Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Adventureblog Theater: Sweded Lord of the Rings

There's only one good thing that came out of Be Kind Rewind and that's the concept of Sweding films.


Some magical occurences

I got caught up with the stuff that made it onto the Newsarama blog while I was gone. Here's some stuff that didn't, but is probably too old now for me to post there.

Dreamland Chronicles monthly

I love Scott Sava's CGI fantasy comic Dreamland Chronicles and apparently, so does IDW. They're making it into an ongoing series. Each issue will have a CGI cover by Sava as well as a traditionally illustrated cover by another comics artist. The first issue has the Mike Wieringo cover above.

Wonder Woman vs. Mary Marvel

Like seemingly the rest of comics fandom, I was frustrated and disappointed by DC's Countdown to Final Crisis series. Especially the unconvincing bit about formerly pure and innocent Mary Marvel's becoming a black-hearted villain. I actually stuck with the series just to see how that storyline was going to play out because I sort of thought of myself as a Mary Marvel fan. I don't any more. It'll be good to see her smacked down.

Wonder Woman's just the one I want to see do it, but it looks like it'll likely be Supergirl instead. Whatever happens in Final Crisis, it promises to be really interesting. According to Grant Morrison:
Supergirl and Mary Marvel are in it. They have a big climatic battle to decide how femininity should be portrayed in superhero comics!

Wonder Woman already has problems of her own by that point. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman get targeted by the New Gods pretty quickly. Those are the first big targets that the Gods have to bring down but you'll see Wonder Woman's confrontation with Mary in #3.
I don't think I like Wonder Woman's being left out of the "battle to decide how femininity should be portrayed in superhero comics," but Morrison's even attempting such a fight is interesting enough a concept that I have to see how it goes.

End of the Century

I'm not in love with that cover, but Chris Roberson's novel sounds interesting. It involves three different stories — a medieval fantasy, a Victorian mystery, and a modern-day jewel heist— that alternate throughout the book and then begin to come together as the characters uncover the secrets that connect King Arthur, Jack the Ripper, and a priceless gem.

Hobbit casting no-brainer

More exciting than the news that Guillermo del Toro will be directing The Hobbit is confirmation that Ian McKellen will reprise his role as Gandalf. What I'm really curious about though is who's playing Bilbo. I'd love to see them do something that's visually consistent with the flashback scenes from Fellowship of the Ring, but I can't imagine them doing a whole movie with Ian Holm made up to look younger.

Neverwhere: The Play

Did you know there's a theatrical version of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere? Here's pictures to prove it. (Via.)

Did You Know...?

I'm doing a little reading on Washington Irving for my novel. Did you know that he was buddies with Sir Walter Scott and had an affair with Mary Shelly? I didn't either, but that's so cool.

The Headless Horseman guy and the Frankenstein lady. I gotta know more about that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wonder Woman: Confidence and Truth

I'm catching up on three weeks' worth of comics and just read a couple of good Wonder Woman stories. In Justice League of America #20, the Flash narrates this encounter with Wonder Woman. His reaction to her feels real. It's the kind of reaction Wonder Woman ought to inspire in her fellow heroes. (I also like how it implies that she's been active as a superhero for a good, long time. My biggest disappointment about the Perez relaunch in the '80s was how it made her a newbie in DC's superhero community.)

But as nice as it is to see Wonder Woman getting some well-deserved respect, that's not especially unique in DC comics these days. What is rare is seeing someone get Wonder Woman as well as Gail Simone does in Wonder Woman #19.

I've written before about how I thought that Wonder Woman's confidence was at the core of her character. Simone's not only latched onto that same idea, she's refined it and rephrased it in vocabulary that's connected to the character. Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth makes a lot more sense when you start talking about Wonder Woman herself as being an icon of Truth.

Confidence and Truth are so connected. The more honest I am with myself and others, the more confident I am too. What is confidence but an ability to embrace the truth about yourself and live unashamed of it? It doesn't mean you never make a mistake, but it does mean that when you do it doesn't destroy your self-image. Because your self-image is based on who you really are; not on who you pretend to be or want the world to believe you are.

That's Wonder Woman all over. As an icon of Truth, of course she understands and acknowledges the truth about herself. She isn't afraid of it. She doesn't question it. She owns it. And that's what makes her such an attractive character to both men and women. I love that Simone not only gets that, but she's expressing it in the comic in terms that inextricably tie it to Wonder Woman's character. She's defining Wonder Woman in a way that any future writer who's paying attention will be able to latch onto and use as a template.

"Everything about her from the inside out is about finding and uncovering the larger truth." It's only one sentence, but it absolutely nails the character. I'd hug Gail if she was here.

Awesome List Catch-Up: Part Four

Who is The Nobody?

Jeff Lemire is making a graphic novel based on H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man.

Black Panther cartoon sounds good

Yesterday I said, "If the cartoon is anything like the early issues, I'll be all over it." Looks like I will.

Wonder Woman movies update

Doesn't look like we'll be seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen any time soon. The Justice League movie has been tabled.

And while producer Joel Silver still wants to do a Wonder Woman solo film, he's still trying to figure out the best direction to approach it from. Take your time, Joel. I'd rather see it done right than done soon.

Femme Noir

I reviewed the first couple of issues of Christopher Mills and Joe Staton's Femme Noir.

Sarah Conner Chronicles Season Two

There'll be one. I'm just now getting around to watching Season One on TiVo, so I don't know how to feel about this yet. I have reservations about the pilot (the only episode I've seen so far), but I hear from pretty much everyone that it gets better.

Josh Medors Benefit Auction

It's not awesome that Josh Medors -- who illustrated the short prose story I wrote in Tales from the Inner Sanctum #1 (in addition to many other, more high profile things like G.I. Joe and Fused!) -- has cancer. It is awesome that there will be an auction at Emerald City Comic Con to help pay for Josh's medical expenses.

Get well, buddy.

Why Gail Simone's Wonder Woman will just keep getting better and better until the world cannot contain its Awesomeness and explodes

We're all doomed, but at least we'll go out with great Wonder Woman stories.

Del Toro does The Hobbit

The man likes his fantasy. I think this is good news, but I feel like I know exactly what to expect. Hopefully he'll do some surprising things with it.

New Dark Knight poster

I don't know why I'm not more excited about this one. I want to see it, naturally, but I'm not anxious about it. I probably will be once we get past Iron Man.

Still. Very cool poster.

Awesome anthology

I reviewed Indie Spinner Rack's Awesome anthology. Among other things it includes: a robot with a fishbowl for a head, a Mexican necrophiliac robot, a couple of talking bears, ice-cream eating aliens (one of whom has a pet flying ball named Greg; the other of whom has a gun that shoot dragons out of it), some enchanted deer, Scuba Archeologist, Frankenstein vs. Popeye, an alien visitation, and one of the scariest comics I've ever read (the scariest I've ever read involving talking geese).

Still more Crystal Skull pictures

This crop is more exciting than the last batch. Even more at the link.

Possible SPOILERS BELOW in some of them, I guess. This is the last item in this post, so you can stop reading now if you don't want to see.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) and The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

A couple of quick reviews.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

I'd almost forgotten about this one, but as my dad and I were trying to kill time our last couple of days in Florida we found a theater with an Imax screen that was showing it. I hadn't seen it on my usual movie night with my brother-in-law because Dave had pretty much dismissed it as a kids' movie. I was less sure.

After all, Harry Potter started out as a kids' series, but even from the first book/movie there was something about Harry that appealed to adults too. I hoped that Spiderwick would be the same, but it turns out Dave was right.

I didn't hate Spiderwick and I wasn't bored by it, but for whatever reason it sketches its characters in only the barest of ways, relying on archetypal clichés to help us fill in the blanks. Jared Grace is the typical angry-kid, giving his mom a hard time about his parents' divorce and proclaiming loudly how much he wants to live with his dad. Of course he's going to learn who the truly heroic parent is by the end. He'll also learn to channel his anger in a positive direction by becoming the aggressive, decisive leader of a little, goblin-fighting army made up of his siblings. His brother Simon is the smart, but clumsy nerd. Sister Mallory is the sword-wielding fighter of the family. It's nice to see a girl in that role, but she's no more fleshed out than any combat-oriented Dungeons & Dragons character.

I complained when I heard that the movie was squeezing all five Spiderwick books into one film, but people who'd read the books assured me that there wasn't enough story in one book to fill a whole movie, so it pretty much had to be done this way. Having seen the movie now, I still think they should have made more than one film and used the extra time to develop the characters more.

Mom is a stereotypical female divorcee, trying her best to start life over in a new town in order to make a good life for her kids. Dad is a stereotypical male divorcee who's left his family to shack up with a younger woman. Mr. Spiderwick, whose collection of notes about the habits and secrets of faeries is what starts the story going, is a cliché absent-minded professor who gets so wrapped up in his work that he doesn't realize its potential for evil. And even when it's pointed out to him, he can't bear to destroy it because it's his life. His daughter, a young girl at the time of his disappearance; an old woman by the time the Grace kids meet her, is the cliché eccentric old lady who's not really as crazy as everyone says.

Even the main faerie characters, a brownie named Thimbletack and a hobgoblin named Hogsqueal are unlikable and boring. Thimbletack starts off sort of pink, cute and mousy, but gets large, ugly, and shouty when angry. Everyone in the movie treats him like a favorite pet, but he's more Cujo than Benji. Hogsqueal is just there to be gross and play the unconvincing deus ex machina at the end of the movie.

Everything seemed rushed and by-the-numbers, like they were trying to just get us through the story as quickly as possible. There's no supsense; no set up. They really should've made it at least a couple of movies, if not five.

Two out of five evil ravens.

The Forbidden Kingdom

About halfway through The Forbidden Kingdom I figured out what kind of movie it was and was able to enjoy it more.

It's not an awesome kung fu movie. The fighting - even the very long scene where Jackie Chan fights Jet Li - is boring and full of wire fu. My main expectation from any martial arts film is for it to show me something I've never seen before and make me go, "Wow!" The Forbidden Kingdom never did that. Neither in the fighting nor in terms of special effects or the fantasy element.

There's some nice, pretty scenery, but certainly nothing to compare to Lord of the Rings. The mythology is inconsistent and the depiction of the Chinese immortals makes them look quaint and funny, not cool. The first time I saw the Monkey King I thought he was Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager.

And then there's the framing sequence about a modern-day kid named Jason who finds an ancient staff in a Chinese curio shop and gets sent back in time to return it to its rightful owner. It's right out of The Karate Kid and Neverending Story. Jason loves Chinese movies and culture and hanging out in Old Hop's store, but his uniqueness gets him picked on. When a gang of toughs right out of West Side Story find him with a bag of kung fu movies from Old Hop's place, they natually assume Jason's been "hanging out" with the old man. It's a correct assumption, but you have to wonder how they arrived at it by looking at the logo on a plastic shopping bag. If some muggers caught me walking home with a Best Buy bag, would they automatically figure I was in tight with the store manager and could get them in after hours so they could rob the place? Apparently so.

Jason stupidly decides not to take his beating, but leads the gang back to Hop's place where he gets Hop to open the door so they can break in. Then, counter to the ridiculousness with which the gang's been portrayed up to that point, the West Side Story Jets suddenly become the Bloods and pop a cap into Old Hop. Not believing that Jason won't tell on them, they start to chase him too, but he's got the ancient staff from the shop (I forget why) and it sends him into the past for most of the rest of the movie.

There he discovers a world ruled by the evil Jade Warlord who can only be overthrown if Jason returns the staff to the Monkey King, who was tricked and imprisoned by the Jade Warlord centuries ago. Helping him in his quest are a drunken immortal (Jackie Chan), a remarkably talkative Silent Monk (Jet Li), and a vengeful girl (Yifei Liu) whose parents were killed by the Jade Warlord.

It was partway through the quest that I realized that I wasn't supposed to be watching a cool, kung fu-fantasy movie. What I was watching was a throwback to '80s teen-wish-fulfillment adventure. If I was thirteen years old I think I might have really identified with poor Jason and been able to imprint myself on him in order to better enjoy his adventures. Jason gets to do a lot of cool stuff. He hangs out with Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and a murderously beautiful girl. He gets to learn kung fu and save the world from an evil tyrant. And of course he gets to return home at the end and use what he's learned on the JetsBloods.

In that respect, The Forbidden Kingdom is a harmless, fun movie. But it's not a good movie and it's not a movie with a lot of appeal for anyone outside of that teenaged boy demographic. Jackie Chan is fun to watch in it - certainly more fun than he is in the Rush Hour movies - but that's not enough to make me love it.

Three out of five vengeful and beautiful orphan girls.

MicroCon 2008

My photos from MicroCon 2008 are up at Flickr. Click the image above to see the whole set.

It was a really fun, really busy show. We handed out lots of Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly preorder coupons and a lot of folks had already heard about the book.

There were a lot of girls and women at the show. Not just people who'd been dragged there by their husbands or boyfriends, but exploring and enjoying the show either in groups or alone with no male accompaniment. The Minnesota conventions have always been family shows with lots of kids, but it was really, really cool to see so many solo girls and women.

I picked up a few sketches I'll have to scan later. Paul Taylor (Wapsi Square) drew a Black Canary for me, Grant Gould did a great color sketch of the Lizard for my son David, and - also for David - The Batman Strikes! artist Christopher Jones sketched Killer Croc.

It was also interesting to learn that Darth Vader is a Grant Gould fan. I'm not surprised, but it was cool to see.

Lots more on Flickr, so go check 'em out!

Awesome List Catch-Up: Part Three

Okay. More catching up with Awesome news from Blogarama.

Another Blue Beetle interview

I followed up my interview with the writer of Blue Beetle's all-Spanish issue by breaking the news about the series' new, regular writer: Jack of Fables' Matt Sturges. Hopefully you can't tell it from the interviews, but I've never read an issue of Blue Beetle before now. These conversations have made me want to change that though, so I'll be picking up the Spanish issue this week as well as checking out Matt's run. And I just bought the collection of the first six issues in the series.

There's a new poster for the Incredible Hulk movie

And again, it's got a great Bill Bixby vibe that's making me hungry to see it.

Atlantis Rising

I don't read Platinum Comics because the vibe I get is that they're all movie pitches first and comics second. I'd rather read comics by people who just really want to make comics.

That's not to say that there aren't some nifty movie ideas in their concepts though, so I'm actually curious to see more about the Atlantis Rising movie. I loves me some Atlantis stories.

Black Panther: The Animated Series

I got tired of the Black Panther comic once it got caught up in Civil War and became a second Fantastic Four title, but if the cartoon is anything like the early issues, I'll be all over it.

Three Days in Europe movie

Back when I was actively trying to expand my tastes with some genres I don't typically read, I thought I'd give Three Days in Europe a try thinking it was a Romance comic. It was, but it was also a crime/spy/adventure comic and it was really good. So I'm happy that it's getting made into a movie starring Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Garner.

New Crystal Skull pics

Can be found here. None of them really grabbed me, but there they are.

Another Spirit poster

I like this one. It looks more like a Will Eisner splash page and less like Sin City 2. I'd prefer it not be in black-and-white though.

New X-Files comics

I never used to read X-Files comics when the show was still on even though one of my favorite writers, John Rozum, was writing them. Comics based on currently-being-produced TV shows are always creatively tied by the need to not contradict the show they're based on. That might not be as big a problem now that X-Files is an infrequent movie series though, so I'm likely to give this a shot.

Women of DC poster by Adam Hughes

This was a giveaway at the New York Comic Con. Man, I love Adam Hughes.

From left to right: Catwoman, Oracle, Zatanna, Black Canary, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Vixen, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.

Supergirl for kids

Fans have been clamoring for a more kid-friendly (or, more specifically, young-girl-friendly) Supergirl comic for a while now. Looks like they're finally getting it.

Marvel Apes

Coming soon to a superhero universe near you. I sort of wish they were all gorillas, but how can you not make the webslinger a spider monkey? Well done, Marvel.

Friday, April 25, 2008

MicroCon 2008

Just a reminder that I'll be at MicroCon this Sunday, so please come see me if you're in the area. And it won't just be me, but the whole Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly team. Alex Ness and Joel Vollmer will be hanging out and we'll be passing out pre-order coupons and showing off pages from the book. It's always a blast, but I'm especially looking forward to this year.

And Norm Breyfogle's going to be there! He's probably the first Batman artist I could ever identify by name, so that'll be very cool to see him.

And of course my perpetual con buddies Grant Gould, Jess Hickman, Darla Ecklund, and Paul Taylor will also be there. Hopefully sitting close by me.

Also Pat Gleason, Sam Hiti, Doug Mahnke, Tyler Page and Cori Doerrfeld, and Brent Schoonover. Really you should just check out the whole guest list. It's going to be a great, fun show.

Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly Contest!

If you'll look in this month's Previews, the one with this cover:

And if you'll turn to page 326:

You might see a blurb like this:

That means that your local comics shops are now taking pre-orders for Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly. And if you'd be so kind as to fill out this form and give it to a comics retailer, that'll help them decide how many they need to order.

And what's more, if you take a picture of yourself handing the coupon to the retailer and email the photo to me, I'll enter you in a drawing to win one of these on DVD:

Cool? Cool.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Reviews: Doomsday; The Bank Job; Lust, Caution; Nim's Island; Terminator 3

Got a bit of a backlog of movies I’ve been meaning to talk about, so here are some quick reviews.


Almost awesome. It had all the right influences (Road Warrior, Escape from New York, and the medieval movie of your choice) and filtered them through the story of a booty-kickin’ Action Girl with a soundtrack that includes Adam Ant, Fine Young Cannibals, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Any movie that uses Frankie’s “Two Tribes Go to War” as the background music to a Road Warrior-style chase scene immediately rules.

Unfortunately, the medieval movie that the filmmakers were influenced by appears to be Flesh + Blood. The violence and gore is over the top, but in a bad way. There’s zero restraint and that doesn’t work for the movie. For instance, one of the bad guys is a gang leader named Solomon. He’s depicted part of the time as a fun, charming villain, but then he goes and does absolutely despicable things that we get to see in graphic detail. That might be a cool, nuanced approach for a drama, but not an adventure movie like this.

Four out of five Frankies.

The Bank Job

Not really what I was expecting. It’s a spy movie disguised as a caper movie and the caper part works pretty well, but the spies are pretty much idiots, so I didn’t enjoy that bit. I haven’t researched the real-life events that it’s based on, but I suspect that the spy angle is speculation based on conspiracy theory. And kind of dumb conspiracy theory at that.

If the British government wanted to retrieve potentially damaging photographs from a bank safe deposit box, surely there are better, easier ways to go about it than covertly hiring a bunch of local crooks to break in and do it for them. The unknown, uncontrollable variables the spies had to accept to even consider the mission are infinite. In fact, there’s not a single element that the spies do control during the whole film.

The caper part of it works though because the crooks are pretty charming. Especially, naturally, Jason Statham. But they’re none of them so charming that I wanted to see them get away with robbing people’s safe deposit boxes. This isn’t insured bank money we’re talking about. It’s people’s jewelry and passports and birth certificates. Yeah, some crooked people banked there (in fact, in a hard-to-believe coincidence, apparently all of London’s slimy underground banked there), but I couldn’t forget that the thieves were stealing from real people and unlike in a good caper movie, I wanted to see them all caught.

Two out of five secret tunnels.

Lust, Caution

I was hoping this would be an awesome spy story set in WWII, Japanese-occupied China. And it is a spy story; just not an awesome one. It’s about a young, Chinese girl who joins the Chinese resistance when Japan invades. She and her other college chums come up with a scheme to assassinate a high-level Chinese official who’s working with the Japanese to oppress the Chinese people. The scheme involves our heroine’s seducing the official so that she can lure him into a trap where her friends will kill him. Unfortunately, the official is a very careful man and difficult to snare. So she has to keep working on him - keep seducing him - until he slips up.

The movie’s title comes from the focus on the obvious sexual tension between the girl and the official, and how that’s in conflict with his paranoid, extremely cautious nature. And that’s the movie’s primary concern. Where The Bank Job is a bad spy movie pretending to be an okay caper film, Lust, Caution is a powerful, but twisted love story masquerading as a fairly decent spy flick. As long as you know that’s what you’re in for, you should do fine. I didn’t, so I had to adjust on the fly. Sort of like what I had to do with Ang Lee’s Hulk. I can appreciate it for what it is in hindsight, but I still really wish it was more like what I’d hoped for.

Four out of five clandestine meetings in coffee shops.

Nim’s Island

Jodie Foster + island adventure + Gerard Butler in dual roles (both of which are handsome adventurers) + fantastic story about love, promises, and bravery + bearded dragon = Freaking. Awesome.

Five out of five Alex Rovers.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

I avoided this in the theater for two reasons. The lesser of the two was that it didn’t have Sarah Conner in it and I’d fallen for her in T2. I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy a Terminator movie without her.

The bigger reason though was that it didn’t have James Cameron in it either and without his vision to guide it, I was afraid that it would lead the franchise down the Highlander path. By which I mean that Highlander is a fan-freaking-tastic movie, but the sequels sucked because they abandoned the concept and continuity established by the first. “There can be only one,” indeed.

That’s what I was afraid would happen with the Terminator movies. Someone would come along and try to keep the series going, but would go too far and not only lose the feel of the first two, but ignore the careful, almost intricate continuity they’d set up.

Fortunately, to my surprise, T3 didn’t do that. It was a logical extension of what had come before. It was pretty brave in its ending, but that worked for me. It makes me want to see sequels, which is not at all the response I thought I’d have.


Not that there aren’t problems. John Conner and his girlfriend walk into top secret military bases far too easily and the Schwarzenegger Terminator’s conflict about its programming was cheesy and horribly acted. I’ve seen Schwarzenegger do some good acting, but he wasn’t doing it here. There’s other silliness too, like how in the midst of nuclear Armageddon, US military leaders somehow instinctively turn to punk kid John Conner for comfort.

So, yes. Flawed, really pretty average action movie. But so much better than I thought it would be.

Three out of five naked Terminator women.

Adventureblog Gallery: Supernatural Thrillers and Uncanny Tales

I was searching for some image or other not too long ago and discovered these old comics series. I wonder how hard it would be to track some of these down.

Uncanny Tales

There've been three comics called Uncanny Tales. This '50s one from Atlas (which would later change its name to Marvel).

Then this one from Alan Class in the '60s. Apparently this was a British series that reprinted US comics, but as far as I can tell it didn't actually reprint the Atlas series of the same name.

And finally, Marvel again in the '70s.

Supernatural Thrillers

A year before Marvel relaunched Uncanny Tales it had another horror book called Supernatural Thrillers that featured stories about classic monsters like The Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde, and of course, the Mummy.

Adventureblog Theater: John Carter of Mars animation tests; giant robots and giant monsters

John Carter of Mars animation tests

Sometimes you just want to cry for what might have been.


Giant Robots!

In this trailer, humanity is fighting aliens, but they have the same general idea they do in Kill All Monsters!. Good for them.



"In this park I will have strange, tropical animals. Hahahahaha!"


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Brave and the Babymen

This was going to be another installment of "Awesome List Catch-Up," but one topic pretty much took over the post.

I mentioned yesterday how some "adult" Batman fans raised a fuss over the fact that Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a kids' cartoon. Character designer Mike Manley couldn't care less.
The message boards are already full of babymen angst about the show, how they hate the art, the idea of a kid friendly Batman and I have to just laugh at the ridiculous comments. IMO one of the biggest reasons comics suck ass and have since the '80s is the rise and overtaking of the biz by the Babyman fan and the loss of kids reading comics as a hobby. Now we are stuck with an aging fanbase with limited taste, long memories, a twisted taste where the comic heroes have to be dark, gritty, sexy, adult…REAL!
And later:
I don’t expect the babymen to ever see what I’m talking about, they can’t. But the fact is their taste is not the taste of a large pool of average readers, it’s the taste of the fetishist, the niche collector. They so resist change and want such a limited type of product that unless you have been following this stuff for years it’s really not something the average reader could even get into.
I don't know if I'd be quite as insulting about it, but I agree with him about this certain type of fan and can see why he's not pulling any punches. I know the kind of fan he's talking about and they don't pull punches either.

I'm all for a show that includes kids in its audience. It doesn't have to be dumb to be a kids' show. And all superhero shows and movies shouldn't be created exclusively for an adult demographic. That's just silly.

All that said, it sounds like the fan uproar may be a moot point anyway. According to Brave and the Bold director Ben Jones:
...there will be an element of comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we’re skimping on the action. We’re trying as hard as we can to make sure the action will be as amazing and exciting as any previous incarnation of the Batman ... Character-wise, Batman is still the same gruff perfectionist that he’s been for the last twenty-five or so years. Everyone here is a Batman fan too, so we want to do right by him.
Sounds great to me. If it's anything like The Spectacular Spider-Man, which my six-year-old son and I absolutely love watching together, I'm very excited to see it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching up with the Awesome List

Something's been bugging me since I turned over the Awesome List to Newsarama and that's that I know some of you reading this are interested in those news bits but aren't going to start reading the whole Newsarama blog for them. So rather than just drop the feature here completely, I think I'm going to start doing a recap, not only of the Newsarama Awesome List, but any other items from that blog that especially catch my attention. You'll be getting the items a day later than Newsarama readers will, but you'll be getting them.

For the sake of completeness I'm going to go back to when I stopped doing the feature here, so some of this will be old news until I get caught up.

Pulp-inspired DC superhero covers

Space Devil and Frankenstein

Star Wars mash-up toys; vikings vs. Nazis vs. dinosaurs

Jonah Hex joins the JLA?

Red 5's Afterburn heads to Hollywood. It's a cool comic - at least as far as I can tell so far - but the real exciting part about this news is that it makes an Atomic Robo movie that much more possible.

X-Files 2 has a poster.

American Godzilla '94: The Webcomic.

Madagascar 2; why the Bionic Woman remake failed.

New Lone Ranger movie

Indy TV ad, Tikiware, John Hughes, Paleo-Future, and Calling All Robots

Red 5 Comics in June, Fantasy Classics (featuring Frankenstein), and some nonsense about Mr. T.

That catches us up through the end of March.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

And I'm home. Ended up spending the last few days with friends in West Palm Beach so we went off the grid. Just thought I'd let you know that we're back safe.

Now for the catching up. Lots to do, including getting the house ready for its appearance on the Twin Cities Home Tour and getting myself ready for MicroCon 2008, both of which are next weekend. No rest for the wicked. I may not do much more next week than post pictures, then get back to the usual shenanigans the following week. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

South Florida: Days Two and Three

That title's a misnomer, because I'm really not going to tell you much about the last couple of days. Key West was Awesome yesterday with all it's pirates and seafood and tropical islandiness. I finished up Jane and the Man of the Cloth in Haiti and needed a new book to read, so I picked up Stephen King's Duma Key on the way down US-1. It's about a guy who moves from the Twin Cities down to the Florida Keys, so it seemed like an appropriate book to start on since my next Jane book is at home.

Today we went down to the Art Deco district of Miami Beach and that was Awesome too. We didn't see Mike Westen, but oh well. Must be because he got in the back of that truck at the end of last season. See? I shoulda been looking for him in the Keys.

I think everything else I want to say about the rest of this trip will best be told in pictures and I still need to organize those. If I don't post in the next few days, that's why. I'm letting you wait for the movie.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

One more thing about Haiti

I'll post some pictures later (maybe not until next week), but except for that, this is the last Haiti post. I'm not planning on changing the focus of the blog or anything.

Just want to mention that if you're curious about what's going on over there (and other, similarly suffering countries), this article is a good summary.

Haiti: Day Seven/South Florida: Day One

And we're home. I didn't realize how good that would feel until the very serious-looking customs officer said, "Welcome home, gentlemen." I wanted to hug him.

Seriously though, I'd go back to Haiti. I'd prefer to do it when there's not any unrest and I could visit some more of the country, but I'd even repeat this trip just to hang out with those kids some more. Saw a couple of sights from the air as we were taking off: the Presidential Palace; what I think may have been the Basilica of Notre Dame. But oh well. I had fried plantain and bought some Haitian vanilla to take home. And some wooden animal figures for my son. Next time will be better. If nothing else, this trip has renewed the travel itch for me. I need to get out more.

So now we're in a hotel in Miami. We got settled and didn't want to go back out again so we just ate in the hotel restaurant. Mainly because I could get a burger and fries there. The other nearby places where Chinese and Thai and as much as I like that food, I wanted something distinctly US after all the rice and black beans of the past week. I love rice and black beans, but I'm thankful to live in a place where you can get a variety of foods easily.

Speaking of which, tomorrow we're heading down to Key West where I intend to eat a lot of seafood and finish it off with a slice of Key Lime pie. I'll let you know how that goes.*

*Hint: Also Awesome.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Haiti: Day Six

Another uneventful day as far as the unrest goes, but eventful for me. My talks were very well received and I've been invited back. I don't know when that would be - probably not for another two or three years - but I'd come back.

I love this family. I need to spend some time taking more pictures tonight. I've got a bunch, but I'm not sure I've got some of everyone I want to. The kids are all so welcoming and amazing. I can see why my folks keep coming back. I don't want to gush on a few of them and risk leaving some out, but it's been worth the anxiety about unrest to get to know them.

With luck, tomorrow I'll be posting from the States. If I don't post at all, it's because whatever hotel we're in doesn't have Internet. If that's the case, I'll get back to posting the usual stuff in a week. Otherwise, I'll probably let you know how I'm doing tooling around south Florida.*

*Hint: It'll be Awesome.

Haiti: Day Five

Sorry I didn't get this up yesterday, but it was a busy, busy day. Everything was calm, but I was doing what I came down here to do (in addition to bringing in food), which is talk to and try to encourage some local preachers. I spent about five hours (not straight, thankfully) standing up and presenting material to them that hopefully they'll be able to use to encourage their local congregations.

I'm doing that again today, but tonight I might be able to post again instead of tweaking my notes like I spent last night doing.

Anyway, everything's good. We've heard some rumors about the "manifestations" starting up again, so we're changing our departure plans a little. I'll write more about that later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Haiti: Day Four

Things are a lot calmer today. Roberta and some of the older boys got out early this morning and were able to take back roads to a missionary who'd just bought a bunch of fuel before the demonstrations ("manifestations" they call them locally) broke out. The missionary sold us some diesel, so we're still conserving as much energy as possible, but we're doing okay.

Haitian radio this morning was saying that the streets were calm, but local reports said that some protesters were still out. We didn't hear about any actual violence though and although the local stores were all closed today, I just talked to a guy who works at the local grocery who says that they're planning to be open tomorrow. So, it's calm and positive, but nobody's resting too easily.

The Associated Press is reporting that "peacekeepers cleared roadblocks and businesses reopened ... but protesters warned that chaos will return quickly if the government fails to rein in soaring food prices." I don't know what that means exactly or if we'll be able to venture into town at all, but we'll see. My even thinking about going into town is a huge indicator of the day we've had though. Hopefully tomorrow will be equally non-eventful.

And even more hopefully, someone can get these people some food. I don't like how they're expressing it, but at the same time you have to appreciate the position they're in.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Haiti: Day Three (cont.)

The rest of the day's been fairly uneventful. We're getting low on diesel to run the generator and can't get into town for more, so we're in conservation mode. But the lights are all on right now as everyone's getting ready for dinner.

Some of the kids just brought me a plate of fried plantain that beats any potato chip you've ever eaten. One of my favorite restaurants in Saint Paul is a Puerto Rican place that serves great fried plantain, but it's not as good as this.

Some local Christians came over tonight to sing and encourage each other. It was definitely encouraging to me to see them laughing and having a good time together with so much going on in their city. Just knowing that they were willing to get on the roads and come over is pretty amazing.

Haiti: Day Three

This one'll be shorter than yesterday.

The demonstrations have spread out to this part of the city, but everyone seems to think it'll blow over soon. Mainly it's just people burning tires in the road and holding sticks and rocks. That shuts down the roads and draws attention to the suffering that's going on, but most people honor the "strikes" and no one gets hurt. This is all really new to me though and it bothers me knowing that I can't just leave if I want to. We're scheduled to be here another week though, so there's plenty of time for the situation to improve.

In brighter news, the kids picked some mango yesterday from the tree in the yard. I've eaten cooked mango and dried mango before, but this was the first time I'd ever eaten it fresh and raw. Delicious.

Might write more today if I feel motivated. Right now I'm still just getting used to everything.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Haiti: Days One and Two

I was told that we might have Internet here, so I brought my laptop. Sure enough we do, but the connection's kind of slow, so I won't be posting any pictures until I get back and I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to post every day. Just gonna have to play it a day at a time.

I tried to keep my expectations flexible before getting here, but that was impossible. I pictured flying in on a small, probably propeller-driven plane into a tiny, dingy, oppressively hot airport. I'd been told that there's no ramp connecting the airport to the planes, so we'd have to do like you see in the old movies and take the stairs from the plane to the tarmac and then walk to the airport. Also that there would be some kind of band there to greet us.

The plane between Miami and Port Au Prince, Haiti was actually huge. Much bigger than the one we took from Minnesota to Florida. And flying over the island in our descent, looking over the shoulder of the Haitian priest between me and the window, everything looked green and normal. Cars went about their business. It looked very quiet from the air.

We did have to walk down the stairs and across the tarmac, but they're already in the process of building a couple of ramps. The airport is certainly smaller than major US ones, but it's clean, air-conditioned, and well-organized. And though there was no band, the staff was also really helpful and we made it through immigration, baggage claim, and customs quickly and painlessly.

Once outside the airport though, the chaos hit. Before we even left the airport there were about fifty local guys all wanting to carry our bags to the truck and each wanting a tip just for touching them. I tipped a couple of them, but was starting to argue with a third when our hostess told me to just get in the truck. Apparently there are sometimes fights between the men over tips and I was probably just adding to the confusion by passing out money. Stupid American.

In the truck was my dad and I, our hostess and one of her sons. Our hostess is a woman named Roberta who single-handedly raises and educates twenty-something local kids. With the help of some US charities she feeds a couple of meals a day to about seventy more out of her carport. Once in the truck, she immediately started out of the airport and gave us the local report.

"The city is hot," she said. It was about 90 degrees, but she wasn't referring to that. Trouble had broken out in downtown Port Au Prince; people were throwing rocks. Pulling off the airport road we had to wait for a caravan of maybe ten or fifteen UN vehicles with troops to go buy. Roberta said it was because people are starving. The government's having a hard time getting control of corruption in the ports and food is either too expensive or is rotting in customs because there aren't enough people to process it. The violence wasn't near where we were, but just knowing that it was going on in another part of the city made me more alert as we drove through town.

Driving in Port Au Prince isn't all that different from driving through some small towns in the US. There's the occasional traffic light, but mostly you're left to your judgment about when to stop and when to pass. But the traffic's a lot heavier than Small Town, USA, so it makes for an interesting trip. I'm not a nervous passenger, so I trusted Roberta not to kill us or any of the pedestrians or bicyclers who we passed dangerously close to.

On the way to Roberta's house we stopped at a grocery store to pick up a couple of things and exchange some currency. Roberta took care of both. She gets a much better rate of exchange than White Guy does. I think everyone knows she's from the States, but you wouldn't know it from looking at her or the way she speaks Creole. My dad and I stayed in the truck while Roberta and her son went inside. I didn't feel like we were in any danger, but there's no hiding that we're strangers here.

After the store, we went back to Roberta's; our home for the next ten days. She has two pieces of property, both walled and gated like every other property along the dirt road she lives on. There's barbed wire and razor wire running along the top of all the walls and she hires a security guard to patrol the property, though he's stealing from her.

She knows the guard's stealing because she's seen him wearing some of the stuff he takes and his girlfriend tells her that the other items are at his house. But Roberta hasn't caught him red-handed yet, so she can't fire him until she can afford the severance deal that Haitian law requires her to give him.

The house is on one piece of property. On the other is the garden and livestock that includes a couple of cattle, maybe a dozen goats, and thousands of tilapia. Apparently the tilapia are popular right now and they're selling them every day. They're even negotiating with the grocery store to start selling them there.

The sun was already going down as we were checking out the fish, so we went inside for a dinner of peanut butter sandwiches made on this delicious local bread that's long and shaped sort of like a flattened baguette, but is really soft and fluffy.

Behind the house is a small guest house where my dad and I are sleeping. There's been no electrical power for like three weeks, but Roberta's got a generator, so we were able to get a couple of fans going and have a comfortable night's sleep.

This morning we had an excellent stew for breakfast made from grits, garlic, and some other stuff cooked in tomato soup. Right now the kids are receiving French lessons from a local tutor in the other room. I'm at the kitchen table where last night I was rocking the smallest member of the household, a six-month old named Joseph. Everything seems peaceful and routine, but Roberta told us this morning that the violence in town has spread to the airport road where they're burning tires.

She's surprised that that's carried over into a second day. Usually the police have it under control in a lot less time. She doesn't expect it to last much longer and later in the week we should be able to go into town, but it still makes my imagination go all sorts of places I'd rather it not. If we'd flown in today instead of yesterday, for example, she wouldn't have been able to come get us.

So for now, we're sticking close to home. Nobody seems worried, so I'm not either. It's just kind of surreal to have the knowledge of the violence running in the back of my head as background noise. I've got a couple of Rottweilers sleeping at my feet and that's pretty cool. Looks like it's going to be a typical day for this remarkable family.

Update: Maybe not so typical. Apparently some folks just tried to storm the palace, the police shot into them, and some of them were killed. Roberta says that's just going to get people more riled up. We may have to stick at the house for our whole trip.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Countdown to Haiti: D-Day

And we're off. Really bad timing from a writing standpoint because I'm starting to see movement on a couple of projects, but what're you gonna do? See you guys in two weeks.

Expect blogging to resume on April 21.

Now, did I remember to pack my tom-tom?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Countdown to Haiti: D-1

Got some shorts and other clothes bought yesterday. (Also saw Nim's Island and pretty much fell in love with it.) Today, I've got to buy sunscreen and make sure I have water bottles. I can't believe we're leaving tomorrow.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Countdown to Haiti: D-2

Well, I just finished the most daunting part of my preparations. I could leave tomorrow and be okay. Fortunately though, I don't have to leave tomorrow, so I'm going to try to do some shopping for warm-weather clothes - which I'm in woefully short supply of - instead.

After Nim's Island, of course.

Oh, no Saturdays with Jane today. Netflix has delivered the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma, so I'll watch that when I get back and report on it. Taking Jane and the Man of the Cloth to Haiti with me. Nothing like reading about Jane Austen fighting pirates while you're running away from witch doctors.

Friday, April 04, 2008

April Theatrical Releases


Nim's Island: My son is SO excited to see this because it has a bearded dragon in it and we've got a bearded dragon. He's been going around for two weeks now telling everyone that it's coming out on April 4th. It does look fun though, so I'm looking forward to seeing it with him.

April 11

Smart People: This one's all about the cast. In order of attraction: Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Dennis Quaid.

Chaos Theory: And this one's all about Ryan Reynolds. Is Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place available on DVD? Oh, look! Yes, it is.

April 18

88 Minutes: I kind of feel like I've already figured out the mystery, which means that I'll either be a) really disappointed or b) really surprised. I wish I knew which it'll be.

The Forbidden Kingdom: Jet Li and Jackie Chan has to be better than Jet Li and Jason Statham was. The trailer certainly looks better.

April 25

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: Looks stupid as all get out, but the trailer makes me laugh. I can't account for my funny bone.

Deception: Because the plot sounds like something Michael Douglas oughta be starring in, I actually wasn't going to list this one until I was farting around on Apple and watched the trailer there. I should've trusted more that I'd like a movie with Wolverine and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ewan McGregor looks especially cool as a nerd who has to man up in order to do battle with the evil Hugh Jackman.

Adventureblog Theater: Sexy Sci Fi

Space: 1899

I'd forgotten how cheesy that show was. And look! It's available on Netflix!

(Oh, yeah, I guess I should also mention that re-mixing this into a silent movie is kind of clever, but honestly I was too transfixed by the space gorilla.)


Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls

Cool mash-up of old serials to create a tribute to Hammer's unmade film.


Doctor Who Season Four

Cue me squealing like a three-year-old girl in 4, 3, 2, 1...


Countdown to Haiti: D-3

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Happy Headless Jesse Honey Day!

I'll have to think of a better name for it, but today's an important day for me. Most importantly, it's my wife's birthday. So even though you're not reading this: Happy Birthday, Honey!

It's also the anniversary of the day Bob Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head.

We just watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford again a couple of nights ago and I was reminded of how inappropriate Casey Affleck's Best Supporting Actor nomination was. I understand why for political reasons they went after Supporting, but Best Actor would've been more appropriate. That was his movie.

It also reminded me that I really want to go to Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield this Fall.

Finally, it's the anniversary of Washington Irving's birth, which is serendipitous because I just got to the part in my novel where the Headless Horseman comes up. And I didn't even plan it that way.

To celebrate, enjoy some Horseman art by Frank Frazetta and Gil Kane.


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