DiDio asked the audience, "Who is Aquaman?" and who did we like the most as he cited several examples. About the same amount of folks liked the green glove (original) version as liked the hook-hand version. A couple liked the blue costume. Only a few people liked the water hand Aquaman. Billy Tucci asked if he could breathe his own hand to much laughter.
Stemming from one fan mentioning he liked the writer’s JLA interpretation of the sea king, the talk turned briefly to Grant Morrison and how he can take even the lamest idea or character and make it seem cool. Even electric blue Superman. Somehow this makes me worry about Final Crisis.
Getting back on the Aqua-kick, DiDio mentioned he kinda liked the new Aquagirl quite a bit, and also verified that the latest incarnation of Aquaman was in fact the Golden Age version. It really sounds like DiDio is fishing (sorry, couldn’t help it) for ideas to fix or revamp Aquaman.
Next Dan went around the room asking for folks’ favorite obscure character. Ambush Bug was immediately brought up by my friend Skott Stotland. Others mentioned were G’nort, Vibe, the Metal Men, the female Dr. Light, and then Billy Tucci offered up Lord Malvolio with a story he wants to pitch. For the uninitiated, Lord Malvolio of the Green Flame is a Green Lantern baddie from the old (and much-missed) Action Comics Weekly who wore a copy of Alan Scott’s costume and destroyed Hal Jordan’s power ring.
This prompted DiDio to talk about the three kinds of continuity at DC. There are three levels. The first is immutable, can’t be changed, stuff like Krypton blew up and Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot. There’s a middle level of things that can be altered or played with, and then there’s the third level, where things are ignored or forgotten. He brought up the example of the Paul Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes where Superboy learns the Legionaires are really hundreds of years old. Levitz said of the tale, "I’m not going to undo the story, I’m just never going to mention it again."
In that third continuity category is where that Legion story goes, as well as the tale of Lord Malvolio. Shame. I’d like to see him come back, especially written by Tucci.
The two Cancelled Comics Cavalcade issues were brought up after someone mentioned the Freedom Fighters as his favorites and thanked DiDio for bringing them back. It took me a moment to process that statement as I don’t think the new version bears much resemblance to the original. What Freedom Fighters comics are you reading, dude?
Anyway, history lesson again – back in the 1970s, the 'DC Implosion' when DC expanded at the absolute wrong time and ended up having to cancel about a dozen existing or coming titles. To secure copyright on the cancelled material, DC produced two 'issues,' fifty photocopies each, of the stories that were already finished but not slotted to appear elsewhere. Two issues of the 1970s FF title were among them, along with good stuff like Secret Society of Super-Villains, Kamandi, Karate Kid and the first issue of Vixen.
When DiDio first joined DC the first thing he did was get those two issues and find out what happened in those comics from his youth that were never ‘really’ published. Pointing out that memory isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, he noted those stories were crap.
A rather heated and half-joking discussion of who Batman was and if Nightwing should replace him was interrupted when Tom Brevoort came in and gave Dan a comic. Laughing, DiDio told the story of a comic book he couldn’t find as a kid, until he was on the bus to school and saw it on a spinner rack in a store the bus was passing. He got off the bus, bought it and then found he didn’t have enough cash to catch another bus, so he walked to school. That’s the Captain America comic Tom brought to Dan.
Tom B. then joined the panel. The Tiny Titans guys came in later to much applause. That’s when Dan DiDio asked the big question – why would anyone eat food from this building when the Reading Market is right across the street?
Comic Widows colleagues Crystal and Anthony showed up later as things were quieting down. Ran through the floor for some last minute bargains and to say a few hellos and goodbyes, and then called it a day.
Now there have been lots of reports on this con (and others) and personally, reading other accounts, I have to wonder... what con were they at?
Sunday, June 01, 2008
WIZARD WORLD PHILLY
After a bit of a late start I met up with Comic Widows co-horts Anthony and Ray. We began with a strategy meeting regarding some interviews planned for the day. And trust me, it was nowhere near as cool as it sounds, but we were taking it pretty seriously.
In the midst of our war council we also interviewed the young lady we were sharing the pressroom with at the time, Nicole Boose. We also learned she was with Marvel editorial and reviewing art portfolios at the con. Very cool lady, and pleasant informative interview.
As the pressroom overlooked the con floor we also did some costume spotting. From our vantage point we got to see quite a few good ones, and of course some bad ones as well. Among the former were several Marvel Girls in the Neal Adams green mini-skirt, a bright-green Riddler, a foam rubber Galactus, what might have been Nightwind from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Dr. Strange, the prerequisite dozen Stormtroopers that show up at every con, and a bald Robin. Also throughout the day there were many others spotted – a pair of Tomb Raiders, Zatanna, the cast of the new Indiana Jones flick, a baby Batgirl, a flat-chested Power Girl, and, ahem, a tranny Power Girl. And then there was also The Blob. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume.
Then we hit the con floor and did a kinda noisy interview with Jared Barel of Loaded Barrel Studios. They do a startling and unique melding of photography and comic art that needs to be seen to be believed. They call it making 'live-action graphic novels' and it looks great. Check them out, it’s terrific stuff. I really did like their work, and really, it’s not just because they were giving out Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls at their booth, but let’s be honest, that never hurts. Lessons to learned for other folks with booths at these cons.
After exploring the floor for a bit I ducked into the Crisis Now panel in the midst of questions and answers. Dan DiDio was in the house and mocking and ridiculing the characters we all love as if that was his job. Oh wait.
Several different things were addressed while I was there. When questioned on "Batman RIP," DiDio repeatedly said in staccato fashion, "Batman dies!" then rescinded, "Batman doesn’t die, but he’s gonna wish he was dead." Other items – the Milestone characters are not available for DC to use, but never say never. We will see Christopher Kent again. Apparently there is an unannounced Zatanna series coming at some point.
DiDio admitted that 2007 was not a year where everything was clicking as well as possible. And he added that it’s his job to make this year as great as possible. He also confessed that Steve Wacker leaving for Marvel was a huge loss for DC.
The Devil also said that Death of the New Gods was a celebration of Jack Kirby’s work on the New Gods. Wtf? Kill them to celebrate them? In answer to the next question, DiDio stated that Final Crisis will involve all Flashes. A fan asked "Even Bart?" and DiDio answered "All Flashes." Just don’t kill Jay Garrick like you killed the Martian Manhunter, okay? Bastards. And during the lightning round he answered "Yes." to the question of whether barry Allen was coming back.
Same room, a bit later, Cup O’ Joe with Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, standing room only, much like the DC panel before it. In attendance – (duh) Joey Q, Fred Van Lente, C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort and another person whose name I didn’t catch – he didn’t talk much and ran the slide show though. The slide show announced Marvel Zombies 3 where the fan fave monsters invade the Marvel Universe proper, due in September.
Old news came with slides depicting the new Devil-Slayer series by horror novelist Brian Keene and Stephen King’s The Stand also starting in September. Mystery pics of Lady Bullseye followed (and of course quickly leaked to the internet) who Ed Brubaker is introducing in Daredevil. Nice art, but seemingly just a female version of Bullseye. Yawn.
Um, who brought the baby to a panel? Who brought a baby to a convention? Please just make it stop crying. Great parenting there, folks. Although he/she stopped crying, I wondered if the wonder-parents were still in the room when J.Q. dropped an F-bomb later on in the hour.
Then came, predictably, questions and answers. There will be more Squadron Supreme, written by Howard Chaykin, with a demented twist, and Greg Land on covers. And no, Land on covers is not the twist. Speaking of twisted, there’s been a big secret in the undercurrent of the Ultimate Universe, to be revealed in Ultimate Origins. Something major in their lives is a huge falsehood. Maybe the secret of why Ultimates 3 is so late will be revealed.
More "One More Day" backlash reared its ugly head and Joe explained that all of Spider-Man’s history is intact, save that he and Mary Jane didn’t get married on their wedding day. Something happened and that story just hasn’t been told yet. Joe says he’s seen it and it’s great. In response to another question, Tom B said that Peter and his Aunt May did in fact live at Avengers Tower. Some racy humor about May and Skrull Jarvis followed unfortunately. Either way, Joe and Tom certainly seem tired of doing OMD damage control; it’s in their faces.
My friend Ray hit Joe Q with a good one. He referenced the difference between two Jack Kirby reprint volumes, one from DC and one from Marvel – the difference is that DC paid the Kirby estate royalties and Marvel did not. Joe kinda dodged the question, saying that he doesn’t discuss Marvel policy in public. He added that Marvel is currently working with the Kirby estate and that should speak for itself.
Other items included that Baron Zemo was coming back, and a new Thunderbolts writer has been chosen but unannounced – could these be related and Fabian Nicieza is coming back? There is a Runaways film in development with Brian K. Vaughn involved. There are possible plans for the female Bucky from the Onslaught universe. The sequel to Marvels is coming in October. Whoever is left at the end of The Twelve will remain part of the present MU.
Quesada coined the term "Marvel lifestyle" for the fact that now Marvel does their own comics, movies and videogames – in response to a question about digital comics. I like it. Joe also claimed that he thought Spider-Man 3 was a pretty good movie. "Maybe one villain too many." Wow, you said a mouthful, Joe.
At the close of the panel, the 18 carat gold Iron Man cellphone was given away. Over $1500 was raised for the Hero Initiative on the raffle for it. Great job, folks!
At this point, I was toast and had to go home, home to my super-cool Avengers glass that the Bride had gotten for me earlier in the day, and home to the Bride too, of course. But I’ll leave you with another quote, this one a bit dated, but it was shouted by a guy in a Nightwing t-shirt exiting the men’s room earlier this afternoon. "Hey, I found Ray Palmer!"