Sunday, October 27, 2013

Space Island One

"The best science fiction show you've never heard of… The show unflinchingly looks at the implications of for-profit science… and provides the most realistic look ever at life in space, including bone-mass loss. A few episodes are dull, but the show is often surprisingly weird and fun… It also features some of the most complex, believable characters of any television show".
You can check it out on YouTube in parts:  here

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rainy day sequel

What do Star Wars, Terminator, Jurassic World, Fantastic Four, and James Bond have in common?  Well, they are all fiction, but aside from that they are slated feature films for 2015.  After the last Terminator sequel, I'd think this next sequel would have to be a better movie, I could say the same thing  for the previous Fantastic Four movies.  I'll keep my fingers crossed that Jurassic World will be worthwhile, and  since Spielberg is on the project, I think it's in good hands.  With Star Wars, it's hard to guess.  I'll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.  Since this will be Disney's first venture with the franchise, I'd think they'd want to come out with a strong movie so that they can create many more blockbuster sequels.  I'll hope for the best there too.  I enjoy a good space opera and always celebrate a new Star Wars movie, whether or not they always hit their mark.  You can read about them here.   2015 already sounds like a good year for the genre lover.  I'm already looking forward to it.

This past weekend I watched some of the Texas vs.OU game, they played at the Cotton Bowl.  I caught some cool TV as well.  I have not been a big fan of Matt Smith's version of Dr. Who.  I've tried to watch some of those seasons, but they just were too goofy or over-the-top for my taste.  I couldn't make it through the episodes. I'd get bored or disgusted and switch channels, which bummed me out.   I don't blame Smith particularly, actually his depiction of the doctor is fine and fits the eccentric and absent minded professor role pretty well.  I think his portrayal of the doctor reminds me a bit of the Patrick Troughton era.  I think it has more to do with the writers from Smith's tenure, and also probably the the producers and directors, Steven Moffat, and who knows who else that controls the franchise.  I really didn't care much for his companion Amy Pond either or that whole River Song character, and it seemed that the storylines would crossover or continue into other episodes, so it was hard to jump on board if you were not that familiar with the stories that had transpired before.  I always felt like I was missing something, they were confusing, too manic, and not to my taste.

That suddenly changed, however, with his newest companion, Clara.  I've seen the past two episodes that aired recently and I wish they had been doing this all along.  Clara is a breath of sunshine adding just the right tone, and the two stories I've seen were fun too.  The one they showed this weekend was called Cold War, and found the Tardis landing inside a submarine in the year 1983.  The Russian crew of the sub have on board a large block of ice that when thawed out turns out to be a Ice Warrior (that part of the story reminded me of The Thing) .  He is not happy either.  The episode reminded me of something akin to Jules Verne perhaps it was the submarine, and at the same time I had that Thomas Dolby song in my mind while watching it--She Blinded Me With Science.  I hope they keep Clara around when this newer doctor begins his run with the series.

Sunday I did some chores, while I watched some TV here and there.  Mostly I wanted to get my chores done because later that night was the first airing of the new season to The Walking Dead.  They were following it with the Talking Dead recap thing, and then later they had the first episode to Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men.  I enjoyed all three of them.  Comic Book Men had an appearance by Lou Ferrigno from The Incredible  Hulk show on it.  Fun stuff.

Also this week, on Tuesday, I've seen an ad from PBS about a program on super heroes.  I suspect it will be a rehash similar to all the other super hero specials, which is to say, I'm not expecting anything particularly new or outstanding, but I'll tune in just the same. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Busy, but link included

Really busy here today, so this is just a short entry.  Since Halloween is just around the corner and television at this time of year usually has all sort of horror movies on during the month, I found a link that list all the horror movies shown this month.  HBO and Showtime aren't listed, but a few cable networks are.  It makes it handy if you have a DVR and are trying to catch a few of these movies.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Television Eye

Along  with fall weather, Halloween, a new football season, we are starting to get some of the new fall television season.  Last night I watched Survivor on CBS, Toy Hunter on the Travel Channel, and later American Horror Story on FX.

I still enjoy Toy Hunter as it appeals to my geek collector mindset.  I don't buy many toys or much in the fandom world anymore.  I would in the past pick up something sort of cool if I ran across it at a really good price like an action figure, or a sci-fi model of some sort.  If I collect anything these days it would be DVDs, or a book, magazine, comic or graphic novel here and there, and that's about it.  But I still enjoy the show.  It's steeped in nostalgia even though I wasn't a huge toy collector and Jordon Hembrough really knows his business and can provide all these tidbits of history and anecdotes about the toys he's collecting, along with showing some of the old TV spots which advertised the toys back in the day. Jordan was trying to find toys to buy and sell for the Chiller Theatre Expo. 

American Horror Story followed that, and hit about the right horror sweet spot for me as far as something horror based.  I'm pretty picky about horror and most modern horror just doesn't do it for me as it's more about torture porn (a term I kind of hate), gore, or remaking films from the past, generally with bad results, or sequels and more sequels.

I'll admit I wasn't an active follower of American Horror Story when it first aired.  This is the third season, and last night's episode impressed me.  It also seemed a good jumping on point for newer viewers if this is your cup of tea.  You don't have to know much back story although there's plenty on the net if you want to read up on older episodes.  Basically we are just dealing with a coven of witches.  Jessica Lange's character plays the head witch, under her is her daughter, and they don't get along well.  Then you have the younger women under them, that are more or less the students.  Some of the students have been sent to the academy for different reasons and skill sets.  One of the students has killed someone, and I'm guessing it's part of her punishment.  The newest student also accidentally killer her boyfriend while having sex (from what I assumed).  One of the younger women, Nan,  appears to have Down Syndrome and is clairvoyant.  Another young witch has telekinesis, and so forth.

So the plot for the academy is set up and two of the students go to a frat party one night.  One of them is given a spiked drink and gang raped (yes, this show isn't for very young viewers).  We also find out that there's a religious cult in the area that are killing young women who are suspected of witchcraft.  Jessica Lange's character is looking for a formula to restore youth, and we get some backstory on an evil witch, played by Cathy Bates, who is buried in the area.

Last night's episode also featured an Iron Butterfly song,  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which delighted me to no end during a sequence with Jessica Lange.  At any rate, it grabbed my interest like that old black magic, and pulled me in.  It has interesting storytelling, odd camera work, a good spooky soundtrack, and makes for freakishly twisted entertainment.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

2013 Top 10 Films

I thought I'd post this concerning Tarantino's Top 10 films of 2013, so far.  I'll admit I haven't not seen any of these films yet, which kind of amazes me to some degree.  I guess I'm getting old, but also truthfully, I wasn't totally drawn to seek some of them out.

Being a Woody Allen fan, I have added Blue Jasmine to my queue.  I'm sure I'll enjoy it on some level.  I've heard some friends say that Gravity is a pretty cool film, some have even made it down to the IMAX theater to experience it in 3-D.  I'm sure that would be a cool experience as well. 

I guess the one film that just struck me wrong was the remake of The Lone Ranger.  I don't know if I'm just tired of Johnny Depp or I just felt he was channeling too much Jack Sparrow into the Tonto character, but something about it repelled me, and still does to some degree.  I think part of that is: Why can't Hollywood make a straight remake rather than making something for all ages or goofy, campy, or funny?  Disney studios may be partly to blame for that not that I have anything against Disney.  I can respect what they do.

I certainly remember going to films when I was a younger person and seeing more mature oriented films and enjoying them.  One of them was Flight of the Phoenix with James Stewart, which is still a favorite of mine today.  Amazingly entertaining film.  I suppose it has to do with money and target marketing.  That said though, I might give The Lone Ranger a chance on Netflix.  

Two films I'd probably have on my Top 10 Films in 2013  have to be Star Trek: Into Darkness and Pacific Rim.   Some of the others I'd have to think about, and it will probably take me a while to get around to seeing a lot of them.  I tend to run behind in my film watching.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Stick around the comic community long enough and you'll see changes.  I think one of the biggest overhauls I experienced was when there was a resurgence of the direct marketing of comics. They moved from small spinner racks, and the ghettoized small spaces taking up the corner drug and convenience stores into venues where comic and magazine shops catered to comic fans.  

Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini was one of the earlier independent comics to come out of that changing market.  From what I've read, Richard wrote them (although I assume they both had input into the stories), and Wendy drew them. 

Elfquest originally came out in 1987 in a black and white magazine format and over time won many awards within the comic and fantasy community, including best story and best artist.  I first encountered it in the full colored Starblaze editions, which was sold through a bookstore.

The first story, Fire and Flight, opens on a primitive type world similar to earth.  A  tribe has gathered around a bonfire, and having captured an elf are in a ceremony getting ready to sacrifice him.  Then the  tale shifts to a flashback on how the elves arrived on this planet, and how the primitive people were afraid of these new strangers.  They feared the elves, and due to their ignorance slayed and attacked them driving the elves away to hide and set up their own home.  This hatred has gone on for many generations.

 After some of the past history the reader is brought up to speed, and we are again back at the bonfire.  The elves have come to rescue their captive friend.  During the skirmish one of the elves slays one of the tribesmen, which inflames their hatred even more.

Once the elves have rescued their friend and gotten him back home, we learn a bit more about the elves.  The head of their tribe is Cutter, they have tamed wolves to ride and can communicate with them, Cutter can also communicate by means of telepathy,  and we learn a bit about some of the other elves within the tribe.

The primitive humans decide to burn the elves out of their homeland and begin to start setting fires to the forest area, and the elves flee to the caverns of trolls seeking aid and safety.  They try to strike a bargain with the troll king, Greymung, and are led through the caves to what they think will be a beautiful land and a new beginning, but are betrayed.  This begins their quest, to find a new homeland and survive while doing so.  

Wendy's art work is original and pleasant looking, and the storytelling is pure light fantasy that's fast paced.  There's enough unanswered questions to engage the reader to follow along into the next issue to learn more about the plight of the elves.  This is a book written for fantasy fans of all ages.  If  you enjoy things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other such stories, you might enjoy this as well.

The Pinis have graciously provided a web site where you can now read the series free online.  You can begin the Elfquest saga here. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

10 Rillinton Place (1971) Horror film

October is here, and that means cooler temperatures, Halloween, and horror movies. 10 Rillington Place is a very creepy docu-drama about the English serial killer John Christie.  I'm guessing that the film is unavailable and out of print as I couldn't find a copy of it to rent on Netflix--Saved status only.

Middle-aged, married Christie lures unsuspecting young women into his home under the pretense of offering medical assistance, renders them unconscious with carbon monoxide gas, gets aroused by their limpid flesh, then strangles and buries them in his backyard. He takes a young, but desperately poor couple in as lodgers.  The wife is pregnant, but he persuades the husband, John Hurt,  into letting  him perform an abortion on his wife and then attempts to pin the resultant homicide on him. John Hurt is fantastic as the illiterate boob of a hubby, Richard Attenborough is truly frightening as the unassuming killer and Fleischer manages to capture that stale, decrepit and palpable feeling of rot at the center of the story without ever going for obvious effects.

You can stream a fairly decent copy of it here, although I had a bit of trouble with it pausing here and there.

On Youtube there's also a documentary about the incident:  here.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Lost Planet & comics

Lost Planet (1987) on Eclipse is the first part of a six-issue mini-series written and drawn by Bo Hampton.  There's a back up story adaptation of a Brothers Grimm story, Godfather Death, adapted and drawn by Scott Hampton (Bo's brother).  Both brothers are adept at drawing.  The stories are both hand lettered by Tracy Hampton, which added a nice touch.  I mention this as this is back in the day before computer lettering, but also there's a short biography of both Bo and Scott along with their families and the artistic backgrounds from where they came.

The first part of  Lost Planet: Thin Air opens with a bit of foreshadowing when a primitive man seeks shelter from a rain storm and enters a cave and disappears. 

The story shifts to South America in 1937 as a tribe of natives have captured two fortune hunters tied to a tree and readied for slaughter--one has an arrow in his neck already.  It's a scene somewhat reminiscent of the pulps and the Indiana Jones films.

Before the protagonist, Tyler Flynn is killed, however, someone comes to save him.  Later he explains to his young ally that he is searching for a mountain called Ojo Del Diablo.  The young native knows where it is and takes him to the location, but disappears before Flynn can thank him.

Flynn finds a cave opening into the mountain, we learn he is in search of a cache of emeralds.  He goes through a portal and disappears.  This begins the tale, which is much like John Carter of Mars, and other pulps heroes.  Tyler finds himself a stranger in a strange land and is captured by a dark tyrant known as Zorrin.  Zorrin tells one of his henchmen to take him to an island until he figures out what to do with him. 

When Tyler gets to the island he rest from his ordeal.  But once he wakes up he goes to a tavern and meets a woman and her pet baboon.  We find out the woman is an archer whose name is  Romney, and she tells him that she knows a magician, Ambrose, who can help him get him back to his own world.

About this same time, Zorrin's troops have shown up to take Tyler back with them.  Tyler and Romney flee capture, and this begins Tyler's quest to get back home.  I like the tale as it influenced by the pulps and also filled with dinosaurs and action.

Both the Lost Planet and the back up story are drawn really well.  Bo Hampton's art reminds me a bit of a mixture of Al Williamson or Gray Morrow, where his brother, Scott's art, reminds me a bit of Charles Vess.  The back up story is nicely done in a gray wash, but some panels are too small and it's hard at times to make out the action within the panel.  Both though are nice SF fantasy stories and worthwhile for the adventure fan.
If you enjoy alternative, independent, or underground comics, and would like to hear some interviews with their creators, check out the site, Inkstuds hosted by Robin McConnell.  I think I bookmarked this site long ago, but somehow forgot about it, but a friend mentioned it (hey, Mob) on his blog site, and rekindled my interest.  I just got through downloading a three-part interview with Gary Panter.  He's one of the creators of Peewee's Playhouse back in the day.  He's also from a small town in East Texas, and I enjoy his insights about art and pop culture.  This is the perfect thing I like to listen to while walking and getting some exercise.  I also downloaded the podcast by Seth, David Lloyd, Dylan Horrocks, Joe Matt, Peter Kruper, and there's a bunch more I want to grab.  Check it out, ah  blissville. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Let's Get Small

It's time to get small with the World of Giants.  It was a 50's TV series in which  Marshal Thompson plays Federal Counter-Espionage Agent Mel Hunter, who uses his small 6-inch size to infiltrate areas that a full-sized man could not.  The series co-starred Arthur Franz as his full-sized partner, Agent Bill Winters.  Agent Hunter is carried around from one mission to another in a briefcase with a small chair inside it.  It's pretty weird when your partner could be stepped on and squashed like a cockroach, but that was the wacky world of the 50s.

World Of Giants was produced by  the company responsible for such hit series as Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, and Bat Masterson.   Not a success, this syndicated series only lasted thirteen episodes, although Thompson went on to later star in the successful CBS series Daktari a few years later.

Heckling required,  link:  here.