Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Size Isn't Everything

I'm going through some of my books to find and record where I'd left off in each of them for my GoodReads page when I came to a particular volume entitled "Vicious Circle" by Mike Carey. This is the second of five novels featuring the occult investigator, Felix Castor, and runs for a lengthy 512 pages, or so. Tracking down my last known place in the book I was reminded of just how god-awful long this thing was, and remembered why I put the book down in the first place. I hit 3 or 400 pages in and just sort of petered out. This is not a story that requires 500 or more pages to tell. It is well written, sure, but I think someone needed to reign him in on this one. It's not even the longest of the series, but it's still a marathon read. I was honestly considering picking it up again to finish it off, but now, probably not anytime soon.

I know it's probably a quirk of my own reading habits, but when there are a dozen other books that are waiting in the wings that I've started, and a dozen more that I'm waiting to get to, "Vicious Circle" just falls a little short on the priority level.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Face of the Goblin

This is something I've just stumbled upon, and I think it's pretty cool. Original make-up test for the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. I actually wish they would have gone this direction. I was never too much of a fan of the version they used, but what's past is past. As it is, it's just nice to be able to have the chance to see this, finally.

I also kind of like hearing Raimi giving direction from the sidelines.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second Chances

I went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark at a local theatre today and found it to be a near-biblical event as far as my cinematic experiences go. I'll probably post about it in the near future but, for now, and seeing as how I'm kind of in an Indy mood now, I thought I would post this video about sequels that should get a little more credit because of the number one movie included on the list, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The reviewer/commentator makes some interesting points throughout which I think many internet reviewer/commentators should maybe take to heart.

Now, I'm going to go read a bit, then hit the sack.

Take care!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Gotta Get Outta This Place

Well, I just handed in another application today. It's not a step up job-wise seeing as I'm a de facto supervisor in my area and I'm essentially applying to go down to a lesser position, but I've done the math and decided that getting paid $4000 more a year for none of the responsibility and 1/5 of the work is an okay trade-off with me. We'll see what I think if, and after, I get an interview. Because of our collective agreement, I have 3 months to decide if I want to stay at the new position and have the option of resuming my old position again at any time within that time frame. It may be a win-win situation.

In honour of the subject line and the sentiment that started the whole job search, here are Eric Burden and The Animals with a song that pretty much sums up things in the Jozic household of late:

Wish me luck!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Would it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another? "

As my previous post should have made clear, I am on a bit of an X-Files kick at the moment. While I was surfing the 'net earlier and listening to the 4 CD Mark SNow soundtrack collection, I ran across the track, "Dim Memories", and it reminded me of one of my favourite teasers from the whole nine seasons of the show. It's from an episode titled, "The Field Where I Died" and was directed, I think, by Rob Bowman, my a-number one X-Files director.

I liked revisiting it on YouTube so much, that I thought I would make a post out of it, so without further ado...



Every Agent Needs a Partner

I know I've probably said this before, but I've kind of wanted to do a podcast for some time, now. I've rolled topics over in my head for ages, wondering what I could possibly do that would be interesting to me and that wasn't already being done by a million other podcasters out there. After a lot of mulling, I thought that the possibility of tackling The X-Files in a podcast might be a fun and worthwhile venture for me. I'm a huge fan, the passion for the series has never faded, there is an active campaign to get a third film made, and there's still questions I have about the series' mytharc that might become clearer after rewatching everything and commenting on it. The subject also provides some interesting possibilities that I find intriguing but will not comment on at this time.

The main spanner in the proverbial works is the fact that, after brainstorming the thing for an hour, it occurred to me that without a Scully to comment alongside my Mulder, as it were, I don't think it would be very interesting thing to listen to. I'm known for talking at length about my stuff and the media that I love, so much so that I think some people actually steer clear of certain subjects around me to avoid a lengthy chat about something pop culture related. However, I've tried recording some solo audio commentaries for fun and without someone to respond and bounce something back at me, I just don't think there's any compelling reason to listen to me.

So, I've finally come up with the idea that might actually get something creative rolling, but I don't know anyone else who watches The X-Files, never mind enjoys it. For a short time I entertained the idea of having my wife (a redhead, no joke) play the skeptic to my believer but I think that may be a recipe for disaster, leaving me with something of a conundrum.

It'll take more mulling, I think, before I decide to venture off on my own with this. Until then, little to nothing will happen on this front. I will keep y'all posted, though, and we'll see what happens.



Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"Stay Gold"

Very excited by the idea of a new Big Pink album coming out next week. Especially if the rest of the tracks are anywhere near as good as this one...

Stay gold, Pony Boy!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting My Read On

I went into something of a reading frenzy on Thursday night. I pulled out a bunch of comics I hadn't yet read, and some books that I'm in the middle of, and stayed up until the wee hours of the night getting my read on. Considering I had to be up at six the next morning, it probably wasn't a wise choice, but I don't have a time machine so, whatever. I then hit the library with my son yesterday with the intention of letting him browse around for some drawing books, and somehow I ended up grabbing a whole schwackload of trades and a Joe Kubert biography which, over the course of the day, I've been having trouble putting down.

I think it is entirely possible that my brain is trying to purge the Star Wars that I've been stuffing into it for two months.

So, with all the new reading material around, I thought I would mention a few of them here, give some thoughts on them, and then be on my merry way.

First up is Simon Oliver and Tony Moore's The Exterminators, which is a strange, disgusting, yet strangely compelling read. I don't know where Oliver got the idea for this one, but I had heard through the grapevine that it was a worthwhile read and I decided to grab it when I saw it. Glad I did, too. It was also a treat to see Tony Moore's stuff in colour. I've only ever seen his stuff on The Walking Dead before this, and it was nice to see another side to Tony's work. Not for the squeemish, though. If you don't like bugs, or exploding organs, stay clear of this one.

I also read Stan Sakai's original GN Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai, which was very nice book to look at (Sakai did it all in watercolour), and a pleasant read, overall, but I think I was expecting something with a little more punch to it since it was a special 25th anniversary book and it just didn't live up to some of the great Usagi stories that have appeared in his monthly book. I'd still pick it up in an instant, and the presentation of it is beautifully done from cover to cover, it just didn't blow me away.

Next up is Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, a collection of stories from the five (or six, if you count the special as part of the numbering) issues of the Dark Horse series of the same name. I don't know why this was something I ignored when it first hit the stands in the mid-1990s. Could have been the price point, could have been an ignorance of Harlan's work, or maybe I just wasn't into anthologies. I honestly don't remember, although I distinctly remember seeing these original books on the shelves at the comic shop. Regardless of that, I'm about sixty pages into the first collection and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. The stories are decent, sometimes a little bit on the broad side, but the artwork is quite good, the adaptations are well done and the interstitial bits written by Harlan and illustrated by Eric Shanower are fun to read.

The last one I'm going to get into right now is Man of Rock, the aforementioned biography of comics legend, Joe Kubert, by Bill Schelly. I've only just begun to read this one and am about 60 pages in. From a chronological standpoint, I'm around the early 1940s in Kubert's life and he has just been given the job to do Hawkman under Sheldon Mayer. I'm not a huge fan of the writing style or the organization of the information, but I do love me some Kubert so I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about his life and early works. I wasn't planning on picking up and reading another biography for a bit, but this one has kind of grabbed my attention and refuses to let go.

Anyway, those are a few of the things that on my mind and on my reading table at the moment.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walk With the Dead...Again

I realized that the season two premiere of The Walking Dead was airing last Sunday and, although I missed the 'live' broadcast of the show, I did manage to catch an encore presentation that same night. The timing worked out really well, actually, with Jen and the kids all going to bed about ten minutes before it started, which was nice. There's sort of a spoken rule that I can't watch anything too gross or terrifying while there are people who may object to it in the house or conscious.

Anyway, I watched the first season, in its entirety, on Blu-ray so it was kind of a treat to see it 'as it happens', and have that anticipation for watching it again the next week. The episodes (they aired the first two as an hour-and-a-half event) were quite good, both having their share of tension and a few surprises. It felt very much like the comic book where you really don't know who is going to survive and who will not. [POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT] There's a scene early on where the group encounters a herd of walkers and have to hide from them and, honestly, I didn't know how it was going to play out. It's a long scene, too, and the whole time you just sit there, breathless, waiting for something to happen, but also hoping that nothing happens. It was really well executed.

I'm also a little surprised that I'm so into the show again because there was a time, there, where I very much considered giving up on it. I was a little shaky at the end of season one, and then when they re-released the season set on home video as a 3-disc set with new features and commentaries on every episode, I was pissed. I bought season one at a time when I didn't really have the means to do so, but I made an exception to have it, watch it, and support it, and remember lamenting at the time how few good features were on it. I figured they'd make up for it on season two, but lo and behold, they toss another one out there on the market just in time for Halloween and season two.

Yeah, I'm still a little bitter.

Needless to say, I didn't give up on the show, despite everything. I'm very glad that I stuck with it, though, and I'm looking forward to this Sunday's episode. I've even started reading the comic book again, polishing off four volumes yesterday in an effort to catch up. I think when I do manage to get up to speed, I may start buying the book monthly, too. We'll see. What I won't be doing, however, is buying the home video release until well after it hits store shelves in the event that they decide to pull another one of these ridiculous double-dips.

And, with that, I leave you with the season two premiere which is now streaming on the AMC website, which is all kinds of awesome.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

100 GoodReads and Counting

Well, having just finished Tales of the Slayer, vol. 2, I dutifully went over to my GoodReads page and tagged it as only to discover that it was my 100th book read/completed this year. I know for some people that's only a drop in the bucket (my wife, for example, has probably read ten times that much for her PHD program, alone), and I'll be the first to concede that they have not all been 800 page novels, but this has been a heavier reading year for me than normal and it was nice to see that triple-digit number there.

I think that GoodReads has probably helped out with that, too. Ever since signing on it's been easier to track what I've read, when I've read it, and all the books that I've started but left sitting on the shelf unfinished. For most people, this probably sounds like it would serve no real purpose for you, but for me and my borderline OCD tendencies, it's like a constant challenge to keep reading, not get too distracted, and to go back and finish off some of those lingering books. It's oddly satisfying to be able to go on and add something as having been read, and to browse other people's reading lists, as well.

I'm pretty sure I've also commented somewhere on this blog (yeah, I looked but can't find the post) how cool it is for me to be collating all of these books and dating them in terms of when I got them, where I bought them, when I started reading them and when I finished them. Not only does this appeal to the aforementioned OCD part of my brain, it has prompted me to dig through bookshelves, boxes, memories and blog posts to establish the correct times for all of these things. In the process of doing so, I've run across a lot of cool things I forgot I had or hadn't seen in ages, or passed by blog posts that jogged some interesting memories.

Good times.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

F. Scott the Vampire Slayer

A few years ago, I had a dream in which I was on the set of a movie being filmed that was based on a zombie story written by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald. I don't know where it came from, why I was dreaming it, or what significance it has on anything. It did plant in my head, however, the idea that flappers and monsters might make for an interesting mix.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with that notion, as today I had the unique pleasure of reading a short story by Rebecca Rand Kirshner called "The War Between the States". It's included in the second volume of the Tales of the Slayers collection and is, essentially, a vampire slayer story had it been conceived of, and written by, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It takes place in 1922, features an innocent girl from the south moving up to New York and all the excitement that entails. She discovers the party atmosphere and is swept along in its wake, risking her reputation and, ultimately, her life. For, of course, there are vampires afoot, and if one of the characters didn't happen to be a pre-Buffy slayer, things would have gotten messy. Or messier, I guess, seeing as how there's always fighting and slaying when there's a slayer around.

Kirshner may not have been trying to ape Fitzgerald, here, but I highly doubt it. There are way too many similarities in style and tone, and there's very much an "Ice Palace" vibe going on here. Seeing how Fitzgerald's story was originally published in 1920, and there are many similar story elements, it had to have been planned. Kind of like when Jane Espenson did a Jane Austen style slayer story in the Dark Horse Tales of the Slayers anthology book.

I hope to one day get the opportunity to ask her that question and confirm it. I suppose I could also search online for interviews or any comments she may have made to that effect.

In any case, it was a bright spot in my day. Also a well written and entertaining little story. Almost gets me in a Buffy mood after all that Star Wars.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Here's My Thing...

As I'm typing this I'm listening to the absolutely stunning score to John Carpenter's The Thing by Ennio Morricone. I was familiar with the music from the film previous to this, but only as a backdrop or an audio only track on the DVD. I had never sat down and just listened to it before tonight. Honestly, I'm a few tracks in and I can say, with some authority, that this is one of the best scores I've heard in a very long time. And all the more interesting for the fact that it feels like I'm hearing it for the very first time.

I guess, in some ways, I am hearing it for the first time. I've read that Morricone's score was not used in its entirety in the film, with Carpenter favouring only a few of the pieces, and subbing in some of his own work where he felt necessary. The soundtrack, features 10 tracks which comprise all of the music Morricone created for the film and none of the additional pieces by Carpenter.

What surprises me the most about this music is how orchestral it feels/sounds, which I'm sure sounds kind of dumb to say. Most of my memories from the film, however, are of the tracks "Humanity (Parts 1 & 2)" and a few other tracks which I'm not 100% sure are from the film or the DVD menus. Anyway, the "Humanity" pieces are very much in the tradition of Carpenter's style. It's very simple, rhythmic, and provides the background to a haunting, repeating, melody played with synthesizers. So, hearing the full breadth and scope of the music here is both jarring and tremendously cool.

The temptation to grab the DVD and pop it in is overwhelming, but I promised myself I would go watch the 'prequel' film on Friday and then watch the Carpenter version to see how well they line up. I've heard that they reverse engineered a lot of the '82 version in regards to the Norwegian team's involvement at the beginning of the movie, so maybe it would be rewarding to have all those little cues fresh in my head. Like when they explain how the axe got in the wall, for example.

Ah, well. All things to consider while I sit here listening and patiently await the October 14th release date for the new movie.



Sunday, October 09, 2011

Clone With a Heart of Stone

I was going to finally post my long-overdue U2 coverage but have found myself totally wrapped up in playing Republic Commando this weekend. I picked it up for the PC a month or so ago and popped it in to show my son one of the extras off of the disc. Then I played the first level. Then I couldn't stop and most of my day went to the game. I took a break to watch Howl's Moving Castle with the family, but went back on for a few missions before bed.

Normally I'd feel pretty guilty letting myself get consumed by a video game like this, but I play so few of them, and do so very infrequently, so I'm not beating myself up about it too much. Honestly, I don't remember the last weekend where I felt so relaxed. Maybe I need to make some time for gameplay in my schedule. It is, very possibly, therapeutic.

And as for the fact that this is yet another Star Wars related post, does this really surprise you these days?

Anyway, Delta Squad awaits, so I'm signing out.



Thursday, October 06, 2011

Taking the First Steps Into a High Definition World

September tends to be a big, busy month for the Jozic household, primarily because we have three kids starting school around that time every year, and also because it is the birth month for myself and my wife. This works out nicely for me, too, because I can usually count on something cool to be released - be it a book, CD, film, or some other pop culture-related event - that coincides with one, or both, of our birthdays. Last year, for example, we went to see Resident Evil: Afterlife, the year before that was the release of Whiteout (where I discovered I'm one of probably 10 people who doesn't hate that movie).

This year has proven to be particularly interesting, in that regard, for two reasons: September 9th (my actual birthdate) marked the release of Contagion which was directed by one of my favourite directors, Steven Soderbergh, and is the closest I think I'll ever get to seeing an adaptation of Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, so that was kinda cool; the other reason, Star Wars.

I know it's not cool to like the Star Wars movies anymore but I just can't help it. Even with the changes, the prequels, and all the controversy over the years, I still love these things in all their flawed glory. So, when I heard earlier this year that September would also mark the release of the complete saga on Blu-ray, I knew right then and there that the set would be mine. I told my wife not to sweat over birthday presents or anything like that because it was already settled.

Things got even better when I read the announcement that on the same day the Blu-rays were coming out, September 16th, we would also see the long-awaited premiere of the fourth season of Clone Wars, a show avidly followed by myself and my three kids.

In the days leading up to the release, I have to admit that the level of anticipation was high. We all kind of got into the mood to watch some of the movies but a moratorium was called on watching anything before the HD versions arrived. The cease-and-desist, however, only applied to the films themselves which left all the other licensed material and Clone Wars series up for grabs. A couple of weeks or so before the 16th I decided to dabble.

I recently came into possession of a Kobo eReader and had a copy of the Darth Maul short story, Saboteur, on it. Written by James Luceno, it revolved around industrial espionage and Maul's role in facilitating it. It was a surprisingly well-crafted little story and that inspired me to check out a number of Star Wars short stories available at the online store that were free to download. The Lost Tribe of the Sith is not normally the kind of thing that would interest me in expanded universe material but I found the first part of John Jackson Miller's tale pretty engaging and the rest is history.

It's been about a month, now, on a steady diet of Star Wars. I've been reading books, listening to soundtracks, podcasts, watching documentaries, and poring over the Blu-rays and their 40 hours of bonus features.

Now, if you've stuck with me this far, on to the subject of the Blu-rays.

I've read a lot of different reviews with a lot of differing opinions on the changes, the features, and everything else under the binary suns. The one thing they all agree on, however, is that the transfers are impeccable, the audio is stellar, and as HD presentations go, these discs are definitely demo material. You want to sell someone a BD player and a hi-fi stereo system to hear it on, one of these babies will probably do most of the work for you. The films look great.

I don't want to turn this into a defense of George Lucas so I'll skip any commentary on the changes for political reasons. Yes there are changes, no, they're not all bad ones.

As far as packaging and features go, I think they could have done a little better with the art direction considering some of their past efforts, but the book-like cover (similar to the one Fox used for the ALIEN ANTHOLOGY) displays nicely, is relatively durable, and holds all 9 discs without any issues. Each 'page' holds one disc and features episode specific artwork by Cliff Cramp. When not in use, it sits in a slipcase mirroring the artwork on the books cover.

Feature-wise, the ads all say "own every moment" and that's an out-and-out lie. From the get-go Lucasfim said they would not be including features from previous DVD releases, so how they came up with that tagline is a mystery to me. What is on the three bonus discs is pretty cool, though, don't get me wrong. Deleted and extended scenes, a collection of interviews with cast and crew, interactive archival material, the list goes on. The ninth disc includes all the classic making of documentaries (they even restored the voice-over by William Conrad, which is cool) and an hour-and-a-half of Star Wars spoofs culled from television shows and movies over the last 10 or 20 years. Probably the least of the features unless you don't have access to YouTube.

For all the griping online about this release, my opinion is that the good far outweighs the bad here. Having the previous releases, I'm not missing out on any bonus features. The only thing I think would have made for an exceptional collection would be if they included a solid transfer of the OT, as people remember it (circa 1984ish?), available to the public. I swear to God, most of the naysayers would probably shut up and it wouldn't matter how many changes GL made after that. I do have the OT on DVD (even if they are Laserdisc ports) so I'm not sweating it too much, but it would have been a nice surprise.

Oh, and speaking of surprises, one really cool feature is the full-length animated short that accompanied the Holiday Special broadcast featuring the first appearance of Boba Fett. The animation was done by a very young Nelvana and its inclusion here on the set is a rare treat, indeed.

So, that's the Blu-rays, from a certain point of view. No regrets here and I plan to revisit these movies again many times after this. If any of you naysayers happen to have friends who have the set (and considering it's the biggest selling BD catalogue title, it's highly likely you do) I would recommend sitting down with them sometime and giving the discs a once over. It's worth checking out.

As for the other side of my Star Wars mania, it's lessened, somewhat, but still going pretty strong. Among other things, I'm currently in the middle of re-reading Heir to the Empire (20th anniversary edition with annotations), I have the Dark Horse Empire run on hold at the library, Clone Wars is still running every week with new episodes, I'm tackling the Jedi Apprentice series to get some early Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan action, and am grabbing issues of Jedi: The Dark Side and Dark Times, two of the best Star Wars comics on the racks. I also recently wrapped The Force Unleashed and am thinking of revisiting the Tartakovsky Clone Wars DVDs.


And with that, take care and may the force be with you!


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Talking About Dead Mann Walking

A little while ago I received an ARC of Stefan Petrucha's latest novel, Dead Mann Walking, and I had fully expected to have it done and have a review of it up on the blog prior to its October 4th release date. As of this writing, I'm about half way through the book and at least a day late on the post.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

Still, not wanting to stay entirely silent on the subject, I figured I'd post some general thoughts, anyways, and maybe do a wrap up post when I do finish the book.

I've actually been a fan of Petrucha's work for a few years, now. I've enjoyed much of his comic book work, dabbled with some of his novels, and still consider his run on The X-Files with Charlie Adlard for Topps Comics a crowning example of how a licensed comic should be done. So, when I received my copy of Dead Mann Walking I felt like this was a known quantity. In all fairness, I didn't expect to not like it and, so far, I haven't been proven wrong.

The story revolves around a private detective named Hessius Mann, who was put to death for the murder of his wife but was later returned to life when supressed evidence was discovered and he was cleared of the crime. Yeas, that's right, he was brought back to life using a process called a Radical Invigoration Procedure developed by a company who expected to cash in on rich folks who would want to bring back their loved ones. What they ended up with was a new sub-class of 'people' (zombies) that nobody wanted around, but once you've brought them back you can't just get rid of them again. Not unless they go all George Romero feral. They call them chakz instead of zombies, and the chakz (those who can speak) call the living livebloods.

Anyway, in typical noir fashion, Hessius is approached by a client find a deceased person who has been named in his father's will. Since Hessius is still a high-functioning member of the undead community and knows the world of the chakz, he is uniquely suited for the task and takes the job. Then things get interesting.

For what it's worth, I'm really enjoying what I've read so far. Petrucha does a really good job of balancing the noir elements with the horror bits, and most of the humour in the book derives from the combination of the two. The plot appears to be pretty straightforward with all the hallmarks of a good mystery/thriller story, but Petrucha breathes new life into the old tropes by approaching them with an undead perspective. Everyone knows how these detective stories work but when you expect the familiar scenes to play out, you get them, to be sure, but slightly askew, and that's where the charm of this book, ultimately, lies.

There's also an oddly amped up tension to the proceedings. You would expect to not worry about your protagonists life when he has already lost it once, but as Petrucha makes it abundantly clear in the first chapter, there are fates worse then death when your a chak. Death itself has some finality to it, but those who have been through the RIP go on after limbs are detached and bodies decay. It's also a chore-and-a-half for these guys to maintain themselves on a daily basis because they're constantly fighting rot, memory loss, and the fear that at any time they may go feral. Oh, and they also have to deal with a living population who generally views chakz as not deserving of any rights and routinely enagage in violent attacks on undead communities.

This is probably a good place to mention that the world Petrucha's created here is really well thought out and there's a lot of interesting things he could mine here, if he wanted to. I'm sure there's a lot of backstory he could explore but he wisely shies away from it, for the most part, in favour of advancing the plot. In fact, Petrucha recently posted on his website an excised chapter, or portion of a chapter, that served this exact purpose but found that it slowed down the plot enough that it had to go. For anyone interested, I'll be posting that excerpt at the end of this review.

Overall/so far, I'm really digging Dead Mann Walking. I'm engaged, I'm interested, and it's a great October diversion.

I've also heard that a sequel may have been approved, so it may not be too long before we're discussing A Hessius Mann Novel #2. Me? I'm looking forward to it.

If you're curious, Petrucha has the first chapter previewed at BoomTron, and the following is the aforementioned excerpt discussing some zombie history according to Hessius Mann:

Dead Mann: The Missing Chapter

Crowded, surrounded, attacked, the chakz gave the people what they wanted, proof that they were dangerous. It was as though that group-mind the LBs worried about had actually kicked in. Maybe the ferals just never had the numbers before, or maybe you had to be far enough back to see the patterns. I saw them now.

Flashes of chak-bodies moved in elegant waves, like flocks of migrating birds. The livebloods, for all their higher functions, fled without grace. The big picture pulsed and throbbed. But the personal tragedies played out in tiny spaces, as if the two had nothing to do with one another. In the center of the swirls stood the fair-haired cop I’d seen from the window, bullets spitting from his AK-47. They tore some dead flesh. Mostly, he was hitting livebloods before the ferals took him down.

So was this Ezekiel and his dry-bones rising in the valley of death? Was it then, or later, now, or the future? The edges were arbitrary, the beginnings and endings likewise. But as I watched, this was the shit I remembered.

In 1929 W.B. Seabrook wrote about voodoo cults and resurrected slaves in a novel called The Magic Island. It made sense that Haiti, whose population had recently thrown off their shackles, would have plantation slaves for their monsters. White Zombie

In 1932, Victor Halperin’s White Zombie took it to the white Europeans. The island lust of Murder Legendre, played by Bela Lugosi, put a white virgin’s virtue at risk.

But these were early, proto-forms. There was no blood yet, not like there was on the Fort Hammer plaza. My eyes singled out a male teen, all buff and dressed to shock with Mohawk, tattoos and piercings. He ran half-heartedly, grabbing at the side of his head where his ear had been once. Red liquid dripped between his fingers. Eventually, he slowed and then, simply stopped.

In 1943 Jacques Tournier’s I Walked With a Zombie gave us a dead-eyed scarecrow. It was more a symbol. No savagery, just foreboding. It was Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend in 1954 that took it up a notch. The book was sort of about vampires, but they were so much like zombies that the 1964 Italian film version with Vincent Price, The Last Man on Earth, became the prime inspiration for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

1968, the zombie had arrived. Romero was the first, really, if you don’t count Ezekiel and all the others. What took so long? Well, in those days, the dead moved slowly.

On the plaza, groups formed and collapsed like cauldron bubbles. I watched two families band together. The mothers carried the little ones, forcing the older children ahead. Weirdly, the fathers carried doors, using them as shields. Two danglers and a gleet banged at them. They even tried the knob.

Romero made it biblical again. Cannibal corpses, old friends and lovers among them, children chewing on parents. The condition spreading like plague, and no one knew why or who to shoot. His sequel, Dawn of the Dead, used the same idea, but more directly as social critique, played out in comic-book colors so gaudy you had to get the joke.

I hoped the family made it. Something should survive, and it didn’t look good for anyone else. The elegant swarms had surrounded the LBs, and as they squeezed in, began to lose their pretty shape. Together now, ferals and livebloods pushed and pulled en mass, so many, so close together, they could barely move. Limbs tangled, the center of the blob tumbled, all together, all at once, like football teams in a joint tackle.

Romero, what could you say? A horde of lesser efforts followed, Fulci’s Zombi 2 notable for an underwater battle between zombie and shark. Then decades passed. 28 Days Later brought some class back to the movies. That was more about plague than the dead, but close enough, and its monsters were fast. The Dawn of the Dead remake followed suit. The books and comics got better – Monster Island by David Wellington, The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and later Charlie Adlard (now on TV!). By then people played video games like Rebel Without A Pulse and Left4Dead, shooting and being shot, eating and being eaten. The great democracy of mass media.

The mob in the plaza had formed a single creature, like one of Colby Green’s orgies, many limbs, many mouths, some screaming, some chewing. Stray Livebloods and ferals tried to pull the bodies free, but for different reasons.

The cop with the flamethrower stood at the edge of the mass and stared, unsure what to do. He tried to help, used his free hand to grab a hand and yank, but when a feral came free, a chunk of dripping meat in its mouth, he’d had enough. He let loose with the thrower, turning it on the writhing pile. Before the cop could barbecue the lot, a liveblood clonked him with a crowbar, then dived into the smoldering mess, screaming that he had to find his girlfriend.

I’d like to say all the books and movies fade against the reality, but maybe it’s the reality that fades. After all, who could forget the surprise hit, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? This is the shit that gives us shape, that let’s us understand the world, even build it from scratch. Shakespeare told us. We are such stuff as nightmares are made on, and our little life is rounded with a scream.

The plaza had reached critical mass. The blob broke and scattered. Bodies, some moving, spilled across the street, then onto the long black hospital entrance ramp that had kept the scene arms distant. The tide was coming in.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Counting Down to The Complete Saga on BD Pt. 2

Okay, continuing my video posts and the cautious anticipation of Star Wars on Blu-Ray, here is the second of three documentaries, Building Empire:



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Belated Anniversary Wishes

As I am wont to do, I forgot to commemorate the anniversary (18th, to be exact) of one of my absolute favourite television shows of all-time. On September 10th, 1993, a little show about aliens, ghosts and mutants came into our homes courtesy of the Fox network. Nobody expected it to last more than a season, if they were lucky. Some didn't think it would even go past the pilot stage (we're looking at you, Duchovny). But it ended up being the show that could, gaining many fans, lasting for nine years, and changing just about everything on television. More than that, it was the show that came into its own just as another cultural phenomenon was gaining ground with the masses. Fans would discuss the show online in chat rooms and message boards, and the creators would get instant feedback on what they produced, for good or ill. Fan-sites also started popping up, tracking episode titles, the show's mythology, and just connecting with other fans 'out there'.

I joined the show in its second season. I remember hearing some of my father's workmates, who were visiting one day, talking about how they had to get home to see if Scully would return after being abducted. We asked what they were talking about and they replied, "You mean you've never seen The X-Files?" I brushed it off (not trusting them to have overly discerning tastes in their television viewing) and didn't start watching the show until I stumbled across the pilot being broadcast out of its timeslot as a special presentation and it blew me away. I was totally bowled over by it. After that it was a short trip to becoming a full-on X-Phile, collecting the VHS tapes, recording the show on my own, reading the books, getting the soundtracks, and watching out for black helicopters.

It was also the first show to be released on DVD as complete season sets, which I think is pretty cool, particularly since I remember hitting my local Future Shop to grab the first one. I think I paid $105-$110 for each of the nine seasons. Yeah, do the math on that one.

Anyway, I'm posting a clip of one of my favourite moments from the series. It's the tail end of a Duchovny written and directed episode called "The Unnatural". I was going to post a clip from season 3 episode 17 entitled "Pusher" where Scully asks Mulder to explain the scientific principle of the whammy, but I couldn't find it online and didn't feel like pulling out the DVDs and doing the video stuff myself. So, without further ado:

I may take another trip through the X-Files time machine if I can find the materials for it. I did a special issue of Meanwhile... back in the summer of 1998, I believe, to tie-in with the release of The X-Files: Fight the Future. I had a couple of interviews which might be cool to unearth. Stay tuned, I guess, if that's your thing.

Keep watching the skies and, most importantly, trust no one!


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Counting Down to The Complete Saga on BD

I know I've been doing a lot of video posts lately, but I think this one (and the two to follow) are pretty cool and feed into my current Star Wars kick. Anticipation for the Blu-Ray release is high in the Jozic household, despite the rumored, and confirmed, changes that have been made. I plan to reserve judgment until I'm sitting there and watching them with my own peepers. The problem with the changes is that some of them make sense and are done well, and some of them...are not.

Anyway, this is the first of three in a series of fan documentaries that run like an expanded audio/video commentary for the original trilogy. It's good stuff. The Star Wars on is well worth it for the behind-the-scenes stuff. I have yet to watch the second, but I may change that this evening. We'll see how things go.

Enjoy. Building Empire will be tomorrow's link.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011


I haven't talked much about Sloan on the blog despite their new album. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have yet to buy their new album (which I feel like crap about, by the way). Anyway, while I was buzzing around online looking for something else I ran across this music video for Unkind which is a bit dull, but the song is pretty sweet, so I don't care.



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seeing The Strain

I've been reading Guillermo del Toro's vampire trilogy and, while cruising the internet for added value material, stumbled across a couple of videos that were available on the website HarperCollins put up for the first book, The Strain. The videos were cheaply done and don't have a lot of production value to them but there is one recognizable actor (which is kinda cool) and, best of all, we get a look at what del Toro envisioned for what the strigoi actually look like.

I'm sure Roy Dotrice did this because he had a previous relationship with del Toro, having played King Balor in Hellboy II. In this second clip, I just love how he appears from, seemingly, out of nowhere to lay on the exposition.

I thought I would include the last video on del Toro's YouTube channel where he talks a bit about why he decided to explore vampires and novels.

It's funny but, a year ago, I probably wouldn't have recommended the trilogy to anyone because of a knee-jerk reaction I had to the first book in the series. I loved the procedural/outbreak handling of the vampire plague but when a more classic (clichéd?) element was introduced about half-way in, I resisted it, threw my hands up in the air and put the book down for a while. Since then, I've become more accepting of the things that I won't get into because there could be spoilers attached, but I'm now into the second book, The Fall, and looking forward to the release of the third, The Night Eternal, when it comes out this October.

Now, I would gladly go out on a limb and recommend the series to fans of del Toro, suspense, horror, vampires, and stories about pandemics. I think the reviews comparing the books to a cross between Stephen King, Michael Crichton and Bram Stoker are pretty accurate and Hogan and del Toro have incorporated only the best traits of all three for their epic. Especially with Hallowe'en coming up and the conclusion of the series, it might be worth checking out.

Oh, and as a side note, it will also be a comic book series soon from Dark Horse Comics, so if you don't want to trouble yourself with the books, that might be another way to experience it.



Thursday, August 04, 2011


I finally managed to snag all the photos and video off of the camera from the U2 concert in June. I'm not in the mood to post anything about it tonight but I promise for anyone who is actually curious or waiting for some sort of 360° commentary it will come soon.



Saturday, July 16, 2011

LEGO Architects Series

Sasha Grey (yup, that Sasha Grey) recently tweeted about this and when I saw it cross by on my twitter feed I just had to post something about it. To be honest, I think I had heard of these at some point before and logged them for future mention somewhere because I have this odd familiarity with these sets, but clearly the knowledge was lost in the mists of time so I thank Sasha for 'reminding' me of them because my friend Carly from Citric Sugar would probably think these were pretty cool. Well, at the very least, one of them.

These things are pretty classy and I'm glad LEGO did them. In my mind, it sure beats another Harry Potter or Star Wars set.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

You're Surrounded!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have a couple on deck in my head but I've been avoiding sitting in front of the computer and just getting them down. Until such events occur, I give you a seminar on surround sound for you cineastes, tech geeks or audiophiles.

Watch live streaming video from dolbylabs at livestream.com

Yeah, it's a couple hours. Yeah, it's all about sound in movies. I know. But if I find it interesting, someone else out there must also be intrigued, n'est ce pas?

Au revoir!


Monday, July 04, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help...

I quoth the Beatles as my subject line for this post because I wanted to stress how important it is to create relationships with the people who work at the establishments you frequent.

Case in point, I was having some trouble with accessing my library account earlier this week when I wanted to renew a few books I had out. For whatever reason, the online service was shutting me out of the system and claiming my account was already in use by the system. I couldn't renew, I started accumulating fines. This went on for a couple of days and I finally got a chance to go in to my local library and talk to the folks that I deal with there on a regular basis. I explained my situation, they trusted me implicitly (as they should), and they not only erased any fines that accumulated during the problem period, but also anything else that was lingering on the account.

It helps that we're also well known for paying off any fines that gather up, and we generally have no problem doing so because we basically look at it as a donation to the library since those funds do help them continue to function in the capacity they do. So, that, combined with a healthy bit of face recognition and a good reputation, pretty much went a good ways to making my day today. It was a nice way to cap off a rather strange day at work (something I won't expand on).

I guess the moral of the story (possibly a first for a Meanwhile... post) is to not be a jerk, be friendly and courteous, and what goes around will come around.

Or, as another famous rock group is known for saying, be excellent to each other.



Saturday, July 02, 2011

O, Canada Day

This is a day late (was working all day yesterday and then had to hit Mother-in-Law's for her 60th Birthday party) but I saw this today and it is the best tribute I could think of to honour Canada Day, even if it is a belated one.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reading The Art of Jaime Hernandez

I've always admired the work of Los Bros Hernandez, even if I've never been an avid follower of their Love & Rockets comic book series. By the time I started noticing the brothers' work, the series seemed daunting to jump into. They would occasionally do one-shot stories but, more often than not, each story was another chapter in the continuing lives and adventures of Maggie the Mechanic or Gilbert's fictional world of Palomar. My main intersection with the brothers has been through works done for other publishers than Fantagraphics such as Gilbert's Vertigo work or Jaime's Mister X issues.

So when I saw The Art of Jaime Hernandez by Todd Hignite at my local library, I had to grab it. Not only am I a fan of the artwork but I love to read about cultural history and this book covers a stream of the comic book narrative that I was, more or less, unfamiliar with.

At times, the book bordered on hagiography (look it up) but, overall, I think Hignite put together a really nice package to showcase one of the luminaries in the field. And, while Hignite does an admirable job of covering Jaime's story from childhood to present day, where the book really shines is in the wonderful photographs and artwork that have been included in this volume. Everything from the childhood photographs of Jaime and his family to the rare and unused artwork and concepts are a real treat and make this book an indispensable, and highly entertaining, resource. Lastly, the oversize nature of the book lends itself well to the material. Not only did much of it first get presented in magazine format through Love & Rockets, but it gives readers a nice sized page to read, or just to admire Jaime's exquisite linework. Instead of squinting at word balloons, or struggling to see detail, Abrams Books makes it effortless to enjoy these pages.

I'm going to leave you with my favourite image from the book. It's a panel from an unused page where the character Hopey is writing a letter to her friend, Maggie, while she is on tour with her band. She's telling Maggie about all of their misadventures and the panels are arranged vignette-like, giving tiny glimpses of the events she's describing.

What I love the most about this image is the way the line effortlessly leads you through the panel. Hopey's posture is evocative and implies movement despite it being a very static image. This is sequential storytelling at its best. Plus, the image just rocks on a purely aesthetic level.

Anyway, if you have a chance I definitely recommend the book to anyone who loves art looking for a day or two of reading, and a bunch of eye candy.

I think I'm going to really dive in and read some Love & Rockets. It's about time I did.



*Hernandez image blatantly lifted from the Criterion website.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Satisfying my Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth PrintThis past Thursday one of my LCS' had a gallery/signing event with Canadian cartoonist, Jeff Lemire. For anyone who doesn't know Jeff, he is the creator of the Vertigo comic Sweet Tooth, his Essex County book published through Top Shelf was included as an entry in the Canada Reads competition (I think a first for the event), and he is currently writing Superboy for DC. So, Jeff made a stop here on his way through to Calgary for the Calgary Expo, putting up some artwork to sell, as well as some prints and sketchbooks, the latter of which I purchased despite wanting one of those prints, big time.

Meeting Jeff was nice, he was pretty laid back and an overall nice guy to chat with. He recommended a couple of comics to me (including EmiTown by Portlander, Emi Lenox), signed my Superboy #1, drew me a sketch on my backing board, and signed and drew a sketch in the sketchbook that I bought. Not a lot of guys do that anymore, so that was pretty cool.

Superboy #1Board SketchSketchbook DoodleSketchbook

I was planning to attend the Calgary Expo but, for various reasons, could not. Seeing as Jeff was one of the creators I was really hoping to see at the show, I can't help but feel it was kind of a nice little bit of karma floating my way. I now have to catch up on my Sweet Tooth reading because I am woefully behind and I think Jeff could tell.

Jeff Lemire & I



Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Happened at the U2 Concert?

U2You know, it occurs to me that it has been a while since I got back from the U2 concert and I have yet to post anything about it. I think a big part of that is because Jen, for some inexplicable reason, took the camera to work and left it there, and continues to do so, preventing me from having access to the video and still images I took while at the show. I suppose I could always add those in later, but it's a fantastic excuse to procrastinate and watch old episodes of The Twilight Zone instead, so I'm hanging on until that camera makes its return.

I will say that the show was good, I got some merch, and we'll talk about it more soon.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greek Street Tragedy

In a previous post I talked about Peter Milligan's modern Greek tragedy pastiche, Greek Street, which only lasted 16 issues. I had the first 6 issues bought but, for reasons I can no longer remember (either boredom or money) I stopped picking them up every month. Even though I was ridiculously excited to see a new Milligan series I just didn't connect enough to keep up with it.

Flash forward a bit and I'm grabbing the TPB at my library figuring, 'Meh, I'll give it another shot. Read it in one sitting'. Which I did, and I really enjoyed it the second time around. Now I wanted to pick up where I left off but, alas, I was too late to pick up the missing issues. They were long gone from the shelves of the stores I frequent. What I didn't know, however, that one of the stores did have copies, just not on the shelves. They were sitting in their dollar bins and I discovered them one morning while I was browsing on a day off.

I now have issues 8-13 (with issue 8 being in rough shape, but it's the only one available, so...) so that leaves 7, and 14-16 that I still need to find somewhere and pick up. Still, it's a much better position than I was in previously. Also, for the cherry on top of the story, I was at yet another LCS and I was looking for issues of The Unwritten when I inadvertently unearthed a bunch of issues of Greek Street which got the comic book archaeologist in me all giddy. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money on me to grab what they had but I'll be returning soon to try and fill in the blanks.

So, in the end, my Greek Street tragedy may have a happy ending after all.



Whatcha Watchin'?

I'm so glad you asked!

I've actually had the rare opportunity to watch a few movies of late and thought I would post about them here.

First up, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Our local Cineplex theatre is participating in the whole Potter Passport thing where you buy a pass to all 7 Potter movies for $25 and you get to see them all, once a week, leading up to the premiere of the last movie. SO, this week it was HP3.

Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Azkaban. Not being an avowed fan of the novels (or films, for that matter) I think it carries a bit of weight to say that this is, perhaps, the best of the series. Something about the first two movies was just too...happy American hocus pocus with kids, you know? Smiling faces, sucky sweet music, overly warm lighting and a really traditional shooting style. With Azkaban, the studio brought on Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón. I once read a comment that the first two films were perfectly serviceable but it wasn't until the third that they truly got it right and I think Cuarón had a lot to do with making that happen.

Right from the opening credits, you know this movie is going to be a bit different. The look of it is so much more moody and English than anything Columbus committed to film. The fog, the dampness, the aged exterior of Hogwarts, all of these things gave a new character to the series that, if memory serves, was never really recaptured in later installments of the series. The performances by the actors was a distinct improvement (although that may have more to do with age and experience than anything else) and little touches, like the irising in and out between scenes, just made this story so much more interesting to watch.

Lastly, I knew that John Williams did not do the scores for all of the movies, was certain that he did the first two, and assumed he did themes for the third but that Patrick Doyle (who did the next one) did most of the music. It sounded so different from the previous movies but just enough like Williams to make me think he still had some part in it. Well, I was surprised to find out that Williams was, indeed, sole composer on Azkaban and that he was clearly getting very specific direction on the first two movies because what we heard in the third was much closer to the kinds of music he was playing with in the new Star Wars movies, using more percussion and relying less on overt themes.

Some fans have criticized the movie as going too far off the page, but I've also heard the argument that it's the closest to the source material, so I guess it's who you ask. Me, I think it was pretty inspired, really.

The next movie I watched was Primer, a little indie movie that cost $7000 and made a splash at Sundance. A friend asked if I had seen it and I told him that I had always wanted to, ever since John Rogers mentioned on his blog that he thought the movie was amazing. He told me that was pretty much true and that I should check it out, so I went home and did just that.

What a treat this movie was. No budget sci-fi with a high concept, no special effects and a plot that will give your brain a charlie horse. To talk about it too much would probably take me into spoiler territory so I'll just say, if you dig movies like Pi or The Man From Earth, this is really worth checking out. And it's, like, 77 minutes, so it's not even a time drain for you busy people.

Last on the list for today will be Michael Clayton, a 2007 movie written and directed by Tony Gilroy and starring George Clooney. You've probably heard of it because it was nominated for a handful of Oscars. I remember when it was out and wanting to see it, just never getting around to going to the theatre and watching it. Writers I love kept blogging and tweeting about it expounding its many virtues, some even called it the best movie of that year. I'm not sure what sparked my interest in it last week, to be honest, but I'm so glad I put it in my DVD player and watched it one Monday morning. It was fantastic! A brilliant character piece and a legal thriller rolled into one. Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson all delivered great performances, and Gilroy did a good job of balancing the action and keeping things flowing and interesting. It's not a flashy movie, but I can find little or no flaw with it and so it gets my highest recommendation.

That's it for this time. There are actually a few more flicks I wanted to talk about but I'll maybe get to those in another post. Until then...



Saturday, June 04, 2011

Director's Meme Who's Who #4

Returning to my Directors thoughts, I tackle #4 on my list of filmmakers who changed the way I look at movies:

Darren Aronofsky

I came to Aronofsky in a weird, roundabout kind of way. It was actually through the efforts of Ed Flynn, the artist of the then virtually unknown Pi: The Book of Ants graphic novel (and, oddly enough, the guy who gave me my first paid writing gig), that I got to know Darren's work. Ed sent me a random e-mail asking if I would be interested in interviewing him to promote the book and I was, at that time, happy to talk to anyone in the industry. He sent me a free preview of the book and a Pi pin (both of which I still have) and I was intrigued enough by the concept and our conversation that I sought out the film, managing to convince a co-worker to go see it with me at a local art house theatre.

The movie was great. On the cheap, high in concept and full of great ideas and a catchy industrial score by Clint Mansell. This was really good stuff. Science, math, faith, ants...I was hooked on this Aronofsky guy. I was eager and excited to see what he would come up with next and it goes without saying that Requiem for a Dream was brilliant and emotionally exhausting. Most stories have the structure where things get dark for your characters but through perseverance and other factors, they rise above their troubles and conquer their problems. Not here. In Requiem things just keep getting worse until they hit rock bottom. And then they keep going down some more. In fact, when we leave all the characters, there is still depths that they will likely sink to and you feel, as a viewer, pretty drained after the experience. The performances by Jared Leto, Jennifer Connely, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn were top shelf, and the 'hip-hop' editing of the movie was stylish and interesting.

Then there is The Fountain which is as beautiful and engaging as it is impenetrable. Aronofsky, again, shows us how good these actors we've seen before can be when given the right direction and material. He once again examines love, faith and gives us scenes that are so heartbreaking it's honestly difficult to watch.

I'm not going to go into his other films because, honestly, I have yet to see The Wrestler or Black Swan, but they are on the list. I have the former and will pick up the latter when time and finances permit. Until then, though, I will close off this little love letter to Darren by saying that he has proven time and again to be one of the medium's most provocative and visually engaging filmmakers. He never shies away from difficult material and is able to think outside the box, something he has been doing since those very early days in New York, trying to make a small movie about God and math and publish his tie-in graphic novel.

I think most of that was gushing but I'm pretty sure I got my point across.



Friday, June 03, 2011

Curses, Spoiled Again

So, I'm reading The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and more-or-less enjoying the experience so I hit the 'net and check out the official site to see if they have any fun stuff there. They kind of do and kind of don't, but that's neither here nor there for this story. I clicked over to their Facebook page and was just browsing through pictures and poking around when I see a wall post by some d-bag named Vojtěch Weiss who totally drops not one, but two, spoilers in one blow, effectively spoiling a good chunk of the last 20 pages of the book I am just about to finish.

Not only that, but the second one ruins a plot point from the second book, The Fall, which I recently purchased and was going to start reading very soon.

This development makes me cranky. I'm not usually a spoiler sensitive person but something about these two were just touchy enough to make me surly and get my stomach acids bubbling. I guess I should know better than to recklessly peruse online but I did, and I did so without taking the proper precautions.

That'll learn me.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meeting 'Abby'

A week and a half ago I was in a small village in the south of Saskatchewan called Val Marie. I was there to serve as a chauffeur for one of the participants in a workshop that was going on there since he needed to catch a plane on the Saturday which was departing from the Regina airport four hours away. Jen volunteered me and I agreed. I figured, three days of kicking back in the middle of nowhere, reading and listening to podcasts on my iPhone might be a nice change of pace.

While there, we stayed in this converted convent. It was run by this couple who pretty much did everything from room service to cooking and serving all of the meals. Both nights we ate supper there they had a girl helping them with the service. A different one for each night. I don't know where they came from or who they were, but both were pleasant company and provided good service during the meal.

I found out later that the second girl was a Masters student working as a writer-in-residence there. She was writing poetry, or something, and chillin' at the convent in their sitting room upstairs, I think.

On the Saturday after I got back from Regina, we had supper and the group all went upstairs to continue their workshop while I prepared to go for a walk and the poet girl (I think her name was Natalie), was going to a movie. Stunned as I was by the fact that Val Marie even had a theatre (or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile), I was more surprised that the more I spoke with Natalie outside the convent the more she started to remind me of one of my characters from Smitten, my romantic dramady magnum opus. Everything from the way she dressed, to the way she spoke rung true. The fact that she was a writer helped, too, seeing as Abby, while not a poet, is something of a wordsmith. The only thing that was different from how I had always envisioned Abby was Natalie had shorter hair. Suffice to say, I may chop off Abby's locks by story's end, now, as I liked the look. There would also be some relevance to the plot to do such a thing, which is always nice.

As we parted ways, it was all I could do to keep from chasing after her and chatting her up some more. Maybe snapping a few pictures, like that wouldn't be creepy. Instead we said our goodbyes, she went to her movie, I went on my walk, hoping that she would return to hang with the group later that evening. She did come back as most of her stuff was taken from the reading room upstairs by morning, but she did so quietly and retired to wherever she called home in Val Marie.

I never saw her again after that but I'll never forget the weirdness and strange thrill of meeting someone who is, ostensibly, someone I created in my head but a real flesh and blood person I can interact with. It was trippy.

And, as my high school graphic arts teacher would say, "that's my story".



Friday, May 06, 2011

Red Hulk, Green Hulk, Go!

I was going to do this on Twitter but figured I would need more than 140 characters to express my feelings on what's been going on over in the Hulk title, so without further ado...

Now, I should start by qualifying that I haven't actively purchased or read a Hulk comic since Bruce Jones and John Romita, Jr. were doing the book a few years ago. I'm not even sure how the whole Mr. Green/Mr. Blue thing panned out, unless you count what they used in the second Hulk movie. I was not overly familiar with the "World War Hulk" storyline that ran for a while, and I pretty much ignored the Red Hulk material that Loeb and McGuiness were on about, so it had been a while since I knew what was going on with the guy. To say the least, I was surprised to find that the, along with the new Red Hulk (who was, in actuality, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross - Oh, the irony!), pretty much every other character in the Hulk universe got Hulkified by The Leader and...M.O.D.O.K., I think.

All kinds of crazy stuff has been going on since I've been gone, and the Hulk's single Incredible book has branched out into a family of books: Hulk, Incredible Hulk, & Incredible Hulks. Let me know if I've missed any.

Normally, this is not the kind of storytelling that entices me into picking up any book, especially when it's one that I've already taken off my pull list years ago. So, you ask, why am I fretting so about it?

That would be because of Jeff Parker.

I've always enjoyed Jeff's writing and still tell anyone who will listen that he is responsible for one of the single most enjoyable super-hero books I have read in my almost 30 years of reading comic books. So, you tell me he's going to be writing the book after Loeb departs and you have most certainly grabbed my attention. This is a guy who can handle the super-science, the monsters, the action, and the drama. You pair him with a talent like Gabriel Hardman who has a keen eye for visual storytelling and can draw the most outrageous action sequence or people eating soup with perfect aplomb and you have me adding it to my pile and I'm out the door with my LCS owner a few bucks richer.

Sounds like I'm loving this book like a fresh pair of socks on a cool September morning, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this is where I get conflicted about the whole shebang.

I want to like Hulk more than I do, but I'm finding it hard to fully embrace the darn thing. Oddly enough, I'm finding the character of the Red Hulk fascinating when I was certain that I wouldn't. I couldn't be bothered to even look at Loeb's issues on the shelf but I'm intrigued in these stories by how Ross is handling being the Hulk. It is so different from Banner, yet strangely similar, too. There's the alienation because he's a monster and the thrill that comes with so much power, all the things we are used to seeing with the Banner Hulk over the years. The main difference, though, is that Ross doesn't feel sorry for himself and whine about it constantly. He's a soldier and he deals with his new situation whether he likes it or not. A good example of this is in one of the early scenes of #25 where Steve Rogers is giving Ross his assignment. Steve is honestly trying to help Ross make good and have him be an asset. The tone of the dialogue, the staging of the scene, it's originally what sucked me in.

In that same issue, however, we are given an example of why I'm conflicted about this series, for as much as I am loving the character of the Red Hulk, this issue spends a great deal of it's 'running time' on a tired old super-hero team-up cliché; the fight-brought-on-by-misunderstanding-before-realizing-we-are-supposed-to-be working-together schtick. In fact, this is a cliché that gets played out for the following 2 issues, if I remember correctly, with Iron Man being followed by Thor and then Namor. Everyone wants a piece of Red Hulk, apparently, but I feel like every time they go down this road they kill all the momentum they've built up. I like my share of smashing in a Hulk comic, don't get me wrong, I just think there's more to mine here and these sequences are not adding anything useful to the overall narrative.

I remember in the '90s when Garth Ennis was writing Helblazer. I hated his run for a number of reasons I won't go into here but, without fail, every time I was going to drop the title once-and-for-all Ennis would drop an amazing single issue that had everything I needed in a Hellblazer story to make me happy. Every. Single. Time.

There's kind of a similar phenomena happening here minus the hating part. After reading #27 I was going to stop buying Hulk and move on but then #28 came out and I loved that issue. Then I read #30 and figured, okay, #30.1 would be the last one if I didn't like it but I did (although I don't think Tom Palmer should do finishes over Hardman anymore - it seems like a no-brainer but it really isn't a good thing). And in some of the cases where the main story was not grabbing me, I kinda dug the back-up featuring A-Bomb (Rick Jones) or the Watcher back-ups that are now starting to pay off in the main story.

I guess the fact that I'm bothering to take the time to write this does prove that these guys are doing something positive with this series because I'm interested enough to care. To want to see more interactions between Ross and the LMDs, to see the Fortean/Ross/Red Hulk triangle develop, and to see where sleep deprivation will eventually take the character. That, and the fact I obsess over books and movies I can't fully embrace/endorse. Really, I'll probably spend more time rereading and staring at Hulk pages than I ever will Atlas ones.

So, now I'm waiting to see what #32 will bring (I hear it's a corker) and I continue to live with this series issue to issue.

Fingers crossed!


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Vive le musique!

And, just so it's not all reflective first person narration here today, I give you a video I had meant to post about 2 years ago but, for some reason, never did. It's a video of some length where the band members of Phoenix go on to talk (in French with subtitles, I warn you) about all the music that influenced them in the creation of their own unique brand of pop. I loved it. I hope you will, too.

MUSICVISION PHOENIX from Guillaume Delaperriere on Vimeo.



New Post

I spent a couple of hours yesterday adding and tweaking books on my GoodReads account. At first, when that sort of sank in, I thought, two hours?? Essentially databasing my books, and many of them comics/trades that I've read? But then I thought of how I went about it, drawing purchase locations and dates from memory until that was no longer an option, then skimming through my blog archives to find posts where I started with, "I just finished this great book today!" In a weird way, logging times and places, knowing that I bought George Lucas' Blockbusting at McNally Robinson Booksellers on boxing day, somehow that's important to me. Somehow, it's more than being pathological in the organization of 'my stuff' because by doing that, I'm ascribing a narrative to that book's place and time in my life. And when I'm done with it, I'll log the date completed and how many times I've read that particular book.

In a weird (and possibly sad) way, tracking my stuff is very much a part of the story of my life, just as I've found going back and skimming through blog posts here is. I used to poo-poo my efforts here, never quite knowing what I was trying to do with the blog, never quite achieving what I wanted to see with the blog, but looking back on it I've discovered that, since the beginning, I've logged a lot of moments in time, jotted down things that I had completely forgotten about until I started looking back, and left a digital trail of breadcrumbs, as it were, that I can always track back with. At least back to the inception of the blog.

I set out in the beginning to make this blog a personal journal but have spent the subsequent years trying to make it something else. Something popular, a place to express my views on pop culture, an outlet for my interviews, a production diary, you name it I've run the scenario, at least in my head if not in actual execution. What I didn't know until last night is that I succeeded. It is what I set out to make it. It is a journal, a chronology, an imprint of a certain part of the last few years of my life. It was interesting to look back on, and seeing how I've neglected it in the present, I'm hoping to step up the output a bit more and continue the process.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Confessions of a Media Junkie - Trial Run

Picked Up Last Week: Playing God, The Manchurian Candidate (remake), The Joneses, Morning Glory, Despicable Me, 17 Again, The Hangover, Beyond the Sea, The Corner

Watched: Inception, Tron Legacy, Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, Super Troopers, Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episodes I & II, Robot Chicken Season 4, The Closer Season 5

Directors Meme Who's Who #3

Continuing my Directors thoughts, I tackle #3 on my list:

Steven Spielberg

Although my relationship with Spielberg in later years has been rocky, I still look back on those early films with wonder and pure nostalgic joy. Movies like E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jaws are staples of most of my top ten lists, and two of them generally come up on my top 5 whenever I'm pressed to make one. He was a great storyteller who was not only proficient with doing large effects movies, but also smaller character pieces. Every time one of his movies opened, it was an event. Even if it stunk at the box-office, we'd still line up to see what was next out the gate, and movies like Hook and 1941 still hold a place for me despite being on most people's cinematic shit lists.

The latter half of Spielberg's career has, for me, been an exercise in self-indulgence, back-patting and self-congratulation. I find Minority Report and A.I. almost unwatchable, The Terminal and Catch Me If You Can alright diversions if only it wasn't for Tom Hanks and, while I have yet to see Munich, War of the Worlds is the only thing that he has made that I have cared for since Amistad, and that's with Tom Cruise in it, of all people.

I also blame most of the problems with the fourth Indy on Spielberg after reading various accounts of the making of the film.

So, there's good and there's bad, but in the end, he was a filmmaker who shaped how I viewed and responded to movies in my more impressionable years.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Confessions of a Media Junkie

That's the title that's milling about in my head at the moment. I still haven't done a search on it online to see if someone else is using it, so it may change, but I've been giving some consideration to writing a column, of sorts, here or on another blog (one that I'd create seperate to this one). In it I would do something similar to what Nick Hornby does with his Believer columns, "Stuff I've Been Reading", but instead of books (or exclusively books) I would cover DVDs and Blu-Rays. I'm always buying new discs and do not always watch them immediately after doing so. In fact, they often sit on my shelf for a very, very long time before I even take them out of their wrappers. I do the same with books and comics. The only things I get into right away is music.

So, that might be coming on the horizon. We'll see how things go.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Gatsby to be Remade by Luhrmann

Gatsby is one of my favourite books, Fitzgerald in my top 3 writers, and Luhrmann, Maguire and DiCaprio nowhere near my top ten directors or actors, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the 3D aspect of it, so I will be going into this new adaptation with great trepidation. The A&E version that came out a few years ago was pretty decent and still stands as my go-to version if I feel like watching the show. I really enjoyed Nick Caraway being played by the not-yet-an-Apatow-standard Paul Rudd, and Mira Sorvino had a decent turn at Daisy but I wasn't really sold on the remainder of the cast so I still have that not-quite-right feeling about it whenever I watch it.

I honestly have every faith that Luhrmann will be able to catch the look of the period, and Leo might actually make a decent Gatsby, but what I think will ultimately save this newest version for me is the casting of Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I adored her in An Education and she was a delight on Doctor Who. She's the only reason I'm planning on watching the LaBeouf-laden Wall Street 2 and think I would follow her to any show or movie. If she was in the new Transformers movie I'd probably go see that, too.

Anyway, here's the link to the story if you want to check it out.



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Directors Meme Who's Who #2

Continuing my Directors thoughts, I tackle #2 on my list:

David Fincher

I've loved the guy's stuff since Alien 3 and he's made very few missteps along the way. His music videos are generally exceptional and the guy worked for ILM on return of the Jedi. He gets some cool points for that right there. In fact, because of his experience behind the camera he is highly skilled in front of the camera. He can do light and shoot and design effects like Cameron are known for because he's done the job before, although he does seem like less of an asshole while doing it. He is one of the finest American directors out there with a subtle yet unmistakable visual style. He has an ability to draw out fantastic performances from his actors and chooses occasionally odd, but always compelling, subject matter.

He's also developing The Goon for animation, so watch for that to hopefully happen in the future.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Directors Meme Who's Who #1

I mentioned last time that I would do a brief thing on each director I put into my 15 Director list, so I'm back to do a little blurb on each of them. I'll do them in order of appearance and I won't necessarily do more than one at a time, mostly because I'm lazy but also to give me a moment to reflect on the why before committing it to the ol' blog. Also, the order of the list is totally random. To start with:

Ridley Scott

I don't remember the first Scott film I saw but I think it was Blade Runner, and I'm thinking that because I was a huge Harrison Ford fan for years. I also wasn't allowed to watch Alien for the longest time because it was supposed to be horrifying, so I stayed away from that movie until I got wise. I don't think I need to tell anyone what I got from Blade Runner and how it changed the way I looked at movies. Everything from the story to the visual style just made such an impression. All the smoke and neon and retro-future design was intoxicating even for a young 11 or 12 year-old who probably didn't understand what about this stuff was blowing his mind. I remember loving Black Rain and still remember Andy Garcia's death scene in that one. 1492 had some issues but even in a period piece Scott managed to pull off that neon/sodium light glow using natural light sources. His movies were visually dense and more commercial and accessible than Gilliam or Lynch to a young cinema enthusiast. I think Scott made me think a little more about what I was looking at and why, and created in me an expectation for the filmmakers I would follow throughout my days.



Monday, January 17, 2011

15 Directors Meme

This is a meme I picked up from the website Secure Immaturity and thought I would play along.

List off the first 15 directors that come to your head that have shaped the way you look at movies. You know, the ones that will always stick with you. Don’t take too long to think about it.

These are mine:

Ridley Scott
David Fincher
Steven Spielberg
Darren Aronofsky
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Wim Wenders
Orson Welles
Andrew Niccol
Steven Soderbergh
Edgar Wright
Cameron Crowe
Sam Raimi
Terry Gilliam
Luc Besson
Christopher Nolan

I'd also like to give Jonathan Glazer an honourable mention. He just missed the cut.

If I get a moment I'll come back in and 'talk' briefly about each director and how they changed the way I look at films. I also look forward to seeing what anybody else might come up with.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Counterfifth Detective

I think 100 Bullets was in it's late twenties or early thirties when 'The Counterfifth Detective' storyline rolled in, and for whatever reason, I stopped buying and reading the series at that point. It was probably a money decision, or I missed an issue and my store didn't have it and the completist in me made me stop buying it until I found it. Either way, it ended my relationship with the book several years ago and I haven't read an issue since.

Now that the series is over I've kind of had thoughts of revisiting it. I've always liked the series. Azzarello was one of my first interview gigs, too, talking to me for FEARSMag sometime before the first year was up. It's what started me on the book, to be honest.

So, I'm at the library and I'm picking out some books and movies to take home when I run across the collected 'Counterfifth Detective' and I think to myself, "why not?". I bring it home, I finished reading it today, and I'm a little surprised at how clichéd it was in plot and dialogue. I don't remember the book being quite that 'on the button', for lack of a better word, with all the noir tropes and catchy dialogue. I can't remember, for the life of me, but was the whole run like this from the beginning? There were some interesting elements to the story, and the artwork by Eduardo Risso was beautiful, as always, but something here missed the mark for me.

I'm certainly going to continue grabbing the trades and finishing the story to the end, I'm just a bit non-plussed regarding my reentry into the series. Here's to Book 6, I guess.