Monday, February 28, 2005

Deadwood returns

BULLOCK: I'll be the fucking sheriff.

SWEARENGEN: Starting when?

BULLOCK: Starting now.

SWEARENGEN: You have the tin?


SWEARENGEN: Produce it.

(Bullock takes out the sheriff star)

SWEARENGEN: On the tit.

BULLOCK: I know where it goes.

(He puts it on. Swearengen pours two shots of whiskey. He hands one to Bullock as he raises his own.)


Sunday can't come soon enough.

Apologies to Halle

Remember last night during the Oscars, when Chris Rock made that Catwoman II joke before Halle Berry presented, and we all thought she looked pissed off? (Perhaps you weren't there, but that's what happened.)

It seems we misread her expression.

That little stunt moves her several notches up, in my estimation.

(Via both Warren Ellis and The Beat. Links are on the sidebar b/c I'm too lazy to do it here.)

What, really?

Since it's a few years late, and what with Alan Moore announcing his retirement and all, I thought this had simply vanished into the ether. But no, here it is, with sweet sweet Gene Ha art! I simply cannot wait. Top 10 is a personal favorite of mine.

Between this and the trade release of the Eisner-award winning Gotham Central storyarc, "Half a Life," May can't some soon enough.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Um, okay

I get some weird google hit on occasion, but this new one takes the cake. Apparently someone this weekend happened upon this site while googling the phrase "villainous hillbilly family." Yeah, I don't know, either. I hope I helped!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ah, Seven Soldiers

"In my deepest, darkest moments at 3AM, I imagine dying to save a universe. I picture the face of the moon, carved into a memorial likeness. Entire bereaved worlds weeping at my grave. Maybe then my mother will take my life seriously.

How do you know when you've become a super-hero and not just a crazy fetish person with a death wish?"

-Shelly Gaynor, aka The Whip, from Seven Soldiers #0

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ellis talks sci-fi

Warren Ellis, in his lastest diatribe from his email mailling list, has a bit to say about Battlestar Galactica. Keep in mind that he's seen the whole first season because the British are better than we are.
Incidentally? GALACTICA sags quite
badly in the middle of its run, but
picks the slack up very well in the
last three episodes, also taking on a
tone of strangeness not a million
miles away from NEON GENESIS
EVANGELION. It's not a bad show at
In Jeffland, he just said the magic words. I'm excited to see how it turns out. He also has this to say in regards to Star Trek
(One of these days, when I'm really
drunk, I'm going to tell you how
is the first full-on postmodern sf
movie. But I'm going to have to be
really really drunk, and I'll deny
having written it afterwards.)
So those of you who have any interest in Trek should hunt Warren down and start buying him pints. It's the right thing to do.

He's an expert at hammer fighting

If you are interested in plumbing the limitless depths of human cruelty, might I recommend the Korean film Old Boy?

Don't get me wrong, the movie's worth seeing, if only for a simply remarkable fight sequence shot all in one take that involves one guy versus a throng of enemies in a crowded hallway. But man, is it depressing! It's the sort of movie where a fifteen-year imprisonment by faceless captors is merely phase one in a complicated revenge scheme. I mean, what's the lesson here? What are we meant to take away from the film? That human beings are shitty?

Still, it's really cool to see a guy whale on hordes of enemies with his trusty hammer.

Oh, right, the Oscars

The Oscars are this weekend, aren't they? I'll be missing a good chunk of them, since I have rehearsal starting at the same time, but as a dutiful movie geek, here's a quick list of who I think will win and who I think should win. I haven't Finding Neverland and a few other nominated films, but I'll hardly let that stop me.

Will win: Million Dollar Baby
Should win: Sideways

Will win: Martin Scorcese
Should win: Scorcese. Just give him the statue, already!

Will win: Jamie Foxx, Ray
Should win: Jamie Foxx (none of the nominees really lit my fuse this year, and I haven't seen Hotel Rwanda)

Will win: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Should win: Hilary Swank

Will win: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Should win: Clive Owen, Closer (Not that Freeman winning would upset me. Morgan Freeman totally rules.)

Will win: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Should win: Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Will win: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Sideways
Should win: Payne and Taylor

Will win: Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Should win: Brad Bird, The Incredibles (although again, I wouldn't mind a Kaufman win)

So there you go. Feel free to wrassle with me on any of these. Then again, maybe you find this year's Oscars as boring as I do.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Since I now have limitless wealth since my bonus came through, I went nuts at the comic store yesterday. Like 93 dollars worth of nuts.

Of course, most of that was because I bought the 2nd and 3rd hardcover collections of Stray Bullets. Mmmm, Stray Bullets. And hey, my hardcovers are signed by David Lapham! Nice bonus.

I also picked up the softcover of Steven Seagle's It's A Bird... and the trade of Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, written and illustrated by Leslie's secret boyfriend, Kazu Kibuishi. It's on the internet now, Leslie. That makes it truth. Anyway, Daisy Kutter is way cool. It's a western. With robots. It's just 11 bucks. You simply can't lose. (For those of you who went to Ninja Art, Kazu Kibuishi did the one where the ninja and the rabbit passing each other in the woods.)

I also got Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers #0. It will take every iota of my willpower to resist buying every individual issue of this mega-series.

Oh, hell, I've already lost this battle. I'll buy every issue, dammit!

*cries himself gently to sleep*

I'll write more about these comics when I actually read them. Last night I passed out due to day-after-karaoke fatigue.


Or "How Another Comic Book Movie Was Ruined for Me Because I Am Too Familiar with the Source Material."

If you're going to do a movie about John Constantine, why would you insist on grafting on a bunch of half-explained high-concept Hollywood bullshit to a plot that's sort of complicated enough in the first place? "Oh, I'm one of the only ones who can see demons and angels, only they're not REALLY demons or angels, they're half-breeds, and I've taken it upon myself to be a sort of half-breed policeman because God and the Devil made a wager, you see, and can't directly influence souls and blah blah blah" shut up.

I guess the idea of a grifing magician who's pissed off the Devil just wasn't Matrix-y enough for the filmmakers, which is hysterical considering how many critics didn't understand the original Matrix in the first place. "Kids don't like simple anymore! They need their plots complicated! Can you make it more complicated?" I wouldn't complain if that idea added anything and were ever properly explained, but alas.

I just don't get this idea of adapting books that have a perfectly serviceable story and then completely rewriting the plot. What on earth is wrong with Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? What a great movie that could have been if they'd bothered to just adapt the damn thing, but no. Just a huge slog with flahes of the original work's brilliance.

Constantine (which takes most of its cues from Garth Ennis' run on Hellblazer, most notably "Dangerous Habits") is certainly a better movie than LoEG, but it's still not very good. Garth Ennis' run could easily be condensed into a movie. Perhaps they thought the stakes weren't high enough in the comic. In the book it's just John's soul that's at stake, not the fate of the entire world.

I don't know. It's hard to enjoy a movie for what it is when you know that better material is around. Like Ghost World. Very good movie. Couldn't enjoy it as much as I would otherwise, because they felt the need to completely change the story from the comic. I went in expecting a movie about the dwindling friendship of two adolescent girls, and instead got an adolescent girl's relationship with a Robert Crumb stand-in. ("Don't you see, Robert Crumb? Terry Zwigoff doesn't hate you. He... he LOVES you!") You can see why I might be a bit dismayed.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. I don't think Constantine is a particularly good movie whether you've read the comic or not, but reading the comic just makes it more frustrating.

I know, I need to let go of these things. But it's hard.

A long time ago, we used to be friends

Best Veronica Mars ever was on Tuesday. After last week's so-so rap mogul episode, this past episode literally had everything but the kitchen sink. What other show right now could so adroitly juggle a secret crush, the Russian mob, a dead mother, mysterious phone calls, a greiving son, a big 80's dance, and a special guest appearance by Allyson Hannigan? The episode had it all, and it all ruled. Congrats, Veronica Mars, you're my favorite show on television right now. Of course, Deadwood starts up again in like two weeks, so don't expect to hold that title for long. Ah, sweet Deadwood. If Ian McShane were a woman, I would make him my bride.

What post about Veronica Mars would be complete without also complaining about Lost? Actually, I haven't seen the last three episodes of Lost, and from what I've gathered I've missed absolutely nothing. See, the thing about Lost is that since it's so reluctant to reveal any damn thing about any of its mysteries, one simply has to come to the conclusion that all the mysteries are tied up together, and rather than a series of reveals it can only be illuminated with one big reveal. Probably to take place in May. That leaves a whooooole lot of water to tread in the meantime, and I can't be bothered with aimless bullshit. Wake me up when you're ready to talk, Lost. What's that? You say that next week the episode focuses on Hurley? Oh, okay. I'll watch that shit. Hurley rules.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Love was in the air...

...last night at karaoke, as an Asian businessman apparently became smitten with Megan. He had his friend dedicate a song to her. The best part was that we were all getting up and walking out the door when the guy gets up and says "This is for the lady in the hat, from my friend so-and-so over there." So then we kind of had to slowly sit back down and sit through the song, exchanging awkward glances. Kim also became convinced that our smoking hot waitress had become enamored with Trumbo. Trumbo totally didn't chat her up like we asked him to. More updates on that as it develops, since she seems to be the regular Tuesday night waitress.

Smoking hot waitress is also deeply incompetent waitress. She messed up my bill last week, and apparently mixed something up with Kim's bill last night. She also spilled an entire drink on me, although Paul confessed that was kind of his fault. So I guess we're even from when I spilled a bit of Jack and Coke on him at the Blasphemy Party. Paul theorized that perhaps smoking hot waitress was messing stuff up on purpose, to see how far she could get by on her smoking hotness alone. The answer? Pretty damn far.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Good news

So it looks like Whedon and Cassady are doing a second year of Astonishing X-Men. Hey, it looks like I'll be reading the X-Men for at least another year! Thanks, guys!

As I mentioned to Frank earlier today, Morrison's New X-Men spanked all the other X-titles in terms of sales. Now Astonishing is doing the same thing. It just makes you wonder what they're going to do next to keep those sales going. Because right now the keys to the kingdom are with Claremont and Milligan, and I don't think either of them are going to light the world on fire anytime soon. I guess it's a question we can put off for another year and a half, at least.

Earlier this week I also picked up the new first issue of Runaways. That comic is a joy to read. Vaughn has finally hit his stride with the characters (as the last storyarc of the first volume indicated), and introduces several swell concepts to kick the new series off with a bang. As the kids try to handle the power vacuum in LA created by their deposed parents' absence, they're visited by a familiar face from the future who brings dire tidings. But the real masterstroke of the issue is Excelsior, a support group created to help former teenage superheroes reintegrate themselves into society. In this issue we see Turbo, Chamber, Darkhawk, Ricochet, Lightspeed, and the third Green Goblin (and if you don't recognize all those names, you didn't read enough shitty Marvel books in the 90's). The idea is one that could easily backfire, but Vaughn makes it plausible and more than a little funny. It's an idea that's got legs. The great story is enhanced immeasurably by Adrian Alphona's clean pencils, which have improved immensely from the first series, where they were nothing to sneeze at. This first issue is delivering on all the promise of the first series. Do yourself a favor and pick up the trades.

President's Day is for getting shit DONE

Today Frank and I watched six episodes of Angel and three episodes of The Wire, with a break for dinner and the occasional conversation in between episodes.

I've now finally seen every single Angel episode! God, season 4 is AWESOME.

I suppose I should feel bad about being a lump all day, but I just can't bring myself to do so. It's my vacation!

Friday, February 18, 2005

A brief passage from my current reading

"As I am no longer professionally engaged, pretending to be your mistress, I shall no longer be receiving my stipend from your friend Roger. As I am now your mistress in fact, some small gift would be appropriate. Forgive my forwardness. Gentlemen know such things, Puritans must be instructed."

Quicksilver rules.

Me = Jerk

Today the internets have dubbed me a Jerk in the Face and a gold medalist in the field of Jerkweeding.

Should I try for the Jerk hat trick?

"He's a DOG with SUPERPOWERS!"

Listen, all I'm saying is that if you're going to do Krypto, you should do it like this. Good clean fun for the kids.

But why oh why must he be a part of modern DC continuity? To hear Jeph Loeb talk about him (usually in hushed, reverent tones), you'd think the concept of a dog with Superman's powers had limitless story potential. He's a disparately stupid element in a universe that's supposed to be somewhat serious. But then the same could be said of everything that happens in Superman/Batman. From my point of view Superman/Batman existing in the same continuity as Azzarello's Superman is like Racing Stripes having continuity ties to Chinatown.

Also, reintroducing Supergirl into modern continuity is like Bruce Wayne waking up one day to find that one of his parents is still alive. And yes, I thank the sweet Lord every day that Jeph Loeb did not get his hands on that proposed Buffy animated series. Although maybe he'd do better with a property that didn't have any bad ideas to reintroduce.

I like complaining! Rain helps.

Rain can eat it

There is intense sucking going on outside. Intense sucking in the form of a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR. I hate stupid rain.

Emory's joke is that everyone who lives in LA cheerfully maintains that there is never any rain here, ever. Like "Yup, it's just hot and sunny every single day! There's never a single sign of any changing weather! We don't need to build adequate drainage because rain does not exist here! Hell, we don't even need to build ROOFS on our HOUSES!" and on and on. It's funny. You should hear it when Emory goes on his comedy tour, starting in the year never.

Jeff vs. cats

I was supposed to go to San Francisco with Leslie and Emory this weekend, but my inability to manage even the simplest of schedules means I have to stick around the apartment for the next four days, alone with the cats.

Now I do not dislike the cats. But I can't say I love them. I think if you merged the two cats together they would make a perfectly reasonable, easy-to-love cat. Or a completely unloveable, intolerable monster-beast. They each have their quirks, is what I'm saying.

Nemesis is bold, and will actually come near you voluntarily. When I am lying on the futon and reading, he will hop up and make himself comfortable to top of me, and let me pet him and scratch his ears while he purrs contently. Then he will get up, walk right up to me so we're eye-to-eye, and then turn around and shove his butt in my face. His willingness to be near me is not born of affection, but rather that I am extremely comfortable furniture that will pet him as he reclines. He will also not tolerate being picked up. Any attempt on your part to do so will result in your razor-clawed doom. But at least Nemesis does not live in mortal terror of me.

Pagan lives in mortal terror of me. Any attempt to walk towards, reach for, or even turn towards him will result in him fleeing as quickly as possible in the opposite direction. Any attention you give him is met by a look of panic. He will, however, not fight if you pick him up, but he will hold you at paw's length, as if to say, "I musn't, darling! My wife will be home any moment! Release me!" Not particularly affectionate. Pagan, for the record, looks like this. Very pretty cat.

So basically our new cats are acting like, well, cats. Now I get to kick it with them for four days, just me and them. They better learn to love me, dammit! I just don't understand the logic behind getting pets that obviously do not like you. But then I've never pretended to be a cat person.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"You boys like MEX-I-CO????"

Ah, Super Troopers, you have the perscription for the daily blues.

Emory and I fell in love with this movie some time ago, but I only just bought a copy recently, so we could enjoy it whenever. Last night Emory cracked it open and we just let the easygoing hilarity wash over us. It hit the proverbial spot.

"Sorry about the delousing."
"It's powdered sugar!"
"The lice... hate the sugar."
"It's delicious!"

"Ah, bikers. I'm an idiot."


"You guys are drunk!"
"I'm as sober as a bird."
"I... I am drunk."

"Uh, Rabbit..." (indicates Rabbit has lipstick smeared on his face)
"I know. You've got big beautiful brown lips."

"Bear fucker! Do you need assistance!"

"Ursula! I'm NAKED!"

We need more movies where someone asks Brian Cox if he's drunk and he yells "Drunk enough to kick your ass!"

Monday, February 14, 2005

Random memory triggered by the onset of Valentine's Day

Back when I was dating Bre, which was, oh let's see, nearly six years(!) ago now, we decided to go out on a proper date. Like go out, just the two of us, and have dinner or do something equally date-like. Back in college there was no "dating" to really worry about. I would just start kissing one of my female friends. Most social gatherings would then occur as normal, what with big groups of people going out to a movie, or to drink, or whatever, except now there would be kissing with your sweetie afterwards.

So Bre and I decided to buck this trend and actually go out on our own, like adults did. We hopped into Bre's car and struck out for parts unknown, with almost no plan and no idea how to proceed. Neither Bre nor I were particularly cosmopolitan at the time (I, for one, almost hardly stepped off campus for a good portion of my freshman year), and now faced with the prospect of going out into the world and deciding on an activity that we would both enjoy participating in, we found ourselves completely at a loss. Panic-stricken, we wound up eating at McDonald's and then going to Target to buy Legos. (To indicate how long ago this really was, I believe I ended up buying some Episode I Legos, flush with excitement as I was in anticipation of the movie. Now the memory make me feel slightly ill.) So our big foray into actual Datehood wound up being a rather infantile affair.

This whole tale has sort of been my version of a personals ad. Ladies, line up! I will buy you a McChicken sandwich and then we will build an X-Wing out of plastic blocks. Could other men say the same? I thought not.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

What I learned today

What I learned today was that if you put up a review of a screening of a highly-anticipated motion picture, sooner or later some website will find you and link to you, despite the intense lack of effort in compiling said review.

So those who have wandered in from Planet Magrathea, welcome. Of course you're not even reading this, but welcome all the same.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

If you haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, and the third act hasn't already been ruined for you by critics on the Right, or critics of the Right's critics, then I recommend you don't read this post.

Seriously, if you don't know about the movie, stop reading.


Okay, are you gone?

Okay, they're gone.

So what we've got here is two movies, in a way. One's a boxing movie, one's a euthanasia movie. Neither of them blew me out of the water. The general concensus after the film (I saw it with Leslie, Frank, Paul, and McKenna) was that it was "solid," and I can pretty much stand by that assesment. Solid performances, solid directing. Solid.

I think it has its problems. Honestly, the boxing portion felt really tired. Leslie told me last night that the early scenes bored her, and she just wanted to yell "Just train her, already!" They didn't bug me so much. What did get boring was the boxing. None of the fights (until the big title bout) mean anything, other than to show that Maggie Is Unstoppable. Nothing is illuminated about the characters. I know it's unfair to compare the movie to Raging Bull, but when Jake LaMotta stepped into the ring, that fight became an extension of the characters' relationships. A lot of Million Dollar Baby just felt like a typical sports movie. Maggie only has twenty seconds to knock her opponent out. Dramatic zoom-in on Clint Eastwood as he watches. And Maggie's big title bout is agains a "former East German prostitute"? She sounds like (and came off as) a discarded villain from the Rocky series. Oh, and let's not forget Maggie's cartoonishly villainous hillbilly family.

What does work are the characters and their relationships, and that's really the movie's bread and butter. Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank are all great. And the reason I think the euthanasia movie is better than the boxing movie is that it brings all the character's relationships into stark focus. It raises the stakes. How far will Frank go for this woman he now sees as his daughter? I think in the end Frank sees it as setting Maggie free, and killing himself. It's a sacrifice he's willing to make. And when he finally tells Maggie what her Gaelic moniker means, well, that nearly broke my damn heart. I think it's that portion that elevates the film from an above-average sports movie into a genuinely compelling drama. But the first two acts just feel too bogged down in the limitations of the genre.

And what's with that scene with Morgan Freeman fighting that young jerk boxer? Why was that there? I mean, I think they'll give Freeman the Oscar because of it (it was a big crowd pleaser in our audience), but what point did it serve?

Anyway, good movie. Very good movie. But Sideways remains my favorite Best Picture nominee.

Friday, February 11, 2005


My favorite movie of 2004 is coming to DVD a lot sooner than I expected.

Truly we live in a golden age of release-date-to-DVD turnaround times.

Attempting to achieve equilibrium

I am much improved, health-wise. The biggest pain in my ass now is that my head pressure has not evened itself out. So my left ear feels like it's been stuffed with cotton while my right nostril feels like it has a railroad spike shoved all the way up into my brain.

It's all I can do to resists re-enacting the climactic scene of Pi.

I guess I'll be watching, then...


I know I bitched about this awhile ago, and I'm still struggling to keep my expectations low, but damn, that image just makes my spine tingle with anticipation.

Via The Beat, naturally.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Teen Sex Comedy 2000

God help me, but I just can't bring myself to hate Eurotrip. It is simply a perfect late-night pay-cable movie. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel.

Is it wrong of me to give points to a movie that includes totally pointless nudity? I just feel that, the way things are going in this country, we need to take our nudity where we can.

Jokes that time forgot

I love it when a funny bit comes up that I had completely forgotten about.

Last night Frank, Paul and I were talking about Buffy, (Frank's making his way through the sixth season DVDs), and Frank noted how back when we were watching the original airings of the seventh season, we had a running gag that maintained that the First's actual evil plan was just to make Buffy cry. It certainly makes a bit more sense than its actual evil plan, which was what exactly? Kill all the Slayers and take over the world? Did its decision to do that have something to do with Buffy's resurrection? That's why it had never tried it before? I don't remember, and it'll be some time before I can hit the seventh season DVDs. Anyway, just wanting to make Buffy cry is a much more compelling reason. It even explains why it brought Angel back in season 3! Just wanted to see ol' Buffy squirt a few.

This of course relates back to our joke that General Zod's sole motivation in Superman II is to get Superman to kneel before him. The whole movie that's all he's ranting about, and then when Superman finally does kneel before him, he becomes a total pushover. Hey, he got what he wanted! "Now you may defeat me, son of Jor-El. I've gotten what I wanted. You totally kneeled. We all saw."

Because, you see, it's funny when villains have petty motivations like that... and um, it sort of undercuts their evil in a humorous way... it's sort of... uh...

Listen, I don't make you read this.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Illness delays productivity

These next few days might be slow, blog-wise, since I still can't shake this cold. Being sick really dulls my urge to write new stuff or even to think about anything to write about, unless you want posts with titles like "Christ! My head!" and "How long does it take this medicine to kick in?" You know, scintillating things like that.

The cats' new names, at least as far as I'm concerned, are Spaz (Nemesis) and Spooky (Pagan) because those are far more accurately descriptive names.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

As I continue to suffer

Still feeling crappy. Although less crappy than yesterday, so here I am at work. DYING. I seriously just sneezed like twenty times in a row. I think I'm losing brain fluid.

Leslie will tell you everything about our new cat friends that you ever needed to know. Now you cat people have a surrogate who can rival your level of cat enthusiasm. I think they're adorable and all, but I can hardly match Leslie's overwhelming euphoric glee.

I suppose I should take a lesson from my illness. In that spending a weekend singing, drinking, and not sleeping are prone to debilitate your immune system. It is a lesson lost, however, considering the amount of fun I had this weekend. It was well worth the price of my impending death.

That was some great party at Laurel and Trumbo's place this weekend, huh? It's always great to run into those Oxy kids whenever I can. I seem to vaguely recall quizzing some underclassman about her romantic life. She was cute. And probably 11. And the police showed up! That's always the sign of a good time.

Which isn't to knock the good time I then had at Alan's birthday party the following night. I just drank a lot less since I was driving and had spent most of Saturday recovering from Friday's revelries. As I noted at the bar when I took a sip of my one Jack and Coke, "Mmm, I've been tasting this all day. It's like returning to the womb." I was really tired so I kept threatening to go home, but then people pestered me into going back to Hollywood House, where I then proceeded to play Soul Calibur II with Doug until I left. I meant to socialize, really I did. The pull of the Soul Calibur is just too strong!

Anyway, it was a good weekend. It just came at a price.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ugh deux and KITTIES

Now I'm sick.

I suppose the combination of singing, drinking, and lack of sleep all weekend all had a hand in turning my throat into a burning lake of fire this morning.

Suffice to say, I am home from work today.

Which gives me more time to play with Emory and Leslie's new kittens. Their names are Nemesis and Pagan (although I call refer to Pagan as Spooky). They are adorable.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


BAD PLAN: Going straight from Peer Gynt tech rehearsal to Laurel and Trumbo's and getting very drunk indeed, then getting up at 8:45 AM to drive back to Pasadena for more Peer Gynt rehearsal wearing the same clothes I had on the day before. Not the formula for feeling well in the morning, I'll tell you that much.

Peer Gynt is really fun. At one point Michael York does an extremely goofy dance. Hey, I discovered last night that there's another orchestral piece in Peer Gynt that everyone's heard. It's that sort of "Oh, morning has broken on the farm," peace and tranquility sort of thing that you used to hear all the time on cartoons. You know what I'm talking about right? Peer Gynt strikes again! Truly it is a treasure trove of overused but engaging orchestral pieces.

At a few points they have these dancers come out, and they're pretty and everything, but in their first scene they're portraying these trolls, so I was like "Hey, dancers, cool." Nothing to write home about. But then in the second act there's this sort of Arabian Nights section and the dancers come out in these sort of harem girl outfit things and suddenly I was like "Dancers...guh..." Uncomfortably hot, is what I'm saying. So this is the second straight weekend I've had to watch beautiful dancers write laciviously in various states of undress. Stop it, dancers! You're going to ruin all other women for me!

I tripped over Mabby in front of one of the soloists and the soloist laughed at me and Mabby laughed too because MABBY IS MALICIOUS.

That is all.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I mean, Jesus Christ


The best bit:

“What was going on in the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib prison halfway across the world is something that clearly someone in Washington, D.C., can’t manage or deal with,” he said, adding: “I have no regrets.”
Something else "someone" in Washington DC can't manage or deal with? Not cocking up an invasion of Iraq.

And that foot is me

We've lost our definitive crusty old dean.

Manga madness

Alex recently posted an article on manga that pointed out that American comics didn't have much appeal for girls. Here's another one from the LA Times article that makes the same point, but goes a little deeper. (It also makes the point I made over on Alex's blog that part of the reason manga is selling so well is that kids are interested in it simply by virtue of being from Japan. Stuff from Japan is cool!)

I don't mind manga. I think people reading more comics is good for comics. And I especially think that manga's diversity of content has made Marvel and DC sit up and take notice, if not scramble around wildly trying to keep up. I think it's an important step in the legitimacy of the art form. Sure, it's mostly being read by high school girls now, but today's Inuyasha fan might be tomorrow's Love and Rockets reader. Manga is succeeding where American comics aren't, and that's bringing in younger readers.*

*I know high school isn't really the age range people are thinking of when they suggest that there needs to be comics for "younger readers," but high school is still younger than your average American comics fan.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Conversation I Have With Michael York in My Head

And now, a completely fictional miniature play in which I go and talk to Michael York during a break at choir rehearsal.

(Jeff approaches Michael York)

Jeff: Mr. York?

Michael York: Yes?

Jeff: Hello. My name's Jeff and I'm in the chorus and I just wanted to tell you
that I really enjoy your work.

Michael York: Why, thank you.

Jeff: I thought you were really funny on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Michael York: Yes, that was fun.

Jeff: You know, I do some acting occasionally, when work allows me.

Michael York: Oh? And what is your profession?

Jeff: Well, Mr. York, it's my job... TO FREEZE YOU!

(Jeff and Michael York each throw their heads back and laugh loud and long)

Michael York: That was very funny.

Jeff: Yeah. (beat) Seriously, though.

(Jeff takes out freeze ray, freezes Michael York, and runs off into the night.)


C is for comics

Couple of new trades this week.

Runaways Vol 3: The Good Die Young: I think at this point I can equate my enjoyment of Runaways with my enjoyment of Veronica Mars. That is, consistently solid and enjoyable teen soap with the occasional burst of absolute brilliance. This third volume, collecting the last six issues of the first series, is the best collection so far, as the kids lose their headquarters and decide to take the fight to their supervillain parents. We learn the full origin of The Pride in the first chapter which is pretty cool to start with, but gets more and more intriguing as the kids learn the full scope of what their parents are up to. Members of the Pride plot double-crosses as the kids have to contend with their own mole. In the end there's the obligatory big fight, as our heroes must prevent their parents from exterminating all of humanity. It's six full-color issues for just 8 bucks, although the paper quality isn't great, and it occasionally detracts from the colorful art. There's the occasional page that just comes out too murky. But still, it's a fresh idea, a fun read, and inexpensive, three things most Marvel comics definitely aren't these days.

Seaguy: What can I say about Seaguy? It's Grant Morrison. It's Cameron Stewart. It's completely insane. It features obsolete heroes, cheerful sidekicks, a moon mummy, a media-sensationalized talking eyeball, intelligent and vengeful foodstuffs, Atlantean wasps, chain-smoking stone heads, and a garrulous yet sinister butterfly. Quite simply, it rules. Worth every penny.


Tom turned me on to Questionable Content awhile ago, and while I think the strip is a little too precious for its own good about 80% of the time, I found the latest strip particularly amusing.

Because I find sexual assault funny, you see.

Some wisdom from Warren

From Warren Ellis' email list, some musings on the cancellation of Enterprise and his assertion that we most likely won't see any new Trek series in quite some time:

"And, with the final Star Wars film on the way,
it seems that by the end of the year the culture
will feel peculiarly cleansed. As if the shackles
were released from us in our cultural basement,
and we can finally take from our mouths the
shattered antique underpants used as gags and
wash old men's semen out of our bum crevices."

Agreed. It'll be nice to be rid of them both. They passed their sell-by date some many years ago (not that I was ever enamored with Star Trek at any point, but I know those who were). Maybe we'll see some new SF out there.

Oooh, nice one

Claremont, in his continuing spiral into madness, has opted to bring back Psylocke.

And so the one thing left that I still kind of respected Claremont for has been thrown to the wind. Psylocke had become a terrible, convoluted character over the last ten years (part Lobdell and Nieceza's fault, for making her true origin so damn convoluted, then giving her vague mystical powers, part Claremont's for making her Asian in the first place) and her killing was a mercy, because she honestly contributed nothing, particularly once Professor X and Phoenix returned to the team.

"Hey, what's you favorite Psylocke story?"
"I like the one that completely overhauls her status quo!"
"Oh, you mean all of them?"

Seriously, from the moment she turned Asian, the only Psylocke-focused stories were ones in which she was given another overhaul. Seriously, she wasn't that interesting a character when she joined the X-Men, and the multitude of changes made to her haven't done anything to change that.

So, in closing, it's another clumsy resurrection for Claremont.

Still no word yet on whether this 5-part storyline will include mind control, X-Men vs. X-Men, or Claremont's increasingly disturbing S&M hangups.

Maybe Psylocke wants Storm to be her queen.

UPDATE: I know it's only been one issue of this storyline so far, and she could be a trick, or a clone, or a whatever you will. But considering there's been nine issues of Excalibur and still no real explanation of Magento's "resurrection," I wouldn't hold my breath for any such revalation just yet.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Identity Cluelessness

The more I think about the ending of Identity Crisis, the more it strikes me as the ending of Clue.

Mrs. White: So this has nothing to do with Colonel Mustard's defense contracts or Professor Plum's work on the new fusion bomb?
Wadsworth: No, Mrs. White. The JLA brainwashing its old enemies was just a red herring.

I wouldn't be so snide if Identity Crisis didn't end so preposterously. It's just like "She's crazy! The end!"
"Yeah, but when? Why? How?"
"Didn't you hear me? CRAZY! Case closed!"

There's just no getting around how dumb it is. Especially when the most interesting aspects of the story end of having absolutely nothing to do with the mystery. It just makes the whole thing so cheap and tawdry, which is unfortunate, because I was totally on board with the series heading into the final issue.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I suppose it was inevitable

Speaking of test screenings, I should note that they finally released The Film We Do Not Speak Of.

Actually, we speak of it all the time. Give us half a chance, Frank, Emory, Paul, or I, and we'll go on and on about how it was the single worst film any of us had ever seen. Two and a half hours long and every second of it pain. After it had such an abysmal test screening, we kept an eye on its possible release, and saw several supposed release dates come and go. Eventually, we slept easy, content that we and the other brave souls in that test screening had taken a bullet for all of mankind.

But now it's gotten out. Dumped on DVD with no fanfare, released by a company no one's ever heard of, but OUT. It walks among you. It doesn't sleep. It never tires. It is a self-propelling engine of awful. Beware. Sure, it's a good forty-five minutes shorter than the version we saw, but make no mistake. It still seems like an eternity spent in the darkest pit in hell. Of course, we had to own it.

Hell, we had to go to a few different stores to find the unrated version.

Don't worry, the hurricane is coming

In case you hadn't guessed from the comments I made, I'm hardly a Hitchiker's Guide purist. I don't really care that they made changes to the plot or the ending or whatever, since I always regarded those books as a lark, anyway.

What you should be well prepared for is that I am most definitely a purist when it comes to both Watchmen and His Dark Materials, so expect endless harping about them as more details are released about their respective productions. I bit my tongue (bloggily speaking) when it was announed that there would be no mention of God or the Church in His Dark Materials, and I highly doubt the movies will overcome that basic storytelling glitch to achieve anything to my satisfaction. And while Paul Greengrass being announced as the director of Watchmen is a promising note, he's still going to make Watchmen into a two-hour film, and I just can't see it working that way. At least, in any case, to my satisfaction. So while everyone else will no doubt be nattering on about who's going to be cast, and what will they leave in and what have you, I'll be over the corner, arms folded, scowling and muttering to myself about how at least the books will be getting more attention.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll follow all that stuff as much as anyone. I'm just overly pessimistic about these sorts of enterprises because I don't want to be disappointed, and if I convince myself the movie will be awful, then it makes an awful film into a somewhat passable one. Or at least that worked for the first 20 minutes or so of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but then that movie greatly outpaced even my most dire imaginings. I just can't take that kind of hurt!

For Asa

Considering Lost's glacial, "decompressed" pacing, should we be entertaining the idea that perhaps this is the first TV program specifically tailored to be released on DVD and watched in great big chunks? Think about it!

Enough with the panicking, already

So, Hitchiker's Guide.

I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but to discuss some of the positives and negatives of the film I'll probably have to dip into spoiler territory, so beware.

The movie is very funny. That's more or less all I needed from the movie, and it happily gave it to me. It's also, for the most part, well cast and well acted. But on the other hand it's awkwardly paced, and there are a few significant plot changes from the book that aren't necessarily improvements. These problems bug me the more I think about them.

They keep some major scenes and gags from the novel. The Vogon poetry is there, as is the sperm whale. Deep Thought and 42 and dolphins and mice are all accounted for. And Stephen Fry narrates passages from the Hitchiker's Guide itself. Those sequences are cleverly animated. Like safety signs come to life, if that makes any sense.

I'd be amazed if anyone who hasn't read the books could understand a good deal of this movie. The pace is rather hectic, and key lines are often shouted over a cacophony of babbling or laser blasts. I'm still unclear on a few things, like the exact explanation of Zaphod's two heads, or why and how the helmet that runs on lemons makes him more lucid. As for the two heads themselves, Zaphod does indeed have two heads, but one is removed as quickly as the movie can get rid of it. The filmmakers seemed to want it both ways, keeping two heads in for the purists, but getting rid of one quickly to save on effects and focus their budget elsewhere. Ultimately I doubt their compromise will greatly appeal to most people. And why is so much time spent on John Malkovich if he doesn't figure into the climax? He sets up conflicts that never play out. He was created specifically for the movie (perhaps in the effort to give the story a little more conventional structure), but then the movie gamely continues on without ever mentioning him again. Maybe they thought they could have him around for the sequels. As it is, though, his whole section seems unnecessary, like they dropped his sequence into the middle of the adaptation without considering how his presence should affect events. The concept of his character is sound (and the idea behind his planet is funny), it's a cool design and it's well acted, but it ultimately proves to be a waste of time.

But there are good things. Like I said, the movie's funny. There's a great bit on the Vogon homeworld where our heroes are slapped for having ideas that proves to be a sublime bit of physical comedy. And the actors, for the most part, do a good job. Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office) is very well cast as Arthur Dent, and as Emory noted, he manages to make Arthur a different character than Tim. He also has excellent chemistry with Zooey Deschanel as Trillian. Zooey, please call me. I think you are awesome. Ahem, anyway, Sam Rockwell is simply hysterical. It's a damn shame that he's saddled with half a brain for most of the movie, or else who knows what comedy boundaries could have been shattered. As it is, he's stuck in some scenes simply making unintelligible noises. Funny noises, but still. Alan Rickman (as the voice of Marvin) and Bill Nighy (as Slartibartfast) are as good as you'd expect them to be.

Poor Mos Def. When he's good in this movie, as he is in his early scenes with Arthur, he's very good. But then the script doesn't know what to do with him, more concerned as it is with the romantic triangle of Arthur, Trillian, and Zaphod, so he just seems along for the ride the moment they arrive on the Heart of Gold. His performance seems all over the map, but we're given so little insight into Ford Prefect (the movie barely has time to explain what he's doing on Earth in the first place) that I'm more inclined to blame the script and director rather than Mos Def himself. Maybe they'll edit in a few more scenes with him before the movie's released. At least I hope so.

The design is pretty cool overall. The Heart of Gold is a nice piece of work, and the Vogons, designed by the Jim Henson company, look amazing. God, I love puppets. More puppets please, Hollywood. Especially now that Farscape has come and gone.

So overall, the movie's a mixed bag. Funny, good acting, but the pacing, structure, and plotting are a mess. Still, I find it hard to hold a grudge against a movie that opens with a musical number performed by dolphins.

UPDATE: Thanks to MJ Simpson of Planet Magrathea for pointing out that yes, it should be "anyone who HASN'T read the books."