Friday, May 30, 2008

Wizard World Philly - Friday


Well, I will say this right off the bat, getting in was a hell of a lot easier this time than previous years. I might even go so far as to say it was a pleasure. One hopes it goes as well tomorrow and Sunday when it tends to be much busier.

Upon entering the show floor that Wizard seemed to be so proud to fill earlier in the week, the one thing I noticed is that it seemed both empty and sparse. I’m sure that will change. Or not. I did learn later in the day that the place was so empty because hundreds of folks were still waiting in the VIP lines. Many were there for an extended amount of time apparently.

At the DC booth I saw that they were giving away copies of DC Universe #0. That’s right, for free. The book that originally sold for fifty cents and will be sold in reprint for a dollar, was free. I’ll leave you to formulate your own opinion on that.

The Mondo Marvel panel was first and included Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Dan Slott, Greg Pak, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Reed, Duane Swierczynski, Fred Van Lente and was hosted by Joe Quesada. Immediately they threw out the new ideas coming from the House of Ideas. There’s a new X-Men miniseries called Manifest Destiny, a new Deadpool series, Greg Pak’s new origin of Magneto, yawn. Then they brought up Age of the Sentry, a limited series by Jeff Parker featuring a retro look at the Sentry’s Silver Age adventures.

Other than the Sentry deal, there is a noticeable lack of Avengers, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man news. And a sparse showing as well, due to the VIP thing, but then again it is the first panel of the day. Many things were discussed in an extended question and answer session, including one fact from the lips of editor Tom Brevoort, "Mary Jane (Watson-Parker) is not a Skrull."

A fan who didn’t like the new FF by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch inspired an intriguing response from Brevoort in that not every comic will click with every reader, and that he was sorry it wasn’t working for the fan. Wow. I wonder if that kind of honesty could have come from, say, Dan DiDio?

Speak of the devil, after hanging out a bit with some friends, I attended the DC Nation panel. This panel was mostly held in dim light as host, DC Senior Editor Ian Sattler, didn’t want to be blinded by the spotlights used in previous panels. It should be noted that he never told us who was on the panel, but it did include J.G. Jones, Jimmy Palmiotti, Shane Davis, Art Baltazar and possibly Ethan Van Sciver among others. Like I said, who knows who was there – we were never told.

And although the panel was without introductions, the audience response to the slide show was very positive. It was noted that Final Crisis: Superman Beyond would be partially in 3-D. And of course the Power Girl slide couldn’t pass by without at least one inferred boob joke. Sigh. There are just to many men in comics. Too bad Amanda Conner wasn’t there. And from Palmiotti’s description of the series, I hate to say because I’m really looking forward to it, it sounds an awful lot like the way Brian Reed describes his Ms. Marvel.

And then the questions and some answers followed. A fan question regarding "Batman R.I.P.," brought up that no one has said that the caped crusader is going to die. No one knows what’s really going to happen, including a few of the folks on the mystery panel.

Another fan, who said he was a DC reader for more than four decades, brought up how dumb a villain Libra was – an opinion I personally don’t agree with by the way, and like him I also read the original Libra story when it first hit the stands. He asked specifically what is the reaction when someone says for the biggest story of the year, here’s Libra, an obscure lame villain. The answer – it depends on who suggests it.

An unnamed artist on the panel, possibly Shane Davis or maybe Ethan Van Sciver, said he’s been begging to do an Aquaman revival. He said he asks once a week, and that he walks into DiDio’s office holding a trident sometimes he wants it so bad.

Other questions yielded the following answers. Sue Dibny will be seen in the upcoming Final Crisis: Reign in Hell miniseries. Despite rumors to the contrary, Jim Shooter is still writing Legion of Super-Heroes, Rich Johnston be damned apparently. J.G. Jones verified that his script for Final Crisis #1 says that "Libra spears the Martian Manhunter through the chest and kills him." Bastards.

Also today I got to hang with some folks I don’t usually get to hang with as often as I like. Good friends and fellow Comic Widows staffers Anthony and Andrea were both on hand. I also hung with Abraham of the Avengers Forever Forum, and I also got to say hello to Michelle who I haven’t seen in ages and finally got to meet her husband Joe. Good times.

I’ll leave you folks with a quote for today, overheard on the convention floor. There were two older women browsing one of the t-shirt walls of an exhibitor and one said to the other, "Look, another Wonder Woman! I had no idea she was so popular!" Gotta love it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Harvey Korman of "The Carol Burnett Show" and Blazing Saddles, among many many others, including other Mel Brooks films, and most notoriously, "The Star Wars Holiday Special."

Joseph Pevney who directed more than a few episodes of the original "Star Trek" series, including the classic "The Trouble with Tribbles." He also directed many series throughout the 1960s, 70s and into the 80s, as well as one of my favorite films, Man of a Thousand Faces, a biopic of Lon Chaney.

Alexander Courage who composed the original theme to the "Star Trek" TV series. His work has also appeared in Annie Get Your Gun, Gigi and Jurassic Park.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spies and Victims

Three Days of the Condor ~ I’m watching this the day after hearing of Sydney Pollack’s passing and this is truly one of his better films. What strikes me immediately is how violent the flick is without actually showing the violence the way a current film would. My, how things have changed, and not for the better. Thinking about the movies that Pollack has directed Robert Redford in I really have to say that he brings out the best in the actor. I’ll have to remember to watch Havana again soon. This film though is excellent and highly recommended.

36 Hours ~ Another excellent but also probably sadly forgotten flick. James Garner, showing terrific acting chops rarely seen in his role as Jim Rockford, gives an amazing performance here as an American soldier on the eve of D-Day who is captured by the Nazis, and tricked into believing it’s six years later and the war is over – so they can discover the details of the invasion. Brilliant flick based on a short story by Roald Dahl.

Mary and Rhoda ~ A desperate shot at reviving the magic of the old “Mary Tyler Moore Show” two and a half decades later. Mary and Valerie Harper’s Rhoda meet up in New York and help each other deal with their college age daughters. This TV movie was so bad that even the actors in it wish it best forgotten.

Ulli Lommel’s Black Dahlia ~ This is just a sick sick sick mess. Writer/director Lommel (and it hurts to even give him the benefit of the doubt as those titles) is a hack and would be better off making snuff films. The only thing this has to do with the Black Dahlia is that the three sociopaths who ‘act’ as protagonists repeatedly reenact Elizabeth Short’s murder on victim after victim after victim. I hated this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

R.I.P. Sydney Pollack

Yesterday famed director and actor Sydney Pollack passed away. While known best as a director I feel he was also one of the finest character actors as well.

My favorite films that he directed include that great Burt Lancaster flick The Swimmer (for which he was not credited), one of the best thrillers ever Three Days of the Condor and one of my all-time favorites They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. Everyone talks about Tootsie and The Way We Were, but if you really want to see some of his amazing direction, I recommend these two underrated and/or forgotten classics: The Yakuza and his remake of Sabrina.

He'll be missed, both behind, and on, the screen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

You're Kidding Me, Right?

McDonald's, you're kidding, right?

The new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich from McDonald's seems very familiar. Let's see. Juicy, boneless, all white meat chicken topped by pickles in a tasty roll...

Of course, it's a Chick-fil-A Sandwich with the pickles switched around. Damn, that's clever.

What will you do next, McDonald's? Start using cows to advertise your original new food item?

Either way, nothing beats Chick-fil-A in this department. Good luck on your next endeavor, Mickey D's, I hear it's going to be something called a Whopper... only 'southern style.'

Prince Caspian

I think at some point I should actually read some of the Narnia books. I've seen previous versions of some of the series made for TV, as well as 2005's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I always walk away with a feeling that I've missed something. It's not that I'm thick or something and don't get it - it's that I feel there are elements that may have been in the books that ain't making it to the new media.

That feeling hit me again tonight when I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Now for all intents and purposes, and especially to the uninitiated, this is a sequel to the 2005 movie, and that may be for appearances. But, point in fact, this is the third in the Narnia series, and the connections made to its predecessor just aren't there in the books. But as I said, I haven't read said books, so it didn't bug me much. It did however make me wonder what else had been tampered with in the translation.

Obviously the stories are quite old and needed to be updated for contemporary audiences I suppose, or possibly for more current tastes and trends. Specifically, the Lord of the Rings was hot so the powers-that-be in Hollywood seem to have made Narnia more like that, and believe me, after sitting through this 144 minute film, it really wants to be LotR. And I just find that ironic because Lewis and Tolkien were contemporaries who, by some accounts, really didn't care for each other much.

It's not great, but then again, it could have been much worse. The special effects are pretty spectacular and the performances quite good, but there are problems. Most notable among them are the thick accents of the Telmarines. I found myself wishing for captions at several points during the film. And then there are minor things like how Susan's quiver never runs out of arrows.

All in all, it's probably a good family film. Beware of a large body count, even though it's 'fantasy violence.' Of course that's a term I have never understood. How is getting run through with a magic sword less graphic than Bruce Willis shooting up a room with an Uzi anyway? Anyway, good flick, worth seeing, but maybe more worth the wait for DVD.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dick Martin 1922-2008

Comedian Dick Martin passed away yesterday from respiratory problems. He was 86.

Best known as Dan Rowan's partner as host NBC's popular "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," Martin also did stand-up in the 1950s, appeared as Lucille Ball's wacky neighbor in one of her sitcoms and was the principal director on "Newhart" during the 1990s. I most recently saw him in 2001's Bartlby.

Will he be missed? You bet your sweet bippy.

Mission to Mars

I am ancient.

Yep, I'm so old that I remember when men first walked on the moon. I remember how every channel, and don't forget there were only four at the time, carried every NASA mission live - pre-emting everything else, no matter what it was. I remember when astronauts were heroes and just about to coolest thing you could want to be when asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Hell, I remember drinking Tang, because it was what the astronauts drank.

I remember Apollo 13 (the reality, not the film) and asking my father what "docking" meant, only to be shushed because this was "very important." I remember getting watch TV at school (something that never happened back then) so the class could see "history" - moon rockets blasting off. I remember rushing home from school to see the splashdowns. I remember summer evenings where everyone would be outside at dusk with telescopes and binoculars to get a glimpse of Skylab going over. And I remember that the first color photo in the local newspaper was the Viking shot of the surface of Mars, taking up the entire front page.

That was then, this is now.

Tonight, in a few minutes actually as I write this, the Phoenix lander will be touching down on the planet Mars. None of the major networks are carrying this event live. To add insult to injury, ABC is airing "America's Funniest Home Videos." What that says about us as a civilization, I'll let you decide. CNN and Fox News are covering the story as part of their usual 24/7 news coverage. The super-accurate and objective MSNBC seems to think a re-run about San Quentin Prison is more important, perhaps Keith Olbermann might mention it later as an afterthought, or a joke.

Only the Science Channel is fully covering this event. And good thing though, this is history, whether the apathetic news media believes it or not.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eurovision Song Contest 2008 - Winners!

Sadly, once the voting for the 53rd Annual Eurovision Song Contest ended, the folks in Belgrade, Serbia decided to punish us with “the best band for weddings and funerals.” My question: what did we do to deserve this? Oh lordy (pun unintended), these people make Dustin the Turkey and Verka Serduchka seem like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And horrifically, they did more than one song. Or maybe it was one long song that just felt like it never ended.

I suppose that making us watch that mess made the usual tedious checking in of each nation with their votes less so. The rules stipulate that each country may not vote for itself so sometimes the votes tend to lean toward neighboring nations – unless of course they hate each other, like Turkey and Greece for instance. But, it’s pretty evident from the boos in the audience that this is a practice that is not only considered a cop out, but also seriously frowned upon.

And here are the final standings. Obviously I was waaay off in my predictions…

3. Greece - “Secret Combination” by Kalomira

2. Ukraine - “Shady Lady” by Ani Lorak

1. Russia - “Believe” by Dima Bilan

Wow, that barefoot guy won. But that was terrible… Maybe he can afford some shoes now.

For the full results, please click here, where can also view the semi-finals and the final as well.

Eurovision Song Contest 2008

Some observations on the Belgrade Finals as they happened…

Opened by last year’s winner Marija Serifvic doing her song “Molitva” in a disco mix and then a new song in English with various gender-bender shenanigans going on with her back-up singers and dancers. Marija herself began the song with a partner in wedding dress to match her own groom tux. The gown was then torn away to reveal a matching tux.

After the opening the hosts were introduced, our hostess wearing a dress that had nipples peaking out the top to say hello, quite an act in itself. I wonder if she knew?

Of the first five acts out the starting gate this year, only Andy Abraham of UK and No Angels of Germany really have given a good impression in my opinion, although apparently the latter was a bit off-key. I thought they both had strong showings.

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s homegrown superstar Laka continued the odd wedding flavor as his back-up dancers also wore bridal gowns. This of course was overshadowed by the crazy woman in the red-and-white, polka-dot, frilly skirt. She reminded me of an odd mix of Minnie Mouse, Toni Basil and Dot Warner. At least the tune was catchy.

Finland’s Terasbotoni came on with a bang and brought the noise and enthusiasm that others have lacked. My main problem is that they want so badly to be Lordi, to the point of even swinging a mace around at one point. They’re not Lordi though. Think Dio and Metallica’s love child and you’re closer to the mark.

Croatia’s Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents has been a fave since I saw their Semi-Finals performance. This was no disappointment. Love the old man. And like Croatia, Turkey’s Mor ve Otesi gave just as energetic performance here as in their semi-final. Another fave, and so far, one of the best of the finals.

At the break after Turkey’s performance, it appears that our hostess’ nipples have gone into hiding. Just for those who were wondering.

I don’t think they’ll win, and they are only slightly better than last year’s entry from the UK, Scooch, but at least Latvia’s Pirates of the Sea are not only sticking to their silly guns but also look like they’re having a ball. Good for them. It was kind of startling to hear the booing when they were done however.

This time around, blind singer Diana Gurtskya of Georgia gave me a much better impression with “Peace Will Come.” I guess that’s a good thing, this being the Finals, everyone should bring their A game, right?

Speaking of A game, Ukraine’s Ani Lorak, another of my faves, certainly brought it. More power, confidence and precision in the performance is solidly evident. It’s possible the vibe that Ukraine has a good chance at the win must be fueling this. Even the stage tricks come off better this time. And I guess it doesn’t hurt that she is a very sexy lady herself either.

Azerbaijan’s Samir and Elnur with their angels and devils in a weird morality play set to music was a bit bizarre, but sometimes bizarre wins the contest. Case in point: Lordi, but we’ll see.

Greece’s entry, “Secret Combination” by Kalomira sounds great, and is my favorite song from the contest this year, but her performance here and in the semi-finals just doesn’t come up to snuff for me. In my opinion, if the contest were all about the music on CD and the video on TV, Greece would win this year, but that’s not how it works. Europe votes on the performance seen here. Shame. Even the dress coming off won’t help this one.

Speaking again of bizarre, I just don’t get Spain’s entry, “Baila El Chiki Chiki” by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. He strikes me as a mutant hybrid of Borat and Weird Al and Austin Powers, only without the talent. At least his back-up dancers were pretty even if they were out of step.

Someone please tell Russia’s Dima Bilan to get off the floor and put on some shoes please. Come on, dude, it’s embarrassing…

Norway’s Maria closed the contest with the infectious power ballad, “Hold On Be Strong.” Last is always a good place to be, leaving the last taste in folks’ minds before they vote.

And now the voting begins…


My predictions:

3. Croatia
2. Ukraine
1. Georgia

Indy 4: The Ride

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, besides having three too many words in the title ("the Kingdom of" should be removed in my opinion), is more of a ride than a film. In fact, I suspect that someone, probably Disney or Universal, have one in the works already, but there's really no need. The film is the ride. And trust me, it's a better ride than a film.

We pick up with Indy in 1957, and we know it's 1957 because we are hammered over the head with this fact several times. The rock 'n' roll, the atomic bomb tests, the Cold War and the McCarthyism of the time are beaten into us enough to make it a distraction more than a background. It seems to me that if George Lucas wanted to make a film about America in the 1950s he should have just done it and left Indiana Jones out of it. Of course, however, with our principal character, and the actor Harrison Ford, feeling and looking his age, the time really had to be some time in the 1950s.

The rest of the cast is really outshown by brunette Soviet psychic spy Cate Blanchett. She is more than suitably evil and engaging. The screen lights up when Cate's on it - an excellent foil opposite Ford, who for the first time in years (maybe since the last Indy flick) isn't playing wooden and unlikable on the screen. Oh, Karen Allen is back again too, John Hurt does his best catatonia and schizophrenia, and then there's Shia LaBeouf, the homeless man's Marlon Brando imitation. Sorry, for me he justs gets more annoying in every movie I see him in.

Storywise, what story there is, seems to indicate that George Lucas has been listening to far too much Coast to Coast AM. This shift in the Indiana Jones series from Christian mythology to crypto-mythology is especially jarring. For me, the mix of Indy with aliens is akin to mixing fudge and mayo. It ain't pretty. This flick is a mix and match nightmare of the paranormal culture, throwing in such aspects as Roswell, Nasca, Eldorado, among others to tell Lucas' tale of the crystal skulls.

That's not to say that it's all bad. There are interesting nods and winks to "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" and Star Wars, and we even catch a peek at the Ark of the Covenant in a loose end that could, if pressured by box office success, lead to a sequel. There are a few memorable lines, and a sweet ending, but in my opinion, this is the weakest of the series. Still, see the flick, and ride the ride - it's still worth it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eurovision 2008 - The Second Semi-Final

Some observations on the Eurovision Second Semi-Finals.

Iceland’s Euroband seemed to be, production-wise, a sort of disco version of Travolta and Newton-John from the end of Grease. I guess that’s one way to say I didn’t like it. The song yes, the performance no.

Sweden’s “Hero” by Charlotte Perrelli is a great song, but the production on stage was too blue, so blue, way too much blue, and when the lights came up, too much silver and too much make-up.

Turkey’s Mor ve Otesi gave a very rousing, electric, charismatic performance. One of my favorites.

Ukraine’s “Shady Lady” by Ani Lorak is another one of my faves, the dress was a bit too Vegas for me though, and speaking of Vegas - they seemed to take a cue from Belarus last year with a magic vibe throughout. Some very hot choreography in this one.

Lithuania’s Jeronimas Milius sang a pretty ballad a la Michael Bolton crossed with Andrew Lloyd Weber, although the hair is definitely Bolton’s. Sadly this was zzzzzzz.

Albania’s entry had some interesting fade in and out camera tricks for the television audience, but just an average if a bit whiny in places power ballad.

Czech Republic’s Tereza Kerndlova had sort of a Madonna vibe when she was in her house phase, the performance, just full of stage fire, making me fear for the outfits of the singer and dancers, makes up for the mediocre dance song.

Belarus, much like Iceland had far too much blue, star-studded balls and some fairly hot women for this tune reminisicent of eighties pop metal (think Europe), but in sound only.

Latvia’s Pirates of the Sea doing “Wolves of the Sea” was a bizarre mix of Pirates of the Caribbean, last year’s UK entry Scooch and a whole lotta camp, this is nowhere near as much fun as it sounds. The stage performance is actually more like a Wiggles outtake than anything else.

Croatia was an interesting production for an old-fashioned song, very entertaining if not my usual flavor. Gotta love the old man, humorously named 75 Cents, especially when he’s scratching on the Victrola.

Bulgaria began with a bang, techno music and breakdancing, before hitting a slower reggae stride. Loved her outfit and the burning turntables. The more I hear this one the more I like it.

Denmark struck me as an over-produced, over-choreographed, over-rehersed “American Idol” segment, but maybe that’s just me. Either way it had me pining for David Archeletta, and that’s not a compliment.

Georgia takes a while to grow on you, inspirational tune with lots of smoke. Nowhere near the power of last year’s entry.

Malta makes me wonder if it really is a song about vodka. Catchy bouncy and the energetic Morena is flanked by equally bouncy male dancers. Again, too blue, is that the color of preference this year? Seriously this is a favorite.

Cyprus – Overdramatic and dressed in a Bjork throwaway at first, Evdokia Kadi is very charismatic. This seeming traditional song soon launches into a catchy dance tune that retains its ethnic spark. I like it more each time I hear it.

Portugal, with Vania Fernandes, felt like they were trying to recreate Serbia’s winning song last year in mood and sound, without much success in my opinion.

And unfortunately Hungary, Switzerland and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia left me unimpressed on either the positive or negative side – which I suppose is a big negative actually.


And the results… going through from this semi-final round to the Finals on Saturday are Ukraine, Croatia, Albania, Iceland, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Turkey and Portugal.

If you would like to re-watch either of the Semi-Finals, you can catch them here. The same website goes for the Finals on Saturday, May 24th at 3:00 PM American Eastern Standard Time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Europe Is Not Amused

Today, or tonight, depending on what part of the world you're in, the first semi-finals of Eurovision 2008 were held in Belgrade. Ten out of nineteen finalists were chosen to compete in the Finals this Saturday.

Among those who did not get through was Dustin the Turkey of Ireland.

The Turkey's entry "Irelande Douze Pointe" was a biting satire of the Eurovision Song Contests of recent years. As I said, the rest of Europe was not amused.

Here are the entries going through to the final round:

Armenia: "Qele Qele" by Sirusho

Azurbaijan: "Day After Day" by Elnur & Samir

Bosnia & Herzegovina: "Pokusaj" by Laka

Finland: "Missä Miehet Ratsastaa" by Teräsbetoni

Greece: "Secret Combination" by Kalomira

Israel: "The Fire in Your Eyes" by Boaz

Norway: "Hold On Be Strong" by Maria

Poland: "For Life" by Isis Gee

Romania: "Pe-o Margine De Lume" by Nico & Vlad

Russia: "Believe" by Dima Bilan

Along with the four nations that are always automatic finalists and last year's winning nation...

United Kingdom: "Even If" by Andy Abraham

Germany: "Disappear" by No Angels

France: "Divine" by Sébastien Tellier

Spain: "Baila El Chiki Chiki" by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre

Serbia: "Oro" by Jelena Tomašević featuring Bora Dugic

I'll be back on Thursday with the finalists from the second semi-finals.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Split-Screen, Credit-Squeezing, News MF-ers

And yeah, Fox 29 in Philadelphia, I'm lookin' directly at you.

The idea of 'squeezing credits' that has been done by networks for the last decade or so has really started to bug the hell out of me, and the primary offender is Fox 29. Here is an example of 'good' squeezing credits:

As you can see, you can still read the credits, and there is nothing further going on with the actors or the story during this squeezing. Some networks are extremely responsible when enacting this practice. Here is how the BBC does it, and they do it well.

When Fox first began broadcasting their five o'clock news at 4:59 PM, by squeezing out the ending of "Judge Judy" to a third of the screen and turning off the sound for that third I was enraged and contacted them via email which was unanswered. For those who don't know, the last minute of "Judge Judy" features the credits but also the participants of the last case reacting to the verdict - thus if we watched the program on Fox 29 we would never hear what was said. The other two-thirds of the screen was taken up by the newscaster telling us what would be on in less than a minute on the news. If the news were about a fire affecting folks in our area, or another police officer murder (which we have far too many of in the Philly area) or maybe some other vital and immediate news story I could understand, but more often than not it was about some rain coming or how to lower gas prices - you know, something that just required that extra minute before the news actually started.

This problem was easily solved, even though Fox 29 never bothered to answer my email, as another local station broadcast "Judge Judy" every day. We now watch the show on WFMZ 69 out of Allentown, PA. I urge everyone to not only check out their programming, but also to buy items and services advertised during the "Judge Judy" show which is aired uncut and unaltered on that station every weeknight.

More recently I've noticed that "Seinfeld" in Fox 29's 11:30 PM slot has been suffering from a similar problem, and there also the last scene is chopped out and muted for a news teaser. This is a unique news teaser as it promotes the 5 AM airing of "Good Day Philadelphia." Excuse me? Please tell me who's up at midnight with plans to be watching TV at five that morning? What are they thinking?

Again, easily solved as TBS broadcasts "Seinfeld" as well, and just as often. But it gets me thinking. Maybe Fox 29 doesn't want me as a viewer? Maybe they don't want a lot of folks to be viewers. Fox 29 better start watching themselves if they want us to watch them.

2 Girls 1 Cup

No, before you say it, I'm NOT reviewing this movie...

You know what it is, and if you don't - trust me you don't want to know what it is. So if you want to continue to not know, just cover your eyes for a few seconds and go, "Lalalalalalalala," okay?

"2 Girls 1 Cup" is a pornographic, and I do mean graphic, video clip that has been virally circulating the internet for almost a year now. About two to three minutes long it features themes like lesbianism (which by itself is not a bad thing), copraphagia and emetophilia to name a few. I myself watched it a total of twice. Once just because, and a second time to make sure it was real. I'm still not sure. Either way it made me gag. And having worked in a video store for several years that carried a wide selection of adult movies I had seen some things approaching this gross-out level, but never this bad.

But the video clip itself is not the point of this entry, the YouTube phenomenon that followed is. "2 Girls 1 Cup" can't be shown on YouTube -even though it's the first place many of the uninitiated looked for it- but something else popped up there related to it.

Folks were getting other people to sit in front of a computer and watch the clip while they filmed the unknowing victim's reaction. These reaction clips number in the hundreds and it's what you'll find if you search on YouTube. The first time you watch one, you're mildly amused, but after that it's all the same. And yet, even a year later I still get emails saying, "You have to check this out." Sorry, I don't get the fascination, please stop.

Of course as with anything, sometimes there's a diamond in the rough. One reaction video features Kermit the Frog, and is as hilarious as it is wrong and just as disturbing as the "2 Girls 1 Cup" clip.

Just wait, give it a year or two, but I'm sure there will be a Hollywood-ized behind the scenes version of the "2 Girls 1 Cup" phenomenon. Maybe I'll review that.

And um, no, there are no visual aids included in this blog entry.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bad Names, Bad Games

There's quite a controversy going on in the UK over a new Wii game called Wii Fit.

Apparently in measuring a child's BMI (Body Mass Index) it called that child "fat." Never mind that the game is not for kids, nor designed with kids in mind, the poor girl has apparently suffered severe emotional damage from the inanimate game machine because of it.

I'm left wondering however how the parents will react if another child ever hurls an insult at their daughter. Will they sue? Demand reparations? Ask that the guilty child have a warning tattooed to his or her forehead, or worse yet, be taken out of society?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Capricorn One

Capricorn One ~ This 1978 film by writer/director Peter Hyams was influenced by wild rumors and urban legends that the US moon landing was faked. In Capricorn One, a Mars landing is faked, but when a glitch in the actual splashdown of the unmanned capsule makes it impossible for the astronauts to have survived – the real guys on Earth are infinitely expendable. Hilarity ensues.

Excellent excellent performances by Elliot Gould who plays an unorthodox reporter on the trail of the cover-up and James Brolin as one of the astronauts. Others among this chiefly 1970s cast do wonderful jobs including Karen Black and Brenda Vaccaro, and even a pre-murder O.J. Simpson. Hal Holbrook even proves that he’s been Oscar-worthy decades before the Academy ever decided he was. Capricorn One also features one of Jerry Goldsmith’s better early scores.

Other than the dated 1970s trappings and cast, this is a very current film, and I wonder why in this political environment it hasn’t been optioned for a remake. This was much better than I remember it, and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sue Simmons Drops the F Bomb

Live television is a wonderful thing. Whether it's Andy Kaufman acting like a spoiled child on "Fridays," Janet Jackson flashing a boob at the Super Bowl, or Bud Dwyer taking his own life at a press conference - shit happens. Two nights ago, longtime New York newscaster had her own 'event.'

Here's her 'error,' and the apology that came a bit later.

My question is what exactly was she reacting to?

Bet they won't be doing those news teasers live any more, huh?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Speed Thrills

Speed Racer ~ Forget the Matrix films, and even forget Bound, this –at least so far- is the crowning achievement of the Wachowski brothers.

Folks have said that it’s too bright, too busy and too fast to watch and that it causes headaches, but my advice is to get used to it. But if memory serves, those are the same complaints made to Toni Basil about her "Mickey" music video waaay back in 1982, and so she toned it down. Now, not only are fast cuts commonplace but that particular video is considered extremely tame. Media will change, and the audiences will get acclimated. With Speed Racer, the Wachowskis have come very close to creating a completely new style of film. Twenty years from now, they will be praised as visionaries. I would bet on it. This is an experience rather than a film.

Speed Racer is busy, and I’m sure multiple viewings will be required to catch every nuance. For this reason I predict its box office as well as DVD rentals and sales will be huge. There are superior performances from Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci and Rain, and especially all the cars, real CGI or green screen. If I were pressed to find something wrong with the flick I would say at times the Wachowskis make the same mistake NBC made with "Knight Rider." When in doubt, always remember, the car is the star.

Speed Racer is an incredible film. As a kid who grew up watching the original "Speed Racer" cartoon, and then, like all my friends, replaying out what I’d seen with my Hot Wheels and Matchboxes, this is a dream come true. See it, see it twice, and as they say in lacrosse – you’ll pay for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The All Things Fun! Podcast - Episode Eight: Road Trip

The All Things Fun! Podcast is back. Here's Episode Eight, "Road Trip," part one of the NY Comic Con highlights...

Host Ed Evans and the gang head out to the 2008 New York Comic-Con for this special "live" episode.

Glenn Walker interviews legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and Wonder Woman scribe Gail Simone.

Allison Eckel talks to Mattel about their new "Super Friends" line of toys.

We also hear from Upper Deck about their new World of Warcraft Miniatures Game and we get the scoop on the forthcoming games from Fantasy Flight.

We also meet Peter Fernandez AKA Speed Racer!

And we wrap up this extra long episode with Wes Hitchins reviewing the forthcoming game, Mutant Chronicles.

Check it out here:

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Miracle of Iron Man

The simple truth of the matter is that no matter how huge the hype and anticipation for any comic book movie is, it will invariably tank and/or suck. Yeah, some comic fans will love it but for the most part, they will tear it apart piece by piece. That's just the way it goes. There's something about the comic book enthusiast that is kissing kin with the obsessive/compulsive. Continuity and source material are prime objectives when bringing a superhero to the big screen.

And then comes Iron Man...

If anyone had told me, and they did, people whose opinions I trust, that Iron Man was the one of, if not the, best superhero movies ever made - I just would have flat out laughed. These things always go awry. Those idiots in Hollywood will mess something up - the history, the character, the costume, something - it always happens. But it doesn't happen here.

The story is near perfect and Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Tony Stark is dead on, as well as being possibly one of the best of his career. The special effects are beautiful, and the movie is not only accessible to the mainstream audience but contains enough Easter eggs to keep the fanboys giggling with glee for months.

See it, see it now, and see it on the big screen. This is one of those movies that must be seen on the big screen. And a heads up for all the comic book fans out there - wait through the four and half minutes of credits for the last scene or you'll kick yourselves. Hard.