Saturday, May 23, 2009

The First Lois Lane merges with the infinite

I am sorry to report that Joan Alexander, voice actress who played Lois Lane on the long-running Superman radio program, has passed. She was 94.

Alexander also played Lois Lane in the Fleischer cartoons of the early 1940's.

I think if you go back and listen to the radio program or watch the cartoons, you'll find Alexander was part of the image making of Lois Lane as tough-as-nails, hard-working city-gal. Its a different take from the great Noel Neill, lovely Phyllis Coates or unstoppable Margot Kidder, with a bit more of East Coast flair to it.

At any rate, she'll be missed.

Here from the Washington Post

'tip o' the hat to the Superman Homepage.

Sherlock Holmes movie en route

I'm not a Sherlock Holmes aficionado. Nor am I a member of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Society, etc... But like many people, I read my fair share of Holmes at one point in my life.

I'm not really sure Holmes translates very well to a late 20th or early 21st Century aesthetic when it comes to movie making. And as much as I like him in movies from Iron Man to Chaplin, I'm not sure Robert Downey Jr. would immediately pop into mind as my first choice for Holmes. Or Jude Law as Watson (that one just baffles me). Both are fine actors, certainly. But it also sort of screams "this ain't your father's Sherlock Holmes! This is EXTREME Holmes, kids!". Not surehow I feel about that.

I'm also noting that like many trailers these days, this trailer indicates absolutely nothing about story. There was a theory when I was in film school that the usefulness of story had come to an end. I'd sort of scoffed at the idea at the time, but... apparently you at least don't need a story to sell people on showing up for a movie.

On the plus side, it also means somebody is going to cash in by putting out nicely bound editions of the actual Holmes work. And while I will most certainly go see this movie (note: it features explosions), I will also probably be looking for a nice edition or two of a Holmes collection.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friday Linkage and Heads-Up

I really don't have a whole lot to discuss. Sorry, kids.

The long Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, so I hope you've got a BBQ or two planned. And, of course, will observe the day with the utmost respect, attending your local parade, etc... All you leaguers are good citizens, so I'm sure you'll hit three or four local events.

Not sure what we're up to, but I am certain we'll make the most of our precious weekend hours.

Next week will probably be very, very quiet here at The League. I (wait for it) am running a conference. There's a tale there, and one day when I'm not still recovering, i shall share that tale. For it is a cautionary tale, and the many lawyers in the League's readership would be doing some serious forehead slapping as described what happened. But we'll put that aside for right now.

But NEXT week, I'll be playing host/ MC/ and event coordinator to 125 of the rowdiest, craziest librarians you're likely to see in this life or any other. (I got them free padfolios and flash drives! Suck on that, SXSW!)

Anyhow, my assumption and game plan is that from Tuesday at 7:00 AM until Thursday evening when I flop into bed, I will be a bit pre-occupied for the blogging. Perhaps you'd like to follow our Tweets? No, really. We're maybe going to Twitter this mutha'.



Here's a link to a preview
at Newsarama for JackBart's Poe comic.

Here's the trailer for JimD's movie.

As you can tell, its a lot like Weird Al's "UHF" in spirit.

Here's a link to an especially magical site called "Awkward Family Photos". I welcome you to view the images and put that one away in the 'ol memory bank for the day when you have family photos to take of your own.

Hat tip to Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool, which, if you haven't bookmarked it, then you probably should.

For some reason I received a catalog in the mail this evening from design Toscano. I have something of an inkling of how I might wind up on such a mailorder list, but I'm not really sure. I highly recommend browsing their website and purchasing all that you can afford.

There's even a very special lawn ornament that I might need to get for Jason.

Only $90 before S&H!

And for some reason, I'm now receiving Architectural Digest in the mail. I have no idea why.

Also, I'm already sick of the new Green Day song. But I've also been sick of Green Day since 1996, so...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chuck E. Cheese in the News

Somehow I received two Chuck E. Cheese related news items in 24 hours.

From Randy:
Man slugs Chuck E. Cheese. This scenario seems entirely too likely, from what I recall.

From Jason:
And Chuck E. gets a little too close for comfort. That'll ruin your trip to see the Rock-a-Fire Explosion...

JackBart makes a Comic

I don't see much of JackBart these days. He's a friend of Jason's, who I got along with pretty darn well, thanks in no small part due to a mutual love of horror and genre media.

Jack actually writes the stuff, though, as part of his career. He's sold a couple of screenplays, but I don't believe they've been produced as of yet (Jason will correct me if I'm wrong). However, he's recently sold one of his concepts to Boom! Studios, a comic company which I believe is based out of LA, and has recently employed League-favorite comic writer Mark Waid as its Editor-in-Chief.

JackBart wrote a comic about: Edgar Allen Poe. Coming in July! (so preo-order a copy of issue 1. Don't worry, Jason. I'll make sure I grab you a copy.)

Cover A

Cover B

I'm not just excited that the Poe comic is coming, I'm excited that its coming from Boom!, who I think is doing things right.

In many ways, while I may champion the characters and stories of various companies, I sort of think that they have semi-broken business models that rely on the Direct Market entirely too much, which has led to a generation of kids having no interest in comics, not just from content, but a lack of availability.

Boom licensed several kid-friendly items, from Pixar's "Cars" and "Incredibles" to "The Muppets". And I seriously love the Muppets comic so far (Nathan and Michael might want to pick that one up for the family).

The rumor is that they're looking to move out of just working in the direct market and back into other kinds of retail (bookstores, maybe at box stores, etc...). In my opinion, that doesn't hurt the Direct Market (ie: Austin Books), but strengthens it as it builds a network of comic readers to feed into the Direct Market.

Poe may not be part of that effort, but I couldn't be happier for JackBart. And while he told me online that he hasn't met Mark Waid yet, I may send my tattered copy of "Kingdom Come" with him to ComicCon this year so Waid can sign it. And maybe my FF hardcover. And "The Life Story of The Flash". Well... I guess I'll have mercy.

Just one book.

JackBart has agreed to let me do an interview in a while, about when the book comes out. In the meantime, check these things out:

Diamond talks about Poe

The Boom! Studios Blog

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

JimD Makes a Movie

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, JimD asked me to take a look at a screenplay he'd written. I was interested to read it as I'd enjoyed Jim's work that I'd previously got my mitts on, but then he let me know... he'd been working on the film for a while with his pal, Alistair (an occasional Leaguer). And, unlike most of the stuff I was used to from folks I remembered talking big from film school, they were actually going to get their movie made.

Sure, I gave JimD a few notes, but the script was sort of past that point. You could tell a lot of what was going to happen next would depend on directorial and actor's choices because the thing was ready to go. I liked the script, liked the ideas in it.

JimD and Alistair went ahead and produced the darn thing a while back, and I couldn't be happier for them or more impressed with the results. Sure, it would have been better if it had starred a certain chubby, yet good looking comic book fan, but I don't think you can argue with the results.

The movie is called "Pleadings" - it's about lawyers -, and I welcome you to check out the IMDB site. (They might want to add a plot synopsis. Just sayin'. I'm a little reluctant to say too much about the plot as I wasn't sure what I shouldn't say.)

It looks like the movie is ready for DVD distribution. No, I have no idea how the hell that works, so don't ask.

This here would be the DVD cover. Click on it to read the plot synopsis.

The movie turned out very well, thanks for asking. I think you Leaguers will enjoy it. Performances from their troupe are strong, the directing and cinematography creative and more than occasionally showing bits of brilliance. So there you go.

So I'll keep you guys posted as to when YOU can obtain a copy of the DVD for your very own.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Snake n' Bacon

Over the past year or so, I've become a fan of Michael Kupperman's comic "Tales Designed to Thrizzle".

It's a little difficult to explain the comic and do it justice, but I enjoy features such as "Twain & Einstein" and "Snake n' Bacon".

You sort of have to imagine if Tom Tomorrow drew more than four things, and/ or could handily imitate different styles and sort of mix media.

He's also quite good at finding new angles on old ads one would find in comics and magazines.

sorry, Mom.

Anyway, they've adapted Snake'n'Bacon, one of Kupperman's strips, to a show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

I highly recommend. (It's, like, 15 minutes)

Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies

A few years back, DC launched a new series: Superman/ Batman.

It was in the spirit of the old comic series, World's Finest, which had been the series launched in the 1940's which put Superman and Batman in the same comic (it had originally been conceived as "World's Fair Comics", to coincide with the 1939 World's Fair in New York).

Comics are awesome. Oh, yes they are.

After 20 years of Dark Knight Returns inspired animosity, the powers that be at DC finally decided that just because Superman and Batman didn't always agree on methods, etc... they were more interesting as a mismatched pair of cops than they were as Batman being a jerk and Superman just standing there letting Batman rattle on (I mean, seriously... at what point would Superman not just start avoiding the guy?).

So was launched Superman/ Batman, with words and story by Jeph Loeb (the writer of Teen Wolf! and Commando!) and art by Ed McGuinness. McGuinness had come to notoriety through his work on Mr. Majestic, one of several Superman-like titles that popped up in the 90's explosion, and which was eventually folded into the DCU multi-verse (along with the entire Wildstorm Univere). He went on to pencil Superman circa 2001, and I actually have one of his original art pages from the "Our Worlds at War" storyline.

Super Pals

The first storyline was entitled Public Enemies, and drew to a close the long-running storyline set up in the Superman comics when Lex Luthor nabbed the 2000 election, becoming President of the United States. So what happens when he puts out a warrant for the arrest of Superman? And a bounty for his capture? Awesomeness. That's what happens.

Anyhow, I don't want to reveal too much, as DCU Animated is now bringing the story to DVD as an animated movie. The art style is probably as close as they could get to translating McGuinness's unique style to an animated form. They'll probably also have to drop a few elements of the comic tied to continuity, but I'm optimistic that this will be a really fun ride.

The comic was a big, ridiculous action flick sort of thing. Looks like the movie will be more of the same.

Check out a semi-legal trailer here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lazy Weekend

Hey Leaguers,

It was a nice weekend, all in all.


Friday night Jamie and I stayed in and watched Disney's "Bolt" on OnDemand. Quick recap: Bolt is a dog that's a TV star of a sci-fi show about a sort of superdog protecting his person, a 12-years-oldish girl, Penny, from an evil scientist and his minions. He is sort of lost from the studio and has to learn that he's not a superdog (he doesn't know he's a celebrity, so that whole part of the fish out of water bit is conspicuously absent).

The movie has some issues, not the least of which is that the opening sequence in which Bolt is acting as a superdog is the best animated, coolest part of the film. The rest of the movie is fairly pat, which is fine. Its family entertainment and the "incredible journey" part of the story will be new to your young 'uns. And, somehow, I found the whole movie kind of sad in a way I don't think was intended.

I do think it picked up substantially in the second half and the ending is sort of classic Disney feel-good. Disney's 3D animation wing has greatly improved, but they haven't quite mastered the form in the manner of Pixar, finding ways to humanize and animate more stylized characters.

Kids and adults will enjoy Rhino, the hamster who joins the journey. perhaps for different reasons, but I sort of loved Rhino. Who gave the best motivational speech I've seen in a movie in a while.

I should also note that for Superman fans, the comparisons between Bolt's sci-fi TV show character and Krypto, Superman's canine Kryptonian pal is inevitable. And, yeah, I would love to see Krypto receive the big screen treatment. So there's a little envy there, but it didn't last too long, given the nature of the story.

You should check it out, especially you Leaguers with kids.

Also, Jenny Lewis is on the soundtrack. Go figure.


As very little opened this week and it was raining, we wound up then watching "Role-Models" on OnDemand. It was pretty much exactly what I expected.

My Office

I also spent time goofing in my office and re-arranging junk. Ie: playing with my toys.

Korean BBQ

We wound up having dinner with Mangum, who recommended we try Korean BBQ, which I'd never tried before. I have to say that my first experience was, once I got oriented, very good.

I don't know if Matt and Jamie were terribly excited that I selected squid as one of our options, but I liked it. Of course, I know nothing about Korean food, so... just because I liked it doesn't mean a whole lot. But the prices were okay, and it was nice to try something new.


Letty and Juan are due fairly soon. We've not heard the name of the child yet, but Juan pitched Lando Calrissian Garcia, and that seemed to be a popular favorite.

We had a few folks over to wish Letty and Juan well with their final days as couple before they become 2 plus 1. We over purchased on meat, but that's what usually happens when I hit Central Market infrequently. Everything seems like a good idea.

Anyhow, it was nice to dust off the grill and have some folks over. I think Matt is right, that we haven't done this since football season. Hopefully we can roll right into football season with the cookout season.

It was a beautiful day, somehow, and we did manage to get outside a bit. Probably the last of that before things heat up and we're all running for air conditioning until October.

Hope ya'll had a good weekend.

I apologize now for talking about "Smallville"

Smallville is a bad, bad show.

On any other network, "Smallville" would have been canceled long ago. It ranks in the lowest rungs of TV watcherdom*, but because it shows on The CW (the bastard love child of failed networks "The WB" and "The Paramount Network"), and has more viewers than "Everybody Hates Chris", its the darling of the CW network.

When I am at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter will be watching my life with me on some super-high-def Pearly Gates TV, and he's going to hit pause and ask me "why? Why did you spend so many hours wasting your life watching this show?"

And I won't know. I won't feel good about it. I don't feel good about it now. I barely admit that I watch the show. And, truthfully, I did stop watching it for a year or more. But then I saw an article on how they were bringing in Smallville's version of the Justice League, and I tuned in, and, well...

The truth is, I don't think I'm just making it up that the first three or four seasons of Smallville were frequently dippy as they tried to mix "Dawson's Creek" style teen-romance with superheroics. But it was a completely different and better show than what we're seeing now.

For those of you who don't know... Smallville was supposed to tell the stories of a teen-aged Clark Kent (the pilot was his first day at high school) coming to terms with his powers and his identity as something other than human. The show cast John "The Dukes of Hazzard" Schneider as Jonathan Kent, and Annette "Superman III" O'Toole as Martha Kent, the two playing his wise and loving parents, guiding him toward his role as Superman.

Anyway, the show was pretty straightforward. Teen-aged kid fights crime, lies to a 20-something Lex Luthor about having an alien origin, and has romantic trouble with the worst character on TV, ever (Lana Lang as portrayed -poorly - by Kristin Kreuk).

For a while there, the show featured name actors, from Rutger Hauer to Christopher Reeve. Terence Stamp was the voice of Jor-El, and a concerted effort seemed to be made to tie the show to the Reeve-starring movie continuity.

The series completed its 8th season this last week. Gone are the days when the show had a budget that could support keeping high dollar actors like John Glover, John Schneider and Annette O'Toole around for every episode. These days, those actors are all gone, the supporting cast of 20-somethings, just happy to be working, mostly appears in half the episodes, and the FX budget appears to be roughly 1/3rd of what it was in the earliest episodes. We're lucky if we see Clark run at superspeed anymore.

More than that, however, is that the scope and scale of the show seems to have diminished, and what writing does occur has been, for several seasons (and through a complete changing of the guard this year in creative leadership) pretty much a trainwreck.

And yet... I keep watching.

In many ways, I really do not understand how supposedly professional writers could be so very, very bad. Just simple, dumb choices have led to an ever escalating parade of dopeyness.

To list or innumerate the failings of the show is probably an exercise in frustration and/ or self-loathing for myself as a viewer. However, as a Superman fan, its fascinating to watch unfold as the show seems unable or unwilling to just go ahead and try to build toward the point at which Clark Kent makes the decision to put on his tights and save the world. It's become less about the young Kal-El's path to iconic status as The Man o Steel and more about the most extended case of "get to the point" in televised history. I say this as someone who watches "Lost".

There were improvements this season. I do not exaggerate when I say that Smallville fell into a weird pattern in seasons 6 and 7 where it wrapped its main plot of the episode and utilized the last 10 minutes of every broadcast to have Clark berated by his "love interest", effectively celebrating something that slid from wicked co-dependency to an emotionally abusive relationship. I wouldn't make too much note of that other than that, based on the Neutrogena and make-up ads, Smallville is geared towards teen-aged girls. Which... is squarely not in the usual superhero demographic. But given how the show insisted that Clark and Lana's deeply dysfunctional relationship was held up as "true love"... it just got creepy by the time Kreuk left the show.

What sort of bizarre superhero show spends 1/4 of its broadcast time each week dedicated to the superhero apologizing and being told he is a bad person? And what kind of weirdo fantasy was that for the audience of teen-aged girls? What do I not know and what am I missing here?

Add in what occurred with a different supporting character this season, and we've moved into coded messages about the nobility of aiding and abetting a known murderer, with a heavy dose of Stockholm Syndrome, sexual predation as romance, infidelity and physical abuse.

Hoooray, Smallville writers!

And still, I watch. Mostly at this point for the same reasons one would watch Melrose Place back in the day. By driving all character decisions from a plot standpoint rather than bothering to try to have anyone behave rationally or explain their actions in anything that makes sense (and doesn't require heaping guilt upon our Superman), everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on the show seems as dumb as a bunch of cattle. But unlike Melrose place, eventually the writers seem to sober up at the end of the season, realize they've written their supposedly heroic characters like a herd of morons without a minder, and try to backpeddle out of the other 20-odd episodes of mistakes with a lot of speechifying and self-serving rationalization.

But I cannot look away.

There's a fundamental difference, I think, between how writers typically handle superheroic comics and how Joe or Jane TV writer handles a TV show, or even where those writers are coming from. My guess is that the writers of Smallville are work-for-hire writers with little in the way of a comics background. If their reference point for superheroics are within the loop of madness that Smallville has become, then the reference points just aren't going to be there for the writers to know that, hey... Superman isn't going to be much of a Superman if every cross word from a pal is going to send him into a tizzy of inaction or ineffectiveness.

Superman didn't become Superman because he was unwilling to take action or let grouchy "friends" dictate his actions.

At any rate, I now have a few months to consider whether I'll watch the show next year, but even in that, I know I'm caught in a loop. Smallville always starts out with the best of intentions for a season, and the first two or three episodes don't usually hint much at the madness which is to come. Its when they start setting up the plot for the next 20 episodes that things get out of control.

Lost is really onto something with this whole shortened season with an end point business.

*Week May 4-10, 2009, Smallville was the CW's #2 show, pulling in 3,392,000 viewers. "Dancing with the Stars" pulled in over 20 million. The real news is that, for some reason, America's Funniest Home Videos pulled in almost 7 million viewers. That's a lot of people watching other people get hit in the nards, Leaguers.