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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of 2008: Everything Else


In my opinion, the best movies of 2008:

High School Musical 3, Mamma Mia!, Iron Man, Wall-E, Speed Racer, 21, Hancock, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Premonition and Justice League: The New Frontier.

Movies not from 2008, but I saw for the first time this year and loved: Déjà Vu, Last Holiday, Man of the Century, Girl 27, Crash (2004), Shoot ‘Em Up, and the absolutely brilliant The Man from Earth.

The best things from the internet in 2008:

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Stephen King’s "N," Watchmen Motion Comics, BloodRayne A Fan Film, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast, Derrick Ferguson and Thomas Deja's Better in the Dark podcast and The Writing Show podcast.

The best comic books of 2008:

Jonah Hex, Trinity by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, Geoff Johns' Action Comics, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's Fantastic Four, Gail Simone's Wonder Woman, Lone Ranger, Countdown to Mystery, Brave and the Bold, Joe Casey's Godland, and Garth Ennis' brilliant revival of British space hero Dan Dare.

The best music videos of 2008 in my opinion:

"4 Minutes" by Madonna and Justin Timbalake w/Timbaland, "Rockstar" by Nickleback, "Dream On" and "Konichiwa Bitches" by Robyn and Pink's "So What."



Folks and things I’ve discovered in 2008 that probably didn’t actually happen in 2008:

Robin Renee, Os Seminovos, the “Coverage” album by Mandy Moore, Lacuna Coil, Hollywood Undead, Vitamin String Quartet and just how really good Suzi Quatro was and is.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of 2008: Music




Here are my top twenty-five songs of 2008:

“4 Minutes” by Madonna and Justin Timberlake w/Timbaland
“Sandcastle Disco” by Solange
“American Boy” by Estelle w/Kanye West
“Handlebars” by Flobots
“Handle Me” by Robyn

“Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield
“More Than Enough” by Bryan Hawn
“Should’ve Said No” by Taylor Swift
“Crushcrushcrush” by Paramore
“Chinese Democracy” by Guns N’ Roses

“Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park
“I’m Good, I’m Gone” by Lykke Li
“In Which Moaning Myrtle Moans” by the Moaning Myrtles
“Astropop” by LOURDS
“Future Ex-Boyfriend” by Rocket

“Solo Impala” by The Fashion
“Love Me Dead” by Ludo
“Five Days” by Jana Losey
“Brand New Day” by Neil Patrick Harris
“Dashboard” by Modest Mouse

“Stop” by Against Me!
“Mercy” by Duffy
“Holler Back” by The Lost Trailers
“Re-Education (Through Labor)” by Rise Against
“Bad Girlfriend” by Theory of a Deadman


And my top ten albums of 2008:

“Robyn” by Robyn
“The Rokomonie” by Robyn
“Speed Racer” by Michael Giacchino
“Funhouse” by Pink
“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” by Various

“Spring Awakening” by Duncan Sheik and Various
“Mamma Mia!” by Various
“19” by Adele
“Raising Sand” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
“Riot!” by Paramore

Freddie Hubbard Passes


Jazz legend Freddie Hubbard passed away yesterday at 70. He will be missed.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of 2008: Television


Yep, it's that time of year again, time for everyone and their mother to pick what they thought was the best of the past year. I'm no different, so yes, I'm going to make you suffer through my thoughts. This time, it's television.

For me the top ten TV series of 2008 were:

"Pushing Daisies" - While canceled, and unlikely to return as anything but reruns or DVD, this was a bright spot for me on the TV schedule. It was thoughtful, innovative and brilliant, and that's not even going into the unique cinematic or storytelling techniques it used.

"Eli Stone" - Another unique show and cancellation victim. ABC canned both of them after giving them a second chance this season. I guess ABC has not only a bone to pick with fantasy, but also television that makes you think.

"True Blood" - Unique marketing set this HBO series apart from any other vampire series before it even hit the air with the "BloodCopy" viral marketing ploy. This TV adaptation of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series is the surprise hit of the year.

"Dexter" - In its third season this Showtime series about a serial killer who hunts other serial killers continues to amaze. Even when it's weak, it is better than 90% of everything else out ther on the tube.

"ER" - This old favorite, now in its supposedly final season, has bounced back and become its best season in years with guest stars galore and maintaining its balance of believable characters and intense situations. I don't want it to go.

"The Wire" - And I didn't want this one to go either, but what's done is done. I came late to the party here and caught up on DVD, but I have to say that "The Wire" is probably one of the best series that has beeen made for television, period.
"Parking Wars" - This reality series from A&E follows the employees of the dreaded Philadelphia Parking Authority around during their workday. It's the only reality show of its type that even comes close to the entertainment value of "Cops."

The bottom five of my top ten are rounded out by Cartoon Network's "Brave and the Bold" and "Venture Bros.," the BBC's fourth season of "Doctor Who," the still refreshing "Chuck," and FX's much-missed and unfortunately canceled "Dirt."

In the honorable mentions and etcetera department would be "Smallville" and "South Park" as most improved series, and BET's "Black Panther" and the CW's "Reaper" as the most looked forward to series in 2009.

On the bad side, boos and hisses for "Heroes" and Everybody Hates Chris" for dying a slow death in 2008, and the worst show I've seen this year would, of course, be the American version of "Kath and Kim."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno



Zack and Miri Make a Porno ~ All the hype about taking the “porno” out of the title and the advertising and even the movie listings aside, this is actually a rather sweet film from Kevin Smith – or at least as sweet as Kevin Smith gets. It seems that as much as making the critically panned but well-intentioned Jersey Girl and visiting familiar turf in Clerks 2 with a eye towards fun rather than gloom, has mellowed Smith – it also seems that the presence of Seth Rogen has invigorated him. Formerly Smith stayed within his own bounds and used the same entourage of folks in his films, but Rogen (and Elizabeth Banks as well) has brought the new blood and the new vision needed to make this Smith effort that much more entertaining. Craig Robinson and Superman Returns' Brandon Routh, as well as Smith alumni Jeff Anderson are priceless. A great film (for fans of Smith), and hopefully the start of a new partnership.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That Time of Year Again

The last few weeks of the year are here and it’s time for Hollywood to roll out their finest stuff in hopes the Academy will take notice and bestow an Oscar on these films. There are a lot of them out there.

Doubt is getting a lot of hype. Milk and Gran Torino promise career performances from Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood respectively. The much talked about reverse-aging epic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is out there as well. There’s also Will Smith in Seven Pounds, Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, the animated Waltz with Bashir from Ari Folman and Revolutionary Road from Sam Mendes.

Like I said, there are a lot of them, and this is the way it’s been at the end of the year for the last couple decades. The studios want their Oscar hopefuls in the Academy’s faces right before nomination time, and for the most part, this simple ploy usually works. Mark my words, most of the above flicks will make up the majority of the noms this year.

This is bullshit in my opinion. Time of year shouldn’t matter. A good movie, an Oscar-worthy movie, is Oscar-worthy no matter what time of year it is released. If these studios had any reall balls they would release all of these in January. If a flick is really that good, the Academy will remember it come December. And if not, if the Academy is that dim-witted and memory-handicapped, why are they allowed to vote?

Bolt



Bolt ~ More computer animation from Disney, this time doing its level animated best to take advantage of the Miley Cyrus phenomenon while it lasts.

The premise of Bolt is that of a dog actor who doesn’t know he’s acting in a TV show about a super-powered dog. It’s sort of Truman Show gone to the dogs, if you can forgive the pun. Bolt gets out of the studio, and learns the hard way that he doesn’t really have super powers. Cyrus is his mistress and he’s set loose across the country searching for her.

John Travolta in an unsteady step backwards plays the title role. He plays Bolt with his Vinnie Barbarino voice from “Welcome Back, Kotter” back in the 1970s. It’s almost like take Vinnie, add a touch of Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, add some fleas and shake briskly. I tried to get it out of my head, but failed. Weirdly, at some points, the voice works. On the opposite end of the Travolta stuff, the voice work of Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Mark Walton make the flick that much better.

Sadly however, for me, in the long run, the movie fails. It never matches up in the reality scenes to the pure adventure thrill of the faked scenes from the Bolt TV series. Why didn’t they just make a movie about the TV Bolt character? A bit clichéd, but exciting and nail-biting, but for me, it would have been a better movie.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Avengers Forever Holiday Chat Schedule


From the Avengers Forever website:

The Avengers Forever Chatroom is open for the holidays! Some of us are lucky enough to have a bunch o' time off from work and or school for the holidays so we thought it might be a good time to dust off the chat room and have at it! That said below is a tentative schedule that includes chat room dates, times and topics. Please feel free to stop on by for some great conversation over the holidays.

Dark Avengers
Friday, December 26 @ 9:00 PM (EST)

Ultimate Avengers
Saturday, December 27 @ 9:00 PM (EST)

New Avengers: The Reunion
Sunday, December 28 @ 9:00 PM (EST)

Avengers Classic Chat - Focus on Volume III
Monday, December 29 @ 9:00 PM (EST)

Mighty Avengers
Tuesday, December 30 @ 9:00 PM (EST)

Enter the Chatroom here!

Hope to see you soon! Happy Holidays! And Avengers Assemble!

Eartha Kitt RIP


Eartha Kitt passed away Christmas Day after a long battle with colon cancer. The singer, actress and star of Broadway was 81. She was one of the stage's most seductive entertainers whose trademark purr eventually landed her the role of Catwoman in the 1960s "Batman" TV series, for which she is known by many baby boomers. She recorded the original hit version of the Christmas classic, "Santa Baby," and in her career spanning nearly six decades, she was nominated for numerous Grammys, Emmys and Tonys. We have truly lost of the great ones. Miss Kitt will be missed.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Dr. Horrible on DVD



Now finally on DVD, you can watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog anytime on your TV. For those of you living under a rock for the last year or so, Dr. Horrible is quite possibly the best entertainment to come out in and around 2008. While not exactly a movie or a TV show, it’s a new form of entertainment that is - up until the DVD release – was dependent on the internet.

Available in iTunes, this metahuman drama/musical/online vlog tells the tale of Billy aka Dr. Horrible, a wannabe mad scientist/super-villain out to join the Evil League of Evil, and get the attention of Penny, a girl at the Laundromat he crushing badly on.

Former Dougie Howser and current star of "How I Met Your Mother," Neil Patrick Harris brilliantly fills the title role, with Felicia Day as Penny, and Nathan Fillion of "Firefly" as Horrible’s arch-nemesis superhero Captain Hammer. Speaking of "Firefly," the whole shebang is the brainchild of Joss Whedon. If you liked his work with that short-lived series or his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," you’ll love this. I think this is the best thing Whedon has ever done, and that’s saying a lot.

See it here, with, as they say, ‘limited commercial interruption.’ See it, buy the DVD, live the blog – you’ll love it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Does a Comic Book Colorist Really Do?



What does a comic book colorist really do? As you can see above - everything. In the video you can see colorist Rod Reis take an interesting yet flat piece of art and make it absolutely come alive. Think about this next time you're reading your favorite comic. Rock on, Rod.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett Passes at 76



Majel Barrett, wife of the late Gene Roddenberry and the First Lady of Star Trek, has passed away from complications of leukemia this morning.

She appeared in several different incarnations of "Star Trek," including the original series, "Next Generation," several of the movies, and even in the fan-produced "New Voyages."

Her voice also is that of the Enterprise computer in the upcoming theatrical release of "Star Trek" from producer J.J. Abrams.

She'll be dearly missed.

The Return of Smallville


Finally we get the Legion of Super-Heroes episode we've all been waiting for, also the return of the Martian Manhunter, more Doomsday, the Persuader (???!!!), and just who is that bald guy in the shadows with all the wires? Is it Luthor? Or Brainiac? Or someone even more sinister? Tune in, same Smallville time, same Smallville channel on Thursday, January 15th.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crash (2004)



Crash ~ This 2004 offering from writer/director Paul Haggis (who would later go on to revitalize the James Bond franchise – not that it needed revitalization, in my opinion at least) won several Oscars that may have been more worthy for the individual performances of the actors than for the entire film or screenplay. Several vignettes intersect in post-9-11 Los Angeles with a slant toward exposing many different kinds of prejudice and stereotypes. It never truly comes together in my opinion. And several scenes seem to have either been ghost-written by Quentin Tarantino trying to ape his own style from Pulp Fiction - or by someone doing a bad parody of the Q-man. Sandra Bullock shows her rarely seen acting chops in an unpleasant role, and Larenz Tate and Ludacris absolutely steal the movie from the much more experienced actors involved. Worth watching for the acting, but don’t expect an ending, happy or otherwise.

Scrubs - Sneak Peek


"Scrubs" returns to network television on January 6th, this time on ABC, and with Courtney Cox.

A Very Lipshitz Christmas



The Dumpsta Players present...

"A Very Lipshitz Christmas"

Wednesday, December 17th
10pm doors, 11PM showtime -- sharp!

Bob and Barbara's
1509 South Street
Philadelphia, PA

Info: (215) 545-4511
$1.99 cover

MISS TONY VS. HOMOPHOBIC DEACON DICK

LIBBY LIPSHITZ-BARRY GOES GOY

TINY COLLETTA EATS HER WAY THRU HOLIDAYS

It's Christmas at the Lipshitz home, but wait a minute, they're Jews! The economy is so bad that the family is flat broke and battling mother Libby and rebellious daughter Bethsheba have to peddle their wares and enter a financially lucrative dance contest at the ex-Gay Ministry Church, led by swishy Deacon Dick Dunceworth and his evil assistant Ethel Witzenheimer. Southwest Philly's finest Tiny Colletta and daughter Lurlayne are just there for the free food! But look who's here to crash the party and show everyone how to dance: 13th Street queen Miss Tony and her cousin Rosita Conchita Rodriguez-Johnson. Will the Collettas eat all the candy? Who gets the Christmas tree thrown at them this year? Has Deacon Dick really prayed the gay away? Will Miss Tony finally teach everyone important lessons in homophobia and how to come correct? And will they listen this time?

Find out in... A Very Lipshitz Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Sneak Peek


Posted here mainly so you won't have to go see the pointless remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, take a sneak peek at the trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine here. Yes, that is Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. And yeah, that's the Blob, and oh baby, yeah, that's Gambit. This might be worth it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Van Johnson Passes at 92



Film and television actor Van Johnson has passed away from natural causes. He was 92. His wholesome boy-next-door good looks made him a heartthrob of the movies of the 1940s and 50s. He continued his career on television into the 1970s and 80s.

Bettie Page RIP


After a four-week-long stay in the hospital and nearly half a lifetime hiding from her career as a 1950's pinup model, Bettie Page has passed away at the age of 85.

Her scandalous (for the time) photos in Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine and the bondage mags of Irving Klaw helped to ring in the beginning of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Of course she may have been unaware of that as she vanished, fighting mental illness and becoming a born-again Christian. She shunned interviews for years, refusing to be photographed in her old age.

In the 1970s and afterwards, she became a cult figure and once again experienced a rush of fame, in the form of comics, movies and posters. She remains one of the most beautiful and recognizable female pop icons of the 1950s and beyond. Rest in peace, Bettie.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas



The Pineland Players present:

A Visit from St. Nicholas

Friday, December 12th, 7:30 PM

The Gibson House Community Center
535 E. Main Street
Marlton, NJ 08053

It's Christmas Eve, 1822, and Clement Clark Moore's house is not as quiet as a mouse -- everyone is stirring even the mice! The tale takes place around the writing of the famous children's poem.

Adults $6.00 Seniors & Children $5.00

The Spirit - Sneak Peek



This trailer focuses on the women of The Spirit. Yes, women have always been an important part of the Spirit's life but this (for several reasons) looks more like the women of Sin City than The Spirit. I hope Frank Miller hasn't ruined the Spirit like he did Batman...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Chat with the Authors of Carpathian Shadows Volume II




The Writer's Chatroom

Chat with the authors of "Carpathian Shadows: Volume Two"

Carol Cole is a pediatric physical therapist and has worked for the past twenty-five years in a Virginia school system. Always a voracious reader, Carol began writing six years ago. Her stories have been published in over thirty-five online and print magazines. She has storied in two other anthologies, "By the Chimney With Care" and "Aleatory's Junction" She lives with her husband and twenty-one year old son, in Vienna, Virginia.

Christina Barber is an award-winning author of speculative fiction works noted for their dark tones. Christina's published books include Seely's Pond (Dark Urban Fantasy, March 2008), Ghosts of Southern Crescent, Georgia (Non-Fiction, Summer 2008) and Greystone (2006 Speculative Romance). She has short stories appearing in magazines and anthologies across the writing spectrum.

Donna Amato is a nurse who works with transplant patients. Her stories have been published in a variety of online and print magazines and two anthologies. She lives with three of her children in Shreveport, Louisiana and is currently working on her first novel.

Kevin Tipple: In addition to having been the editor or assistant editor of several different zines, his book reviews appear extensively online and he is the book reviewer for the Texas edition of the newspaper "Senior News." His short fiction has appeared in magazines such as "Lynx Eye," "Starblade," "Show and Tell," and "The Writer's Post Journal" among others and online at such places as "Mouth Full Of Bullets," "Crime And Suspense," "Mysterical-e" and others.

Kristin Johnson is an award-winning short story writer and poet, a produced screenwriter (PIRATES OF GHOST ISLAND) and an animation writer for Dotcomers.tv. She is a book reviewer, journalist, novelist and (no pun intended) a ghostwriter. Her story "Quicksand" appeared in the MuseItUpClub anthology Aleatory's Junction.

Lea Schizas is an award-winning author and editor and founder of The Muse Online Writers Conference and The MuseItUp Club, both Writer's Digest top 101 Writing Sites.

Rob Preece is editor and publisher of BooksForABuck.com. Under three names, he's published in mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance with multiple publishers. Prior to opening BooksForABuck.com, he worked in the high technology field, for the US Government, and as a college instructor. When he's not writing, editing, or reading, Rob practices martial arts (he's a black belt in Tae Kwon Do), and plays and teaches bridge. Rob lives in an eclectic neighborhood in south Dallas where he sets many of his stories. His most recent novel, MIDLIFE MURDER (writing as Amy Eastlake) was Fictionwise's highest rated mystery for a number of weeks when it first came out.

Seana Graham's short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and literary journals, the most recent ones being Ping Pong and Salamander. Her story "The Pirate's True Love" was recently anthologized in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and " Marina " was granted the seventh annual Zone 3 fiction award . She has also co-authored a trivia book on Southern California with Lisa Wojna for Blue Bike Press.


WHEN?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Eastern USA Time.....7 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Odetta Passes



Music legend Odetta passed away this week. We've lost one of the greats, and she'll be sorely missed.

The Secret Invasion Chat




AVENGERS FOREVER PRESENTS
The SECRET INVASION CHAT

http://www.avengersforever.org/chat

Secret Invasion #8 is out, the smoke has cleared, and the summer's most talked-about comics event has come to a close. What did you think of the story, the art, the ending, the death, the set-up for Dark Reign, and the return of Bobbi? Should Bendis be applauded as a genius or run out of town with torches and pitchforks? Was it all worth it? Come and talk about it with us!

WHERE:

The Avengers Forever Chatroom at: http://www.avengersforever.org/chat

Type in a username and click on "login" to join the fun!


WHEN:

Monday evening, December 8, 2008

US Eastern Standard Time: 9:00 PM

US Central Standard Time: 8:00 PM

US Mountain Standard Time: 7:00 PM

US Pacific Standard Time: 6:00 PM


Hope to see you all Monday night!

http://www.avengersforever.org/chat

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rest in Peace, Forry



Barely a week after his 92nd birthday, the great Forrest J. Ackerman passed away yesterday from heart attack.

He was perhaps the godfather of sci-fi (a term he coined) and genre fandom in general. Among other things, he founded and edited the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland which he edited for decades, and he also discovered Ray Bradbury. His Los Angeles home was veritable museum of film which was open to the public every Saturday morning he was home. He was also a writer himself as well as a literary agent as well as a movie and television star.

Forry was one of the greats, and he will be missed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Tale of Two Michelles

This is the tale of two Michelles, one with one L and one with two, and a happy situation, unfortunately at the expense of a Judi.


Several months ago, New Jersey 101.5 FM’s After Hours program with Michele Pilenza went from a train wreck that I would listen to only to hear the carnage, to an actually interesting radio show. This was due to the presence of Michelle Jerson, subbing for Pilenza while she had her baby.

Michelle Jerson was a breath of fresh air. Not only was she a more experienced, and in my humble opinion, a much more entertaining broadcaster, but she was much more open-minded - something that might be important in doing a radio talk show that purports to give advice about lifestyle, relationships, sex and romance.

When Michele Pilenza with one L returned from maternity leave, she stepped easily back into the same shoes she left. Judgmental and close-minded as ever, she was back, and I was out of there. I was missing Ms. Jerson badly, as I really wanted to enjoy the show as an intelligent talk show instead of a nightly train wreck. Seriously, I just couldn't take Ms. Pilenza saying inane things like "fat people shouldn't date" or "ugly people should just give up" or telling callers that they were "freaks" because of some miscellaneous fetish. Like I said, she was real open-minded.

Luckily, or unluckily depending on your outlook, Ms. Pilenza has left the evening airways for the mornings, joining Dennis Malloy to replace the departing Judi Franco. As I wasn't a fan, this didn't affect me, but the side effect did - Michelle Jerson returned to the nighttime After Hours slot. Way to go, Michelle, you've got a regular listener.