Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Alrighty, so this is hopefully to be the last outing with helmer Michael Bay. You can sorta tell in the film. He wanted to go out with a bang. And he wanted to show up Christopher Nolan by trashing Chicago even worse than Nolan did in the Dark Knight. But really, Dark of the Moon shouldn't even be discussed in the same sentence as the Dark Knight.

It's not nearly as bad as Revenge of the Fallen. Not by half. On the other hand, its not half as good as 2007's Transformers. For one very important reason.

In 2007, when Transformers launched, and we were introduced to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee just a bit over the 1/3rd mark. You knew at least who they were. Their bodies were not the same, but their attitudes were. Bumblebee was the intensely brave, intensely loyal friend he was in both the Comic and the Cartoon, even though he didn't have his distinctive voice. Something I felt was a shame, as it would have been nice to hear Dan Gilvezan back just as much as it was to have Peter Cullen back as Prime.

Prime himself was, immediately recognizable as the same character who was quick to laugh and slow to anger. He would have done everything possible to protect his soldiers, everything that is except letting harm fall on the Humans. This is a character who chose death because he had accidentally killed computer game characters! Who let Megatron take a hostage and mortally wound him because he wanted to give the Decepticon Tyrant another chance.

Now, he just takes Faces, He's going to kill them all too. He butchers Decepticons like Hanibal lector butchers prison guards. Never once does prime mourn the lives hes taking. Apparently, Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.. unless they have red eyes.. then its butt kicking time.

Ok sure, in his defense, in the Films the Decepticons are almost unanimously shown as little more than mechanical beasts. Starscream and Megatron are basically the only ones who have any personality at all. This is something that actually improved in Revenge of the Fallen, and continued into Dark of the Moon. While the characters themselves were more correct in the first film, some of them have gotten far more dialog in the sequels.

Speaking of Megatron.. I feel his inclusion in this movie was more or less pointless. He didn't do anything except allegedly shoot Elephants in a scene that got cut out, and then get killed brutally by Optimus in the climax of the film. I feel it would have been far better to have scrapped him entirely, and given his dialog and screen time to Shockwave. An endlessly intriguing character who, they got my hopes up by Casting David Warner to voice in the Video Game.. I'd have bought 10 tickets if I got a conversation between Shockwave/Warner and Sentinel Prime/Nimoy.. it would have been like Star Trek VI all over again. Awesome. In other words.

Nimoy was the real standout of the film. His character was complex, but ultimately should have simply been Galvatron. I couldn't help but think of Galvatron every time Sentinal Prime spoke. That's how deeply Nimoy's portrayal of the upgraded Megatron was on me as a child. Even when I listen to Spock I think of Galvatron.

The Set pieces ranged from fantastic to bugf*ck insane. When I said they trashed Chicago I was not even remotely joking. Though they never really gave a reason why the Decepticons planned to take over Chicago.. It just happened.

The really unique thing though is that this is the first time that the plot was more or less copied from the Cartoon. Or rather, several episodes. It shared elements of The Ultimate Doom and of Megatron's Master Plan. But ultimately the Cartoons were far more fulfilling because both times they showcased complexity of many of the characters.

Oh well, I'd still rank this as the 2nd best in the series..

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mighty Morphin' Mondays.

Episode 4 "A Pressing engagement"

Jason (The Red Ranger) is having some personal quandaries due to his inability to best Bulk's Bench-pressing records. This creates a lot of self doubt, which Rita takes advantage of in order to try and split the team up. She sends the monstrous King Sphinx (different from Goldar) to attack Angel Grove while Jason is soul searching. The monsters manage to separate Jason from the rest of the team and proceed to wail on him. The rest of the team regroups and comes to the rescue before Jasons killed by Goldar and King Sphinx. They form Megazord and dispatch the beast, but again Goldar escapes.

Episode 5 "A Different Drum"

Rita comes up with a plan to use Music to defeat the power rangers, so she summons the Gnarly Gnome, a garden gnome who plays a magic accordion and sends him to earth. His powers hypnotize people leading them off, thankfully it dosen't affect Mellisa, the deaf girl who is in Kimberly's dance class. She follows the hypnotized girls then runs to find Kimberly who summons the power rangers. They defeat the Gnarly Gnome and save the hypnotized girls.

Episode 6 "Food Fight"

Inspired by a food fight at the juicebar, Rita summons Pudgy Pig. A monster which eats everything including the rangers weapons. Trini realizes that the monster cannot stand spicy foods so the rangers set out to feed him vast quantities of horseradish until he vomits their weapons back up. The form the Mega-Blaster and destroy the monster before he can consume the world's food supply.

As the episodes progress from Episode 1, they have already sort of hit their stride. We've had three Trini centric episodes, two Kimberly Centric episode and a Jason Centric Episode. So far that leaves Zack and Billy out, but I'm sure they will get their own episodes soon enough.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Director writes sappy goodbye, Fandom fawns some more.

There is no room for partiality on this blog post. If you don't want to read my hyperbolic rant, or if you absolutely love the live action Transformers films, I suggest you bugger off and quit reading right now. I realize that what I'm doing here is going to seem petty, or even insecure. That may be, but It's also a visceral gut reaction to something I've been angry about for the last 5 years and I desperately need to get it off my chest.

Micheal Bay is apparently heartbroken that he won't be doing any more Transformer films.

All the news groups that are running this story are crediting him with "Bringing back" the transformers or "Saving the brand". He did no such thing. Kenner's Beast Wars brought back the Transformers, Mainframe's Beast Wars brought back the Transformers. Brought them back strong enough so that they have never gone away again.

Though, an individual from Europe or Japan could argue that they never actually went away at all, but simply waned in popularity. But of course, none of the fans of the movies would know this, since most of them are only fans of the Transformers BECAUSE OF THE MOVIES. They have no vested interest in the history or characters, they only like it because its popular. It's exactly the same thing that happened in 2000 when the first Autobot and Decepticon logo T-shirts started being sold at mall stores. Everyone suddenly thought they were a Transformers fan because they owned the shirt. This is the same thing but Magnified 100,000x. Now they are fans simply because they plonked down 10$ to see a movie.

This of course has lead to further fractures between the Transformers fandom. Those who love his movies and don't want him to leave.. and those of us who are Right, and can't wait for him to get his mitts off the franchise.

Transformers under Michael Bay has been turned into Twilight and Pokemon. It's Popular because it's popular because it's popular. It's circular logic and eventually will spiral into a singularity and fall out of favor. When asked to explain why they like it, "Because its awesome!" is the most likely response. They don't know why they like it. They are just following the crowd. This is, the same way of looking at Conan that I frequent come across. They don't know anything about the character, the writer, the stories. All they know is "What is best in life?" and Camel Punching. I imagine the Marvel and DC fans feel exactly the same way, and as much as I love the bulk of these comic book movies, I'd never dare to assume I know as much about the characters as they do.

Since I'm not allowed to comment as I want on the Transformer forum this came from.. lest I risk offending these delicate flowers who love Micheal bay so much.. I'm going to do it here.

ok you people are pathetic, this man brought transformers to a point of unbelieveable[sic] popularity, who's movies have made hasbro TONS of money to make the toys you want and all you guys can do is go "GOOD NEWS!" and "GLAD TO SEE HIM LEAVE!"

you guys make me sick

Micheal Bay, thank you for all the time and hard work you put into making transformers stronger than ever before, we can never express enough thanks for what you have done for this franchise. You will forever be welcomed by this fan

I hope you choke on it.

Though the cynical part of me says there is no way in hell he will leave a franchise thats pulled in this much money, I figure I can conjecture the reason. That is that his contract for 3 movies is up, and he, like any reasonable entrepreneur who's got serious marketable clout, will want so much money for another contract that neither Paramount nor Hasbro will be willing to pony up to meet his demands. Maybe I'm completely off base, but I figure the only part of him thats going to be heartbroken about his leaving will be his bank account.

Michael Bay's letter, based on previous statements is not. However, I say that with the caveat that I have not yet seen the newest film. I could be wrong, no I hope I'm wrong. That after three films, one of them middling and the other a midterm abortion plastered on the inside of a wet/dry vac, that he's finally figured out the scope and depth of the mythology he has to work with. And will use that to give the world a quality film.

None of the previous iterations or reboots or micro-franchises produced have sought to replace the original in the popular imagination the same way that these films has. Nor have their fans been so obnoxiously divisive. The fans produced by such fare as Robots In Disguise, Armada, Energon, or Cybertron did not seek to supplant the originals by categorically stating that just because it was old it was no good. They sought out information, they joined in the larger discussion and for the most part despite largely being younger, integrated into the existing fandom. They recognized self evident truths about the franchise and moved on with talking about what they liked and disliked about the various incarnations.

The bulk of the fans brought in by the first Michael Bay movie have done none of that. There responses to the fans of the originals are nearly always vitriolic and hateful. Nearly always ill-informed, and nearly always reeking of the kind of dogmatic certainty only known to suicide bombers.

I'd be perfectly content for the franchise to dwindle to nothing at this point. All the stories that count were published in the 80's, All the characters who matter were produced in the 80's. None of the stuff for the last 20 years even impacts my enjoyment of the Transformers, and as such I'd shed no tears for the brand to die of heat death following the big crunch of popularity once it falls out of favor. Exactly the same way it did in 1991.

I survived it once. I was heartbroken. At age five I wrote letters to Hasbro asking why, My favorite toy line was no longer on store shelves, and they politely responded by sending me a very kind gift of some promotional artwork and thanking me for my letter. That is dedication. That is taking care of your fans. That is sincerity.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Conan the Barbarian, a review.

If you are interested, I've reviewed the novelization of the new Conan film over on Hyborean Apocrypha. And also written another post summarizing its apparent placement chronologically and how it relates to Robert E. Howard's original stories.

You can read the 6 parts at the following links. But be warned, massive spoilers are contained within.

Part One.
Part Two.
Part Three.
Part Four.
Part Five.
Part Six.

Friday, June 24, 2011

So does that answer the question?

Of how Elijah wood and Ian Holm and possibly other of the Lord of the Rings actors feature in the The Hobbit.

According to a new interview with Elijah Wood, it seems as if they will be working on a sort of framing device. Using the concept of "There and Back again", the book that Bilbo is writing at the beginning of the The Fellowship of the Ring, and that Frodo/Sam Finish at the end of the Return of the King. I had wondered how exactly they had planned to include these actors, and I can't help but think that it may not be such a bad plan.

It also could explain some of the other oddities we've come to know about the movie(s). Effectively showing it two different ways, one how Bilbo has written it, and then 'The True story'. This isn't much of a divergence, since Bilbo omitting information was used in the stories themselves.

It also mentions again a new character named Taurial, who seems to be some sort of elven maiden in Mirkwood. I've started to see this name brought up a lot lately, when previously we repeatedly saw the name Itaril and "Female Elf Warrior" next too it.. Is it possible that Taurial the elven maiden has replaced Itaril the Female Elf warrior? or are we simply going to get stuck with both of them?

I think that beyond additions such as Itaril/Taurial, the filmmakers are going out of their way to play up as many links between the two film series. Thats probably an extremely good idea in order to minimize the audience alienation felt when they go in expecting to see characters that are impossible to include in the Hobbit story itself. But as a framing sequence it will work out much better.

Of course, this could be incorrect and Elijah Wood is simply not being let in on exactly what Jackson/Fralippa are doing. I suppose we will find out December of next year though.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Conan the Barbarian.

Just got in from the book store and picked up a copy of the novelization for the new Conan The Barbarian film as adapted by Micheal Stackpole. I'll be reviewing it shortly on my other blog within the next few days before jumping into another of the Tor's.

So for now I'm just going to stick to describing the book itself. Its cover is the same as the 3D poster, Conan standing atop a mound of skulls head bowed and sword drawn. It uses the logo with the sword through it from the 1982 movie which is a bit disappointing. I'd have preferred they come up with their own font. It has the dedication "to the memory of Robert E. Howard" before the acknowledgements and then continues on into the story.

About 200 pages in we get a few snaps from the film itself. Young Conan being shown a sword by Corin. Young Conan crouching in the show, decked out in furs. A shot of some Co-ed Hyrkanian Archers attacking Conan's village. Khalar's Orcs.. I mean Henchmen Remo and Akhoun in Corin's forge. Conan enslaved. A seer telling his visions. Followed by a whole bunch of shots of Khalar Zym and his Daughter. Beyond Momoa none of the other characters really screams Hyborian age to me. But I may be surprised.

The book ends with an advertizment for the film, and for the Dark Horse comics. No mention is made of the 3 volume Del Rey set, or the upcoming "The Stories that inspired the film".

Now that I've worked my way around to that, I can tell you that I thought thats what I was buying, truth be told. I didn't pay that much attention to it at the store. That volume, featuring actual Robert E. Howard stories, isn't out until July 26th. But rest assured as soon as I lay my hands on a copy of it I'll have it here and will post the contents. Until then we will just have to content ourselves with this newest in the never ending list of Hyborean Apocrypha.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Television Tuesday - Hercules and the Lost Kingdom

This is the second of the tele-films that preceded the syndicated show. With the bulk of the recurring characters established in the previous film this one moves directly into the story.

It begins with a group of men walking beside a river, they stop for a drink and one of their number is pulled under by a Sylph. The remaining men escape. Meanwhile a young girl is gathering water when she finds evidence of a Giant. She runs back to town with the Giant hot on her heals. In town the giant rips the roof off a tavern. A Tavern that Hercules happens to be residing in. The giant is defeated just in time for the men from earlier to approach Hercules and tell him their story. They are escapees from the Lost city of Troy, and need Hercules's help.

Zeus (again played by Anthony Quinn) appears and beseeches Hercules not to try to find this lost city. He wants him to try and get back in Hera's good graces. Troy happens to be a City which displeased Hera and so she has put a curse upon it. The remaining movie is about this quest, and about Hercules's complicated relation with his step mother Hera. It also introduces a new character who will become a regular. Deianeira, played by Renee O'Conner (who along with the first movie's Lucy Lawless, would go on to star in the Spin Off series, Xena) By the end of the movie she will become the Queen of the restored city of Troy. We see Hercules approached at the end by another man who needs his help, and the two walk off to begin the next adventure.

Over all the movie was not as good as the previous one. It dosen't feature Iaolus so thats a mark against it. It's missing much of the humourous banter. Over all it would have probably been just fine as a 40 minute episode, but was a bit too weak to make a good movie.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mighty Morphin' Mondays.

Alright, so my excitement for this outweighed my trepidation and I went and watched a few episodes of Power Rangers. It was not as bad as I feared, I actually found a good many things about it that I liked even now. It's amazing mostly since I didn't remember any of the positive messages of practice, teamwork, anti-bullying, health, nutrition.. none of it.. all I remembered was the Zords.

So Clearly even with all their efforts to produce a kids show with redeeming social qualities they didn't do it well enough to really make any of that stick out. But I give them credit for being far more subtle about it than another multi-coloured team of teenagers who combined their powers to fight evil. I'm looking at you Captain Planet.

This was another in a long line of Shuki Levy and Haim Saban productions. They have a history of sourcing material from Japan and reworking it to make it into relatively new product. It's another in a long line of such shows, But is relatively rare in that it dosen't just use the whole Japanese program, but has lots of new footage as well. It's some what of follow up to their Macron 1 program, also for Fox. Which was two totally unrelated Japanese anime edited together in the same vein as Voltron and Robotech. Like Robotech and Voltron, the stories are nearly totally re-worked and new music is added that makes the disparate pieces into a coherent whole. It's typically very memorable music, lots of people who haven't seen Robotech in 20 years will immediately recognize it as Robotech simply after hearing the background music, For me, it was exactly the same with Power Rangers.. It was extremely catchy.

I'm going to review several episodes each week, they are only 20 minutes long each, and there are at my count nearly 750 episodes. So expect about 3 per week for the next few years. Unless I forget, in which case.. I trust you to entertain yourselves.

Power Rangers ran on a 6 day schedule on local fox channel here. So every other weekend, when I went to visit my dad, I missed an episode. It didn't hurt power rangers, but really damaged my enjoyment of other shows from the era that were more serialized. Like X-men. So the first episode Day of the Dumpster, is oddly one I've never seen before.

It attempts in 20 minutes to set up the basic idea of the series. It introduces the main antagonist, Rita Repulsa. She's been trapped in a "Space Dumpster" on "The Moon" for 10,000 years. I've never seen the Super Sentai series that the Rita Repulsa segments are sourced from, but it clearly didn't take place on earth. The Planet that the "Dumpster" is on, clearly has two other bodies in his sky. But that quickly is glossed over and ignored. Rita it seemed tried to take over the universe in the past, and was trapped in the Dumpster as punishment. She responded by trapping Zordon in a time warp, which is the reason he is a floating face.

We are shown the kids, and their nemeses Bulk and Skull. at a health center (Something that even back in 1993 I considered some what ludicrous.. You see, to me, Health Center meant the place you went to see a doctor if you couldn't afford to go to a real doctor. I was positive no kids would want to hang out at a health center.)when an Earthquake hits. They are then summoned to Zordon's command center by Alpha the robot. Here they are given their morphers and power coins, and their communicators to allow them to talk to each other in case of an emergency, it is a kids show designed to sell toys after all. Before long they are putting their merchandize to work fighting one of Rita's minions. The sphinx like Goldar. When just the regular action figures fail to be enough, they call in the big guns, the Dino-Zords and Goldar retreats.

The second episode, High Five, Is the first of them with the random monsters, created by Finster, another of Rita's minions. It features the character of Trini attempting to overcome her fear of heights, and successfully doing so in order to save the team, and form the Megazord.

The third Episode, Team Work, features the girls attempting to get some environmental petition signed and the rest of the team going their own ways, The episode shows what comes of lack of team work, where Rita successfully divides the team to prevent them from the usage of the Zords. The team manages to regroup and summon the Zords but they aren't effective against the new monster. Zordon introduces the Power Weapons which gives the team enough of an edge with their respective mechanical help to defeat the monster. The episode of course ends with them learning how to work together as a team and defeating another of Finster's Monsters.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I've just regressed to being an 8 year old.

Was trolling Netflix, found they've added all 18 seasons of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers... and both movies.

I'm almost... almost.. tempted to watch them.. but I am nearly 100% certain that my memories of how much fun the show was will be destroyed by how bad the show is to a 26 year old. This experiment has been played out already with Macgyver. It's not nearly as awesome as I remember it, on the other hand I also am finding other things to enjoy in it.. such as Terry "Dalek" Nation being the writer on the second episode...

They've also added the first season of Masters of the Universe. That was a show I never really got into, but I know a lot of people loved it. Now if they would just add Thundercats!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sean Bean. Gets Stabbed, Finishes his beer.

According to the Daily Mail (not always to be trusted) Sean Bean was having a few drinks at a bar in Camden and got into an altercation in which he was attacked with a piece of glass. Declining a trip to the A&E, he went back in and ordered another drink.

Lets see some of those wussy Hollywood types do that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All the little Viruses I have defeated.

As I mentioned previously I'm in the process of applying for college. I'm a vary non traditional student in that I've waited 8 years to go. This is because I had a job when I graduated Highschool, one that turned into a full time job before the store closed. Then within 6 months had another part time job in which I was making as much as I had in the full time job previously. I saw no reason to bother with school. The second job was "a pretty sweet deal", and since its been around for ages, was unlikely to go away. It was Union and all that jazz, so it was pretty well set. That changed. My position has been made redundant and I'm going to be out on my ass. Now it seems like a bad idea to have skipped school 8 years ago.. but how was I to know.

So, I've gone and filled in all the paperwork, paid the fees for processing. All was going swimmingly until they said "we need your immunization paperwork". "Isn't it on my school transcripts? " "No" they said. "Ok I'll go get copies", and so off I set to drive madly around town looking for copies of my vaccination records. The first stop I went to was the county school board. Surely, since I had to have them to get into school, They would have them on file. No such luck. So it's off to the county board of health. Same answer. Then I looked in the phone book and found out the pediatrician who had administered them was still practicing. I went to her office. Only to find out that in 2003, she had had an office fire and lost all her records.


So now I'm faced with the chilling possibility that I may have to have some 30 shots in a matter of days in order to finish my application process. These are shots that, even at the low rate of 13.57$ each from the county health center.. add up really quickly and I can ill afford. To top that off, I hate shots. The Health center explained to me that I could get a blood test, and they could do a check on what I'm toting around with me. My defeated enemies, the viruses Measles, Mumps, Ruebella, Varicilla, Tetanus, Diptheria, Hepatitus A and B, and a few of their other buddies.. will apparently show up on a blood test.

The idea of that is even more terrifying than the injections. Since it includes ... blood.

You see. Like the character of Doc Martin, played by martin clunes I'm Haemophobic.

So I'm stuck now between two sharp pointy objects, one wanting to inject me, and one wanting to take out of me.

It reminds me of the old British navy joke, about how to chose which biscuit to eat. You tap the biscuits upon the table, and then compare the relative sizes of the weevils which tumble from their homes.. and then choose the lesser of the two weevils.

Monday, June 13, 2011

60+ Hours for American Gods?!

According to This Link Tom Hanks will be producing 6 seasons each consisting of 10-12 hour long episodes for HBO. Now, I read American Gods. I didn't think that much of it. I certainly don't think that it needs 5-6 times the amount of time to tell that The Lord of the Rings did. 4 times the length of all 8 of the Harry Potter films combined. Even the Dark Tower wasn't going to get anything like that.

I can see having 60-70 hours for Game of Thrones. The shows that I've seen have moved at such a breakneck speed that I feel they must be condensing it down to even get in as much as they are. But that series is already, by page count, 5 times the length of Lord of the Rings, 8 times the length of American Gods. I could even see them adapting The Wheel of Time into 70+ episodes.

But not American Gods.

Beyond the absurd length, it is also going to have a possible budget of nearly 3.5 million per episode. Meaning it will some how cost the same to produce as Game of Thrones?!. It's set in dumpy towns in the US, the characters all wear normal clothes. Theres no massive sets to build, and apart from a few effects heavy sequences I just can't see where that money will be going to.. unless they plan to cast big name actors in the parts..

I don't get it. Why not invest all that time and money and effort and adapt something really good, that would actually benifit from a huge sprawling series.. like Sandman.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Roller Derby.

Last night I attended my first ever Roller Derby event. The town of Athens Georgia now sports two teams, so last night was a Double Header. The Athens' Bad News B's vs. the Rome Roller Girls (In obverse to history, Athens triumphed and Rome limped home.) And then the Classic City All Stars vs the Atlanta Sake Tuyas (One of four Atlanta teams).

It was an all around exciting experience. Not really like the film Whip It apart from it featuring hot girls on skates. There was nothing I could tell that resembled anything like the malicious intent of popular imaginings.

The Athens v. Rome bout was a bit lopsided for the first half, with Athens cleaning up really fast and having a seriously daunting lead. But Rome came through in the second and managed to nearly even the score. I'd say they deserve being watched out for. But the Atlanta bout was Ugly. I'm talking waking up with a hangover next to Rosie O'donnel ugly. It was 43 to 206 for the final score.

If your not familiar with the sport, basically you have Blockers, Jammers and Everyone else. Blockers start out in front, the rest of the squads behind them, and lastly the Jammers. The Jammers goal is to zip around the mass of players and especially the blockers.. and then stay out in front of the group. Thats how they score points, for every opposing team member they pass. And so of course everyone is out to smear the Jammer. It's a bit of an unholy offspring of Nascar and the NFL, but with way fewer beer bellies. It's exciting is what it is.

Though most sports take themselves seriously. Lots of money riding on them. This is a sport with a serious sense of humour. It's evident in the ladies track names. Usually puns, and usually hilarious. Just a smattering "Tina Tourniquet", "Rudy Huxtabrawl", "Peewee Slayhouse","Princess Lay-you-out". It's evident in that the announcer in Athens looks like he just stepped out of an 70's porno.

It's a sport for people who don't particularly enjoy sports. But don't mistake, the athleticism of these ladies is nothing short of amazing. They took hits that would have sent NFL players limping to the sidelines and would have earned half a dozen Redcards in the MLS. Most moderate sized towns in the US have a team, sometimes two. If you live near one and have never been.. I really can't recommend it highly enough.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The big DC reset.

As the internet continues to implode over the news that DC comics will be resetting their entire universe, Again. I pretty much am left alone to roll my eyes.

You see, I've tried to get into comics a number of times. I've tried both Marvel and DC. But usually these experiments get ended pretty quickly. When you are dealing with books that have been running for 400 or so issues, occasionally you reach a point where its simply ridiculous to try and catch up. Not to mention how difficult it is because of the constant starting and stopping of books in the 90's. a steady stream of #1's and "Maxi series" polluted the market and none but the hardest of the hardcore is even passing familiar with what happened in most of them. That was one of my big problems with comics.

My other big problem with them was cost.

I remember at one time comics costing 1.25$. That was a pretty big amount for a kid in the 90's. I got 5$ a week allowance. So I could conceivably get 3 comics a week. That's great. Except when the comic companies are constantly running massive crossover events. I tried to get into Batman at one point. I quickly found I couldn't even follow the storyline without purchasing close way more comics a month than my meagre resources would allow. Those are currently in a trashbag in the attic, and have been there since about 1995.

So on principle I have no problems at all with them starting over from a point 0. this will certainly help alleviate the continuity problems. But it dosen't help with the other problems. Namely, the crossover cash grabs and the cost of each individual book.

Today the cost of a comic from Marvel, DC, Image or Dark Horse is pretty standard at about 2.99$. IDW charges more, depending on the popularity of the property they are whoring out, but we will ignore them for now. So thats 2.99$, not a whole lot really, except when you consider thats 3$ for either 1/6th or 1/12th of a storyline, maybe even a smaller sliver if its part of a big cross over event that spans dozens of books over multiple months. The last time DC tried this, with Infinite Crisis, you had to buy something like 10-15 comics a month to really have any idea what was going on. I Imagine Marvel's big "Civil War" series was roughly similar in size.

It's really no wonder the movies featuring these characters are doing so well. People are hungry for this stuff, but a 10$ movie ticket is easier to stomach than 600$ worth of comics in a year's span. Thats not counting all the Trades and Back Issues a serious comic collector has to buy in order to really really know whats going on.

Marvel at least to their credit has attempted to address this problem of the back issue morass. They did a special DVD a few years ago with every issue of Spiderman ever in PDF format for a very reasonable price (National Geographic has a similar set available, 120 years for 50$, it's a product all periodicals should seriously consider) They didn't do as well with it as they hopped I guess since we never got any more. But they still crank out the Essentials books. 20-30 issues in black and white for very very reasonable prices. They also usually reprint the same stuff in hardcover and full colour for the serious collector.

DC tried to get in on this, but failed. They chose to only use the 60's and 70's issues of their comics in their Showcase books. For some characters thats fine, for some like Batman and Superman, thats jumping ahead by nearly 30 years. Who wants to start in the second act of a play?

Strangely while the big comics companies seem to be suffering, Translations of Japanese and Korean comics, known as "Manga" seem to still be doing serious sales. So much so that a number of companies like IDW sometimes print their books in both normal Trade sizes and Manga sizes. But the one big thing that allows the Manga companies to sell these 150-300 page volumes for 11.99 or so is the fact they are in black and white. The same thing that allows the Essentials and Showcase volumes to be so cheap.

So my suggestion to "Fix" the comic industry, not that anyone cares, is 1)Keep the crossovers contained to a single mini-series or better yet just do it across all your books and limit yourself to a single month to tell the story. 2) ditch the colour. 3) stop having your people write 150 page trade paperbacks then splitting them up into 6 issues. Just print the Trade in black and white and be done with it. Self contained is how all your books used to be, and I imagine if you charted the decline in comics.. it began when you stopped telling self contained stories. In other words, sometimes you need a Conan rather than a Wheel of Time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Music Monday

Both of these tracks are used in the Film "Limitless". They lent the film a deep bluesy feel and helped balance out the more electronic sounding music that also was used in the film.

Howlin' For You - The Black Keys

Walking - Ash Grunwald

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Went to the Dollar theatre last night and saw Limitless. It stars Bradley Cooper, who I'm informed started out on Sex and the City. We won't hold that against him. He also played Jack Bourdain in the hilarious and as usual short lived "Kitchen Confidential" on Fox. I knew he could do comedy. I'd never really guessed him for much of an action guy.

This movie isn't really an action movie though. Its got plenty. It's got plenty of just about whatever you could want. It's even got Bradley cooper calling Robert DeNiro his bitch. Something I didn't think you could do and continue to eat solid food.

Basic premise of the film is that Bradley's character, a struggling writer who is impossibly disorganized hooks up with his ex-wifes brother the drug dealer. The dealer sees he's struggling, throws a new product his way. NZT. You know how normally you only use 20% of your brain at any one time? This lets you use it all, all the time, full throttle. This turns your moped into a ferrari. It's also addictive. And the DT's from it make you worse than you were before you started taking it.

He proceeds to turn a 1000$ into $8000 through stocks. But this isn't enough capital. He gets in with a loan shark. He gets 100grand. Turns it into 2.3 million in 10 days. All the while noticing he's being followed by a disturbing man trying to kill him. You see his meteoric rise to the top, and he never really comes down from it, apart from the lowest point when he's totally out of drugs and has to drink another NZT users blood to prevent the crash from leaving him at the mercy of the loan shark's goons.

If you haven't seen this, if you are the least bit disorganized, scatterbrained, what ever. I totally recommend you see it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I feel like I'm drowning.

In paperwork that is.

I'm trying to figure out how to pay for school. This isn't a quest for sympathy, as I'm sure everyone feels this way when they go through this.

I'm a non-traditional student, and I want to attend a school thats not in my state. So of course that makes me scum of the lowest kind. I also don't want to study nursing, science or mathematics.. so that makes it worse.

I could of course go to an In state school, but that would some what defeat the point, and I feel I'd be better served sawing my own leg off. Not that they are bad schools mind you. They just happen to be in Georgia. No matter how good their academic programs are, this makes them unacceptable. I could study one of those subjects, but again I know what would happen. I'd fail the classes and be in debt for the rest of my life.

If I'm to be in debt, I at least want to be in debt for something I enjoy learning about, and might conceivably enjoy having as a career. Though since my ideal career is " trust fund baby ".. and fate has already seen fit not to grant me that.. I will have to settle for a different option.

I find it amusing how, I get my FAFSA documents back, before I get my FAFSA PIN approved.. so I can't actually open the Documents to see what I'm qualified for as far as Federal assistance. I suppose thats government for you.

So, anyone else got any funding horror stories they want to share?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Trading.

I went yesterday down to my local Trade-A-Book store with two bag fulls of stuff. I mainly buy it at goodwill and Book sales.. even if I have no desire to read it.. and then take it and trade it in..

At a recent library sale, I'd attend on the last day, which is usually when they do the Fill a Bag for 5$ I'd lucked up and found a near complete run of Glen Cook's Black Company novels. I've already got them, so they went straight in the pile to trade. I very rarely keep books I've read that are "Non Genre". Stuff like "The Reader". It was a decent enough book, but I have no desire to read it again. Lots of Literary works are that way. I don't have much desire to do "Deep Reads" of them. I view them as stories and nothing more.. I don't go kicking over rocks I find just to see whats under them.

So usually these are sacrificed on the alter of barter, in exchange for expensive or rare paperbacks that most people wouldn't consider worth the paper they are printed on. It's how I got all my Kothar and Kyrik books..

I walked out with nearly 150$ in credit, one of Gardner Fox's Llarn books, a few nice Ballantine, Zebra and Berkley Fantasy's and some more books about the middle ages to fill in my library a bit more. Now I just have to make up my mind if I want to go back and blow my credit on the 3 volumes they've got from White Wolf's Eternal Champion series of Mike Moorcock Reprints.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No more "Nihilistic" fantasy.

Over the last several months there have been several minor blowups in the field of Fantasy. The biggest was probably Leo Grin's Big Hollywood article. It attracted a ton of attention, and because of Grin's political views that quickly became negative attention. By choosing to post that article where he did, he effectively has given those who are in favor of what he is against, the nuclear option. They can now shut down anyone who they feel even remotely agrees with Grin simply, and with that weapon. They've even sought to turn the two writers Grin specifically elevated against the article by pointing out how "Nihilistic" Tolkien and Howard are.

Though not quite as frustratingly overused as the phrases "Ad Hominem", "Godwin'd", etc. It fulfills the same goal of shutting down your opponents by making them look stupid or backwards or gasp, conservative. They are the Internets equivalent of killing their microphone or having security come and remove them from the premises.

Even just using the phrase "Nihilistic Fantasy" is enough to set people off now. It was never a very good description anyway. So far though no one's come up with anything better. I'm not up on epistemology and sociology and all that, so I won't even begin to try and do it. But I can notice certain similarities between the works that are the cause of the issues at hand. They can be called "Grim n' Gritty", "Nihilistic" among other things. They are diverse and various in their forms and from many many writers. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a deep rooted Post Modernist attitude. They are either intently relativistic (who is the reader/writer to decide what is right and wrong for these characters in these situations?) or Deconstructionist. Coyly playing with the traditional tropes of the genre. It's like putting the Gherkin Building up in London. Its an ingenious design for a building. but it can't measure up to the beauty of the buildings from the past. As a result, what should be viewed as a grand architectural achievement is viewed as an Eyesore.

That brings us to what those who support them seem to be forgetting another tenant of Post Modernism. Aesthetic relativism. Just as a lot of people today view Reubans Women as fat. Many today find the older styles of Fantasy stodgy. They enjoy the new books, they find in them parables for the modern "shades of grey world" they feel we all live in. And in their attempts to promote these books they enjoy them are ignoring my take, which is that I find them ugly and without value, I find their lack of a moral poles to be counter to basically everything I believe in. I find the very concept of "Shades of Grey" to be preposterous because they act as if it exists in a vacuum with no black and white poles to anchor it.

I think the idea of calling it Postmodernist Fantasy is probably the best way to view it. As a whole the Fantasy Genre does tend to look backwards and outwards rather than forwards and inwards, That's perhaps a flaw, perhaps not. Sometimes its good to look back at the big picture to see where you came from, it helps inform you as to where you should go next. Looking inwards and forwards just leads to you making up your mind what YOU want now. Its a self centered (not always a bad thing) way to look at the world. Instead of viewing yourself as one floating in the metaphoric sea of humanity, you are the lone island with the torrents raging around you. And in my experience, that is simply not accurate, and my experiences colour my view of these relativist fantasies and preclude the possibility of me enjoying them.