Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hey Hey Hey, The Cos


Tonight as I did the supper dishes I listened to Krys Boyd's radio show, Think.  There's a new book out on Bill Cosby, and she interviewed the writer, Mark Whitaker,  who wrote and compiled it.  It was a really interesting interview if you enjoy the Cos.  They go into many of the high and low aspects of his career and life.  Sounded like it would be an interesting book to read.  Here's a link:
http://www.kera.org/2014/09/24/comedy-and-the-cos/

Is It Halloween Yet?


Might as well be Halloween already, I've seen Christmas ads on the TV lately.  Boy, they keep bumping it up earlier and earlier.  I was in Hobby Lobby a few weeks back and they had already put out the Christmas decorating stuff, along with the Halloween stuff.  Perhaps it has to do with the economy, I dunno.

The other night I caught several horror movies on the Syfy Channel.  They were all jumbled in together.  But I caught The Omen, The Omen II, and The Final Conflict: Omen III.  There was actually an Omen IV as well, but I heard it wasn't very good.  I thought Omen and Omen II were pretty good, but by the third installment it was starting to run a little dry, though it was still worth a watch, and an interesting concept for a movie and its sequels back then.  Sort of a demonic Harry Potter, watching the character grow up and develop during different stages of his life.

They also showed Friday the 13th, as well as the sequel, and the third film, which was in 3D.  I've seen parts to them before, and I know some people love them, and I enjoy them too on some level depending up on my mood, but they get to be a one trick pony if you watch too many of them consecutively in a row.  The same goes for the Halloween franchise films.

 Last night I watched an old Sherlock Holmes movie, The House of Fear.  Basil Rathbone, played the titular detective, and Nigel Bruce played his sidekick, Dr. Watson.  A lot of Holmes fans tend to dismiss this series because they are a bit lighter fare when compared to some of the other versions of the sleuth, but I find them pretty appealing.  I think some criticize Bruce's characterization of Watson for the comic relief it is, but occasionally he makes me laugh, and hey, it works for me.  I'm not a fan of the Robert Downey Jr. take on the detective.  I don't know if it's all the CG effects or Downey's manic performance of the character, or trying to turn them into some sort of action character, but they aren't for me.

At any rate, in The House of Fear, Sherlock and Watson get summoned to an old mansion on a cliff in Scotland.  Several odd murders have taken place there, and before each murder, the female caretaker for the mansion gets an envelope addressed to one of the recipients, and then the unlucky recipient dies in a horrible manner.  I enjoy stories that use the set up of the old isolated manor house off in the boonies or being along a desolate shoreline.  (If you have a favorite film that use that device, let me know.)  At any rate, the team of Rathbone and Bruce have played in many other shorter film versions of the duo, and I've enjoyed watching a few of them lately.


While still on the subject of Sherlock Holmes.  I ran across a new story about the detective.

MR. HOLMES will tell a new story in the adventures of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, with McKellen taking on the role. Previous titled A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND, this film will catch up with a retired, 93-year-old Holmes in 1947, living with his housekeeper and her detective son, as a cold case from years before continues to prey on his mind.

Ian McKellan taking on the role of one of literature's most iconic characters is a prospect that, frankly, sounds awesome!

Oh, least I forget.  To go full circle and tie-in with the Halloween record above, I ran into it on Archive.org.  It sounds like it would be fun to listen to as Halloween approaches, so I've included a link here.  I listened to a bit of it already, and it's typical for that sort of chiller thing--sort of spooky and fun.   You can check it out here.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wonder Woman






I'm not a huge Wonder Woman fan, I generally gravitated towards darker male super heroes when reading that genre of fiction.  Superman is more about science fiction, Batman more about detective fiction, whereas Wonder Woman is more about feminism and Greek mythology.  But I would generally go to Superman or Batman over Wonder Woman, granted there's a bit more to the characters that that as well.  There's also the weird villains, aliens, gadgets, Batmobile, side kicks, and their ensembled cast around the stories as well.  Along with the stories' plots, the writers that write them, and the artist that draw them, etc.

 I used to find the old Wonder Woman TV series with Lynda Carter pretty cheesy, and still do, but I can occasionally watch an episode when in the right frame of mine.  There's a recent article in the New Yorker magazine on Wonder Woman if you care to read more about her and her creator, William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Harvard degree.  I have friends that look at comics with an air of disdain, which doesn't bother me because if you like the medium you run into that ever so often.  I don't know where that comes from actually, perhaps it's because they lend themselves to soap opera convention at times, or maybe it's the super heroics and the spandex costumes--although there's more to comics than just the super hero genre as well.  I don't know.  All I do know, is I enjoy them from time to time, and grew up enjoying them and still do, so that's good enough for me.

At any rate, here's the article from the New Yorker magazine. 

While on the subject of comics, I've been nerding out a bit lately on some of these Youtube videos about comic collecting.  If you enjoy comics that's sort of part and parcel of the hobby: collecting.
I didn't start collecting with the intent that my comics would be worth anything to anybody, mostly it just seemed the thing to do, and if I ever wanted to reread them, I'd have them.  For me, it was mostly about the stories or characters, but I love the art as well, and like to see that.  The whole aspect of the collecting market is another aspect that like most collecting is subjective.  The comic shop down the street from me is the only game in town, more or less, or at least the proprietor thinks so.  We also have a Hastings bookstore/media outlet in town that sells comics, books, magazines, and other things as well as rents videos.  We also have a used book store here that sells a few comics, but most of their stuff is in pretty beat up shape.  But also if you have a credit card you can always go to the internet for comic shopping whether new or old.  Ebay is one of the larger retailer for that, but there's also other venues like Mile High Comics up in Denver, Co. and many other places like that.  

I guess what I'm getting around to saying, is the local comic shop down the street prices their stuff too high because he thinks he's the only game around, but he's not.  Plus like a lot of comic shop owners, he doesn't grade his stuff very well or at all really.  It's all price way to high for the crappy shape that they're in.  He'll have a pretty worn out comic in fair to poor shape, and slap a ten, fifteen or higher dollar price on it, which is ridiculous.  I guess he figures if you're dumb enough to buy it, so be it--plus he's the "only" game in town.  I could be wrong, but I doubt he sells much of it.  What I like about a few of these videos on Youtube concerning these guys and their comic collections though is at least they address that grading system, and you can pick up pointers on what to look for, so I'll give them kudos for that. 

I don't think I've ever bought anything very pricey, or at least if I did, I don't remember it.  Most of the comics I own either I bought and kept as a kid growing up or bought new off the racks back when I got back into the hobby in the mid-80's.  So I don't have very many obscure or hot books, although after watching some of the videos off Youtube (if they are to believed as gospel) some of my books have gone up in price (if you can find a buyer, that's the flipside of that coin--I guess I could always try and sell a few on eBay, however).  At any rate, if interested I'll point you to a few of these comic videos, and there are others that I just haven't had the time to track down and watch yet, but you can find some of the others on YT as well. 

This first guy is only nineteen, so still  pretty young and a bit cocky at times, but collects some nice books. His screen name is SpideyFan78ct.   

This guy, screen name Lightning2288, is a bit older and likes to bullshit a bit along with his videos, but also collects some good books, and pays attention to the condition of the books.  

Here's another I just found, but if you enjoy watching vids like this there are many, you just have to search around on YT, and if you happen to enjoy a certain YT channel, you can subscribe by clicking the little red box below their YT screen name, and track their video post.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

It Takes All Kinds


 Sometimes I'll post something on this blog because I run into it online and I'm not familiar with it, but would like to investigate if further.  This is one of those self indulgent times.  Case in point is SF author, Randall Garrett.  His name and work is news to me, and after doing a short Google to find out more about him, I see he was quite prolific writing for Astounding Science-Fiction in the  50's and 60's, and had, well, let's just say a wild streak and unusual personality quirks with the ladies.  (Check out the IRoSF link below for that.)

His full name was  Gordon Randall Phillip David Garrett, but used a bunch of pen names like David Gordon, Darrel T. Langart, Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Clyde Mitchell, among others.  If you had been a fan of his writing, he'd been hard to keep up with using all those pseudonyms.  He also collaborated with Robert Silverberg, most notable their Nidor series where they write about bringing an Earth civilization to an alien planet.  From what I've read his most impressive solo work is his, Too Many Magicians, Murder and Magic, and Lord Darcy Investigates.

Anything You Can Do, which is the book I was interested in (I'll provide a readable link in a sec), is about a battle between a superhuman and an alien. 

At any rate, if interested more more on the randy author check out the site: Internet Review of Science Fiction. 

I also found a free PDF courtesy The Project Gutenberg eBook in you're interested in reading, Anything You Can Do. 

There's also a Youtube audio book and they have some of his other books over there as well:




Friday, September 12, 2014

TGIF 09/12/14


This is Ian O'Brien (UK), who Guinness World book of records says has the largest Dr. Who collection.  I'm not sure how they screen for such entrees, but I'd say he's collected quite a bit of stuff and leave it at that.  Having a collector mentality myself, I'm always amazed at what someone will collect.  For me it has been music, movie DVDs, books, comics, and that's quite enough, though I've got a few toys, and what have you too.  Yes, it's quite maddening at time, but it's fun too.



Here's another guy, Nick Bennett, that Guinness says has the world's largest James Bond collection.  After seeing these, my collection seems quite tame.   I feel better now.

Last night TCM was showing some Jerry Lewis movies.  I remember Lewis being a part of my youth growing up.  For whatever reason, he has his detractors.  Some of them may come from people in the business that have worked with him and they just didn't get along, but I can't help, but think that a large majority of them are trolls with nothing better to do.  Let's face it, there are a lot of negative people out there.  I certainly worked with my share of a few of them.

Oh, by the way, I noticed here recently that TCM and my cable provider (Suddenlink)  have somehow filtered that channel now from being able to record a program to my VCR.  I wonder if it can't be TIVOed as well?  That's a bummer because like last night, there might be something on I want to see or a marathon of movies, and they come on too late to stay up and watch, so I'll record them on my VCR for later viewing.  Well, now I can't, which is a drag.  I just hope the rest of cable doesn't go that direction.  Still I think TCM is a great channel and all, but dammit, you know?

Anyway, I watched  Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor for a bit, which I always thought was one of his best movies.  I think it's better than the remake with Eddie Murphy.  They followed that with a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movie, The Caddy (1953).  I don't remember having watched that before. In it,  Martin's character came from an old Italian family and both he and Lewis played golf.  Martin's dad in the film has a store, and they need funds to keep it afloat, so  Lewis (as the caddy) and Martin (as the golfer) team up as there's a golf tournament, which has a nice cash prize for the winner.   

I can see where some might view Lewis playing the dope or clown in some of this earlier movies is a bit much at times, but really I don't see it much different from say, The Marx brothers, or  Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, or Lou and Costello, or any of those early comedians.  In fact, it's not too different some of the characters that Jim Carey has played either.

At any rate, as one might imagine on the golf course, mayhem ensues.  Not everything clicks as being funny in a Jerry Lewis film for me, but I could say that about any comedy.  However, in most of them I'll get a pretty laugh out of some routine or gag.

They followed that one by Three On A Couch (1966), which is one Lewis co-wrote and directed.  It's a bit dated, but still had a few funny skits.  It involves Janet Leigh as Lewis' girlfriend, and she's a psychiatrist that has three patients.  Lewis wants to get marry Leigh, and move to Paris, but Leigh can't leave her patients high and dry as they are still in need of counseling.  I'll admit it's a bit corny in parts, but again there's a few laughs there as well.  Lewis also plays various roles in the film, which he's done before in some of this other movies.  He figures out a plan to lure each of the gals' (on the couch) into a relationship with him as their boyfriend, thereby getting them on the road to recovery. Of course the plan hits a brick wall at the end.  Like most of his films, they are pretty much light weight fare and  family friendly. If you're in the mood for something like that, they can be a lot of fun.

The third film they showed was The Bigmouth (1967).  I had not seen it either, but it was getting late and had to turn in.  I was curious about it however, but will have to try and catch it later of TCM or perhaps rent a copy.


The above video is from a SF series, Planet Five, which I'd never heard of before.  I find the music amusing, and it could be a fun thing to watch if a bit corny.  


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Joe Haldeman and The Forever War

Joe Haldeman's SF novel, The Forever War is a great militaristic novel.  A friend of mine mentioned it one time while we were chatting, so I decided to read it, and ever since then, I wished they'd make it into a movie. Supposedly Ridley Scott bought the rights to make the film, but whether or not it will ever come to fruition is anyone's guess.  In some ways it is similar to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Trooper in that they are both SF military books, but where Heinlein took a more gung-ho,  right winged look at the military (and with his philosophy as well), Haldeman's The Forever War is a counterpoint to it. 

For a bit of background, Haldeman got a BS in physics and astronomy before he was drafted into the military.  He served as a combat engineer in Vietnam (1967-9), where he was severely wounded, earning a Purple Heart.  Later on 1975, he got an MFA.  The range of degrees was an early demonstration of the complexity of his interest in science and art, and hard SF with which he's generally identified. His experiences in Vietnam have marked many of the books he's written as well. 

In The Forever War interstellar travel is effected by collapsar jumps, which basically means the futuristic marines fly their ships into wormholes for space travel.  The troopers are sent off on many engagements to fight their alien foes, and after a while they get to return to earth.   By doing these wormhole jumps the troops experience little to no aging, but once they get back to earth, many years have passed, and they find it hard to adjust to the many changes.  They experience alienation from the civilization for which they are fighting.  Different things within our culture have changed. One of the things about the story I found fascinating is those return trips, and how the world has changed.  I certainly won't spoil it here.

Tonight while looking around on the web I ran across this page  written by Haldeman on his brother who had died a few years back from cancer.  I found it very poignant in how he eulogized his brother, and it also gives a bit of background how they both got into writing, how and where they both grew up when they were younger, and  how they both developed an interest in the SF genre.  It's certainly worth a read for those interested. Check it out here. 



DVD Haul

Last Friday I went out to do some pawn shop looking for DVDs. That's where I find most of my DVDs.  I hardly ever buy DVDs new.   When you're out shopping like that, it's best not to have a hard want list.  Sure there might be DVDs  I hope I run across, but I try and remain open to whatever I find, and generally have several things on my "want list".  I'm mostly  just out there looking--I may not buy anything.  I try and not buy any blind buys either because I can always screen them first through Netflix to see if they're worthwhile. 

I've been hoping to run across a copy of Pacific Rim ever since I saw the film, but I finally took the plunge and just bought a cheap copy off eBay.  I just got the single disc one, as generally speaking, I don't care too much about watching all the bonus extra features.  Sometimes I think they're just fluff or filler, but sometimes they can be really fun to watch and can be informative. It depends on the movie, but I don't worry too much about that when pawn shop hunting.  One exception,  I do like a lot of the extra feature stuff that they've included on the Doctor Who DVDs, ,which give insight into the history of the program, or the episodes, or something on the writers or actors, etc.--those can be plenty of fun and insightful.

Skyfall is one of the DVDs that's been on my want list ever since I saw the film.  I've always been a Bond fan,  and although I have favorite actors that have played the 007 role, and favorite films from the franchise, I enjoyed how Skyfall was a return to form.  Craig's portrayal of  Bond is how I enjoy him to be played, more serious.  Yes, you have to overlook a lot of the gun play, some of the crazy action scenes, but overall that's par normal for a Bond film. I enjoyed Casino Royale as well, and still might have to pick up that one, but I was more excited to find this one.  I think Daniel Craig has done a great job with the role, and hope he sticks with it a while longer.

Haywire might have been a bit of a splurge, but I remember watching it off TV, and thought it was a pretty good action film.  I've been reading a comic called Velvet, by Ed Brubaker, that is similar in style and story, and it reminded me of that and it's like a female James Bond film.  There's a mixture of martial arts, action, and a double-cross in it, which also happens in the comic.  At any rate, for two bucks, I thought, why not.  I wanted to watch it again anyway.


Dallas Buyers Club, baby.  I spoke about watching this film on another blog post, and thought it was one of the better films from 2013.  McConaughey found a role he could submerge himself into, and the way the film was directed felt just right.  I thought the film was shot  in Dallas it was so convincing, but turns out it was shot in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.  Shortly after watching it, I queue the TV series, True Detective.  It's another one I highly recommend watching if you haven't done so already.  It took me a few episodes to warm up to it, but once I did, I wanted more.
This is a bit of cheat.  I didn't find it in the pawn shop trip.  I actually found it online while looking for movies on eBay, probably around the time I found the Pacific Rim movie.  It popped up, and I thought, what is that??  It was marked as a Buy It Now item, and was just marked $20.  It contains seventeen movies by the Japanese studio, Ghibli.  I thought, that can't be right. Although I already have a copy of Howl's Moving Castle, which I think I found on a pawn shop excursion as well, and have Porco Rosso taped on a VHS, I haven't seen some of these films.  Plus the price was super cheap, so I wondered what this was.  I quickly did a web search and found out it was a bootleg from Malaysia, and although a lot of fans bitched about this and that, and there's no extras, and so forth; for the price, I couldn't pass it up.

I've already watched Kiki's Delivery Service, and parts of Howl's Moving Castle again, just for a comparison, and it looks fine to me.  So I'm happy.  I look forward to watching some of the other features.  For a bootleg, it's packaged pretty well.
Yes, this is the epic pawn shop find in a way.  For one, I've been wanting to see this episode of Doctor Who.  It is after all the 50th Anniversary Special, and has some cameos from some of the other doctors in it--all of them in fact. It just features their picture throughout the feature (many are already deceased) in some sequences, but I thought that was a cool tribute to all the past actors that have played in the series. There's also a special cameo at the end, which I won't spoil.  The story is pretty good too.  There's also some cool special bonus features on it like the one called, Doctor Who Explained.  If you are not familiar with the British SF series and you are curious about the longest running SF on TV, well, you should at least watch that special feature. 

I had my doubts about this episode, as I've had my mixed reactions over the newer regenerations of the doctor.  Some of the episodes have been hit and miss with me.  But watching this 50th Anniversary edition got me back into watching Doctor Who again, new and old.  When I bought the DVD at the pawn shop, the clerk at the front, just popped open the DVD case, took a quick look, and said, okay two bucks even though it is a blu-ray, and 3D, but also contains the regular formatted disc.  Who was I to quibble?  I paid him my two bucks and trucked.  It's certainly worth a watch if you're a Doctor Who fan. 

 



 







Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Head's up - Art Podcast & Books







If you are an art lover or artist and would like to learn more about artist, and about their backgrounds and so forth, I ran across a site that has podcast on that sort of thing.  They cover just about anything from photography to different styles of fine art, and so forth.   Sorry, I didn't have time to label each artwork, and give each artist their due, I know the middle artwork is by Richard Diebenkorn, whom I like a lot.  The  yellowish art below him is by Hassel Smith, but I forget who the top artist is.

At any rate, here's the spot to go to if you want to listen to the podcast, they have an archive there too that you can browse if you are looking for something on a particular artist.  I listened off and on to one of them about the artist Willem de Kooning.   Here's where the podcast are:  The Modern Art Notes Podcast.  

Anywho, I went by Hobby Lobby one of the two art stories in town as they were having a sale, and I probably will go back this week to buy a few things.  They have a aisle devoted to stuff they are trying to get rid of, so the items are marked down.  I always look there as I'm curious about assemblage and collage, and always wonder what I might run across to perhaps use within that mishmash of things.  Those art stores are great places to get lost in at times.  (Oh, by the way, they already had their Christmas stuff up--boy talk about getting ready early...)

Over the Labor Day weekend, I did some yard work.  I guess for some that's a time to take off away from labor, but I wanted to knock that little chore out so it frees up my week.  Heck, nothing going on here anyway.  I had to go to the dentist on Tuesday anyway for a cleaning.  And, yes, I have to go back for more, as I need a crown. Sigh.  My mouth is a goldmine.  (Note to self: That should be the title to a poem.)


I read a little bit.  I read a new comic series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.  Brubaker is my favorite comic writer these days.  The Fade Out is a crime, mystery story about 1950's Hollywood, and a writer (I believe he was a writer) who has an alcohol problems wakes up in a bathtub from  drinking binge and a party, and finds a female corpse on the premises where he's at.  He gets the heck out of there, but I'm pretty sure he'll be tracking down who the murderer was and why.  It's all set in Hollywood, and Brubaker has a knack for telling gritty tales.  There's also a short article in the back written by Devin Faraci on The Death of Peg Entwistle.  It's about the death of a Hollywood starlet, who jumped off the H of the Hollywood sign back in 1932.  Somehow Brubaker will add these little articles to his comics, which really are an extra draw for the monthlies as they aren't in the collected books.  At any rate, Devin Faraci, co-runs a site called BadassDigest.com, which covers films, comics, and pop culture stuff, if interested.

 
While on books, I ran across another pretty cool site about books.  It's a useful tool as they have reviews and synopsis of books by average people like you and me.  I haven't spent a lot of time on there so there may synopsis and reviews by above and below average people as well--just a joke, but there may be famous writers on there as well.  At any rate, the name of the site is:  Goodreads.com  
The above book, Swords & Sorcery, is a book I believe I found at an old Friends of the Midland Library sale that I went to long ago when I lived there, and when they had them. They changed that annual event to a full time books store now, but I had some fun times going to that book sale.

There was a story I was reading in the above book, however, by Poul Anderson called The Valor of Cappen Varra.   Poul Anderson was reared in Denmark and in various parts of the United States. He began writing as soon as he graduated from the University of Minnesota, and has published a wide variety of stories.  Some might be familiar with his fantasy, The Broken Sword, but he's also written detective stories, Perish by the Sword, , and historical novels, The Golden Slave.  The story, The Valor of Cappen Varra, is based upon a Danish legend, and appeared in Fantastic Universe Science Fiction in January 1957.  It's a pretty smashing fantasy about a crew lost at sea in a horrible sea storm.  They encounter an island, and on the island is a monster-like troll that likes eating humans.  There's also a damsel in distress, and they send the lowly crew member, Cappen Varra, onto the island for supplies.  I hope the rest of the stories are of this caliber.

Oh, I also found on Youtube, that they have a video book club of sorts.  Some of the video book reviews are pretty cool depending on who is doing them and what they are reviewing.  I ran across one from a gal that's from Glasgow, Scotland.





Let's face it, I'm a fool for an accent, so I know that's part of the draw, but she's also cute, and articulate, and she likes what I like: fantasy, science fiction, and genre fiction.  (As a side note, as an older person, I'm continually amazed by the internet.  It amazes me that I can be in semi-rural Texas and access a video made in Scotland.  I guess it's like one of those Star Trekkie things that I would never have thought would have been in my future growing up in a small town in West Texas as a teen.)   At any rate, I have posted a link to the video she made on the SF novel, Wool by Hugh Howey.  It is the first part of a trilogy.  That's one of he reasons I was searching for reviews as I thought the book might interest me.  It is set in a dystopian future, where people are living underground in a silo the size of the Empire State building or something like that.  So I might try to find a copy at the library or a used copy somewhere.  It also sounds like something I'd like to see either made into a movie or a TV series.

For whatever reason, I can't find the right video  thru this blogger thing, but if interested, you can go to this link on it will take you to YT.