Sunday, May 29, 2016

Down The Drain

"La da di, la da da, la da daaa
Singing in the shower
La da di, la da da, la da daaa
Singing in the shower..."

So goes the chorus of Becky G's song "Shower," and so goes any hope for lyrical content in pop music as we know it.  Now, before you ask, "Who the hell is Becky G?" that's part of my point.  And before you say, "Has pop music ever had lyrical content?" consider these two aspects: "Shower," came out in 2014 and I had to remind you it was a thing.  "Carry On Wayward Son," by Kansas, came out four decades ago, spent 20 weeks on Billboard Magazine's Top 100 chart, where it peaked at number 11, everyone, even my 78 year old father has heard it, and it contained lyrics such as...

"Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man,
Well, it surely means that I don't know..."

Plus, you will never see Sam and Dean Winchester driving off in their big, black '67 Chevy Impala blasting Becky G's "Shower."  If that ever were to happen, it certainly would end my 14 year old daughter's obsession with "Supernatural."

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

I Got the Conch!

I never planned on reading "Lord of the Flies," though, with good reason, I think it's one of those stories we're just born sort of knowing.  In high school, I remember kids reading it, but I couldn't be bothered with anything that wasn't science fiction.   I wasn't a fan of the movie version from the 1990s.  I'd had my glasses smacked off my face enough times to empathize with Piggy, but my reactions were typically the opposite of the poor, whimpering asthmatic.

Recently, in a fit of desperation to watch a "classic" movie from Hulu's so-named category, I settled on the 1960s version.  The acting was terrible and the plot lumbered along as clumsily as "The Beast" tethered on the cliff by its parachute, but it left enough of an impression upon me to finally break down and read the book.  I devoured it as rabidly as the little brats on the island devoured the pigs they'd killed.  As a high-schooler, I most likely would've hated the book upon learning that the Lord of the Flies wasn't the Devil Himself, but rather the imaginary beast it was.  As an adult, while still a finicky reader, it's easy to see why this book has endured for well over half a century and will probably be relevant long after anyone reading this is dead and gone.

 I've often been quoted as referring to junior high/middle school, and particularly the gym classes one has to endure during one's stretch in said institutions as "Lord of the Flies."  My favorite director, Sam Peckenpah, set an example in his horse opera "The Wild Bunch," that kids are simply the worst creatures on the planet and the trouble with kids is some of them grow into adulthood.  Only a few of them actually grow up.  Some of the children I've had to deal with in my adult life as well as their so-called parents leads me to believe he may be right.  Sadly, though not surprisingly.

 The author, William Golding, knew well the tribal and savage nature of children, having been a school teacher himself, which is most likely the reason the book's protagonist, Ralph, insisted on a constant smoke signal, which in the end, winds up being their salvation.  After all, where there's smoke, there's fire, right?  And what did Prometheus bring down from Mount Olympus but fire?  And what is fire but the light?  Or knowledge?  The only thing to save humanity from itself.  Or bring about its destruction.  The choice is ours to make.

 I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Quest Continues...

Failure isn't necessarily failing, it's learning how not to do things that way.  That said, in my family's attempt at creating low-sodium, MSG and TBHQ-free chicken ramen noodles, my daughter Arlaux and I followed the recipe I found to the letter and found it damn near inedible and wound up in the trash.  The second batch, which we tweaked quite a bit, however, came closer.  Our goal is to create a method with which even someone as culinarily-challenged as my son The Toad can come home from school and, within five minutes, be sucking down a bowl of noodles instead of grazing on a bag of chips the way a horse straps on a feed bag.  

Why, you might ask, are we going through so much trouble?  Because chicken ramen noodles are awesome.  


Stay tuned for further details. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

First Post in Years!

This my first blog post in a few years.  This is a photo of Godzilla antagonist King Caesar.  Have a great day.
What?  You were expecting something profound?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

All-New X-Men #12 a Comic Book Milestone!

Marvel's All-New X-Men #12 marks a milestone in comics history.  Well, not necessarily in comics history, but in my personal history with comics.  It basically means that, for the first time in over a decade, I've actually read a year's worth of a Marvel comics.  I'm pretty disenchanted by anything by the Big Two, but that's their fault, not mine.  Anyway, #12 was pretty cool even though I think it was essentially a space filler wrapped around the idea that Cyclops and his brother Havoc got to give each other bro hugs, but that could just be me.  I'd also like to mention that while I enjoy the artistic team of Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger, I'm getting tired of seeing page after page of people standing around in open fields.  Draw a background for a change!
In other news, the more I read Indestructible Hulk, the more I ask myself why.  It has its moments, but overall I'm not as impressed as I'd hoped to be.  In issue 8, guest-starring Thor and legendary Thor artist Walt Simonson, while battling Frost Giants and attempting to extract mystical minerals from the permafrost of Jotunheim, Banner attempts to explain the "Only those who are worthy etc..." enchantment placed upon the thunder god's mighty mallet as some sort of nanotech, but I ain't buying it.  There was a pretty cool moment with a supporting character with a death wish, but no spoiler of secrets am I.  Maybe it's just me, but these Thor issues seem to be less about the Hulk and more about Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D.  Next issue: Daredevil!  I can hardly wait (he says sarcastically).
On a lighter note, I've started reading Dynamite Entertainment's run of The Spider!  Like All-Nex X-Men, it's been around about a dozen or so issues, but I thought I'd start from the beginning.  Dynamite as you may know from reading my posts, is responsible for the comic book Masks, which is the teaming up some of my favorite Golden Age and pulp heroes.  Anyway, the first four or so issues of The Spider have been a lot of fun.  My daughter described the art as drawn by someone who can't draw, referring to the book's use of photo referencing, but it's still pretty slick because they manage to really capture the look of The Spider from the old serials.  Next time I'm in my local comic shop, I'm hoping to get as caught up on this series as I can.  I've got the first two issues of Miss Fury to tide me over til then and from the looks of things, it doesn't appear to be another Catwoman comic.  We'll see...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Watcher Don't "Duck Face"!

For about a year now, I've been haunting my local comic shop Heroes Haven and trepidatiously re-entering the world of "modern comics," particularly the "Big Two."  My problem is this: how does one in good conscious buy comics from the two companies that don't seem to give a shit about their long-time fans?  I guess the answer is to just do it and remember that you're not so much feeding a machine, but keeping writers, artists and local comic book shops in business.  Having said that, I picked up my usual stash this week and, with the exception of DC's "Stormwatch," I'm pretty happy.

First up, "Indestructible Hulk" #7.  In this issue, we learn just exactly why Thor shows up wearing his awesome costume and not the assimilated movie tie-in today's readers are accustomed to.  It's a pretty good story by pen man par excellence  Mark Waid and master Thor artist Walt Simonson.  Why is Hulk wielding the Mighty Thor's hammer, you may wonder?  The answer's pretty cool as well as amusing.  Maybe it's just me, but the coloring in this book reminds me of Simonson's days on "Alien Legion."  Yep, I'm that old.
After Chris Claremont left the X-Men back in the 90s, I swore I'd never read another X-Book, but "All-New X-Men" has made me eat those words.  Brian Michael Bendis, a writer I'm really not fond of, has found a way to capture the plot structure and dialogue of the good ol' Claremont days, although I'm not particularly fond of how Wolverine is handled in the book.  Issue 11 is one of those great "who will betray them" kind of stories that I won't ruin it for anyone.  I love that Shadowcat has a major role in this title as she's always been a favorite of mine.  The art's great, easy to follow and consistent, but I'm curious as to why the colorist has decided to use so much red in the book.
My current favorite "Big Two" title is "Nova," the comic I didn't want to like.  Visually, the book is stunning, mixing photo images with Ed McGuinness's quasi-anime style.  The story is fun and kid-friendly.  I'd have no problem with letting my son read this comic, which I'm surprised he hasn't picked up yet considering how much he loves (shudder) the "Ultimate Spider-Man" cartoon, in which Nova appears regularly.  The difference between the two Novas and the reason I love this comic so much?  The comic book version of Nova isn't a dumb-ass.
The above image, taken from issue three, was doctored up by yours truly.  I can't help myself sometimes.

Leaving the "Big Two," we venture over to Dynamite and what has to be the best comic going for my money, "Masks," the book that combines many of my favorite "Golden Age" public domain heroes into one book with a plot worthy of teaming them up.
"Masks" #7 (sadly of only 8) brings us to the identity of the mad mastermind behind the threat of the "Justice Party."  Here's a little warning to would-be madmen, when you say things like, "Sometimes I think the whole world has gone mad, and I'm the only sane one left," you're probably nuts and might wish to seek professional help.  Aside from a little blurred art here and there making it a bit difficult to tell what's going on, the book is top notch.  As stated above, this title only has one issue left, but I'm hoping for more stories from them in the near future. 

Not a bad haul this time around.  Money doesn't grow on trees, so I like to spend it where it does the most good, which brings me to DC's "Stormwatch."  I picked it up when I heard Jim Starlin was taking over as the writer, but just can't get into the characters.  I think I'll be putting my hard-earned three dollars a month down on another title soon, perhaps one of the other Dynamite books, but the question is: which one...?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Indestructible Hulk!

I spent the better part of yesterday lying on the couch, listening to Hawkwind on Pandora and getting caught up on Indestructible Hulk.  Although I'm not one of those fanboys who follows artists from book to book, buying the title only as long as said artist is on said title, so I don't want to give you the wrong impression when I say the only reason I bought into Indestructible Hulk was because I heard Walt Simonson was signing on as artist as of issue six.  Having said that, I literally bought into Indestructible Hulk because I heard Walt Simonson was coming in as of issue six.  I feel like such a whore, but I digress.

Mark Waid, the writer, ranks among my favorites.  He is, after all, the guy who gave us Kingdom Come, a brilliant but short run on Captain America and a long box full of Flash comics.  His storytelling for Indestructible Hulk is rapid fire and a lot of fun, unlike some writers who like to linger for years on one stroy line.  I won't say too much about the plot for fear of ruing it for anyone, but Waid's new take on Banner's change in attitude towards his alter ego is handled quite well, though it's sometimes hard to believe it's actually Banner talking.  As is evidenced by the cover above, the Big Green Cheese gets a visit from Marvel's resident God of Thunder in issue six.  I don't know who's idea it was to let Simonson draw Thor in his traditional, non-movie tie-in wardrobe that Simonson is famous for, but it was a good one.

As for the art in issues one through five, it's my humble opinion that Leineil Yu's talents are better suited for a more "reality based" comic book, something like Punisher or Daredevil.  He just can't seem to make the Hulk "Hulk Out."  He also has problem making people look distinct from one another.  They all kinda look the same.  And there's this nasty habit he had of drawing way too many single and double splash pages.  That gets annoying after awhile and cheats the reader out of the hard-earned cash he had to plunk down for the book.  Simonson's only shortcoming on the title so far isn't even his own fault.  Just like when John Romita Jr. was drawing Thor back in the day, Simonson seems too restrained by page size.  Simonson could've filled the book with a number of splash pages, but instead filled most pages with a staggering amount of panels.

Whether I stay with this book or not depends on if Waid can keep me entertained and who comes in after Simonson steps down.  I don't really have a rating system for comics, but this one's on my "maybe/maybe not" list, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed...