Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Solomon Kane review

"And he hangs at dawn! Ho! Ho!"
       The speaker smote his thigh resoundingly and laughed in a high-pitched grating voice.  He glanced boastfully at his hearers, and gulped the wine which stood at his elbow.  The fire leaped and flickered in the tap-room  fireplace and no one answer him.         --R. E. Howard, Solomon Kane, The Right Hand of Doom

I rented the movie, Solomon Kane, over the past weekend.  He's one of the many  fictional characters that the fantasist, Robert E. Howard created.  Howard is probably best remembered as the creator of Conan, but in addition to the muscular barbarian, he also wrote about other characters like King Kull, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, sailor Steve Costigan, El Borak, Dark Agnes, among other weird tales. Solomon Kane embodies the adventuring  mold of other literary characters like Robin Hood, Captain Nemo, Tarzan, and others.  Within the short stories Howard employs several story devices--action, drama, rich detail, revenge, fantasy elements like necromancy, witches, monsters, and high adventure.  I'm not as familiar with the Solomon Kane stories as the Conan tales, but I have read a few of them.

                                                      art work by Gene Day

Solomon Kane is best described as a blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan...A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things...Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect--he was true to his ideals of justice and rights.

Solomon Kane has gotten somewhat mixed reviews, but overall positive.  I think some of the diehard fans of the films will even be mixed over it.  I think a lot of that comes from armchair directing, thinking that if they sat in the director's chair, they would have done it differently.  Heck, I catch myself thinking that at times wondering why a certain director went one route, and why didn't he do this or that.  I guess that's normal.  But like Roger Ebert once said, you have to review a film on what's presented, and not what could have been.  Also like Stephen King has said about his novels that have been adapted to screen,  movies are different from the novel, but the novels are always there if  you want to read them.  So like the earlier Conan movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger or the more recent Disney film, John Carter,  there are going to be differences--things not true to the original tales.  Some liberties have to be taken I think, and overall that didn't bother me, for example, the opening sequence or trying to formulate an origin backstory for Kane.  In the original tales, Solomon Kane, and other Howard creations arrive on the scene full blown.  He describes the characters and the setting of their world, but there's not much of an origin story per se. Perhaps modern audiences enjoy that sort of things, or Hollywood feels that an origin story is necessary, whereas in times past, when these sort of stories were written, it just wasn't the norm.  It doesn't bother me either way.  I don't think their past has to be completely spelled out, a lot has been said about that concerning comic book characters as well.  I think a bit of mysterious past is fine.  But that's my armchair assessment...

So I was a bit taken aback by the opening sequences and origin setup, almost the same way I was with the John Carter setup, thinking, I don't remember reading about this or I don't remember it happening this way.  But I just went with it, plus my comprehension and remembering plot details in books fades pretty quickly too, so I'm pretty easy just to more or less go with it and let the story unfold.  I will say that the acting, set designs, costumes, and such are great.  The director, Michael J. Bassett,  captures the mood and sombre feel for the characters and period, and you can tell he wants to create something epic and mature.  I also applaud him highly for trying to tell a straightforward tale, not a silly, goofy tale like the recent Lone Ranger (which I haven't seen, but I don't have much of a desire to either), or worse yet something like Van Helsing or Kevin Sorbo's Hercules.  James Purefoy plays his role as Solomon Kane well and was a good choice.  He's good at portraying a swashbuckler, who reaches a spiritual epiphany due to the opening scenes, and tries to find resolution and redemption.

If I had any negative criticism, it would only be towards the end where they pull in the CG creature.  It didn't seem necessary to me, and seemed like it was a bit aimed towards a Lord of the Rings moment.  But it didn't ruin the picture for me either. Overall I enjoy the film.  From what I've read, Solomon Kane was planned as the first part of a trilogy, and if the other two ever come out, I'd be curious in watching them if they can maintain at least this quality. 



Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Future Is Here...It's 1980!

People and fans always talk about extrapolation and predictions in science fiction.  You don't have to go far  to find a Trekkie (I'm one myself)  and they'll tell you about how Star Trek predicted the flat screen TV or flip cell phones or computers and so forth.  I'm still waiting on the food replicator and the transporter, myself.  However, I believe I read somewhere that  science fiction originally started out as flights of fancy, an escapism, and nothing more, and that's fine by me.  Hugo Gernsback claimed his magazine, Amazing Stories (and others) was to paint an accurate picture of the future, demanding a scientific plausibility.   Although few of the stories he published from what I've read, lived up to that claim.   On one SF forum that I sometimes read one poster proclaimed that Star Wars was not science fiction, in his opinion, SF has to have some sort of science within the story--no science, no science fiction.  To me that's more hard science fiction, and splitting hairs, but I digress...

That's not to say that SF doesn't get it right on occasion.  As already stated, Star Trek got a few things right, and H. G. Wells predicted the use of the tank in The Land Ironclads in 1903, and the use of atom bombs. SF writers like Cleve Cartmill, Robert Heinlein, and Lester Del Rey wrote about atomic weapons and such before Hiroshima.  Heinlein also predicted the water bed and remote control.  Isaac Asimov wrote about robots and gave us the three laws of robotics.  Arthur C. Clarke wrote about communication satellites, and Jules Verne wrote about submarines, rockets, and moon shots.  Even so, there are plenty of wrong predictions, and a lot of SF fans still joke about waiting on the flying car.  That may still be a long way off, but we are just now getting the electric car up and running, progress is measured in baby steps.  We are still in our infancy as far as space travel is concerned, so who knows, some of us still might be able to take a vacation aboard a space habitat.

I saw a show on PBS not long ago, called McCuistion, a weekly show, which airs Sundays here.  It had, Dan Burrus, a statistician on it, who had written Techotrends, and had just finished a new book, Flash Foresight.  On the program he told how he went about predicting future trends. Many of the ones he had predicted not long ago have come true.

At any rate, that is one of the reason I enjoy SF--to be able to dream about the future, to peer and fantasize into the what if?  What will occur in the future as far as medicine, leisure, cloning, artificial intelligence, virtual realities, space travel, nanotechnology, and so forth. 

Not long ago while surfing the web I ran into this 1930's film about what New York City would be in the future of 1980.  It's pretty fun to predict. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jules Verne

Before I get into this posting, which actually is more on the topic of Journey to the Center of the Earth, I have a little miscellaneous to wrap up on Stephen King and a freebie from Tor.com, if you are interested.  Over at the Tor.com site they are celebrating their fifth birthday, and are offering a mammoth download of their past five years of fiction in an ebooks file.  I haven't done this myself yet, but toying with the idea.  The offer only last until Thursday August 1st, so if you think you might want to take advantage of it, you better check it out soon.  I don't have an e-reader yet, so I'd have to download it to a jump drive or something like that.  But if I had an e-reader, I'd be all over it.  You have to register to download the file, but it's free to do so.

As far as the Stephen King update.  I saw where he has started a free webcomic story called Little Green God of Agony taken from the same short story he wrote.   He'll update it over several weeks, but I thought I'd provide a link to the site, if there are those interested.

The original 1959 movie, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, was made by 20th Century Fox and a favorite SF movie of mine. The film is taken from the novel by Frenchman, Jules Verne (1828-1905) who is generally thought of as one of the founding fathers of SF literature, the other being, H. G. Wells.  By today's standards it might be a bit corny here and there, and it doesn't contain the all the CG effects that modern moviegoers seem to enjoy.  But that said, there's a lot to be said about some of the original, older SF films.  In fact, I don't need the CG effects if the story is there and it's directed well.  In my opinion,  there are few remade films that are worth the effort, yet Hollywood continues to do so.  I did enjoy John Carpenter's remake of The Thing, (and even the sequel to it), also the 80's remake of The Blob, and even Cronenberg's The Fly to some degree.  But most of them fall flat for me, and in some cases are outright sacrilegious like the remake to Psycho, or even, Tim Burton's version to Planet of the Apes.  I could tolerate his version of Planet of the Apes, but it's not as good as the original,  updated special effects or not.  So I get a bit antsy when I hear about a remake to motion pictures these days.  Even without the updated special effects, I'd think a modern kid would enjoy this film, if they happened to catch it on TCM or some other cable channel.

The original film draws from a lively screenplay, with good acting from both James Mason and Arlene Dahl.  Pat Boone, a pop singer at the time, stars in it as well.  There is a great sense of wonder once the story gears up and they enter the underground sequences (filmed on location at Carlsbad Caverns, if I remember correctly).  There are underground jeweled caverns, amazing vistas, and dinosaurs within the depths.  There are plot changes from the original book by Verne, but I had not read the story beforehand, so I didn't know the difference.  One of them includes a rival expedition led by a villainous Icelander played by Thayer David.  At any rate, I thought they captured the essence of the 1880's, and the true spirit of Verne.  I have not seen any of the newer updates of the film, but might give them a try if I can find the time.

If  you enjoyed Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, and want to continue the journey in musical form, check out Rick Wakeman's 1974 live concert CD.  Wakeman is a keyboard player and has played in the British band, The Strawbs, and also has been keyboardist for Yes.  In this effort he is joined along with the London Symphony orchestra, and David Hemmings provides the narrative parts, which tell the story.  I didn't care too much for this album when I first bought it, but over the years it has grown on me, and enjoy it very much.

In 1999, Wakeman made a sequel, Return To The Centre Of The Earth.  This time it is narrated by Star Trek: Next Generation's, Patrick Stewart, and he does a great job at his storytelling, but I don't care for the music as much as the original, as I lean a bit more towards classical music, and the music presented this time around is more new age, with updated synthesizers and so forth.  


Friday, July 26, 2013

Sonja & the Wizard

A short posting today.  I have several things I need to do.  But I ran across this 1978 video from the San Diego Comic Con.  It is a short fantasy play or show taken on Super 8 film of Windy Pini and Frank Thorne.  Wendy Pini, along with her husband, Richard, created the comic, Elfquest, as well as wrote stories for other comics like, The Singing Tower, and Frank Thorne, has had many jobs within the comic field as well, as writer of Red Sonja and other comics.

The video is low tech, due to the time period when it was shot, but it's fun to see, and pretty well done considering the time and circumstance.  See it here. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Just a quick posting tonight.  My day was busy doing yard work and such, so I didn't have much time for the computer, but it's good to get a few chores done.  Yesterday I went and saw the movie, Pacific Rim.  It's a huge fun summer movie, and I'm surprised it hasn't done better at the box office here in the states, but I did see where internationally it is doing better.  Actually I've not seen many of the summer blockbusters, so I've had to add them to my Netflix list to watch later.  I am looking forward to seeing the Star Trek: Into Darkness film and the newest version of Superman. 

At any rate, I did run back by the local library today as I was downtown anyway.  I went ahead and picked up that Frankenstein coffee table book.  It's not totally on Hammer films, though they are mentioned.  It is about the Frankenstein monster.  The full title is: The Essential Frankenstein: The Monster, the Myths, and the Movies by Robert Jameson.   And here's the clincher, while I was there, I saw this book by Stephen King.  It's the one that's about the JFK era, titled 11/22/63.  I picked it up and thumbed through it, and was going to buy it along with the Frankenstein book, but put it back down just to looked around a bit more, and forgot about it.  Aaargh. 

At any rate, on Monday nights I've been following King's Under the Dome series.  It's not perfect, but it does have a few good things going for it.  I thought the first episode was well done, and even the second one, but they've become a little less interesting.  I have not read the book, but I'll continue to follow the TV show for the immediate future.  I read somewhere that  they are picking it up for a second season.  Also from what I had heard, King was a pretty big fan of the TV series, Lost.  So if interest in the Under The Dome series continues, they'll continue to make more.

While on Stephen King, I ran across an interview he did recently for his new book, Joyland. (I love the pulpy look to the cover.)   It sounds interesting as well.  If interested, you can listen to the interview  here.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ignorance Is Strength

I'm sort of tinkering with the layout on my blog.  I'm not a huge computer guru or HTML person, so my skills and interest in these things is pretty limited.  I just want an easy to use layout, and something that looks fairly aesthetic, and I'd be pretty happy.

 The other day I watched the film Nineteen Eighty-Four, starring John Hurt in the title role of Winston Smith, Richard Burton (his last film, I believe) as O'Brien, and Suzanna Hamilton as Julia.  It's based on the George Orwell book of the same title.  The first film adaptation was  in 1955 in the wake of a successful BBC TV production in 1954 by Nigel Kneale, it starred Edmond O'Brien and Michael Redgrave. I have not seen the first movie from 1955, but  I really enjoyed the remake, ironically made in 1984.  I don't know why it has taken me this long to see this movie other than I may have seen the trailers to the film and knew it to be a bleak, dystopian film, so it's rather depressing, but I'm not opposed to that type science fiction.  In fact it's one of my favorite offshoots of the SF genre.  I also have enjoyed the Planet of the Apes films, Mad Max, and more recently The Road and Children of Men.  The director, for the remake was Michael Radford, and he got the story and look to it right--the right atmosphere, the feel of that society, also the right paranoia that might exist in such a totalitarian government.

There are no high tech props, CGI, or laser effects in this film.  There's just enough special effects to convey the atmosphere, and really 1984 comes down to a human drama.  How would a person, like Winston Smith,  act and react having lived in a society before everything went down the drain?  He grew up in a time before all the world turned into madness and constant wars, and his mind recalls bits and pieces of that earlier life, yet Big Brother, and the government do everything to wipe away the past, and present their own brainwashed history. 

Wilson Smith is a minor bureaucrat within the totalitarian state known as Airstrip One (Britain).  He rebels against the Thought Police, and in his time away from work, at home, he starts a diary.  Why, he's not totally sure, perhaps just to keep his sanity, I suspect.  The world is in a three-sided war between Airstrip One (or Oceanian), Eurasia, and Eastasia.  Food and supplies is in short supply, you are constantly streamed propaganda thru telescreens, which the normal population cannot shut off or turn off completely, language is being degraded into a jargon known as "Newspeak" in which it is impossible to criticize the regime.  Sexual impulses are immoral and condemned as such energy is better channelled into hatred and aggression towards the enemy (if indeed they exist--could their own government be bombing their own citizens?).  Public acts of execution are displayed over the telescreens and in pubic forums, where you can take your children for viewing.  It's a grim world.

Orwell does a good job at getting a grip on how this world is set up and maintained.  A lot of the words have opposite meaning such as: War is peace, Freedom is slavery, and Ignorance is strength.  There are four Ministries: The Ministry of Truth, which Winston works for (rearrange facts, news articles and history), The Ministry of Peace (concerns itself with war), Ministry of Plenty (for supplies and they are always in short supply), and the worst one, Ministry of Love (concerned with law and order ie. police state).  He describes the Ministry of Love as the really frightening one, a place without windows.  I think the reason Orwell creates his story this way is to create this paranoia atmosphere wherein his characters are oppressed and don't know what to think.  The only escape is within their own thoughts, which are constantly being assaulted by Big Brother or death.

In the bleak environment Winston meets Julia.  At first he hates her, along with most people he comes into contact with, but over time they form a bonding relationship.  I was impressed by the film and started reading the book.  The style of the book is eloquently written.  It is a bleak world for sure, but there are passages of environmental beauty as well.  In one dream sequence Orwell writes, "In was an old rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot track wandering across it and a molehill here and there.  In the ragged hedge on the opposite side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were swaying very faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in the dense masses like women's hair. Somewhere near at hand, though out of sight, there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in the pools under the willow tree."

It seems like the John Hurt version of the film follows pretty close to the vision of the book.  So far 1984 hasn't come out on Blu-Ray DVD, but I suspect it will at some point in time.

If interested in the remade version, you can find it online here, but I'm sure you can find a version elsewhere if you search around on Google.  There is also the BBC television production over on Youtube if interested. 

Who controls the past, controls the future.  Who controls the present controls the past.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What part of I'm dying don't you get?

I ran across this recent article on the irascible Harlan Ellison on the web, and I thought I'd share it.  Evidently he's not feeling that great lately, which is a shame.  This past weekend, I didn't do a whole heck of a lot.  At least I did get a nap in and exercise some.   Saturday I watched the SF animation, Light Years, which is directed from Rene Laloux, the creator of Fantastic Planet and screenplay by Isaac Asimov (the American Version), and Jean-Pierre Andrevon (for the foreign one).  It has a pretty simple plot, but I enjoy the animation.  I think Fantastic Planet is still my favorite one by Laloux.  They have Light Years over on Youtube though in eight parts if you want to watch it

Time Masters (Les Maitres du Temps) is a dazzling animated space epic from the director, Rene Laloux,  of the cult classic Fantastic Planet and Light Years, and the celebrated graphic artist Moebius, best known for his work on Heavy Metal magazine. Jaffar, a hero for hire, finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime as he races across the galaxy to save a young boy from a menacing evil. Can he stop the heartless Masters of Time from turning back the clock and stealing his home planet?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Drowned Cities

I found this book by Paolo Bacigalupi (trying saying that name fast three time in a row) at the small alcove in the library here.  Not knowing anything about it or the author,  I read a little bit of the inside cover to see what it was about, and found out it was a dystopian-type SF thriller,  which sounded good enough to me, so I picked it up and brought it home.  I was at the library the other day and saw a small thin coffee table book on Hammer films, and I wish I had bought while I was there for two bucks, but didn't, so I may have to go back there today.  But I digress...

The above is the alternate cover.  What I found out though was the The Drowned Cities is the second book in a series he's written, which inhabit the same dystopian world, the first book is Ship Breaker,  which I don't have yet, but it's on my book list to watch out for.  They are both what is know as YA or young adult reader books, sort of similar to the Harry Potter series or closer to The Hunger Games (which I haven't read or seen the movie to yet).   Like I said it is a dystopian future, a world of greed in which the oceans have risen due to global warming, the jungles have moved north, and the United States is in a state of permanent, and meaningless civil war, largely fought by child soldiers. The Chinese peacekeeping forces who came to stabilize America have given up and gone home, and our only foreign trade is scavenging -- scraps of the past (our present, which is referred to as the Accelerated Age).

It is not a pleasant thought that this is an all-too-likely vision of our future.

Mahlia and her friend Mouse have escaped from the Drowned City that we can recognize as Washington, D.C., and joined a small farming community where they are, at best, tolerated. They are "war maggots," and, worse, Mahlia is half-Chinese, which marks her as a "castoff" left behind when the peacekeepers pulled out.

Into the mix, add the warbeast Tool, as depicted in the artwork on the alternative cover as a half human, half dog-like creature (the only character continuous with Ship Breaker), who has escaped from one of the militias. Mahlia helps him survive terrible wounds, but the "warboys" pursuing him capture and induct Mouse. Now Mahlia must decide between returning to the Drowned City on a fool's errand to retrieve her friend -- or leave looking for freedom.

Loyalty, kept or betrayed, plays a huge part in Bacigalupi's book, and it is on these questions of loyalty that the plot turns.

The story is bloody and may not be suitable for all young adults -- very strong meat indeed -- but is well worth the time of anyone, young adult or not, who enjoy these type stories.  Although I haven't read The Hunger Games, I thought the plot to it seemed a bit too familiar to me, which is why I wasn't so excited to read or see the movie yet.  I've got it in my Netflix queue, quite near the top, so I'll see it shortly, but The Drowned Cities, and Ship Breaker is more my idea of a book I'd rather spend some time with.  It's not for everyone, and I'll have to admit I question the rating of YA, thinking it's more just an adult read.  But really if you are looking for a high octane, harrowing SF story, you might want to check it out.  

This past week I also saw the movie, 1984, with John Hurt.  I must say it was an amazing film, and do not know why it has taken me this long to get around to watching it.  I've now started the book by George Orwell and it has started out pretty amazing as well.  Perhaps I'll review the movie next time, for now I have chores to do.  Rock on. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sometimes life is joyous.  You go through your general routine and it seems like nothing happens much or there's not much that gives you that umph, you know that mental stimulus.  Everyone has their own varied take on this, for some it might be sports or the start up of the football season, for others cooking, but for me that would be something in the arts area: music, art of some sort.  Today started out pretty normal.  I did a few chores and went down to get a car title changed over into my name, just regular running around town stuff.  I stopped by a second hand shop, but it was too hot to stay there for too long as it was not air conditioned, and their prices were too high anyway.  I got home and ate, and that lead me to a afternoon nap for a few minutes.  But later on once up from the nap, I just sort of dabbled around.  Here's a poem I ran across that sort of lifted my spirit a little:

“To live in an old shack by the sea
(And breathe the sweet salt air)
To live with the dawn and the dusk
The new moon and the full moon
The tides the wind and the rain…
To surf and comb the beach
And gather sea shells and drift-wood
And know the thrill of loneliness
And lose all sense of time
And be free

To hike over the island to the village
And visit the marketplace
And enjoy the music and the food and the people
And do a little trading
And see the great ships come and go
And, man, have me a ball

And in the evening
(When the sky is on fire)
Heaven and earth become my great open cathedral
Where all men are brothers
Where all things are bound by law
And crowned with love
Poor, alone and happy
I walk by the surf and make a fire on the beach
And as darkness covers the face of the deep
Lie down in the wild grass
And dream the dream that the dreamers dream

I am the wind, the sea, the evening star
I am everyone, anyone, no one.” 

—Eden Ahben

I was not familiar with this poet just ran across him recently.  But I enjoyed the vibe of freedom that was inherent in the poem.  And then I ran across this little radio show on Bandcamp, where they showcase a bunch of different artist, and enjoyed it too, sort of lifted my spirits out away from what ever drab place they were existing in, and it took me to this tropical, joyful landscape that can only be arrived at in music.  

As long as I'm slinging out links, here's one I found called Spooktacular...History of Horror Host.  I've sort of been in a horror mood lately and trying to find some old magazines, books, and such on the subject matter, but I'm cheap, so don't want to pay a lot of dough for them. 



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Got back from a walk, need to get cleaned up and wash some dishes.  Goofing around on the web and ran across the documentary film on H. R. Giger, the surrealist painter that was responsible for so much of the spooky imagery in the film Alien.

I'm fixing to go outside and enjoy a morning walk.  I'll take along my media player with me to listen to a few podcast so that it doesn't get too boring.  I thought I'd post this link, to a five page article that I found by artist Todd Klein on his blog about the history and offices of DC comics from the 1930's  to the more present era.  I haven't read through the whole thing yet, but I found it to be pretty interesting, and wanted to share the link and return to it later myself. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I got up today and read a couple of comics.  I think I'll maybe post something about that  tomorrow.  I'll shift gears, as I'd like to try to make the new film, Pacific Rim, today, and I feel like I'm already running behind.
At any rate, after I read some comics I got on the web and was looking around at different things as I'm want to do.

One of my  interest is horror and Sci-Fi movies.  To go along with that, when I was growing up, I used to build models as well, and put together cars and airplanes first, and then when the Universal Monster Aurora Model kits came along and I built those, and some of those Big Daddy Roth Weird-O kits too.  Back some time ago, I found there was even fandom surrounding the kit building hobby.

When I was at a newsstand, I found this small fandom magazine, with the unlikely title of  Kit Builders & Glue Sniffers.  The name of it was whimsical and brought a smile to my face as I could identify where they were coming from.  Inside the magazine, it was filled with different techniques on how to make your models better,  how to create better paint jobs, plus it had pictures from different models that readers had put together and sent in, and so forth.  It was a cool mag while it lasted.    

Long story short, I was looking around the web to see if such magazines still exist and so forth.  I ran into this video on Youtube, which I  thought I'd share about modelling.  If you enjoy that sort of thing, check it out. It's divided up into several parts, so you might bear that in mind if you want to watch the full video.  Also what I've got posted here is actually, ModelMania Vol 1 01 part B.  For some reason using the software to blogger I can't find part 1 or it isn't working for me, but you can find it here.  


Saturday, July 13, 2013

I got up today and read Astro City #4 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, covers by Alex Ross.  It is an interesting take on super heroes, and I was intrigued by this tale of a working woman and the area of Astro City that she comes from, which is a dark area of town known as Shadow Hill.  Who is she and her family, and what is this shadowy area?  I don't know if her family has some dark secrets or if they just happen to live in this suburb, but you get the notion that it's a spooky area with monsters roaming around in it.  I hope Busiek plans to reveal more about this area. 

I've been having to wait around the house somewhat, as my brother's house has a real estate contract on it, but...and that's always the kicker, the inspector found some rather costly repairs that we'll have to upgrade on it due to the structural shifting, if indeed we decide to go through with it, and sell to the current buyers.  This venture of selling his house has proved to be frustrating and somewhat an ordeal.  I'm not trying to be greedy about his house, I'd just like a fair market value, but the inspectors have been real nitpickers on this thing.  The takeaway is once it goes under contract, it has to get inspected.  If that contract fall through, and a new contract is agreed upon, you have to get a whole new inspection, and that inspector will more than likely find other things the previous inspector did not, and round and round.  Seems a racket to me, plus the fact that when my brother bought the house back in the mid-nineties, the inspector back then just gave it the quickie inspection and found absolutely nothing much to speak of.  Plus my brother has upgraded that house a great deal since he bought it, so I know, basically it's a solid house.

I watched part of an action film last night called The Expendables, with Sly Stallone and a bunch of action type actors.  I thought it was below par for the course--lots of splosions, lots of bullets flying, and unbelievable action. One of the climatic scenes (actually laughable)  has one of the good guys throwing an artillery shell up in the air and Stallone shoots at it with his machine gun.  One more big SPLOSION for good luck, course no one gets blasted off their feet or hit with shrapnel.  Unless an action film can rise to the occasion and really somehow say something different from what has come before it, I have a low tolerance for such fare.

I then watched a western, Hour of the Gun, with James Garner as Wyatt Earp and Jason Robards as Doc Holliday. It was pretty good, and I enjoy a good western, however, it was a sequel to the movie, Gunfight At the O.K. Corral, and that was a better movie.  This one takes place after that incident, and has Wyatt Earp going after the Clanton gang.   There's some court room drama at the beginning of the film that sort of took me out of the story a bit, but there were moments in the film that I enjoyed as well.  It made me think of how wild and wooly the west probably was back then.  Someone could probably shoot you from a darkened alley in the back if they had a grudge against you, and get away with it pretty easy.  I think the movie, Silverado or the movie title Wyatt Earp, might be better westerns however. 

I've been wanting to go see the new movie Pacific Rim movie, but with this whole real estate deal pending and such I hate to get out of pocket, but I may try and get away to see it later.  We'll see. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Movie rundown

I thought I'd update some of the better films I've seen lately.  This isn't all of them, the lessor ones I've already forgotten about.  Most of these films, I thought were entertaining, and well made.  I had my doubts about the newest James Bond movie, Skyfall, but darn, it was pretty good.  The first part of the film still had me doubting whether or not I would be able to get into it or not because it starts out in typical James Bond fashion with a cliched automobile chase scene.  Lately my taste for 007 and his antics have left me a bit uncaring.  My favorite era for the character is the Sean Connery incarnation, and a few movies after that were pretty decent too.  But around the Roger Moore era, I felt like everything went over-the-top, Bond became a more or less a super hero, comic book character able to leap off buildings with a single bound, and fly jets, and what have you stunts that are beyond the capacity of us normal puny humans.  Daniel Craig plays a pretty good Bond, however, and after the initial car scene and as the movie continued I felt drawn into the plot.  This new installment concerns itself with an attack on the agency, M16, and Bond has to try to find out who is repsonsible.  He and M's relationship is also tested, and we are left to wonder if 007 has lost his touch, and perhaps should retire.  I can see why this installment of Bond got all the accolades it did.

I'd heard that Silver Linings Playbook was a good film, but didn't know much about it beyond that.  I sort of went into it blind not knowing much about it other than it dealt with bipolar disorder.  I was expecting something a bit dour, downbeat, and emotional so I was really happy when within a few minutes into the film I thought it was well written, a bit dark around the edges, and really pretty funny.  It's not funny in the sense of a normal comedy, but it's certainly there.  In  fact, I don't care much for modern comedies anymore as most of them resort to toilet humor, teenage shenanigans, and generally concern themselves with inane situations.  I feel the same way about TV sitcoms too.  Silver Lining Playbook takes a family that has had a major crisis--their son is coming out of a mental hospital (if I remember correctly) and also he has just gone through a divorced from his wife, and once he gets home has to adjust to living under the roof with his parents again.  That alone would be hard to do, but after all he's gone through, even more so.  He begins to put his life back together while still holding a torch for his past wife and hoping to repair that relationship.  I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, I'll just say, check it out.  It is a mature film with mature themes so there some offensive language etc. so it's not a family type film.  So if you have young kids you might want to put them to bed first.

Well, more later.  I didn't get by the store yesterday.  Man, where is this week going?  It seems like it's going to be a fast one.  Laters.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I thought I'd post a link to this comic and there are others there to read if you feel so inclined.  I like cave man, prehistoric comic stories, so I thought I'd post this here, so I won't forget where I read it at as there are some other Korg 70,000 B.C. comics there as well as many others.   

I don't have my day planned out today at all.  I think I'm fixing to go for a walk as I'm trying to squeeze in more exercise in my daily routine.  So far so good as I walked about 30 minutes yesterday too.  The thing is, I need to get out  earlier as it is already hot!  Oh well, it is summer. 

I need to come back and cut up some cantaloupes and I have a jicama in there as well, and I need to run to the store.  I'm outta bananas, it's a staple for my morning routine, that and oatmeal.  So I better make this short and sweet.  Been staying up and watching Night Gallery at night, which comes on at 10pm here.  Sort of a good night cap. 

Monday, July 08, 2013


I've been meaning to add a comic update.  I wanted to also direct your attention towards this site that has some unusual takes on the DC Watchmen comic from a few years back.  The topic for that day was:  Come up with a concept for AFTER Watchmen! Come up with your best (or worst) plot ideas of stuff that could have happened after Watchmen #12. Kid Rorschach? Dr. Manhattan Force? Do your best (or worst)!   At any rate, there's some interesting ideas there that are fun to look at, and some other topics as well that you might like mull over.

I haven't been reading a lot lately.  I guess my mind has been distracted to other things of late and hard for me to focus.  Who knows?

I did read and enjoy the first issue to The Hour of The Dragon adapted from the Robert E. Howard novel by Tim Truman and art by Tomas Giorello.  I haven't picked up the second issue yet, which is currently on the stands, and need to run by and get a copy.  I also have the book at home, and started reading it.  Here's a preview of the comic if you want to check out the story and art. 

Also Saga by writer Brian K. Vaughn with artist Fiona Staples continues to be a worthwhile read. Sort of a cross between  Star Wars-style action and the Game of Thrones drama in this original sci-fi/fantasy epic for mature readers.  I'm behind in reading them, but they remain pretty interesting.  If interested in reading a preview of it, you can get it at this site.  I believe what you do is add it to your cart, and they don't charge you anything.  Beware though about Sage, it has mature sexual themes at times.

Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philliips remains an interesting read if you enjoy a horror comic sort of a mixture of H. P. Lovecraft and crime noir.  They've  taken  time building the story, and  isssue #12, above is a stand alone story, but  I  like what I've read so far.  The femme fatale has a mystery revolving around her as she has a past that goes back beyond normalcy and retains her beauty.  The first story arc was a tad bit confusing due to the flashbacks, but I read and re-read it several times, in graphic novel form, and the more I read it the more I got into it.  It's a creepy comic.

My brother had some Astro City comics, that I found the other day while digging thru some of his comic boxes.  I also noticed that the covers had been signed as well in gold ink.  I can't make out the glyph, cryptic-like signature, but I assume it is by the writer, Kurt Busiek.  The art is drawn by Brent Anderson, which I really enjoy and the covers have been done by Alex Ross, whom I really enjoy as well.  All in all it's a great comic about super heroes.  It seems to take place in some retro place in time, not modern day per se.  They seemed to have the feel of the 50's or something, and it seems what Busiek has done is taken his own slant on the mainstream super heroes that we know like Superman, Catwoman, or Batman and Spider-Man, and created his own super heroes with a similar tone to tell his own stories with his own mythos.  They're fun reads and there is a new Astro City that is just out starting a new story arc, it should be fun.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


So I sit here and it's Sunday morn, heading towards the noon  hour quickly.  I should have at least mowed the lawn by now.  I got up with the good intentions of attending church this morning, but looks like I blew that off.  I'm not a morning person.  I also have a bit of trouble with church or should I say, "organized" religion too.  During this whole gay marriage controversy I would hear things over the media addressing the issues of pro and cons, with most of the cons, of course, coming  from the religious right, or religious leaders, pundits, etc.

I heard one topic that said the Southern Baptist Convention thinks homosexuality is still a sin and this recent marriage thing is a blasphemy or whatever--the USA's road to ruin.  I also heard a talk forum on the radio in the car one day that echoed the same sort of line of thinking.  I normally switch the radio dial pretty quickly on that type thing, but decided to listen for a minute or two.  The guy talking went on to quote scriptures and proclaimed that homosexuality is indeed bad, a sin and so forth, and how it will lead to more broken homes and screwed up children that are adopted into such marriages, and yadda yadda.  And then,  they go on to say,  "Hey, I'm a sinner too.  I'm not perfect either.  But I try hard to discipline myself in the teachings of Christ or whatever, yadda yadda."   And I think, yeah, ok, well how is that any different from what a gay person does?   Which then lead me to the thought, aw, shut yer piehole (among other things) and changed the channel.

I guess these religious people never heard the story in the Bible about the people that were getting ready to stone a prostitute, and Jesus said, "those that haven't sinned, cast the first stone."  Nuff said.  I don't understand the necessity for religion to say anything about it, and why do so?  The only conclusion I can think of is--politics, and I think that's better left out of religion as well.  Remember that old amendment, Freedom of Religion?  So, it makes no sense to me.  Religious leaders wonder why their congregations are dwindling, but surely they can't have their heads that deep in the sand, can they?   The last church I attended (an evangelical Baptist church, I'll have to try another more liberal in outlook church), in their bulletin they had a topic opposing the gay  issue, and why they were against the change in this social trends, norms, and opinion.  And why they would not be swayed by public opinion, heaven forbid.  Again, I thought, hello?  Don't you get it?  Things change, and if society has changed to accept things, how about you giving it a try too.  Judge not, lest ye be judged.  End of soapbox.

Friday, July 05, 2013

R.I.P. Richard Matheson

I'm listening to the radio as I type this, I just got through listening to Performance Today, which is classical radio program that can be found on the web if interested.  I started listening to this every morning when I woke up and had breakfast back when I live in West Texas (Odessa),  and now it's become a mainstay with me, forming and developing my taste for classical music.  I love it.  Now though, it being Friday, the programming has changed over to Classical Guitar Alive, which is classical pieces performed on guitar by various musicians.  It's good too.  You can get it via podcast if so inclined--scroll down the link and you'll see a link to do that.  Both are pretty sublime ways to start a day. 

At any rate, I ran across the piece on Richard Matheson the writer who passed away recently.  I'm more familiar with his work that was turned into movies and television episodes, although I do have a book of short stories around here somewhere.  I thought I would share it as it's pretty interesting.  The article by David Bianculli is titled, Richard Matheson: His 10 Greatest TV Achievements.  

On the home front, I still have the leftovers of a sinus infection, but it's dissipating ever so slowly as these things seem to do.  I think I'm going to get out for a bit today, get a bit of exercise and sunshine.  This past week has been beautiful here, nice and sunny, and not too hot, which for an East Texas summer you can't beat..  Hope you're enjoy it there too.  Cheers.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

comic sites

Lately I've felt like warmed over death or something similar to that.  The other day when it was 100 degrees plus I was cleaning out the metal storage building to my house, and either came down with a head cold or a sinus infection due to all the dust and mold.  Whatever it is, I hope I can get rid of it asap.  I went to the doctor the other day for my usually quarterly exam as I have high blood pressure, and the doctor gave me some antibiotics, hopefully those will kick in pretty quickly.  Thanks God for the NeilMed Sinus Rinse it has helped me out of similar attacks and jams countless times.  If you haven't gotten one, I recommend them highly.

So anyway with this current dose of crud, I haven't been very industrious, mostly just laid around the house yesterday and blew my nose, although I did accomplish washing some dishes and made supper.  Minor miracle.  I thought I'd post a few links to other sites I follow about comics, just because I forget about them too from time to time.

Pencilink.blogspot.com--showcases famous comic creator's art with small bios about them them--with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one (sorry couldn't resist the Arlo Guthrie reference).

Ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com--has been around a long time and always worth a visit.  He spotlights many comics and comic related items that makes me want to order something right away like the current  Savage Worlds by Roy G. Krenkel.  He also has links to other cool sites, so pay him a visit. 

Gurneyjourney.blogspot.com--is the blog of famous artist and all around dinosaur fan, James Gurney who wrote the Dinotopia books, which are fun reads with great art.  He keeps it pretty up-to-date as well.

Comicoftheday.blogspot.com--spotlights a comic book review per day.  They are fun to read without spoilers.  I got there daily to get my comic book fix.   

Comicbookcatacombs.blogspot.com--spotlights generally golden age comics that are in public domain, and the current posting spotlights a jungle adventure called Thun'da by Bob Powell. 

Diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com--does a similar blog spotlight all sorts of comics.  Some neat stuff on there. 

Well, maybe more later, time to blow my nose again, and see what's what.