Friday, January 31, 2003

Y'know, sometimes you just want to put your brain on hold and watch a Big Dumb Fun movie. I just finished watching one just now called Reign of Fire.

As you may or may not know, the plot concerns slumbering, apparently invulnerable to everything dragons. Big ass dragons. In short time, they awake and destroy cities great and small, forcing humanity to reenact all those Mad Max films they used to watch on late night TV.

Everybody's too scared to fight back except unrecognizable Matthew McConaughey and his intrepid band of Army or Marines or some branch of the armed forces, who use high-tech equipment, helicopters, and so on to battle and slay the dragons. They have tracked the Big Kahuna beast to London, where they encounter a grizzled Christian Bale, who as a child was present at ground zero when the monsters awoke. He is the leader of a band of humans who are holed up in an ancient castle. He tells them not to try and go to London, the dragon will track back to where they came from and kill them all. Of course, Matthew doesn't listen, and everything goes downhill from there until a satisfying but oddly anticlimactic ending.

I can't help but be amazed at how much giant monster movies have changed since the days of Godzilla and Gorgo. Of course, the effects are a million times more advanced, but the basic way they're presented is so much more aggressive and intense. Many scenes in this film look like those Army recruitment TV commercials we've all seen. Of course, this is what audiences expect and demand these days, and that's fine with me, but I just couldn't help but notice.

Matthew McConaughey, never one of my favorite actors, is actually pretty darn good here, playing a character named Van Zan, supposedly from the Bluegrass State (or at least from a Kentucky battalion), shaven headed, chewing on a cigar butt like Sgt. Fury's great grandson, cut and buffed and walking like he's got a pipe stuck up his ass and speaking in the sort of accent that actors who don't know better think sounds like a Kentucky accent but isn't even close. Trust me, I know on that score. Still, in spite of what I just said, he's not bad, and is easily the most memorable character in the movie.

Not to go off on a tangent, but there's a scene in this film where Van Zan headbutts somebody in a free-for-all. Now, I have never really been in a fist fight, nor have I ever seen one where people do this. But in every film, it seems like, in which there is a brawl there is at least one instance of one combatant headbutting the other. What I'd like to know is does this really happen in real fistfights? And is it effective, or does one wind up doing as much damage to themselves as they do to their foe? This just occurred to me while I was watching.

I liked this film, even though it had ungodly big logic gaps. It reminded me a lot of those grand and glorious 1950's B movies of my youth that I used to watch on the Big Show all the time. They weren't Great Cinema by any stretch, and many were just stupid, but they were fun. And they had big monsters. And by God, sometimes you shouldn't ask for more.
Coming under the "I told you so" category is this new Beatles article, good news to everyone except perhaps those concerned about Phil Spector's reputation.

For what it's worth, I've always liked the job Phil did on Let It Be. The only song that suffered for his attentions was The Long and Winding Road, which is why Paulie always got his knickers in a twist about the album. Problem is, when Paul finally got around to doing LaWR on his own, at least twice counting live versions, it was even duller than the Spectorized version. Oh well. Paul, it's not a good song, mate. Face it.

Like the FBI...and the CIA...and the BBC...BB King...and Doris Day...Matt Busby. Dig it. Dig It. Dig it. Always wondered what the Fabs' version of "Hark the Angels Come" sounded like. One thing I'm looking forward to seeing when this comes out on DVD is the crazy extended "Dig It" that Lennon does in the film. It was wisely truncated for the album, but it's a hoot in the movie.

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Best of the Week



And now, what you've all been waiting breathlessly for...
COMICS REVIEWS
What I bought and what I thought, week of January 29, 2003


1. LEGION 16 Abnett and Lanning are certainly bending over backwards to make sure we get a good look at the new Timber Wolf they've presented us with. For the second straight issue we get TW in a scrap in which he shows what he's made of, this time throwing down with those villainous Legion mainstays, the Fatal Five. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I enjoyed this issue as much as I have any in the last year, despite the fact that it's pretty much a non-stop spandex slugfest...and we all know that I'm nine times out of ten bored to tears by spandex slugfests. Difference here has to be the great character interaction. In a slugfest issue. And that, boys and girls, is why I'm still hanging in there with this book. A

2. THE NEVERMEN: STREETS OF BLOOD 1 This is one genuinely weird comic book, which is why I like this and its miniseries predecessor so much. Ostensibly rooted in the real world, it is full of surreality, and features a grotesque cast of characters that, when set to action in the stories Phil Amara writes, have the feel of a half-remembered, hazy dream. Or maybe I should lay off smoking Opium. Anyway, gotta give a lot of credit to Guy Davis, whose game but often pedestrian work on Sandman Mystery Theatre I was hot and cold on (I always thought he drew all his women to look like Howard Cosell) but here he seems to be less reined in, and it works very well given the more fanciful nature of Nevermen as compared to SMT. Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to what happens next. A

3. THE TRUTH: RED, WHITE AND BLACK 3 Kyle Baker's art is still annoyingly indifferent and sloppy, but Robert Morales' story is growing on me to the point where I'm willing to overlook Baker's sloth. This has become a very compelling tale. A-

4. SHANG-CHI: MASTER OF KUNG FU 5 I wish I could be more excited about this nostalgic limited series, and I'm beginning to think I should have waited for the trade...I think it might read better collected. As with the previous issues, good, if overly Bond-influenced, script by Doug Moench and sometimes great art by Paul Gulacy, and a darn good read that I don't think I'll be tempted to repeat. Well, OK, maybe after issue 6 comes out. A-

5. GOTHAM CENTRAL 3 Solid issue, with an interesting story and Dave Mazzuchelli-like stylings by Michael Lark, whose normally fine inking line has been replaced with one that looks like it was done with a mop. I was mulling over dropping GC, but now I think I'll stay around. A-

6. X-STATIX 7 Mike Allred cranked it up a notch on this issue, I think, and as a result I was more interested than I have been for the last couple. I think I like Venus Dee Milo in her Madman-ish one piece red jumpsuit better, although wearing it makes her alias completely irrelevant. B+

7. THE FILTH 8 The level of sadism and unpleasantness this time out is much less than what we got last time, so that's a step in the right direction, and Chris Weston also bounces back a bit on art. Morrison's needlessly obtuse plot is actually beginning to make a little more sense on its own terms, like his great Flex Mentallo did, so there's hope of making heads or tails out of it before it's over. Or so I keep telling myself. B

8. GLOBAL FREQUENCY 4 Lackluster, sloppy art by one Roy A. Martinez, whose work I'm totally unfamilar with and am not inclined to research further, torpedoes another good script by Warren Ellis. It does no good to write one's trademark cynical, terse dialogue if the bodies it's coming out of look stiff and awkward and poorly proportioned. B-

9. JLA 77 Speaking of lackluster, here's another shrug-inducing fill in, not terrible as fill-ins go but not all that shibby either. Kelly, Mahnke & Nguyen, come home! C+
For those of you who might be contemplating taking in a motion picture tonight, and are thinking about seeing The Hours, here's Tequila Mockingbird's amusing review.
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Happy Bacardi Show Birthdays are in order for the delectable Portia de Rossi and the estimable Lloyd Cole, one of my favorite musicians and creator of one of my all time favorite albums, Don't Get Weird On Me, Babe.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

I had just finished watching Futurama on Adult Swim when an ad for Sealab 2021 came on and featured Captain Hazel "Hank" Murphy saying "It's like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain!"

After I stopped laughing hysterically I thought that maybe that would be a good replacement for the "Honi Soit" quote above.

Those Williams Street and 70/30 people are absolutely batshit.

Here's something else: it plays seven kinds of hell on my poor brain, seeing Home Movies on weeknights. It has been etched in my mind that Home Movies=Sunday nights at 9. Damn the Cartoon Network for messing with my sanity.

Lest I forget: Music today- Poi Dog Pondering, Beach Boys-Pet Sounds, Bjork-Post, and Miles Davis-In A Silent Way. Also, my friend and co worker Mike Cary loaned me a kick-ass sampler CD he made of various artists, too many to name.

Comics reviews tomorrow.

My personality is rated 26.
What is yours?



Your score is
26/50
what does that mean?

Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest...Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken.


Just took the personality test I found over at Da Goddess' place. Not a bad score, I suppose, all things considered!
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And now for a line or two about...
Jethro Tull's Minstrel In The Gallery!


Minstrel is otherwise known in many circles as The Last Good Tull Album. It was certainly the last gasp of the classic Tull sound, an odd mix of blues, jazz, rock, and Edward Lear with flutes. If you're totally unfamiliar with Jethro Tull (the band, not the inventor of the seed drill) then you should probably go here, then here. Theirs is a long and twisty story, and life is short. Probably the most relevant thing to know going in to MITG is that it was the follow-up to their successful WarChild album, which featured their biggest hit "Bungle In The Jungle", and was only the latest in a four year streak of best selling LPs and sold out concert tours. At the time of MITG's 1975 release, Tull was one of the biggest bands in the world. Hard to believe now, but it's true.

Of course, such a profile does not come without a down side. By '75, Tull received a lot of flak from music critics, who have always been snide and cynical when confronted with music and musicians who make them feel less clever than they feel themselves to be, and the perception was that Ian Anderson & co.'s increasingly opaque and metaphor-laden lyrics and complicated, involved arrangements were just too much to bear– and they were out for blood. Tull must be taken down a notch! How dare they be so clever! They seemed to say. After their back-to-back album length song suite efforts Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play the critical vitriol was so bad the Anderson declared that Tull was retiring in 1974 because he was tired of the constant sniping. Of course, he disavowed that statement many years later but he said it nonetheless. A sort of concilatory gesture was made when WarChild was released as a set of seperate songs, but it didn't help much. Next, after a best-of collection to recharge the batteries, was Minstrel, and Anderson was determined to have his turn.

Thematically, that's what MITG is. A defiant, cynical, hostile Anderson firing back at his critics and defending himself against his perceived persecution. The opening title track finds him roleplaying a bit in a spoken intro in which he is introduced to an audience which greets him with half hearted applause. He states his theme, which is this is what I feel, think, and do; and if you like it fine, if not, fuck off. Musically, it's a bit schizo. It begins with Anderson singing the main lyric accompanied only by his ubitiquous flute and acoustic guitar. When this ends, then lead guitarist Martin Barre jumps in with a nasty lick and the track lurches to life and continues with a propulsive cowbell. A fine opener, if a bit overlong at damn near eight minutes, and I think it was an FM radio hit here in the states.

Next is Cold Wind To Valhalla, with Ian singing a come-on to some lass, using Norse mythological imagery. It's breezy and fast paced, and has a nice middle section with a slightly out of tune guitar solo playing against singing strings. Black Satin Dancer is next, another lyrical love song, but it comes across as a bit of a Frankenstein construction with multiple passages stitched together to form a somewhat less than beguiling whole. Still, there's another nice middle section which features a glockenspiel playing a music-box tune as heavy guitars and ponderous strings sneak up behind. Track four, Requiem, is probably the least successful offering. It's just Ian and guitar, playing a tuneless melody and singing slice-of-life lyrics, quite straightforward but also unfortunately quite dull.

However, the next series of songs is much, much better...it's a suite of sorts, featuring a number of seperate tunes again, in the spirit of his Passion Play and Thick As A Brick albums but, unlike the earlier Black Satin Dancer, the stitching is much more seamless. Starting with One White Duck/0 tenth power=Nothing At All(sort of an acoustic intro although not really part of the upcoming suite) then segueing into short pieces with great titles likeBaker Street Muse, Pig-Me and the Whore, Crash Barrier Waltzer, and Mother England Reverie before reprising Baker St. Muse at the end, this is pretty much where Anderson stands his ground and flips off his detractors. The lyrics on tracks 5-7 are quite convoluted and metaphor-heavy, and I'm sure they mean much more to him than they do to the casual listener, but his intent is quite clear from lines like "Something must be wrong with me and my brain/ If I'm so patently unrewarding/ But my dreams are for dreaming and best left that way/ And my zero to your power of ten equals/ Nothing at all". Musically, tracks 5-7 run the gamut and almost form a retrospective of Tull music to that point. The Baker St. Muse reprise builds up a nice head of steam until it comes crashing to an end in a wash of strings and guitar, and ends with Anderson, all alone, humming "I'm just a Baker St. Muse" to himself as he puts away his instrument and walks to the studio door, whereupon he realizes that it's locked and exclaims to himself "I can't get out!"...a clever ending and one which shows that Anderson had not completely lost his sense of humor. A brief acoustic tune, Grace, so inconsequential as to almost not be there, finishes the album on a quiet, and odd, note.

So while some of the musical arrangements plod when they should drive, and more often as not I have no idea what the heck Anderson is going on about, I think this period of Tull and this album (and the excellent A Passion Play, which is a whole 'nother blog page) in particular represents some outstanding musicmaking of the type that rarely comes along these days, and may have been perhaps the last gasp of Anderson's real creativity-but hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes Anderson could be heavy-handed and oblique, but when he was on (1970-75) he had a unique and distinctive songwriting voice, and in my book that shouldn't be ignored. After this, the pickings got slimmer...Tull released the dull and conventional concept album "Too Old To Rock 'n Roll, Too Young To Die" in 1976 which was a huge disappointment aesthetically if not sales-wise, tried to retreat into folk again the next year with "Songs From The Wood", a super-slick and overproduced folkish record, and endured several personnel changes in subsequent years, sliding into irrelevance in direct proportion to the production gloss of each subsequent release. Jethro Tull is these days a forgotten musical entity, usually made fun of and lumped in with the Totos and Bostons when they're remembered at all, except by those who are die hard fans and those, like me, who fondly remember when...
A question! Teresa over at In Sequence asks, "What decade was I born in".

I can easily answer that one. I was born at the very onset of the 1960's, exactly 16 days into the new decade.

Now I'm wondering...why do you ask?

Anybody else?

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Decided to play the "This or That" game over at This-or-That Tuesday. Better late than never, I always say.

January 28, 2002: Same Thing, Different Names

1. Kleenex or tissue? Kleenex
2. Soda or pop (or tonic or whatever)? Usually any kind of soda pop is referred to around here as a "Coke", and I'm afraid I'm in that habit too. I drink gallons of Mountain Dew, and usually try not to refer to it as "Coke".
3. A sandwich on a long roll: sub or hero (or hoagie or grinder, etc)? sub
4. Glasses or spectacles? glasses
5. TV or television (or boob-tube, or telly, for our friends across the pond)? TV
6. Movie or film? movie
7. Sofa or couch? couch, sofa occasionally when referring to the shorter of our living room furniture
8. Stove or range? stove
9. Remote control or clicker? remote control, usually shortened to "remote"


That's it! I'll try this again next Tuesday.
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Got some exciting news today...well, exciting to me anyway.

One of my favorite bands, when I was a teenager in the late 70s, was the Strawbs. Strawbs was a British folk-rock outfit which, around 1972 or so, grew some pretentions and kinda got lumped in with all the Progressive Rock groups like King Crimson, ELP, and their soulmates Jethro Tull. Heck, Yes's keyboardist, Rick Wakeman, was a member of the Strawbs for a couple of years. I didn't know much about them before my attention was caught by the cover of their 1975 album Ghosts. I bought it, took it home, and was utterly captivated. I spent the next five years buying their prior and current catalogue, but I never got the chance to see them perform live. Years later, I still try to keep up with the comings and goings of the members of the group, mostly by virtue of subscribing to the Strawbs Newsletter from their official site.

I got a mailing today which updated their 2003 tour information, and for the first time in what I'd bet is a decade they're playing American dates! And one is May 19 in Lexington, KY for a television show, taped before a live audience! For 5, that's right, 5 dollars! I am so there. The band is sort of a amalgam of members from its various incarnations throughout the years, but as long as leader Dave Cousins is there, then it will be worth the drive for me.

Music today: Jethro Tull-Minstrel In The Gallery, The Cult-Electric, and Van Morrison-St. Dominic's Preview.
Seems like I've fallen into a pattern when it comes to my comics buying habits. All the titles I collect are lumped into a two week period, and there are two weeks when I only get three or four. So as you might have guessed, today was one of the heavy weeks. I got:

The Truth: Red White and Black 3
X-Statix 7
Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu 5
The Nevermen: Streets of Blood 1
Legion 16
JLA 77
Global Frequency 4
Gotham Central 3


I'll write about 'em after I've read 'em, which should be tomorrow sometime. In case you were wondering.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

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Some poor sod has shown up on my Sitemeter looking for nude pictures of Mary Hopkin. Somehow, I think his quest was in vain because the demure 60s Welsh chanteuse just didn't seem to be the type, at least to me. Aw, who knows, she may have been the most experienced dominatrix in all of Swingin' London for all I know, but I kinda doubt it. Anywho, out of curiosity I clicked on his Google search link and found this great site: SwinginChicks.com, a site devoted to, you guessed it, all the lovely birds of the 60s. Smashing, baby. All seriousness aside, it does look like some fun reading.

And just between you and me-Mary's "Earth Song/Ocean Song" is an excellent album.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Here's something interesting I found at GoodShit: The Weblogs Compendium. A listing of various tools which may be of some use to those of us who practice this blogging lifestyle. I'm always finding interesting stuff over at GoodShit. That site kicks booty.



Heh. I noticed that I had originally typed "interesting stiff". That, boys and girls, is what's known as a Freudian slip.
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Back in 1983, DC released a comic series that was, quite frankly, unlike anything I'd ever read before and captivated me completely with its fascinating cast of characters and its experimental storytelling style. Its name was Thriller, and it lasted 12 issues before it died a year later. The first seven were done by its creators, Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden, but unfortunately they weren't able to sustain their collaboration and both were gone by issue nine. The reasons for the fiasco that the book became are numerous, and for years I wondered exactly what had happened. In those pre-internet days, access to the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the major comics companies was very limited. "Creative differences" was the only answer we were given, and for almost twenty years that had to suffice.

Years later, when I became aware of the Internet and all the various venues available to write, spotlight and discuss comics, I got the germ of an idea: since there was little or no mention of Thriller the comic series on the Web, then it would be up to me to create a site. And in 2001, I finally found a software program that I could use to do so, called Freeway. I didn't know how to write HTML code (still don't, even though I've learned a LOT from maintaining this blog page), but it worked a lot like QuarkXPress, which I am intimately familiar with. So I set to work, but I knew that if I was to do this right then I would have to try to speak to the creators themselves, Fleming and Von Eeden. Maybe then I would at least find out why they had stopped working on the book. I managed to track down Fleming through the comics store at which he shops, and he was gracious enough to phone me on several occassions and spend a lot of time discussing his brainchild with me. Von Eeden took a little more time, but through a couple of channels including Comic Book Artist magazine editor Jon B. Cooke I was finally able to send him a letter, telling him of my by-then published site and inviting him to check it out and comment. After a few months had gone by, I had pretty much resigned myself to never hearing from him; but then my patience was rewarded when he called me at home and informed me that not only had he received my letter, but he intended to write a critique of every issue he had worked on...and invited me to call him back and discuss it when I had read it! Of course, he's a busy man, and it has taken him a couple of more months to get it finished-he has even phoned me a few more times in the meantime to apologize for the delay! I finally received it today, and I'm utterly amazed and somewhat speechless...the man has taken the time from his busy schedule to not only write a 12 page, hand written (on both sides!) critique/commentary, but has sent me several pages of copies of his recent work. And in response to a joking suggestion of mine that he could do a couple of doodles in the margin, a blatant attempt to get some original art, he sent along what you see above- an 8 1/2 x 11 original pencilled and inked drawing of the main cast of characters. Like I said, I'm completely flabbergasted and feeling a bit like Wayne and Garth- "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!"

I haven't heard his response to what I've written on my site as of yet; I'm hoping that many of the statements I made, based on assumptions from the information I did have aren't so far off base that he takes offense. I don't think I crossed too many lines...guess we'll see. I also have a feeling I might have to go back and re-do a few commentaries, now that I have some more info. *Sigh*. Anyway, it's been an exciting last couple of hours as I've read the letter, and I wanted to pass along a little of it to all of you.
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JLA inker Tom Nguyen has been sending those of us who requested to be placed on a mailing list scans of some of his illustrations that he's been doing on the side. Featured above is a sweet Zatanna piece he sent a while back. At first, he launched a web page, but apparently he's been having trouble with it because now he has created a Yahoo! group, which he told all of us on the list about over the weekend. So if you're interested in his work, go here.
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The Happy Bacardi Show B-day this morning goes out to sweet l'il ol' Bridget Fonda, who has a smile that makes me feel all weird inside.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

New Bill Nelson diary entry up on the Permanent Flame site. Seems Bill was lined up to have some of his music appear in a trailer for the upcoming Hulk film, but it fell through at the last minute. I'm surprised that there isn't more interest in having Nelson write music for films; one would think that idea would be a no brainer given the nature of his work.
Well, when I miss one, I miss one.

I thought Oakland's experience would offset Tampa's fierce defense somewhat, at least to where they would be able to keep their defense off the field, but it didn't work out that way. Oakland's soft D wasn't up to the task. And geez, whoever designed the Raiders' pass happy offensive scheme should be sat down and given a strong talking-to. Sure, they've been doing fine ignoring the run, but it was only a matter of time before they ran into someone that they couldn't pass on, and you can bet your ass that teams will prepare for the one-sided Oakland attack next year. There was also some bonehead clock management, and some really inopportune penalties...there's no one reason why Tampa laid the wood on them so convincingly.

But you know what? Sure I missed my prediction, but that's OK. I like Tampa just fine. Mike Alstott has always been a favorite player of mine. I even own an Alstott Tampa Bay jersey, which I guess I'll wear tomorrow because you have got to hand it to the Bucs. They came out and meant business from the beginning. Representin' the NFC South!

And on a side note, I think whoever designed Shania Twain's sci-fi boobie harness should get a vote or two for MVP. I bet it took power tools to get her out of it!

I also have a confession to make...after it became 34-3, I flipped over to Comedy Central and watched a pretty good chunk of High Fidelity, with John Cusack and Jack Black. Pretty damn good flick, if you ask me. And yes, I know about the book.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

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I got an unexpected cash birthday gift from the In-laws the other day, so I went out and bought the new DVD release of A Hard Day's Night.

The film has lost none of its manic energy and charm in this spiffed-up reissue. The Boys are there, in all their moptopped glory, little suspecting what lay ahead just a few short years later. The picture quality is crisp and clean, and looks nice. And the bonus features are manna from heaven for Beatles fans. Although the surviving Fabs didn't participate, they interview just about anybody else they could find that was part of the making of the movie, from the Beatles' tailor's son to Sir George Martin himself. I especially enjoyed the interviews with Klaus Voormann, longtime Beatle friend and John & Ringo's bassist on their best solo albums as well as an excellent illustrator and designer. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the actor that played the TV choreographer was none other than one Lionel Blair, who also played Harry Charms in Absolute Beginners!

But (like Pee-Wee Herman said in Big Adventure, "Everyone I know has a big but")...the sound is not so wonderful. Apparently someone decided it would be a good idea to lift the songs from the film's actual mono sound mix, remaster and punch them up, making them louder than the rest of the film's soundtrack. A minor quibble in the grander scheme of things, but it's very distracting. Between this and the atrocious remaster of John Lennon's solo album Mind Games, 2002 was just not a very good year for Beatles remixes.

Still, it's a very nice package, all things considered, and I'm happy happy happy to have it in my posession. I read somewhere where Let It Be will receive this treatment soon. While I have my concerns about the mix, and can't really say that I enjoyed the movie all that much, I'll still be looking forward to seeing it.
Johnny B's Fearless Football Predictions
current record: 7-3

Buccaneers vs. Raiders This is going to be a tough call. I like both teams, actually. When it comes right down to it, though, I don't think the Bucs have an answer for the WR trio of Rice, Brown and Porter, especially when the seasoned vet Rich Gannon is throwing to them. The Bucs defense is indeed awesome, but I feel that experience will make the difference. The Bucs will be able to move the ball on Oakland's soft defense, but I don't think they'll be able to outscore the Raiders' offense. My call: Raiders 20, Bucs 13.
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Just finished watching Signs, the most recent effort from Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan. It concerns, as you may know, a recently widowed father of two (Mel Gibson) who lives on a Pennsylvania farm with his younger brother, and how they cope with their grief against the backdrop of what appears to be an alien invasion of Earth.

Shymalan works so hard at creating a feeling of unease and oppressive dread that it often makes his movie somewhat tedious...all the characters go around in a poker-faced daze, as if they were on Lithium. Even the infrequent humorous asides by an unusually restrained Gibson fall flat because of their deadpan delivery. The film is even shot in a dark and murky fashion, and not even in broad daylight is it truly bright. The whole alien invasion angle, in retrospect, is one which I wish he had gone in a different direction with...I think the movie would have been better off without it. There's a lot more suspense in the scene towards the end with an asthmatic child than in the earlier "alien in the pantry" episode. That being said, the film does create and sustain the mood Shyamalan desires, until the last 10 minutes or so which are straight out of a 1950s B-movie...Shyamalan obviously wishes to emulate Hitchcock, even to the point of making an effective cameo appearance, and that's a worthy ambition, but he should remember that the Master also had a sense of humor and a desire to entertain, and that's something Shyamalan lacks.

So like his Sophomore effort Unbreakable, Signs is a for the most part well done and often gripping film which I couldn't help but find fault with and wish it could have been better. I recommend it with reservations, and I think it will be interesting to see what he does next.

Now, if they had ended it with the Five Man Electrical Band singing their song which shares a title with this film, then that would have been something...!

Friday, January 24, 2003

Haven't taken one of those test type things for a while, so when I came upon the Wild Monk's Iraqi War Personality test while reading Gambling Gringo, I couldn't resist. Go see what you score.

For what it's worth, my overall score was 53, which placed me firmly in the center-Right category. I've never been one to be associated with the Right before, so I'm mildly surprised. On the rationality scale of 0 to 10, with totally irrational at 0, I scored a 9. That's nice to know.
COMICS REVIEWS

what I bought and what I thought, January 22, 2003



1. MUTANT, TEXAS: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERIFF IDA RED 4 Satisfying conclusion to a mostly fun miniseries. Jason Bone and Paul Dini make a heck of a good team. Some enterprising studio animation head should option this ASAP. A

2. DAREDEVIL 42 I guess this really is coming out weekly! While Bendis gets the most attention for his work on Powers and Ultimate Spider-Man, to me here's where he is doing his best work. Despite his annoying Wolverine-ish rendition of the Owl, (Owl-verine. Hee.) Alex Maleev turns in another outstanding art job. Somebody pass him a few copies of some Owl appearances by Gene Colan! A-

3. Y: THE LAST MAN 7 How the heck did this make top three? Can't really say, guess it just grabbed me more than it usually does, or maybe the rest of the stack wasn't all that great. But here it is just the same. B+

4. SLEEPER 1 Given Brubaker's somnambulent Catwoman work, let's hope this title doesn't turn out to be prophetic. The main highlight of this, which presupposes familiarity with the rank-and-file Wildstorm line of comics, particularly Gen13 and W.I.L.D.Cats (books I haven't picked up regularly since, oh, 1997), is the always excellent Sean Phillips art. The script is OK, but I think it's gonna take a few issues to grow on me and my patience is pretty thin these days. B

5. CATWOMAN 15 Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart's approach is so low key and deliberate that they can present shenanigans not seen in mainstream comics since the EC days (eyeball eating! Ye Gods!) and make them pedestrian. Stewart's art, so impressive early, has become as dull as his predecessor Doug Rader's was. A nice online illustration portfolio does not a first rate storyteller make, apparently. Looks like when Darwyn Cooke left, he took the magic with him. B-
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A happy Bacardi Show Birthday to that Great American Songwriter, Warren Zevon. And here's hoping for many more.


Coming later- new comics reviews, football predictions, and more stuff. Just have had absolutely no time to sit down and collect my thoughts lately. Plus, I'm getting ready to watch Signs.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

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Another great cartoonist has passed on: Bill Mauldin.
From that mighty playa Chris Tabor comes this amusing story from the Drudge Report.

He just sends me this stuff 'cause he knows I'll mention his name.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Last night's Buffy was a bit anticlimactic after the big UberVamp battle in the last episode. Still, it was watchable– just not all that exciting.

Except as a hook to hang an show on, I fail to see the need to introduce yet another new Slayer, especially one that's as annoying as the new girl last night. If Dawn's not gonna be the next Slayer, which kinda makes me wonder what the spinoff show's gonna be about if not that, then this makes an already pointless character even more pointless.

I did like Xander's little speech at the end. Kinda touching, and makes me wonder where the time has gone since the first BTVS episode aired. The scenes in the demon bar were fun, and Andrew was funny in his whiny way. So last night's show wasn't a disaster, but they better pick up the pace soon or they'll lose whatever momentum they had going for them towards this season's finale...
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I'm feeling a Frank Zappa mood coming on. I own several FZ albums, but I don't listen to them regularly, not like I do the Beatles or some other musicians. But when I get in the throes of Zappa fever, I listen to his stuff for days.

It's funny. There are times when I can listen to an album often over the course of the years, and without warning a track just jumps out at me, and I love it. Almost like I've never heard it before. That track is "The Orange County Lumber Truck" from FZ's Weasels Ripped My Flesh LP. It's a bluesy/rockish instrumental with a great Zappa solo and a clever arrangement, and it's pushing all the right buttons in my head right now. Readers with long memories may recall me writing about listening to the album the other day. OCLT has led me to dig out some of my other faves, like Hot Rats with the sublime "Peaches En Regalia" and most of disc one of Uncle Meat. Sadly, I can't listen to the majority of my Zappa albums like Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Apostrophe, Waka/Jawaka (I wish someone had set me down when I was a high school band trumpeter and made me listen to this one) and One Size Fits All since they're on vinyl and (as my longtime readers may once again recall) my turntable's still in the shop.

I love Peaches En Regalia. It's one of my all time favorite pieces of music by any composer. Can't say why exactly...it's just a wonderful, witty, mock-pompous little instrumental that makes me feel good when I hear it. I once suggested to my Senior classmates (as in High School classmates, not senior citizens, smart arse) that we use it as a graduation processional. The puzzled / disgusted looks I got were worth it. A while back I picked up a late Nineties compilation of some of Zappa's instrumental compositions, called Strictly Genteel, and I listen to it often. While it omits much (no Orange County, for example) it's still a very diverse collection.

Unfortunately, not a lot of post-1976 Zappa music interests me. After he left the auspices of the Bros. Warner, his music became slick and crass and without pretension, still well played and arranged but full of dumbass fratboy humor and Zappa's predilection to mock and ridicule those who he perceived as being less worthy somehow than he. Guess he did what he had to do to keep the money flowing. Lather had its moments, as did Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (you remember, the one with "Valley Girl"), I suppose. Eventually, towards the end of his life, he abandoned guitar and rediscovered his muse a bit but the music he did, say post 1990 is still not all that interesting to me. That doesn't change, in my mind, the excellent stuff he did for about a ten year period, and I'll always regard him as one of the greats. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go put in Chunga's Revenge. Maybe something will jump out at me again. Look out!

Oh yeah-recommended reading in the Zappa vein- "The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play" by Ben Watson. It's a great dissertation of all of FZ's albums, in a scholarly but not dry manner.
We've had pretty mild winters here in South Central Kentucky the last couple of years, so I guess now the other shoe is dropping, so to speak, along with the temperatures. Not only is it snowing like crazy right now, but the forecasters are calling for single digit temps for the next couple of evenings, and highs in the teens. Now, I've never been a real winter hater; my chief gripe is having to drive long distances to my job. I don't like Interstate travel when the roads are iced over, and the two lane highways I can take as an alternative aren't much better, usually. There's just something about risking my life to earn an already spent buck that I just can't get into. I know, I know, cry me a river and be glad you don't live in Maine or Alaska. Funny thing is, a while back, I kinda wanted to travel to Alaska, just to see what it was like. I was in a bit of an anti-social mood, as I am wont to be, and the fact that there are less people per capita in our Northern neighbor was really appealing to me. I think this winter has brought me to my senses. I used to have a little Viking in me, or so I thought, but these days the cold just cuts me to the bone. Guess it's all part of getting older. Right now, the idea of opening a printing shop in Hawaii sounds good. How many can there be?

But enough about me. What do you think about me? (I think that's a Bette Midler line, but I'm not sure...)

I'm just in one of those moods, I guess. There are lots of things I should probably be writing about, but I can't get my head wrapped around any of them, so I'm reduced to grousing about the weather. At this rate I may have to hit the ol' Topics Blog. Yeah, JB, that's gonna make the old Sitemeter skyrocket. While I'm bitching, here's something else– I left the comics I bought today in my office at work. Except for Sleeper 1, which I went back for after I got off this evening. Apparently I hadn't added it to my holds, and there were no copies on the rack but the super sweet Megan found the rack copies and put one back for me. Thanks, Megan.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Just in case anyone cares, here's what it appears I'll be buying tomorrow at the ol' comics shop, at least according to Diamond's Online Shipping List:


Mutant, Texas: Tales Of Sheriff Ida Red #4
Catwoman #15
Daredevil #42
Y: The Last Man #7

That's it! Well, I might have signed up for WIldstorm's Sleeper, by Brubaker and Sean Phillips, but I forget. We'll see tomorrow. Looks like another thankfully light week...better enjoy it while I can. Next week looks like I'll be getting 10 books– but you can't ever go by Diamond's shipping list until Monday afternoon.
For more on the great Al Hirschfeld, go here. I think I ran across this site while I was looking for the Beatle pieces featured below, but forgot about it until I saw the link at the amazing GoodShit. Never let it be said I didn't give credit where credit was due.

From the "Nobody Really Gives a Flying F*ck Except Marvel's Accountants" desk comes this little piece of legal shenanigans.



That's all I can do for now. Hopefully more later.

Monday, January 20, 2003

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Yesterday...and Today.


Whilst looking nervously over my shoulder, reading Yahoo news, I just saw where the great cartoonist Al Hirschfeld has died. I always loved seeing his work in a multitude of places, and it's sad there will be no more. He was the master of the pen and brush line, and a witty caricacturist.

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Saturday, January 18, 2003

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Man, I love Renee Zellweger. What a great picture. I really want to see this movie! Problem is, it's not playing within 100 miles of where I live. Patience, patience...did I mention that I absolutely love Renee Zellweger?
Bad news on the Firefly front. Seems just about every major TV network has passed on giving the show a new home, citing the cost of filming the series, the timing, and many other unfortunately valid reasons. Me, I wish that HBO or Showtime would pick it up. But it ain't looking good, boys and girls. Article here.
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Here's another neato-keeno old Bob Hope cover featuring Super-Hip. Number one hundred. I actually used to have this issue, but I don't remember much about it. I seem to recall Bob's dog Harvard-Harvard talking to then-President Lyndon Johnson, but I'm not sure.

Stole this scan from an eBay auction. I passed because it just looked a *little* more beat up than I'd like. Beggars shouldn't be choosers, though, should they?
Johnny B's Fearless Football Predictions
current record: 5-3

Buccaneers at Eagles In this battle of fierce defenses, don't expect much in the way of scoring. That being said, I like Tampa's chances of scoring on Philly more than I like Philly's chances of scoring on Tampa. Two key players for both teams: of course, Donovan McNabb (and perhaps the inconsistent James Thrash) and for the Bucs: Mike Alstott. Alstott must be able to help the Bucs control the clock and keep the ball out of McNabb's hands, 'cause he's too versatile and resourceful to stifle for long. I know all about Tampa's cold weather history, and I remember that Philly dispatched the Bucs earlier this season. I'm just going on instinct, and it tells me that Tampa won't go 0-4 in playoff championship games. Buccaneers, 16-13. Sorry, Theresa.

Titans and Raiders. I have come to respect the Titans a bit more this year, because of their impressive turnaround on defense and despite their propensity for flukey wins. McNair is a formidable foe, healthy or not– but I like the experience of the Raiders and the triumverate of Gannon, Rice and Brown. Raiders, 27-20.
There's a great discussion about the nature of autobiographical comics vs. comics that tell biographical stories with fictional characters over at DC Comics Message Boards' normally moribund 100% message board, involving Paul Pope as well as a couple of well-spoken 100% m.b. regulars. Tell 'em Stately Wayne sent ya if you choose to comment!
In observance of the spirit, if not the letter, of the anti-war protesting going on today here's a link to an amusing site named Masturbate For Peace. Give Peace a Chance, indeed.
Whilst looking at the ol' Sitetracker this morning, I saw where someone had done a Google search for Johnny Bacardi! My fame is spreading far and wide. I'm really a little nonplussed by that...it makes me proud in a weird sort of way. Welcome, O Google searcher. Hope you found what you were looking for, and hope you found enough to want to return!

One of the things I like to do, when I can, is surf around on the pay cable channels late at night in hope of catching some obscure gem of a movie that blows me away. In the past, films like Freeway, Hijacking Hollywood, Orgazmo, and several others have made my late nights a bit more enjoyable. Last night, I started out watching A Beautiful Mind, but then noticed where a movie named Comic Book Villians was coming on about an hour later. Mind comes on a few more times this month, so I decided to check out CBV. How could I resist with a title like that? It seems like I remember hearing about it before, but I had forgotten about it by last night...

The basic storyline is about two competing comics shops, one a dingy dump operated by a greasy, stereotypical Comic Book Guy named Raymond and another, across town, that's clean and nice and operated by a husband-and-wife team that knows nothing about comics. They even sell, in their shop, horror of horrors...stickers and Magic cards. The "fun" begins when this fellow who shops at both stores comes in and tells them both about a old lady in town whose son just died...and left behind a mother lode of a comics collection from the Golden Age to today. The husband and wife team see this as a way that they could make a fortune, afford to have a baby, buy a new house, and all that, while Raymond wants it for the glory owning it would bring (not to mention the cash from a few good books he'd sell). Problem is, the lady doesn't want to sell them under any circumstances. Their attempts to coerce her to give up the book make up the bulk of the movie, until things turn ugly at the end. Kinda reminded me of a particularly nasty episode of the Eltingville Club, it did.

Villians is quite a schizo movie. Not so much about comics as it is about dysfunctional people, it begins as a lightweight, humorous film populated by the requisite number of freaks and geeks that comes to mind when thinking about comics and comic collectors. Then about three-quarters of the way through it goes all Heathers on us and becomes a violent black comedy before it's done. The shift in tones is jarring, and while I did chuckle in places, I wish that it hadn't gone that way. There is a satisfying subplot going on about a young, nerdy fellow who is loyal to Raymond but is having second thoughts about continuing in the collecting lifestyle. He eventually befriends the old woman, and without giving too much away, gets a great reward at the end for doing the right thing.

After all is said and done, I enjoyed CBV, but I had a lot of reservations about it.It's well acted, and has a quirky cast that includes Donal Logue as Raymond (you may remember him as MTV's Jimmy the Cab Driver), American Pie's Natasha Lyonne, and Cary Elwes, in a role that's unusual for him. It goes without saying that it perpetuates most of the stereotypes about comic collectors. I don't know, these may be true. I don't shop at comics stores in large cities; I can't afford to travel to the major conventions. In my insular collecting experience, most of the people I have known that collect are pretty much well adjusted human beings (as well adjusted as one can be these days), with "real" jobs, mortgages, wives, girlfriends, families and so on. This certainly applies to me. I know it's easy visual shorthand to visualize comic book collectors as skinny/fat, sweaty, nerdy misfits, living in their Mother's basement, but it still bugs me to see this presented as the norm. In the film CBV, only two characters escape the stereotype; one's a bit of a snake in the grass and the other is a homicidal maniac. So, like the watchable but disappointing Unbreakable, don't expect to see the comics world portrayed in a real positive light. But unlike Unbreakable, it actually goes to the trouble to use real comics in its shops and real comic panels in its opening credits. It doesn't try to pass off some unknown hack for real comic art.

One reason for its authenticity, I suppose is that the whole thing was written and directed by James Robinson, most notably writer of the remarkable DC book Starman. Of course, the movie's dialogue doesn't sound like Robinson's often odd comic book dialogue, and that's a little surprising, but then again, who knows how many hands it went through before filming. Still, it's a not bad directorial debut for the guy, and I hope he gets to make more eventually. Just with a more consistent tone, fer Chrissakes.

Friday, January 17, 2003

I don't know if any of you watched that somewhat overblown and cheesy but still entertaining Disco Ball TV special last night, but I do know one thing: even after all these years, KC and the Sunshine Band rocks the house. I kid you not. I just wanted to say.
Added a new, more snazzy looking weather button at bottom right, which I found at Easy Bake Coven. I was also proud and honored to be added to her blogroll, even though the only comment I've left so far was one calling her on a nitpicky Captain Beefheart mistake . Go and check out her site! Now!

We had about 3 inches of snow around here yesterday, by the way. The state road crews were actually on the ball for once, so I didn't have too much trouble getting to and from work. They're calling for more next week. Can life get any better? :(
It's a Lot Less Johnny Bacardi Than a Hover.
Bring out the Johnny Bacardi!
Dude, You're Getting a Johnny Bacardi!
Pure Johnny Bacardi.
Life Should Taste As Good As Johnny Bacardi.
Doing It Right Before Your Johnny Bacardi.

My favorite: You've Got Questions. We've Got Johnny Bacardi.

Just a few of the side-splitting results I got when I entered my nom de plume at the Advertising Slogan Generator, which I found links to on several blogs of note. Now I get to join in the Slogan madness.

What's a "Hover"?
Hey there hi there ho there.

Thanks again to everyone for all the nice birthday wishes. Kinda gets an old man...choked...up...*deep breath* I don't usually make a big deal about my birthday, especially the older I get, but everyone, in "real life" as well as the Blogosphere has been wonderful. One of the nicest gifts I got was a big wind chime. I kinda like wind chimes, and we haven't had any for a long time.

Ever get in one of those ruts where you have a hard time thinking about stuff to write? That's what I've been going through lately. Plus, they're clamping down on our internet usage a bit at work so that reduces the opportunity for spur-of-the-moment rambling. We're just in a really busy period right now, hopefully things will become more relaxed later on. Hopefully. So if I'm not exactly being prolific around here, please bear with me and check back from time to time...

While reading Pulse (see link at right), I found a story about the latest from Andi Watson, a collection of his previously published Geisha stories. I already have them, so I won't be buying, but if you haven't read them, this is an outstanding opportunity to do so. I really like Watson's clean, expressionistic art style and I envy his brush line very much. If you've ever tried inking your pencils with a brush then you know exactly what I mean.

Read the column by Steven Grant over at Comic Book Resources (again, link at right) a while ago. I haven't been checking it out faithfully, especially lately, but it's always a good read when I do and if you care about comics/TV/misc then you should give it a look when you're in the mood to read something new.

I've been reading a real book lately, too–I'm about halfway through Stan Cornyn's Exploding-The Highs, Hits, Hype...etc" (It's a long title). Cornyn, a former exec from the beginning of the Warner Bros. Records label, writes a wry history of not only the Warner Records company, but also its satellites Atlantic, Elektra, Asylum, and Reprise...much of the details of the mergers, acquisitions, sales records, and so on can be pretty dull, but Cornyn has a dry, witty style which makes it much easier. And many of the characters involved, both executives and artists alike, are brought to life in often humorous fashion. I've always had a fascination for the Warner/Reprise product, especially from the late 60s–early 70s, and there was a lot of behind the scenes stuff thatI was completely unaware of till now. And maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, but Cornyn's book is very entertaining.

On a related note, back in the early 70s, Warners/Reprise put out a trade publication called "Circular", which never came out on newstands but was distributed to record stores, rock magazine publishers, and others of that ilk...man, I'd love to get my hands on some of those. I can't find them on eBay, and web searches turn up nothing. I know they exist out there somewhere...! Anybody ever seen one?

Music today: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention-Weasels Ripped My Flesh(one of my all time fave album covers, the music within less so), Adrian Belew-Young Lions, Wilco-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Nick Drake-Five Leaves Left.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

While munching on birthday cake, here are

COMICS REVIEWS!

what I bought and what I thought January 15,2003


1. LUCIFER 34: I can imagine Mike Carey's plot outlines looking like family trees; it seems that for every character he's inherited or created, he's formulated a half dozen possible stories for them. This, boys and girls, is the hallmark of a great writer...and I honestly don't think anyone's doing it better anywhere right now, and that includes Alan Moore. Gross and Kelly also turn in an outstanding art job this time around. One thing I'm a little puzzled by is the alias that the new Solomon character took for himself: Douid. I don't get it. Anybody? A

2. ULTIMATES 8: Half Matrix inspired action story, half "let's hold up and see where we are character-wise" story. Superbly drawn as always. Here, as in Hawkman, I have my difficulties accepting a character shooting another with an arrow that accurately at very close range. But I'm not a bowman, so what do I know? A

3. STRANGERS IN PARADISE 55: Moore continues to dangle that decade-old carrot of "will they or won't they" in front of my nose, and despite my misgivings and my irritation at his pretensions (thankfully kept to a minimum this time out) I continue to trot along. However, just like with X-Files, I'm beginning to cease to care...and I'm really getting that restless feeling. B+
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And now for that Very Special Bacardi Show birthday greeting that you've all been waiting for. Happy Birthday...Sade!


Aw, OK. Some of you have guessed it anyway, thanks to that I Wish, You Wish thing. It's my birthday. I'm 43 going on 80 today. Happy Birthday to me. Wooo! Now I gotta get back to work.

And thanks very much to those who have wished me a happy b-day so far!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I'm still a bit new to this adding banners with links stuff. I've added the Cavort button at right, which I found over at da Goddess' site, and I've also joined up with BookCrossing, which I found over at Gambling Gringo's place. Whether or not I add a ton of books to my page is still up in the air, but you could go, join, and participate to your heart's content. Hope they work correctly.

Weather forecast for tomorrow is anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow, depending on where you get your info. Joy. I like snow OK, but I don't like to drive 35 miles on the Interstate to my job in it. People go fucking berserk around here when there's snow in the forecast. Guess you can't blame them– it really doesn't snow around here all that often.

Big, big Bacardi Show Birthday announcement tomorrow. I see you tremble with...





...anticipation! Wow. Two Rocky Horror references in one day.

Thumbed through the latest Comics Journal today at the old comics shop. The Great Escape, Bowling Green, KY in case you were wondering. Anyway, I read the always interesting Funnybook Roulette column in which R. Fiore makes a case for Frank Miller's Dark Knight Strikes Again, a book that I considered a contemptable work by a creator who has nothing but contempt for mainstream comics. I think I gave it my only F when I reviewed #3 several months ago on the DCMBs. It just came across to me as a charming little "fuck you" to anyone who still likes mainstream DC books and characters, and a poorly illustrated and garishly colored one to boot. I resented coughing up the ten bucks in the hopes that it would get better with every issue. Anyway, now this Fiore fellow comes along and while he doesn't praise it extravagantly, he brings up a very valid perspective which I hadn't really considered, that of Miller using these characters to make a statement about art vs. commerce and its place in society. This is probably not an accurate interpretation of his article, please, please go read it for yourself. I only spent a couple of minutes reading it. Anyway, that's what I always liked about the Journal; while I often was at odds with the viewpoints expressed I was also often challenged to consider something from another, more well-considered point of view. And that, boys and girls, is how we learn things. Do I like DK2 any better? Nah. It was still too expensive to be so slovenly in its execution. But I think I understand it a bit more now. I'd give it a C+ if I was inclined towards do-overs.

Music today: Drivin 'n' Cryin-Wrapped in Sky, Meshell Ndegeocello-Bitter, Indigo Girls-Become You, Lou Reed-Berlin.
A little norts spews: my White Sox made a big trade today, obtaining 20 game winner Bartolo Colon from the Montreal Expos in a deal that also involved the Yankees. This gives the Sox a proven starting pitcher, something that's been in short supply on the South Side the last couple of years. They gave up Jeff Liefer and Rocky Biddle, among others, and that might have been a little premature...but you have to give up to get.
Another link to an interesting article by John LeCarre in the Times. London Daily, I assume. Sent by Groovalicious Chris Tabor. Whatta guy. Makes you cry. Und I did.
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A happy Bacardi Show Birthday to Dada Delta Blues man, poet and painter Don Van Vliet, AKA Captain Beefheart. Photo stolen from Dave Lang's tribute page.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Over at Ain't Too Proud to Blog (another cool name), Robyn has declared today to be Bloggin' Lovefest day. Better late than never, I'll play and send out mad love to my bloggin' homies. Yo.

I've only been doing this since October, but I've already met several splendiferously shibby people out there. I don't think I could narrow it down to just one, so I'll list a few favorites and sincerely hope I don't leave out anybody deserving of mention or offend anyone.

Laura over at Bloggety-Blog-Blog-Blog, who's been super nice, devoted to Aquaman and is still nice to me even though I'm not that big a fan of the Sea King; she was the first to bloglist me, validating my existence in the blogosphere;

Joanie "da Goddess", who exhibits all the ascribed traits of her namesake, was one of the first to link to me, and is just plain old sweet;

Devra over at Blue Streak, who has dropped by occasionally to leave a nice comment or two;

Bill Sherman, the Pop Culture Gadabout, always on hand to provide cogent commentary on many of the tangents I go off on;

Brendan of Letting Loose with the Leptard, always reliable for excellent musical commentary;

Michele of A Small Victory, who's a good sport and writes a very, very good blog, despite her jihad towards Ted Rall. Which is OK, this being America and all.

Also there's Anne, AKA Czelticgirl, who stops by these parts upon occasion and is welcome always. Sorry I got your name wrong before!

and Theresa of Dandelion Wine, who's relatively new to the Show but can always be counted on for some great feedback. Another really nice personage, and she's a football fan to boot. It's all good.

These are the bloggers I've had the most give-and-take with since I've started. I hope to have same with many more before I'm done. That's my contribution to the Bloggin' Lovefest! Woooo!
Brushes With Greatness, part one

When I was 18 or so, I saw an ad in (I think) the Comics Journal. It advertised the opportunity to join a new club that was started by none other than the legendary artist Wally Wood. For $15, a mere pittance, you could receive copies of his newest, self-published works, a membership card, a newsletter updating you on upcoming projects, and the coup de grace, an original Wood sketch of your choice. I couldn't resist; I signed up immediately and sent my check for fifteen bucks. Being an aspiring comic book artist, I couldn't resist the opportunity to write one of my art heroes...I told him of my ambitions and asked if he would be willing to review some samples of my stuff. Oh the chutzpah of 18. Anyway, below you can read his reply, as well as see the envelope, membership card, and cancelled check.

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Needless to say, Woody was a far better artist than he was a prognosticator. What I eventually received was the latest collections of Sally Forth, the Wizard King, and Cannon, all B&W and gorgeously drawn. What I didn't receive was my frigging original sketch. Oh well, sobered by the tone of his response, I never got around to sending him any of my art...too bad, I understand he was in failing health by then and probably could have used the laugh. A couple of years later, he was dead, but I have still held on to all the swag I got as a member of the Friends of Odkin and wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.
For all of you who like to think you're hardcore Simpsons fans: I give you the Simpsons Quiz. If you can answer them all in less than a week, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.
For those of us to whom writing just does not come naturally, here's the Topics Blog. You just had to know somebody would do it sooner or later.

Found at Tequila Mockingbird, who chooses to ignore me (like many of the blogs I've chosen to list lately) but has such a cool name that I just gotta list her anyway.
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This incredibly sweet poster was designed by the talented Mr. Mik Cary. Wish I could have gone to the show...
Some interesting reading from Our Man Tabor.
Paging Professor X or the DEO...

Here's an interesting little news item from the English version of Pravda. Wonder how close this fellow lives to Chernobyl?

Thanks to Mike Cary for passing this on.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Looks like a thankfully light week for me, comics wise, according to the latest Diamond shipping list. On Wednesday, I'll be picking up:

Lucifer 34
Ultimates 8
and
Strangers in Paradise v3 55

That's it! Of course I will review them when I get the chance. You have a Johnny Bacardi Show guarantee on that.

Just added, although I've been aware of it for a few weeks now: author William Gibson's blog page. You'd think that if anyone could write a good one, he could. See link at right.

I've also added a great many new blogs by other, not so well-known but no less interesting individuals. Look at right and investigate. And if any of you are reading this, feel free to add me. Just because I'm not on that high-falutin blogroller thingamabob doesn't mean I don't need some lovin'.
Sad news: Mickey Finn, Marc Bolan's percussionist during the glory days of T.Rex, is dead. Maybe I should hunt up Dewayne Gardner and have another wake like we did at age 17 when Bolan died.

Between today and yesterday is like a million years.

Link via Warren Ellis.
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While staying up late the other night watching TV, I caught another one of my "eye magnet" movies. You know, when you're flipping and you run across one, no matter how many times you've seen them before you watch. And watch. Films like (for me) Snatch, the Fifth Element, Pollock, The Hudsucker Proxy. A couple of nights ago, another: Absolute Beginners.

You may be familiar with it; it's a 1986 big screen musical adaptation of the Colin McInnes book about teenage lifestyles and race riots in late 50's & 60s Britain. I've never read the book, and I understand that those who have and loved it were alternately outraged and disappointed in the film. Being unfamiliar with McInnes' novel, all I can do is take the film at face value, and I flat out love three quarters of it.

Directed by then-hot music video director Julien Temple, it's just one visually amazing set piece after another, with a great, eccentric cast, led by Patsy Kensit and some inspired stunt casting like those stalwarts of RCA's glitter years, David Bowie and the Kinks' Ray Davies. Early on, at least, it's about a young photographer named Colin, played by one Eddie O'Connell (who somehow managed to avoid doing much of anything else filmwise of note after AB). Colin wants to maintain his integrity as an artist as well as avoid exploiting the teenage scene from which he's been making a meager living taking snapshots of, but he is also deeply in love with beautiful blonde "Crepe" Suzette (Kensit), who has aspirations for wealth and fame that don't extend to staying in Colin's world. Eventually Suzette, through her job as a fashion designer assistant, manages to attract the interest of Henley, the unctuous gallery owner, and they become engaged. Henley, however, is an aging homosexual who doesn't love her– he wishes to marry Suzette as a front. He's even open to Colin and Suzette seeing each other on the sly after a while; of course, Colin wants no part of it. Feeling dumped by Suzette, Colin is determined to win her back and eventually winds up involved with some of the more corrupt characters in London society including one Vendice Partners (Bowie), a real estate developer who is behind the effort to forcibly eject the minorities living in the London slums where Colin lives so he can build new apartments. Eventually, racial tensions reach the boiling point and a riot breaks out, and all gets sorted out before it's over.

The description doesn't really do it justice...one of the highlights of the movie is the scene in which Colin goes to a party at Partners' on the invitation of Partners' wife, gossip columnist Dido Lament (played by the ubersexy Anita Morris). Of course, Colin sees Suzette there with Henley, gets very drunk, and has this great drunken conversation with himself, in a mirrored cul-de-sac, while some pumping jump-jive music (the great "Sellin' Out) by Slim Gaillard plays in the background and Dido mixes a martini by wedging the shaker between the heel and sole of her seven inch stilettos! Colin takes a swing at Henley, misses, and lands on the spinning floor humiliated. After he picks himself up he encounters Bowie, who wishes to hire him to be his photographer. They have a huge production number, dancing on a immense typewriter...it's one of the most intoxicating 15-20 minutes of film I've ever seen. And believe me, much more happens before and during this particular sequence.

Another highlight is the song by Ray Davies, who plays Colin's father. Colin hates to come home, because his shrewish mother has turned their home into a boarding house and he pities his father who almost seems to be a tenant in his own home. Ray gets to do an Arthur-ish ditty called "Quiet Life", while chaos breaks out in the house all around him as he does his household chores. Most of the song is performed on a set which is a cutaway view of the house itself, where we can see everything that goes on in all the rooms at once. It's an amazing scene.

Unfortunately, the movie grinds to a halt with the climactic race riots. It's probably very much in keeping with the spirit of the book, I can't say, but it's so different in tone to the rest of the film that it's extremely jarring and after you've watched it once you won't care to see it again. It's as stolid and forthright as the other three-quarters of the film is imaginative and exciting.

Heck, if nothing else it's worth seeing to watch Anita Morris mix that martini. I searched high and low on the internet to find a picture of it. If you haven't seen AB, I recommend it highly–it's one of the most underrated musicals ever. It's inexplicably unavailable on DVD, but well worth checking out on Showtime, if you get it, or on VHS.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

For the first time in ages, I placed an order with Columbia House, which I received yesterday. What I got was the latest from the Indigo Girls, titled Become You, This Is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies and the Kinks, and Lou Reed's Berlin.

I've been an admirer of the Girls' music for many years now, beginning with their great Rites of Passage album, where they learned to garnish their earnest folk with Irish instruments, electric guitar, strings, and so on. Added a few more colors to their palette, if you will, and each subsequent release has been outstanding.

The Kinks tribute features many muscians I like, such as Ron Sexsmith, Fountains of Wayne, and Matthew Sweet, along with a couple of friends of mine, Nashville musicians Tommy Womack and Bill Lloyd, who chip in with a great collaborative effort on one of my favorite Kinks tunes, "Picture Book". Name dropper? Me? Plus, it has humorous liner notes written by Mr. Davies himself.

Lou's Berlin album, about drugs, dysfunctional relationships, S & M and dementia in that fabled city, is one that I came to love (as much as you can love it) back in the 70s. It's not a happy fun record by any means, but it's gripping and often lovely in places, and I recommend it to anyone not on lithium. Since album cover design and packaging are a passion of mine, I must note that the CD release has replaced the original, distinctive and quite beautiful in its own way handwritten script that was used on the LP for all the type including lyrics, credits, and so on with a script-looking font that is intended to simulate handwriting, for better readability, I assume. Problem is, the font is still too small and is very hard to read, especially in the case of the inside booklet notes. So what was the point? The artificial font is nowhere nearly as good looking as the original handwriting, and is no more readable.

Oh well, that's me in a nutshell. ("How did I get in this nutshell? It's so cramped and small here in this nutshell!") There's just no pleasing me sometimes.
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As you can probably infer from the wedding picture below, I was not really into the Disco lifestyle. I was more of the stoner-in-an-army-jacket type who wouldn't dance unless I was held at gunpoint or so drunk I didn't know what I was doing. So you probably deduced that I wasn't much of a Bee Gees fan back in the day. I just couldn't relate to most Disco music. Hate is a strong word, especially since I was receptive to dance music- Sly and Parliament were faves of mine in my teenage years. But most disco just got on my nerves. One reason was because of my job at the time, in the prepress of a large printing factory where they broadcast the local top 20 FM radio station all day and all night over the ceiling speakers. We had to listen to it, you couldn't turn it completely down...I got fed up once and cut the wires, but then I got nervous about getting in trouble so I spliced them back together. This was at the height of the Disco era, and the Bee Gees got constant airplay. I also think it was just that awful Robin Gibb falsetto, with his fricking hand constantly over his ear, being played over and over and over on the radio that I couldn't stand. "Tragedy" was the worst by far, with Robin squealing "loving you, loving you, luuuu-vvviiiing yooooouuu" a dozen times in eight hours for months on end. I often fantasized about taking pencils and jamming them in my ears just to make it stop. But really, when it came down to it I was never one of those "Disco Sucks" clods, and eventually I came to appreciate the music of Chic and KC, among others, but it took me a long time. And I never looked good in a tapered silk shirt, either. Amusing aside-the first movie my wife and I saw on a date was Saturday Night Fever. Oh dear.

However, the passage of time and the (presumed) subsequent maturity have caused me to re-evaluate the music of the Bros. Gibb over the years. The older, pre-disco stuff is somewhat interesting, and when you get right down to it (and they're not being played on a radio at work that you have to listen to all day long) "Jive Talkin'", "Night Fever", "More Than a Woman", and others are damned catchy and pretty darn good R&B slash Disco slash Pop. I've even got mp3s of "Jive" and "Woman" on this very computer. So it is with a little sadness that I read about the death of Maurice Gibb today. You know, the bearded one who wore hats to cover up his shiny head. Now whether or not this means no more Bee Gees I cannot say, and I can't say it will affect my life one way or another if it does...but it's always a tragedy to lose one of the giants from back in the day, and make no mistake, the Bros. Gibb qualify. So requiescat in pace, Mr. Gibb.
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Mr. and Mrs. Bacardi, 24 years ago today. Get a load of those sideburns.
For those who believe in omens, my turntable is malfunctioning again. Went bad right before the Falcons-Eagles game. It worked for about 5 hours after I got it back from the shop, and now it's playing at the wrong speed and is inconsistent about when it will come on when I lift the tonearm.

Sigh.

Now I gotta take it back to the shop and see if the guy thinks he can do anything with it. If he can't, or wants to charge me again, then I'm going to take it and toss it in the path of an 18-wheeler.
Here's a late suggestion for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar: Joe Nedney.

This game reminded me of one reason why I dislike the Titans. They never seem to beat anybody conclusively; their games are always decided by controversy. I know I'm generalizing here, but if the game ends in a flukey play of some sort, it's always a good bet that the Titans are involved. But don't get me wrong...I realize that the Steelers lost yesterday because of their inability to contain Steve McNair. He was, and I think will continue to be, a difference-maker for the Flaming Thumbtacks. I'm sure all the good old boys in Tennessee are thrilled to death with that.

And while I'm not happy with the outcome, I gotta say I'm pretty proud of my Falcons. They went in and hung tough with the Eagles last night, despite losing half of their starting defensive backfield ...and if they could have just eliminated many of the stupid penalties they committed in the first half, the outcome might have been very different. Mike Vick has GOT to work on learning how and when to throw the ball away. If they brought their A game to Green Bay, they brought their B minus game to Philly. Typical for the Jekyll-Hyde team Atlanta's always been. If we can just get a couple of players on both sides of the line in the off-season, who knows– the Falcons might just acheive back-to-back winning seasons for the first time.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

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New Christgau Consumer Guide up over at the Villiage Voice.

Spent most of my day today looking for a couple of used vehicles. The fellow I work for at the radio station also owns a car lot, and I'd like to think he will give me a decent deal on something. My truck is in the shop more often as not these days, as is my daughter's; my son's car was rearended a month or two ago and got totalled, leaving him carless, and Mrs. Bacardi's car has a lot of problems, like oil leaking into the coolant for starters. I'm looking at giving my son my Rodeo to drive until he can get steady employment and theoretically get his own transportation, getting two newer vehicles for me and Mrs. B, and getting Abby's fixed until she can pay on something for herself. Motor vehicles are the bane of our existence, it's sad to say. Can't afford to pay on a new one or keep an old one on the road. Guess if I'd stop buying comics I could afford a Porsche or something. Maybe if I put one of those keen Amazon.com honor system buttons somewhere on my site, all of you out there would help me buy new cars!

Other than that, I've been spending most of the afternoon catching up on all the vinyl I haven't been able to listen to for over a year now, including two or three I won on eBay but haven't been able to play like Frank Sinatra's Watertown, Curved Air's Phantasmagoria (check out that cool cover above), and Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's The Grand Wazoo. Am I eclectic or what? I've also given spins to Graham Central Station's Mirror, Maria Muldaur's Sweet Harmony, Roger Glover's soundtrack to the Butterfly Ball and Grasshopper's Feast, Sparks' Propaganda, Mary Hopkin's Earth Song/Ocean Song, and Godley & Creme's Ismism.

Hope you're telling the truth, Pete.

Damn. Wycheck just scored, shooting my score prediction down. The Steelers are coming up small on defense, and McNair is gutting it out as usual.

That's all for now, more later maybe.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Johnny B's Fearless Football Picks

Continuing a grand tradition I began last weekend, here's what I see for the upcoming games:

Steelers vs. Titans For various reasons, I've never been much of a Titans fan, despite the fact that they play only an hour and a half away. This year, I've kinda come to respect them since they opened up their offense and have groomed a hungry young defense. I see this being a low scoring contest, and I like the Steelers' ability to score on the Flaming Thumbtacks a lot more than vice versa...I'll take Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress every time over Derrick Mason and an anonymous cast of hundreds of WRs. Steelers, 17-13.

Falcons vs. Eagles Well, I picked against my boys last weekend, and they rewarded me with a victory that will go down in franchise history. I'm tempted to take Philly for that reason alone. For Atlanta to pull off another upset, it's essential that they are able to run the ball with Dunn, Vick and Duckett against a Eagles D that is every bit as strong and quick as Tampa Bay...and we all know how well Atlanta ran against Tampa Bay. So while I fervently hope they prove me wrong again, I gotta go with the Iggles 24-17. Damn.

49ers vs. Buccaneers Speaking of the Bucs, if they can get any QB play at all they should be equal to the task of shutting down the Niners. They can hurry-up all they want, but Jeff Garcia and Terrell "Jackass" Owens will find the speedy Bucs D a lot tougher to solve than the poise-less Giants. And bet your ass the officiating will be better, too. Bucs 27-17.

Jets vs. Raiders Boy, everybody's jumping on that J-E-T-S bandwagon, aren't they? They do kinda have that team of destiny look about 'em, no doubt, but Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown will be the difference-makers, methinks, and the Men in Black have just enough D to stifle if not shut down Pennington and the young Jets receivers. I see a shootout. Raiders 35-28.

There you have it! So far, I'm 2-2, and I should have been 3-1 if not for boneheaded officiating and dumbass Giant defensive backs. Remember, these prognostications are for entertainment purposes only. Bet this way at your own risk.
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Oh happy day! My turntable is fixed! With any luck, I'll go get it tomorrow.
My enthusiasm for DC's Legion book has dimmed slightly, but it's still one of my favorite reads and it looks like it's going in an interesting direction with a spiffy new art team. Read more about it over at Pulse.
Here's some interesting Beatles news.

Glad it's from the Let It Be sessions; I was afraid maybe some lost Gone Troppo or WIngs at the Speed of Sound-period tapes had been recovered.
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COMICS REVIEWS
Week of January 8, 2003- what I bought and what I thought!


1. DAREDEVIL 41 The old axiom that you get what you pay for doesn't hold true this time around. I paid almost two and a half dollars more last week for a comic that wasn't half as good as this one. Fun story, nicely dialogued as usual by Bendis, and very well drawn by Alex Maleev, except, curiously enough, for his terrible rendition of the Owl which makes him look like Wolverine after Jenny Craig and a three day bender. I've always had a soft spot for the Stilt Man character...one of the first comics I ever owned was Daredevil 8, above, which sported great Wally Wood art, especially the cover. He's used very well here. The Stilt Man, not Wood. A

2. 100 BULLETS 41 The usual outstanding Azz/Risso story and art, giving us more Trust/Minutemen puzzle pieces on the one hand, while giving us a clever counterstory on the other. A

3. FABLES 9 More Fractured Fairy Tales, this time out wrapping up the second story arc in a somewhat rushed fashion and with a surprising cliffhanger at the end. I've never been much of a fan of Mark Buckingham's pencils; as a penciller, I've always thought he made a good inker. But he serves the story well, and Steve Leialoha's inks give him a Kirbyish flavor. A-

4. POWERS 27 Another consistently excellent book. The pottymouthed super-hero satire at the beginning was amusing, but I'm sick to death of super hero parodies- nothing makes an easier target. As for the rest of the story, so low key that it seems like almost nothing of consequence happens, it gets by on characterization, which is Bendis' saving grace. A-

5. VERTIGO POP: LONDON 3 Milligan & Bond's little morality play takes some interesting twists and turns, and not in directions that I thought it would go. Good on them. A-

6. JSA 44 This seems to be a week for rushed finales. The gimmicky resolution to the whole Egypt thing was kind of a letdown, but now that it's out of the way we can get into what I want to see, the Doc Fate meets Gemworld meets...a surprising return character at the end. B

7. HAWKMAN 11 I've really tried to like this book, really I have. But the scripts, while they try hard, never really rise above standard superheroics. Whatever the reason, you can't fault Rags Morales, who draws these turgid events with energy and style. B-

8. KILLRAVEN 4 If I didn't love the McGregor/Russell 70s version of this character so much, I might think more of this well-intentioned but feckless revival attempt, and actually, if one looks at it objectively, this is the best issue yet. But as a series it's an aesthetic failure, for reasons that are intangible, like heart and soul and emotional investment which I usually always seemed to get from McGregor & Russell but are beside the point for Davis. For him, this is a vehicle to demonstrate the he can write as well as he can draw, and nothing more. Problem is, he can't. C+

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Stolen shamelessly from the incredible GoodShit: The Top Ten Nude Scenes of Year 2002. Enjoy.

Me, I'm thinking I gotta rent Human Nature with Patricia Arquette. I still haven't gotten over her in those clunky high heels in Goodbye Lover.
Coldplay's "The Scientist" from their latest album "A Rush of Blood to the Head" is one of the most flat-out lovely songs I've heard in what seems like forever. Even if he does channel Bono singing "Stay (Faraway, So Close)" a bit at the end.

Also wanted to pass this on: You may recall that thanks to the nice folks at Blogarama, I won a $50 online gift certificate. After giving it some thought, here's what I bought: The Essential Johnny Cash and Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes and Hustlers of the Warners Music Group.

When I was a wee lad (refer to my Christmas Day picture in the archive), my Dad was a league bowler. I went with him often and while he bowled, I would beg him for dimes so I could play records on the huge jukebox they had at the alley. One song which grabbed me and wouldn't let go was "Ring of Fire" by the Man In Black (no, not the Shadow, Johnny Cash!). My Dad got tired of giving me dimes, I think, and went out and bought me the 45, which I played almost as much as Meet The Beatles on my little blue record player. Johnny Cash and the Beatles pointed me towards the road to ruin. Unfortunately, I don't have any Cash records, not even the fine Rubin-produced ones of the last few years, and this is my first step towards rectifying this situation.

Also, I have always had a lifelong (well, since 1970 or so anyway) fascination for the artists, look (graphics), and feel of Warner Bros./Reprise Records product, especially from the period 1967-1975. This book is a history of sorts about those days, and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

And that's how I spent my unexpected windfall. I'm sure you would have done differently. Unfortunately, fifty bucks doesn't go a long way, especially when you're trying to qualify for free shipping, necessitating that you pay Amazon prices for everything.