Friday, September 21, 2007

Superman in Romania?

Apparently there's a guy in a blue suit flying around Romania.

Go figure...

Here's the story.

And a pic on the Superman Homepage and links to other stories.

Superman: Doomsday on DVD

Hey, Leaguers!

I just got done watching the new Superman: Doomsday, and... Man, it was pretty cool.

Folks who've asked me about this most famous of Superman stories have often received a sort of negative response. The original comics were written during a time when Superman comics were being handled in a very different manner, not unlike a long-running weekly TV show. At the time, one editor teamed with four writers and four artists (actually three... I think Jurgens was drawing his own book), and they would each handle separate 22 page segments, one each week in each of the then four on-going Superman titles.

What this meant was that there wasn't necessarily inconsistency from week to week, but oftentimes the Death of Superman, World without a Superman and Return of Superman stuff all feels like there's a lot of filler. A lot of filler that isn't going to make sense without either just letting quite a bit slide or deciding to get into a fairly immersive Superman course prior to reading the series of graphic novels.

The movie boils the story down to the bare elements, makes changes to make it accessible to a wider audience, and tells a somewhat new story, depending on how you want to look at it.

Literally dozens of elements of the comics are removed, including the four familiar characters from Reign of the Supermen (Superboy, Eradicator, Steel and Cyborg Superman). Instead, the story takes a new angle which kinda/ sorta blends elements of other aspects of the World Without a Superman story. While I absolutely missed Steel (and Jon Bogdanove's art), I think the choice made by the filmmakers works.

The voice talent is also great, even if I missed Clancy Brown as Luthor. There are some tough moments, and Anne Heche (an actress I know nothing about save tabloid whatnot) is a great Lois. Even if, really, Lois already has three very iconic voices in my head (Kidder, Neil and certainly Dana Delaney).

So why did I like this movie so much?

Man, the action scenes in this movie rock.

Yes, yes... the plot is really well played and the movie is written for an adult-skewing audience rather than for kids, but...

Holy COW, they really went crazy to make sure that a Superman fight in the middle of Metropolis looks like a Superman fight in the middle of Metropolis SHOULD. Doomsday is just as vile a villain here as he was in the original comics, even if he's just as 2D here as he was in the comics... BUT, he's big and scary and makes a great foil for Superman as they go toe-to-toe. Not to mention the level of, urhmm... violence and mayhem that the PG-13 rating allows. For once you sorta feel like Superman is facing a real threat.

Some folks are going to think "Hey, this is kinda straightforward and the battle between Supes and Doomsday is pretty long". Leaguers, that is NOTHING compared to the original comics.

Anyhoo... I dug it.

The movie is NOT for tiny kids, but certainly slightly older kids can handle it. The PG-13 rating means that a lot of what viewers might have guessed about Superman and Lois's relationship is spelled out for the audience. And Perry White says "ass" once or twice. And people kinda died. On camera.

But it also reflects a bit more of what you see in the adult-skewing comics.

The movie is fairly short, but I think this gives me a pretty good deal of excitement for the next few DCU direct to DVD movies, especially the New Frontier movie which is high-lighted on the special features.

I might say that, like the comics, there's quite a bit which follows the Doomsday battle, and I don't think that any of it disappoints. It veers far enough from the comics that you don't necessarily know what's going on and how it wraps up. You can put together the analogs from the comics, but...

Anyhow, good, fun flick. 73 minutes Throw it into your Netflix queue.

The DVD also includes a great 40 minute doc about the original Death of Superman comics.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Minesweeper: The Movie

This is incredibly silly, but if you've ever owned a PC and gotten bored...

Over explaining this will just kill it.

I present to you

Minesweeper: The Movie

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kid Nation = Summercamp

Whoever the critics were who thought Kid Nation was some sort of brutal attack on kids by CBS... Well, a big part of me now believes those stories being circulated were a weird campaign to drum up interest in a show that had to be in the can before they could even market it...

The conceit of Kid Nation is that its some sort of Lord of the Flies scenario with kids living like savages in a ghost town. Only, not so much. When one ponders the camera, sound, PA's, producers and directors who had to have been omnipresent on the set, these kids were probably under the greatest supervision of their young lives. This isn't to mention the extra bodies and kid wranglers who were mostly likely around at the bidding of the insurance companies and lawyers (I mean, "Kid Dead on CBS Game Show" doesn't look real good as a headline).

Because the show is also given an artificial structure of kids being assigned different roles, earning money, and being surprisingly organized instead of just screwing around and throwing rocks at snakes or something, you don't get the feeling that the kids are necessarily out of their element. In a way, I found this hugely disappointing, but it also explained how CBS ever got the show approved.

The kids play a bit to the camera, but only in the sort of awkward way that any kid tries to act grown up when they're interviewed on the news, etc... and some events seemed edited for dramatic effect.

Will we ever see a show where kids are actually dumped in the desert and fend for themselves? No. Because kids are kind of dumb and they'd all be dead in a week. I mean, the kids are given a choice between TV and porta-potties, and its an honest debate among them, and you cheer for the kids when they choose not to walk around in their own filth. Good choice kids!

Wait... why was that a question? Who was the miserable troll who thought TV was more important than sanitary disposal of his poop?

What one cannot do when watching the show is nod in self-assured certainty that YOU would have made a better choice or performed better, because, honestly, when we were 10, we were all kind of stupid and incompetent. So, really, these kids (coached by adults or not) come off like geniuses in comparison when I think how I probably would have fallen down a mine shaft or something in the first two days.

Because its kids, nobody is kicked off the island. Instead, kids can volunteer to throw in the towel. Amazingly, only one kid walks: An 8 year old who declares he's leaving on day one, and does just that.

The reaction of the other kids is crazy support group positive for Quitty McQuitterson. Nobody tells him he washed out. Nobody grumbles. Instead, they all applaud the kid and then go about their business. Which seriously makes me wonder what these kids were coached to do before the cameras began rolling.

Now... how does one incentivize kids to work and do chores?

Its revealed that a council of 4 will annoint one kid per "Town Meeting" with a Gold Star worth $20K and a phone call to their folks. A surprisingly mature 14 year old girl (the line where one is still a kid is a bit odd on the show, mixing 8 year olds with kids up to 15), who brought up issues like "we need to wash the dishes" is given the gold star.

Anyhoo... now with gold stars in their eyes, the rest of the kids will be less likely to throw in the towel. Especially if they are in the designated "labor" class, which is an unrewarding class to be in, indeed.

Yes, they broke up the kids into "Labor", "Kitchen", "Merchant" (the town has stores that sell stuff like root beer), and "Upper Class" (ie: you can hang about like a bump).

I suspect that each week they will give kids a Survivorish type challenge to determine who is in what class.

Anyhow, its NOT the Lord of the Flies show I've been waiting for since Survivor first appeared. It's also sort of twee and syrupy. I'm also curious how/ why two kids reportedly drank bleach while on the show as reported online a few weeks back, but the show is far more conatined than I'd expected.

Seriously. Peabo and I did a week at "Ranch Camp" in middle school. These little ingrates have it pretty good.


There was a column in Time about Kid Nation which is a quick read.

I guess I'm a bit stunned to hear people addressing kids having to cook for themselves and act somewhat responsible for themselves as "abuse". It's inaccurate, and generally diminishes the actual meaning of child abuse (asking a kid to use a porta-potty is not the same as hitting them). Even on their worst day of having to make corn bread from mix, these kids have it far, far better than kids in most of the rest of the world. Not only are the conditions better, but these kids are given an option to leave.

Exploiting kids is nothing new to TV. Hell, shows as far back as "Dennis the Menace" knew how to ruin some kid's life (poor Jay North).

But I guess I'm suprised that rather than seeing actual challenges placed before kids that don't involve extra-curricular activities and teach basic responsibility and survival skills (like how to cook pasta) some critics, this columnist included, seemed to recoil in some horror. I don't want to pass judgment on the "helicopter" parents that the columnist describes and admits to being, as I have no children.

But, man... take some pride in your kid's ability to fend for themselves and live in a world without your arbitration of every challenge. Sheesh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dropping Comics vs. Busiek on Superman


One of the niceties of ending my period of comic blogging is that I can now drop comics that are bugging me without worrying about failing my own mission statement for Comic Fodder.

Focused on how much ass and whose ass is getting kicked, comic reviews usually offer very little insight into the narrative successes and failures of a single issue, let alone the how the single 22 page comic fits into the grand scheme of a larger shared universe. What this basically translates to reviewers who try to comment upon action and events in stories which they aren't following, and too often assume they're up to speed on through impressions and generalizations.

While reviewing for Comic Fodder, when an event would occur such as the ill-conceived "Amazons Attack" in the pages of Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Supergirl and the titular limited series, the scope of the event was as such that I felt that I had to read every issue of the series and the cross-overs to assure myself and my readership that I had a good understanding of DC's editorial direction. Of course, nobody was paying for all the comics which I was buying and not really enjoying.

So, now that I'm no longer comic blogging, I'm looking to unburden myself with a lot of the chaff of the current output of the DCU. And, yes, DCU puts out stuff I am not necessarily going to defend. Occasionally, those books even guest star Superman, so the excess is especially vexing. With the mega-event of Countdown to Final Crisis on the playing field, DC has tried to milk me dry with tertiary one-shots and seemingly meaningless mini-series (did I really need a Lord Havok miniseries? And if it is important... can I not just wait for the trade?).

Drop: Wonder Girl Limited Series

But the series which I am planning to drop immediately aren't the Countdown spin-offs, which I hope to just not pick up again. The first issue of the Wonder Girl mini-series continues on the trajectory of insisting that Wonder Girl must be more annoying than the recent incarnation of Supergirl. Wonder Girl has always been ill-defined, but has come to represent the acme of what boys, by the age of 17, come to call a "headcase".

By the age of 18, most guys realize that a headcase is best ignored and avoided. So, why DC would decide to turn two of their most potentially lucrative teen properties into such grating characters for an audience mostly comprised of males, 20 and older, is sort of mystifying. Only, not really... DC keeps trying to find ways to reach teen girls who read Manga, and one might think that with the cartoony art-style, they're trying for some cross-over appeal. Unfortunately, they've tied their cross-over hopes to a miserably unlikable event and counted upon readers having followed Cassandra Sandsmark since Infinite Crisis.

I've lost count of how many times Supergirl and Wonder Girl have flown away in a huff or in a teary huff after a badly written seen in which they seemed to insult other, better established characters. Why the writers believe readers are looking for comics about teenage pity-parties is a mystery perhaps only Dan Didio can solve. Or maybe Jann Jones. But, man...

Anyhow, one issue was enough. I'm done with it. And am growing closer to being done with Teen Titans lest someone figures out how to re-jigger the title into something readable.

Drop: Batman Confidential

The other title I am disappointed to be dropping is the current "Batman Confidential" storyline. I'm not sure if this was originally intended as someone's screenplay for a Batman film, or what the story is, but writer Michael Green tells his version of the origin of The Joker, while blending in other elements, such as a pre-Scarecrow Jonathan Crane being responsible for the development of Arkham. Not too surprising he can't leave things well enough without feeling he can improve them as he's a TV writer/ producer (yes, he works on "Heroes").

Particularly depressing as the art is by Denys Cowan.

I'm all for various versions from different ages of comics as to how things came to be, but... honestly, does DC think that this Green guy is writing a better story than either Moore and Bolland's The Killing Joke (or its red-headed step child sequel, The Man Who Laughs, or the follow up to that story in Gotham Knights: Pushback?), or Morrison's amazing early 90's take on the origins of Arkham Asylum in "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth"?

Perhaps Didio and the editors of Batman Confidential are a bit more on the concrete side of the fence when it comes to thinking. Surely they didn't lighten up on the why's and wherefore's as this new take on the Joker's origin is more bloody, in its way. Perhaps less traumatic a read, but... it takes the murder spree of the pre-Jokerized "Jack" as casually as the hitman himself.

And, honestly, the failed, tragic comedian of The Killing Joke was a far more chilling origin than a bored sociopath, anyway.

At any rate, these are two books I'm dropping. Along with Criminal, but that's just because I think it will read and collect better as trades.

I'll also be picking and choosing my Countdown tie-ins a bit more carefully moving forward.

Busiek on Superman: Worth Reading

On a different note: If you aren't reading Kurt Busiek's "Superman", you should be. I haven't focused on the title nearly enough either here or when I was reviewing at Comic Fodder. I re-read the most recent issue yesterday during my vacation day, and happened to read a jumbled review of the comic at the Superman Homepage.

Anyhow, one thing led to another and I e-mailed writer Busiek directly to confirm that he's got a fan out there who is really digging his work on Superman. Gracious guy that he is, Mr. Busiek wrote back.

Pretty shortly the whole "Camelot Falls" storyline will be collected in two volumes. When it is, I highly recommend you pick them up. Also, pick up "Back in Action", which was a storyline over in "Action Comics". Of course, you should also read "Up, Up and Away" which was a great Superman v. Lex storyline. For something just terrific, I recommend Superman: Secret Identity, which is just a great stand alone story.

Other Busiek books I'd suggest:
Arrowsmith: So Smart in their Fine Uniforms
Astro City
JLA/ Avengers

Of course, Kurt has been in the game for a few years, and this is just stuff published at DC. If you guys do a quick Google search, there's a lot more out there.

Color Quiz?

Found this at Lauren's Site.

I leave it to third parties who know me better than myself to tell me if the results of the Quiz are true. I don't know why picking colors is supposed to tell me anything, and, certainly, I am baffled by the results. Perhaps someone else can shed some light onto the assessment?

ColorQuiz.comRyan took the free personality test!

"Longs for tenderness and for a sensitivity of feel..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Monday, September 17, 2007

ACF Fest Photo Parade

See Jason's Photo Parade

Days 1 & 2

Day 3

ACL Fest Day 3

Howdy, Leaguers!

Sunday brought us the third and final day of ACL Fest 2007, my first ACL Fest after years of jealously hearing about it from Jason and having too many balls in the air last year to go (we'd literally just arrived in town).

Not sure if Shannon Cahalan himself showed up here today or not to comment on yesterday's post, but that's the tragedy of posting anonymous comments.

Heat was lower on Sunday, and I swapped by goofy fishing hat for my goofy cowboy hat, and that seemed to make a huge difference. Next year, I'm definitely going with a straw hat again, especially one with a wider brim. I also ended up ditching the Scholl's Gel pads despite their delivered promise of happier feet. The pads are narrower than my flipper like feet, and so the pads were starting to hurt the outsides of my feet.

I also want to give a mad shout out to a few products without which I could not have survived the weekend:
-Coppertone 50 SPF aerosol suntan spray. Three days in the sun and I retained my normal, pallid complexion. Sure, I looked sweaty all the time thanks to the sheen of the stuff, but I never burned and only applied once per day.
-Gold Bond Powder. If I have to explain it, best you not worry about it.
-Bottled Water. Kudos to ACL Fest for only minorly gouging us on the cost of bottled water. But we were also allowed to bring in a few bottles of our own. I don't know who these people are who drink beer in the heat, but I was pounding water all three days.

Today we rolled in around 2:30-ish and, unfortunately, the crowd was so big for Robert Earl that at the back of the crowd the sound was bleeding over from another stage. We took refuge at the Austin Ventures stage and saw Ian Ball, who was okay.

After that we sort of wandered. I watched two songs by some hip-hop outfit called "Common", was non-plussed, and moved over to see DeVotchKa at the AT&T Blue Room stage. I was under the impression they were from overseas, but after a quick web search see they're from Denver. Go figure.

Anyhow, they put on a pretty good show. Really fun, and their music is an interesting mash-up of Eastern European sound with a great rock influence. They've got a tuba, and the drummer occasionally busts out a trumpet. Little different from the standard set-up, at any rate.

When DeVotchKa wrapped I went to see Lucinda Williams play for twenty five minutes and ran into Cousin Sue, who had lost her traveling companions. Lucinda sounded pretty good, but I wanted to catch the band Jason and Mandy had mentioned, Bloc Party.

Bloc Party reminded me of some mid-80's Cure stuff, maybe off of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. I'm not anyone else would agree, but the singer was also from the UK and had a sort of Robert Smithy feel to his singing, but the energy of the non-mopey Cure tracks.

Anyway, that's all in my crazy head. I did like them all right.

I sort of took a break after Bloc Party and am glad I did as reportedly Regina Spektor's show (my choice for that time slot) was a zoo. I could kind of hear Amos Lee, but I hung out talking to Kate and Vicki for a while before I realized I didn't feel well and was probably very dehydrated. A couple of bottles of water later I was right as rain and ready for the rest of the day.

My Morning Jacket put on a really great show, which was, oddly, luau themed. There were girls apparently there to do nothing put hold pineapples for an hour. I really like My Morning Jacket's album, Z, and the show in no way disappointed. Sort of an audio assault, which, reportedly, bled over the Wilco set over the hill.

After that, Jason and I wandered over the hill to go see Ghostland Observatory, but caught maybe 10 minutes of Wilco wrapping up. Ghostland Observatory is okay. Not really my cup of tea. No doubt it could be classified as some form of dance music, but it got a bit repetitive pretty quickly, which felt even more so at the end of three days of very different music.

We cut that set short and headed back to Camp X-Ray. Bob Dylan was the final headliner of ACL Fest.

I have a major musical and cultural blindspot when it comes to Dylan. He's a legend, surely, but as he's important to musicians and music nuts, and less so as a pop cuture figure (a la Elvis) a lot of Dylan has passed me by. No question it was great to see and hear him, but it didn't mean as much to me as other music nuts. I only knew half the songs, but I appreciated the show maybe more than really loving it.

It wasn't until I got home that part of why the show felt weird was made clear. The ACL Fest has large Jumbotron screens with good camera coverage. Apparently Dylan made a deal with the producers that he wouldn't be covered close up, and only two angles would be used. I have no idea why this was the case, but the result was that the jumbotrons were semi-useless and the intimacy of the show was somewhat compromised for us (and we were close compared to most folks).

It didn't bug me too much, obviously, as I didn't know what was weird until they mentioned it on News 8. The music more or less carried the show.

Anyway, that was pretty much it.

We got out faster than the previous two nights and the audience seemed very happy. Dylan was certainly more mellow than, say, Arcade Fire, but on such a nice, end of summer night at the end of three good days, it was hard to imagine a better way of wrapping up the weekend.

I've already asked off for tomorrow. I look forward to being lazy and useless tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 2 of ACL Fest

Today was a lot of fun at ACL, even if we didn't head out to until a little later today.

Let me start by saying: I have never text meassaged so much in my life as I did today. Keeping up with people at ACL would be a night mare if not for the magic of the text message.

The first show we got to was Steven Marley. I'm not too much into the reggae, but Steven made a good call and played as much of his dad's stuff as he played of his own. We ran into Heather Wagner and her brother, and despite the fact I've known Heather for what seems to be forever, met her dad for the first time.

We packed up and I headed over to the Austin Ventures stage on my lonesome where I saw the last half of Butch Walker and the Let's Go Out Tonite's. Butch has a terrific amount of energy, and while his music itself wasn't totally crazy, he was having enough fun on stage, that it was sort of infectious.

After that I hung out and found the middle-aged crowd at ACL Fest joining me for Kelly Willis. I'm getting old and I've lived in Austin and with KGSR long enough that I figured I should go check her out. While certainly much more mellow than virtually any other act at ACL, she put on a great set, and I'd certainly consider seeing her again.

I then sought out Team Crack under the Crack flag (which I had previously been accused of losing pieces of the flag pole. I take exception to my blame, but, really, there is no one else to blame. So, hell... looks like I lost part of the flag pole). They were supposed to be on the right of the stage during Arctic Monkeys, so I caught the end of their set while looking for the flag. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah played a nearby stage, so I caught part of them while STILL looking.

I ran into former co-worker Chris Chimera and, pretty much simultaneously, Shannon Kahaelin (sp?) an old friend of Jason's from middle and high school.

Anyhoo, I did find Team Crack before Arcade Fire.

Despite Jim's warnings, Arcade Fire @#$%ing rocked. Serious. That was a kick ass show. The audience was very into it, and the band was amazingly entertaining.

Anyhow, I'll see them whenever they come in the future.

While we were leaving the park, I had a really weird panic attack/ claustrophobic attack like I haven't had in, like, a decade. We passed out the gate and people were walking in all different directions, and, suddenly, I kinda thought I was going to throw up. It was really weird. I felt fine right up until that moment, but I abruptly had the feeling I didn't want to move, and recall thinking "I can never do this again" as I saw Jason (who was walking slightly ahead of me) getting further away.

I suppose I bucked up and kept moving, and once we were with a crowd all walking the same direction, I was perfectly okay again. Sort of weird, but, hey.. at least I know it could happen again tomorrow, so I'll be ready for it.

I'm tired. I'm going to bed.