Thursday, June 30, 2005

COMICS: Wed. 6/29/05

Man alive, I got a lot of damn comics this week! I'm making up for having missed last week due to my vacation, but still. A lot of frickin' comics. And they are:

Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck TPB

Sleeper TPB Vol. 2: At last! I accidentally bought the 3rd TPB a couple months ago, not realizing that it was the 3rd, and I didn't yet have the 2nd. I've been pestering Mike weekly ever since as to when the 2nd TPB would be back in stock. Guess I need to find something else to pester him about.

Shaun of the Dead

Johnny Caronte: Zombie Detective & The Revolver: First Zombie Tales, now Shaun of the Dead and Zombie Detective? What is it with the zombie comics this week? I almost feel obligated to read them all, what with my other blog -- fortunately, the ones I haven't yet read look to be of decent quality, right up there with Zombie Tales.

Shaolin Cowboy

Shining Knight

JLA: Classified

Young Avengers

Spider-Man/Human Torch


Fantastic Four

Grimjack: Killer Instinct

Flaming Carrot Comics

Supreme Power

Okay, enough of this internet tomfoolery. I gots me some comics to read!

COMICS: Zombie Tales

Imagine my surprise when I returned to work after my vacation and found a manila envelope addressed to yours truly waiting there for me. I thought at first it was a bundle of contract papers or shop drawings or some such, until I noticed the return address, which confused and frankly alarmed me: BOOM!

I think I can say without fear of contradiction that an unexpected package labeled BOOM! would give pause to the stoutest of souls. But instead of dousing it with a hose and calling the bomb squad, I decided to open it, and good thing I did: it contained a promo copy of Zombie Tales, published by BOOM! Studios/Atomeka.

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I am so the target audience of this comic it's not even funny. I love zombies so much I created a blog written from the zombie POV. Hell, before I realized I had gotten a promo copy, I had commented on Dorian's review of the book that I was prepared to buy it, without hesitation, sight unseen. So that's $6.99 BOOM! loses in this deal. I hope my rave review will compensate them for at least that amount.

Rave review? Yes, indeed: I loved it. It's a compilation of short stories involving zombies to one extent or another, all done in different styles and apparently set in different zombie-infested worlds. In one world, zombie bites create additional zombies; in another world, the zombie virus is airborne. But all the stories worked for me on one level or another, either as humor, straightforward George A. Romero-type socio-political zombie commentaries, or as basic, spine-tingling horror.

The first story, "I, Zombie," written by Andrew Cosby and drawn by Keith Giffen, is the funniest, but also the most frustrating. It establishes a zombie protagonist who can be sympathized with, who speaks in a funny Hulk/Bizarro style ("Me am so hungry, me no can think"). It stretches farthest from traditional zombie portrayals, with its proactive zombie hero, and its winking acknowledgement of the reader ("Now, I know what you're thinking... what was all that light in the darkness, glimmer of hope crap? Please... you know how this works. That was just to get you to turn the page"). Entertaining -- but then it ends in an unexpected cliffhanger, when Ted the zombie adopts a zombie cat (Bub?) that some surviving humans describe as holding "the fate of all mankind". TO BE CONTINUED. What the?? That's CRAP! (Don't tell BOOM!, but as irritating as the cliffhanger is, I'll still buy the next issue for the continuation, even if they don't send me a review copy. I said don't tell them!!)

Next is "Severance," written by Michael Nelson (unfortunately, not MST3K's Michael Nelson), with pencils by Hero Squared's Joe Abraham. I like Abraham's art here better than on Hero, where it looked unfinished; and I liked the story, which is an effective revenge tale told in only 8 pages.

After that is "Daddy Smells Different," by John Rogers and Andy Kuhn. John Rogers is the screenwriter for Rush Hour 3, which immediately makes me hate him, but I have to set that aside and agree with Dorian: this is the best story in the book, true horror with a Serling-esque twist. I just wish the art were sized to fit the page properly.

Next we have "For Pete's Sake," by Johanna Stokes, with gorgeous painted art by J.K. Woodward. This is probably the most brutally emotional story in the book, concerning a religious woman's tending of her infected husband. Predictable but well-earned ending.

After that is "If You're So Smart..." by one of my current favorite writers, Mark Waid, and artist Carlos Magno. It's a fairly uninventive reworking of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": the winner loses. Clever test questions, though.

The final story is "Dead Meat," written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Ron Lim. I prefer Giffen as a writer, rather than an artist; his art on the first story on this collection is unappealingly sketchy. Ron Lim, though, I've been a fan of since his work on Mike Baron's Badger, about 15 (!!) years ago; he illustrated what was perhaps the best run on an always excellent comic. This story deals with an elite soldier sent to destroy a zombie enclave, who instead becomes infected, and seems destined to turn his military training against the humans who sent him into danger in the first place. A nice nihilistic ending to a varied but always-enjoyable short story comic collection that just happens to involve the living dead.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MOVIES: Spanglish

While on vacation, I watched the DVD of Spanglish. It's one of those Adam Sandler movies for people who don't like Adam Sandler movies, like Punch-Drunk Love and, to a lesser extent, The Wedding Singer. I like Adam Sandler in pretty much anything, I'll admit that right off the bat. I think Billy Madison is one of the funniest movies of all time. So it's no surprise that I liked Sandler here, too.

But Spanglish is less about Sandler than it is about Paz Vega, who makes her English language debut here. (Writer/director James L. Brooks even hammers home the fact that it's not really a Sandler vehicle by not even showing Sandler until at least ten minutes in.) Vega's character doesn't speak English at the beginning of the film, but that doesn't detract from her charms; she's so animated and expressive, it's always clear what she's communicating -- and her beauty doesn't require translation. However the names may be listed in the credits, she's the star of the film, and she does a fine job. I expect to be seeing a lot more of her in the near future.

Vega plays the live-in maid to an eccentric American family, headed by Sandler, his abrasive wife (Tea Leoni), his two kids, and his hard-drinking mother-in-law (Cloris Leachman in a very funny performance). Shelbie Bruce plays Vega's daughter, and the best scenes of the film are between the two of them. There's a fantastic confrontation scene between Vega and Sandler, in which Bruce must translate between the two of them, and she plays it beautifully, with fire and humor and emotion; it's the highlight of the film, and almost worth the rental just for that scene. Brooks lets Bruce down a little in other parts of the film, making her too shallow and petulant, and Bruce's performance falters, but from that one great scene, you can tell she's got a career ahead of her.

The highlights of the rest of the film are the tentative friendship, building toward romance, between Vega and Sandler. Sandler's character is a wildly successful man who is nonetheless beaten down by his wife, and life in general; Sandler plays it quiet and real, for the most part, with his trademark enraged outbursts limited to the times when he is alone in his car with Vega, away from everything that has crushed his spirit.

Where the movie fails, and fails spectacularly, is with the Tea Leoni character. She's awful. She's just awful. I suspect the movie wants us to view her as quirkily uptight and/or humanly but humorously flawed, but she's not. She's an irredeemably vile and repugnant woman, from beginning to end. She's thoroughly hateful to everyone in her life, from her children to her husband to her mother to her maid. She doesn't give even the slightest glimpse into what a sweet and caring character as Sandler's could ever have found to love in her. The movie makes it appear that Sandler will stay with her, rather than pursuing his romance with the maid, but it's a vague enough ending that I prefer to think that Sandler dumped Leoni's ass immediately after the end credits and ran off to the Spanish Riviera with Vega.

Also a bad idea is the framing device of the film, in which the story is told in flashback via a college application essay written by Vega's daughter (who is only 12 during the flashback). It's hokey and unnecessary, and it's simply bad; any application reviewer would shift it to the bottom of the pile, if not just throw it in the trash.

Still, when it's good, it's very good. More than worth renting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

META: Happy etc.

Well, this blog's one year anniversary came and went on Sunday, when I was still on vacation. Oh well.

It only occurred to me that it must be about a year because Mike pointed out Ian's one-year anniversary (also known as a "blogiversary", if you are a jackass). Hooray for Ian, and hooray for me!

I started up this blog (as my first post, linked above, details) specifically because I had to be registered with Blogspot to comment on Ian's journal. And I'm glad I did. It's been a great comfort having somewhere to unleash all the crazy, insignificant pop culture related thoughts I have -- somewhere where people don't eye me warily, pick up their drinks and move to the other side of the bar when I do so.

I've been slack about updating here recently, because the daily grind begins to wear you down after a while (I don't know how Mike has managed to update every single day without fail -- although, it probably helps to be employed at a comics shop, with thousands of back issues and a scanner to work with. Cheater!). I'm hoping this milestone will inspire me to redouble my efforts at entertaining all you folks in Bloggerland and, of course, myself. Because if I'm not having fun, what's the point?

A quick thanks to my fellow ACAPCWOVCCAOE members, including Mike, who coined the acronym (which is spelled out for you over in the links section to the right), Ian, Dorian, and Corey (whose blog has also recently hit the one-year mark), all of whose blogs half inspire, half shame me into keeping my own blog current and in trying to hit the heights that they do, and all of whom serve as real-life sounding boards for my fake-life rantings and ravings here.

So, thanks to all of you for visiting over the past year, and here's to the year ahead. Sláinte!

Monday, June 20, 2005

MOVIES: Batman Begins

I saw Batman Begins with Ian Brill on Saturday, and we had very different opinions about it. At the end, Ian said, "We've just seen the best superhero movie ever made." I replied, "I wouldn't say that at all."

I didn't hate it, although, the more I think of it, the less I like it. But my main problem with the film was a pretty big deal-breaker. I liked almost everything in it -- except Batman.

I thought the cast was great, from Christian Bale, who is an excellent Bruce Wayne, to Michael Caine as Alfred, to Morgan Freeman as gadget-supplier Lucius Fox, to Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, to Liam Neeson as Bruce Wayne's combat trainer Ducard, to Cillian Murphy as Dr. Crane/the Scarecrow (Ian had to point out to me that he was the guy from 28 Days Later). The weak links were Tom Wilkinson -- not for his acting (which is always brilliant) but for his inability to pass as an Italian gangster named Falcone, with his phony meatball accent -- and Katie Holmes, who is nice to look at, but is (mostly) unable to pass as a grown-up.

And I thought the beginning of the film was wonderful, with its exploration of Bruce Wayne's fear and guilt following the murder of his parents, and his subsequent quest to banish those feelings, or at least to twist and harness them into something else he can master -- like the need for vengeance. The flashbacks to Bruce's childhood, before, during, and after his parents' deaths, the scenes at Ra's Al Ghul's stronghold, learning the ninja craft of stealthy combat, and the scenes following Bruce's return to Gotham, in which he gears up for his eventual metamorphosis into Batman -- those are all wonderfully entertaining, smartly written and sharply acted.

But for me, it all falls apart when he actually becomes Batman. When Batman first appears, all the subtlety and dramatic weight is suddenly jettisoned for corny one-liners and trailer-ready "hero" moments: "Where is he?" asks a goon; "Right here," Batman rasps, hanging upside down behind him. "Who are you?" asks Falcone. "I'm Batman!" he says -- exactly as Michael Keaton did in the first Tim Burton Batman (and I have to tell you... Keaton did it better). What happened to the (relative) realism and believable characters established in the beginning of the film? Gone, right out the window, the second Batman shows up.

Then there's the action sequences. The fight choreography looked like it might have been well done. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell, because, just like with every other post-MTV/Michael Bay/Tony Scott ripoff action flick of the past 20 years, the action is cut together in microsecond snippets, with the camera whirling by as if the cameramen were playing hot potato with it. For the first fight sequence, I might've been able to tolerate that, because, as Ian said, the film was demonstrating how Batman is a shadow, how he can't be clearly seen by the criminals. And I agree with that assessment, and that choice of editing -- for the first fight. After that, you've made your point; if the fight scenes continue to look like shit, if we as the audience can't see what's going on, that is a flaw, that is a fault on the part of the filmmakers. That is a bad decision, and it makes for bad action scenes.

Even the big car chase scene, which was fairly exciting, and fairly well-portrayed, in that I could mostly tell what I was looking at, suffered from poor editing; just a half-second longer on some of those cuts would've made the difference between just seeing shit get smashed, and really feeling the impact of it. Instead of seeing an obstacle coming, and having a split-second to react with anticipation and anxiety, you just see cars flipping in the air with no feeling of build-up or consequence.

Okay, and Bale as Batman -- I'm sorry, but he does not work. I was with him every step of the way as Bruce Wayne, but the second he turned into Batman, he lost me. First, there's that voice, which is a ridiculous, cartoonish whisper-rasp that grates on my nerves. Then, there's the exaggerated mouth movements he makes, as though he were speaking for the benefit of a lip-reader sitting across a football field from him. And just the way he carries himself -- there's something lacking there, too, a little harder to define. It's like -- he's always just a guy in a costume, he never really becomes Batman.

Ian defended those elements of Bale's portrayal; he says that they indicate Bruce Wayne's amateur status as Batman, that the performance is intentionally rough because he's still learning how to be Batman. I disagree; I think it's simply bad acting choices and bad direction. I even tried to project my own explanations onto Bale's performance: his large mouth movements, I told myself, are because the speaking motion of Bale-as-Bruce-Wayne's mouth is so distinctive (and it really is; Bale's mouth moves in a peculiar and very identifiable way), he had to change it to conceal his identity. Maybe that is why Bale's Batman speaks in such a silly way, or maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

Because I wanted to like this movie. Despite very little initial enthusiasm for it, I knew going in that I liked most of the actors in it, I liked the director, Christopher Nolan, and I'd seen plenty of good-to-great reviews for the film. And the opening, pre-Batman scenes set me up to believe that I was witnessing greatness. I was completely wrapped up in this film. And then Batman had to come along and ruin it.

I still enjoyed the film; there are enough good character moments and clever storytelling throughout that I would recommend it with very little reservation. In fact, I'm almost sure most people will like the Batman stuff far more than I did. But to me, Batman struck all the wrong notes in an otherwise masterful symphony.

In other news, I'll be out of town for the next week, with little or no access to the internets, so no updates for a while. I'm just glad I'm going to Colorado, since I know this guy will be in California!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

COMICS: SuperF*ckers

Skipped a couple days posting again. Rats. But hey, I won $13 in poker Thursday night, so -- the hell with you all! I'm rich, bitch!

Wait, no I'm not.

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So, a brief note on James Kochalka's SuperF*ckers, which is the one comic I've read so far from this week's haul. First of all, how can you not talk about the price? It's a slick package, full color, nice paper -- but seven bucks is seven bucks, dude. I couldn't even buy two issues with my copious poker winnings! $7 is way too steep for a single issue of an ongoing series, however nice the package is.

Above and beyond the damage to my bank account -- which I was more than willing to pay, I have to say, because I do enjoy Kochalka's work -- I was disappointed overall. Exploring dysfunctional and vulgar superheroes is kind of like tackling the "dark side of suburbia" in movies or TV. It's been done to death, so any new take had better bring a lot to the table. And SuperF*ckers didn't strike me as having done so. It felt strongly reminiscent of Milligan and Allred's X-Force/X-Statix, but even sillier and with actual swear words. Superheroes who don't get along, who care about being popular, who are more interested in drugs and sex than fighting crime... even the freaky Grotus creature just brings to mind X-Force's Doop.

There were some good laughs throughout; Kochalka's cartoony style is always appealing, and it's nice to see it in full, glossy color. And I've no doubt I will get the next issue, because any level of successful humor in comics is pretty much a must-buy for me. I just expected so much out of it, from Kochalka's rep and from the mostly-glowing reviews I've read; it was a matter of expectations too high to meet.

All right, I've made my point. Let's wrap this up, because I'm at Ian Brill's house, and he is inebriated, although don't let him know that I told you. Mixed Bag CD reviews tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

MUSIC: Mixed Bag 2: The Bonus Disc

Some of you who participated in Lefty Brown's Mixed Bag 2 CD exchange project will probably be getting your packages in the mail today, so now's the time to tell you about the extra I wanted to include that delayed the shipment.

Turns out, Zombie Tom of Zombie Eat Brains wanted to join in. How could I say no? So along with my disc, You'll Play It and You'll Like It, Vol. 2, you will find his disc, When There's No More Room In Hell, This Mix Will Walk the Earth, or, Music To Eat Brains By.

The disc does have an alarming preoccupation with zombies, and brain eating, and whatnot, which should come as no surprise to you. What is surprising is that it turned out to be a pretty excellent mix, with a fairly large range of music. There's heavy metal, punk, 60s classic rock, and 90s arena rock; there's surf music, Caribbean music, rap, and Grateful Dead-style acid folk (for lack of a better term) from G Love and Special Sauce; alt rock, 80s new wave, and techno metal (or whatever the hell you'd call Rob Zombie); there's a song from a cartoon, and a prog-rock instrumental.

It started out as a joke -- how many songs have the word "zombie" in them? -- then turned into a challenge, and wound up being (I think) a solidly diverse and entertaining mix. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

TV: NewsRadio

To help assuage the summer TV doldrums, I got three DVD box sets from Amazon today (they had a sale, what can I say). Arrested Development season 1, which I've actually rented before on DVD, but for those prices, I had to buy it; Wonderfalls, the complete series, which was sadly only 13 episodes (I think); and, best of all, NewsRadio seasons 1 and 2.

As good as I've often said NewsRadio was -- and I'd put it up there in the top five sitcoms ever -- watching the first few episodes makes me think I've been damning it with faint praise. Man, this show had it going on, right from the first episode. The actors already knew their characters so well. All of them would become progressively more insane in later years, but none of them changed in ways that weren't natural progressions from this very first show.

It's hard to refrain from singling some of them out, but if you start down that path, you have to mention them all (and I will!): Dave Foley as the stuttery, bewildered, put-upon boss (by a remarkable coincidence also named Dave), Maura Tierney as the brainy, ambitious, but insecure Lisa, Vicki Lewis as loopy secretary Beth, Joe Rogan (yes, he used to be cool, before Fear Factor) as conspiracy theorist and dangerous inventor Joe... and then you get to a comedic trifecta which is nearly unmatched in all of television history: Stephen Root as the alternately manipulative, lackadaisical, and delusional station owner, billionaire Jimmy James, Andy Dick as neurotic spaz Matthew, and the late great Phil Hartman as the late great Bill McNeal. His senseless death still pains me. God, he was amazing.

I intentionally omit Khandi Alexander as Catherine; I don't think she ever quite fit into the show. In fact, she would eventually leave (returning only for the first episode to air after Phil Hartman's death, when the characters mourned the passing of Bill McNeal, which I thought was an incredibly touching and classy move on her part, and the show's), most likely due to that very fact: she just didn't fit in, and the writers could never quite figure out how to make her fit in. She wasn't a bad actress, nor even a bad comedic actress, not by a long stretch; she had plenty of comedic highlights on this show. But she always seemed like an afterthought.

Interesting to note in the pilot episode is that a different actress plays Catherine -- Ella Joyce, who had played Charles S. Dutton's wife on Roc. Her name is in the title credits for the pilot, but she doesn't have a single line, and is barely seen on-screen. The really odd thing is that the people making the commentary for the pilot don't say why she was replaced; they don't even mention her, even though they make a point of talking about how Ray Romano had originally been cast as the handyman, and was fired midway through taping. (Too bad there are no deleted scenes with him in them.) Even odder: I had always heard that Mike O'Malley had been cast as the original (well, second original, after Romano, I guess) Joe the handyman (and IMDb backs this up), but not only does Mike O'Malley not appear in the pilot, but the handyman is named Rick and is played by someone named Greg Lee (who never appeared on the show after). Again: not a word of this in the commentary. That's a lot of interesting cast-shifting that's not touched on. Maybe it's still a sore subject with some of those involved?

Other than that, the commentary is great, with the people involved expressing real affection for the show and the cast and crew, but also giving plenty of insight into the creation and casting (again, with the exceptions noted above), as well as their embattled history on NBC, from lack of promotion to unwelcome notes.

Okay, I got sidetracked. My point is: damn this is a funny show, right out of the gate. The characters were solid (even though certain character quirks, like Matthew's worship of Bill, were yet to be added), the actors had great rapport, the writing was brilliant, with the humor coming from the strong characters, rather than the standard setup-punchline, setup-punchline formula of most sitcoms. It only took three episodes for them to produce a classic, "Smoking," in which Bill gives up smoking and Dave gives up coffee. The scene in which Bill and Dave calmly discuss their progress, then go off the deep end when Matthew enters the room... to see Phil Hartman, whose demeanor had been so unflappable and reserved to that point, suddenly crack and bellow, "JUST ZIP YOUR SNIVELING LITTLE LIP AND HAUL YOUR SKINNY ASS OUT OF HERE!!!" is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. I rewound that bit literally ten times, and every single time I was laughing until there were tears in my eyes.

This is comedy gold, folks. Sitcoms rarely, if ever, get better than this. Get this DVD. Get it now!

COMICS: Wed. 6/8/05

Well, new comics day is tomorrow, so maybe it's time I get around to talking about last week's comics? It was a slim week; I only got three, and one of them is slipping my mind right now. But as for those first two:

Punisher: Wow, that was crap. After going to so much trouble setting Nicky up as a believably challenging menace to Frank, after building him up into such a chilling psycho killer, this issue abruptly and inexplicably turns him into a sniveling coward. Is that some kind of message from Garth Ennis -- Nicky's homosexual acts in this issue have unmanned him? It's hard to read it any other way. And then, to top it all off, he's shot (though not confirmed dead yet) by some random guest character, rather than by the Punisher? A guest character who has to save the Punisher, who has willingly put himself into a trap he wouldn't have otherwise survived? CRAP, I say. Maybe Nicky is still alive, and the real confrontation awaits, but still, this was an awful issue, completely derailing all the suspense and drama that preceded it.

Fables: A similar complaint here: we wait all this time to get a look at the Adversary, and SNICKER-SNACK, off goes his head with no effort whatsoever? I assume it will be revealed either that the Adversary has survived the head-removal somehow, or that that giant wasn't the actual Adversary after all, but still. As it stands, this is another great build-up of a villain, culminating in a severely disappointing confrontation.

Oh, yeah! The third comic was Batman: Dark Detective. This tale is a lot of fun, with a Batman you don't see much of these days -- one who can express emotion, one who can step back, albeit slightly, from his obsession -- mixed with tremendously entertaining, larger-than-life, colorful portrayals of big-time Bat-villains like Two-Face and the Joker. Great throwback fun.

Monday, June 13, 2005

TV: The Shield

Over the weekend, I caught up on three episodes of The Shield that had been sitting unwatched on my TiVo. I don't know why I let them sit for so long, because within the first minute of the first episode, I was riveted as always. Last week I picked The Shield as my 7th favorite TV show; had I written that entry having freshly watched these three episodes, it surely would've been kicked up a couple notches.

Looks like the Strike Team is back together. Shane's back in the good graces of the rest of the team, having demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice himself, first with his plan to kill Antwon Mitchell and take all the heat onto himself, then, when Vic stopped him before he could carry that out, with his confession to the Captain and subsequent passing of a lie detector test. His partner Army's refusal to take the same test has erased any goodwill the Captain held towards the Strike Team; Army might not survive tomorrow's season finale, I suspect.

Aceveda has been all over the map this year, and these past few episodes have seen him reach some tremendously dark places, come out the other side, and then get drawn back in again, by his rapist-turned-blackmailer. Aceveda's recruitment of Antwon to silence the blackmailer (presumably permanently) once again sinks him to the level of his hated rival, Vic Mackey, if not lower. Benito Martinez, who plays Aceveda, has done some excellent work this season, with a performance at times almost too disturbing to watch.

I wish Danny had more to do this year, although the antipathy that has developed between her and her partner Julien has been both surprising and well-developed; the bullet she took at the end of the last episode may help bring them back together, but I wouldn't count on it.

My favorite story this season has been the twisted little romance between Dutch (still my favorite character) and Vic's ex-wife, Corrine. Dutch initiated it out of spite for Vic, but may have developed true feelings for her; it's hard to tell, because every opportunity Dutch had to express those feelings -- after Vic had soured Corrine with justifiable questioning of Dutch's intentions -- he just put his foot in his mouth, just dug himself a deeper hole. He knows everything about human psychology, and nothing about people. It's a fascinating role, and a great performance by Jay Karnes, a balancing act between brilliant and pathetic.

And Glenn Close has gotten better with each episode, as her Captain Rawling has had her back pushed to the wall, with her controversial criminal seizure program in danger of being shut down. She's gone from cool, steely control to angry and defensive, and Close's performance has become intense; when Army refused to take the lie detector test, and Shane tried to smooth things over, she bellowed in fury at him, so unexpectedly that I jumped out of my skin. She wouldn't have done that just a few episodes ago. She's losing control, and it's mesmerizing.

And then there's Vic. Michael Chiklis' stellar anti-hero Vic Mackey was outstripped this year by Ian McShane's Deadwood overlord, Al Swearengen, but Chiklis is still by any measure a powerful force. Mackey tried, he tried to go clean, but Shane's dirty dealings pulled him right back down into the mud. It's as if the universe is telling him: you can't be good, don't even try.

The season finale looks to be an ass-kicker. Don't miss it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

MUSIC: Mixed Bag 2 Track List

Even though I haven't sent the discs yet, because I just realized there was something I wanted to add, here's the track list for my entry in Lefty Brown's Mixed Bag 2 blogger CD exchange project. I just wanted to have some kind of entry today; I've been lazy about updating recently.

There are a couple of changes on Fred's disc, substitutions for music I'd sent him on a previous CD. Also, Logan and Greg both get replacement copies of my entry for Mixed Bag 1, because they were the two most agitated by the staticy recording quality on some of the tunes, and also because they were the only two who actually wanted a clean copy! (That's a joke. I think.) I changed up the track lists slightly for each of them, according to the likes & dislikes they had expressed in their respective reviews of the disc.

Without further ado:

You'll Play It and You'll Like It, Vol. 2

1. Ash from Army of Darkness says hello.

2. The Who, Long Live Rock
My favorite band of all time, and a really rockin' but funny tune. ("We were the first band to vomit in the bar/And find the distance to the stage too far.")

Next is the Trilogy of the Kids and Their Varying Degrees of Rectitude:
3. The Queers, The Kids Are Alright
4. The Offspring, The Kids Aren't Alright
5. Local H, All the Kids Are Right

Yes, a Who cover immediately following a Who original. Is this because Dorian knocked the Who song on my previous disc? No, I just really, really love the Who. (Annoying Dorian is just a perk!) The other two songs just followed naturally; similar titles but very different songs. (On his first glimpse of the track list when I handed him the CD at the comic shop Wednesday, Dorian, horrified: "You put three covers of the same Who song???")

6. Statler and Waldorf give their review of the disc so far.

7. Moxy Fruvous, Green Eggs and Ham
The song I'm most proud of on the mix, in that in all likelihood none of the participants have ever heard it before, and they all should enjoy it greatly. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you don't dig this song, you have a heart of coal.

8. Barenaked Ladies, Ballad of Gordon
A quick little ditty, from a PSA starring BNL that used to play during the afternoon cartoons on Fox, about ten years ago. It was a very funny 90-second video (teaching kids to get along or some such malarkey, with singer Ed Robertson playing a green-skinned alien creature with no arms) which I wish had been included on BNL's video-compilation DVD.

9. Ash again.

10. The Refreshments, Banditos
Another of the more obscure songs on this mix. The Refreshments are probably best known as the guys who do the theme song for King of the Hill; they're really quite excellent. This is my favorite of their songs. "Give your ID card to the border guard/Your alias says you're Captain Jean-Luc Picard/From the United Federation of Planets, cause he won't speak English anyway."

11. Bing Crosby, Swinging on a Star
Der Bingle! "And by the way, if you hate to go to school/You may grow up to be a mule."

12. Ben Folds Five, Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head
I love the intro to this song, by Burt Bacharach (it's from a Bacharach tribute concert): "Exploding on the music scene right now is a very hot group." You can tell he has no clue who these guys are.

13. Patsy Cline, Never No More
I love me some Patsy. I first heard this song, of all places, on a great sci-fi show that got cancelled too soon, Space: Above and Beyond. (Looking back on it, you can tell it was a very direct influence on the new Battlestar Galactica. Man, where's my DVD set of that show?) Even in the future, Patsy Cline is good drinkin' music.

14. Hoyt Axton, Jealous Man
Hoyt Axton (along with Patsy Cline) is one of the very few country artists I care for (Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson will pretty much round out that list). My mom was a huge fan, which meant I became one, too. Hoyt was also an actor; you probably will recall him as Zach Galligan's father in Gremlins. This song is from a classic episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, in which Hoyt, who is in love with Jennifer, sings the tune to Johnny Fever as a warning to stay away from her: "You got the knife, I got the gun/Come on boy, we're gonna have a little fun."

15. Ash again.

16. Josie and the Pussycats, 3 Small Words
One of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is the soundtrack to this movie. But you know what? It ROCKS. So there. And I love the numerically clever wordplay in the chorus:

It took 6 whole hours
And 5 long days
4 all your lies to come undone.
And those 3 small words
Were way 2 late
'Cause you can't see that I'm the 1.
17. Green Day, Stuart and the Ave.
There are Green Day songs I like better, but this one is significant because it's a reminder of my college days at Berkeley. Stuart isn't a person's name, it's a street, and the Ave. is Telegraph, which ends at the Berkeley campus. In fact, here's the intersection right here.

18. Amy Ray, Driver Education
I love the Indigo Girls, of which Amy Ray is one half; as a solo artist, she puts down the folk guitar and rocks out, which is also very cool. This is from her great solo album Prom; it's not super-rockin', but damn is it catchy.

19. Tenacious D, Tribute
This is not the greatest song in the world, no: this is just a tribute.

20. Dolemite calls you a very unpleasant name, for no reason whatsoever.

21. Tool, Aenema
A fantastic hard-rocker, ticking off all the crappy things about California (but I still love it here!). "Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones/Fuck all these gun-toting hip gangsta wannabes."

22. Therapy?, Hey Satan -- You Rock
Not my favorite song by these lunatics from Belfast -- it's still great, just not my favorite -- but it's absolutely my favorite song title ever.

23. Queens of the Stone Age, Go With the Flow
I'm not a big fan of these guys, but this song is awesome, and the video is mind-bending.

24. Rowdy Roddy Piper lays down the law (from They Live).

25. Pegboy, Surrender
A punked-out cover of a Cheap Trick classic.

26. Public Enemy, By the Time I Get to Arizona
My one rap song. (Unless you count Green Eggs as rap, which you kind of could.) I cut out the intro, in which Sista Souljah sets up the fact that Arizona had recently voted not to observe the holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. As you might imagine, this made Chuck D angry.

27. The Pogues, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
From the classic Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, their best album by far, this is a heartbreaking lament for a wounded soldier, forgotten after the war is over.

28. Ta ta! (A snippet from the Offspring album, Smash.)

29. Special bonus song inside! Sure to make someone think I am a very bad man.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

TV: Top Ten of the 2004-2005 Season (Part 2)

Part 1.

5. Veronica Mars

The inevitable comparison for the smart, tough, wisecracking, spunky blonde crime-solving heroine Veronica Mars is Buffy Summers, but Veronica does it all without superpowers. Kristen Bell is fantastic in the surprisingly complex role of Veronica, and let's not forget Enrico Colantoni as the best TV dad since, I don't know, Andy Griffith? The high school scenes were real and funny and sad, true-to-life for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider, unafraid to make tough observations about racial and class divides. And the mysteries (for the most part) were clever and fair to the viewer, especially the season-long posers: Why did Veronica's boyfriend dump her so suddenly? Why did Veronica's mom flee town? Why did an innocent man confess to a murder he didn't commit? Who drugged and raped Veronica? And who killed Lilly Kane? (If there were any fairness in TV Land, that last question would've gotten as much publicity as, "Who killed Laura Palmer?") There were no cop-out answers, no dangling threads, no out-of-nowhere suspects; everything was laid out fairly, and everything was solved believably and unequivocally. With a second season confirmed, the only question left is: If you aren't watching this show -- why?

4. Battlestar Galactica

In January I said, "I can't imagine 2005 being a year in which this won't be one of my top two or three favorite new shows." Well, since the other new shows on this list all officially debuted in 2004, I guess this makes Battlestar my number one favorite new show of 2005. (Going by its US debut, that is; it premiered in October 2004 in the UK, which doesn't seem fair.) I said pretty much all I needed to say in the entry linked above. Great cast, great writing, great special effects, great atmosphere of sustained fear and paranoia, and one hell of a great season finale. Great sci-fi, and great TV.

3. Lost

One of the best series debut episodes ever kicked off a tremendous freshman season of wonder and mystery. This was the "water-cooler" show of the year (narrowly edging Desperate Housewives); every week, I couldn't wait to find a friend and discuss the previous episode's revelations. Did you see Hurley on that Korean TV program? Does Walt have some kind of powers? What's up with Hurley's lottery numbers? (Hurley's the best.) Can you believe Locke was in a wheelchair?? The revelations slowed a bit toward the end of the season, and the mysteries became a little over-extended in places (I would've liked at least one question well and truly answered in the season finale), but this is still the show I looked forward to watching the most, week in and week out.

2. The Daily Show

It's so easy to take Jon Stewart and The Daily Show for granted. I mean, Stewart's been heading this consistently hilarious, wickedly smart, bitingly satirical, more-incisive-than-the-real-news fake news show for over five years now. It can't possibly be that good every single night, can it? Yes, yes it can. Every American should watch this show. It's not a substitute for the real news, but it is a vital supplement. Get the bare, unexamined, timidly-presented facts from Peter Jennings, get the real insight and critical examination from Jon Stewart. A lot of the show is hit-and-miss: the interviews vary wildly according to how much Stewart cares about the person he's talking to, and the taped pieces can live or die with the correspondent -- with Stephen Colbert preparing to move on to his own show, Ed Helms and Rob Corddry will be vying for the MVP spot among the correspondents. But the first ten minutes are always as good as TV gets, and as important to watch as anything out there.

1. Deadwood

The best show on TV, by quite a large margin. Not even close. This show blew me out of the water. It can shock you with sudden, brutal violence, or it can devastate you with the smallest particular -- the joining of Bullock and wife's hands after their child's death, for example. The language of Deadwood is a thing of beauty, serpentine and alive, layered with meaning -- or sometimes, just plain down and dirty fun. (No one says "Cocksucker!" like Calamity Jane.) The acting roster is so deep, characters will disappear for episodes at a time -- their absence barely noted amidst the other fine performers -- only to pop up again and floor you with their power. In season two, Al Swearengen, the best acted and written character on television, was out of commission a number of episodes due to an incapacitating case of kidney stones; the rest of the cast picked up the ball and ran with it. How many other shows could put their best character in a sick bed for half the season and not suffer in quality one iota? This show is pure gold in every way possible. My only complaint: I want more than 12 episodes!

Other notables throughout the season:

24: From its laughable previous season, 24 made a full recovery, delivering thrills, action, and enough torture to turn the stomach of an Abu Ghraib prison guard.

Entourage: A frequently juvenile but just as frequently funny look at a Hollywood rising star and his various hangers-on.

Carnivale: Cancelled after its second season (one of HBO's very rare missteps), this was a fascinating portrait of good and evil.

House: I have a feeling this would've made the top ten, if I had been able to watch it more; it was scheduled opposite both Scrubs and Veronica Mars. Hugh Laurie is wonderfully cantankerous.

Justice League Unlimited: I miss seeing the central seven heroes on a more regular basis, but the guest heroes have been an admirably diverse and interesting crew, with Jeffrey Combs' voicework as the Question being a recent highlight.

Alias: The ceaseless empty threats delivered by Sydney to Sloane grew tiresome (they started to sound as ridiculous as Robert DeNiro's "I will take you down to Chinatown" speech in Meet the Parents), but the action is always top-notch, and Jennifer Garner sure is easy on the eyes. Plus, what a hell of a cliffhanger!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

TV: Top Ten of the 2004-2005 Season

It's Tom's top ten of the TV season! Let's take a look, shall we?

10. Desperate Housewives

It is unapologetic soap opera cheesiness; its heroines often drift into shrill, dopey caricatures; the "dark underbelly of suburbia" thing is obvious, and has already been done to death. But god is it fun! Any show that will give me Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman on a weekly basis is all right by me. Any show that gives me Leslie Ann Warren (as Hatcher's mother) and the comedic wonder that is Bob Newhart (as her prospective father-in-law) in guest appearances is sheer brilliance. And any show that will give me Marcia Cross in a fur coat, bra & panties, and nothing else, gains automatic entry to the Television Hall of Fame.

9. Wonder Showzen

Hidden on MTV2, this very adult parody of a children's show is wicked, demented, hysterical genius. It's so very, very very wrong, which is of course what makes it so great. This is a show in which a five-year-old girl and a puppet feast on the barbecued corpse of God, okay? It is fucked up. But it will bust your sides with appalled, shameful laughter.


Still one of the two best sitcoms on TV (which these days may not be saying all that much), reinforced by my recent viewing of the first season DVD box set. Sometimes it gets a little bogged down by its heavy-handed, show-wrapping moral messages, but it is exactly that humanity which makes the tales of these young doctors (Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, and the still-underrated-after-all-these-years Donald Faison) so compelling, endearing, and funny. It's the heart that gives the humor its substance. And it's got a fantastic history with guest stars -- John Ritter, Tom Cavanagh, Colin Farrell, Matthew Perry, and Brendon Fraser have all given remarkably full and funny performances; even Heather Graham was funny, and she's got the comedic ability of a doorknob. (And not one of those funny doorknobs you see all over the place these days; one of those old, boring doorknobs.)

7. The Shield

What the? Number seven?? A show of which I have often said in the past, "It's the best show on TV?" Well, what can I say? As good as it is this year -- and when I say good, I mean great; the addition of Glenn Close has been an unqualified success, and Michael Chiklis' performance as bad cop Vic Mackey is even deeper and more nuanced, if that was even possible -- I guess I just liked six other shows better. Which is really a testament to the fine year in television, rather than any black mark against this powerhouse, which continually raises the standard for the cop show genre -- hell, for dramatic TV as a whole.

6. Arrested Development

I used to say this was, along with Scrubs, the best sitcom on the air. In its second season, Arrested Development moved out in front. Jason Bateman adds to his amazing career revitalization (although, from interviews and awards shows, he seems like he'd be kind of a tool to know in real life, doesn't he?), Will Arnett continues to craft a classic television character in the devious, witless magician Gob, and Jeffrey Tambor -- well, the man must be blessed, to go from one show that redefined the American sitcom, The Larry Sanders Show, to another. It's kind of pointless to single out just a few of the cast members (even the two teens are reliably funny, each and every episode, especially Alia Shawkat as the cunning and troublesome beyond her years Maeby); they are uniformly hilarious, the best comedic ensemble since I don't know when. Praise be to FOX for bringing it back for a third season!

I tell you what, folks, it's been a long day, following a very long yesterday (in which I attended the Dodgers-Tigers night game at Dodgers Stadium -- Jeff Kent put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the sixth, thank you very much! Go Dodgers!!), so the top five will follow tomorrow. Plus, I gotta give you some reason to come back!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

COMICS: Thurs. 6/2/05

Pretty big haul this week. Let's see if I remember them all.

Dorothy: Another fine issue. The photography looks much better in a number of places -- Catie Fisher (playing Dorothy) looks as though she's lit by natural light more often, which helps add to the illusion that she's making a trek through the wilds of Oz. It still looks posed and phony as hell when she's running, though. The snake creature she battles is a great creation -- is he from the books? -- but the panel in which he bites Dorothy doesn't work; it looks like a clean miss. And the Scarecrow is tremendously creepy. I don't know if that was the desired effect or not, but seriously: creepy. His style of speaking -- disjointed and peppered with invented words -- takes some getting used to, but it works for a character who's got straw for brains. (Mmm... brains.)

The Walking Dead: Good stuff here, with Rick going down a very dark path, putting a bullet in the head of Dexter with seemingly very little hesitation or regret. And what's the deal with the woman leading the tame zombies? How exactly do you tame a zombie? Maybe this indicates zombies still possess a certain amount of intelligence, and are able to learn. I happen to know a zombie who would say differently, but whatever. (Let's see if I can work a plug for my other blog into every single review.)

Invincible: This issue really bothered me. It makes the point a couple different times that this is intended to be a "family title," safe for "younger readers," when shying away from the depiction of sex or nudity. But then, when Allen the Alien is attacked by the Viltrumites, the comic absolutely revels in the horrific violence. On one page, Allen's teeth are smashed out, his eyeball is popped out of his head, his back is broken, he gets punched clean through his torso, and his arm is severed at the shoulder. The next page is one giant panel depicting the aftermath, with Allen floating in clouds of blood, his eyeball dangling from its stalk, his entrails spilling out the hole in his back. And that's okay for "younger readers"? I've used the term "pornographic violence" in reference to one of Kirkman's books before, and it applies to this issue of Invincible equally well. In fact, it's more apt here; Brit is clearly, specifically intended for adults, while Invincible is indeed marketed as an all-ages book. I have absolutely no problem with violence in comics. There's been grisly violence in Invincible before, and I've never batted an eye. It's the pretense here that irritates me: shielding the kids from boobies while subjecting them to supreme violence is astoundingly hypocritical at best. Frankly, I find this issue contemptible, when, without that baggage, outside of that context, I would have considered it gripping, well-told (in faux-Stan Lee style), and very enjoyable.

The Incredible Hulk: A fantastic stand-alone story. Remember when comics used to do that? Tell a complete story in one issue? What a concept! The artwork by Jae Lee is... beautifully ugly is the best way I can put it. The eerie fog obscuring details is especially well done. And Peter David's story is a heartbreaker, smart and funny and sad; it's the best Hulk story I've read in... well, since David left the book in 1999, easily; way better than his five-part arc that preceded it. (That's why this is a one-and-done, by the way: it will serve as the sixth issue in the inevitable trade paperback collection. God forbid Marvel should print comics that can't be tidily packaged in a six-issue TPB!)

Y: The Last Man: Things get more complicated here. Who are the bad guys? The pirates reestablishing trade routes by delivering opium and calling it medicine, or the violent hijackers who claim to be defending themselves against the drug trade? Just another great issue of this great comic.

Zatanna: Better than the dragging bore of the first issue, but still my least favorite of the Seven Soldiers titles. The Shapeless One is an uninteresting foe, and an issue of Zatanna and co. dithering around in a magic shop didn't do much for me. The last panel reveal of the Phantom Stranger walking in the door (toting a bag of groceries) was pretty cool, though.

Marvel Team-Up: What was the deal with the restart in the middle of the issue? Was that necessary? Especially when the character introduced with that restart has absolutely no bearing on the main story. Despite that, I enjoyed the bits with Sleepwalker, anyway -- the way he deals with his host's wife (girlfriend?), the way he narrates his own adventures, the way he doesn't quite have a grasp on reality. It makes me want to seek out other appearances of the character. The first half of the book, with Daredevil battling a revamped Stilt Man, was fun; I liked how Luke Cage solves the dilemma of defeating Stilt Man without killing him by ignoring the dilemma, knocking him unconscious and letting DD deal with keeping him from plummeting to his demise.

Concrete: The Human Dilemma: A satisfyingly open-ended finale to a fantastic mini-series. I'm already hungry for more. I thought both Maureen and Larry got a little overwrought in their reactions to their respective situations; Maureen's total emotional devotion to Concrete's (and her?) spawn seems a little out of her strict-and-scientific character, and Larry's mad race through the streets of L.A. was reckless and thoughtless even for him. But, as always with Concrete, this was a thoughtful and thought-provoking tale. Even by Chadwick's standards, The Human Dilemma was tremendous.

House of M: Eh. I got it for the same reason I got the first issue of DC's Infinite Blue Beetle Crisis or whatever the hell they called it: I wanted to give each company's next big thing at least a one-issue try-out. This totally inert issue didn't make me feel like seeing where it goes from here any more than DC's thing did.

Friday, June 03, 2005

BOOKS: A Feast for Crows -- wait, seriously?

George R. R. Martin has finally finished A Feast for Crows!!! The long (long, long) awaited fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series will finally see the light of day! Calloo, callay, and whatnot.*

I've been waiting for this freaking book to come out for... well, since I finished the previous book, A Storm of Swords, which was released way back in October, 2000. (Ah, the good ol' days, pre-election fiasco, pre-Dubya.) Dude. Five years between books? Not cool.

Whether Martin will actually, genuinely, seriously meet the publishing date (Amazon lists it as September 27, but I'm cool with any time before that) -- I still wouldn't put any money on it, no matter what he says. There have been at least six projected publishing dates which have come and gone over the long wait for Crows. (In fact, I've written about Martin's failure to meet publishing dates before.) I wouldn't put money on it... but I'm crossing my fingers like crazy.

Other good news: the next book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, may actually be released in a relatively timely fashion, due to the fact that since Crows turned out to be such a gigantic manuscript, Martin split it in two. So the next book is already at least half finished! Please, no more five year waits. I can't take it.

Damn, now I've gotta go reread the first three books! By which I mean: goody! I love those books. If you haven't read them, and you have any interest in fantasy -- seriously, if you've only just watched the Lord of the Rings movies -- you have got to read this series. Best fantasy fiction ever published -- bar none. And I don't say that lightly. After the first two books, I used to amend that statement with "since Tolkien". After the third book, I dropped the qualification. And I stand by it! Goldurn it.

*"Whatnot" has recently become my go-to comedy word. I apologize if this causes any inconvenience.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

BOOKS: Foul Play!

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I've been meaning to talk about this book for ages now, and it's really unforgivable that I haven't. This is Foul Play! by Grant Geissman, and it is about, as the cover so comic-book-emphatically states, "THE ART AND ARTISTS OF THE NOTORIOUS 1950s E.C. COMICS!" I've always been interested in those comics, ever since, as a kid, my friend's dad showed me a trunk full of his comics collection from when he was a kid; he had primarily saved his E.C. collection, including the big three of horror comics, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, and of course, Tales from the Crypt (not to mention Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Two-Fisted Tales, and even a couple issues of good ol' Mad). I was astounded by how smart and scary and bold these comics were, light years ahead of any of the watered-down, comics-code-approved books I had ever seen. And I was deeply covetous; I wanted all of them for my own.

Well, I don't have them, needless to say, but Foul Play! is a pretty close second. It's an absolutely gorgeous book, not just for the contents, but as a package for those contents as well. It's smartly-produced, easy to read, and generously packed with cover and interior artwork, from thumbnails to full-size, including several complete E.C. stories. My one complaint about the artwork is the psychedelic border surrounding some of the full-page reproductions. I'm not sure why those are there, why the artwork wasn't expanded to fit the whole page; perhaps the art has been kept at original comic-size to retain the original reading experience (I didn't take a ruler to the page to find out).

Each chapter of the book takes on one of the artists responsible for those terrific comics, and gives a brief history of their introduction to the company and the comics they produced, before, during, and after their E.C. tenure. Through each artist's story, the story of E.C. Comics itself is fleshed-out, and man, can it be a heartbreaker at times. The story of E.C. Comics is basically the story of how the comic book industry became what it is today; for decades after the publication of these comics, and the subsequent destruction of the company following Frederic Wertham's witch-hunt (his Seduction of the Innocent led to the Senate hearings which resulted in the creation of the Comics Code Authority, the industry's self-made muzzle), there was nothing in the mainstream that could touch them in terms of their maturity, their creativity, their audacity, their savage wit and just-plain savagery, their general superiority in craft and quality.

Not that this is a straightforward history lesson. Each chapter relates the artist's story in an easygoing, frequently anecdotal style, relying on friends and fans (many of them famous in their own right, such as Stephen King) to lavish praise where due. In fact, the praise sometimes skates right up to the edge of being a little too heavy -- but with comics like these, the impulse to go a little overboard is understandable.

The artists profiled in this book range from those I've always admired by reputation, but have never really viewed enough of their artwork to truly appreciate, such as Bernie Krigstein, Wally Wood, and Will Elder, to those whom I've never really been aware of at all (much to my loss), such as Graham Ingels, George Evans, or Reed Crandall, to those whose work I could never possibly get enough of, who can not, in my eyes, be overly lauded, such as Jack Davis, John Severin, and the brilliant Harvey Kurtzman. (Kurtzman's portrayal, by the way, is perhaps the most negative in the book, due to his falling-out with E.C. publisher Bill Gaines.) And the artwork is almost uniformly stunning. While reading this book in public, I constantly had people looking over my shoulder, marveling at the beautiful, inventive, and often gruesome illustrations.

Foul Play! chronicles a high point in American art and culture, and it does it exceedingly well. This is an absolute must for any lover of comics, of horror, of fantasy, of science fiction, of humor, of art, of history.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005



Oops, wrong blog.

I am very grateful to those of you who have already thrown up links to my new blog, Zombie Eat Brains, including Ian, Sean (both blogs), and Gordon of Blog THIS, Pal! There are several others who have linked to it via various message boards, resulting in a pretty large hit count for the first full day of ZEB. I'm well on my way to 300 hits for today alone (not that I'm checking every, like, ten seconds or so). That's amazing to me. Do you know how many months it took for me to get a regular 300 daily hits on this blog? Damn. I'm sure the traffic will drop way off once the novelty has passed, but still, I'm enjoying it for now.

Thanks also to Augie De Blieck Jr., who linked to this blog right here in his column at Comic Book Resources. Very nice!

Real blogging to occur before too awful long, let's hope. I plan on putting up some long-delayed book reviews soon -- truly, I've been an ass about not getting to them sooner -- as well as the track list for my second round entry in Lefty Brown's Mixed Bag CD exchange project. Also coming up: my top ten TV shows of the 2004-2005 season. Care to wager on which of those entries gets done first? (Hint: the TV one.)

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