Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Captain America is Dead

I picked up Captain America #25 today. It seems that they've decided to bump off Cap.

Now, for guys like me who've been reading comics for a while, it's tough to buy that anyone who ever dies in a comic is, in fact, dead. Comics are passed from creative team to creative team, and the idea is that creators should act as the best custodian possible for a comic series, but never leave the series in tatters.

Writers may get to play god within a certain framework, but how excited do you think Publisher Dan Buckley would be to head to the meeting of the Board of Directors and explain why Captain America, the fighting symbol of the United States, can't help them sell T-shirts, ice cream or be around for a potential multi-million dollar movie? I'm betting our friend, Steve Rogers, isn't actually going to be gone for too long.

Oh, sure, I bought the issue. My greedy little mits pulled the final copy right off the shelf (only two hours after the store opened, at that). You don't get buried this far into comic geekiness wiithout listening to that squeaky little voice in your head that says, "Ah, it's just one more comic! Pick it up! Now go torch the library."

You sort of have to pick and choose from the options League-Mite gives you. Some of them are burny.

Anyhow, it's interesting to see that the press bought into the "Dead Icon" deal again. I guess folks don't really remember that Superman "died" and came back. Or that even our friend Robin "died" and came back (although that took well over a decade).

I don't mean to be so cynical, but I can't really buy into this one. What I CAN buy is that Brubaker is a darn good writer, and that this series will probably be worth picking up. Marvel's on a roll from a universal standpoint. I can't vouch if each and every title is a good one, but there's some interesting stuff going on in the House of Ideas.

Heck, they got me and League-Mite buying Marvel comics again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Zodiac - my $0.02

Saturday I saw Zodiac with Matt Mangum. The theater, I think it's worth mentioning, was filled with dudes. A lot of those dudes were in their early to mid-20's.

The previews may be a bit telling as to the appetite of the "target" audience for a movie like Zodiac.

trailer #1) Bruce Willis in a hair piece and slimmed down is a magazine publisher who is meeting girls online and killing them.

trailer #2) Anthony Hopkins kills his wife, or does he? Is he merely pulling more flies into his daibolical spider's web?

trailer #3) Teen-age "Rear Window". A seemingly normal guy living next door to a kid with a police-installed ankle bracelet sees his neighbor killing people. he sends the minority-guy best-friend to his doom.

Zodiac is, ostensibly, a serial killer movie. Zodiac was one of those names that used to be brought up in news reports alongside names like Son of Sam, the Green River Killer, John Wayne Gacey, Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas, and more recent acquisitions to the pool of whackos. Operating during the 1970's, Zodiac claimed to have killed dozens. But as Zodiac is real, and was never caught, short of writing speculative fiction, there shouldn't be much of a narrative angle to the story. Heck, they finally even made an arrest in the Green River killings a few years ago, so that story has some closure.

Instead of telling yet another post "Silence of the Lambs" serial killer story, Zodiac works more like a bit of a detective story, following a few key players in the Zodiac investigation from 1969 through the 00's as various real-life people become pulled into the investigation. Some viewers may find the film's refusal to cast any specific person as the point of view for teh audience a bit troubling, but in a lot of ways, that would take away from what director David Fincher seemed to be attempting in representing the facts of the case as a drama.

The movie is far more interested in the manner in which the investigations occured than dwelling over the grim details of the murders. Once Fincher provides the audience with a fairly brutal look at the murders (not for shock value as much as to contextualize the action to follow), the story begins to unfold in a series of frustrating stutter steps. Real-life jurisdictional disputes, human foibles, arrogance and simple mistakes may have left multiple law-enforcement teams unable to piece together the identity of the murderer.

With three sensationalistic serial killer movies previewed before this movie, there's a certain maturity I could appreciate regarding Fincher's decision not to romanticize, glorify or mystify the subject matter. It doesn't take a huge leap to see that Zodiac isn't regarded as any kind of genius by the filmmakers, and no attempt is made to make much out of him other than as a brutal megalomaniac.

There are a few narrative tricks I enjoyed that seemed to be the Fincher's "up yours" to the Zodiac, and once you see what he's doing, you sort of want to send Fincher a big valentine.

There's a lot to this 2.5 hour movie, but, for me, it never dragged, and I thought that the script and actors did an excellent job of presenting some seemingly mundane but convoluted case work as succinctly as possible.

Performances are very good. Robert Downey Jr. plays himself (can't wait to see his Tony Stark), Jake Gyllenhaal has a lot to carry, and does it well. Mark Ruffalo really surprised me. And even Dermot Mulroney may have found his niche. Apparently some guys behind us had an issue with Chloe Sevigney not being "hot" enough for them, but that died down quickly. And feature film fixture Brian Cox was excellent in his scenes (man, I love Brian Cox).

You can't really say "Hey, Zodiac is a fun movie!". It's not. But it is an interesting movie, and, if like the film's Robert Graysmith, you enjoy puzzles... or if you dont mind a little detective work in your movies about detectives, it's not a bad way to spend 2.5 hours.

The movie certainly makes a case for identifying a certain player by film's end, drawn from the work of amateur sleuth Robert Graysmith. As with any real-life mystery presented as a film, and with only the facts of the film to work with, the finger pointing seems as reasonable with their choice of suspect as anyone. If true, it's fascinating to consider. Fincher is smart enough to leave it somewhat open ended, but with Graysmith working on the film, the film manages to bring some closure, if not a conviction.

I did read on someone's blog that they felt that with today's police tactics that such a case could never occur again. I assume he was referring to cross-referencing of data, etc... I'm not so sure. Computer systems are only as good as the people using them. Cops are only as good as the evidence they find and can prove in court. Juridictional issues are always jurisdictional issues, and if we learned anything from 9/11, it's that data that should and could be shared often doesn't make it into the hands of the right people.

As Matt and I were sort of trapped on the seats in the aisle when the credits rolled, I heard the same conversation three times from those young men who filled the threater.

"I thought it was going to be... you know..."
"Dude, it's a true story."
"I know, but..."
"They can't just make stuff up."
"Yeah, I guess not."

So, yes, if you're expecting Saw IV, you might be disappointed.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tuesday Short Bits

-Walter Reed Army Hospital/ Bob Woodruff and Veteran's Affairs Hospital

Wow. This is just one of those things that I recall some folks being concerned about in the run up to the Iraq War. It's easy to send in the tanks and helicopters. It's in the following years that we, as a nation, have to answer the tough questions. Will we honor our soldiers when they come home, but don't come home in a box? When they took a piece of metal to the head for us, will we make sure we take care of them?

I watched the Woodruff special last week, and the answer appears to be: we'll help out a bit, but don't expect too much. Oh, and we'll report that injuries are coming in at a rate of 1/10th of the actual numbers of soldiers receiving treatment.

-Anna Nicole Smith's Mom

I totally think I saw her at the Austin airport when I went to pick up Jamie Sunday night. Jamie assures me it wasn't her, but I think it was.

-Ann Coulter

At what point did folks decide it was okay again to use bigotry as part of the political process? And just outright hatred?

How can you even do much but roll your eyes anymore when Coulter speaks? One horribly distasteful comment can sink a career, but it's no secret that a steady line of reprehensible comments builds a career.

I spent enough time in suburbia to know that this is the sort of discourse that occurs over a cold beer or three, and that, however idiotic and seemingly juvenile Coluter's comments, she's speaking for some segment of the population. Do we give too much credit to the Conservative Political Action Conference? At least to some attendees.

-Kyle MacLachlan to voice Superman

Here's some good news (in my book). Special Agent Cooper is scheduled to play the voice of the Man of Steel in the upcoming "New Frontier" straight to DVD feature-length cartoon.

I think MacLachlan should have landed the George Reeves role in Hollywoodland, but I guess the producers didn't think he'd sell enough tickets. He was, after all, up for the role and is the appropriate age.

Keep your eyes peeled for "New Frontier" when it's released. The comic series was excellent stuff, and Darwyn Cooke's style will most likely be maintained for the feature (think 1950's and 60's cartooning). Hopefully the series was self-contained enough that nobody will feel they need to tweak the story too much. I loved the Right Stuff meets Mort Weisinger sensibility of the whole thing.

Just wait until you see Cooke's Lois and Wonder Woman.

-Superman at accident, but not particularly helpful

And before anyone assumes I do not have a TV or the interwebs...

-Extreme Make-Over Home Edition airplane family

Upon occasion on Sunday nights Jamie I watch this horrible, horrible program while we DVR stuff on other networks. The formula is simple: Find people who have simply too much responsibility and a ton of misfortune fall upon them, and give them a McMansion and flat screen TV. Usually the family has someone who is chronically ill and lives in a hovel, or they've taken in 6 foster kids and a tornado levelled their trailer.

The show has been on a while, but last night was the first time I thought (a) these people are badly off not just because fate dealt them an unlucky hand, but because they made a stupid decision by cancelling their home owner's insurance while refinancing, and then living across the street from an airport. Yes, a plane ran into their house. And (b) these people fully knew what was in store for them when they got on the program. They fully expected the amenities of the McMansion and kept saying things like "Oh, this is totally what I wanted." Not, "Wow, I am used to sharing a room with six people and ten rats." IE: these people weren't exactly slumming it prior to the show, or at least prior to getting hit with an airplane.

A few weeks ago, the show was about a family in Austin with 5 autistic kids and a dad who worked two blue-collar jobs to try to cover the bills, but their house was days from being foreclosed upon. But with five autistic kids, the bills were piling up, the house was in serious disrepair and mom was at her wit's end.

These people cancelled their insurance as part of a plan to refinance their existing house. Had the plane NOT hit the house, they'd still be a comfortably middle class family with very few problems. Sure, their son was a marine who'd been in Iraq, but he wasn't injured. And he was 21. As mentioned above, we have a lot of our troops who are not so fortunate. And, he's 21... How long was he expected to live at home?

I dunno. The funny thing is that the cast usually spends the whole episode talking about how amazing the families are who they're helping out. In this instance, they were sort of quiet on the subject. I think they knew, and we knew, that there were probably a lot of families in Florida in much worse shape than these folks.

When Good Sentiments Go Wrong

This dude had this hair as late as September 12th, 2001.

I'm probably mistaken, but is that the same beach from the end of "Planet of the Apes"?

Found at this blog.

Along with this Captain America/ Team America video.

editor's note: Mom, Dad... do not watch. This has naughty, naughty words.

Scenes are from the little-seen 1990 Captain America feature film starring the son of JD Salinger. Yes, I have seen it. And it rulz.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

week end

Well, with Jamie gone for the weekend, I still managed to entertain myself fairly well.

Friday night I enjoyed an extended dinner engagement with Jason, Mandy, Greg Johnson, Susan and a girl who I believe was named "Shelly". We wound up at Homeslice Pizza on S. Congress, which is pretty much just a dimly lit, overcrowded pizza joint, but it's a nice destination for a night out when you don't have much planned. But, it's also apparently a bit of a hipster locale as evidenced by the lengthy wait we had for a table.

Saturday, Peabo's 10:55 AM call woke from slumber. I have no internal clock anymore. Each morning I rise with either dogs or wife harassing me (or an alarm), and long ago I lost any natural ability to just wake up from sleep. Lately Jamie's been doing little "fly-by" wake-up's. She comes by the bed for 30 seconds and says "are you going to get up?" when I am clearly dead asleep and in deep REM. It's enough to sort of wake me up, but then she wanders off in disgust, and I fall asleep once more, only to have the process repeated every 30 to 45 minutes until I finally roll out of bed. I'm not sure what strategy she believes she's employing, but it's not working.

So, Saturday morning, I showered, dressed and headed for Peabo's, where I caught the second half of the Texas/Kansas game (Texas lost). Then, Peabo and I sort of hung out while Adriana took a much needed nap. Adriana and Peabo have about 7 weeks before little Jefferson is born, and it's safe to say they're both excited, but not in a "WE'RE HAVING A BAYYY-BEEEEE!!!!!" creepy kind of way that we non-breeders fail to get properly jazzed about.

I've known Peabo since 4th grade (when we kicked it old skool on the corner of Taterwood and Pencewood). Peabo will be a good dad, although it may take decades for his kids to appreciate that their father's continuous mocking laughter was born out of love. I expect Adriana shall be the voice of reason at Casa de Peabo. I suspect there shall be a lot of "survival of the fittest" going on with Peabo and his brood. You want to be one of Peabo's kids, you gotta be tough.

Saturday night I went with Mangum to see "Zodiac", which is long enough, but add on 30 minutes of really horrible trailers (all of the trailers were about crazed, guy next door, secret genius murderers. There were three in a row) and we walked out of the movie at 12:30 AM.

I spent today cleaning. We haven't done any serious cleaning since a solid, post-Christmas attempt. We've done some vaccuuming, etc... but not a "today we clean the house" sort of cleaning, and it shows. With Parental Units in town next weekend, and then (hopefully) Nathan and Wagner coming for Spring Break/ SXSW, plus a surprise announcement of a visit from former roommate and now crusading attorney, K. B., the house needs to be in order. There's also a chance for a visit by The My.

So, today I cleaned toilets and such. Which was good, but i missed the lovely weather. Furtunately, I hear it's going to be 70+ and sunny all week, so...

Also, I spoke with the birthday girl at length this afternoon.

More on "Zodiac" later.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.


Happy Birthday to the M-O-M!!!

We love you, Mom! See you next weekend!