Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Always Listen to Recommendations From People You Trust

Some time ago the guy who works at one of my local comic shops was talking up a little anime show called Cowboy Bebop. 'What a fantastic series', he would tell me, 'with one of the best English dubs that he's ever heard for an anime series'. Even though I was never a really big anime fan, he urged me to try it out, believing that if I only sat down and watched a few episodes it would open my eyes.

Grudgingly, I took his advice and downloaded a couple of episodes. I didn't want to pay to see something I was sure I wouldn't like so I figured I'd grab a few off the 'net and if I, by some miracle, did like it I could always rent or buy them later.

Needless to say, I was floored by the show. It was not only the best anime I'd ever seen but one of the best animated series' I'd ever seen period, Japanese or North American.

Having this experience follow so close on the heels of my discovery of the late, great Doom Patrol monthly by John Arcudi and Tan Eng Huat (which came through the late, great Seth Fisher) I decided that I was never going to poo-poo a friend's recommendation from then on. If someone was excited enough to say, 'You should try this', I was going to endeavour to do just that.

My latest experience with this comes from a list of Nick Hornby's favourite authors and books. I was looking for something new and diffreent than what I was accustomed to, and I remembered reading in an interview somewhere that Hornby (whom I love for his books About a Boy, Songbook, High Fidelity and How to Be Good) really liked Anne Tyler of Accidental Tourist fame. He specifically mentioned Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant as a favourite. Seeing as my wife also likes Tyler and happened to have a copy of same book handy, I gave it a chance and started reading it this week.

It started off a little rocky, but by the second chapter I was pretty much hooked. I can see why Hornby and my wife like her writing so much. It's very real, very descriptive and the characters, though generally sedate in their overall natures, come alive on the page as if you were, or knew someone, just like them. It's a pretty easy read and the words just roll off the page once you get the rhythm of it. It's pretty good stuff.

Having also been in a somewhat DeMatteis-ish mood, I'm debating now if I'm going to try and conquer one of his favourite author's, Dostoyevsky, next. A little Brothers Karamazov to shake off some of the cobwebs, perhaps? Or maybe Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. It's been years since I read that one. I guess we'll see when I finsih with Tyler.

Later!

P.S. - For the chronologically minded, this post was actually started on the 24th, but I've been adding to it off and on at work for the last 5 days.

mike

Much Overdue LinkBlog

My bookmarks - like my house, my stress levels and my mind, of late - runneth over!

I haven't done a linkblog in quite some time and I have a number of things I've been collecting up for the last few weeks, so without further ado...

Paul Reubens of Pee-Wee Herman fame has announced that he will be making more Pee-Wee films springing off from the reruns of Pee-Wee's Playhouse which have shown up on Cartoon Network this year. I loved Pee-Wee's Big Adventure so I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can come up with and pull off with this movie.

A little past the DVD release date but here's David Lloyd talking about V For Vendetta and his crime noir comic, Kickback.

One of my favourite writer/artists, Keith Giffen, talks about his new mini-series, Annihilation, over at CBR. I haven't picked it up yet, myself, but like everything else I'm getting to it.

I think I blinked and missed the actual release of A Scanner Darkly in my area so I was happy to see that IGN had the first 24 minutes of the movie streaming off of their website.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, Comic Foundry writer, Amy Payne, subjects herself to a 16 hour viewing marathon. I'm tempted to try this myself.

This is a moldy oldie, but I haven't linked to anything from Andi Watson in a while so why not this June 2003 interview for Bookslut?

Since I may never see the completion of my Hitchcock/Parker interview, I give you a nice article about John from GoTriad.com.

Although I haven't seen the fruits of their labours just yet, my kids will be happy to know that Warner Bros. is relaunching some of their animated websites with original downloadable content. I'm looking forward to the new audio mysteries on Scooby-Doo.com - if they ever materialize, that is. The launch date was supposed to be August 15th, but...

I recently discovered a band that's made me perk up my ears somewhat. They're called Boy and operate out of Toronto, I think. I've only heard a few songs so far but I'm kind of digging their sound. Check out their website here.

Salon.com talks about Jaime Hernandez' Ghost of Hoppers book.

And last, but not least, Sci-Fi has confirmed that Stargate SG-1 will end with its record breaking 10th season.

That's it for LinkBlogging today. Have a good one!

mike

Friday, August 18, 2006

Following The Path of Neo

As part of my recent struggles to piece together the herky-jerky narrative of the Matrix trilogy and actually enjoy it as one film/idea/story, I completed the Wachowski Bros. and Atari's Path of Neo game which ties all three of the films together, simultaneously trying to fill gaps in the storyline and giving players a chance to finally play Neo. Atari's earlier attempt, Enter the Matrix, was an enjoyable game and did a lot to increase my enjoyment of the second film, Reloaded, but while playing secondary characters like Niobe and Ghost I think you ultimately lost some of that Matrix buzz that you got off of watching Keanu do his wacky wire-fu moves in the films.

The Path of Neo goes a long way to correcting that. Although it gets off to a slow start it quickly starts to pick up as you get more accustomed to the controls and the story eventually goes beyond the first Matrix film and bridging the 72 hours between The Matrix and The Matrix: Reloaded. In order to make the game more interesting, and the film story more playable, they (the game designers and the Wachowski's) added environments and characters to enrich, or pad out, the existing storyline. Sometimes this works beautifully but sometimes you feel as though the game has strayed too far from what you know the overarching plot to be.

Regardless of this, if you're playing this game for more than a few levels you already know that it exists in a kind of parallell Matrix universe and you either have to get over it, or put the controller down, go watch the movies and sulk. A perfect example of this being the end of the game which is prefaced by a neat little video introduction by the Wachowski's themselves - or at least their residual digital self images. They explain that the martyr thing in a video game kind of sucks and they helped create a big boffo finale that fits with the game and is, ultimately, more fun to play than just letting Smith absorb you, dying and having the Matrix rebooted. There's even a new CGI ending they put together to follow-up the final battle.

I had loads of fun while playing it but I'm just about all Matrixed out. My oldest daughter Emma has shown some interest in playing now that I'm through so it may not collect dust on the shelf for long.

Later!

mike

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Abadazad

I just found out a couple of nights ago that JM DeMatteis and Mike Ploog's Abadazad books have already hit store shelves - sometime in July, if I'm not mistaken. This little tidbit of information came courtesy of DeMatteis himself, having posted something to the effect on his brand new author's blog on Amazon.com. Being 2 AM, I did a quick internet search to find out more about the books, their retail selling price and overall availability through sites like Amazon.com, .ca, Chapters/Indigo and McNally Robinson.

Since we actually have a standing McNally Robinson in town, and they claimed to carry the book on their website, I figured the most prudent course of action would be to wait until the morning and see if they had any in stock. Then I could just pop out of work at some point, or even stop by after work, and pick up a copy. I gave them a dingle in the morning and, after some searching, they found both books in their young readers section, just where they should be.

I'm kind of pumped about getting in on the ground floor with this series. I enjoyed the short-lived comic series from CrossGen and I'm looking forward to seeing if it lives up to its pedigree - with influences ranging from L. Frank Baum to Lewis Carroll to C.S. Lewis, DeMatteis has his work cut out for him. Still, he is a very capable storyteller. Comic book people will probably think of him as that 'bwa-ha-ha' guy that worked with Giffen on the funny Justice League, but anyone who has picked up a copy of Moonshadow or Brooklyn Dreams or Seekers Into the Mystery knows what he is capable of given the chance to let his imagination run wild.

Another reason I'm looking forward to the Abadazad books is because of my oldest daughter, Emma. We've sort of made it a thing between us to read the classics together. Jen started her on Beatrix Potter when she was younger, I brought some A.A. Milne to the table and she's enjoyed having me read the first Oz book to her, as well. She now loves Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is keeping her interest so far and, even though Alice in Wonderland was a bit of a head trip for her when we first tried it a couple of years ago, she does like the Disney version of the story so we'll probably be trying it again sometime soon.

She got a bit of a preview of Abadazad in its comic book incarnation, but nothing serious. Just some random images and a brief outline of the story from me when the issues first started rolling in.

Hopefully she'll take to them. If not, I still enjoy them so it's really a no harm, no foul situation.

Anyway, I'll post some rections to them when I pick them up.

Later!

mike

Friday, August 11, 2006

Copping Out

I'm getting snarled at for making the clackity clack noises on the keyboard as Jen watches Sex and the City next to me so I'm going to post a YouTube video and be done with it. It's a preview of Battlestar Galactica Season 3. Not sure how I feel about using a Nickleback song to promo it, but what the hell. It looks better than I expected it to be.

Enjoy...



mike

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Holding Pattern

Man, I can't remember the last time I felt quite so...stationary.

Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where the number of things you'd like to accomplish far outnumbers the number of things you've actually done or have the capacity to do? But knowledge of that in no way dissuades you from trying or feeling guilty when you fail to achieve what you set out to do?

Historically, it's at moments like these where I get struck by an epiphany or two, so we'll see what happens.

I should also acknowledge that it could just be the full moon today putting me in this mood. Whenever there's a full moon it always makes for a weird week.

So, in lieu of anything brain tinglingly interesting from me, I give you, 8 Mile courtesy of Robot Chicken.



Later!

mike

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Selling Cars, Building Furniture, Watching DVDs

That pretty much sums up my weekend. On top of getting my first sale of the month (yay!) and watching all the very cool and very new DVDs in my collection, I spent the weekend building some new furniture that Jen picked up to house all of our stuff that we were sorely lacking in room for. Our House Runneth Over may have been a more apt title, but I'm not changing it now.

She bought a room divider and a buffet with the former going to my stuff and the latter hers. We turned the room divider into a basic wall unit and I've filled it with a bunch of DVDs, books and other paraphernalia. Things are definitely looking more organised and I'm finally able to display some of my statues and collectibles without fear. We've never had a proper way to display them 'til now and it's unlikely that thye kids or cat will damage them in any way.

Other than that I'm just sort of coasting. I'm waiting for some things to come together and until then there's not much else to do.

Posting from work again so I'm going to run.

Post again soon!

mike

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Let Me Tell You About The Matrix

I find it a bit funny that after a week of being internetless, I'm complately out of the habit of logging on from home. I think my last three or four posts have all been added during work hours. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember the last time I've even turned my computer on. I think I had it on a few days ago to burn a copy of something for my brother but that's pretty much it.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

The only new info to report is interview and entertainment based. On the interview front, I'm still in communication with Walter Simonson who tells me that he is busy at the moment but assures me that we will hook up by phone sometime in the near future. I think he's out of town with Weezie or something family related like that. I'm also still putting together my Jeff Parker/John Hitchcock interview for the Dear John book that, apparently, came out on the 26th of July. My comic shop never got any copies and since I cancelled my file service a while ago, they never ordered one in. I'm going to try and snag one from wherever I can find one. On the plus side, I love a good hunt so I'm not totally crushed I missed it, just disappointed.

I'm still waiting on some answers from Jeff before I post the thing, so it should be going up in a little while. Originally I was planning to have the interview and the book time out together but I've missed the launch date now and I'm not in a grand rush to post it. Still, I'm aiming for something timely so we'll see. My only regret so far is that Jeff has sworn off phone interviews. I was hoping to converse with the man phone to phone after corresponding by e-mail for a while, but it appears that the fates are not with me.

Ah well.

On the entertainment front, I've purchased a new DVD set, The Ultimate Matrix Collection. I've been playing The Path of Neo so I ws in a Matrixy kind of mood and it was on sale...what can I say.

So far the features look decent. I was worried that the commentaries would be lamer than lame but the one with the critics (the names of which escape me) trash talking the movies are pretty decent. I'm still not holding out hope for the philosophical commentary, but you never know.

I have to run back to work so I'm going to leave it at that. I'll definitely post on this at another time, probably from home where I won't be dragged away for anything.

Later!

mike

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back Again, Jiggity Jig

Finally got the Internet brouhaha sorted out at home so the service has returned! I'm still posting this from work, but that's more of a time thing than a technical issue.

Anyway, I've been keeping busy over the last week. Work has taken up a lot of my time but the kids have been staying with my folks and Jen's folks for the last little while so there has been some free time and relaxation between juggling late cheques, long days and Saturn's hours of operation. We see them on weekends, which is cool, then send them off again on Monday as we head back to work.

This past weekend was fun because I picked up a couple of new things for the little buggers. Simon got one of those 14" Hulk poseable figures which he thinks is pretty cool and I got the girls the Zathura board game. I also picked up a sweet copy of the movie previously viewed and we watched that on Sunday afternoon. I'm a bit of a fan of the Jumanji film, so I was hoping Zathura would have the same charm and it did. It was a pretty fun show.

Also grabbed some new music and movies for Jen and I. Oh, andf I finished Men of Tomorrow by Gerard Jones. Great book. Highly reccomended. I'll probably talk more about those as I get back into the habit of posting.

Well, I'm-a-gonna get back to work, here. I'll post something tomorrow if I have a minute.

Later!

mike