Monday, March 31, 2003

Just wanted to point you in the direction of Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column, in which he reveals Alan Moore's plans to shut down the ABC line and retire from writing comics. I hate to hear this because I really wanted to see Top Ten continued, along with fave Promethea...but I can understand. I don't see how he's maintained the schedule he's been on for the last what– four years now?

"Two bytes in a chip...two birds in a nest!"

Reading the recent news about Marvel's relaunch of its Epic imprint put me in mind of one of my favorite comics series, which came out as part of that line in the 80s...Timespirits.

Timespirits was co-created by scripter Stephen Perry (no, not the Journey singer) and illustrated by Tom Yeates, fresh from his stint on Swamp Thing pre-Alan Moore. It was perhaps the best and most sympathetic treatment of Native American characters in comics ever. Difficult to sum up in a nutshell, it was an imaginative, quirky, warm and winning blend of religion, Native American legend, science fiction and high fantasy which never took itself too seriously and is sorely missed, at least by me.

At its basic level, it's about the time-traveling adventures of Cusick of the Tuscarora, an aged Native American "Time Spirit", sporting a fedora, backpack, hiking boots and Sgt. Pepper jacket who functions like an extradimensional Monty Hall– he trades strange and powerful items for souls, which he collects in a turtle shell until he can release them into the afterlife. It is in one of these transactions, in issue #1 above, that he meets teenage Doot of the Wawenoc tribe in the early days of the pre-Revolutionary War American colonies. Doot's brother, Three Birds, wishes revenge on the white man for the slaughter of his village. Cusick, hearing this wish expressed aloud, appears to him and offers him a strange creature called a Bloodless Ghebe, which will enable the Chief to rout the white man from his land forever. The Ghebe, which resembles a walking stick insect with a big eyeball in place of a head, enter's Three Birds' brain, gives him incredible strength, and enables him to fire a destructive beam from his right eye, which has been replaced by the Ghebe. It also drives him quite insane. Three Birds goes on a murder spree, uniting the tribes against the white man. In the meantime, Cusick strikes up an acquaintance with Three Birds' younger brother and recognizes him as a potential Timespirit of great power. Doot, who loved his brother and did not understand what had caused his formerly pacifistic sibling to change so, wishes to stop the rampage and kill the Ghebe, which eventually sheds Three Birds' skin like a snake. It's too late to save Three Birds' physical self, but Doot is able to save his spirit and destroy the Ghebe using his nascent abilities, and takes his brothers' soul into himself. Cusick offers to take the young brave under his wing and teach him to utilize his potential as a shaman. It's a fine adventure yarn, in a time period that isn't depicted all that often, especially in comics, with a very touching ending.

Issues 2 & 3, arguably the zenith of the entire run, has a plot which is almost too gnarly to describe succinctly. Titled "The Blacksack of King Ogam", it involves dying magicians, unrequited love, spoiled princesses, bands of Norsemen, a spiteful talking fish which came closest to being an arch-enemy of the 'Spirits, a massive octopus-like creature called the Spurtyn Duyvel which is summoned up by a rejected, hate-filled amateur prince/magician with the aid of the fish, a magic bag which is literally bottomless, Stonehenge, Noah from the Bible, and much more. It works on a number of different levels– as heroic, pulp-type fantasy, as a romance, and as a cautionary fable. If you never read any other issues of TS, get these two.

Issue four was a Christmas-themed one, with Cusick facing an uber-vamp named Varnae and eventually delivering an object called the Crystal Skull to the Christ child. It also featured fill-in art by Al Williamson, Steve Bissette (Yeates inks), John Totleben (inking Yeates), and Rick Veitch. #'s 5 and 6 was another continued story, this one mixing a dystopian future and some commentary on the state of music vs. big business with the ghost of Jimi Hendrix and in #6 taking it up a notch, mixing in some anti-US government's involvement in Nicaragua (this was 1985, you know) statements, with Yeates taking the opportunity to let his feelings be known in the matter. Mildly controversial at the time, as I recall, and both Yeates and Marvel took some shots, but these two issues were the weakest in the series because the message kinda got watered down and the whole storyline became a bit incoherent as a result. The final two issues, 7 & 8, got back to the original idea of what the 'Spirits were and what they did, with Cusick taking Doot to Tibet to meet the High Lama and to release the souls they have accumulated over the course of their recent adventuring. Problem is, the talking fish again has made a jealous and hate-filled Yeti on the mountain aware of what he needs to do to inhabit the body of the High Lama and become all-powerful. The enlightened yeti chops off his hand, which becomes a totem that facilitates the body switch and transforms the former beast into a malevolent, spirit-eating monster, laying in wait for our pair as they climb the mountain to the Lama's home. The storyline ends with surprising and somewhat tragic results, and the final page of #8 is a literal curtain call of all the characters that have appeared in the previous issues, and they all come out with one puzzling exception. It was a charming and clever way to end the series.

If Perry has done any comics series since Timespirits, I'm unaware of them. I do think he's made a name for himself as a writer of Star Wars novels; at least I think it's him because he's left it off his online resume. Yeates mostly went on to illustrate a few issues of Zorro for Topps with Don McGregor, does a lot of ERB-related work, and still does the occasional job for DC and Marvel. The Tomahawk one-shot Vertigo Visions he did in the mid-90s was especially nice, and reminded me a little of Timespirits. I did email Yeates a while ago and ask him if he had any 'Spirits pages for sale, but he said he didn't want to let any of them go...obviously this book meant a lot to him.

Somehow, from the look of what they're soliciting so far for the new Epic line, I don't think there will be room for a series as unassuming, yet intricate, as Timespirits. Too bad...I think there were a lot more stories yet to tell about Doot and Cusick.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe coveted Bacardi Show Birthday greeting goes out today to actor par excellence Christopher Walken, who turns the big six-oh today.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAlso, BSB best wishes go out to that rarest of things, a celebrity of sorts that I'm personally acquainted with: guitarist extraordinaire Greg Martin, most notably of the Kentucky Headhunters, a group that managed to grab the brass ring for a little while back in the early Nineties, and took some of us along on the ride.

More stuff later, hopefully, including a look back at an old forgotten Epic comics series that I've been struggling with for weeks now.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

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I did indeed get to go see Spirited Away yesterday, and I'll say this: everything that people are saying about this one is true. It's not only one of the best animated films I've ever seen, it's possibly one of the best films I've ever seen, period. A story that doesn't insult the intelligence (although I thought perhaps the parents were just a wee bit too cloddish at the beginning) and breathtaking visuals that put the recent efforts of Western animators, especially Disney (who shrewdly released this over here) to shame. I'll spare you the repetitious raving and encourage you to click on the link above to read other reviews that say it much better than I. Click on the picture (not computer animated or photographed flowers, by the way) above to go to the official site. If you get the opportunity to go see this wonderful film, then I strongly encourage you to do so, even if you have to go to a little trouble.

Picture above stolen at a new movie review site (new to me, anyway) with the amusing name of Hollywood Go there and check his stuff out...don't want Hollywood Jesus pissed at me!

Saturday, March 29, 2003

I found this thing over at Theresa's place. It looked fun, so I thought I'd play. Not being much of a playa in the Market, I don't have the slightest idea about how the damn site my low numbers reflect that. My values so far:

Value: $37.44
Outgoing link value $5.29

Maybe I'll figure out what to do one of these days...
Good morning one and all.

Wonder of wonders, I see where Spirited Away is playing at the best theatre in Bowling Green. I absolutely have to go see it this afternoon, and of course I will write a paragraph or two about it.

Also, I've suddenly had a small streak of luck on eBay. I've won a copy or H-E-R-O #1, paid too damned much for it of course, but I wanted to make sure I had a complete run. I didn't have any interest in getting the upcoming reprint either. I also won a set of Snadman Presents: Lucifer, the miniseries which preceded the excellent ongoing series out now. I already have issues 1 and 2, but I haven't been successful finding #3 until now. I'll be getting two comics I don't need, but I'm only spending five bucks for the set so it's all good. And suddenly, my ongoing searches have turned up a copy of Mary Travers' Circles, which, you may recall, I got outbid on earlier this month. It's a little pricey at ten bucks, so I may not pursue it. Also I've found a trade collection of Kane stories by Paul Grist, the second in the series, Rabbit Hunt. I came to Grist's excellent work through Jack Staff, and am finally getting around to picking up on its police drama predecessor. I've got the first Kane collection, titled Greetings From New Eden.

Picked up a new CD last night, the latest from Linda Thompson, Fashionably Late. This is the first album in several years from Richard's ex, and features a who's who of British folk music along with Van Dyke Parks and Rufus Wainwright. I heard a cut on Live365 the other day and thought I'd give it a listen if I ever got the chance...then last night, I was in Wal-Mart and much to my amazement, nestled in along with the Nellys and the Avril Levignes was not one but two copies of this CD! I took this as an omen and bought one. I've yet to hear the whole thing, so hopefully I'll get a little blogfodder out of it soon, and perhaps take the chance to ramble a bit about some of the other Britfolk people I like.

My comments are acting a bit funny...the count is gone. The "serve 'em up" is still there, and the window still works, but I have no way to tell if someone's left a comment or how many I have right now. So please continue to comment, I'll just have to click on each button, I guess, and see if anyone's there. It's always something.

Friday, March 28, 2003

There's a preview of the next issue of Jack Staff from Image up at their website. Check it out. Still no word about Jack Staff 12 from Dancing Elephant, damn it.

Also, here's a preview of Hawaiian Dick 3.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you...Carhenge!

Heard about it this morning on the Bob and Sheri radio show. I have to listen to it on the way to work, because the Bowling Green ESPN affiliate airs a local sports program during my drive time. I couldn't care less about local sports. I want to hear Greenberg and Golic!

Thursday, March 27, 2003

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Couldn't let the week go by without noting the 30th anniversary of that melancholy masterpiece, Pink Floyd's 1973 effort Dark Side of the Moon, which was, according to both Rolling Stone and Susan over at Easy Bake Coven, this Tuesday past. Rolling Stone even has an online section which features links to articles about the album. You can go here for most of an excellent article reprinted from Mojo magazine.

I'll never forget the first time I heard DSotM. It was sometime late in 1973, and I was in the audio equipment department at Sears, where a salesman was demonstrating a then brand new Quadrophonic sound system to a customer. I was standing there just looking around while my Mom shopped. He put on a copy of a record with an interesting cover, solid black except for a whitish blue (or bluish white) prism in the middle which refracted a narrow, solid white beam of light into a rainbow of color that extended to the edge of the black field. I was intrigued, and listened to what appeared to be airport noise and a clock ticking in the distance. Suddenly- alarm clocks loudly went off all around me, startling me at first but when I realized what was going on I relaxed and fell in love with the song, which was named (appropriately enough) Time. And the guitar solo. Oh man. It absolutely blew me away, and still gives me chills to this day. I asked the salesman to leave it on after he had finished with the customers and so I was able to hear the side closer The Great Gig in the Sky as well. Again, this was something unlike anything I had ever heard before...a single female voice wailing soulfully over a echoey, solitary piano and intermittent band accompaniment for about 6 minutes. I was transfixed by this as well, and flat out begged my parents to get me this album before we went home!

And I listened to it a lot over the next few months, really liking other tracks such as Breathe, the elegant Us and Them, and of course the smash hit Money. I was gratified to know that I had heard that song before it started getting heavy airplay. Eventually, though, I kinda tired of the album's melancholy, languid feel and moved on to other music. And honestly, at first I wasn't all that impressed with the successor Wish You Were Here, which came out two years later (an eternity to wait, back then, for an album), so my nascent Floyd fanaticism was nipped in the bud. Later on, I came to appreciate Wish, and actually consider it their best album now. I also eventually heard Moon predecessor Meddle and liked it a lot as well. But by the time they got around to releasing the dull (in my opinion anyway) Animals and the overblown, self-pitying Wall, I really didn't care for the Floyd (by then pretty much just Roger Waters) at all. I did later discover Syd Barrett and that whole sad story, but that's another column. "Bike" is a cool tune, I will say that much...

These days, they're all old, out of ideas, irrelevant and barely worth paying attention to, except as a concert attraction where knuckleheaded stoner Floyd fans will always queue up and shell out big bucks to see the pig fly overhead and see that huge ring of lights. The feud, which has led to Waters dismissing the other three (who then carried on gamely but uninspiredly under the Floyd name) and going solo, just seems silly and childish 20 plus years later.

But Dark Side remains a remarkable acheivement and an album that I still listen to on occasion, and I think it's kinda cool that it still inspires discussion after all these years. Many of its glum observations about life and love, greed and paranoia, still ring true today.

"Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be"
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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of March 26

Javier Pulido works wonders with Ed Brubaker's emotionally heavy script as the title character deals (or fails to deal, in some cases) with the aftermath of the previous issue. Simple on the surface, Pulido uses a number of different styles to illustrate a number of different scenarios, from the crime noir scenes with Slam Bradley and Selina to the open and airy dream sequences. He gets a lot of help from the colorist, too. It's rare to see an illustrator do his scripter such justice. And lucky us, there's more to come. A

In which our anti-heroines go out and get jobs in the real world (instead of dealing dope), and charm as well as entertain as they do so. Sure fire formula for success, at least with me: engaging characters plus clever, distinctive artwork=Dave likes. A

While I still prefer Marcelo Frusin's version of Johnny-boy, guest artist Lee Bermejo has some genuinely creepy moments in what's shaping up to be yet another excellent story by Mike Carey. A

4. JLA 79
Joe Kelly continues his somewhat heavy handed anti-war allegory, but it's still cleverly done and I, for one, like these new JLA members, especially Major Disaster, who's shaping up to be kinda likeable in a pugnacious kind of way. It goes without saying that the Mahnke/Nguyen art is excellent. A-

Joe Mays' cutesy anime style, all round heads and missing noses and wannabe Adam Warren stylings, damn near sinks this otherwise enjoyable (and long overdue) tale of everybody's favorite fishnetted sorceress. The rendition of John Constantine is especially grating, after being accustomed to the likes of Sean Phillips & Marcelo Frusin. Dini is more than welcome to write as many Zee stories as he wants, and the DC editorial braintrust is more than welcome to find him a more suitable art partner next time. B+

Message to Mike Avon Oeming: don't quit your day job. I didn't hate this- it's actually well done, for the most part. The art by one Neil Vokes (I've heard the name but have somehow managed to avoid picking up anything with his art in it before) is a little derivative of Mignola, Kevin O'Neill and Oeming himself but is overall high quality. My biggest problems came with a story that took a long time to present us with the old bromide that "Pride goeth before a fall", quite literally, and had at its center a mystery that was challenging if one is five years old and a little slow. For $5.95, I want more. B

7. LEGION 18
Hate to rank this one so low...actually, I liked several things about this issue. Problems were Abnett & Lanning's tendency to ignore or overlook little things like internal consistency and common sense in order to make the story flow smoothly, a half-assed solution to the Princess Projectra/Sensor mess which was literally Draconian, and some sloppy, indifferent art by a guest illustrator that I hope they don't use again. Other than that, I liked it. B-

Like sports teams that tend to rise up to the level of their competition, Warren Ellis seems to be a writer that impresses when paired with an outstanding illustrator and not so hot when teamed with a lackluster one. Guess which one is true this time out. Artist David Lloyd is not a name I'm unfamilar with– I understand that he's done some excellent work before, mostly in British comics (I think he did V For Vendetta, a book that many people seemed to like a lot in the 80s...didn't care for it myself), so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that account. Very little of that ability is evident here, though, and his sloppy, badly proportioned art makes an uninspired, cliched Ellis script (that left me wondering whether it might have been a leftover Authority plot idea- the lead character is very similar to Jack Hawksmoor) even more unbearable. If the rest of the limited series is going to be like this, I'm hanging up on the Global Frequency early. C+

For those who thought Codename:Knockout was highbrow spy spoofery. Phil Noto is a fine cover illustrator that would have been a busy, busy man in the 60s doing movie posters. Problem is, he's just not very good at sequential art...everything looks sketchy, awkward and underdrawn. And he's not helped by a lame, cliched, leering, monotonous script that makes me sorry I decided to go ahead and pick this overpriced, overlong trainwreck of a comic book up in the first place. D+

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Much to my amazement, The Johnny Bacardi Show is now multi-lingual! Through my site referrer, I discovered that I've been linked to by a Spanish-language comics web site named La Carcel de Papel. Of course, I speak very little Spanish (I know "papel" is paper) but it's a cool looking site nonetheless and (especially) if you speak the language go check it out!

And muchos gracias for the link!
I wrote a while back about my Match Game obsession, and here's a nice page devoted to host Gene Rayburn. Don't be afraid, click on the link!

Found at Retrocrush, by the way...
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My comic collecting friend from waaay back, Dave Puckett (I wish I had some of his art to link to...he's really a unique illustrator), sent me this groovy pic of Yvonne Craig aka Batgirl holding the copy of Detective Comics (I forget the issue #) in which the character first appeared. Ms. Craig was a nuclear hottie, and you can click on the pic above to go to her official site.

The main reason Dave sent this to me is that the book she's holding is one of the comics involved in a book trade we made when we first met...I forget the year, but it must have been in the late 60s or early 70s. I traded him that comic for a couple of MLJ Mighty Crusaders comics, if I recall correctly. I'll leave it up to you to tell me who got the best of that deal! We didn't see each other again for several years after that (he's a bit older than me and moved away some time after our trade), until we met again in 1976 by chance, when I got a job at a local pizzeria, Carmen's. (Hi, Linda A!) After it finally dawned on us that we had met before, we started hanging out and yes, trading comics some more, and he's been as good a friend as I could ask for ever since.
Good morning, one and all.

Some good news, courtesy of Franklin's Findings. Now maybe I'll get an opportunity to see the Oscar® winner for best animated feature. Nah, wait, who am I kidding. I live in South Central Kentucky. They wouldn't get a film like that in a million years here in Bowling Green, a college town, no less. Hope they prove me wrong.

I was mostly pleased with last night's Buffy, if nothing else because of the return (for good this time, I hope) of badass Spike. This episode concentrated on Buffy, Giles, Spike, and Wood at the expense of the other cast members (Anya and Andrew only got one line each, and if Xander said anything I don't remember), but that's OK because the cast is too darn big and unweildy right now anyway. Even though I like Principal Wood, I was kinda hoping Spike would do him in, if nothing else than to decrease the cast a little. Always nice to see Drusilla again, even though the business with Spike and his Mom was straight outta Anne Rice...I'd even be willing to bet that it was copied direct, but it's been so long since I read those Vampire Chronicles books that my memory fails. If you, like me, are a fan of the Giles character then you'll be disappointed in his actions and apprehensive about how he's going to fit in now. Now we can look forward to more reruns for a while; I'm still mulling over whether or not I want to keep watching Angel. I got a little more interested after viewing the big Willow/Faith crossover.

Stayed up way past my bedtime last night and watched Conan O'Brien, who had as his guests Ringo Starr and Eddie Izzard. Mildly disappointing, though...the Ringo interview went nowhere, and Izzard wasn't given much of an opportunity to be funny. Conan even trotted out the ancient "are you a straight or gay transvestite-explain yourself" question that I thought interviewers stopped asking him 5 years ago! Ringo came back out at the end and played his latest single, an earnest tribute to George Harrison that is well meaning but unremarkable musically. I'll reserve further judgement until I hear the studio version. It kinda sounded like just about everything else he's done since 1981...competently played, mildly tuneful, but otherwise as exciting as watching paint dry.

As an example of how slowly the wheels in my head grind, I have decided to change the "comment" button below to the more genial "serve 'em up!". It was only what– November? That I asked my two or three readers at the time for suggestions about what word or phrase I could use instead of the machinelike and cold "comment". Better late than never, I suppose. I think it was Joanie, who never comes over anymore, that suggested "serve 'em", so here's credit where credit is due, no matter how tardy it is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

From the Political Desk comes this. I don't necessarily believe, or want to believe, what the writer states although I will admit it crossed my mind in the aftermath of 9/11. I just present it for your perusal, any conclusion you may draw is up to you.
In case you're inclined to care, a new Christgau Consumer Guide is up.

Time for a little of the old This or That Tuesday Q's and A's!

1. Poetry or prose? Both are worthy of respect, but I tend to gravitate toward prose. I've not been too successful at writing either.
2. Funky modern art or the older, "classic" variety? I wasn't aware of any funky older classic art. Oh, I get it. For me it depends– I like examples of both. If I have to choose one I'll go with older "classic" variety. I'm kind of the older classic variety myself.
3. Sculptures or paintings? Paintings. I'm just not much for appreciating or creating sculpture, as anyone who suffered through my college sculpture class with me will attest.
4. Theatre: exuberant musical or serious drama? Again, it depends. I suppose I'd prefer an exhuberant musical...makes it easier to stay awake.
5. Ballet or modern dance? Not very fond of either, thank you. No offense to the dancers out there.
6. Movies: major studio or indie? I have enjoyed movies by both, so again this is a choice that's no choice at all. Both have strengths and both have liabilities. I suppose Indie, it's less compromised.
7. Authors: Shakespeare or Dr. Seuss? Nothing against Billy boy, but Ted Geisel was the MAN.
8. TV: PBS or A&E? PBS. No contest. A & E is gradually morphing into E!
9. Music: Beethoven or Beatles? Again, nothing against lovely lovely Ludwig Van, but the Beatles got my soul a long time ago.
10. Thought-provoking question of the week: You are a contributing member of your favorite art museum, and visit on a regular basis. They announce a new, temporary special exhibit by an artist surrounded by controversy...this person's work and/or political views offend you. Do you stop supporting the museum, or just stay away during the time the exhibit is there? Stay away. First, I'm very difficult to offend, and second, I realized long ago that the Earth revolves around the Sun, not me, and other people might be interested in viewing this work.
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Today's Bacardi Show Birthday greeting goes out to Reginald Kenneth Dwight, aka Sir Elton John.

These days, most of us know Sir Elton as a disgusting old troll queen with the worst hairpiece in popular music history, singing smarmy bombastic overblown ballads for soccer moms everywhere. But there was a time, children...oh yes, there was a time. There was a time when new Elton John records were cause for celebration. You knew that you would be getting well played, often clever and witty rock & roll and pop music in a variety of styles. John and his main band had an uncanny ability to do a ponderous ballad one track, a balls-out rocker the next, then a Beach Boys pastiche, then a reggae tune often on the same album (sometimes on the same side, even). For a period of about seven years, 1970-1977, Elton John's music meant the world to this young music loving Kentucky boy. Then something happened. John stopped working with his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin and began a long, slow slide into slickness and irrelevance, punctuated with personal excess and the resulting personal problems, only peeking out from the mire on rare occasions, like 1984's surprisingly good Breaking Hearts album. Mostly though, the last 25 years have been a waste for anyone looking for the outstanding work of his "classic" period. John has been too busy being a professional celebrity and schmoozer to concentrate on his music. Like with his "mate" Rod Stewart, another performer who seemed to completely lose the plot all together after 1976, I gave up on Elton a long time ago.

But in all fairness, I understand that his 2001 effort Songs From The West Coast is a surprising and heartening return to form, and based on the two songs I've heard (I Need Love, This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore), I can't dispute that. For once, Sir Elton was saying all the right things, apparently energized by listening to Ryan Adams among there's an odd couple for ya! Guess I'll reserve total judgement until I actually own a copy of the album. And also in the interest of fairness John has done a lot of charity work, using his hard-won schmoozablitly for good causes like the battle against AIDS.

So happy birthday to ya anyways, Sir Elton. I owe you one for Empty Sky, Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Rock of the Westies, and Blue Moves.

Monday, March 24, 2003

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You've probably seen these posters in other places (heck, I had one for a couple of weeks in the feature box at right), but here's the site for all of them in a handy slide show format. Click on the image above. Original link found at the most excellent GoodShit.
New Diamond Shipping List is up, and it says that I'll be getting the following on Wednesday:

JLA #79

I may also be getting DANGER GIRL: HAWAIIAN PUNCH, but I don't remember signing up for it. While I kinda liked the original Cliffhanger series, I've been disappointed by subsequent one-shots and even though this one has interior art by Phil (as an interior artist, I make a good cover illustrator) Noto, I won't get it if it's not in my stack. X-Statix 9 comes out tomorrow as well, but I've decided to drop it (again) so I won't be picking it up either. Looks like a mucho expensive week for me anyway, with two books alone costing more than $5 each. C'est la vie. I'm looking forward to a couple of these, and you can look forward to the inevitable reviews when I'm done reading them. Whether or not you interpret that as a threat or a promise is up to you.
Once again, the not-so-Stupid Evil Bastard is speaking truth over at his place. Preach on, bro.
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Ooh. Aah.

Mike Cary pointed me to a link over at Ain't it Cool News (Link at right- if you go there, read Harry Knowles' rambling Oscar® telecast review. It's a hoot.) that, in turn, led me to the website of yet another incredibly talented illustrator, Eric Wight. Click on the sweet Buffy illo above to go to his site, and click on the portfolio button- there are character studies from a proposed Buffy animated series, some pages from an upcoming Hellboy: Weird Tales story, and a lot more. He seems to be, as they say, a talent to watch.
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Those of you who are longtime readers of my ramblings may recall my turntable troubles of about two months ago. I took my dead turntable to a repairman, who did some stuff and thought he had it fixed- whereupon it lasted about two days before dying again. I took it back, and he looked it over again then let me know that the drive motor was burned out, and it would, as they say, "cost more to replace it than it would to buy a new one". That dreaded refrain. Anyway, he then proceeded to give me back the money I paid him for the previous failed repair work (!) and tell me that he had a catalogue I could look through that he thought had some turntables that he could order and sell me at his cost. So I narrowed it down to three, and you see the winner above: the Teac P-988.

Hell of a classy thing for the guy to do. Of course, it helped that I knew him from way back, but it's not like we were best friends or's his web page if you're curious.

This wouldn't be such a big deal, but since I'm older than dirt I have accumulated a couple thousand vinyl LPs that I can't afford to replace...and in some cases I just can't plain ol' can't replace because they're no longer in print and unavailable on CD. So I gots ta have a turntable and have been without one for almost two years now. I can't take it anymore!

First thing I'm gonna listen to is Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. I'm dyin' to hear that LP!
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Happy Bacardi Show Birthday greetings today to everybody's favorite TV wiccan, Alyson Hannigan aka Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Also sharing her birthday is none other than Mr. R. Lee Ermey, an ex-Marine drill instructor who parlayed a memorable turn as a- that's right, you guessed it- Marine drill instructor in Stanely Kubrick's half-brilliant Full Metal Jacket into an acting career that thrives in spite of his utter inability to act. You can see him in the recent remake of Willard with Crispin Glover. The first 45 minutes of FMJ are absolutely hilarious, and the biggest reason for that is Ermey's Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. The picture above is from the jelly donut scene. "Chow is forbidden in the barracks, Private Pyle!"
Good morning. Took the weekend off from blogging, as you're no doubt aware if you're one of the few and presumably proud that read me regularly. Had a lot going on, which kept me away from the ol' iMac.

I've been watching the occasional game in the NCAA tournament, and as a Kentucky fan, so far so good. I used to be a total bracketaholic, was always in at least two tournament bracket pools, hell- I even filled out brackets for the women's tournament a couple of years there...but it got to the point where I was taking it far too seriously, and I would get extremely pissed off when the games didn't go my way (which is not becoming to grown men), so I stopped cold turkey last year, and didn't fill out a bracket, let alone enter a pool, again this year. I think it's better that way...I enjoy watching the games a lot more if I'm not in mortal terror that Winthrop is leading Iona with seconds left. Anyway, my alma mater Western Ky. got a for shit draw, and got eliminated in the first round by Illinois, too bad. Better luck next year, and I do think they'll be better next year. All I can say is go Big Blue.

I'm saddened to report that contrary to my statement the other day, the radio station that I work for part time has dropped the Dixie Chicks from their playlist. I didn't know this until Saturday, when I saw a message from the program director warning the morning DJs to stop bitching about the Chicks, in fact, to stop mentioning them all together, because it was getting out of hand and they were just picking at scabs, so to speak. Good for him, but I wish he hadn't dropped them. How disappointing...I'd expected better from them. Of course, I'm only there infrequently, so I don't have a say in the matter.

Watched most of the Oscar® ceremony last night...wasn't too surprised at the outcomes, except perhaps that Brody fellow getting best actor, and I'm disappointed my beloved Renee Zellweger didn't take home a statue. Oh well, at least she had a good seat. I suppose I should make the effort to see the Pianist someday, but I'm not going out of my way. It was cool to see all the Oscar® winners in the big group shot at the end, but I'm not sure how necessary that was...seemed like they were filling time and that's something that the program doesn't really need. Nice to see lots of Mira Sorvino, too, although I could stand to see more. I thought Steve Martin was often very funny. I would have been shocked and awed if Michael Moore hadn't delivered his tirade, and I was a bit surprised at the restraint shown by most of the participants– especially Barbra Streisand. I thought for a minute there something would pop out, but apparently she had decided not to give her enemies any more ammunition. Conspicuous by its absence from the clip saluting Oscar® musical tributes was Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White. I kinda liked Paul Simon's number, not enough to buy it, though, and thought the number from Chicago that Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones performed could have stood about three dozen fewer dancers.

That's all I got right now, except for a couple of Bacardi Show Birthdays...but it's early and the day promises to be stay tuned.

Friday, March 21, 2003

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I suppose that I could go ahead and give my Oscar® picks for the weekend in the big five categories. Problem is, I haven't seen most of the nominated films, so mine is an uninformed opinion if there ever was one. Also, I wanted to post another picture of Renee Zellweger, and this was a good as any excuse to do so.

BEST PICTURE: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Pianist. Of these, I've only seen Chicago and The Two Towers. I really wanted to see Gangs, but it played the worst shithole theatre in Bowling Green so I decided to wait for the DVD (July 1, by the way). Between the two I did see (and after Tequila Mockingbird's review, I wouldn't see the Hours on a dare) I enjoyed The Two Towers the most, so Two Towers it is. Of course I know damn well that Chicago will win.

In fact, the Two Towers is really getting the shaft this time out. Did all the actors, like Ian McKellen (who should just have his name retired-he's always the best actor regardless of who the other nominees are), suddenly forget their craft? Only two nominees for best makeup, one for slapping a unibrow on Salma Hayek in Frida, and no nomination for a movie that was full of great makeup effects? feh.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:Adrien Brody, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicholson. I haven't seen any of the movies these fellows are nominated for, so I'll root for Day-Lewis because he has that cool moustache and top hat in Gangs. I understand Nicholson was good, too, but the very thought of seeing Kathy Bates naked will cause me to avoid that movie for a LONG time.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Chris Cooper, Ed Harris, Paul Newman, John C. Reilly, Christopher Walken. What we have here are five actors that I always usually like in films, and two which are heroes of mine, Harris and Walken. It'll probably go to Cooper, but I could never vote against Harris.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Julianne Moore, Renée Zellweger. I think you know by now who gets my vote. Sigh. Again, the only movie I saw out of this group was Chicago. Kidman's usually pretty good, and I hear she's great in the Hours, fake nose and all. I'm surprised the same person that nominated Frida for that makeup award didn't nominate this flick as well.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Kathy Bates, Julianne Moore, Queen Latifah, Meryl Streep, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Gotta give Bates credit for being a gamer, and Latifah was a hell of a lot better than I thought she would be...but Zeta-Jones-Douglas was smokin, in more ways than one.

"ACHEIVEMENT IN DIRECTING": Rob Marshall for CHICAGO, Martin Scorsese for GANGS OF NEW YORK, Stephen Daldry for THE HOURS, Roman Polanski for THE PIANIST, Pedro Almodóvar for TALK TO HER. Seems like it will come down to Marshall and Scorcese, and Scorcese may have shot himself in the foot with that bogus campaign thing a few weeks ago, so I say Marshall. But you never know.

What the hell, I'll pick another one:
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Ice Age, Lilo & Stitch, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirited Away, Treasure Planet. My 3 year old nephew Josh adores Spirit, but I haven't seen it. Neither have I seen Spirited Away or Treasure Planet. Ice Age bored me, and Lilo & Stitch was pretty darn good but not I'll choose Spirited Away, which didn't make it to a theatre near me or you can bet your ass I would have been there to see it. From the previews I saw it looked amazing. I'll pick Spirited Away in advance.
You know, I haven't done a music today post in a while. It's been so slow at work that my "sitting and working while listening to music" time has been limited. Anyway, I've listened to the following at various times during the week:

Nick Drake-Bryter Layter (I love "Fly", "Hazey Jane I" and "Northern Sky"), Rolling Stones-Sticky Fingers, (all good, but I especially love "Sway", "Bitch", and "Moonlight Mile", featuring strings by the great Paul Buckmaster) James Brown-20 All-time Greatest Hits! (make it funky!), Van Morrison-Saint Dominic's Preview (I'm really jonesing to hear Astral Weeks right now- it being Spring and all), Coldplay-A Rush of Blood to the Head, Family Stand-Moon in Scorpio (One mighty ass-kicking disc for five songs, then it peters out. But those five songs are fantastic...), Paul Westerberg-Mono/Stereo, and the Mothers of Invention-We're Only In It For the Money.
Friday Five in the hizzouse!

1. If you had the chance to meet someone you've never met, from the past or present, who would it be?

There are at least a dozen people I could name. Right now, I think it would be William Blake. Ask me tomorrow and it will probably be someone else. Definitely someone who has made a big impression on me, for sure.

2. If you had to live in a different century, past or future, which would it be?

It might be interesting to live in the 18th century, when things were so different, a simpler, more agrarian lifestyle was prevalent and some significant things were happening in the world. But then again, health care was nonexistent, and that's a tremendous downside.

3. If you had to move anywhere else on Earth, where would it be?

For several years I wanted to move to Alaska, because it had less people per capita than any state in the US...but this winter has cured me of that, plus I'm not as antisocial as I used to be so now I'm inclined to say Hawaii. I'd open a print shop there. How many can there be in Hawaii? I wouldn't mind giving Japan a chance, too.

4. If you had to be a fictional character, who would it be?

Fafhrd the Barbarian, of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. Those fellows lived large.

5. If you had to live with having someone else's face as your own for the rest of your life, whose would it be?

Well, it would look funny on my body, but I'd say Tom Cruise. Whether or not you think he's much of an actor, you gotta admit he's a handsome sumbitch.
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I told you I'd find some more info about Venus on the on the panels above to go to an issue-by-issue review of, believe it or not, Marvel's 70's reprint comic Weird Wonder Tales where they reprinted three classic Venus stories. I gotta see if I can find those books. On page three of the article the splash page of a story entitled "The Cartoonist's Calamity" is displayed; it's the Venus story I'm most familiar with. There was also another one about the haunted 13th floor of a skyscraper, but I forget where I read that one, damn it.
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Click on the image to find YOUR Cyborg name.
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My little feature on the Sub-Mariner (and by proxy, Bill Everett) below prompted me to think "Boy, wouldn't it be neat to have a nice pinup picture of Everett's Venus character in the picture area at the right side of my page?" I went to my usual sources: Google and Altavista's search engines- and came up with jack. Most of the covers I found with her image just didn't lend themselves to pinups. Here's a cover gallery at the Great Comics Database. Also, here's a pretty cool site with many scans of Marvel/Atlas/Timely comics covers from the 50's-70s. Venus is one of the titles which feature scans, but you'll have to click around a bit.

Anyway, I've always been a bit fascinated with the character, due to reading reprints of her adventures in the 70s Marvel reprint book Weird Wonder Tales. These featured the work of the more refined Everett style, whereas the picture above and the cover to #1 shown in another one of the links I'll provide you shortly are done in his earlier, less accomplished style. And of course, there was her great appearance (bondage cover and all) in the comic I wrote about yesterday. She's made infrequent appearances in Marvel Comics since, most recently (and notably) in the Avengers Forever multi issue time-hopping free-for-all.

Until I can come up with something better (and I intend to keep looking), here's two links to pages that profile the Goddess of Love, from a "Females of the Golden Age" site, from whence I stoled the early Everett illo above, and another by one J.J. Nevins.

She's got it, baby, she's got it.
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Just so you won't think I'm blathering about trivial and inconsequential things while grave events which affect us all are going on, here's an interesting Newsday column by one Leonard Levy.

Here's one from the Washington Post which asks "By Whose Authority?".

And courtesy of Yahoo!, Here's a summary of key developments in Bush's Jihad so far.

You know what worries me about all this? Now that Bushy has had his war, and to hell with what anyone else thinks- either go with me or get the hell out of the way and I'll be back to deal with you later- what's he gonna do for an encore? And who's gonna finally stand up to this pipsqueak bully and his cronies? Just wondering.

I also see where they've taken a poll which finds that 76% of the people surveyed support the war. Well, as they say, duh! What good does it do to protest now? It's a fait accompli! Might as well "support" it. Like someone in Washington's gonna say "Oh, my God, wait- Billy Bob Cooterman in Bugfuck, Tennessee doesn't approve of our war! We've got to shut this thing down STAT!". Personally, the best way to protest now, it seems to me, is at the polls in '04...assuming Bush and his cabal doesn't find a way around that little formality (again)...

Thursday, March 20, 2003

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It's occurred to me that I haven't posted a favorte comic book cover in quite some here's one: Sub-Mariner 57, 1973, by the great Bill Everett. This was from his short-lived comeback to the character he had created in the 40s. He did a couple more issues before his death, but I think this was the best one. Everett had such a graceful style, and he could draw some of the most beautiful women ever. Dig that extremely cool signature under the shark! For a synopsis of this book, go here to a pretty thorough New Warriors site.
80s mix CD 3 is now complete. The tracklist:

Peter Wolf-Lights Out
Toni Basil-Mickey
Hall & Oates-You Make My Dreams Come True
Swing Out Sister-Breakout
Billy Joel-Allentown
George Harrison-When We Was Fab
The B-52’s-Roam
Culture Club- Miss Me Blind
Tears For Fears-Sowing The Seeds of Love
Janet Jackson-Nasty
Joe Jackson-Breaking Us In Two
Wall of Voodoo-Mexican Radio
George Clinton-Atomic Dog
Biz Markie-Just a Friend
Cyndi Lauper-True Colors
Madness-One Step Beyond

My first 80s Beatlesong makes its debut on this disc...I've got tracks in mind for John and Paul, but I haven't ripped the mp3s yet. Again, remember I tried to go for songs I liked, and not necessarily the most well-known or obvious choice. My only criteria is that whatever I put on should be a hit (well, top 100 anyway) single or video played in fairly high rotation on MTV in the 80s. Hence my selection of True Colors instead of Girls Just Want To Have Fun or She Bop for Cyndi Lauper, Sowing the Seeds for Tears For Fears instead of their multitude of hits from that decade ("Head Over Heels" almost made the cut, thanks to its brilliant use in Donnie Darko) or Rapture instead of Heart of Glass for Blondie. As always, comments are encouraged and appreciated. Even those that might say "Who gives a damn, anyway?".

A little something to think about, courtesy of Warren Ellis:

Imagine being in one of those houses. With your family. You never got to dissent. This war's got nothing to do with you. You can hear the sound of the world's big dog scratching and booming outside your door, and you never did anything wrong but to be born there.

The rest can be found here.
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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of March 19

1. LUCIFER 36: As always, a wonderful blend of mythology, religion, character study, and high adventure. Along with the usual interiors by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, we get several pages of usual fill-in guy Dean Ormston, and they're both in fine form. Page 2 by Ormston is one of the creepiest single pages I've seen in a mainstream comic book. A

2. SLEEPER 3: After a tentative beginning, Ed Brubaker is getting up to speed and this is the best issue yet. Some of the back-and-forth between Holden and Miss Misery is priceless, and Ed's little conspiracy theory he introduces has more than a little resonance in these troubled times. Sean Phillips's excellent art is not done any favors by murky, ugly coloring. A-

3. THE TRUTH: RED, WHITE and BLACK 5: Not limiting himself to racial prejudice and bigotry in the American armed forces, Robert Morales introduces the Holocaust into the mix and succeeds admirably (and horribly). Didn't see the last page coming. Kyle Baker's art is no less sloppy than at the beginning, but I think I've grown accustomed to it so it didn't bother me as much as it has before. A-
Haven't heard from the Bacardi Show Political Correspondent for a day or so, but auxiliary contributor Mike Cary has stepped up and provided me with this, from Newsweek, which I found interesting and wished to share with all of youse.

This, on the other hand, I found all by myself.

Despite my notorious attraction to female violinists (or girl fiddlers, if you prefer), I've never really been a Dixie Chicks fan. While they're certainly more interesting than the average mainstream country artist, they're still mainstream country artists, all anti-intellectual and slickly produced. I hear an occasional song that sounds nice, but I just don't really get much of a charge out of that sort of music. I really liked their duet show a month or two ago with James Taylor, especially on "Wide Open Spaces"..but that was mostly due to Taylor, I'm afraid.

Anywho, they've caused a stir lately due to a typically broad, tactless statement made by singer Natalie Maines (who has always struck me as being a mile wide and an inch deep, as the saying goes), criticizing Dubya and causing typically blockheaded country fans and stations (not the one I work for, thank goodness) to boycott them. Kinda like Lennon '65 all over again, except on a smaller scale. For what it's worth, there's a petition you can sign to show support for the Chicks and their free speech rights, and if you care to do so go here. I did, and here's the comment I wrote to accompany it:

Apparently it can't be said often enough: This is America, and Americans still have the right to disagree with and even express dislike for their President. While I think Natalie's statement sounded thickheaded and too broad (kinda like her public persona, actually), she still has the right to say it without fear of reprisal or backlash. Shame on the people who are striking back at the Chicks for exercising their rights as Americans.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Well, it's on.

At least Dubya didn't start his war on my birthday, like his Dad did in 1991.
Time once again for a belated This or That Tuesday Q & A session!

1. Cold frosty ski slopes or warm sandy beach? Warm sandy beach. The winter we've just had has cured me of any cold-weather living ambitions.
2. Chevy or Ford? My dad was a Chevy guy, so I say Chevy. Me, I drive an Isuzu.
3. Mac or PC? Say it loud, I'm Mac and I'm proud!
4. Dial-up or high speed internet access? High-speed, thank God. I did the dial-up thing for a while and it drove me crazy.
5. Small *family-only* wedding or large 200+ guest wedding? Small, family only I suppose. I don't like crowds and they don't like me.
6. Would you rather be the bridesmaid or the bride? (if you are a guy, substitute best man or groom) Best man, I suppose, since I'm already married and bigamy is frowned upon in our culture. Actually, if given the choice I'd decline.
7. AC/DC or ABBA? This is heresy, I know, and I'm straight– but I get more pleasure from "Dancing Queen" than I have from the entire AC/DC catalogue. Actually, I'm not a fan of either.
8. Roses or daisies? Roses. Just a romantic at heart, I suppose.
9. Trashy romance novels or classic literature? Classic literature. I'm just not the trashy romance novel type.
10. NEW! Thought-provoking question of the week...If you had to choose one...would you rather be blind or deaf? Why? That's a hell of a choice. I suppose if I had to choose one, I'd choose blindness so I could at least listen to music. I could possibly stay sane that way. It would make it pretty damn hard to read comics or watch films, though...

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I've recently watched a couple of oddly similar, yet vastly different films about movies and their makers.

Last night, I stayed up way past my bedtime because I got interested in Gods and Monsters, the 1998 embellished account of the last days of Bride of Frankenstein director James Whale, portrayed by Ian McKellen in what has to be one of the finest performances my untrained eyes have ever seen. Other cast members, like Brendan Fraser and Lynn Redgrave, also acquit themselves well. Part of the appeal for me was the excellent re-creations of scenes from Bride, long a favorite film of mine, as well as well-done impersonations of Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff as you can see from the picture above. I found this film completely engrossing and often touching, even after having already seen it once before. You can go here to read reviews that synopsise the film a lot better than I can.

One of Whale's regular players was none other than Dwight Frye, whom you probably know best as Renfield in Lugosi's Dracula. He's got a website devoted to him, and if you want to check it out go here. It's very informative.

Also, a couple of nights ago, I watched Shadow of the Vampire, which is another film at least tangentally about a filmmaker– in this case the German auteur F.W. Murnau. It's based on the supposition that the actor that portrayed Count Orlock in Murnau's great Nosferatu was no actor at all but an actual vampire. I remember being hugely disappointed with this when I saw it after its release on home video; it just seemed to go in all sorts of directions at once and never seemed to settle on what it wanted to be: a biopic, a comedy, a horror film, or a indictment of how filmmaking devours the filmmaker. Adding to the disappointment was a great-on-paper cast including John Malkovich as Murnau, Willem Dafoe (creepy enough sans makeup) as "actor" Max Schreck, Eddie Izzard and Cary Elwes (I'm beginning to really appreciate how good this guy is) which, with the exception of Dafoe (who eerily recreated Schreck's ratlike Count), were not really done justice by the all-over-the-place script. This time, though, I just kicked back and watched, and I think it made a better impression on me. I laughed in a few places and was pretty caught up in the delirious ending, when everything falls apart in grisly fashion but Murnau keeps on filming no matter what. I still think Shadow was a failure, but it's an entertaining failure.

For a laugh, go look at Max Schreck's bio page on IMDb. Not only does it list a link to an agent and publicity but it also lists, as his sole TV credit, an episode of Spongebob Squarepants!
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Happy Bacardi Show Birthday greetings go out to Mr. Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan starred and was very memorable in a number of TV programs and films over the last forty years, running the gamut from Disney movies like the Three Lives of Thomasina (not a bad flick, actually) to Mel Gibson's Oscar winning Braveheart to television series like the Prisoner, Secret Agent AKA Danger Man and my personal favorite, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. That's a picture of McGoohan as Dr. Syn, alias the Scarecrow at right. It was stolen shamelessly from a wonderfully complete Scarecrow website by one Tom Hering. Click on the preceding link to go there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Just finished my second 80s CD. Here's the tracklist:

Marshall Crenshaw-Someday, Someway
Madonna-Like A Virgin (featuring the amazing drums of Tony Thompson)
Adam Ant-Strip
Godley + Creme-Cry
Prince-Alphabet St.
Duran Duran-A View To A Kill
The Art of Noise-Close To the Edit
Crowded House-Don't Dream, It's Over (one of the best pop songs ever written, in my humble opinion)
Fleetwood Mac-Big Love
Human League-Human
Herbie Hancock-Rockit
Debbie Gibson-Foolish Beat (yeah, that's right, Debbie Gibson. This has a great melody and I've always liked it in spite of myself.)
Dream Academy-Life in a Northern Town
Kate Bush-Running Up That Hill
Tom Tom Club-Genius of Love
Frank Zappa-Valley Girl
RUN-D.M.C.-It's Tricky

I don't know, but I might wind up listening to this one more than the first...
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Clicking around on the ol' web this morning (while I should be working, I know, but there's nothing to do right now), I noticed an article on Ain't It Cool News about the upcoming 2004 film Van Helsing, which stars Hugh Jackman as the famed vampire fighter in his youth. Apparently he will encounter and battle all sorts of classic monsters, including Frankenstein's. It's by the fellow who made the recent Mummy films, which I liked OK, the first more so than the sillier, broader sequel.

This has the potential, methinks, to be either a colossal cluster fuck or one of the greatest action/adventure/horror/fantasy films ever. I flat out love the basic premise. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they're able to remain on track and it doesn't become a debacle like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film seems to have become.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Well, I suppose I should do my Blogging duty and comment on Dubya's "Yew got forty-aight airs tew git outta Dodge" speech. Problem is, I didn't watch it. I was doing some stuff on the computer and didn't feel like stopping. Besides, I pretty much knew what he was going to say. It was inevitable– he's bound and determined to joust with that windmill and will brook no interference.

Maybe it's just the bleak mood I've been in lately, but I just don't see how we as a country are going to come out of this one without being as shaken up as we were by 9/11. Perhaps this was the long range goal of Bin Laden after all, who knows. Between the cost to our economy, and the cost of young lives on foreign soil, the cost of personal freedoms here at home, and the cost of our stature in the international community...I just hope it's worth it, that's all I can say.

Like the Stupid Evil Bastard says, "If you didn't have a good reason to get drunk before you sure as hell do now!"
Checked out Bill (Fables) Willingham's rebuilt site earlier this evening, see link at right, and was led to a seperate Fables site...which in turn led me to the web site of cover artist James Jean. That be some good shit, mon, check it out.
According to the good ol' Diamond Shipping List, I'm getting the following tomorrow:


That's (as the pig says) all, folks! I might take advantage of the light haul to pick up the two issues of Captian America: What Price Glory that I don't have, but I doubt it. If I had an extra 50 simoleons, I'd snag that Golden Age Spectre Archive, but I don't so I won't. C'est la vie. Rest assured this paltry haul will be reviewed, whether anybody wants me to or not.
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The winter of 1974-1975 was a significant period in developing my musical tastes for many years. Back then, in my town, there was a Ben Franklin five & dime store and a drug store, and both carried LPs and eight-track tapes. It was at about this time that I started getting a significant allowance, and of course much of it went for records...God forbid I should actually save it or something like that. Anyway, over that winter I received as Christmas gifts or bought with my own money such albums as Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece, George Harrison's Dark Horse, Ringo Starr's Goodnight Vienna, Mott The Hoople Live, Jefferson Starship's Dragon Fly, Yes' Relayer, Rod Stewart's Smiler, Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance, John Lennon's Walls And Bridges, Leo Sayer's Just A Boy, and the album you see above: Traffic's When the Eagle Flies.

I remember picking this up at Caverna Drugs on a cloudy, bitterly cold January day. Back then, whenever I needed to go to town I walked (it wasn't that far) and took in the scenery, walking through and by open fields and streets lined with trees and old houses between my house and town. The album cover caught my eye– an atmospheric two-part spread (I don't have a scan of the back cover, sorry) done in pen-and-ink with the band members standing on a rustic hillside, eagle flying overhead, factories and a cityscape off in the distance on the back. It's a wonderful illustration, complete with a seperate descriptive illo for each song next to the lyrics on the inner sleeve, and this has long been one of my favorite covers. I distinctly remember walking home that grey January afternoon (couldn't have been much over 20 above) observing the skeletal trees and grey skies (looking a lot like the album cover). I placed this on the turntable while my Mom (probably fussing at me for not wearing a hat) fixed some soup when I got home, and I was entranced by the music I heard...I honestly hadn't been exposed to much jazz-rock, let alone jazz before, the early Chicago being the sole exception. I risk boring you with all this because rarely have I ever heard music that captured the mood around me like that. It's these sort of memories that tend to color my perception of certain albums, I'm afraid.

When the Eagle Flies was the last album by Traffic's original lineup. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Steve Winwood had originally intended it to be a solo album, similar to the way he had written 1970's John Barleycorn Must Die as a solo effort. I also seem to recall that he was ill before and during the sessions, which may explain a few things about why WtEF turned out the way it did. For more background on the convoluted history of Traffic, please go here. While they had been touring previously with as many as eight members just a year before, WtEF was recorded with a nucleus of four members: Winwood, drummer Jim Capaldi, flautist Chris Wood, and bassist Rosko Gee, and the songs (with one exception) turned out more succinct and less drawn out than in the past. The general sound of the album is jazz-rock, with a definite prog flavor to some of the tracks thanks to the judicious use of the Mellotron on several cuts. And I'll admit straight up that the album often has a listless, wan feel, perhaps due to Winwood's illness and perhaps to copious amounts of drugtaking. I wasn't there, can't say for sure. Still, this listlessness adds, in my opinion, invaluably to the mood of this music and is a big reason why I have responded so strongly.

Track-by-track: the opener, Something New, features a horn section which makes it sound a lot like Blood, Sweat, & Tears or early Chicago, and is probably the most uptempo cut on the entire album. Essentially a relationship song, it almost feels like a warm-up number. The next cut, Dream Gerrard, sported lyrics by the Bonzo Dog Band's Vivian Stanshall and is a surreal, clever and lengthy statement about imagination vs. realism. It's the one cut in which this incarnation of Traffic actually cuts loose and improvises over a jazzy, mellotron-enhanced landscape. While it may have tested the patience of some, I have always found it mesmerizing and it never fails to conjure up memories of winter in my mind. Cut 3, Graveyard People, is similar in its feel but nowhere near as long. Essentially an observation about types of personalities, it also features a bit of jazzy improvisation and liberal synth licks. Track 4, Walking in the Wind is another rumination on people and living and features a great jazzy bassline underpinning as well as a swelling chorus that brings the song to some nice peaks. Memories of a Rock 'n' Rolla is next, and is written from the point of view of an aged musician who's had it all, lost it, and is looking back on his life and what music means to him. Perhaps Capaldi's feeling sorry for himself, don't know, but taken on its own terms it's actually quite touching and features a nice up-tempo horn part at the end, in contrast to the meandering first three quarters of the track. Next to Gerrard, this is to me the best song on the album. Love is next, and it's, well, a love song with nicely played flute accompaniment by Wood. Not a particularly outstanding track, but not bad and it totally fits into the mood. The album's title track and finale is driven by a rolling piano riff and is essentially a plea to help the ecology, livened by Winwood's impassioned cry "Do you hear me...Mother Nature" which abruptly comes after an apocalyptic-sounding montage of radio effects and noise about three-quarters of the way through the song.

This album has had an unusual history. I seem to recall that it came out on Asylum Records in the US at first; it was part of a multi-label transaction between Columbia, Island (Traffic's usual label), and Asylum that also resulted in Bob Dylan's Planet Waves album being released on Asylum as well. Possibly as a result of its complicated label situation, it has never been officially released on compact disc over here, available only as an import. I don't want to tell you what I paid for my copy, which I really wanted despite the fact that I already had the vinyl. When all the Traffic albums were released on CD in the late 80s WtEF was conspicuous by its absence. These days it seems to be mostly unknown to all but the most ardent Traffic fans, despite the fact that it was a gold album and hit the top 10 in the USA!

When the Eagle Flies got under my skin back in 1975, and has never left, despite the fact that everything Winwood's done since has been mediocre at best and horrible at worst. That's the way it always seems to work for me. I usually always cite it as one of my absolute favorite albums, and this is my way of trying to explain and justify it. If you haven't heard it, I hope you can get the chance to someday. I doubt that it will affect anyone the same way it has me, but hey, you never know.
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From all of me to all of you, happy St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

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Bacardi Show Birthday greetings all around to, from l-r:

Ry Cooder, slide guitarist, music historian, and soundtrack composer extraordinaire. While I must admit that I've always enjoyed Ry more as a session man than as a solo artist, he's still an overlooked great.

Sly Stone, who helped expand my young mind when at the age of 12 I prevailed upon my parents to buy me a copy of Sly and the Family Stone's Greatest Hits. Personal excesses dulled his edge and his talents, and he lives as a sorely missed recluse these days. Happy birthday to ya anyway, Sylvester.

Sananda Maitreya, AKA Terence Trent D'Arby. Speaking of gifted recluses, it's been many a moon since a TTD CD has graced American stores. While I liked a track or two off his debut, it was his second album, "Neither Fish Nor Flesh" that grabbed me and made me a fan. He changed his name in 2001.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Well, here it is, 9:30. And I apolgize. I got nothin. To use a Steve Winwood lyric, "sometimes I feel so uninspired" and tonight's one of those nights. So I hope you'll all give me a mulligan and tune back in tomorrow. Hopefully my drunken crack whore muse will return and hit me over the head with her bottle of Thunderbird, enabling me to write something interesting. I'm mulling over a piece about an obscure Traffic album I love (isn't it neat how I worked that Stevie WInwood ref in above?) and an overlooked Marvel/Epic comics series I'm hoping to re-read tomorrow, as soon as I can get over to me Ma's where my collection is.

In the meantime, here's a link I found at Brendan aka the Leptard's site: The Van Morrison Website. It's quite thorough. Also, here's the Michael Lark (Gotham Central, Scene of the Crime) page at You can spend an evening clicking on and enjoying (and even buying if you've got the chedda. I don't.) page after page of his original art from several of the comics he's worked on for the last few years, including Gotham Central and Terminal City. It's interesting to compare the clean art of Terminal City with the way his stuff looks now on Gotham. Curiously, no Scene of the Crime pages. Guess he doesn't want to let them go.

Oyasumi Nasai.
Friday Five time.

1. Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not? Depends on who I'm talking to. But mostly, no. I see it as a necessary evil. I suppose that speaks to my immense insecurities.

2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone? a fellow named Bobby Madison, here at work. He needed an object scanned.

3. About how many telephones do you have at home? At last count, three, not counting cell phones.

4. Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened? Not that I recall. But I do hate it when people call you and just say "HEY" or whatever, just assuming that you know who it is from their voice. I'm terrible at identifying people by their voice alone.

5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not? Again, it depends. If it's a long distance call, and emailing is a possiblity, then I would prefer to go that route. But if it's someone nearby I'd rather call (Unless it's somebody else's wife or girlfriend. Those situations can be so uncomfortable). It's quicker, and life is short.

Friday Five COMPLETE! Woo hoo!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

NPR will be airing the Lost Beatle Tapes tomorrow at 2 PM EST. Think I'll try to tune in if I can.

You'll also notice that the annoying white space at right has retreated back into its normal allocated area. Many thanks to the tireless efforts of the Johnny Bacardi Tech Support crew. Stalwart lads all.

Well, OK, actually it's only me. Saw right through that one, dinja.

This would be as good a place as any to acknowledge the help and assistance of Ted Eysenbach, one of the Internet guys where I work. Since I don't know how to write code, I've had a lot of questions and run into a lot of problems maintaining this blog since day one and he's the guy I pick on. He's always been helpful and knowledgeable, and he's a cool dude as well. So if there is a JB Tech Support technician, he am it. Thanks, Ted!
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Like many Buffy fans, I've watched the last two weeks' worth of its spinoff series Angel, mostly due to its connections to BTVS via the return of the Faith character. After two episodes, all I can say is that I don't know what to think. When the Angel series premiered, my cable company did not provide us with a WB affiliated network so I missed the first season (as well as most of two seasons of BTVS). By the second season, we had a WB channel but I decided not to watch the show, mostly because I didn't want to have to figure out what I had missed previously. So before last Wednesday, I had never watched a single episode. However, the allure of Eliza Dushku was too much for me to resist, so I tuned in.

It seems like the underlying plotlines of the two shows are similar; a malevolent force is able to assume the shape of one of the trusted inner circle and cause problems. The apparent difference being that Buffy's First Evil only impersonates dead people, and Angel's villain seems to possess living people, specifically Cordy. I don't think she's dead, anyway...I wouldn't know. It would be cool if the two shows would be interrelated like that; I find it far fetched that there would be two Ultimate Evils, one in LA and one in Sunnydale, both independent of each other. I like the basic cast OK, although I still don't understand the interrelationships, like the apparent triangle between Wesley, the girl with the glasses and the young bald guy. The kid who's supposed to be the offspring of two vampires (although I'm a bit at a loss as to how he has demon blood, too) is an interesting character. I miss Faith the way she used to be, a impulsive badass instead of the weepy punching bag she is at present. The scene where she punches out the shower wall was...diverting, I guess, but I kept thinking what a bitch it would be to be stepping on broken tile and concrete while showering. I remember Angel from BTVS as whiny, brooding lunkhead except, of course, when he lost his soul for a while there and became an annoying, obnoxious, overbearing loudmouth asshole. Pleased to report that characterization hasn't changed. These last two episodes have had me gritting my teeth, he's so annoying. An intriguing possibility, though, is the one that Bill Sherman brings up: He's faking, since he hasn't really killed anybody yet. He's only beat them to a pulp while running his mouth constantly. Could be. Hope so, actually, but I also hope that one of the LA Scoobies kicks him in the nuts for being such a jerk when it's all over.

Next week looks promising due to the guest appearance of Willow. Maybe if more of the Buffy cast ends up on the show, then I'll watch after this crossover event is done!
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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of March 12

1. BATGIRL YEAR 1 4 In which young Barbara is given an audition of sorts by the head Bat himself, with somewhat unexpected and charming results. I've been buying a lot of Bat-books over the last few years, and I think this is one of the best I've ever read...and that includes many of the fine Rucka/Martinbrough Detective Comics stories. Special kudos to the artists, Marcos Martín and Alvaro Lopez, for their superlative renditions of Batman and Batgirl. A

2. H-E-R-O 2 Sockamagee! By smartly approaching this from a character-driven, rather than plot or gimmick-driven angle, Will Pfiefer gives us a interesting new take on this hoary old DC staple. I'm really liking the art of this Kano fellow, which looks something like Duncan Fregredo mixed with John Paul Leon, with a dash of Will Eisner to add spice. I don't know why I didn't pick up #1– just overlooked it I suppose, and now it's probably too late unless I'm willing to pay out the ass, but I do know this-I'm on board now until the inevitable cancellation, which I figure to be around issue 9. A

3. GOTHAM CENTRAL 5 Hugely satisfying finale to Ed Brubaker's run, with all the plot threads tied up nicely and many things which didn't read right to me at the beginning getting clarified. Again, well drawn by Michael Lark, who seems to be growing into this sloppy style he's adopted. Rucka's got a hard act to follow! A

4. ULTIMATES 9 I don't read the Ultimate-bashing message board threads anymore, but I can imagine that the haters are still out in force and they won't be placated by this issue. On the one hand, you've got Cap acting like a sanctimonious prig at the outset, only to get shot down and embarrassed by the Wasp at the end. I liked the latter and hated the former– But you know, that's OK. These aren't your father's Marvel Super Heroes (or the ones from my youth, for that matter!), and these events are perfectly logical and consistent with what's been laid down before in this title. It's all about context. I suppose Giant-Man had it coming, and it pains me as a longtime fan of the character of my childhood to see this. But as it was from day one, the characters are diverse, multi-dimensional, and come across as real like 'em or no and I will always appreciate that approach. What I don't like is feeling that I have to justify my support of this book every time I review an issue! The art? The art is, as usual, great. A

5. FABLES 11 In which Bill Willingham cobbles a story out of old Civil War, hillbilly, and plantation legends, and pretty much gets away with it, although he needs to work on writing out southern dialect, fake or not. I've never been a fan of Bryan Talbot's stiff and mannered art, and nothing I see here changes that. B+

6. THE FILTH 9 I think next time Grant Morrison decides to do a "getting the reader up to speed" issue, he would be better served by having much of the exposition voiced by a character that doesn't speak in such a deep Scottish brogue. 'Twas damn near unreadable, it was. Weston and Erskine did a nice job, especially on the more hallucinatory aspects of the script. That's got to be a hell of a task, illustrating Morrison's wacked out ideas... B+

7. HELLBLAZER SPECIAL: LADY CONSTANTINE 4 Take a character with zero charisma, put her in a story that's not terrible in itself but seems stitched together from all sorts of sources, illustrate it in a pedestrian manner, and this is what you end up with. I had a feeling I wouldn't like this very much when it first came out, and I wasn't wrong. I've got to learn to pay attention to my instincts more. C+

8. JSA 46 This series seemed to be on the upswing a month or two ago, but that momentum is gone and I will be soon as well. Dumb, dull, cliche-ridden script that features way too much expository dialogue and has characters constantly referring to themselves by their names (a pet peeve of mine) along with busier than usual and sloppily inked art. The only reason I'm hanging around is to see the return of a longtime favorite character, Eclipso (although I don't think I'm gonna be too happy at the way he's written-call it a hunch)...then I'm outta here like Vladimir, but not before they soak me for a double-size #50, I'll bet! C

9. KILLRAVEN 6 That I ranked this below JSA should give you an idea about what I thought of it. On its own terms, this was a well drawn, poorly scripted Mad Max knockoff that existed merely as a bargaining chip for Alan Davis to get more scripting work as well as art assignments. Problem is for me, this isn't like some obscure Marvel character I never cared about, this is a concept, character and series that meant a lot to me growing up and so I'm inclined to judge it unfairly. I probably shouldn't have bought it in the first place...but like I said in one of the first reviews I wrote of this series, KR was a friend of mine, and I felt like I needed to be there for him through good times and bad. C-
I'm still a ways away from having comics reviews ready, but one of the best that I read was the new DC series H-E-R-O, and here's a link to a short interview with its writer, Will Pfeifer, who also wrote another quirky series I liked, Finals with Jill Thompson.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

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Sunset at Mammoth Cave National Park, not far from where I live, last Saturday. Photo taken by my son. Ain't it purty?
Socialist - You believe the free market can be
beneficial, but that a large and powerful state
is necessary to redistribute the wealth of the
top classes to those of the bottom. You also
think that basic utilities and trasportation
should be publicly owned. Your historical role
model is Eugene Debs.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I was an art major in college, not political science, so I have no clue about who this fellow is. Subject for further research, to be sure.
I gots some mad links to drop on yoass. Mondo Linko.

First, wonder of wonders, the Stones are bad boys again, thanks to the Chinese government! Go here.

Next, Pete Bagge is at it again with another amusing strip at Reason Online. Found at Egon.

While clicking around for online images of that amusing l'il fellow from the underground comics of the 60s, the Checkered Demon, I ran across this interview with his creator, S. Clay Wilson, which originally appeared in Goblin magazine. Another interesting piece was this interview with former Fug Ed Sanders, as well as this piece on the Fugs themselves. I really wish I had those old Fugs sole listening experience with them is through those Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders albums of so long ago.

At the same site from whence the Virginia Lee Burton profile came is this profile of Wanda Hazel Gag, whose work interests me a lot. That name is so familiar to me, I know I read one of those books cited in the profile as a child, but none of them ring bells. Oh well, maybe they'll ring yours.

From the Political Desk comes this and this, which I think most of you have seen, but if not...

Finally, when reading about the passing of Pete Millar over at Flat Earth, I was directed via Journalista! to a couple of sites that referenced the magazine that Millar co-founded and did a lot of work for during my formative years: CARtoons. Here's another site of a CARtoons contributor, George Trosley. There was some great stuff in that magazine, and I wish that A. I had been able to buy more of them and B. that I had kept what I had in better shape!

That's it for now!

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Today's birthday of note is that of the pride of Massachusetts, singer slash songwriter James Taylor. Never really listened to his music growing up, although it was all over the know, Fire and Rain, You've Got A Friend, Handy Man, Shower The People, etcetera, etcetera. It wasn't until 1979 when, at the prompting of none other than Bill Lloyd, I checked out his then current Flag album, and it blew me away. It's much better than AMG would have you think. As is my wont, I then proceeded to fill in the gaps in my collection acquiring such excellent records as Gorilla, In The Pocket, JT, and of course Sweet Baby James, all in that fine (to me) early to mid 70s L.A. singer-songwriter style. I even scored a copy of his hard-to-find first album on Apple (Apple record collector me), and found myself a fan ever after. One teensy problem– after that, Taylor lost the plot and didn't make another record half as interesting as Flag and its predecessors... and while there was an occasional nice tune (Copperline) by the 90s I had pretty much lost interest in the creative endeavors of Mr. Taylor. Too many slickly produced and bland albums. That happens to me a lot, it seems...I finally discover an artist based on his or her current release, then nothing he or she does thereafter that comes close to being as good in my mind. Sigh.

Anywho, happy BSBD to ya, James.

Oh- I was very impressed and enjoyed very much a recent special on CMT, of all places, in which Taylor performed live with the Dixie Chicks. They did a version of "Wide Open Spaces", with Taylor singing lead, that was outstanding and quite moving. Again, the older I get, the more of an old softie I become I guess.
After reading this latest bit of silliness from the Leaders of the Free World, I'm wondering whether the next time I throw the ol' flying lip lock on Mrs. Bacardi I should call it "Freedom Kissing". Or maybe a "miraculous event". Whatever.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Looking into that crystal ball that is the Diamond Shipping List, it looks like tomorrow I'll be getting

JSA #46

A couple of series that I've been underwhelmed by, and in fact am delighted to see end, are Killraven and Lady Constantine. Fables is a fill-in and doesn't look promising. Looking forward to the new Ultimates (I'll believe it when I see it), Batgirl Year 1, and H.E.R.O. 2. I wish I had been on the ball when #1 came out, I didn't pick it up and now it's sold out, as is #2 already. Looks like another "hot" book, which means at least that maybe it will get collected. Fortunately, I read an online preview so I at least have a small clue about what looks like an excellent comic. We shall see. Gotta go– Futurama's on!