Sunday, August 29, 2004

We're so young and pretty, we're so young and clean

So many things that we have never seen
Let's move from Ohio, sell this dam' old store
Big Apple dreamin' on a wooden floor

Skyscrapers and subways and stations
Staring up at the United Nations

New York is waiting for you and me, baby
Waiting to swallow us down
New York, we're coming to see what you're made of
Are you as great as you sound

Heard about them massages, and all those dirty shows
I read somewhere some places never close
While we waste time on yokels, comin' through the door
Big Apple dreamin' on a wooden floor

Skyscrapers and subways and stations
Staring up at the United Nations

New York is waiting for you and me, baby
Waiting to swallow us down
New York, we're coming to see what you're made of
Are you as great as you sound

New York is waiting for you and me, baby
Waiting to swallow us down
New York, we're coming to see what you're made of
Are you as tough as you sound

Oh, New York, Oh, New York we're coming
Oh, we're coming to see what you're made of
Oh, you can't be as tough as you sound
Me and my baby, we're coming
Oh, we're coming

They're waiting for you and me, baby
Oh... (Repeat and fade out)

Somewhat abridged lyrics from Alice Cooper's "Big Apple Dreamin' (Hippo)", from the 1973 album Muscle of Love, which I always thought was a lot better than the critics told me it was. Written by Cooper and Mike Bruce. God, I miss the Alice Cooper Band...

Oh, yeah- I'm posting this 'cause we're leaving this afternoon for our return trip to NYCNY, and I won't be within shouting distance of a computer for the next two days. This time we're staying in town, so we can attend the showcase Monday night at the Orpheum Theatre, after which we'll be driving home on Tuesday. Of course, those %#!@%$ Republicans and their stupid National Convention have to be going on at the same time, so I'm sure that will make driving into the city, a daunting task for this country boy, even more daunting. Sigh. How inconsiderate of them.

Anyway, happy trails, and unless I get injured in some sort of violent protest or blown to atoms by a suitcase bomb, I'll be back here (God/Goddess/Supreme Being willing) Wednesday to provide you with more free bloggy goodness.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of August 25

By far, one of the most pleasant surprises of 2003 was the previous Dick miniseries, Byrd of Paradise, which combined Hawaiian folklore and hard-boiled detective noir with just a touch of the inherent kitsch in both and a dash of EC style for good measure. This long-delayed continuation picks up where the last issue left off, as our boy Byrd gets mixed up with two rival resort owners...and also just happens to encounter more ghosts in the process. It's funny how, in Dick, anyway, you just know this twist is coming, but when it does, it's always out of the blue and delightful. Also, strong characterization throughout, especially with Byrd's co-workers/friends Mo and Kahami- you really get a strong sense of how these people relate and interact. One of the best things about this issue is the beautiful, vivid colors by artist Steven Griffin- it's among some of the best I've ever seen in a four-color funnybook. Every page features gorgeous, eye-popping hues and if you don't do anything else, you should pick up a copy of this and thumb trough it just to feast your eyes for a while. Of course, Griffin draws the art he colors, and does another outstanding job. His style has gotten a bit simplified, line-wise, since the last mini, and perhaps this is due to the time constraints of doing both colors and line art, so with next issue we welcome aboard new artist Nick Derington, who is gonna fit in just fine, I think- especially since Griffin will still be doing the color art. Looks like we have another winner on our hands, folks! A

It's understandable why this title sells so poorly, if you look at it objectively-it's low-key, cerebral, dark, moody, and doesn't feature anything that immediately hits you between the eyes and makes you go "wow". It has superpowered characters, true, and some of them even occasionally wear uniforms, but none of them have the charisma from a distance that even the tired old licensed properties of the Big Two still have. I can find no reason why the unsophisticated reader, one who grooves on the likes of JLA/Avengers or any of the non-Morrison, non-Milligan X-books would or could get excited about reading it. And then you have the contingent who sniff their noses and bitch because of the superheroic underpinnings of this book, even though they seem underemphasized to my eyes anyway. Sleeper is simply too smart for the room, and we all know that nobody wants to hang with the kid that's obviously smarter than his other classmates. Sleeper is an utter failure as a superhero book because Brubaker doesn't want to write this like one and Sean Phillips doesn't want to draw it like one. All the Powers trappings are merely window dressing for the character study and espionage thriller that is at its heart- like a kaleidoscope, everything keeps shifting and changing, with Holden Carver at its center, and each shift becomes as interesting as the last. Carver obviously doesn't know who to trust or which way to turn, so he trusts no one and is determined to remain true to himself, as much as possible anyway, and the hell of it is that neither he nor the reader can escape the realization that more than likely there is no happy ending in store for him- no way that he's gonna get out of his situation and be happy, or even content, but he struggles on anyway. Sleeper is an acquired taste, and it's just not for everyone. Those of us who can dig it should just be glad that it's still around and enjoy it while we can. A

Big week for comics with "Sleeper" in the title, huh! The Hester and Huddleston team finally deliver the third chapter in the saga of a writer who discovers he can travel outside his body while asleep, then is dismayed to find that some other wandering spirit has moved in while he was away, and he can't get him out unless he goes along with the dubious plans of a less than trustworthy spiritual leader/guru type. This becomes quite gripping about a quarter of the way in because of the threat to his family, who are (mostly) blissfully unaware that Daddy isn't Daddy anymore, and our sleeper's inner monologue as he comes to grips with the possibility that he'll never be able to be with his family again, and his self-reproachment for not living his life differently when he had the chance. Deep stuff, and that Hester pulls it off without becoming maudlin or clichéd is very commendable. I'm still hot-and-cold about the excessively sloppy art by Mike Huddleston; sometimes it's very effective, almost Pope-ish; and other times it's just sloppy. But it gets the story across, and that's the important thing. This title, which I had forgotten about in the interval between #2 and this, is back on my radar...hope it stays there. A

In which Alan Moore gives us an apocalypse that personally I could live with. I'm not going to pretend that I follow everything Moore's going on about, and has gone on about in this comic since, geez, issue #18 or 19? Farther back than that, even? I forget...but I do know the joy of creation and imagination when I see it and I think Mr. Moore's had a grand time attempting to explore and explain magickal theories in illustrated form, all for a lousy 3 bucks to us, and when it's worked (which has been more often as not) it's been exhilarating and when it hasn't, well, it's left me scratching my head and wanting to know more, which (despite my disinclination towards all things religious) I just may get around to investigating one of these days...which is probably what he was aiming to get me to do in the first place, the clever bastard. And the J.H. WIlliams/Mick Gray/Jose Villarubia team has been more that equal to the task, often dazzling the reader more than Moore has, and always complimenting his ideas. Promethea has left many cold, I'm sure, but personally I'm glad it was here for us, receptive or not, and I honestly think that it belongs right at the top when listing the major career achievements of one of the best comics writers of the last 40 years. Next issue: "Wrap Party", which promises to be something special, I think. A

John goes, once again, from the frying pan to the fire, no sooner getting himself out of one scrape with his innate cleverness (despite the ongoing amnesia thing) than getting himself into another jam- which promises to be a bit tougher. Month after month, this is a solid little book which gets absolutely NO attention from anyone in the print or comics blogosphere, and it's a shame...but sometimes consistent excellence will have that effect. Mike Carey has done very well, adding dimension even as he recycles from days gone by in Constantine's history, and Marcelo Frusin has really come into his own, giving us moody, dark, expressive art which is perfect for these goings-on. Of course, after next issue he's gone again, to be replaced by my old Hellstorm buddy Leo Manco, who was unimpressive in a fill-in stint a few months ago. Oh well. Could be worse. They could be drawing him to look like Keanu Reeves...A-

WE3 1
Grant Morrison gives us a minimal and nicely straightforward script, equal parts humor, political and social commentary/satire, with a touch of horror (especially if you're an animal lover) then steps back and lets Frank Quitely do his thing- and he's amazing. From the expressive looks on the faces of the three too creepy-to-be-cute and too-cute-to-be-creepy animal/weapon principals, to the bravura 18-panel grid sequences which detail how they escape captivity, to the final full-page spread of the mountains they find themselves in, he gives us one of his best art jobs ever, or at least of what I've seen from him, anyway. While the premise is hardly the freshest thing to come down the pike, I think if anybody can come up with ideas to make it go in interesting directions, the Mad Scotsmen can. We will see. A-

Everybody's favorite loose cannon Afghani mercenary killer Aisha gets a solo spotlight this time out, and there are indeed some interesting twists to her role in the titular group when this is said and done. Hate to say it though, but for some reason the majority of this issue struck me as kinda routine and not as gripping as I'd hoped. Some of the info we get makes it definitely worthwhile, but I wish the ride had been more fun. At least it's better drawn this time- Ali Garza does an creditable job (certainly better than the Dragotta we've had the last two issues) despite his natural superhero-comic-illustrator tendencies, which manifested themselves at odd moments (the occasional bad-girl pose, or cliché gesture) during the course of the tale. Obviously, for this comic to really sing, Diggle needs Jock. They have chemistry, and he can't return to full art duties soon enough. B+

Diminutive goth-rock singer Kara Valentine (maybe a team-up with Thessaly is in order) is in the spotlight (so to speak), as her latent witching abilities get her into some trouble...which will of course bring her to the attention of the "Crone" figure (who hardly looks crone-ish), who's out trying to find candidates to help her complete a modern-day trinity (you know, the crone, the maiden, the mother), blah blah blah, insistence of Lucifer, blah blah. This issue was a bit of an improvement over the first two, believe it or not, but the writing is still stiff and unexciting. I'm especially having a tough time with the art, which just can't seem to transcend its bland comic-book-cliché stylings and is even stiffer and unconvincing. You keep hoping it will cut loose and wow you, and enliven the dull script, but it never does. It tells the story. It's adequate. Unfortunately, I don't want adequate, and I can't afford adequate much longer. As always, though, great cover. Wish I could just collect them and be done with it. C+

Soon, my pretties, soon...Flight, Vol. 1, Subatomic, The Supernaturalists, and Texarkana. I promise.
I'll bet the fanboys will be buzzing after viewing tonight's Justice League Unlimited!

Writer Paul Dini decided to take the far-fetched situation and run with it, and many laughs were to be had- you had B'Wana Beast, of all people, with a pro rassler accent; the Elongated Man (it's always a little sad to see the guy now- weird, innit?); Red Tornado, who makes an impressive entrance, only to get the funniest line in the whole episode; the lovely Zatanna, always a treat to see when done Animated Timm-style, and the "huh"-inducing cameo by the Golden Age Crimson Avenger. Plus- Wonder Woman! A pig! Batman sings (which I'm sure had the hardcore apoplectic)! And for some reason Dini and his creative JLU team have picked up the Batman-Wonder Woman romance gauntlet that Joe Kelly dropped when he was writing JLA.

All in all, a fine episode- lots of fun, especially if you don't take your super-guys too seriously. More than made up for the routine Teen Titans episode that proceeded it.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Caught a showing on TCM last night of a Hitchcock film I'd never seen, The Trouble With Harry.

Harry is the tale of a dead man found in the Vermont woods, and the disruption this discovery causes among a group of small town residents. Definitely a change of pace for the Master (especially at the time), with its light, quirky tone...but overall the movie was slight and inconsequential, with a shrug-inducing finale, and suffered for it.

What it did have going for it was a solid cast full of faces familar from other films and sources, like John Forsythe (later "Charlie" of Angels fame/notoriety) as the romantic interest, a pragmatic artist; Edmund (Them!, Miracle on 34th Street) Gwenn as a retired sea captain who thinks he's shot the man in the woods while he was hunting; Shirley (Rat Pack) MacLaine as the pixie-ish and somewhat giddy widow of the man in the woods and the intended object of Forsythe's amor; Mildred Natwick, whom I had just seen in John Wayne's The Quiet Man; Royal Dano, veteran of a thousand films in which he played cattle rustlers and hoodlums, familiar to me as one of Arthur O'Connell's stooges in Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (this bugged me for a long time, where I had seen this guy); and Jerry Mathers as...Arnie, Maclaine's young son and finder of the body in the woods, setting the events in motion. This was, of course, pre-Jerry Mathers as...the Beaver. It was a kick to see all these familiar faces go through their paces. Also, the film's scenery was gorgeous. Much of it was filmed on location in Vermont in October- Hitch intended to film the whole thing up there but it rained constantly (wettest October on record at the time, ayuh) so he eventually had to give it up and come back to Hollywood, where he filmed several scenes on soundstages. He had his crew bring along boxes and boxes of fallen leaves, which were attached to plaster trees to approximate the woods. It's a tribute to the crew he utilized that it looks so convincing.

Overall, it was a fun film with an odd, whimsical tone, well worth watching for the cast and scenery and in particular if you like black comedy. It reminded me more of an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents than an honest-to-goodness feature film, and also put me in mind of Arsenic and Old Lace. I don't think Hitchcock ever did another film like this one; his work got more dark in tone as time went on, until Family Plot, his last film, which had its blackly comic elements but was nowhere near as charming as Harry. If it had had an ending which lived up to its enjoyable first three quarters, it would have been a great one, but as it is, it's still a very good one. Ayuh.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Milla, my dear, if you're reading this, I just want to say- It's not a problem. Really. They're just fine.

Will someone please get this young lady some different comics other than Heavy Metal, please?

As Professor Farnsworth says so often: "Good news, everyone!" Except this really is good news. From today's Comics Continuum:

Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular, based on Jill Thompson's characters, will air on Cartoon Network on Friday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.

I would have linked to the page, but geez, it's only one line of type. Of course, I realize that most of you probably already know this, but I didn't so nyah.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Here's a preview of Marvel's upcoming update/revamp of Adam Warlock, by Greg "Six" Pak and Charlie "Savior Faire"("...he's everywhere!") Adlard.

One of my all time fave comics series was that definitive 70s Starlin run on the character, and subsequent revival attempts (some even by Starlin!) have been hit-and-miss. This, however, kinda sidesteps all that has gone before, and just might have legs because of it. We'll see.

Poached from Mr. Silpayamanant. Arigato.

Other things, as I seem to have some free time between ads today for some reason:

My Blogger Suessbar ("Oh, the Places You'll See") at the top of the page is now looking like it oughtta should. One less tiny, insignificant thing to concern myself with. Not that I was losing sleep over it, mind you- I've got many more serious things to lose sleep over!

Lest you think I show favoritism towards fellow Pants Presser Vera Brosgol, here's a new online comic from Erika Moen. Short, but nicely done.

Mike Sterling gives us the Seven Deadly Harveys. Made me chuckle, it did!

Quentin Tarantino's blog? Decide for yourself.

Well, I meant to turn this into a link-o-rama of some sort, but it looks like it's gonna be of the brief sort. They just brought a stack of folders in so it's back to work for me, hi ho. More later, hopefully. Posting, that is.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usCatch-up time, get it? Ketch-up! Get it? Huh? Between my trip and my hiatus, I have gotten very behind in reviewing comics. I shall now attempt to rectify this and list three weeks' worth in one post. Hold on, here we go...


Best of a so-so week. For once, I enjoyed one of Beto's stories as much as I did Jaime's. "Dumb Solitaire" was a great character study, and cleverly worked in some familiar faces from some of Gilbert's prior opuses. Jaime did an especially fine art job on "Life Through Whispers", and continues to build this Ray/Maggie/Doyle thing to some sort of conclusion, about which I can only guess. A

In which we're introduced to Kaz Kabuishi's somewhat-disagreeable-but-likeable-all-the-same girlish figure of an apparent badass Sci-Fi Western-style mercenary, and get a lesson in Texas Hold'em style poker, all the rage these days. Me, I prefer seven-card stud, a game which makes you concentrate on other players' hands. Looking forward to seeing where this is going. A-

Joe Kelly's trying hard to develop these characters and this concept, and at least to me it's working more often as not. It's not quite rocking my world, but I don't feel like I'm wasting my time, either...especially when I look at the art. B+

About as efficient and as satisfying a reboot as one could hope for, I suppose, especially if one was hoping for that sort of thing. Me, I was hoping for something more along the lines of a well-told Swamp Thing tale, and I suppose this doesn't disappoint- the scripting was sharp if unadventurous and the art wasn't terrible, except when it came to drawing more-or-less normal humans. That being said, I have no further desire to see what happens next. Definitely one to read in a trade collection, in case you're wondering. B+


Very good finale to Ed Brubaker's "Unresolved" story arc, with lots of great character interaction, a fine take on Harvey Bullock, and a typically outstanding art job by Michael Lark. GC isn't going to revolutionize the industry, but it is nice to know that you can read a Bat-book and not have your intelligence insulted. A

Consistently consistent in its consistent excellence. More I shall not say. A

100 BULLETS 52
More in N'Awlins with fave nouveau Minuteman Dizzy Cordova, Wylie Tymes and Agent Shepherd against a background of booze, jazz references, and heavy black ink. Apparently Tymes has a bit of a history in NO and is running afoul of his past while keeping Shepherd forcibly restrained. No clue where this is headed. I would rank this issue, in keeping with the Miles Davis theme, as In A Silent Way, a solid, brilliantly played, often innovative effort-but far from complete as far as the big picture goes. A

After reading three issues of this series, anybody who still thinks that Howard Chaykin wrote the likes of Angel and the Ape, American Century, Bite Club and Forever Maelstrom is either an idiot or just isn't paying attention. It's great to have ya back, Mr. Chaykin. A

Consistently consistent in its consistent excellence. Well, what do you want me to say? OK, since you pressed me I will bitch a little about how this issue seemed to meander a lot. Just a little more conciseness in the conversations would go a long way, Mr. B. A-

Weird War Tales this time in a flashback to Bigby Wolf's involvement in WWII. The pun at the end made this old Universal horror flick fan laugh out loud. Nicely scripted, inconsistently drawn...but inconsistent art is a given with this title, regardless of who's doing it. That doesn't apply to the James Jean covers, by the way, which are always stellar. A-

Yeah, I know that this came out a few weeks prior, but this is when I got it. What can I say. Things just keep on going from bad to worse, and Charlie Adlard is doing a great Simonson impersonation on the art. While it seems kinda brief, it's still consistently consistent in its...oh, you know. A-

Titles like this drive me nuts. For the most part, it's everything its detractors say it is, and that covers a lot of ground. Myself, while I deplore the plot contrivances to which Meltzer has resorted to, I realize that he's just trying to give this spandex slugfest some emotional heft, and make us care- to give us more than another soulless cosmic mishmash like JLA/Avengers, and I think that's a worthy goal. Sucks that he had to step on some fanboy toes in order to do so, I suppose. Despite reading here and there and everywhere about how heinous these events are, and how many plot holes and inconsistencies there are, and its dubious medicine, and the fact that this is just another excuse to show men in tights brawling...I find it an involving and mostly well drawn read, even though apparently I should know better, and still want to know how it all turns out. Guess there's just no accounting for taste. B+

Tischman tries to liven the proceedings up by throwing logic and prior characterization out the window, and the good news and bad news is that he succeeds. Dave Hahn's art is still no less inappropriate, but it's kinda beside the point to complain now. One issue to go. C+


Consistently consistent...oh, all right. All sorts of mythological, theological (same thing, to some), and human-ilogical characters are converging on Yggdrasil, that nutty crazy old World Tree well known to many Thor fans, and Mike Carey has done his best to make the plot threads as gnarly as its roots and branches. Doozy of a cliffhanger, nicely scripted and competently drawn as usual, and all wrapped in a great Mike Kaluta cover. That being said, Kaluta's been infatuated with that symmetrical mirror-image layout thing for a long while now, and I'm beginning to find myself hoping he gets tired of it real soon. A

Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's visual interpretation of the old Neil Sedaka chestnut "Breaking Up is Hard to Do", nicely done but not as resonant or involving (with me, anyway) as last issue. Maybe if I was a bit closer to its target demo-graphic, if you'll excuse the expression, or if I had recently experienced something as awkward and painful as breakups tend to be, I'd be more enthused. But hey, it was still very well executed, the visual equivalent of "uneasy listening", if you will, so you may like- there's something to be said for a tale well told. A-

You know what this book is? See the above review of Sleeper Season Two 2. Bendis haters, which seem to be multiplying like cockroaches, will of course disagree. A-

H-E-R-O 19
Lots of rubble in this one. Not terribly bad, actually, an improvement over last issue's book-long, tiresome extended fistfight, but it's too late to revive my interest. Since this book's kaput in 3 months, I'll stick with and see how it all turns out, I suppose. B+

Retired, has-been superhero is lured out of his garden to face an imminent threat, and life lessons are learned, along with a not-so-subtle nod to those who want to hang on (spiritually) to the comics they loved growing up. What's the old saying? "Physician, heal thyself". As one of the choir he's preaching to, I found this a slight but not-bad giant monster fight tale, rendered just well enough in the sloppy pseudo-Adams stylings of Brent Anderson. B+

This one's going on hiatus, so I don't think I'll be dropping it because I actually enjoyed this one, thanks to the character stuff- he's given us the most likeable (not to mention sexiest) bearded lady in (dare I say) the history of comics, and previous sore spot dialogue by inker Gary Martin was much better too. And Steve Rude is one hell of a mighty, mighty artist, let me just say. B+

The star of this particular show remains artist Tony Harris, who really had been gone from comics for too long. Writer Brian Vaughn is setting everything up slowly but surely, and it's interesting enough to keep me curious about what's going on. I just hope he intends to give us some sort of payoff sooner rather than later. B

This storyline started promisingly, but kinda petered out in abrupt fashion without giving us much insight into any of the issues it raised. Maybe Milligan was concerned about short attention spans, who knows. The normally reliable Javier Pulido seemed somewhat uninspired as well, often giving us slovenly anatomy/perspective (Chris in the pool chair on the second-to-last page, for example) and routine staging. An all-around disappointment, 'cause I thought this was gonna be a good one. C+

To review later: Flight Vol. 1 and three graphic novels I recently received from Mad Yak Press: Texarkana, The Supernaturalists and Subatomic.
Time once again for that time-honored tradition here at the Show: the Diamond shipping list and what it has in store for me on Wednesday! And it goes like this:

HELLBLAZER #199-finale of a pretty good story arc, all things considered.
LOSERS #15- at least we get a new fill-in artist; judging by the previews he's 110% better.
PROMETHEA #31-only one more issue to go. Wish it could have lasted longer.
SLEEPER SEASON TWO #3- more fear and self-loathing in spandex.
WE 3 #1-looked real good from the previews.
THE WITCHING #3-gonna have to get a lot better real soon. Maybe I could just cut the covers off while nobody's looking each month...
DEEP SLEEPER #3-whoa! Had almost forgot about this one, it's been so long since #2. I was wondering why that reprint trade had come out last week, now I know.
HAWAIIAN DICK: THE LAST RESORT #1-Woo-ha! About fricking time!

Coming later: more reviews than you can shake an Uru Mallet at.

I've already expressed this in another, less public, venue, but here it is for all to see: congratulations to Sean T. Collins, one of the Bacardi Show's favorite bloggers, for his new job opportunity, the specifics of which I am not at liberty to reveal. That's the good part. The bad part is that now, as a result, Attentiondisorderly Too Flat is now on indefinite hiatus. It will be missed.
Well, I'm back! And none the worse for wear, except in what I laughingly refer to as my bank account. Here now, for your perusal and amusement, an account of our trip.

We left about 7 pm CST Thursday evening. To plan our trip, I consulted Yahoo! Driving Directions, and it suggested a route which led us to go straight up to Lexington on the Blue Grass Parkway (aka the Mind-Numbing Drive of Sheer Ennui), then on east through West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and then over the G-Dub Bridge into New York City and its immediate environs. Noting that this route included several states which I had never visited, I thought what the heck, why not. Our final destination was New Rochelle's Marriott Residence Inn, where my daughter had a room reserved for her by the fellow in charge of the Beginnings Workshop, or as it's billed on their website, "Americas Leading Arts Experience for Young People". That 's the reason for the trip in the first place- my daughter had been referred to them by a friend who had been a participate in years past to serve as a chaperone/counselor/participate in the workshop. We thought it sounded like a great experience and opportunity for her to pursue her dream, so we mobilized. But getting her up there and staying up there long enough to see her off was the problem.

Anyway, we drove most of the night until I just couldn't do it anymore and checked in to a hotel somewhere in West Virginia. We rose early the next morning (too early- I could have slept a couple more hours easily) and set about to the real drive, through the rest of West Va. and Maryland, on up through New Jersey. It went smoothly, with only a couple of small traffic-related delays, until we got past Baltimore on I-95 North, where we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way until we were out of Delaware. It took us four hours to get the same distance that it should have taken one or one and a half, tops. Very frustrating, to say the least, and it wasn't even rush hour! There were no accidents that we could see, either, so all we can do is assume that it's like that sometimes on that stretch of road and move on. And resolve never to return that way! Anyway, after we finally got through that mess, we made better time on up through Jersey until we got to the George Washington Bridge, where we encountered another monstrous traffic jam, caused by the toll booth. By now, we were running very late (and adding to this was that Abby didn't really know what to expect when she arrived at the hotel, plus the uncertainty of finding a location somewhere we had never been before), so we became very frustrated and even more tired and put out by this new turn of events. FINALLY, after creeping along for another hour (seemed like more than that, actually), we got over the bridge and into the city, where we fortunately found the hotel without too much wrong turning and cursing. The Residence Inn was a pretty good-sized hotel, right next to a very busy block of town which had been converted into some sort of gaudy Mall-type thing, called (and use your best mullet-rock, hook-em horns voice here) "New Roc City". More on that later. We got Abby checked in, making sure she was gonna be OK and had found other people there for the workshop (it wasn't like an official meeting place or anything like that, it was just where they put up out-of-town participant for two nights), then set out to find our hotel, in nearby Yonkers. After locating our hotel with a little, but not too much difficulty (exacerbated by our fatigue, and some incorrect directions by Holiday Inn's website), we got checked in and went straight to sleep sometime about 1:30 am. In case you're wondering, they had no other vacancies at the Residence, which is why we didn't stay at the same hotel as our daughter. Of course, when we get there and checked her in, the desk clerk informed me that they had rooms now due to several cancellations. Of course. Also of course, we had already made our reservations elsewhere and didn't want to have to pay for a room we wouldn't stay in (too late to cancel, y'know), so I declined through clenched teeth.

The next day, we checked in with Abby, who had a meeting all day, and arranged to meet up with her that evening when she got back to her hotel. A line of thunderstorms was moving through the area, causing rain most of the day on and off, so after some early morning driving-around we decided to hang out at the room that afternoon and head back to New Rochelle sometime about 5:30 pm. Didn't want to drive around unfamiliar territory in the rain, you know. I had a good nap that afternoon. Sorry, it didn't get more exciting than that for us. Eventually we headed over to the Residence, and decided to explore the New Roc City while we waited. An amazing melting pit of people of all types of races and nationalities, mostly teenagers, not surprising-it is a mall, after all. The place was crawling with security people- I'll bet THAT'S a full-time job! From a shopping standpoint, very disappointing- there were only one or two actual stores that we could find, plus a good-sized grocery store in something like a basement level. There was a big Imax movie theater there, but we figured we wouldn't have enough time to watch anything and not miss Ab when she returned. We ended up looking around in a sports merchandise store, checking out this huge arcade they had on another, and sat down in an Italian restaurant called "Zanaro's" for a beer and some really good rolled-up-in-flaky-dough-type chicken "flutes", recommended by the young lady behind the bar. We watched the Yankees game that I had considered going to on the TV. That killed a little time, and we ended up sitting around in the Residence lobby until Abby FINALLY got back around 8, where we went back to the Italian place for dinner, then after meeting some of her co-workshoppers and making sure she didn't need to see us before she left for the main event (which is taking place up in the Catskills somewhere, in a camp-type setting), we went back to our room in Yonkers, to rest up for the big drive home.

Which went off a lot more smoothly than our drive up, I can tell you. We got back about 10 PM CST last night. People, that's one hell a long, tiring drive. We're seriously considering going further into debt to arrange some sort of flight/room package when we go back next week to see the workshop showcase and bring her home. It sounded especially good about halfway through the hilly state of Maryland, which (I believe) employs three times as many state troopers as other states in the Union, and keeps them out each and every one on the Interstate systems as much as possible. I saw more troopers on Maryland roads in one afternoon that I've seen on the stretch of Interstate highway that I drive every day in Kentucky for three months!

Well, that's the story of my New York Adventure, such as it is. Stay tuned for the sequel, in just 10 days!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Got another announcement to make. I'm going on another hiatus. Now, wait wait wait- I promise, it's not gonna be a long one. You may remember that I wrote the other day that we're driving my daughter up to the Big Apple tonight, so she can participate in an acting workshop slash camp type thing in New Rochelle, New York- so it looks like I won't be around a computer until Sunday night at the earliest, probably Monday. No computer, no Show. I'll be back then, and will begin comics reviews once more and all that stuff.

I wish we had the finances to make this into a real vacation-type trip thing, but we just don't. I don't know if I'll have the time or money or cab fare or sand to try to go into the City. We will be staying Friday and Saturday and leaving early Sunday morning, so burglars, my son and my Mom will be keeping an eye on the house- don't get any ideas. I have no idea what we're gonna do when we get there, but I do know that the Yankees are in town this weekend... We'll be staying in a Holiday Inn in Yonkers (all these towns I know from comic books! Hoo-boy!), by the way, so if you've wanted to stalk me and you live up that way, well, now's your chance!

All seriousness aside, everybody have a great weekend and I'll be seein ya soon. Marc Bolan, sing us outta here.


Did you ever see a woman
Coming out of New York City
With a frog in her hand

Did you ever see a woman
Coming out of New York City
With a frog in her hand

I did don't you know (x3)
And don't it show *

Repeat in toto
Repeat in toto

(A boogie mind poem)

from Futuristic Dragon (1976)
In case you were wondering, all my MIA comics are now accounted for, since my comics shop got me a copy of Daisy Kutter: The Last Train 1. I even got Demo 9 on time! Reviews or commentary or something will be forthcoming in a few days.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Been reading a lot here and there about Grant Morrison's recently finished run on New X-Men, specifically Dirk's first ¡Journalista! column in ages. Now I gotta re-add him to the links list! Anyway, I've made it sort an ongoing project to read his run in TPB format, and I am currently through the third in the series.

Now it may surprise you, since I have so often been on record as being an admirer of Grant Morrison's work, that I haven't been picking up this title since the first issue came out, but it's true- I did not pick this up in floppy format. When Morrison first announced he was going to Marvel and specifically that he was going to write X-Men, such was my disregard for the X-Books that I figured the sheer ponderousness of the accumulated pretentious bullshit from previous writers and editors would drag him down, so I decided to pass. Even though his Flex Mentallo cohort Frank Quitely was on board. In fact, I had not bought an X-Men comic on anything even remotely resembling a regular basis since about 1984 or so, they were just so awful. In my opoinion, of course. However, the other title he did not long after, the beautifully drawn (J.G.Jones, and that's what got my attention) and sharply scripted Marvel Boy, kinda reassured me that Grant would persevere, so I decided that I would sample not only New X-Men but its companion in nouveau Marvel respectability, X-Force, of which I had also declined to partake despite my admiration for Milligan and Allred at the time. Anyway, I bought the first trade collection of both, thinking I would buy the one I liked the most on a regular monthly floppy basis, and get the other in trades if I liked it enough. And the quirky X-Force won out, but sadly ran out of juice (as far as I'm concerned, anyway) not long after so I dropped it. Twice. Anyway, I've been slow to get those NXM trades, disposable-income deficient wretch that I am, but I have (as I said before) picked up the first three. And when I have read them all, I hope to do a more in-depth thing about them. But right now, some brief impressions of the first three trades.

First, I honestly wish that they could have kept a regular artist, or at least artists with a consistent style, throughout. While there is an impressive array of art talent in these stories, including personal favorites Quitely, Igor Kordey and J.P. Leon, the abrupt shift in art styles is a bit jarring. This is most evident in the third trade; I'm thinking it was mostly Quitely & Kordey in the first two. A generous part of the third is also given to Phil Jimenez, a competent but unexciting George Perez disciple who has done quite a bit of work with Morrison and Vertigo titles in general, but whose style never seemed like a good fit. I'm hoping that he won't be back for the next books in the series.

Second, I was a little taken aback by how episodic and disjointed these stories are. Morrison takes delight in a non-linear approach, I fully realize this, but while reading these books I'm always coming across characters I don't remember seeing before, or events referenced that I don't recall, and Morrison's tone is always so deadpan that it just seems weird and strange. And honestly, I think this is one of the most straightforward narratives that he's ever written, but I'm constantly confused by abrupt, anticlimactic resolutions and the other things I just mentioned. I almost feel like I've missed whole issues, like they didn't get bound into my copies. Before I really go on record with this complaint, I should read them all back to back- there's a pretty good gap in between my readings of 1, 2 and 3- and perhaps it's just me on this account. I kept encountering instances where the characters would refer to events that are part of X-Men-as-written-by-Claremont lore, such as the Phoenix saga and the business with the Thunderbird character and so on. I was under the impression Grant was setting out to make his own continuity and to disregard all the crap that had gone on before. Did I miss a meeting or something?

Third, I like that Fantomex character. He adds some badly needed panache to the proceedings, plus the whole mystery of his backstory promises to be good, presuming Morrison ever gets around to dealing with it. For all I know, he may wind up as something totally different before this is over...but for now I like this guy. I also like Emma Frost as written by Grant- she's part of a proud Morrisonian tradition from Crazy Jane to Lord Fanny to Ragged Robin of strong, fascinating female (or shemale, if you will) characters with a acid wit. Can't understand what she sees in Scott, though, except perhaps he's a challenge. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.

Finally, I am happy that Morrison has managed to avoid the ponderous, soap-operatic cliches of his predecessors. Of course, this no surprise since he strives to avoid cliché and easy solutions rather than perpetuate it and them. It's almost a little too pat and dry so far, though, and I'm just not as caught up in it as I usually am by the best Morrison. Perhaps this will change as I go on with the series, who knows. Stay tuned.

Grinding away this morning, typesetting classified ads and Planning Commission listings and the like, completely menial crap, and listening to Beatles-O-Rama on Live 365...and they played "I Must Be in Love" by the Rutles! What a great song. Made my morning. I loved that TV Special back in the day, had the album on both vinyl and 8-track (you remember them, right? Right?), should have bought the DVD, may still someday. They then followed with Paul McCartney's "Heather", a cut I like very much from his most recent studio effort Driving Rain. If you like the Fabs, and you should all know by now that I do, you should check out this internet radio station.

Hopefully more later.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Peter Bagge is back with another cartoon, in which he sinks his fangs into the Fine Arts community. He speaks a lot of truth, even though he aims at some easy targets, and manages to be pretty damn funny in the process. Dare I say that many of us in the comics commentary blogging "business" could perhaps get some insight as well? Anyway, why don't y'all go check it out now, ya'heah?

Much obliged to Ian to pointing it out, so I could point it out to you. That is, if you haven't already seen it over there and checked it out already.

Another thing I've noticed lately is that Blogger has installed a nifty toolbar-type search thingy at the top of all its blog pages, which explains why I've been getting some unfamiliar referrals lately, due to its random-blog-visit link. Problem is, all the other sites I check have a tidy single bar across the top, with all the elements arranged nicely in the roughly one-half inch space, but my page shows a jumble of blocks all stacked up on top of each other and no bar in sight. Whassup wit dat?

Ramble coming on...danger Will Robinson...

I forgot to mention that one day last weekend we happened upon a big tent sale that someone had set up and was selling DVDs for 6 dollars and VHS tapes for $3. All good, but by the time we got there it had pretty much been picked through and there wasn't very much that I consider interesting left, especialy on DVD. Still, I did score a couple of cool vids: on VHS, I found a copy of Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy, a silly film which never fails to make me laugh...oddly enough, I never was able to work up a lot of interest in their TV show, even though I've liked many of the individual cast members in occasional films and TV appearances (especially Scott Thompson), but this movie cracks me up. Of course, each of the five members play a multitude of characters, both male and female, and effectively create distinctive personalities for each; and the storyline, about the creation of a miracle drug that cures depression a little too well and the complications that ensue not only with the public but the creators is sharp and clever. Wish I had found it on DVD, but I'll settle for this until I run across it in that format someday, assuming it's even available in that format. I also got a single tape from The Avengers TV show box set series, featuring two color episodes from 1967 featuring Patrick MacNee as John Steed and the divine Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel. Oddly enough, both have an avian theme, one is about a plot involving spying via carrier pigeons and the other is the classic "Winged Avenger" comic-book themed episode as the pair tangle with someone who is killing people dressed as a comic book character. The color is vivid, the performances dry and droll, and the scripts, while often (to be kind) whimsical, are still engrossing and very much of their time. I hope that someday before I go to meet my maker that I can get all the MacNee/Rigg Avengers episodes on DVD and watch them all again...I love that show. Finally, I did pick up one DVD: Frida, the kinda-sorta biopic starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina and directed by Julie Taymor, whose prior Shakespeare film Titus impressed me a lot. She does a lot of interesting stuff with this one, too, which is why I decided to plunk down my 6 bucks. Her visuals almost offset the soap-opera excesses of the script. I wrote about this film back in February, in case you're interested.

Since I am, after all, ramblin', here's a sports note. two of my fantasy baseball team pitchers: Oakland's Tim Hudson and my Sox's Freddy Garcia. Hudson's been on the DL for a month, finally has come off and I wasted no time activating him. he rewarded me tonight with a very impressive 5 hit shutout. But, and here's my season in a microcosm, Garcia got absolutely hammered tonight, giving up NINE EARNED RUNS in 4 innings, effectively ruining whatever benefits Hudson's gem provides for my team's earned run average. And he's been one of my most reliable pitchers in this nightmare season. As Pepe Le Pew used to say, "Le sigh." I know, I know, waah waah waah.

Good God, look at the time. I gots ta cut the ramblin short and go to bed now. Oyasumi nasai.
I see where DC has bestowed their November solicitations upon our unworthy heads. And I'm seeing a few interesting books there, only not the ones you'd think.

Nice covers on several comics, such as DETECTIVE 800, by Jock- yeah, it's one of those non-representative pinup style covers which so many otherwise knowledgeable people bitch about so often, but jeez- it's a nice painting and it crackles with bright color and energy, kinda like Jock's best work does. I also love the Kirbyesque BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #185 cover by Sean Phillips, and the Jae Lee (still can't get over that Manhunter 3 cover) BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #59. Lee has quickly become one of my favorite cover artists (I like his interiors, too, but he just doesn't do 'em all that often). Of course, that being said, I don't really like his other effort, this month's Manhunter. Dull pose, and somehow, the cigarette sticking out of her mouth has an oddly offputting effect. Intentional, maybe, but there ya go. We also get two nifty Mike Kaluta efforts, for FALLEN ANGEL #17 and LUCIFER #56. I keep hemming and hawing about picking up the Fallen Angel TPB...a lot of fine people praise it, but there's just something about the premise and the character and place names that don't grab me. Plus the art is bland at best, not exactly a sure-fire inducement to make Johnny B buy. That JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #5 cover is, well, eye-catching anyway. Not exactly Mahnke & Nguyen's finest moment, but I'm liking that book well enough so the benefit of the doubt shalleth be invok-ed. Mixed blessing dept.: we're not shown the cover for IDENTITY CRISIS 6, which is bad becuse it makes me wonder if it doesn't give away some other horrible event in #'s 4 or 5, but good because it's one less time we have to see one of those lackluster Michael Turner covers. The man's scratchy ink line makes my corneas hurt.

Noteworthy titles, at least as far as I'm concerned:

JLA: CLASSIFIED #1- Well, hey, it's Grant on the JLA. Good enough for me, even though I'm dubious of the Ed McGuinness/Dexter Vines art. You may recall (but I'd be surprised if you did, except for Bill Sherman) the old Kevin Ayers album Whatevershebringswesing. With Morrison right now, it's WhateverhewritesIbuy.

ELRIC: MAKING OF A SORCERER #3- this is written by Michael Moorcock and illustrated by Walt Simonson! I guess I overlooked the announcement for #1 and 2. I was highly underwhelmed by their previous collaboration, Michael Moorcock's Multiverse, back in 1998 for the Helix line...but this appears to be early tales of Moorcock's Melnibonean Warrior, with no alternate identities or timelines or any of that confusing junk, so I'm very interested. I'll have to keep an eye out for #1.

THE QUESTION #1-I've never really been a big fan of the character, despite his intriguing appearance and respected pedigree. I read a lot of the old Charlton stories, and liked them OK, but intensely disliked the O'Neil/Denys Cowan 80's version, and I'm afraid that this appears to be more in that vein than the Ditkoesque style. Still, it's Rick Veitch, a writer I like more often as not, and Tommy Lee Edwards, one of my favorite illustrators (I should make a list of them one of these days) I'm gonna give it a shot.

SPACE GHOST #1-There's no way I can ever take Space Ghost seriously again, but the Ross cover's nice. The creative team of Joe Kelly and Ariel Olivetti doesn't exactly make me want to go to ridiculous lengths to pick this up. As Zorak would say, "Lotsa luck, suckers".

THE INTIMATES #1-I don't know about you, but right off the bat I hate that would-be satirical title. Sounds like a Victoria's Secret-clad super-team if you ask me, and that's a better high concept than yet another teenage superheroes-studying-to-be-grownup-superheroes yarn...and that's gonna keep me from picking this up. I know, unfair, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Joe Casey's a good writer, but the art team doesn't excite me.

TOM STRONG'S TERRIFIC TALES #12-wow, the last issue. I stopped after #4 or 5, I think. How on God's Earth, you may ask, can a book sporting art by the likes of Art Adams and others be so deadly dull? Don't know, but I'm amazed it went a dozen.

ANGELTOWN #1-Now THIS is interesting. A mean-streets type tale for Vertigo illo'd by Mr. Underrated himself, Shawn Martinbrough, whose work I usually will always pick up, from Beware The Creeper thru his stint on Detective and the two excellent fill-ins he did for The Losers. I don't have a clue who writer Gary Phillips is or what he's done, but hey- an new ongoing with Martinbrough art! I was there yesterday!

- and here's where you can check out that Martinbrough fill-in, in this nifty new TPB. It's as good as the first Losers trade, and that one kicked ass. And the existence of a solictation for Losers 18 is the most positive thing I've seen all day.

THE WITCHING #6-this has been pretty yawn-inducing so far, but I see that veteran Dan Green's on board as inker now, so maybe the art will improve a tad. And the MacPherson cover series continues unabated- long may it run.

And that's my hardly in-depth, highly personal look at the DC solicitations for November. Make of it what ye will.

Monday, August 16, 2004

While I'm at it, here's something else I haven't done for a while now: WWJBB (look for it on a bracelet near you), or "What Will Johnny B Buy" on Wednesday, according to the Diamond shipping list? Well, wonder no longer.

STEVE RUDE'S THE MOTH #4-the list says #4 of 4; I thought this was an ongoing. Just as well, I've kinda decided to drop this anyway. But if this is the last issue, then I'll pick it up.
ASTRO CITY SPECIAL-not a fan of Busiek per se, but I've enjoyed his Astro City books. That being said, I was underwhelmed by the last miniseries, and my continued patronage depends on the next couple of AC projects.
EX MACHINA #3-another bubble book.
H-E-R-O #19-continuing the theme, I'm dropping this too. I had high hopes for the current storyline, but it's been diminishing returns all the way and its strong start is but a memory.
HUMAN TARGET #13-safe for now, but I'm just not as fanatical about this title as I oughtta be.
LUCIFER #53-still one of my favorite titles.
DAREDEVIL #63-I can't believe that Bendis made such an ass out of himself at WW Chicago. Sounds like he wasn't alone, though...
DEMO #9-actually, I got this today from good ol' Uncle Larry, but I'm gonna buy my copy anyway (if they get it for me) and give it to someone.

...and that's it! If Daisy Kutter 1 shows up, it might change my plans a bit. If I had more disposable income, I'd snap up that Essential Iron Fist collection; I always kinda liked the Fist's title back in the day. I had the first half dozen or so Marvel Premieres, and also had a set of the Byrne/Claremont run. I see where a new Plastic Man is coming out as well. I'm kinda feeling a bit guilty about not buying it up till now, especially after reading Tim O'Neil's (cute Identity Crisis satire there, Tim) impassioned defense of the title, but after skimming over the first two issues I just wasn't impressed enough to buy regularly. I've been a fan of Kyle Baker's in the past; loved his Shadow stint, Why I Hate Saturn, and You Are Here; and even found a lot to like about King David, horrific coloring aside. But there's just something about the loosey-goosey, Mort Drucker-meets-Sergio Aragones-meets-Disney Studios style he's evolved into that leaves me cold. I liked The Truth very much, but I liked it in spite of Baker's sloppy, hideously colored art, not because of it. I know better than to make a blanket statement like "he doesn't seem to give a damn about his craft anymore", because I know that's not true- the effort to produce nine plus issues of any book belies that, plus the man still knows how to tell a story very well- so I guess all I can offer is the lame excuse that I just don't like where he's at stylistically these days and let it go at that. It's like the old adage about not liking broccoli. It's good for you, but it just doesn't taste good. This being said, I've spotted some affordable runs on eBay, so maybe I'll go that route one of these days.

Well, what was intended to be a short-n-sweet "What I'm buying Wednesday" post sure turned into a monster, didn't it! I'm done. Oyasumi nasai, y'all.

All right, I'm back. The hiatus is over, for now. I'm not really prepared to go into what led me to step away for a week or so, but rest assured I had my reasons, none of which probably matter all that much to anybody.

Where to begin, where to begin. 'Scuse me if I ramble; got a lot to catch up on.

Since I'm still marginally a comics blogger, I'll start by assuring everyone that I'm still picking up those floppies. I may try to go back and write quickie reviews of what I got in the last couple of weeks, I might not. I realize that there's a dearth of online reviewers right now, but that's the way it goes. In case you're wondering, I'm sure you'll be quite relieved to know that I got 2 of the 3 MIA comics: Sleeper V2 2 and Walking Dead 9. Daisy Kutter 1 is still among the missing, but they're assuring me that a copy is on the way. We'll see. They had a 25% off sidewalk sale over the weekend, and while I didn't have much money I did take advantage of the sale to pick up the Flight anthology, plus the third TPB of Morrison's New X-Men. Haven't made it through either just yet. For what it's worth, I thought Love & Rockets 11 was the best comic I read two weeks ago, and last week I'd have to say it would have been a difficult choice between the latest Gotham Central and Challengers of the Unknown. And I continue to read Identity Crisis, but I can't say I'm very proud of myself. It's a very well crafted exercise in unpleasantness, and while it's no big deal to me to see the hallowed DC pantheon subjected to it, I can understand why some have their knickers in a twist over it.

I should do a "Lieber's
post, I really should...but damned if I can think of any books I'd recommend that haven't a. been listed already by several of my peers and b. are even available in collected trade format. Another missed opportunity, I suppose. That doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed reading the lists.

Above is another illustration by Flight's Vera Brosgol, whose work I'm always happy to post. It's part of a bunch of sketches she has put up at the Pants Press Sketchblog. I like this little fella. Or is he a she? Whatever. Speaking of Vera, I received my copy of Girly Book, the sketchbook slash mini comic she sold at the SDCC. She even did a drawing on the inside cover and evurrything. Made my day, it did.

Here's the website of Rion Vernon, who does some really nice pinup illustrations in that Timm/Glines/Tex Avery/Jessica Rabbit/gals with impossibly big feet and impossibly tiny waists style. Fortunately, he's very good at it.

Saw a few movies over the last couple of weeks, most notably a Maisie film I haven't seen before, Maisie Goes To Reno, in which Ann Sothern, as the Showgirl with a Heart of Gold, helps out a soldier who's wife is divorcing him. Don't know why I like those Maisie films so much, but I do. Also caught a showing of Seabiscuit, the film about the Little Horse That Could, which starred Tobey McGuire and was almost oppressive in its blatant heartstring pulling. Everything about that movie was engineered to provoke an emotional response from the viewer, so much so that it was almost like a clinical study or something. From its ponderous Randy Newman Natural-Lite score to its Horatio Alger-type plot, it was almost annoying how desperately this movie wanted to mean something. And actually, I liked it in spite of itself. McGuire actually displayed a little emotional range, Jeff Bridges is always good, and the underrated Chris Cooper also gives a standout perf. There's a ton of beautiful Autumn scenery in it as well, which I'll bet was really nice on the large screen. I also caught a screening of Robert Altman's fashion-world satire Prêt-à-Porter, or "Ready To Wear" for the French-impaired. I'd known about this flick for a long time- I mean, geez, it's 10 years old- but had never had a good opportunity to see it. I'm sorry I waited so's really very clever and funny, with a slew ton of well-known (and some not-so-well-known) actors and actresses including personal favorites Teri Garr and Tracey Ullman. Lyle Lovett's there, and you get to see Marcello Mastroianni howl like a wolf as Sophia Loren does a strip tease (still looking pretty darn good, too, at 60). Woo hoo! Just finished watching a couple of Elvis movies on TCM- Double Trouble, a Elvis vs. hired killers yarn which was mostly lame but if you squinted your eyes almost looked like Hitchcock in places, and the seminal Jailhouse Rock, in which not only does the King perform two of his best tunes (the title cut and "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care", also given a fine reading by Bryan Ferry on his These Foolish Things elpee), but he tells his love interest "That's the way the mop flops". Whee! The big staged set piece in which Elvis does "Jailhouse Rock" is still awe-inspiring.

OK, what else...I haven't picked up any new music lately, so I can't write about that. Sports is kinda in that awkward in-between phase right now, plus I don't give two shits about the Olympics (just not my bag, baby). Pro football's gearing up, but it's still early in the preseason so it's hard to feel anything but impatience for the start of the games that mean something. My White Sox are mathematically alive, I suppose, but everybody including them knows that they're out of it. My fantasy team is effectively done, too, done in by bad luck and injuries. Oh well.

The job hunt front has seen some flurries of activity lately; I had an interview a little over a week ago for a job which isn't unattractive to me...but the air conditioning's out in their building and the guy didn't want to bring me back in until it's fixed. And so I wait. I drove by there today and they still had the door open with a fan in it, so I can safely assume it's still not fixed and that's why I haven't heard from him since last Wednesday. Or maybe that was just for my benefit, and they don't really want me to come back. Who the heck knows. I also may get the opportunity to do some freelance graphics work for an ex-boss, but this isn't set in stone either. Ah, the uncertainty of my existence.

In case you're wondering, that's my yard I'm standing in in this picture. I also am sporting this rather abrupt haircut, which makes me look like Bobby Hall or Beavis and Butt-head's gym teacher.

Since I'm getting all personal and shit, I've got a little trip in my future coming up- my daughter is going to be participating in and working on staff for an acting workshop/showcase/camp, and we're going to be driving her to it this weekend. So if you're a burglar and have been casing my house, now's your chance. The camp slash whatever happens to be in New York state, near New Rochelle, which by most maps would seem to be in spitting distance of the Big Apple itself. Kids, this is a hell of a drive, an expensive one to boot, and I'm not really looking forward to doing this...but it's my baby girl, and we said long ago that we'd do whatever we could to help her pursue her dream, so off we go. Particularly interesting to me is that our hotel is in Westchester County, which is, as we all know, the location of Xavier's School for Gifted Students or whatever the heck it's being called these days. I really wish we had the money to do this up right and visit the City and all that, but sadly we don't. And then, a little over a week later, we have to go up and get her. Sigh. Still, if she gets happiness and satisfaction, then it's worth it.

And I can't believe nobody called me out on my hiatus announcement post, when I made the erroneous statement that Nilsson never worked with producer Richard Perry again...Perry was behind the board for post-Son of Schmilsson Ringo Starr albums Ringo and Goodnight Vienna, both of which featured our man Harry on backing vocals. Speaking of Mr. Nilsson, has anyone seen the new Nike commercial , featuring one of the tennis star Williams sisters, which uses the Nilsson track "He Needs Me" as sung by Shelley Duvall on the Popeye soundtrack? I thought my mind was playing tricks on me when I heard that. I love that song, one of the highlights of that very bad movie, and certainly one of the last songs I'd ever expect to hear in any commercial, let alone a sports gear spot.

OK, all right, I'm done. I suppose this will do for a "sticking my toe back in the pool" post. Hopefully, there will be more to come. I don't plan on taking another break anytime soon, but you never know...

Monday, August 09, 2004

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Pronunciation: hI-'A-tus
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from hiare to yawn
1 a : a break in or as if in a material object : GAP (the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party -- J. G. Colton) b : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
2 a : an interruption in time or continuity : BREAK b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

Friends, I'm taking a break for a while. Could be a week, could be longer. Just not feeling it right now, got things to deal with. In the meantime, please check out the fine blogs and websites in the links list at right.

Cue Vera Lynn:

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through, just the way you used to do
Till the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away

Now, won't you please say "Hello" to the folks that I know
Tell 'em it won't be long
'cause they'd be happy to know that when you saw me go
I was singing this song

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day

We'll Meet Again
The Ink Spots
Written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

May every song you sing/be your favorite tune
Jagger/Richards-"Shine A Light", from Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones.

"See ya next album, Richard"
Harry Nilsson, to producer Richard Perry at the end of the final cut on Son of Schmilsson, "The Most Beautiful World in the World". They never recorded together again.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hi, kiddies! Sorry to have been AWOL lately, but I've been busy busy busy here at the Snooz and at home. Still am, actually, but I wanted to post this link to a blog entry (on a blog I don't read; found this at 24 Hour Party, I mean Pixel People) titled "How to be creative". This person speaks the truth, y'know...not that I really understand what the heck he's talking about...

Of course, yesterday was Wednesday, and comics were purchased. Just not as many as I hoped. Sleeper Season Two 2 and Walking Dead 9 are still MIA, and they're now joined by Daisy Kutter 1, just like I feared. I know it's not completely my comics shop's fault, but this is getting tiresome, for me and for them- every week, it seems, I'm asking about did this come in or did that come in, and can you call Nashville, and...sigh. Guess I'll have to take another look at online services. I did notice where the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen V2 trade came out; strangely enough, I just finished reading both V1 and V2 over the weekend. My son had seen the movie, and was asking me about the source material, so I figured the best way to enlighten him was to show it to him. He read the first two, said he liked them a lot and wished the movie had been more like that. Me, too, said I. He hasn't picked them up since, but he's a busy boy. I'll keep them around for a while longer. I'll tell you, Alan Moore's done more important, and even more imaginative work, but for all-around entertainment and emphasis-on-solid-characterization, he's rarely done better than both volumes of League, if you ask me. Even if you don't ask me.

Quite a discussion going on at Fanboy Rampage!, in the comments section, in response to somewhat disingenous comments made by Mark Millar, Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch in response to Michael Chabon's call for more kid-friendly comics, and the pros and cons of publishing same. Interesting stuff, marred only slightly by some typically clueless comments by some fella what goes by Bacardi. There's over 100 comments there!

Had an interesting job interview yesterday, which promises to pay more and actually holds out the hope of some sort of eventual authority on my part. Of course, it's far from a done deal, but I'll let you know how it turns out.

Just in case anyone cares, here's my music today list. Haven't done this for a while. David Bowie-The Man Who Sold The World; Morning Glory-The Tim Buckley Anthology; Iris DeMent-Infamous Angel; Randy Newman-Good Old Boys; Neil Young-Zuma; Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

What we have here is Angelina Jolie in her role as "Franky Cook", commander of an all-female amphibious squadron in the upcoming film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

People, I am really excited about this flick! I had previously seen a trailer somewhere, and it apparently didn't make a lasting impression on me. Don't know why. But after reading about the goings-on regarding Van Helsing director Stephen Sommers being off the upcoming John Carter, Warlord of Mars movie and Sky Captain director Kerry Conran being on at The Beat, I started clicking around and eventually went to the official site of the Sky Captain film...and all I can say is wow. An impression has definitely been created.

Captain appears to be a homage to those old science fiction pulp magazines of yore, and silent classics like Metropolis. I would give my eyeteeth to see a Doc Savage or Shadow film done this way. The production design is amazing- everything is soft-focus and retro, like the filmmakers spent a decade with their nose buried in Virgil Finlay and Roy Krenkel-illustrated stories. I don't know if Mike Kaluta had a hand in any of this, but this sort of thing has a definite Kaluta vibe. I'm also reminded of Dark City quite a bit. There's also a strong tongue-in-cheek Buckaroo Banzai feel as well...or maybe that's just me. It's also got a great cast- besides Jolie, we also get Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Giovanni Ribisi looking all weird and cool in his black goggles. I'm tellin ya- this is going to be amazing on the large screen. I think I just might have to go sell some blood or something to get the ticket money, but I'm gonna see this. Wow.

Click on Angelina above to go to the official Sky Captain site. September 17th, baby!
Nor is "Interman" the only CIA-laced adventure generating buzz. "The Losers," from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, is a high-energy action property about a tough-as-nails U.S. Special Forces unit. Betrayed by their CIA handler and left for dead, the motley crew plots revenge by targeting the agency's dirty operations.

From a article on comics properties that Hollywood has its eye on for "development". I'm happy for Jeff Parker, to see his excellent Interman getting some attention...but I'm not so sure I want to see it, or The Losers, or some of the other titles mentioned in the article get run through the Hollywood meat grinder, or get "Catwomaned", if you will.

Still, you gotta believe that Losers would be tailor-made for an HBO or Showtime series. You'd think so, anyway. Found via Franklin's Findings.

Monday, August 02, 2004


My haul Wednesday, per the new Diamond shipping list. Kind of a mixed bag, huh. Add to it, hopefully, the MIA Sleeper Season Two 2 and Walking Dead 9. I'm not gonna get my hopes up for Kutter; it wasn't listed on my shop's holds order/update form, but I wrote in big bold letters to ADD DAISY we'll see on Wednesday, I guess.

They showed GYPSY! TWICE! Get the FUG outta TOWN! WOO HOO!

Sorry. That was my insane gibbering fanboy manifesting itself on Saturday night as I watched the premiere epsiode of the new incarnation of Cartoon Network's Justice League franchise, Justice League Unlimited. Of course, I'm sure you're all aware that the gimmick this year is that the JLA have opened the doors to the teeming hordes of super-people out there, in order to create more merchandising opportunities for CN and DC, I mean form a evil-fighting task force that is legion in number. And while I have my doubts about the viability of this move (I just don't see how they'll give all these characters enough screen time to be satisfying, and that trick never works when they try it in the comics-anybody remember Justice League Task Force?), based on episode one it seems to be working OK so far.

In this episode we get Green Arrow, who makes an immediately favorable impression and could serve as exhibit A of what I was talking about in the previous paragraph- now when will we get to see this cool character again? Captain Atom, who provided some nice humorous moments with his uptight military persona contrasting against GA's less structured, shall we say, approach; The Dini/Timm Superman Adventures Supergirl, who made me a bit nostalgic for those mid-to-late 90s Sunday mornings on WGN, and John Stewart, with a shaved head and stylin' new goatee. They are dispatched to investigate some sort of disturbance in China, which turns out to be some sort of giant robot which I could swear I've seen before, most likely in a Superman book...but I don't buy Superman books, so who the heck knows. Anyway, it turns out to be a rousing adventure and a fine showcase for each of the principals. Nice bit of continuity from last season, with the radiation-addled Stewart calling out Hawkgirl's name. The biggest fun, though, was reserved for the scenes in the satellite, which allowed us fanboys to "name that superhero" as a veritable slew ton of them, as the likes of Atom Smasher and Grant Morrison's Aztek, The Ultimate Man rubbed shoulders with Zatanna and Vibe. Yes, Vibe. The Timm-style Black Canary made an impressive first appearance, causing my inner geek to go all Tex Avery. And did I mention that THEY SHOWED GYPSY! TWICE!
Nits to be picked, only one, and here be spoilers, so I apolgize in advance: the Chinese Army gives Cap Atom what appeared to be at least a dozen containment rods, for insertion in the Big Bad's chest hole, which was supposed to shut him down. Draw your own subtext here. Anyway, everything gets all fubar'ed, and Green Arrow dispatches him by shooting one half of a rod into said orifice! One half? Did I miss something here? Did they give Cap all those rods 'cause they were looking to get rid of a bunch they had lying around in the way? And all it took was one half of a lousy stinkin' rod! Minor point, I know, but it bugged me. But that was all. Looks like Justice League Unlimited is off to a great start, and I look forward to Ditko representin' in the next couple of weeks. And they showed GYPSY! TWICE! I love Gypsy, dont'cha know...what? You didn't know? Oh, sorry. I've loved that character ever since the late, unlamented JL Detroit years. She's a swee-tee.

I also caught the premiere, beforehand, of the third season of Teen Titans, and it was of the same quality as the previous two. I suppose either you love this cartoon or ya hate it, and I'm a lot closer to the love camp. It's energetic, whimsical and fun, although it often drives me into a nitpick frenzy. We finally get around to seeing the betrayal of Terra, a seminal event for those who remain devoted to the Wolfman/Perez edition of the comic-book Titans, and I thought it was well done. Plus, even two years later that Puffy Amiyumi/Andy Sturmer theme song kicks ASS.

Someone or something named "Hector Reeder" ("Easy" Reeder's brother, perhaps?) over at Ninth Art has taken a jab or two at the burgeoning Comics Blogosphereiverse in a column which reads, to me, like someone who's trying much too hard to be clever and breezy and fails to make a single significant point. At least when Heidi MacDonald took her shots, she drew blood!

Still, I suppose someone who writes under the nom de guerre "Johnny Bacardi" shouldn't snipe too much at someone who chooses to go by "Hector Reeder". Throwing glass houses, stones, that sort of thing.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sendin'out Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings today to the great Ramblin' Jack Elliott, 73 today.


What I bought and what I thought, week of July 28

Despite the fact that this is yet another static and ambiguous story featuring somewhat unlikeable characters (both come across as self-absorbed, the female frustratingly abstruse and her boyfriend equally frustratingly clueless)...this still was the best comic I read this week, thanks in large part to the wonderful Paul Pope-ish art of Becky Cloonan, who provides this tale of a suicide's mix tape and the effect it has on her surviving lover with a melancholy beauty, like a grey day in February. It's the most evocative illustration job I've seen in a while, and it really brought out the empty, lonely feeling that the character must have been experiencing. For this reason, this issue impressed itself on me more than any others that I read this week, and for once I'm not left wondering "Is she a ghost?" "Is this all in the dude's head as he's listening to the tape?" "Who has the extraordinary power in this issue?" "Is it the guy, with the ability to "see dead people"?" "Is it the girl, who can create mix tapes that make you see dead people?" It doesn't matter. The story is told, empathy is created, mood is strongly evoked, and I give this an A 'cause I'm just like that sometimes.

In which Darwyn Cooke does a big sprawling Kirby-ish monster comic, and we also get more in-depth in regards to that ridiculous Green Battery character. In fact, for some reason Cooke seems to have a real affinity and admiration for this most preposterous of costumed characters. Go figure. Anyway, Superman makes an inspiring speech, surely as big a part of his repertoire of powers as is flight and heat vision, we get an eyebrow-arching interlude with Batman and his youthful ward/crimefighting partner Robin, Aquaman appears for no real discernable reason, and J'onn J'onzz finds a most unlikely friend and partner. Plus- the Sea Devils! The Blackhawks! Cool! Cooke's paying tribute and trying to tell a story all at the same time, and for the most part he does so with vigor and imagination (like the blood in Wonder Woman's invisible plane)...and I could nit-pick with the story structure (I'm really wondering if there was a point to that John Henry business), but for my money this is great and grand entertainment, everything that it was promised to be when it was announced. A

AKA the kick-ass adventures of Deena Pilgrim, who lays some serious wood on last issue's cop killer and gets all the best scenes in the process. We also find out more about last issue's climactic surprise appearance of the supposedly-dead superheroine. And that's about it! As always, tightly written, sharply dialogued, and very well drawn. In short, more of the reason why people who dig this comic, well, dig this comic...and I know that many will disagree with most of those claims, but there you go. No accounting for taste. A-

It's funny. Nine times out of ten, I have less than no patience with stories in which the hero or heroine is suffering from amnesia, and if...they...could...only...remember... then they could extricate themselves from whatever heinous situation they find themselves in, which is exactly how Mike Carey's set up good ol' Conjob for the last few issues- and funny thing is, I'm really liking this storyline in spite of it all! An adversary from several issues back in Carey's run has returned, and has some terrible stuff in store for his surprise victim, and apparently John can't do a thing to save himself...and I'll be darned if I know how he's gonna come out alive. Of couse I know he will, but it's nice, the not knowing how. Also, another splendid artjob by Marcelo Frusin, who is now on the short list, I would imagine, of all-time best JC illustrators. A-

Poor Richard Sala. He does issue after issue of whimsical, weird, extremely well illustrated comics and all everyone wants to talk about is Clowes and Ware and Sacco and the Bros. and... But fortunately for all of us who are attuned to his wiggy wavelength, Sala carries on undeterred. This issue features the big grande finale to his gnarly serial "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion", and I'm afraid that I have to state for the record that after one chapter per issue for the last two years, I have kinda gotten a bit fuzzy on who's who and what's what, and why people were getting killed and what secret they were dying to protect and all that, so it kinda blunted my enthusiasm and enjoyment of this book-length denouement just a little. But still, that art is as good as ever and we get excellent front and back (this one looks like he's been watching Van Helsing) covers of EE mainstay Peculia, plus a great spot drawing on the inside front cover ad for Sala's other Fantagraphics publications. Did I mention that I am an intese admirer of Sala's depictions of the female form? Well worth it for me; others might not share my enthusiasm. A-

Well, the peevish fanboy in me wants to say that no book that comes out as infrequently as this one does should be so gorram slowly paced...but that's just nitpicking. I'm sure it will read better in collected form. Anyway, we get our first good look at the Ben Grimm anagram of the Fantastic Four-gone-bad that our heroes are is dealing with, just in time for them to sent him rocketing into space. Or at least that's what I think they did with him; the finale of this ish was just a tad hard to follow. Bitching aside, this is, for the most part, as well-written and drawn as always, and Cassaday in particular has some really nice moments. But for once, Ellis' glum and terse tone works against him- it's hard to be wide-eyed and blasé at the same time, and he does not succeed at all this time out. B+

Nick Dragotta, nice to meet you. Now please go away and don't come back. His awkward, too-broad art style has simply ruined the last two issues, which in more capable hands could have been a lot more rousing, if nothing else. Nothing wrong with the story, which focuses on straight-shooting CIA man Marvin Stegler more than it does the titular characters, and also gives us a nice scene in which he meets Clay for the first time. Can't win 'em all, I suppose, and the next issue should be better with Ale Garza's art...but Jock can't come back fast enough for me. B+

Boy, aren't those Tara McPherson covers great?

Oh. What did I think about the rest of the book? An interesting premise and characters rendered completely unremarkable by the bland art stylings of Leigh Gallagher and Ron Randall. Don't know why the braintrust at Vertigo seems to think that a relatively large amount of readers like this bland, competent, unimaginative and somewhat stiff art, best typified by Y: The Last Man's Pia Guerra, Lucifer's Peter Gross (who has, admittedly, gotten a lot better over the last few years) and Jesus Saiz, who did the first Midnight, Mass. series...but it seems like that if there's a Vertigo house style, then this be it, and that's not a good thing as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't help that writer Jonathan Vankin has no real affinity for the sort of dialogue that would help this rise above mediocrity-one wishes for some genuinely witty repartee, especially from Lucifer, who just seems kinda out of place here. Maybe this will improve, but I won't stand on one leg waiting. C+

MIA: Sleeper Season Two 2. My shop received damaged copies and I'll get mine next week. So they say.