Hey! It’s me. Back with another link to a review I wrote for StandardIssue.com
You could’ve guessed that I loved Bitch Planet. My only complaint is that they don’t come out fast enough.
Hey! It’s me. Back with another link to a review I wrote for StandardIssue.com
You could’ve guessed that I loved Bitch Planet. My only complaint is that they don’t come out fast enough.
We’ve all heard the complaints about be-quiffed British crooner Sam Smith’s dirge of a song “Stay With Me” more or less directly ripping off American folk-rock scarecrow Tom Petty’s terrible ode to perseverence”I Won’t Back Down”.
Here’s the video proof:
But, the other day, I was eating a bowl of Golden Grahams and noticed even MORE intellectual theft. Check out the similarities between these two tracks:
You can hear it now, can’t you? I’m youurrr Jean Grey toooniiiight. Argh, sentinels!
Flippin’ heck. It seems that for ONCE, a film has been released here in the UK before it was released in The States. I’m always waiting around for an extra month or two to see the big films whilst my fellow Yanks Facebook it up about how much they loved the movies that we haven’t gotten over here yet. And I’m not talking about some little Merchant Ivory British-funded indy fuffy-collared snoozefest…I’m talking mega-blockbuster stuff. Because I swear by Odin’s beard, that I saw Thor on Wednesday. Let’s talk about it as today’s great thing:
So, just by the sheer fact that this is a blog about things I dig, you must have already assumed that this was going to be a positive review. You are correct. Thor is a well-made movie. I went in with low expectations. Because, let’s be honest–it had the potential to be a circus of superhero embarrassment. Think about it, the script includes a guy with a winged helmet and magical hammer/a rainbow bridge/nasty frost giants. Ridick! And potentially helladumb. But, it’s terrific– it’s entertaining, it’s wholesome, it looks expensive despite the lack of A-list celebs (well, minus Natalie Portman, that is). Plus, I had racked up enough points on my AMC card that I got a free large popcorn and soda with purchase of my ticket. Whatta day! Nom nom.
What you have to consider, I suppose, is that–though Marvel co-opted the character for its pantheon of heroes–it is originally based on Nordic mythology. As silly as some of the ancient mythological tales are, they will always have classic potential–just because everyone understands and respects the age and elements of myth. So, even though Kenneth Branagh is a somewhat untested director–as far as blockbusters go–there is one thing he knows REAL good: The Classics. He is super genius in terms of Shakespearean material and he did a pretty bang-up job in his retelling of Frankenstein. And that’s what he was able to manipulate Thor into.–a classic. He didn’t let us forget that he was dealing with was a tale of gods and mortals and it was fascinating.
Props to the casting director for picking a guy that actually looks like Thor. So often, I’m disappointed with the selections made for superheroes. Whilst Christian Bale PLAYED a good Batman, I don’t think he’s the perfect choice. Even buffed up, he’s a bit too thin in the face and they could have dyed his hair jet black. Yes, I’m picky, I know–typical fangirl reaction…but when you read the comics for years and years you get a definite and mostly consistent visual image and it’s disappointing when people don’t think it’s important. The performance is important too but there are thousands of capable actors out there. Get the perfect match of lookalike and good actor, you lazies! Six foot-three Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, who was relatively unknown (only thing I know him from is his performance as Kirk’s dad in the recent Star Trek reboot), not only played the role well but groomed himself to match the current image of Thor as depicted in the Marvel Comics.
Though the film is just shy of two hours, it felt even leaner than that. It started with a whizz bang–Thor is dropped onto Earth within the first five minutes, they rush into WHY that happened immediately, and then proceed to flip between Thor’s adventure in our realm and what is going on in Asgard with near perfect pacing. I would almost go ahead and say that Branagh could have added ten minutes or so to flesh out Portman’s character a bit more (the girlfriend role is often an undernourished one in hero flicks.) Could have also stood for another light entertainment style scene of Thor coming to terms with the difference between Earthlings and Asgardians (the diner scene–for instance–was adorable.)
Another reason to love this film is that, apparently, white supremacists hate it. They’re pissed off that Idris Elba (of The Wire) plays Norse deity, Heimdall, and are urging a boycott. Guardian Article
Obviously, this article just makes me love Marvel Comics even more.
Finally, the picture cozily fits into the Marvel Universe. Though it stands on its own, it also serves to rev up the nerd fan base for next year’s Avenger’s film. (There is the standard “Easter Egg” after the credits roll as well.)
Hope they pull this trick off for Green Lantern. That franchise faces similar difficulties as far as levels of preposterousness go. (Magic space ring? Intergalactic police force? The power of imagination?) I like the idea of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan but I’m NOT crazy about how they’ve done his costume up. I pray nightly for it. Anyway, let’s look at Thor again, shall we? I might be a big old homo, but my lord, look at those guns!!!
I’ll tell you what this film did…it made me, a bona-fide comic book fan, care more about a character who I haven’t paid that much attention to. I’ve tried jumping onto Thor’s comic title before and have always left it after a few issues. It’s just never been my thing. From a blockbuster perspective, this is Iron Man all over again. A less than immediately recognizable comic franchise has been made awesome. Still…as much as I liked this incarnation of Thor, nothing can ever top that scene from Adventures in Babysitting.
Overall, I give Kenneth Branagh’s Thor 8.5 out of 10. Here’s the trailer if you’re not already sold on it.
I haven’t been particularly good of late as far as posting regular blog entries goes. so, let’s jump-start this dead battery of a blog page with a cracking good ‘great thing’.
You know what it’s like to have creator-envy? There are some things that I could just kick myself for not thinking of first. Jalapeno and cheddar bagels, Angry Birds, typing the word ‘Boobies’ into a calculator. Those concepts are all relevant to my interests and given the right time/place/level of consciousness I MIGHT have thought of them first and made my mark on society. Today’s great thing is a terrifically simple blog idea. I hate the fact that the idea wasn’t my own.
163. The Daily Superpower
This page is soooo my cup of tea. Funny, clever, and comic-book related but with a wide appeal (read: I can share my mirth about it with non-comic nerds and they too will find it amusing). I am incredibly envious of the creative lightning that struck here. Not only is it a gem of a website but the author doesn’t even have to think of all of the ideas himself (readers get to play a part by suggesting powers for him to draw.) On this site here, it’s me–ME that has to think of happy things to blog about all the time. It’s frickin’ exhausting being such a positive Pollyanna. Yes, great things to write about are all around us…but sometimes you just want to start a new game on Scrabble for Facebook instead of writing about them.
Alas, today’s great thing isn’t my baby–it’s that of genius Kevin Delger, a Minneapolis-based artist. A bit more about him is available at this database: mnartists
If you haven’t sussed it out already, The Daily Superpower portrays a different unusual/humorous power for every weekday (working weekday, that is–he’s only human after all).
Simple concept, right? After some soul-searching, as near as I can tell, the only things that would have stopped me from creating this blog are the following:
1. I didn’t think of it first
2. I can’t draw. (Even thought his process involves starting with another illustrator’s artwork, I believe you still need a certain skill level to accomplish what he does here.–check out the ‘process’ link on his page to learn how he creates these.)
3. I am lazy.
Here are a few samples:
There. That’s all I want to show you. Do yourself a favor now and put the site on your bookmark tab. Here’s a link to the actual site. Go on, click away and be delighted: http://dailysuperpower.tumblr.com/
Anyway, like I said before, the author takes reader ideas for potential material so let me know if you send any in. I might send these along.
–The ability to repel all clothing stains (I so wish!!! I am a stain magnet.)
–Fingers can dispense condiments–gravy, ketchup, chili sauce…
Funny…those all seem SORT of linked up, in a way, don’t they? Imagine the nights out you could have if you were hangover proof, stainproof, and could milk your own hand for gravy. Unstoppable nightlife machine.
I’m addicted to magazines. Sure, my love for reading goes beyond periodicals– I love reading anything and everything–comics, fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, websites, the backs of shampoo bottles… but there’s something special about magazines. Maybe it’s the glossy pictures, maybe it’s the perfect for a short-attention span articles, or maybe it’s just how easily they travel. Nothing like unfurling a new magazine to read on a long journey. I’m not exaggerating when I say that one of the hardest parts of moving over to the UK was acknowledging that my precious weekly Friday ritual of coming home from work to a new Entertainment Weekly in my mailbox was at an end. It’s pathetic but true. Don’t judge me too harshly. I’m a creature of comfort and they don’t have anything similar over here. Sure, they have gossip rags and a couple of film monthlies–it’s not The Moon…but there’s nothing like EW with its easy to digest pop culture news and insightful commentary. Sometimes I go to the website just to see what the cover is for the week.
I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. My Mom helped fuel my lifelong addiction by not only letting me purchase The Muppet Magazine whenever I saw it in the store, but by signing me up for no fewer than four subscriptions BEFORE I hit the age of ten. Every month, an issue of Penny Power, Highlights for Children, Zoobooks, and today’s great thing:
146. Cricket Magazine
Technically, I didn’t get Cricket every month as it’s only published nine times a year. But, close enough. Now, I don’t want to assume that everyone out there is familiar with Cricket. Not everyone had a first grade teacher for a Mom. You may not have been privy to the wide selection of periodicals available for the under 13 set, so let me tell you all about Cricket. It’s a literature magazine for kids. It was started up in 1973 by a woman (Marianne Carus) who wanted to market something like The New Yorker but for the swingset-set.
They’d usually come up with a theme for the issue and then fill it with the best short stories, poems, art, and non-fiction that they could. They’d draw some pretty big names too: Eric Carle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tomie dePaola, William Saroyan…
She pretty much hit the bullseye…especially when it comes to the cover style. Just as The New Yorker is revered for its cutting edge and highly inspired cover-art, check out some previous Cricket covers. They too, would reflect the theme of the issue:
Not gonna lie…lots of the sophistication was wasted on me. I didn’t read Cricket cover to cover like I did with some magazines. Even with Penny Power, I’d read most of it. Penny Power was like Consumer Reports but for kids. I used to love reading the letters from other readers that explained how they successfully complained to companies about melted popsicles and action figures that broke when you threw them too hard against the wall. It really instilled a ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease” mentality in me that impresses so many of my stiff upper lip non-complaining type British friends. But with Cricket, I’d flip and only stop on stories and artwork that caught my eye. If it didn’t hook me, I wouldn’t bother. But to be fair, the magazine was pretty dense with options. They really tried to get something for everyone in each issue. It’s only now that I truly appreciate the richness of this publication. And like how wooden blocks and ‘learning’ toys, were foisted on me in the sunny days of my childhood, I’m going to foist this magazine onto my nieces when the time comes. What goes around comes around, girls. You’ll thank me later.
Also, it should be noted that as an adult, I don’t exactly read The New Yorker cover to cover either. So, I may never learn the true joy of expanding my knowledge–or paying attention to items that I’m not interested in already. However, one thing I never ignored was the delightful comic-strip continuity of the bug-world. You know me, I love me my comic strips.
The following quote is from a highly useful article I found when researching today’s topic. It explains the history of The Caruses–Marianne and her husband Blouke Carus first ventured into the world of publishing by attempting to one-up the boring” Dick and Jane” style reading primers by producing what they deemed as more interesting texts. They created the Open Court textbook line, that they hoped would keep children interested in reading.
“Perhaps Cricket‘s greatest appeal rests with the band of irrepressible insect cartoon characters—the result of absent-minded doodling by illustrator Trina Schart Hyman during planning meetings for the prospective magazine—who crop up in the margins to define exotic vocabulary or merely perpetrate good-natured mayhem among themselves. One of the characters is an ant named “Aunt Marianne.”
Caldecott Award winner Trina Schart Hyman gets an A+ from me not only for her awesome creations but for surviving childhood with not only the name Schart attached to her, but also the name Hyman. The interaction between serious-minded good-guy Cricket and chocolate chip cookie-scoffing goofball Ladybug is to die for. She’s the Ernie to Cricket’s Bert…the Homer to his Marge…the Goofus to his Gallant. I think, even as a youngster, I really appreciated the comical character being a female for once instead of being the straightman…as it were. Anyway, here’s the gang:
Another feature that I like about Cricket is that there’s no advertising. This makes it less likely that you come away from the experience wanting crappy toys or anything. Although it DID ruin the lives of several insects in my backyard. So many caterpillars caught and accidentally destroyed. Soz to all of those almost-butterflys that I played with until they died. I didn’t mean it.
Cricket has mags for just about every age group: Babybug is for up to the age of three, Ladybug is for up to the age of six, Spider for 6-9, then Cricket, and finally for the teenage set–Cicada.
Of course, after your teen years, you need a steady diet of Newsweek, The New Yorker, and EW. An old copy of The Muppet Magazine never hurts either…
I can’t believe this weekend is almost over. For serials, peeps. It feels like last week was a week full of Mondays and that Saturday just whizzed right by. I didn’t even feel it happen! I think some levity and brevity is just what the doctor ordered. So, let’s watch a funny cartoon, shall we? It’s today’s great thing:
132. Brad Neely’s George Washington Short
Now, what I’m about to show you actually doesn’t belong to Brad Neely anymore. Apparently, he lost ownership of it. He unknowingly sold the rights (for two hundred and fifty bucks) to Cox & Combes who were sponsors of a film festival it was entered in. Some ‘fine print’ type misunderstanding. Kinda sucks. But, it’s still funny! The video is heavy on the hyperbolic patriotism and is mostly comprised of unsubstantiated claims…but similarities to Sarah Palin end there. This is actually funny on purpose. I love, love, love it.
I think my favorite illustration is the still of him throwing a buffalo. Also, is it just me or do the vocals kind of sound like the lead singer from “Cake”. You know, Washington is “Going The Distance” and all that.
Though he’s been working on his comedy output for a while, Brad Neely is brand new to me. Don’t you just love a discovery that’s already established? It just means that I’ll have a bigger archive of material to distract myself at work with over the next couple of weeks. Sorry clients. You’ll be able to find me here:
Reading up a bit on Brad Neely, I also discovered this ‘wish I had been there’ event:
Yes, that’s right…he hosted a screening where he read his alternate script for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone over the actual film. Naturally, Warner Bros. put an end to that fun pretty swiftly. But, you can still download an Mp3 of his performance and host your own screening…which I plan on doing shortly. Here’s the link for you, dear reader: illegal-art.org
Karey, if you’re reading this, I’m inviting people over soon. The guest list will likely be my nerdier friends as it is only nerdy hipsters that will truly appreciate the content. (I always have to warn her when I’m planning anything social as she is primarily an ornery hermit.)
Further discussion of funny people talking over film soundtracks to be featured in upcoming MST3K and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist blogs that I swear I will get around to someday.
Most of all, Brad Neely is now another addition to my list of people that I wish I could hang out with. I mean, read this portion of The Onion’s AV Club interview:
D: But as a kid, you’ve got to love the Ewoks.
BN: [The filmmakers] knew what they were doing. I slept on a bed of Ewoks when I was a kid. I would take a pillowcase and cut a hole out and wear it, and be an Ewok. I didn’t give a crap if Leia was going to have sex with Han Solo in the forest. I wanted to see that fucking teddy bear eat corn out of her hat.
Don’t you want to go to the movies with him?
You know how there’s that standard ‘get to know you’ type question of, ‘who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world’? That’s always been a difficult question to answer because I think that there’s a lot of cool people around. So, I’m going to cheat a bit and narrow it down into categories. Therefore, my answer to the question of ‘which three web-based humorists would you invite around for dinner’ would now be: Brad Neely, Christian Lander (the author of Stuff White People Like), and Natalie Dee. I’d serve tacos, sangria, and some sort of fruit pie.
Even folks who have never entered a comic store (nary an Atomic Comics or Dragon’s Lair have they patronized) are at least familiar with the character of Batgirl. This is largely thanks to her presence in other Bat-media–cartoons, films, television, etc… But not many people, outside the minerdity of us that still purchase and read actual paper-based comic books, know that there’s also a character called Batwoman. In fact, there’s been a Batwoman since Detective Comics 233 (which was published way back in 1956) I know, can you believe that Detective already had 233 issues by the mid fifties? Dang. I haven’t done anything 233 times. Anyway, her name was Kathy Kane–a loving homage to Batman creator Bob Kane.
Today, I’d like to celebrate the reincarnation of that supremely excellent superheroine.
I should clarify here that I think her current incarnation is the one that’s deserving of the praise. I must confess that I haven’t read many of her 1950’s based exploits.
When Kathy Kane (that’s The Bat-Woman if you’re nasty), first debuted it was due to some shocking allegations made by one Dr. Frederick Wertham. An alarmist who blamed juvenile delinquency on comic books. Violent, sexy, cheap, delicious comic books. I’d like to call his allegations baseless…and for the most part they were…but one of the biggest bones he had to pick with comic book publishers was what he viewed as Batman’s unhealthy homosexual relationship with Robin. I think what Wertham did was wrong wrong wrong and the comic book industry is still reeling from the restrictions that he helped to implement. He’s the senator McCarthy of the publishing world! But, come on–look at this picture. The guy may have had a point. Homosexuality shouldn’t have been scorned or criminalized anyway, but truthfully, Batman did come off a bit gay.
Regardless of whether or not Batman was a chicken-hawk to Robin’s twink, Wertham went on about it that much that DC felt that they HAD to do something to salvage Batman’s reputation. So, they did what most Hollywood agents do, they got him a beard. Kathy Kane, like Bruce Wayne, was a socialite with seemingly endless resources and a penchant for dressing up to punch people. The comics will tell you that she did it all to get Batman’s attention (straight girls are nuts), but I think it was because she was bored. I mean, what else is a rich girl from the 1950’s supposed to do? She has staff to cook and clean, after all, so she’s not needed for chores or domesticity. It was either fight crime or take up drinking. She was a sort of Calamity Jane to Batman’s Wild Bill Hickok…very ‘anything you can do I can do better” in a very flirty way.
One of the best things about the Bat-Woman of olde is that instead of having an androgynous utility belt, she actually lugged around the more feminine utility purse! All of her gadgets were built to look like stuff you’d typically find in a purse, but with a vigilante purpose…like a lipstick that was a telescope, exploding hairnets and crap like that. This was obviously pre-cargo pants days.
At any rate, this saucy character enjoyed both popularity and some romantic attention from Batman until Julius Schwartz, then editor of DC comics decided to tidy up the ‘Bat-Family’ in the mid sixties. He got rid of all the second stringers, like Ace the Bat-Hound, Bat-Mite, and yes, Bat-Woman. She pretty much remained unspoken of until the 1980’s when ALL of the DC Universe decided that they needed to do some spring-cleaning with their wonky continuity. At this point, characters like Batwoman were labeled as being ‘from another alternate universe’ and pretty much frog-marched off the plane of existence.
Skip forward to two confusingly redundant continuity-fixing mega-events later, and we have a REintroduction of the Batwoman character. But, this time…get this…she’s a gay! Seems to be the ultimate justice doesn’t it? Suck it, Frederick Wertham! You don’t know how much my head exploded when I first caught wind that this character was coming back as a homo! Full disclosure time, I’m a massive Bat-fan. I also have a rich Walter Mitty-esque alternate life that runs through my head. Yes, when I was 13, I thought if I just worked a bit harder in my karate classes then I too could become a member of the bat-team (or possibly a ninja turtla), but, like in REAL LIFE! Yes, I practiced jumping off of furniture and landing softly. And yes, I’ve always wanted to carry smoke bombs around with me just in case I needed to make a quick getaway. Do you know what it did to me when I found out her name was going to be Kate? Kate Kane?! My name’s Kate! Granted, she’s a Katherine and I’m a Kathleen, but still…OMG, it’s like I really am Batwoman! Plus, I dated a girl named Vicki once! Batman dated Vicki Vale! Aaaaah! Crisis in Deluded Woman-child Brain Matter! I hope she gets a cool motorcycle.
The Batwoman of today is still a rich girl, like she was in her former incarnation (her stepmother is extremely wealthy). Why don’t all socialites fight crime? The rest of her back story is thus: Basically, she grew up a military brat. In early childhood she had to watch as her mother and twin sister were executed in a botched kidnapping. Her father, a colonel, had tried to rescue them. She was sent to a military academy but was kicked out after refusing to lie about a romantic relationship she was having with another female pupil. After fighting off a mugger, she witnesses Batman swoop in to help at the last-minute and is awestruck as he just as quickly vanishes into Gotham’s nighttime skyline. So, she does what ALL good socialites should do, she steals high-tech military equipment and starts fighting crime on her own. Her Dad, no dummy, quickly learns what she’s doing and agrees to help her in her missions (advising and providing further training and such).
Anyway, flash forward to almost two years later and the character is sooo popular that she’s going to get her own series. More exciting than that, Greg Rucka, who pretty much gave birth to her is going to continue writing her and the art will continue to be supplied by one of today’s most celebrated pencillers, JH Williams III. Pop open the champagne and throw the confetti! Whoop whoop! Let the parade begin! A lead lesbian character in one of the big two publishers? Free at last, we’re free at last!
And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t happening anymore. Greg Rucka had some disagreement with whosey whatsey or needed to do another book or focus on his own creator-owned characters or something and for the last few weeks, I’ve been left to grieve what could have been.
The timing of this gushing write-up is due to the fact that I’ve recently learned that this character, who was created in the fifties, then shelved by editors that were sweeping unessential bat-characters under the rug, then erased from continuity, then revived in a new form, then almost lost to us again, is still alive! JH Williams III has, heroically, stepped up to the plate and agreed to write as well as pencil Batwoman’s solo title.
Speaking honestly, I am trying to lower my expectations for this book, just a wee teeny tiny little bit because right now they are unrealistically high. Greg Rucka is such a terrific comic scripter that I don’t know if Williams III will be able to reach the same caliber in his storytelling. It’s like taking the next lap in the pool after Michael Phelps has gone. But! There are a handful of pencillers that have been able to do both the drawing and the writing successfully in the past: Alan Davis for one. Plus, he’s going to get a bit of help from writer W. Haden Blackman AND penciller Amy Reeder when he needs it. So, I think all in all, she’ll be in good hands. Williams III certainly has respect for the character (he did get rid of those ridiculous high heels that she debuted in during his recent work on Detective–a good move.) What follows is an excerpt from a NEWSARAMA interview:
Newsarama: Back to Batwoman’s costume – as many folks have noticed – you took her heels away. While female readers are certainly thanking you, where did this decision come in at?
JH Williams: This falls into what I mentioned above about the “hokiness” factor. Heels are fine and all in the right context but that didn’t fit the context that Greg and I wanted for this character. It was also important to us to present a character that would appeal to both men and women. I don’t think the previous aspect of her really did that. It weakened her in terms of how much you could believe in her. It was not changed to dampen her sexiness in way, but rather for her to have a different kind of sexiness. A tough as nails attitude that anyone could believe in, but no one in their right mind is going to jump from rooftops with agility wearing high heels.
Here’s the interview in its entirety if you’re interested: Newsarama.
JH Williams II is no chump. The team also promises to continue focussing on her fascinating back story and expanding her rogues gallery as well as maintaining the intriguing balance of light and dark within the character. I won’t give anything away for folks who may wish to chase up the last story arc in Detective Comics, but the introduction of her first rogue was definitely worthy. Alice speaks only in Lewis Carroll quotes (fitting tidily into the Bat-Universe of villains).
Further mirroring Bruce Wayne, the character has already had the figurative snot beaten out of her and lived to tell about it. Whilst Batman may have had his spine broken by Bane, Batwoman has been stabbed in the heart by a cult hell-bent on sacrificing her to the God of crime. Badass! (Although, she might want to work on keeping those defensive hands up whilst engaging in the fisticuffs).
For further commentary on the lesbians of Gotham, check out an article that wrote up for Prism Comics recently. Prism Renee Montoya, the current face behind the mask of The Question, is an ex-girlfriend of Batwoman. Dyke drama! I’m just loving the mainstream success of this character. Sure, lots of idiots have protested her sexuality, but just as many folks have been way more than cool and were just as disappointed as I was when the Batwoman title was momentarily without a future. The only way that Kate Kane/Batwoman could possibly be any more awesomely gay is if someone put images of her (and of Batgirl too) in a photo montage with “You Were Always On My Mind” by The Pet Shop Boys as the backing track on YouTube. Oh, look! Unbelievably, someone has actually done that! Enjoy: