Saturday, July 31, 2004

Bon soir. Comics commentary, reviews, whatever the hell you want to call them, coming later- I'm going to my comics shop after I get off work, and I'll look to see if anything came out, like Sleeper and Powers, that I didn't get in my holds folder last Wednesday. So I'll wait until tonight or tomorrow. As if you were wondering...

Say, why not go affix your virtual signature to the Seaguy petition?

Happy to see that Alan David Doane is back on the blogging warpath; he's been missed.

And with that, having run out of anything else to say, he abruptly stops typing and hits the "publish" button.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Remember walking with you by my side
You were my Papa and I was your pride
Now I've got children and I'm going grey
No time for talking I got nothin' to say

Those Sunday dinners that we had at home
Now I've got a house and I've got friends of my own
We can't do tomorrow what we did yesterday
It's best that we're going our separate ways, OK

How is your rheumatism (nothing to say)
How are your chilblains (nothing to say)
How's Aunty Mabel (nothing to say)
So far Papa, I got nothin' to say, OK

Those happy days we spent together
We thought our world would never change
How the days go by
And things will never be the same

You keep pretending that everything's fine
So you make small talk to help pass the time
But all the words that you spit from your face
Add up to nothin' you got nothin' to say

How are those noisy neighbors next door
I'll have to go soon 'cos I'm getting bored
I gotta be home early to see a good play
So far Papa, I got nothin' to say

How is your life insurance (nothing to say)
How is your trade union (nothing to say)
How is your Independence (nothing to say)
So for Papa, I got nothin' to say

-Nothing To Say, by Raymond Douglas Davies on the 1968 album Arthur: Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.

Kinda summing up my attitude today, sorry to say. Not that I have a father around to sing this to, mind you...I'm just referring to the title more than anything. I really need to get a copy of that album one of these days...

But since you probably came here via the Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron 5000, I suppose I should write something, to justify your faith in me to post something readable. I bought some comics yesterday, including most on my list from Monday, but not all. Happy to report that my copy of Demo 8 showed up...but I didn't get Powers 2 or Sleeper 2. Sigh. A new Mojo came out as well, but I didn't buy it...I'll save it for a less heavy week. Of course, I will review them right here as soon as I can finish reading 'em. Really enjoyed the latest New Frontier, despite the emphasis on that ridiculous Green Lantrin character, or whatever his name is. As a tiny part of the Great Basement Cleaning Undertaking, I took a box of about 45 Playboys and Penthouses from the late 80s-early 90s to my shop, to see if they'd give me something for 'em. We shall see. Hopefully they'll give me enough to turn around and give it right back to them in exchange for some TPB's and CD's...

Been listening to some music that I obtained through...shall we say, less than upfront methods- Goldfrapp's Black Cherry, downloaded in its entirety via LimeWire (don't worry- I will still buy this ASAP. The files have some defects in places), and Morning Glory-The Tim Buckley Anthology, copied from a friend's copy. I've been dying to hear Cherry since it came out last year, and I'm not disappointed. It's a different direction for Alison G and Will Gregory, more harsh electro-funk than the sweeping lushness of their first album Felt Mountain. Kinda like Human League meets Trent Reznor meets Eurythmics meets Bjork meets Shirley Bassey, I guess. Memo to the James Bond people: you need to let Goldfrapp do the next Bond song, pronto. Buckley I've known about for years, but have never been moved to check out his albums, although I did get real curious right about the time his son Jeff did Grace. I downloaded a track or three, but I wasn't bowled over by what I heard. That being said, I knew that I had only scratched the surface of his work, so when I got the opportunity to sample this set, I jumped. Buckley's mostly folk-rockish music is said to be very diverse...and I'm beginning to believe it after a couple of listens to the two-disc set. I haven't really processed it all yet. Hopefully more on that topic later. One kinda cool thing- included in this set, the last track even, is his acoustic performance of "Song of the Siren" from The Monkees TV show, which I remember very well.

Watched a movie last night, The Italian Job. Last year's remake, that is. Good-to-great cast, but the script's never as clever as it thinks it is and there are very few thrills to be had, after all is said and done...but strange thing- it's never boring. Nice opening heist, and the finale's moderately rousing as well. I wouldn't go out of my way to rent it, but an agreeable time-waster. Ed Norton is certainly making a career out of playing creeps and jerks, isn't he? I kept wondering where the hell the police were while all of this was going on. I know Sean Green's character had buggered up the traffic lights, but geez, the NYCPD has helicopters, don't they? And officers on foot? Charlize Theron is nice to look at, but who the hell keeps telling her to shave her eyebrows? I mean, where are they anyway? Oscar ceremony pictures? Nope, no eyebrows. Monster? Barely there, but hell, she's in heavy makeup. I know, I know, what it is really is that they're too light to be seen easily. But she just looks creepy...she should do something to darken them. Yeah, like she's gonna take my advice. Y'know, I've never seen the original version of this flick. Maybe I will someday.

Geez. Nothing to say, huh? Guess you get on a roll, then you're butta. Guess I'm done now. Gonna sit down and do the Sketch of the Day for the Sketchblog before the day's over!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Holy Mackanoley, do I love Alex Toth art. And funnily enough, the work of his that I love the most is his 60s and 70s work for DC, Warren and others. Over at, they've posted part one and part two of a 70s Black canary story that Toth did with Denny O'Neil in Adventure Comics, which I could swear I used to have, but the cover for part two doesn't look familiar at all so I suppose I saw it reprinted somewhere a little later. It's presented here with interesting annotations by Toth. You, little misses and misters, should go check it out, 'cause it's GOOD. If a little dated.

In the spirit of credit where credit is due, Graeme at Fanboy Rampage first pointed it out.
Well. It seems like I have a new name (as if I didn't have enough already, oy my aching head). Per General Smallnuts, I am now Commander Bushytail of the Squirrel Army!

I am honored and will fulfill my duties to the best of my ability, SIR!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hang on, I'm gonna skip around from topic to topic. I haven't done a rambling post in some time now, intentionally that is, so here goes.

After looking at several of the San Diego Comicon reports online, I can see that a very good time was there for the having, and many did just that. However, on the other side of that coin, I come away with two observations. One, after looking at the pictures posted at 4CR, one of which I stole and posted above, I'm not so unhappy about not being able to attend. That is one humongous mass of humanity, and I'll bet it was heck trying to get around. Second, I have rarely felt as much like an ancient old geezer as I did when I was looking at some of the Pants Presser's photos, and saw the pic of Scary-Go-Round's John Allison, not to mention some of the pros I've seen in other places. Allison, whose SGR and Scareodeleria online comics remind me a lot of Friends as done by Charles Addams, writes and illustrates with a tone and skill which would belie his apparent callow youthfulness. Then again, he may just be a really young-looking 30-year-old. Who the hell knows. Anyway, if you would viddy these photo reports I've been gazing upon yourselfs, go here. And here. And here. Ian Brill has some interesting reports as well, not to mention a dynamite-looking page design.

Some, not a lot, of interesting announcements from the big companies came out at the SDCC, and as usual I found myself most intrigued by many of the upcoming Vertigo projects. I keep thinking I'll list them and post my thoughts on them and other Comicon announcements, but I'll probably keep thinking about it and thinking about it until several months have gone by and it will be beside the point.

What am I listening to today, you may ask? Besides the voices in my head? Stone Temple Pilots' No.4. Camper Van Beethoven-Key Lime Pie. Deep Purple-Who Do We Think We Are?. Bjork's Vespertine. Just can't warm up to that one. Another I've been listening to today is Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily. Now Natalie is an artist who has always appealed to me despite my better judgment. Her music on her own (that I've heard- more on that later) and with 10,000 Maniacs was usually listenable, despite often being somewhat bland & slick. Natalie's contribution was usually the most problematic- her lyrics are groaningly pretentious when they're not stiff, clumsy and awkward, and she sings them in a voice that more often as not reminds me of Zsa Zsa Gabor, dahlings. You know- "They say I must be vun of the vonders, God's own creation". Anyway, even after all this, there's something in the sheer stubborn determined earnestness of what she does that wins me over, even though I fully recognize that I should know better. Case in point, the righteous lather she works herself up in way back on 1987's "What's The Matter Here" from the In My Tribe album. She is positively fervent and convincing as she reads a child abuser the riot act, and that song more than any other made me tolerant of what she's about. Tigerlily was her first solo release after she dumped the other Maniacs, and it's a low-key affair, quiet, folky and often even jazzy in places. Of course, you remember the hits, for good or ill- "Jealousy", the aforementioned "Wonder", and "Carnival", with a jazzy, laid-back vibe that I liked. I don't think this is a bad album, but outside of those songs and about two others, the other tracks just don't make much of an impression, and I think that's why I didn't go out of my way to pick up its follow-up Ophelia, or the two or three albums she's done subsequently. Oh well, maybe I'll remedy that someday. And that's what I've listened to today. So far.

Go here for, the official Mike Nesmith lyric site. One of my favorite Nez songs and lyrics: St.Matthew.

Saw a couple of movies over the weekend, well, actually one and a half. The one, S.W.A.T., the Sam Jackson/Colin Farrell profit-taker which managed to keep me diverted for most of its 2 hours plus. Lotsa shooting and explosions and attitude, completely predictable in every way, but all in all a passable way to kill some time if you're in need of that sort of thing. Later that evening, I caught a screening of the John Cusack film Max, about young pre-horrible dictator slash struggling artist Adolf Hitler's art dealer. I had heard about this odd film for a while, but this was my first opportunity to view it. I wish I could tell you what I thought about it, but I fell asleep before it was over, at about 2 AM. It's not that the film was dull, actually far from it- it was very interesting and well acted. But at some point I laid my head back and shut my eyes, and I was done. Hopefully, it will come on again and I can finish it. Only my twisted mind could process such disparate films in the same evening. Maybe that's why I went to sleep- my brain overloaded. Also over the weekend I was delighted to see the season two premiere of Showtime's Dead Like Me, which, despite showing a little rust in a few subtle places, was still very enjoyable. Can't wait to see where it's all going this year.

Haven't done any sports rambling for a while, either, so here goes. My White Sox are dead but just don't know it yet without Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas, out until September at the earliest. The body's still stumbling around, but it won't be long before it collapses, and the first sign was the loss to the Twins last night. My fantasy team in the money league is the same way...injuries and bad luck have completely negated my hot start and now I find myself in 5th place, 24 points out of 1st and 6 1/2 out of fourth. Stick a fork in me. Ricky Williams? Oh jeez. As with Barry Sanders, he was perfectly within his rights to walk away, but his timing couldn't have been worse. Fortunately, I'm neither a Dolphins fan (quite the contrary) or his fantasy owner, so I'm not as bent out of shape about it as some, I'm sure, are. Speaking of the NFL, my Atlanta Falcons open training camp today, oh boy oh boy. And that's the sports post of the week.

I've posted another sketch on my sketch blog, first in a series that I hope will keep me drawing more often. The plan is to do a "Comic Book Character of the Day" series, in which I shall do a daily drawing of a, that's right, you guessed it, comic book character. I take requests, so go over to the JBSB and make it known! I'm kinda toying with the notion of accepting commissions, in case there's some sucker, I mean some nice person crazy enough to commission me to draw them something...but I haven't decided what to do about that yet. I'm also trying to get a couple of spot illos done for a story written by recent burglary victim Rick Geerling of Eat More People renown. Go visit his Amazon wish list, link at his site, and buy him something, mkay?

On a personal note, nothing new on the job search front. There have been a few things pop up lately, and I've dutifully submitted resumés for each and every one, but have had no response so far. I even had the frustrating displeasure of submitting a resumé for a graphics job with Plus Mark, a Franklin, Tennessee American Greetings affiliate. That's not the bad part, obviously- here's what made it such an incredible bitch- I was contacted a few days later by someone from their HR department, and she left a message. Now, I work roughly 8 to 5, then drive 40 minutes home and stop by to record voice tracks for my radio station job. I get home about 6:30-7, of course too late to return the call and have any hope of speaking to her. I call back anyway, and leave a voice mail message telling her when I can be reached at home. She calls back a couple of days later, of course when I'm not home. Complicating things is that the Daily Snooze has a "no long distance phone calls" policy, which makes it impossible for me to call her during her office hours.. I return the call, and leave another message including my number here at the Snooz (something with which I'm VERY uncomfortable, since I have no privacy here) and even my email address, if she'd care to contact me that way. Since then, nothing. I've called several times, even borrowed a friend's cell phone and called during what should be her office hours, and left messages every time...but have never reached her in person. This went on for about 2-3 weeks, so I can safely assume that by now they've hired someone who's a bit easier to reach on the telephone. This just pisses me off no end. People, I HATE the gorram job search process.

That's all I can think of right now. Kinda slow at work today, can't you tell? Maybe more later.
Although I'm actually encouraged by the comics blogsphere, if for a different reason. I like the idea that the folks who go on every day and write and rant and comment are doing it for no other reason than they seem to be compelled to put their thoughts down in some sort of permanent record. I like that commitment to flying your flag to see who salutes it. I mean, it's not like anyone's paying them to do it. On my better days, I have to believe the blogs are all about passion, and I can dig that.

Joe Casey sums up the reason why I continue to bring you the Show, in a new column appearing at CBR by him and Matt Fraction, "The Basement Tapes". Official theme song of this column: "Million Dollar Bash".

Years ago, I once read something about Axl Rose, of all fucking people... how he'd read CIRCUS Magazine (not exactly ROLLING STONE or CREEM in rock journalism spheres) as a kid, filled with depthless articles and insipid interviews with Elton John or Robert Plant or whoever... and he'd take that shit seriously. He didn't know any better? he didn't know that CIRCUS was mainly the home of mindless fluff pieces extolling vapid musical virtues and the perception of the "kewlness" of the rock n' roll lifestyle. The way lil' Axl perceived it was, as you say, gospel without irony. That informed his worldview, and that gave us the Axl Rose we all know and love today...

I love this observation as well. I used to read Circus, and actually enjoyed it to a point, but around 1975 or so I had also begun to read Creem, Crawdaddy, and Rolling Stone (it was worthwhile back then, trust me)...and I knew right away that Circus wasn't quite in the same league as the others, so I stopped. Some do this with a lot of information sources, many don't...and that's why we get so many folks who are geared to the average rather than the exceptional. I vividly recall friends asking me, back in our teenage years, "How do you know about these people? These Mott The Hooples and Pentangles and Lou Reeds? I ain't never heard of them!" The answer was simple, I said...I read about them, they sounded interesting, so I bought something. This was usually greeted with a blank stare, or a reaction like I had told them that they should eat broccoli.

Anyway, an entertaining column, and one I look forward to reading each week or month or whenever they put it out.

While visiting my good friend Dave Puckett the other evening, our coversation turned (as it so often does) to comics, and 60s DCs and Marvels in particular. We were discussing favorite covers, and first issues read of a particular title, and when I tried to recall my first issue of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, I couldn't do it. I remembered that it involved Baron Strucker, but that's all I remembered. Now, thanks to the Silver Age Marvel Covers Index, I now know which one it was- Sgt. Fury 14, top. Also, below it is a cover that is one of my favorite old Marvel comics covers, Sgt. Fury 16. I think it's the near-monochromatic color scheme of the whole thing, which certainly made it stand out to 5-year-old me. Makes me thirsty just looking at it. Ironic, isn't it, that I'm now constantly bitching about colorists Lee (Gotham Central) Loughridge and Bryan (Bite Club) Miller doing essentially the same thing?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Very cool images and mp3s from the Firefly, I mean Serenity, panel at SDCC can be found right 'cheyre. Looks like they managed to get the entire cast for the occasion, even Ron Glass in his natty hat, and oh to be that close to Morena (Inara) Baccarin...

My haul Wednesday, according to the latest Diamond shipping list. Also add, with any luck, Demo 8, which of course I didn't get thanks to UPS or my shop, or both. They're supposed to be sending me a copy from Nashville. Again. Sigh. Anyways, tickled to see the new Evil Eye, with the finale of the "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion" storyline, listed. Always a happy day when I get new Richard Sala comics.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of July 21

Ho hum. Another month, another issue of Daredevil at the top of my weekly ratings pile. I've read three dozen or more reasons, in a variety of places, why Bendis' writing is subpar, why everyone who doesn't think so is blinded by some sort of cult of personality or just doesn't know shit from shinola, and this comic I suppose I'm either an idiot or just a contrary mofo because nine times out of ten, when I crack open the new DD by Bendis and Maleev, I'm hooked from page one. This issue extends the situations in which Matt deals with his divorce from Milla and having the Black Widow using him, essentially, for cover from the political machinations of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US government. The former is represented in a five page sequence made up of two conversations with the Widow and Foggy Nelson, the latter by a humorous conversation between a general and the director of the CIA on pages two and three. Mr. B even throws the fanboys a bone by letting DD and the BW put on thier suits, leap around, and hit someone. Alex Maleev turns in another fine job, as usual better with the conversations and mood than the leaping and hitting. If I must critcize, I suppose that one could say that the proceedings have a somewhat lugubrious pace, but that doesn't bother me. And the beat goes on, dee dee dee. A

Mike Carey is once again taking all his standard mythological and theological, not to mention Gaimanological, ingredients and is cooking up a stew in which the titular character must needs deal with some particularly nasty dieties who are roaming around killing people for some unclear-as-yet motive even as existence ("our" existence, anyway, and not Luci's universe) slowly unravels. I think Carey does very well by all of Gaiman's concepts, and of course has few peers these days in mainstream comics when it comes to dialogue and character interaction. I especially enjoyed the Lucifer-Destiny confrontation at the end. The Gross/Kelly art team turns in its usual solid, if not terribly exciting, job. Nice cover by Chris Moeller, which reminds me a little of the cover theme DC adopted for all its covers about 5 or 6 years ago. When Mike Kaluta begins his cover run, I'm going to be having severe 90's run of Books of Magic flashbacks. A-

The theme, speaking of themes, for this week seems to be "consistency", like in that I always seem to be saying the same things each month. As usual with Milligan's Human Target, I find some plot point or another which leaves me skeptical and unbelieving (besides my usual misgivings about the core conceit behind the Christopher Chance character in the first place), and this issue, it's love interest Mary White's secret life as a "family reuniter", which, admittedly, she glibly explains early on...but I'm still unconvinced at the likelihood that a Hollywood producer's wife (or anyone, for that matter), regardless of how deep their pockets were or how connected they were, could become such a player in a very nasty, dead serious game in such a short amount of time. Oh well, as usual, I just take a deep breath, activate my secret "disbelief suspension" abilities, and find myself enjoying a tautly written thriller with some interesting characters (such as the downright reprehensible slave-trading brothers) and a genuinely tension-filled cliffhanger. Javier Pulido's deceptively simplistic but always outstanding art helps me with this a lot. A-

I am by no means one of those who expects a happy ending or even a favorable resoultion out of his fantasy fiction, even fantasy fiction dressed in social commentary's clothes, but Grant's finale here is so distressingly downbeat, so bleak, and so defeated that my reaction to this, the final issue, was one of disappointment, stunned disbelief even...then concern for Grant's psyche. Now, I realize that Morrison works on a lot of different levels, and I fully concede that I may be missing, or completely misinterpreting the point...but the impression I got from the ending of this issue is that no matter what you do, how many adventures you want to have, how enlightened you may become, and how many good works you may do for whatever cause, it will all come to naught and is ultimately pointless because the system that stifles individualism and creativity will eventually grind you under its benign heel as sure as rain is wet and heat is hot. And I don't know about all of you, but that's the last little moral I expected to get from our Grant. Which makes me suspect that I did indeed miss something. Maybe re-readings will bring ths out, but for now all I can do is shake my head and hope Grant gets a little optimism back into his life and work, whether or not it can make any difference against the machinations of Mickey Eye. One thing I do know- Cameron Stewart did a wonderful, imaginative job of illustrating the epic proceedings. A-. Entire series: A-

Funny. All I ever read, and I suspect that this is a kneejerk reaction sometimes, is how convoluted and hard to follow Joe Kelly's scripts are. And it's not always unwarranted- internal logic and sequential clarity are not always Joe's first priority. This being said, I found the debut issue of Kelly's Authority-lite superteam surprisingly easy to keep up with. Of course, his dialogue and characterization is always sharp, even though most of these new characters haven't made a real impression on me yet, except for Jenny- I mean Vera- who seems to have the requisite bad attitude that the role she fills requires. I found myself liking the unpleasant, arrogant Naif character, who seems to be a liason of some sort for the group. He gets many of the best lines. I'm hoping that Joe K can keep it up for 11 more issues. The art? Oh yeah, I liked the art. Very much, thank you. A-

Brian Vaughn and Tony Harris spend three-quarters of this issue continuing to set the stage for what I assume will be the future conflicts and relationships our Superhero mayor will be dealing with in time, then abruptly shoehorn in an attempt to discuss the nature of confrontational art, which is a worthy enough goal, I suppose, and the image (a portrait of Lincoln with the N-word emblazoned in the foreground) is certainly provocative (especially if you're a Civil War scholar, I suppose, or were alive in 1865), but the effect of shoving this in from left field is to leave you scratching your head and wondering "What's this got to do with that?" Guess it's just me, but as with Vaughn's Swamp Thing and Y: The Last Man, there's just a blandness about his scripting that keeps me from getting hooked by the stories he writes. Fortunately, he has a capable, imaginative artist in Tony Harris to illustrate his scripts, unlike before, and that makes a huge difference...especially when Harris manages to match his characters' facial expressions to the events they're supposed to be reacting to, a neat trick he sometimes fails to do. B

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Checked my email just now, and what to my wondering (no pun intended) eyes should appear but an email from Justice League Elite inker Tom Nguyen, with this absolutely kick ass, unbelieveably cool illustration of Wondy attached! This refers to my, shall we say, intense admiration for the Amazon Princess as rendered by Tom and Doug Mahnke. And, of course, when I review JLE 1, this will in no way influence my fair and balanced (now where have I heard that before?) opinion of that comic. Besides, I already thought that Mahnke and Nguyen were among the very best, if not the best, mainstream superhero comic illustrators working today, so that much you can take as a given, right?

Anyway, domo arigato, merci beaucoups and muchas gracias to ya, Tom! Wish I could afford the original...
Very tired this evening...been helping out at an auction for my father-in-law's auction/realty business. You never appreciate the true meaning behind the old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" until you've been to an auction to liquidate someone's home and belongings. Anyway, hot, sweaty work all day long. So not much bloggy goodness from me today. BUT.

A very special BSBdG goes out to Theresa Ann Doyle-Jones, aka Mrs. B, who turns the same age as her somewhat less-than-better half this very day. The old saying "Behind every successful man is a woman who loves him" has never been truer, except I haven't been all that successful.


BSBdG's also go out to Thriller artist and helluva nice guy Trevor Von Eeden. I'm not sure how old he is, I think it's a couple of years more than me. Anyway, he's not quite the red-hot, up-and-coming golden boy artist he used to be, but somehow I think there's still great work to come from TVE. And rest assured I'll be along to let you know when.

Friday, July 23, 2004

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But seriously, Hugh- what's my motivation in this scene?

Longtime readers may recall that waaaay back in March of 2003 I posted an entry about a news item I had spied on Ain't It Cool News about the upcoming wannabe Hugh Jackman potential franchise film Van Helsing, stating that it would either be (as I so cleverly put it) "either a colossal cluster fuck or one of the greatest action/adventure/horror/fantasy films ever". So, of course, the final result, which I saw Saturday for one dollar, was neither.

I'm sure most of you reading this are familiar with the Van Helsing of print, screen, stage and film so far, mostly personified by Peter Cushing's reserved English gentleman, who was always ready to whip out a silver crucifix on a moment's notice. Anthony Hopkins gave us an eccentric, almost unhinged Doctor, in a lot of ways closer to Bram Stoker's original conception than either Cushing or the Lugosi film's Van Helsing, played stiffly, but with a reserved kind of competent cool, by Edward Van Sloan. Hugh Jackman's Van Helsing is nothing like any of these portrayals; he's a grim, quiet man of action who has no memory of who he really is or how he came to be a supernatural monster hunter for the Vatican, all decked out in his finest Solomon Kane-like black leather. All heroes have to wear black leather in the movies, you know- it's as ubituquous now as white hats used to be. Turns out he has some connection to Count Dracula and the vampiric goings-on in Transylvania, which comes in handy because that's where the Pope sends him next.

Basically, this flick was like James Bond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Moulin Rouge! all mashed together in a big lump. It's big, loud, and relentless as it hurtles from this battle to that battle to this cliff-hanger to that cliff-hanger, helter-skelter, as if it's afraid we'll get bored if it gets quiet and leave. Kind of like an overactive child throwing a temper tantrum. The overriding concern here seems to be a prototype for the next potential Universal Theme Park attraction, and certainly to establish a franchise of some sort. There's not much room for wit or subtlety...but obviously we're not supposed to expect that sort of thing from a movie like this, are we?

That being said, there are a few good ideas in the script, and some very nice production design is evident throughout. Someone in the decision making process had his heart in the right place, because the movie looks good, and there aren't too many groanworthy moments. I was honestly surprised at the ending, which kinda goes against the grain of this sort of adventure film. The CGI are pretty good, too- rarely did the action involving Dracula's annoying vampire brides, the Frankenstein monster, or the werewolves look excessively stiff or fake. There were some rousing set pieces, like the skirmish between Van Helsing, Beckinsale's character and the vampire brides in the village, or a humorous fight between VH and Mr. Hyde, who looks like he walked over from the set of LXG.

Jackman isn't asked to do a whole lot, acting-wise, and that's pretty much what he does. He projects intensity, which is all the filmmakers were looking for. But he looks like Olivier, Brando and Cary Grant all rolled into one compared to his co-star Kate Beckinsale, who is a lovely woman but does not possess one ounce of acting ability in her shapely body. She couldn't act annoyed in a traffic jam. Richard Roxburgh, the wimpy Duke in Moulin Rouge!, is almost unrecognizable and often unbearable as Dracula. He overacts throughout, and adopts a thick accent that gets overbearing sometimes. He does have some effective moments here and there, though, to be fair. Comic relief is provided by David Wenham as Carl, who functions like Bond's Q to Van Helsing, providing him with neat almost-anachronistic gadgets like the rapid-fire arrow shooter you see in the picture above, which he uses to great effect in the aforementioned village scene. He gets some funny lines in here and there, plus gets to pitch woo with a cute villager, so he winds up as the coolest character by default.

So even as my brain told me I shouldn't, I was entertained by Van Helsing. It's overblown and as overstuffed as Beckinsale's snug corset, but it's never boring and, wonder of wonders, doesn't insult the intelligence all that much. In a lot of ways, it's a energetic spin on those moldy old monsters of yore, but I just wish it hadn't been so eager to be a rollercoaster movie and nothing more. I'll give it a B+, but remember that I only paid a dollar to see it. If you spend more than that, you might be a bit less charitably inclined than I.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

I've noticed a lot of fine folks (well, not a lot, but there have been a few) posting on the proposed (threatened) Green Lantern flick that's set to star Jack Black in the title role, and the prevailing attitude seems to be "Sure! Why not! What the hell! Green Lantern's ridiculous, and Jack's cool, so why not embrace the inherent cheesiness of the Lantern Corps and go with it?". C'mon. Aren't Catwoman, Constantine, and of course those timeless classics Batman and Robin and Superman III enough to satisfy that need to see the super hero ridiculed and made fun of?

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm no GL fan, never really have been, although I liked those old O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrows, and enjoyed the occasional Broome/Kane GL's back in my childhood. But I've never really been all that enamored of the character, be it Jordan, Rayner, Stewart, Kilowog, or G'nort even. So I don't have any real vested interest in how he's portrayed, unlike some. I also like Black, although I wish his film role choices were better sometimes. He's great in Tenacious D, was great in High Fidelity, and I'm sure is wonderful in School of Rock (haven't seen it yet). But c'mon. He's more Pieface than GL, and if you just can't get enough of the Starsky and Hutch (2004) school of filmmaking, then there are plenty of places to get your jollies than to see poor GL made into a joke.

If this is the best way they can come up with to bring the Lantern onto the silver screen...then I just wish they'd decline. Forget it. Hopefully, the aforementioned Catwoman and Constantine flicks will bomb so spectacularly that they'll make every producer in Hollywood abandon the comics ship. Of course, I won't hold my breath. But really. Jack Black. Green Lantern. Do you really hate genre comics so much that you would want to see this perpretated in the cinemas of the world? Not me, buddy.
Wanna take a minute and send out a BSBdG to Annie the CzelticGirl, who's also changing demographics as a result of this landmark. I'm feelin' ya.
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Thanks to recently-added-to-links-list Jon Silpayamanant's Mae Mai blog, I've discovered an art site by someone who calls himself "Falcoon", and it's beautiful stuff, as you can see from the sample above.. Go check it out, but be warned that the site uses Japanese characters, so you won't be able to read anything. Unless, of course, your browser's set up for them. All right, I'll shut up. Click on the image and go check it out!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWell, since it's been over a week since Larry Young announced the upcoming AIT/PlanetLar titles, it's time for Johnny "Late For the Party" Bacardi to hold forth upon them.

TALES FROM THE FISH CAMP, by Danielle Henderson
Don't know much about the creators behind these. hell, don't know anything,as a matter of fact! They both look like they could be fun, though. Tales is about a NYC girl working in an Alaskan fishing village. I used to want to move to Alaska, when I was feeling anti-social (which was quite often) a few years ago. I'd still like to visit there someday before my time is up.

PROOF OF CONCEPT, by Larry Young and with art by John Flynn, Paul Tucker, Damian Couciero, Jeff Johns, and John Heebink.
Another potentially interesting collection of the competition that's been running on www.comicsworldnews.comin which Larry Young writes a script, people draw it, and the ones deemed best get published! Wish I had the wherewithal to do one of these myself. Anyway, I like the art of that Johns fellow, more on him later.

SCURVY DOGS: RAGS TO RICHES, by Ryan Yount and Andrew Boyd.
Hey,you already know what I think about this book, and now here they are all collected for you. If you don't have #'s 1-5 already, you have no excuse now.

SMOKE AND GUNS, by Kirsten Baldock and Fabio Moon
This looks about two dozen different kinds of sweet, and right now I'll pickup anything that Moon illustrates. So much for being impartial and objective, eh! Subject matter sounds quirky and fresh, too. I'll be getting this, if at all possible.

THE BLACK DIAMOND, by Larry Young and Jon Proctor
I don't know a lot about artist Proctor, but the cover looks interesting and the one or two illos I've seen from him on other projects look OK too, so I think I'll get this...but I want to see more interiors before I commit. I'm funny like that. The writer, him I've heard of.

WILL STARR!, by Stuart Moore and John McCrea
I was a big Hitman fan, moreso for Ennis' writing than McCrea's art especially at first. Eventually McCrea's flooby style wore me down and now I can't imagine anyone else that would have been better for that title. Well, OK, there was Doug Mahnke and the excellent Hitman/Lobo one-shot...but that was just one issue. Anyway, Stuart Moore's story sounds a lot like those that used to appear in the old Warren magazine 1994, just kinda silly and crass, and McCrea's not the type of artist I'll buy on just anything. So I suppose I'll pass. However, this does sound like it could be fun in a not-so-nice way, so if you like, then by all means.

FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE, by Matt Fraction and Steve Sanders
The concept sounds like fun, and the art sample looks OK, but I've never really made it a point to pick up Fraction's work (just hasn't really made an impression on me, in the occasions I've had to read it) and know less than nothing about Sanders, so this is another I'd like to see more of before I commit.

THE TOURIST, by Brian Wood and Toby Cypress
Again, it's hard to tell without seeing more than this single-page oil rig illo, but the plot of The Tourist sounds interesting enough. That's right, wanna see more before I commit. I will most likely do whatever it takes to get the latest installment of The Couriers, even though I'm a tad disappointed to see that Rob G. is back on the art duties. perhaps he's studied up on his anatomy in the interval between the last book and this. I hope. Johnny Funwrecker. Whatta name! Isn't it amazing how you can stick almost anything after "Johnny" and it sounds cool? The Demo Scriptbook sounds like a really nice package that will most likely be out of my price range, especially since I will most likely have the individual issues anyway- hardly a given thanks to my comics shop (which failed to get in copies of #8 yesterday).

MOONSHINE, by Dan Curtis Johnson and Jeff Johns
Now this excites me- I've been a fan of Johnson's work ever since his excellent DC series Chase passed through, like a shooting star, back in 1998. Plus, Proof of Concept winner Johns has a nice style, a little stiff but otherwise excellent and I think he's only gonna get better. The pitch-line "They Live" as a Western doesn't change this in the slightest.

WARHEAD, by Joe Casey and Ian Richardson
KRASH BASTARDS, by Casey and Axel 13
FULL MOON FEVER, by Casey, Caleb Gerard, and Damian Couciero
I liked Casey's Codeflesh, and a little part of me is annoyed at him that he isn't doing more instead of batting out new projects like these. Billed as "Patton-in-space", Warhead sounds somewhat interesting, but not so much that I'm gonna go out of my way to pick it up. Same for Bastards, the title of which brings to mind, for some reason, old DC series like Sonic Disruptors, Electric Warrior, and Slash Maraud. I'm just weird like that. Anyway, I'd like to see some samples from Bastards before I lay my money down. regarding Fever, can't wait to see Tom Petty starring in his first full-length illustrated adventure and...what? Oh. Heh. Never mind.

Allrightely-dightely, that's my rundown of the upcoming AIT/Planetlar offerings. Hope I'll get to read more than a few, and so will you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhat to do when you're too busy to write anything of any length, plus you don't especially feel like weighing in on all the current controversies going on around this great big old Blogosphereiverse? Why, you send out a big old BSBdG to Stephen Demetre Georgiou, aka Yusuf Islam, but better known to most of us as Cat Stevens, who turns an oh very young 56 today.

Favorite album: 1974's Buddha and the Chocolate Box.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Image Hosted by As is my habit, I checked out the Pants Press Sketchblog last night and noticed that the amazing Vera Brosgol has printed a sketchbook, available at the San Diego Comicon, the cover of which you see at left. Bet your ass if I had the resources to fly across the country and stay for four days, I'd be stopping by the Flight table #1231, in the Image suite, toot suite and grab one right the funk up.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJust wanted to pass on that Scary-Go-Round creator John Allison will be at the San Diego Comicon, and while he's gone he put SGR on hiatus...but he's done a bunch of Scareodelerias in the meantime, and they'll be running during his hiatus. What's the diff, you ask? Well, SGR is done with (I assume) Illustrator, or some other vector-based computer drawing program, and SOD is done by hand. And while Allison's pretty good with the mouse, or tablet, or whatever, I kinda like his organic style too. Anyway, check it if you so desire.

My haul Wednesday, according to the latest Diamond shipping list.

I'd like to get SPAGHETTI WESTERN, too, but it looks like I'll be over my limit. Oh well, maybe there will be another 25% off sale soon...

Saturday, July 17, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of July 14

There's something to be said for consistency, and this issue of GC is a great example. Like Johanna Draper Carlson says, if you like recent issues of this title, then you'll like's as consistently good as the previous Brubaker/Lark issues have been. It helps that there's an honest-to-goodness mystery to solve here; I have no clue who's behind the crime that's driving the plot, and I'm enjoying watching the GCPD go through the paces of figuring it out. We get good dramatics between the characters, especially in scenes involving disgraced former cop Harvey Bullock, and even the Arkham action (is it me, or are Arkham scenarios getting overused and tired?) seems fresh. And as always, the ugly Loughridge colors are a serious drawback, making the story harder to read than it should be. Consistency is one thing, I suppose, but perfection is another. A

100 BULLETS 51
We get reacquainted with self-loathing potential Minuteman Wylie Times in this issue, set in New Orleans and given a jazz theme from its brief dissertation on Miles Davis to this issue's title. To continue with the jazz metaphors, this issue is a veritable compendium of the riffs Azzurello and Risso have used so far to great effect, in its pacing, dialogue and style. Risso is amazing as always- he seems to channel the best impulses of Will Eisner effortlessly, placing realism and grotesque caricature side by side with no difficulty, and oh, boy those shadows and crazy camera angles. I suppose if I were to continue the jazz theme, I would rate this album as Miles Smiles, a solid, innovative album that continued in the interesting direction that Davis was working towards with his second Quintet. A

The grande finale of "March of the Wooden Soldiers", and it stacks up as this series' finest moment to date, even though I was a bit dismayed at how rushed the last half of the story seemed to be. I didn't see the identity of the Big Bad (and I don't mean Wolf, he's a good guy) coming, either, and that's good...but I didn't really buy the motivations of the character who defeated her, not after her conflict with Snow White and that's not so good. Oh well, minor quibbles. Nice work by all involved, including the Buckingham/Leialoha duo, whose work on this book has finally begun to grow on me. A-

So that's why they called it "Challengers of the Unknown"! Seems that Rocky, Red, Prof and Ace were just four of a group of operatives that has existed for years and years...but apparently they're designed to be sleeper agents or somesuch. Anyway, it's pretty clear that as is evidenced by the complicated plot, cynical characters with snarky dialogue, and complex art that Howard hasn't lost much, if anything, from his 80s heyday. Looking forward to what he brings next. A-

Didn't really plan on picking these Schwartz tribute comics up, but after I saw the creators involved with this one I couldn't pass it up. Taking a cue from the Adam Strange cover story in the Schwartz-edited Mystery In Space 82, two writers and two artists are asked to provide stories with their own spin. Elliot S! Maggin, MIA for too long, and Promethea's J.H. Williams III are up first, and they provide a fun story tempered somewhat by recent events in the DCU involving co-stars Sue and Ralph Dibny, making this story much more ironic and pathos-filled than it really should be. Still, Maggin does a great job emulating that stiff Fox/Broome dialogue style, and Williams is amazing as always. Story two finds Grant Morrison working with Jerry Ordway, and turns in a winning tale with Kavalier and Clay-style captions which describe the background behind DC's early 60s sci-fi/superhero renaissance. Ordway illustrates in his solid, in unexciting fashion, but the end result is actually a bit moving. I don't know if I'll buy any others in this series, but for my money this is as good a tribute to Schwartz as one could ask for. A-

After giving us four straight issues of inspired straightfaced lunacy, it was inevitable that there would be a letdown sometimes, and this issue is the closest that Boyd & Yount have come so far. There are still plenty of laughs and strangeness, especially at the expense of poor Rod Stewart...but the TV satires are a little past their born-on date, and their hiatus announcement comes as no big surprise. Oh, if only more creators would step back for a while when inspiration wanes! Hurry back, mateys, I'll be here when you do. A-

BEWARE OF SPOILERS...hard to be neutral about this series, I suppose. Writer Brad Meltzer, apparently not content with killing off an obscure but well-liked female character, has upped the outrage ante by revealing that she was raped some time previous, and the League at the time decided to magically mess with the perpretator's mind as payback, all in the name of dramatic heft. All that's left for him to do is have heinous acts committed to children, and at this stage it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that wasn't next. Still, ya gotta be objective about this- it's only a story, and they're only superhero characters after all- but it's gonna make it damn hard to read about many of these corporate properties in the future, if this remains canonical. I can't dislike this comic as it is, 'cause it definitely sets out to involve the reader and succeeds, and even introduces some interesting ideas like the merc's club set up in the Injustice Gang's old satellite. And I am interested in the core mystery- I didn't think it was Doc Light what did the deed, murder that is, but I still don't have any idea and I kinda wanna know. It's also full of well-done character interaction such as the back-and-forth between Hawkman, Wally West-Flash, Kyle Raynor-GL, and Green Arrow. Plus, this is excellently illustrated by the Rags Morales-Michael Bair team. I suppose if I were inclined to indulge myself in wistful nostalgia for the characters of my teenage years, I'd be more upset about this series than I am...but everything changes, and I learned long ago that it's rarely for the better. I'm probably more annoyed that this series has pretty much killed any possibility of getting any new Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League- now that's a shame. I remain a Identity Crisis reader...but I can't say if I'll respect myself in the morning. B+

H-E-R-O 18
In which Pfiefer gives us a book-long fight scene, and I get bored about four pages in. It's well-drawn. despite what would appear to be a major gaffe on the last page. But this is essentially a twenty-some-odd page book full of explosions and punching and hitting and boom and argh and blood got real monotonous after a while. I've been interested in this story arc so far, and I suppose an issue like this was inevitable...but that didn't make it any easier to get through. Here's hoping my interest perks up again real soon. C+

I don't know, maybe it's me. This should be a lot of fun, but it's just kinda...dead. Appropriate, I guess, for a book about the Vampire Mafia, but that doesn't make it any easier for me to stay interested. The ChaykinTischman script tries really hard at maintaining the right tone, and sometimes characters like Risa, by far the one that Tischman seems most interested in, do or say something noteworthy. But Tischman isn't Chaykin, and he just can't output that sort of dialogue by just isn't in him, as one look at Angel and the Ape or American Century bears out. Mostly this just seems to be a lot of HBO-movie types walking and driving around, talking to each other with dramatic one-liners at the end of the conversation, and boy does that get old after a while. The art by David Hahn doesn't help a bit- I like his style well enough, he's not terrible; but it's too stiff, lifeless and bland to give these proceedings the goose it needs. He may kick ass on other projects, but he's all wrong for this, as I've said before. And the colors- gah! Perhaps this Bryan Miller should change his name to Bryan Crayola. C

Take a deep's catch-up review time!

Malinky Robot 1-Stinky Fish Blues by Sonny Liew
I first became aware of Liew's art via My Faith With Frankie, the recent DC mini-series written by Mike Carey and inked by Marc Hempel. Liew did the pencil art, and showed that he had a strong, energetic, and whimsical style. This is very much in evidence here on his own, and unrestrained by Hempel's idiosyncratic ink style, even more so. Malinky is done completely in pencils, and it's very, very loose- layouts and characters are always surrounded by movement lines and unerased contours, and they fairly threaten to jump off the page at you sometimes. Basically a shaggy-dog story of sorts about a couple of diminutive fellows named Atari (he of the pointy-eared skullcap, looking kinda Yellow Kid-ish) and Oliver (who appears to be a mouse-man of some kind) who live with a bunch of other odd characters in a sort of shanty town named San'Ya. Atari and Oliver catch a fish one day, which they identify as a "stinky fish", an endangered species that eats sewage in the water and has apparently been on the wane, causing an increasingly bad smell in the air. Atari and Oliver endeavor to find out what they should do with the fish they caught, and yearn to go to school, presumably to get out of San'Ya. That's it. Not exactly War and Peace, but this is a very enjoyable little short vignette with some winsome humor, and it's never dull. Looking forward to Malinky 2, when it comes out, which should be anytime now. A-

Me and Edith Head by Sara Ryan and Steve Lieber
Sharp, smart, even moving little slice-of-life story which was particularly interesting to not only me, but my daughter as well. My daughter Abby is an attractive young lady with acting skills and an above-average singing voice who unfortunately does not have the perceived looks, body type, if you will, to play lead roles in the local repertory theatre in which she's participated, in various capacities, for almost ten years now. Don't worry about her, though- she realizes that there's a world with opportunities outside Kentucky Repertory Theatre and she's determined to see what she can find. She has, I think, a lot on common with the protagonist of this story- one Katrina Lansdale, who wishes to play Titania in a staged version of A Midsummer-Night's Dream, but gets passed over and (much to her disappointment) is tabbed for costume design instead. She takes this setback and makes a positive out of it, and learns a few life lessons in the process. What could easily become preachy or "afterschool special"-ish goes down smooth thanks to Ryan's assured soft-pedaling of the dramatics and Lieber's subtle art, which surprised me a little in its deftness, especially with facial expressions, hand gestures, and so on. A modest masterpiece, this is! A

Family Reunion by Sean Stewart and Steve Lieber
Basically, this is an introduction to Stewart's character William "Dead" Kennedy, who's kinda like the little guy from The Sixth Sense all grown up: he sees dead people. Or their ghosts, to be precise. in this particular story, Bill attends a family reunion and sees the ghost of a cousin who died in the Vietnam War, and spends time finding out his story. There's an amusing joke at the end that will appeal to college football fans. I suppose this is intended to whet our appetites for Stewart's Perfect Circle novel, and on that score it failed with me...whichis not to say that this would be the case with you. The premise of the novel as described on the inside front cover didn't sound especially fresh to me, but for fans of this sort of supernatural mystery-type story, it could be well worth checking out. As with Edith Head, Lieber does a great job on the art, giving us normal, everyday goings-on in a convincing fashion. Most comic-book artists have a hard time depicting real life, non-fantastical situations, but Lieber shows a knack for defeating his "comic-booky" inclinations and does very well by the average folks he draws. B+

Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden-Borrowed Magic
Jax Epoch, short for Jacqueline, don't know what ethnicity "Epoch"'s supposed to be, is a stubborn, mischevious teenage girl (who apparently goes to the same optometrist as The Sandman's Thessaly) with klepto tendencies who, through a series of convoluted circumstances, "acquires" several devices which assist her in traveling between dimensions. Apparently something in her genetic makeup enables her to do this, and naturally a government research agency wants to capture and study her and find out how she does it. Adding to the trouble is that her dimension traveling has caused reality to unravel, and she's being held on trial by a bunch of extradimensional types. This is all very imaginative, but it's kinda slight at the same time...Jax herself is rarely likeable, and becomes hard to identify with as the proceedings go on. Art-wise, John Green and a couple of inkers have an agreeably cartoony style, reminiscent somewhat of Phil Foglio, competent but not overly outstanding. It's just not a style that excites me, I suppose. In fact, nothing much about Jax really excited me all that much, and it took me a while to finish this one. Maybe I'm just not the target audience for this, which would seem to be pre-teens, perhaps. I think it would have more appeal to the Harry Potter demographic, perhaps, more so than the cranky old cynical man demographic that I belong to. Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden has a nifty title going for it, but not much else (at least as filtered through me), I'm afraid. C+

This is me, now, doing the "All Caught Up With Overdue Reviews" dance! Break it down now! Later, reviews slash commentary on this week's new comics including Identity Crisis, DC Comics Presents: Mystery In Space, and Scurvy Dogs. I also went to see Van Helsing earlier today at the $1.00 theater in town, and as soon as my headache goes away I'll write about it as well.

Friday, July 16, 2004

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Y'know, it's not often that you see works of sequential fiction that are as unabashedly romantic as Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba's Ursula. Cynicism and negativity is the established norm these days, a learned and practiced response to the reactions of the Great Unwashed who look down upon and ridicule those who yearn to exercise their imagination. Most modern writers, especially those who choose to write popular fiction these days, wear their cynicism like armor to defend themselves against the slings and arrows of those would decry any sort of genuine display of honest, unfiltered emotion. They feel like they need to be all "hip" and edgy, and give us results that are often labored and contrived, and sans any sort of semblance of genuine emotion or depth of feeling. Luckily for us, Moon and Ba are apparently not concerned with this in the slightest, and with their Ursula graphic novel they have given us one of the most open-hearted and refreshingly unpretentious love stories I can remember reading in quite a while.

Ursula is a story about a young prince named Miro, and the girl he befriends and falls in love with when they were children. When she turns 11, she has to go away to a "special school", and they are separated. The prince never forgets her, though, and when he becomes an adult and is expected to assume his father's throne and choose a wife, he sets out to find her again and make her his. Complicating things is the fact that Ursula is actually a fairy princess, and to cause a fairy princess to fall in love is, shall we say, somewhat risky. Miro and Ursula (accompanied by Miro's right-hand man Boris, who provides some needed levity) go through an metaphysical odyssey of sorts, and I'll leave it up to you to find out if they live happily ever after.

Art-wise, this is impeccably drawn. Moon and Ba (I'm still not sure who does what, pencil/ink/script-wise) nimbly skip between whimsical fantasy and stylized reality apparently without effort. I'm reminded somewhat of Baz Luhrman's re-imagining of Romeo & Juliet in its mix of the contemporary, grandiose and idealized. The iconic graphics of the star and tree, or the cartoonishness of the scenes with the pair as children, along with their bird, Pip, couldn't be more different, style-wise, from the scenes with Miro as an adult and his father...but they all fit together seamlessly.

Boy, it sure sounds like I was impressed, doesn't it? Honestly, I'm trying to be objective and critic-y about this book, but I just can't do it, I'm afraid. Some might gripe about its barefaced romantic sentiment, and may even perceive it as cloying and inconsistent in tone...but I'm just not seeing it. I'm sure the X-Men contingent will avoid it like it was poison. But Ursula wears its ink-stained heart proudly and firmly in place upon its sleeve for all to see, and if you've ever been in love, think you've been in love, or wonder what all that love junk is about anyway, then you should get this. And buy a copy for that special someone while you're at it.
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OK, kiddies, the purpose of this post is threefold: One, to try the code thing that should put the image on the left and wrap the text beside it; two: to post something, just in case you were worried (or perhaps hopeful) that I had topped myself or some such. It's not that I haven't wanted to write and opine on all the stuff that's being written and opined about all around the Blogospheriverse; I just haven't had a lot of time or, to be frank, inspiration to put anything up here; and three: to inform you that on your left is Aimeé Garcia, who will play the Aleph character in the upcoming (or so they say) Global Frequency television show. Go here to read about it.

Didn't get my new comics till yesterday; apparently UPS was unable to deliver their shipment on Wednesday due to the severe storms that passed through this area back on Tuesday. Wusses. I wound up getting a couple I hadn't planned on getting, and of course I'll write about them in due time. I have GOT to get caught up on reviews in general; hopefully I'll get the opportunity this weekend.

Blogger has screwed those of us still on our Flintstones-like IE5 Mac OS 9.2 browsers...they've provided all sorts of neat bells and whistles on their "create post" page...but of course I see none of them.

Oh well. Hopefully more later. Chin-chin for now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Everybody's talkin' 'bout it...The Hulk's Diary! It's funny as hell, check it out.

Always like to sneak a Nilsson (well, to be exact, a Fred Neil) quote whenever possible.

Anyway, I remember someone posting a lot on the DC message boards as "THE HULK"...wonder if it's the same person? He was great there, and this blog is every bit as funny.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

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I was watching the All-Star Game until they aired some sort of cheesy clip montage set to a fuggin' Journey song ("Faithfully", no less), which hit me like holy water does a vampire. I had to get away from the TV, probably a good idea since we are having severe thunderstorms around here right I went to the computer. Good move, Dave-o. Anywho, I wanted to post something, but didn't feel like committing to reviewing anything right now, and I had no idea what until I remembered the first thing I looked at when I got settled in at work this morning, after Scary-Go-Round, of course- Jeff Parker's Mystifying Oracle blog, on which he mentioned the blog/website of artist Mike Wieringo. Curiosity provoked, I followed the link and spent some time checking out his gallery pages, and enjoyed them quite a bit.

I've been aware of Wieringo's work for years, and liked it just fine even though I'm not sure if I own a single comic containing it. He has a dynamic, attractive, easy-on-the-eyes style that I like a lot, so I suppose it's just the projects he's attached himself to that haven't quite captivated me. To be honest, I wish that I could get my own pitiful doodles to look half this good. "They could if you'd PRACTICE", I hear my art teachers saying...

I thought I would post the above Wonder Woman illo, very very nice even though I like my Wondy with straight hair a la Mahnke & Nguyen, and hopefully the traffic I may or may not generate for his site will compensate for me poaching his illustration! Click on the sketch above to go to his home page; go here for the gallery, and go here for the blog.

I hope to God the Journey montage is over now and it's safe to go back to the living room.

Oyasumi nasai. Y'all.

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Update: Domo arigato to Mr. Wieringo for the namecheck on his blog! And then what does he do but post the above killer sketch of Saturn Girl that had me slack-jawed in amazement. Just like Cletus. Anyway, I wanted to post it here for all of youse to look at, but by all means go to his site too see it in the size it was meant to be seen. As you may recall, I dropped Legion a few months ago after buying it for well nigh 7 years, and have no intention of going back...but let me tell you, if they did tab Mike Wieringo to draw Mark Waid's tenure on that book, I'd be on it in a sprocking minute.
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I just read over at La Isla Fanboy Rampage (ay caramba) about Alternative Comics publisher Jeff Mason's open letter of appeal for his financially strapped enterprise. While I have sampled a few of AC's wares via Free Comic Book Day over the last few years, their comics tend to be the kind not usually ordered and stocked by my shop so it becomes a sort of "out of sight, out of mind" thing. I was unaware, or had forgotten, about the Tomer Hanuka (well, Tomer and his brother Asaf) book Bipolar, the cover for #4 you see above...I like Hanuka's work a lot, and would probably be getting this if I hadn't totally let it fade from my memory! Alternative has books by a lot of other outstanding creators like Dean Haspiel and James (Mr. FCBD) Kolchalka, so if you're looking for something fresh to read, you might want to visit their website and drop a buck or three on something. I'm thinking I'll get those Bipolars one of these days...
Some Beatlenooz: seems like someone's lucked up on the Lost Mal Evans Archive!

It's a suitcase full of presumed Beatle souvenirs and recordings, one of which is an alternate version of "Cry Baby Cry", one of my fave Fabsongs. Hopefully we'll find out more eventually.

Monday, July 12, 2004

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DC has released their October solicits, and as is the custom, many have already posted about them. I think I will too, later, but I wanted to spotlight this excellent Jae Lee cover for Manhunter 3. I don't creep out easily, as you may remember from my horror movie postings form last year, but the Shadow Thief's disembodied head floating there with that expression kinda gave me the willies when I first saw it! Haven't signed up for this title, because I'm not too crazy about the interior artists- but I am a little curious. I may check out #1 when it hits the stands...

Marc Hempel's gonna be doing a guest stint on Lucifer, too, and that rocks my world as well.

More stuff on this subject later. It's getting late and I gotta set my VCR timer to record The Taking of Pelham One Two Three on TCM tonight. I'll get the DVD someday, but this will do until then.
OK, now it's time for me to do the Bookshelf Thing (don't wanna call it a "meme"...whoops, just did) that Rick Geerling started. Basically, it's an excuse to let people know what's on your favorite bookshelf, or your only bookshelf, or the one on which you put those special books, you know the ones.

Now Casa Bacardi, it's kinda small. Not a lot of room for bookshelves and stuff. I do have a large three-section set of shelves I had custom made, but they're for albums and CDs, and while once upon a time I had books on it, that's no longer the case as the audio army thoroughly routed the print army and forced them to retreat to storage in boxes in my basement, where they await the glorious day when General Bacardi will return and bring them up into the light and have the room to display them properly once again as they deserve. But this is not to say that I don't have any books upstairs; we actually do have one smaller shelf in the living room, which holds probably 150-200 books (a conservative estimate), so I have a lot of my relatively recent acquisitions and some which I've brought upstairs to peruse over the I share it with several of Mrs. B's reference and craft books. So basically, what I've got is about three shelves, plus the top of the bookcase, with books crammed in in all sorts of directions. In order? Hah! Not a chance. Anyway, what I'll do is list the first, oh, 35 titles I come across. Many of my absolute favorites will not make this list, due to circumstances beyond my control. Any conclusions you draw from this list is up to you. And I strongly encourage you to ask me about any of them you may not already be familiar with. Here we go...!

1. The Beatles Anthology by...the living Beatles, plus a bunch of ghost writers.
2. The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr
3. The Art of Nick Cardy by John Coates with Nick Cardy
4. The Nearest Faraway Place by Timothy White
5. The Beatles Unseen Archives-compiled by Tim Hall and Marie Clayton
6. The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film by Michael Weldon
7. The Psychotronic Video Guide by Michael Weldon
8. Christgau's Consumer Guides of the 70s by Robert Christgau
9. The Phantom's Ultimate Movie Guide by "The Phantom" (Joe Kane)
10. The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and Leonard Wolf
11. Rock Family Trees-Pete Frame
12. The Studio- Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta, Jeff Jones, Berni Wrightson
13. Nightmare of Ecstacy- The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. by Rudolph Grey
14. I'm A Believer by Mickey Dolenz and Mark Bego
15. Slovenly Peter by Dr. Hans Hoffmann
16. If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell
17. Tell Me Why-Tim Riley
18. Hollywood Rock-Marshall Crenshaw and others
19. Nick Drake-The Biography by Patrick Humphries
20. Wild Cards vol. 1-Various, edited by George R.R. Martin
21. Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams by Nick Tosches
22. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
23. The Longest Cocktail Party by Richard DiLillo
24. Neuromancer by William Gibson
25. The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney
26. It Was Twenty Years Ago Today by Derek Taylor
27. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
28. Von Bek by Michael Moorcock
29. Clockers by Richard Price
30. Kink by Dave Davies
31. Blake by Peter Akroyd
32. Loose Balls by Terry Pluto
33. Vineyard by Thomas Pynchon
34. The Secret History of Kate Bush by Fred Vermorel
35. I Me Mine by George Harrison

And there you have it! Can't tell you how tempted I am to take some of these off and put others on which are on the shelf below...but I'm determined to remain true to the spirit of the meme if not the letter.
New Diamond shipping list up, here's what I'll have waiting for me on Wednesday:

100 BULLETS #51
H-E-R-O #18

And that's it! Thanks to the magnanimous generosity of Larry Young, I've already got Scurvy Dogs 5 and the Ursula GN, and I'll write about them either when I review the above, or maybe sooner. I will say this, though- Ursula is as good as the hype. I also note where Eightball 23 is listed as coming out this week, but I got my copy, through my shop, last week. So. Of the titles on my list, I'm always up for a new issue of 100 Bullets, I liked Challengers 1 enough to be fired up for the rest of the series, The sharks are circling in the water for Identity Crisis- will it choose to swim or jump? Fables continues the best story arc in its brief history, and Gotham Central is always a good read. H-E-R-O's been pretty good lately, and Bite Club...well, Bite Club sure has some nice covers, don't it?

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Just finished reading the Grant Morrison interview over at PopImage, which everyone else in the Comics Blogosphereiverse read and commented on at least a week ago. Can't really add much to the discussion, but this piece has left me with the urge to sit down and try to re-read The Filth. Also, I can't wait until We3 and Vinanarama come out, and the Seven Soldiers project sounds like something I want to pick up as well. Grant sure does give great interview, doesn't he? In this day and age when most "interviews" feature mindless questions and predictable, rote answers, you gotta love it when the interview subject comes off with something like this:

...As the rush to convert comic books into handy illustrated movie pitches becomes less chaotic and more transparent, I think we've all become aware of a kind of betrayal, a public strangling of the exotic strangeness and uniqueness of American comics, as publishers, creators and readers confuse their media and expect comic book stories to conform to Hollywood storytelling conventions. Wise up: the more comics imitate movies, the less need movies will have for comics as a source of imaginative material; let's remember that the movie industry is ONLY NOW learning to simulate the technology and imagination Jack Kirby packed in his pencil 40 years ago. As I've been saying to the point of boredom for the last couple of years, our creative community owes it to the future to produce today the insane, logic-shattering, side-splitting day-glo stories which will be turned into all-immersive holographic magic theatre experiences in 40 years time.

Wow. God bless Grant Morrison...he's speaking gospel, boys and girls. Flat out fucking testfying. He also namechecks Alison Goldfrapp. Twice. And also quotes lyrics from the Goldfrapp song "Utopia", one of my faves. He's my hero.
I've noticed some interesting blogfodder here and there in the infrequent opportunities I've had to actually read other people's pages. Here's one. If you wanna read comics reviews, scroll down...

In 1960 (the year you were born)

Dwight Eisenhower is president of the US

Sit-ins begin after 4 black college students in North Carolina refuse to move from a deli counter when denied service

A U-2 reconnaissance plane belonging to the US is shot down in the Soviet Union

Hurricane "Donna" strikes the East Coast causing over 100 deaths in the US and the Antilles

John F. Kennedy defeats Vice President Richard Nixon in the presidential race

Cassius Clay (who later took the name Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight

Michael Stipe, Tony Robbins, Bono, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Jeffrey Dahmer are born

Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series

Philadelphia Eagles win the NFL championship

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is the top grossing film

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is published

The Beatles make their debut in Hamburg, Germany

The Flintstones debut

What Happened the Year You Were Born?

More cool things for your blog at

Dwight Eisenhower. Holy shit.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of July 7

Appearances to the contrary, I'm not the biggest Bendis fan in the world. You won't catch me singing the praises of Avengers Disassemble or Ultimate Spider-Man 'cause I don't read 'em. Bendis is not a writer that I'll buy every time no matter what he does. But I do like what he does when he's trying to be all hard-boiled and noirish as on Daredevil and his real labor of love, Powers. This, the first issue on Marvel's new "Icon" imprint, isn't really all that different from the Image run, thank God, nor is it one of those "good jumping-on points" that you read so much about. It presupposes the reader's familiarity with the unfortunate Detective Kutter, leads Pilgrim and Walker and how they all interact, not to mention the surprise guest at the end, and you're not given a lot in the way of explanation. And that's just fine with me, but then again I've been on board since #7 or so. Bendis doesn't really break any new stylistic ground here, either- frankly, the plot so far for this new arc is alarmingly similar to the previous three, or at least familiar enough to be somewhat disappointing. What gets all this across is the as-always rock-solid art by Mike Avon Oeming, whose work stimulates the eye when the plot lets down the brain. It's a good start, and it's amusing to see the f-word used so liberally in a comic published by the House That Jack Built, but the crowd is getting restless, methinks, and a new, fresh trick is in order to keep us from launching vegetables. A-

Last issue was a hard act to follow; Eightball 22 might be one of the best examples of sequential storytelling ever published, it was that good. So it stands to reason that this will be a letdown- expectations are too high. This being said, this issue is still up to his established standard, and the standard of issues past- especially artwise, where Dan Clowes is on top of his game. He nimbly skips around from one set piece to another, often drawing in different styles, but always maintaining the unique feel of his work. The biggest problem I had with this issue, after all is said and done, was its tone. Clowes always keeps us at arm's length from his characters; his stance is usually so objective that many of them touch us almost in spite of him. I never really could get a good feel for any of the principles in this issue...they behaved in contradictory, often puzzling ways, and Clowes' distancing effect prevented me from feeling any real empathy for them. It's incredibly imaginative, and often funny, but after all is said and done, I reacted with the same apathy that Andy exhibits as an adult- I just didn't really care about what he did or why he did it, and my interest was only held by the desire to find out how it was all resolved. And knowing this, I don't really have any desire to re-read. This can't be the effect Clowes wants...can it? On second thought... Now, I don't often go back and revise my reviews; usually what I manage to get out here in "print" is pretty much my carefully considered opinion. But that doesn't mean I stop thinking about the subjects, and that's the case with this issue. After having read several other opinions, I have a better idea about what Clowes was aiming at...but I still don't think he hit the bullseye, not even with a death ray shaped like a bicycle horn. Still, at the end of the day, Eightball 23 has left a definite impression on me (something which most comics, even the ones I really, really like fail to do), so I'm leaning towards bumping my letter grade up a notch. Clowes didn't make me care about Andy and Louie and all the others, necessarily, but he did succeed in giving us an effective notion of the mindset of a serial killer, even one that uses a death ray shaped like a bicycle horn. Sure, it may have been intended as a metaphorical death ray, but by presenting it to us in this fashion, he effectively locks me in to the actual rather than the theoretical. And it's true that this may be a big piss-take aimed at the superhero comic reader. Whatever it may really be, and since it's not so clear that's a slight drawback too, I'm convinced that this issue's better than I originally thought- it's not a failure, but I'm not convinced it's as successful as it should have been and it's still nowhere near as good as some would make it out to be. Therefore...original grade B+, revised grade A-.

In which we find out what the not-so-surprising plot twist is, and react with a deadpan stare worthy of one of Daniel Clowes' characters. This isn't really all that bad- Diggle's dialogue is, as usual, sharp (I particularly like his John Constantine), and artist Breccia has his moments as well (almost none of them involving figure drawing). But it's all strangely yawn-inducing, even the presumed "death" of Tefe- if she's dead, and I won't believe it until this title reaches 30 issues without a glimpse of her spiky head, and even then I'll remain skeptical. B

Not plague, or bird, or even frog...just li'l ol' me... Oh, forget it. You didn't really think Abe was gonna stay dead, didja? Odd, anticlimactic (to say the least) finale to what I originally thought was a four-issue series, but apparently has been stretched to five issues so we can get more vague half-clues about Abe Sapien's history before the inevitable revival. Impeccably drawn by Guy Davis, who's really gotten good over the last couple of years, and actually well scripted by Mike Mignola, whose minimalist dialogue (he makes Bendis read like Don McGregor sometimes) scans like no other...but this issue was just so darn unnecessary. Nice cover, though. Love the coloring. B- Entire series: A-.

Speaking of anticlimactic, the conclusion of my first exposure to the work of Steve Niles didn't live up to the promise of the first issue, to say the least. The resolution was hasty, far-fetched, much too neat, and left me very disappointed. That being said, the most remarkable thing about this miniseries was the outstanding, moody painted art by Breehn Burns, who manages to be grim and playful at the same time. Can't wait to see what he does next- hope it won't be a sequel to this. C+ Entire series: B-

That's it for new comics I bought Wednesday. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get caught up and write about some other books I've acquired lately through various means...stay tuned!
Captian Eclectic Strikes Again!

I didn't get a lot of what I had planned to do, well, done over the holiday weekend, but I did take the time to create another mix CD out of the accumulated mp3s on the good ol' indigo iMac. Hey! Why don't I share the track list with all of you!

Prince is kinda like the Dale Murphy of funk-rock music, someone who was awesome, one of the greats...but when he lost it, he lost it fast and just can't seem to get it back no matter how hard he tries. This is a not-bad, not-great James Brown-inspired workout from his latest album of the same name. He gives a lot of namechecks to other funk artists in the lyrics, making it his answer to Charlie Daniel's "The South's Gonna Do It Again". Looking at the CD from whence this came in the store, I've come to one conclusion: Mr. Rogers Nelson is in dire need of a graphic designer with more than a rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and more imagination and smarts than to do the cheap-looking type effects he's used on just about every release since, oh, 1993's Come. I volunteer, for half of what he's been paying the people that have been churning out the crappy package designs of his last five dozen or so releases...

Air-Playground Love
Don't know much about these guys, although the person who worked at my computer at the Snooze before I came along had their Moon Safari album on the iTunes and I've given it a listen or three. It's OK, but I'm not crazy about it. I heard this cut on a car commercial or something like that, liked it a lot, downloaded the mp3, and now here it is. Bluesy, almost Floyd-ish track with sax'n'synths throughout.

BBC-Ming Tea (from the Austin Powers- International Man of Mystery soundtrack)
Mike Myers assembled a band which featured, among others, Matthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs for his goofy spy movie satire. They named themselves Ming Tea, and recorded a couple of tracks which made their way into the film. If I recall correctly, this is the cut they performed over the end credits, and I've always liked it, if nothing else than for Myers' vocal. BBC One! BBC Two! BBC Three! BBC Four!...etc.

Hall & Oates-Wait For Me
Everybody makes fun of Hall & Oates these days, but when we're done imitating VH1 pseudo-celebrity talking heads the fact remains that these fellas made some great pop-soul-rock back in the late 70s and early 80s, and this is the one cut which I always felt deserved to be a big hit. It reminds me a lot of Todd Rundgren for some reason, even down to the melody that sounds inspired by Todd's "A Dream Goes On Forever". From the 1979 album X-Static, which contains more than a few catchy tracks but failed to hit big and was completely forgotten in the wake of its successor, Voices, which made them huge stars for a while there.

George Harrison-Miss O'Dell
The mega-obscure b-side to 1973's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" single, it's an agreeable acoustic guitar-and-slide ditty as only George could do 'em. It's a what-the-hell kinda cut that is part social commentary and part piss-taking- I'm thinking that "Miss O'Dell" is actually Dennis O'Dell, a business partner of some sort. Anyway, I ran across this via Limewire and couldn't resist downloading it 'cause you can't find it on legitimate releases. Sound quality is not so good.

Sabotage- the Beastie Boys
Irresistable hard-rocking track, which benefitted from the goofy retro-70's-cop-show video it sported. I really don't have a good excuse for not owning the album from whence this comes, but there ya go. I remember seeing the Beasties do this on an MTV awards show, and it rocked harder than this cut did. Like to have a file of that one!

Like A Feather-Nikka Costa
Costa is Sinatra's goddaughter, or something like that, and she came on like a funky young Janis, with flying red tresses, fringed vest and aerodynamic dance moves in the video for this song from her debut album a couple of years ago. It troubled the charts, but she wasn't able to follow it up and is now destined for obscurity as other young riddim and blooze singers like Joss Stone take her place. I liked this song well enough to download, but not enough to make me curious about the rest of the record, so it remains unheard by my ears and is most likely to remain so unless I run across a copy for a buck or something.

Aztec Camera-The Crying Scene
A poprockish Brit band led by one Roddy Frame, Aztec Camera made some noise during the late 80s and early 90s over here. I was familiar with their Love album, from whence came the very 80s-with-syths-and-syndrums-all-over-everything track "Deep and Wide and Tall", which had a great melody, and this was the single from their subsequent album Stray. I was working at the radio station when Stray was released, and played the hell out of this, but as with so many records I played a lot at said radio station, I got kinda tired of it and didn't buy when I quit the station, I never got around to picking it up and finally, years later, I got all nostalgic and downloaded it. "Crying Scene" is a sharp, snappy rocker with a great melody and a nice guitar solo that probably should have been a huge hit. It was a smallish one, but not huge. The Camera have released a few albums since, but I haven't heard 'em. C'est la vie.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel-Understand
Harley was a post-glam pre-punk UK rock singer who fronted a band called Cockney Rebel. Of course, there was very little rebelliousness about the band's output, and very little of it sounded Cockney, for that matter, but that's neither here nor there. Harley had a couple of hits across the pond back in the mid-70s, including a song titled "Make Me Smile" (Come Up and See Me). I used to own five SH/CR albums, got most of 'em for a buck somewhere, and I'll be damned if I can remember much of anything from four of 'em except a brash cover of the Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" from one of the two 1976 albums he issued, Love's A Prima Donna. It's the other release from '76 that grabbed me, Timeless Flight, and that's the album from whence this cut came. It was kind of a pretentious, arty, folkish, understated album that wasn't perfect by any stretch but had its share of remarkable cuts, and "Understand" was my favorite. It's a long (over 7 minutes), lilting track with nice backing vocals and a squiggly synth solo in the middle that is quite wonderful. Until recently, Timeless Flight was unavaliable on CD, and my son, when he was a baby, kinda got ahold of my vinyl copy and destructatated it, and finding new vinyl copies has been problematic and difficult at I haven't heard this album in over 20 years. When I saw this track available for download, I pounced.

Roy Wood's Wizzard-Are You Ready To Rock?
Recorded when Roy was still working out his obsession with emulating the sounds of classic rock 'n roll (see Introducing Eddy and the Falcons, which included this cut as a bonus track when rereleased in 1996), and this particular form of flattery involves Bill "Rock Around The Clock" Haley. It's a fun tune, and went unheard by me for many years (many of Wood's Wizzard hits were UK singles-only) before I ran across the mp3. It's got a wicked cool bagpipes solo in the middle. You heard me.

Fleetwood Mac-Albatross
Muted, lovely instrumental from the 1969 Peter Green-era Mac. Was said to be the inspiration for John Lennon's "Sun King" from Abbey Road, and after listening you'll see why.

The Alan Parsons Project-Don't Answer Me
I first became aware of the musical endeavors from the former Fabs/Floyd engineer and friends with the 1975 release of their Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe LP. That was an imaginative spin on Poe's works, ably fleshed out by Parson's studio expertise. Subsequent albums, though went of on Sci-Fi tangents and got progressively (no pun intended) lamer each year, and I had completely written them off. Then, out of the blue, they hit the airwaves with this gorgeous Phil Spector pastiche, and I loved it. But burnt child that I am sometimes, I bought the 45. So years later I decided I would like to have it on CD, so I looked for the mp3, and now I do. And I still own the debut album only.

Miz Ciccone's last worthwhile single to date. I just haven't worked up much enthusiasm for getting the album it's from or its predecessor, but this never fails to make me bob my head and dance around in that awkward geeky fat white boy way when I hear it. I loved the video, too, with it's neat animated sequence and Ali G (" you Madonna?").

I Hate My Frickin' ISP-Todd Rundgren
When observing Todd's birthday a week or two ago, I noted that I haven't heard any albums from him in a long time that I cared to buy...but that doesn't mean I've been left cold by everything he's done. Case in point, this funny rocker from the 2000 effort One Long Year. Again, I haven't been provoked to try and get a copy of this disc, which was initially released through his website, but I sure like this cut.

Gosh, there are a lot of tracks on this CD...oh well, onward...

Monkey Gone To Heaven-the Pixies
Despite the fact that I love several of their songs, I don't own a single album by this group. This is probably my favorite, for its "Then GAAAAHD is seven! Then GAAAAHD is seven" refrain.

The Moon and St. Christopher-Kate Rusby
Now here's a great recording. Rusby's basically a Britfolkie, who has released several albums which mix originals with traditional tunes in that time-honored FairportSteeleye style. She is, of course a drop-dead gorgeous young lady with one of those slightly raspy English young lady singing voices which always yank my crank. Anyway, this one's a cover of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, one of those slick country artists who I have little or no use for, even though I understand she was more listenable early in her career...but Rusby combines a beautiful arrangement with an amazing vocal performance, and makes this one a keeper. This isn't on any of her proper solo releases, it appears on Intuition, a CD on which she appeared with several other artists that she was affiliated with. I found this out when I emailed her website a year or two ago, and was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply from Kate's sister giving me the skinny on where I could find this song.

U.S. Blues-The Grateful Dead
Never been much of a Dead head, but a buddy used to have the album from whence this came, The Grateful Dead at the Mars Hotel, and this was the one cut which jumped out and stuck with me. Never wanted to take the plunge ad get the whole thing, so here I am with the mp3. An agreeable bluesycountry shuffle with amusing lyrics. I always liked this album's cover.

Solsbury Hill-Peter Gabriel
Gabriel used to name each of his solo releases "Peter Gabriel". These days, he's worked his way up to one word titles. Pete's albums tend to leave me mostly cold, even though there's usually two or three tracks I really like on each of them. This is a oddly haunting, flute (or mellotron imitating one)-driven track from his first album. You know, the one that has him sitting in the car and looking through the rain-beaded windshield. I think a live version of this song became a hit ten or so years later. Just to demonstrate the totally irrelevant associations I make sometimes, I think Ian Anderson ripped this off for his song "Moths" from the 1978 Jethro Tull album Heavy Horses As if anybody cares.

Getting Better-Gomez
Gomez is a British band that combines rootsiness with an adventurous (to be kind) arrangement style that fails as often as it works. When I like 'em, I love 'em, and when I don't, they can be an endurance test. Anyway, this is a cover of the Beatles song that I first heard in a General Electric commercial. I fell in love with the vocal (the growly, elastic style of Ben Ottewell) I heard on the 1 minute (or less) snippet, and that led me to discover the band. This eventually ended up on an odds-and-sods compilation titled Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline, the most Camper Van Beethovenish title I've ever heard that wasn't by Camper Van Beethoven.

No More I Love You's-Annie Lennox
I suppose by now you're wondering why I didn't put something by Sting on here as well. Anyway, I've never been the most rabid of fans when it came to Eurythmics and Ms. Lennox; some things I like ("Missionary Man", "I Need A Man") and most of it I don't. This is one of the few solo things she did that I wanted to hear more than's a cover of a sing by an obscure group named The Lover Speaks, and she gives it a great vocal arrangement over a vaguely funky beat. As with Sarah McLaughlin, God bless the inventor of the mp3, so I can have songs by artists I wouldn't otherwise touch with your CD player.

Don't Fuck With Me-Jill Sobule
Heh heh...she said "fuck". Ken Ringwood's favorite Jill song. Actually, I've heard her perform this live, but don't own the album on which it appears. I think I got this mp3 from her site. Anyway, it's her specialty- wry humor with a great melody, ably strummed on the acoustic guitar. If you've never seen her perform live, I sincerely hope you get to someday. She's great.

Whew! That's the end! And guess what. I don't think I have enough mp3s for another sampler disc...but fear not for Captain Eclectic, he's never down for long!