Kirst Words

They only sound cursed.

August 16th, 2014

It’s Saturday, Aug 16 and orders are due on Monday the 18th so let’s do this again. This time with a bit more on the thought process behind the individual books. Again, the general idea is to order things I don’t think my comic shops will order. There are occasions where I still order that item and this is one of those months. This is the list of things I found interesting enough to mark in previews:

AUG14 0029 DREAM LOGIC HC 12/10/14 $35
AUG14 0114 ESSENTIAL KURTZMAN HC VOL 01 JUNGLE BOOK 12/03/14 $25
AUG14 0334 SUPERMAN UNCHAINED DELUXE ED HC 12/03/14 $30
AUG14 0335 BATWOMAN TP VOL 05 WEBS 11/05/14 $20
AUG14 0391 FRANK MILLERS RONIN GALLERY ED HC 12/24/14 $195
AUG14 0447 JOE KUBERT ENEMY ACE ARTIST ED HC 11/26/14 ? ~$150
AUG14 0481 STAR TREK NEW VISIONS TP 10/15/14 $20
AUG14 0574 BLACKHAND COMICS HC 10/01/14 $20
AUG14 0593 NAILBITER TP VOL 01 10/01/14 $10
AUG14 0613 WALKING DEAD ALL OUT WAR AP EDITION HC 10/01/14 $35
AUG14 0894 ORIGINAL SIN HC 10/22/14 $50
AUG14 0896 NEW AVENGERS PREM HC VOL 04 PERFECT WORLD 11/05/14 $25
AUG14 0897 AVENGERS PREM HC VOL 06 INFINITE AVENGERS 11/05/14 $25
AUG14 0910 IRON FIST LIVING WEAPON TP VOL 01 RAGE 11/19/14 $18
AUG14 0911 ELEKTRA TP VOL 01 BLOODLINES 11/05/14 $17
AUG14 0913 SILVER SURFER TP 01 NEW DAWN 11/19/14 $18
AUG14 1138 ART OF MODESTY BLAISE SC 10/29/14 $40
AUG14 1289 IN SEARCH OF LOST DRAGONS HC 10/22/14 $35
AUG14 1376 RED SONJA TP VOL 02 ART BLOOD & FIRE 10/15/14 $20
AUG14 1468 COMPLETE EIGHTBALL HC BOX SET 10/29/14 $120
AUG14 1499 IN REAL LIFE GN 10/15/14 $18
AUG14 1503 DRAWING WORDS & WRITING PICTURES SC 09/17/14 $35
AUG14 1504 MASTERING COMICS SC 09/10/14 $35
AUG14 1552 LUMINAE HC VOL 01 10/29/14 $25
AUG14 1574 CIUDAD HC 12/17/14 $20
AUG14 1585 BAD MACHINERY GN VOL 03 CASE OF THE SIMPLE SOUL 12/10/14 $20
AUG14 1614 HELLO KITTY HELLO 40 HC 10/08/14 $30
AUG14 1685 GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU HC 10/29/14 $20
AUG14 1763 PRINCESS MONONOKE FIRST STORY HC 10/08/14 $35
AUG14 1915 ART JAPANESE MONSTERS GODZILLA GAMERA & SF FILM ART SC 10/01/14 $40

Out of all of these things the two things I really want are Silver Surfer and Princess Mononoke. Why? It’s drawn by Mike Allred whose style is reminiscent of 60′s pop art. Every time I see his work it’s wild, vibrant and a bit groovy but it also frightens me a bit. Mononoke is by Miyazaki — hopefully I won’t have to explain that. I don’t need to order the Surfer trade but it’s gonna make the list and I’ll probably even order it. Surfer is the the thing I want enough to order even though I don’t have to — to guarantee I get it.

Despite needing only two books, I am still interested in the rest. Let’s talk big ticket items first. No way I’m spending $120 on Eightball so that’s out but there are maybes on the Ronin and Enemy Ace Artist Editions. I’ve never read much of either but the Artist Editions are essentially first printing only one shots so I’m leaving them on. Jumping around a bit there are two how to draw books by Jessica Abel. Now I’ve seen the first (Drawing Words and Pictures) and never bought it but have never seen the follow up, Mastering Comics — the advanced course. I’m more interested in what would she thinks is needed for an advanced course anyways. That makes the cut and will be ordered. I bought Bad Machinery vol 1 and loved it but just checked and never got vol 2, so no on vol 3. Batwoman, the two Avengers collections as well as Iron Fist are out as I don’t need to order those. Even a crappy shop would carry those (and the shops I frequent aren’t) so no fear of missing out. I’ve been told Orignal Sin is bad so it’s out. Possible trade buy as I love Mike Deodado’s art. Blackhand, Nailbiter, Modesty Blaze, Sonja, Luminae and Lost Dragons are out cuz I don’t really know or care enough about them but most of those would be possible buys if I saw them. So what does the list look like now?

AUG14 0029 DREAM LOGIC HC 12/10/14 $35
AUG14 0114 ESSENTIAL KURTZMAN HC VOL 01 JUNGLE BOOK 12/03/14 $25
AUG14 0334 SUPERMAN UNCHAINED DELUXE ED HC 12/03/14 $30
AUG14 0391 FRANK MILLERS RONIN GALLERY ED HC 12/24/14 $195
AUG14 0447 JOE KUBERT ENEMY ACE ARTIST ED HC 11/26/14 ? ~$150
AUG14 0481 STAR TREK NEW VISIONS TP 10/15/14 $20
AUG14 0613 WALKING DEAD ALL OUT WAR AP EDITION HC 10/01/14 $35
AUG14 0911 ELEKTRA TP VOL 01 BLOODLINES 11/05/14 $17
AUG14 0913 SILVER SURFER TP 01 NEW DAWN 11/19/14 $18
AUG14 1499 IN REAL LIFE GN 10/15/14 $18
AUG14 1504 MASTERING COMICS SC 09/10/14 $35
AUG14 1574 CIUDAD HC 12/17/14 $20
AUG14 1614 HELLO KITTY HELLO 40 HC 10/08/14 $30
AUG14 1685 GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU HC 10/29/14 $20
AUG14 1763 PRINCESS MONONOKE FIRST STORY HC 10/08/14 $35
AUG14 1915 ART JAPANESE MONSTERS GODZILLA GAMERA & SF FILM ART SC 10/01/14 $40

There are still only three things I’m going to order for sure. Surfer, Mastering Comics and Mononoke.

Dream Logic is a David Mack thing and I’m a big fan of his. Jungle Book is an “underground classic” that I’ve never read but has enough of a pedigree that I’m interested. Superman Unchained is written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Jim Lee but I’m going to hold off for a cheaper trade edition. The series was plagued by delays near the end and may have been rushed to a quick finish. Especially since it’s that perfect-for-collection nine total issues. I don’t care enough about Ronin to start with a $200 version. No on Kubert’s Enemy Ace for the same reason. Passing on the Buscema Surfer Edition last month makes passing on Artist Editions easier as I really love Buscema’s art on Silver Surfer. Star Trek New Visions is fumetti (photo comics) by John Byrne. He’s doing more, so I may be able to wait for a better collected edition down the line but I’m still going to leave it on. I don’t like Walking Dead but I’m fascinated by pencil art so it stays. Elektra looks beautiful but I really don’t have to order it so it’s gone. In Real Life is by Cory Doctorow and published by :01 First Second which is a bigger blessing than you might have thought. Ciudad (which I always saw as cuidad (as in cuidado — danger)) looks interesting enough; written by Winter Soldier (movie) writers and the one picture shown is nice but I’d like a little more art to sample first. (Yes, I could look online but I haven’t. And as I’m not ordering it I’d still say it’s Oni’s problem.) Hello Kitty may or may not be cool — enough so that I’m dropping it. God is Disappointed is something I have no idea about but the ad looks so good I’m actually moving that to an order. Art of Japanese Monsters is a collection of movie posters. Nice but I’m going to cut it here.

Pondering things a bit more, I’m going to drop Dream Logic so I can buy it from David Mack at a con. (Artists at cons like it when you buy things and he does enough cons that I should see him once it comes out.) Everything else with the possible exception of Walking Dead is a go. Again, love pencil art but don’t really like Walking Dead. (I read the first 5 collections and it’s not for me.)

So the final list broken down looks like this:
Challengers
AUG14 0114 ESSENTIAL KURTZMAN HC VOL 01 JUNGLE BOOK 12/03/14 $25
AUG14 1499 IN REAL LIFE GN 10/15/14 $18
AUG14 1504 MASTERING COMICS SC 09/10/14 $35
AUG14 1685 GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU HC 10/29/14 $20
AUG14 1763 PRINCESS MONONOKE FIRST STORY HC 10/08/14 $35
Graham Crackers
AUG14 0481 STAR TREK NEW VISIONS TP 10/15/14 $20
AUG14 0613 WALKING DEAD ALL OUT WAR AP EDITION HC 10/01/14 $35
AUG14 0913 SILVER SURFER TP 01 NEW DAWN 11/19/14 $18

The breakdowns go slightly heavy towards Challengers as I’ll most likely end up buying the stuff I didn’t order (like Elektra) at Rick’s. If I choose to not order walking dead (I haven’t sent them in yet) I’ll probably move Mastering Comics to Rick’s order.

August 3rd, 2014

I started the weekend with a trip to Mitsuwa for their annual Summer Fest (Natsu Matsuri.) The summer fest is exhibitions and food stands. They started with Taiko drumming and by the time I left they were in the middle of karate. The final thing is the bon odori (dance of the dead – but not like the tango de la meurte) which is exhibition to start but ends with everyone allowed to dance. Or at least it has been in the past. I didn’t stay that long; two hours, if that. They had the typical food stands: yakitori/takoyaki, ramen, “corndog,” etc. But I noticed two new stands. There was a pulled pork pita but next to it was a grilled wagyu stand which had no business. Why? It was $10 a stick. $10 for five pieces of wagyu that were an inch by a half-inch. That’s pretty small. But it was worth every penny. I spent $20 on wagyu and almost spent $30 but that stuff’s pretty rich and I’m glad I didn’t.

Sunday I finally made my way to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Almost everyone I know went to see it Thursday.
XXX GUARDIANS-GALAXY-MOV-JY-0704.JPG A ENT

Guardians is an atypical Marvel movie from an atypical source. If you’re not a comic fan, you’ll still most likely know Captain America and the Hulk. But even as a comic fan I would not be surprised if you didn’t know the Guardians. The original Guardians in the comics were essentially The Avengers from a thousand years in the future. Semi-recently, a present day iteration was created.

Guardians centers on Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who, just after his mother dies, flees the hospital and is captured by aliens. Cut to 26 years later and Quill (aka Starlord) is a intergalactic rogue whose only tie to earth is a mix tape his mother made him of awesome songs. Quill steals an orb which is the macguffin for the the whole movie. Everyone wants this thing. Yondu (Michael Rooker) who kidnapped Quill as a child, Ronan (Lee Pace) who needs it to trade with Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who Ronan sends to retrieve the orb from Quill. Yondu puts a bounty on Quill and the pair Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) want to cash in on the bounty. Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot get captured and put in jail where they meet Drax (Dave Bautista) who wants vengeance on Ronan. That’s the set up.

The movie is fun summer viewing and knows it. It tries to inject some real emotion in with varying degrees of success but for the most part it smiles back at the audience and knows it’s fun. But it works. My biggest issue was my knowledge of the Guardians in the comics. Unlike X-Men:Days of Future Past where I was able to ignore all my comic knowledge and enjoy the film (it can be really annoying otherwise,) my less than encyclopedic knowledge of the Guardians worked against me as most of what I knew wasn’t what was shown. I found myself pondering things that had nothing to do with the film and more with current comic continuity. But none of that should apply to most people who see this.

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On a side note, I found myself more attracted to Karen Gillan as the borgified Nebula than I’ve ever been. Which includes her in kiss-o-gram, short, police skirts. Unfortunately she didn’t get much to do.

There were two stingers. The first which happened before the credits was very cute but did nothing to promote a future Marvel film. Though it did make me want one of those dancing flower things — modified of course. The second was also Guardians centric, unless Marvel’s planning on remaking one of their 80′s prospects. The cameo was so unexpected (but completely plausible considering The Collector (Benicio Del Toro)) that I gasped.

3D stuff: I haven’t seen 3D since Godzilla and as I mentioned then, I tried 3D with glasses (not contacts) sitting in the back of the theater. It wasn’t as good. I’ll sit much closer next time. Not sure if sitting in back reduced the 3D effect or it wasn’t that prominent but it didn’t come off as crazy 3D. And there were ships and lasers and explosions. Rocket kicking grass was the most 3D to me.

There were previews for: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Big Hero 6, Dumb and Dumber to, Annie, Into the Woods (which isn’t being promoted as a musical!), Expendibles 3 and The Hobbit 3. And maybe that football thing with Cavizel but that may have been part of the pre-trailer stuff.

SPOILERS

This is stinger one. So CUTE!

July 27th, 2014

scarlett_johansson_in_lucy-wide
Lucy is an existential piece about existence designed as an action film. Sound crazy? It is. It doesn’t always work but it’s such an intriguing concept that it’s worth taking a look. And it has Scarlett Johansson as the titular character. (See what I did there? A joke with Scarlett Johansson and tits? sigh.) The premise is simple. Lucy is captured by Korean drug kingpin Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi — Oldboy) and inadvertently ends up being one of four drug mules for the rare GH4. Her package is ruptured and it gets into her system causing Lucy to start using more than the 10% of her brain the rest of us use.

Lucy

As the percentages rise, Lucy discovers she’s becoming emotionally disconnected to the world and that her physical existence will soon end. She heads off to see Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman,) the world’s foremost expert on using more than 10% of your brain so she can pass on what she has learned. In the meantime she has recruited Parisian Officer Del Rio (Amr Waked) to round up the other mules and retrieve the drug which she needs not only to stay alive but achieve her full potential. But Mr. Jang really needs his drugs and is out to reclaim his property. We end up with a race. Will Mr. Jang get to Lucy before she can fully evolve?

The movie is visually gorgeous but not necessarily the best thought out film. Lucy could easily have prevented the end fight scene with Mr. Jang. When you’re one with the world (able to control, time, space, physical matter and minds) what does a shootout matter?

July 25th, 2014

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On Wednesday I caught an encore showing of Monty Python Live (Mostly). I discovered Python in the mid 80′s in high school when everything the troupe was doing was still considered cutting edge and they’ve stuck with me ever since. My biggest fear was the jokes performed by men in their 70′s would not hold up. None of that mattered as the show brought me back to my teenage self and they could do no wrong. This is a summary of the show mostly from Dominic Cavendish. He went to the first show where Stephen Fry was on Blackmail. I reproduce it here (hopefully with all the appropriate changes for my viewing) to preserve for myself.

Act One
Long-time Python collaborator John Du Prez conducts an orchestral overture – a medley that includes Sit on My Face, I Like Chinese, Finland, Spam, Every Sperm is Sacred and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Three large screens, embedded in a mock-up music-hall stage complete with red curtains, flicker into life. We’re soon watching a new animation of Graham Chapman’s head being booted across space, through which also hurtles a police-box, a real-life counterpart to which (“The Retardis”) “materialises” on stage and we’re off.
1) The Pythons arrive to mass hysteria (the screens flash the words “photo opportunity!”) in traditional Spanish costumes, Idle and Jones bearing guitars. They launch into the Llamas sketch. Information about the llama follows, conveyed in gibbering Spanish, with English subtitles (“Llamas are larger than frogs…”) The broadcast did not show much of the subtitles which made it hard to get the full impact of the humor even though I knew the gist of what was going on. The “Liberty Bell” theme-tune then kicks in, the famous Flying Circus opening credits roll; 15,000 people clap along, go wild etc.

2) A set trundles on, bearing The Four Yorkshiremen, its intro freshly tweaked: “Who’d have thought 40 years ago we’d all be sitting here doing Monty Python?” Idle, Palin, Cleese and Jones puff on cigars and show the old magic.

3) The Penis Song – Idle in silk dressing-gown as Noël Coward, while Gilliam in ghastly drag, accompanies him on the piano: “Isn’t it awfully nice to have a penis? Isn’t it frightfully good to have a dong?” The air starts to turn blue.

4) A segue into the Naval Medley, which extended the penis song to sings the praises of vaginas and bottoms with scrolling lyrics “… but don’t ever call it a ‘cunt’ or they will put you in the dock and you won’t get out again.” The first sight of the 20-strong chorus-line, giving it a lot of raunchy emphasis and rude gesticulation courtesy of choreographer Arlene Phillips, who worked with the Pythons on The Meaning of Life. Cleese appears, ordering the company, to “camp it up”, so the dancers shift into a tightly drilled version of the “camp square-bashing routine”.

5) After a video replay of “Batley Townswomens’ Guild presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor”, and a surprise sighting of Vladimir Putin’s face across the navel of Michelangelo’s David, we’re into “The Last Supper”; John Cleese plays the Pope and Eric Idle Michelangelo, contending with his Holiness’s complaints about the generous number of disciples (28) he has depicted, as well as the three Christs.

6) Every Sperm is Sacred, the notorious Catholic-baiting ditty from The Meaning of Life, rousingly chorused here not by children, as in the film, but by the high-kicking adult dance troupe – kitted out as nuns and priests. Two foam-spurting, phallic cannons are wheeled on by way of saucy garnish.

7) Mr and Mrs Blackitt (Palin and Jones) discuss the difference between Protestant and Catholic sexual intercourse. Some footage of the Silly Olympics.

8) Vocational guidance counselor sketch. Palin’s chartered accountant tells Cleese’ counselor he wants to become a lion-tamer. When it’s pointed out to him what a lion actually is, the skit shifts into…

9) The Lumberjack Song. Palin twinkles away in his red-and-black check shirt, surrounded by thigh-slapping Mounties.

10) After footage of the Philosophers’ Football Match, it’s time for Aussie-based audience-participation with the Bruces’ Song in praise of drinker-thinkers. This is where Eddie Izzard made his guest appearance.

11) Crunchy Frog. Terry Jones, hunched at a desk as the proprietor of Whizzo Chocolate, gets a visit from the cops (Cleese and a nicely vomiting Gilliam) on account of the unorthodox and wholly unappetising source of his confectionary.

12) The Man Who Speaks in Anagrams. Idle does so, delightfully.

13) I Like Chinese, the iffy stereotyping number reinvented on a big musical scale for the 21st century, led by Idle. “I like Chinese. They copy everything they sees… But they’re up on the moon soon, they’ll do as they please.”

Intermission
Even in the rerun the intermission was 30 minutes!

Act Two
1) A dead-pan, cod-balletic performance of “Spam Lake” morphs into a lithe, choreographed orgy to the bare-faced, rousing cheek of “Sit on My Face”.

2) The Death of Mary Queen of Scots. Cleese and Jones in drag as Pepperpots slump in a living-room listening to a radio enactment, childishly gruesome and near-wordless, of Mary’s death. Their radio-set explodes, then, after a short discussion some of which involved how boring that Michael Palin’s travel show was conversation turned to the penguin sitting on top of the TV set, which then exploded.

3) Gumby Flower-arranging. Gilliam, sporting a knotted handkerchief on his head and a moronic expression on his face, is on fine dunderheaded form, clumsily stuffing flowers upside down into a vase in a sketch first seen on TV back in 1970.

4) Poofy Judges. Gossiping Idle and Palin get their robes and wigs off to reveal the tights, suspenders and brassieres underneath. The pair took a dig at Cleese, one asking “did you handle the Cleese divorce?” and the other replying “which one? There were four!” to uproarious applause.

5) Albatross. The original stuffed albatross has been brought out of storage to enable Cleese, got up as an icecream-tray-carrying usherette, to rail at Jones’s non-plussed customer. “It’s a bloody sea-bird… it’s not any bloody flavour!”

6) Nudge Nudge. Greeted with a roar of recognition, Idle matches his glory days as he gets back into winking, insinuating, spivvy character, with Jones playing the perplexed pub-goer he button-holes.

7) Blackmail, the spoof TV show in which unwilling participants are forced to part with cash to prevent compromising secrets being spilled has been souped up, not least with the introduction of a surprise celebrity cameo (Mike Meyers).

8) Anne Elk. Cleese dons frightful wig, glasses and skirt to play a primly deranged, woman with a theory “which is mine” about brontosauruses, procrastinating with revolting, catarrh-riddled bouts of coughing. An exasperated Idle quizzes.

9) The Spanish Inquisition. Holds good here, with Palin as Cardinal Ximinez of Spain, accompanied by Biggles and Fang (Jones and Gilliam). Carol Cleveland, who has popped up throughout the evening in various guises, plays the mystified house-dweller who’s told to confess. The last weapon of torture is “the fridge”.

10) … which opens to reveal Eric Idle, all dapper, and crooning the eternally touching Galaxy Song. Mesmerising visuals give way to a video skit in which Prof Brian Cox pedantically dissects the lyrics, only to be flattened on the grass of King’s College Cambridge by the speeding wheel-chair of Stephen Hawking. The cameras then cut to professor Hawking in the crowd. One of his assistants waved his hand to everyone.

11) The Silly Walk Song. Bowler-hatted dancers carrying brief-cases indulge in some organized mayhem to a preachy new number about the evils of money.

12) Argument Sketch. Still holding good, despite the evident exhaustion of Cleese at this stage in the evening; his corpsing and chemistry with Palin is a delight. Gilliam swings by on high, suspended on wires, singing “I’ve Got Two Legs”, only to be shot down by Cleese – the former’s fake stomach disgorging entrails.

13) The Spam sketch – Jones squawks away magnificently as the greasy-spoon waitress whose menu is almost exclusively spam-based.

14) As if from nowhere, Cleese appears with the words “I wish to register a complaint” (cue audience whoops) and the caff is disassembled and reconfigured as a pet-shop for the Dead Parrot sketch. Cleese had a huge mis-cue here where he asked “now where were we?” and Palin said “you were about to say ‘Now that is one dead parrot!‘” which brought about great laughs. The skit did a sudden swerve into the Cheese Shop sketch; Palin amiably matches his counterpart in timing, emphasis and infectious delight.

15) A rather “so-what?” sacrilegious-sexy finale number, Christmas in Heaven, allows the ensemble to cavort around in fake-breasts, fake snow a-falling, but it’s really just a means of heralding the true climax, served up as the encore.

16) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, an arena-sized anthemic sing-along that warms your cockles and moistens your eyes as you bid the old timers adieu.
The final images on the O2 screen were:
Graham Chapman 1941-1989
and finally…
Monty Python 1969-2014

July 13th, 2014

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Good. Not award good. Someone was telling me there were reviews claiming it was good enough to win awards. Maybe special effects awards, which were very good, but not acting awards. Not that anyone is bad. Voice/motion capture actor Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar, the first of the intelligent apes. The other returning apes of note are the scar-faced Koba (Tony Kebbell) and Maurice, the orangutan (Karin Konoval.) If others returned, like the Gorilla, they don’t have big enough parts to be of note.

The story occurs 10 years after the outbreak and most of the human population is dead. The apes still live on the outskirts of San Francisco where they have primitive tools like spears and have built huts to live in. Humans have returned to SF and need to access the dam to get power for the city. Unfortunately the dam is very close to the apes’ home. A lot of humans don’t like apes and a good amount of apes don’t like humans. But in each camp there are those who want peace and friendship between the two species.

At the core of the film is a message about family. Caesar has his family and the extended family of intelligent apes. Malcolm (Jason Clarke,) a human survivor, has his son and girlfriend, Ellie (Keri Russel.) Ellie has double duty in coping with the loss of her daughter and trying to get along with Malcolm’s son, Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee.) Each wants to protect their families. Each understands the other and knows working together can benefit both groups.

The humans are coping with incredible loss: family, way of life, survival as a species. All of them are desperate. It’s easy to see how the discovery of a tribe of intelligent apes indirectly responsible for the outbreak could be seen as a threat. Koba, a heavily experimented upon Chimp, sees all humans as a threat. There’s a great line where Caesar says, “humans taught Koba hate and nothing else.” And they did. As much as Caesar and Malcolm try, each side has forces working against them internally and conflict arises. I don’t think it’s as good as Rise of the Planet of the Apes but it’s close. There are a few too many movie cliches and the humans are all a bit one-dimensional. Even Malcolm. Especially when compared to James Franco and John Lithgow’s work in the last film.

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On a technical note there were scenes where I thought are there any practical elements in this movie? Apparently there were lots.

July 10th, 2014

The most surprising thing about the RiffTrax of Sharknado was the majority of the audience had not previously seen the film itself and reacted to it (correctly) by laughing at what was occurring on screen. I saw it broadcast as a SyFy Saturday movie and was prepared for the stupidity that was the film itself. It took a while to realize what people were laughing at, thinking “no one told a joke there, what’s going on?”

Before the show they showed the winners of the Riff This! contest. They had to come up with a funny caption for the little picture in the shark’s mouth.
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First prize: How the hell do you get out of IKEA? All we wanted was some silverware!

They also had a wonderful short about the value of springs from the 50′s.

July 3rd, 2014

So Legend of Korra season 2 was released this week and I’ve been doing all the commentaries (every episode — OMG!) The show just started season 3 and it’s amazing. I also found the Whedon Much Ado About Nothing for $12 which was in my price range. Hopefully I’ll get around to that soon.

These are movies I’ve seen but didn’t do any write up. None of them are must sees.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
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OK. They tried to do lots. What Marvel (Hulk, Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Avengers) have done over multiple movies and several years, Sony has tried to do with one picture and it feels very cramped and rushed and the story suffers for it. Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen (Emma Stone) have good on-screen chemistry and their interaction saves the film but overall there was way too much. Even more than Toby Maguire Spider-Man 3 and that had way too much.

If they were clever Fox and Sony would team up and have a shared Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four (Blade?) movieverse. It might even be a loophole for some of the “you have to have a movie featuring this character every X years” rules that are part of the lease from Marvel.

Maleficent
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OK. Certainly not bad. An interesting take on the villain’s point of view but Angelina Jolie carries the film and makes what would be a weak film in a lesser actress’ hands something that might be worth seeing. Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite Disney films from a design sense and the Maleficent character is transposed beautifully to live action. Many scenes are taken directly from the original Disney movie and it’s almost eerie how well they’re captured.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
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So I didn’t hate this. (I know!) Alright, we all know I kinda like bad movies but this really wasn’t very good. Its saving grace was I had a mostly free ticket and free small drink and small popcorn which upgraded for 50 cents each so all-in-all the movie with eats cost $3. Seeing a bad movie for free can make it very tolerable. It’s probably why I liked Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. (I know!) BTW-the thing I was most thrilled about was the trailer for the Monty Python last show as a Fathom Event.

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Anyway, the movie has Mark Walhberg doing his best Shia LeBeuf as an adult impersonation. He finds Optimus who is being hunted by the government and ends up on the run with the Autobots. If you’re interested in seeing Chicago again, it’s in the movie for an half hour. It’s amazing how it was rebuilt to look exactly the same. And if you wanted to see dinobots, they’re only in the film for the last half hour or so. The inner kid in you might think they’re cool.

It was pointed out Optimus’ three new autobot companions were essentially the Warriors Three from the Thor movies. There was a fat Volstagg, a samurai Hogun (Hogun’s not asian in the comics), and a sorta dashing Fandral (voiced by John DiMaggio of Futurama Bender fame.) And they were.

June 22nd, 2014

I buy a lot of comics. Anywhere from three to five thousand dollars worth each year. That’s way more than I spend on movies or going out or any other form of entertainment. Probably more than the rest combined. Even if you include porn. (I really don’t buy that much porn.)

I order comics old school, probably because I used to do orders for a comics shop. I get a monthly catalog put out by Diamond Comics distribution, read through it and send in my order to my local comics shop (LCS.) Unlike most, I have two LCS’s: Challengers and Graham Crackers. Challengers is a single store run by friends in Chicago and Graham Crackers is a large chain and the branch I go to is in Wheaton and also run by a friend. I would probably give all my business to Challengers if there were a way to get my books from them weekly on Wednesdays without me having to drive to Chicago. This was way simpler when I lived in Des Plaines and worked in Niles. I went to the Challengers on my lunch break, which is what I do now with Graham Crackers.

It starts with buying Previews which is a 500+ page monthly catalog of comics and comic related merchandise. Once purchased I spend the next few weeks reading it and if I find something of interest, I dogear that page. There is a date when orders are due. Sometime before then, I go to the Diamond Comics website and download a copy of that month’s order form. I then check all the dogeared pages, list everything I want and then decide what I will finally order. You should note I only order collections of comics and rarely order individual issues. My “pull list” at Challengers consists of Sandman: Overture, at Graham Crackers it consists of nothing but I’m probably going to add previews. This is what my June 2014 want-list looked like. The first nine characters are the item code, then the description, the release date and finally the item’s cost.

JUN14 0044 ELTINGVILLE CLUB HC 10/01/14 $20
JUN14 0053 ART OF THE VENTURE BROS HC 10/22/14 $40
JUN14 0060 ELFQUEST ORIGINAL QUEST GALLERY ED HC 10/08/14 $125
JUN14 0080 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL TP VOL 30 VIGILANCE 10/29/14 $20
JUN14 0341 CEREBUS HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL EXPERIENCE 08/27/14 $40
JUN14 0404 TMNT SECRET HISTORY WORKPRINT ED HC 08/13/14 $50
JUN14 0722 UNCANNY AVENGERS PREM HC VOL 04 09/10/14 $25
JUN14 0723 ALL NEW X-MEN PREM HC VOL 05 09/10/14 $25
JUN14 0724 UNCANNY X-MEN PREM HC VOL 04 09/17/14 $25
JUN14 0725 MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 10/15/14 $16
JUN14 0728 SHE-HULK TP VOL 01 10/08/14 $16
JUN14 0733 DAREDEVIL TP VOL 01 10/15/14 $18
JUN14 0736 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN TP VOL 01 09/17/14 $18
JUN14 1047 FRANK THORNE RED SONJA ART ED HC VOL 02 08/20/14 $150
JUN14 1213 AGE OF LICENSE GN 08/27/14 $20
JUN14 1244 LOVE AND ROCKETS COMPANION 30 YEARS SC 07/09/14 $30
JUN14 1318 KILL MY MOTHER GN 08/27/14 $28
JUN14 1653 DISNEY PRINCESS ENCHANTED CHARACTER GUIDE 08/20/14 $17
JUN14 1661 FOUNDATIONS IN COMIC BOOK ART SCAD 08/13/14 $25
JUN14 1874 HAWKEYE MINIMALIST BLK T/S XL 08/27/14 $19
JUN14 2315 CASTLE IN THE SKY ROBOT SOLDIER FIG 10/29/14 $40

Now I review and narrow the list down. I have money but not enough money or space in my house to buy everything I want. Comic shops are doing the same thing for their store. We’re all taking some risk. If I don’t like what I’ve ordered, I can’t return it saying “this sucks, give me my money back.” If a comic store orders something and no one wants it, they’re stuck with it. They can’t go to diamond and say “this didn’t sell, give me my money back.” Essentially there’s a lot of ordering blind. Because of their popularity there are certain things from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image and even some other publishers that I can take for granted will be ordered. These are those items from my list.

JUN14 0264 BATMAN HC VOL 05 ZERO YEAR DARK CITY 10/15/14 $25
JUN14 0273 WONDER WOMAN HC VOL 05 FLESH 10/01/14 $25
JUN14 0722 UNCANNY AVENGERS PREM HC VOL 04 09/10/14 $25
JUN14 0723 ALL NEW X-MEN PREM HC VOL 05 09/10/14 $25
JUN14 0724 UNCANNY X-MEN PREM HC VOL 04 09/17/14 $25
JUN14 0725 MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 10/15/14 $16
JUN14 0728 SHE-HULK TP VOL 01 10/08/14 $16
JUN14 0733 DAREDEVIL TP VOL 01 10/15/14 $18
JUN14 0736 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN TP VOL 01 09/17/14 $18

If I lived in the middle of nowhere with a bad LCS (but still having an LCS) I would order most of them but I’m not going to order anything on that list and let my LCS take the risk. That way I can take a look at it and decide if it’s worth buying without having to commit to anything — though I will end up buying many of those books. What’s left are items I won’t get to see if I don’t order them. This isn’t entirely true but for purposes of explaining it’s close enough.

JUN14 0044 ELTINGVILLE CLUB HC 10/01/14 $20
JUN14 0053 ART OF THE VENTURE BROS HC 10/22/14 $40
JUN14 0060 ELFQUEST ORIGINAL QUEST GALLERY ED HC 10/08/14 $125
JUN14 0080 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL TP VOL 30 VIGILANCE 10/29/14 $20
JUN14 0341 CEREBUS HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL EXPERIENCE 08/27/14 $40
JUN14 0404 TMNT SECRET HISTORY WORKPRINT ED HC 08/13/14 $50
JUN14 1047 FRANK THORNE RED SONJA ART ED HC VOL 02 08/20/14 $150
JUN14 1213 AGE OF LICENSE GN 08/27/14 $20
JUN14 1244 LOVE AND ROCKETS COMPANION 30 YEARS SC 07/09/14 $30
JUN14 1318 KILL MY MOTHER GN 08/27/14 $28
JUN14 1653 DISNEY PRINCESS ENCHANTED CHARACTER GUIDE 08/20/14 $17
JUN14 1661 FOUNDATIONS IN COMIC BOOK ART SCAD 08/13/14 $25
JUN14 1874 HAWKEYE MINIMALIST BLK T/S XL 08/27/14 $19
JUN14 2315 CASTLE IN THE SKY ROBOT SOLDIER FIG 10/29/14 $40

I rarely buy toys or statues so most of those do not make the cut but I’ll consider anything Studio Ghibli branded like Laputa robots or Porco Rosso planes. A little more narrowing and this is what I’m going to order. How do I choose? It varies. Some of it is cost, a lot of it is whim.

JUN14 0044 ELTINGVILLE CLUB HC 10/01/14 $20
JUN14 0053 ART OF THE VENTURE BROS HC 10/22/14 $40
JUN14 0060 ELFQUEST ORIGINAL QUEST GALLERY ED HC 10/08/14 $125
JUN14 0341 CEREBUS HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL EXPERIENCE 08/27/14 $40
JUN14 0404 TMNT SECRET HISTORY WORKPRINT ED HC 08/13/14 $50
JUN14 1213 AGE OF LICENSE GN 08/27/14 $20
JUN14 1661 FOUNDATIONS IN COMIC BOOK ART SCAD 08/13/14 $25
JUN14 1874 HAWKEYE MINIMALIST BLK T/S XL 08/27/14 $19

Now I have to split what I’m buying between the two stores. I get a slightly better discount from Graham Crackers so I tend to lean their way for big ticket items but I try and balance it out. Graham Crackers gets all Hellboy and Thor orders but not as many non-mainstream items. Challengers gets all t-shirt orders and will tend to get the less mainstream orders mostly because they have freedom with their ordering. I’ve had non-mainstream items I’ve ordered through Graham Crackers get cut by upper management (not the store manager) for reasons I understand but will take far to long to explain. This is the final order for each store.

Challengers
JUN14 0044 ELTINGVILLE CLUB HC 10/01/14 $20
JUN14 0053 ART OF THE VENTURE BROS HC 10/22/14 $40
JUN14 0341 CEREBUS HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL EXPERIENCE 08/27/14 $40
JUN14 1213 AGE OF LICENSE GN 08/27/14 $20
JUN14 1874 HAWKEYE MINIMALIST BLK T/S XL 08/27/14 $19

Graham Crackers
JUN14 0060 ELFQUEST ORIGINAL QUEST GALLERY ED HC 10/08/14 $125
JUN14 0404 TMNT SECRET HISTORY WORKPRINT ED HC 08/13/14 $50
JUN14 1661 FOUNDATIONS IN COMIC BOOK ART SCAD 08/13/14 $25

I send the lists off to the respective stores and add those items to a total list of what I’ve ordered. When things come out I cross them off the list. For a few items I have to check occasionally because some things get cancelled. Items get cancelled for many reasons but the two most common are: the product does not have enough initial orders to warrant production or the item is delayed too long for the initial orders to be valid. I’m not sure there’s a resource online that I could reference but I just ask and get an answer.

June 22nd, 2014

So on Thursday I discovered my hot water heater was leaking. I mopped it up and set a fan to dry things out so I might see if it was really the hot water heater.

It was.

Friday morning I went to take a shower and discovered the water was not getting warmer. I then realized I probably blew out the pilot light with the fan. So I grabbed one of those fireplace lighters and a flashlight and went down to the basement. Naked, mind you — I was about to take a shower, and tried to see if I could light the pilot light and not burn off my junk. The basement did not smell of gas and I found I had a modern pilot light where I had to turn a dial, hold down a primer button and press an ignition button until I heard it click. I was then to hold the primer button and check to see if the pilot light lit and release it if it did.

It did not.

After several tries it still did not.

No hot water would flow from this heater ever again. I decided to “man up” and try and take a cold shower. The cold water against my hands was not so bad but one second and a very girly scream into the process I decided against it.

I looked online and called what ended up being the first listing. I checked several other listings but they seemed the most organized and professional based on their web presence. That, as I have always learned in the past, is the best way to choose a service. I called and had an appointment set for noon. I had previously considered migrating to a tankless water heater and mentioned that to the company who said they would give me an estimate upon reviewing the situation. I had done some research earlier and set a price max of $2500 (and really it was $2K but I would begrudgingly reach the higher number) to have it installed.

So I don’t like my basement. It’s actually a very nice basement but I probably won’t be fond of it until it is finished. It’s about halfway there due to the work of the people who previously lived there but were foreclosed on. So the basement is dusty and littered with the carcases of spiders and other insect-like creatures. I had cleaned much of the house in prep for visitors so I did not have to do that and dragged the shop-vac down and cleaned up the place, taking care of most of the water. It now looks pretty good.

When the technician arrived, he took one look at the heater and said, “Yep, when they start to leak like that all you can do is replace them.” So I asked how much for a tankless and he calmly told me $3500 to $4000.

$3500?

$3500?!?!?!

Really?

I couldn’t even come close to negotiating that to a price that was within my “you’re an asshole, but I’ll do it,” range. I asked him how much the regular heater (I had a 40 gallon heater) would be and that was $850 installed. Sold! The crazy, high price came from the fact that tankless heaters vent differently and they would have to run new ducts to the outside through my floor. The heaters are also wall mounted and so the pipes currently running to my water heater would have to be moved. It made sense.

He was quick and efficient. The funniest bit was he was impressed by my cheap, magnetic, combo LED flashlight/worklight which you can buy for $3 (maybe as high as $10) at any hardware store. Mostly it was because he almost exclusively worked in poorly lit areas with a lot of metal. They’re pretty bright and two or three of those would really illuminate an area well. Frankly, he was thrilled with one. I almost gave it to him but decided against it. ($3500 indeed.) I got a quote on replacing the sump pump which is 10 years old and he took the old heater and an half hour later I had hot water and was showering again.

May 24th, 2014

X_Men_Days_of_Future_Past_41767

This one’s short and sweet.

I really liked it but it’s a little jumbled. The complexities of time travel have become easier to understand (thank you, Doctor Who) but this has lotsa characters and if you haven’t seen previous films you may be a bit lost. I recommend X-Men, X2, X3 and First Class but at minimum X-Men and First Class. If you’ve seen them and want to brush up I’d only rewatch First Class. Days of Future Past is a continuation of First Class and that movie established the Xavier, Mystique, Magneto triangle that is the core of this film. It really is. Despite Wolverine being hyped in the advertising those three make the film go. But it’s mostly there and everyone who matters has got mad acting chops and it shows.

x-men-days-quick.1

The scene everyone’s talking about (the Peter/Quicksilver scene in the Pentagon kitchen) is as cool as everyone says and that scene alone is worth the price of admission. I kinda want to see Days again in 3D because of that. You will definitely want to hear Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle again after seeing it.

x-men-days-quick.2

There is a stinger at the very end of the credits setting up the next movie that will make no sense unless you have a great, great amount of X-Men knowledge. Even I wasn’t sure. I thought “Is that…” and had to check the internets to confirm.

SPOILER: It’s Apocalypse. If that makes sense to you, you may want to stay. If I’d known that going in, I’d have understood it was “En Sabah Nur” being chanted and possibly noticed horsemen.