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Friday, December 28, 2012

The Magic of Gerry Anderson


Yesterday while I was writing about the deaths and lives of Jack Klugman and Charles Durning, we lost someone who was definitely lesser known, but also much closer to my heart - producer Gerry Anderson. They say these things happen in threes. Let's hope this is the cycle and we don't lose anyone else.

Many of you probably don't recognize the name Gerry Anderson and there are some of you who are mourning the loss of this great talent in genre television. He was a writer, director, producer, publisher, futurist, a television pioneer, the developer of Supermarionation, and a master of storytelling. However, all that said, you might just know him better by three specific words - "Thunderbirds are go!"

I first encountered Gerry Anderson, and his then wife and partner Sylvia, as a child of the 1970s. I have a very distinct memory of hearing about a new show coming on weekday afternoons on UHF channel 17, the TV announcer had said it was 'cooler than "Ultra Man,"' so you know darned well I was glued in front of the folks' black and white television when "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" premiered.

"Captain Scarlet" was a program created completely using marionettes and models, and it wasn't stop motion or animation, it was film, and the puppets and machines were actually moving. To add to the fascination was the stunningly adult, startling violent story that went along with it. It was a spy drama with the earth defending itself against an evil alien race, the Mysterons, who had infiltrated mankind, and the hero who would save the day, Captain Scarlet, who had become indestructible.

It was awesome, and I was hooked. The only things that "Captain Scarlet" had going against it were my low tech TV (all the characters were color codenamed) and my own as yet non-mastery of spelling (I kept waiting for Mogera from the Toho film The Mysterians to show up). This was also around the time "Space: 1999" was hitting it big on prime time television, also, although unknown to me at the time, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, but in live action.

Anderson's most famous creations are perhaps only peripherally known here in the United States, but in his native UK, everyone knows "The Thunderbirds." Among his other work, both in live-action and in Supermarionation, include "Stingray," "Supercar," "UFO," "Terrahawks," "Space Precinct," "Fireball XL5," and "The Protectors," among others. He and his wife also produced two "Thunderbirds" movies at the height of their popularity.

In recent years, Anderson produced a fully computer animated version of "Captain Scarlet" and consulted on the big budget live-action motion picture version of The Thunderbirds. The former did quite well in the UK, but the latter was pretty much a flop here. The beloved producer's reputation was still untarnished.

Gerry Anderson passed away yesterday after a long battle with dementia brought on by Alzheimer's disease. We have lost a creative star in the field of television, he will be missed.





Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Charles Durning 1923-2012


On the same day we lost Jack Klugman, Christmas Eve, we also lost Charles Durning, the king of the character actors. The multiple award-winning actor, featured in over a hundred films, was 89.

I first encountered Charles Durning as Detective Moretti in Dog Day Afternoon. He was the likable but straight arrow cop who negotiated with Al Pacino's bank robber Sonny Wortzik. I love the film, a time capsule of the 1970s, that earned Durning a Best Supporting Actor nom from the Golden Globes. But it's not his only film, before or since.

Durning's resume also includes terrific roles in The Sting, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Muppet Movie, and Tootsie, among so many others. He was also a veteran of the Second World War, won a Tony for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and had regular parts on the TV shows "Evening Shade," "Family Guy," "Everyone Loves Raymond," and "Rescue Me."

Throughout his long career as an actor he was rarely not working, and was always playing memorable characters. We've lost another of the greats. He will be missed.

Special Boxing Day Edition of The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed (Freaky Friday Fan) Evans, Allison (Superhero Girlfriend Expert) Eckel, and Glenn (The Gray Hulk) Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's Special Spoiler Alert Skip Week episode includes: Happy Boxing Day, Justice League #15 and Aquaman #15, Before Watchmen Nite-Owl #4, Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, The Shadow Special #1, Crossed Badlands #20, Star Wars Omnibus Clone Wars Volume 3, Star Wars The Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games, open *danger* spoiler alert *danger* discussion of the above comics, especially Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the upcoming Superior Spider-Man, superhero girlfriend training, the Throne of Atlantis/Flashpoint connection, and deconstructing and compressing Justice League storytelling.



Be sure to check out the rockin' All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

RIP Jack Klugman

Award winning star of stage, screen, and television, Jack Klugman, passed away Christmas Eve in his home, surrounded by his family, apparently of natural causes. Born in Philadelphia, he was 90.

Jack Klugman was probably most well known in the role of Oscar Madison, the sloppy sports writer from TV's "The Odd Couple," in which he played opposite Tony Randall as the fussy photographer, Felix Unger. The sitcom ran for five years on ABC from 1970 to 1975, based on the movie, and the Broadway play by Neil Simon. While never having spectacular ratings, it found fame in summer reruns and syndication. As a kid growing up in the 1970s, "The Odd Couple" was a fixture in my Friday night TV programming.

Later in the decade, Klugman moved to NBC with the serious police/doctor procedural, "Quincy M.E." With a coroner as the protagonist, Klugman had said once, it was the best of both dramatic prime time worlds. In the sixties, he also appeared in four episodes of "The Twilight Zone," including "A Game of Pool" and "A Passage for Trumpet," two considered classics.

Before, and after his television days, Klugman was in more than a few films, most notably he was Juror #5 in 12 Angry Men. He also performed on stage throughout his career, even more than a few times in The Odd Couple. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974, and in 1989 lost one of his vocal cords to it, yet he continued to act, albeit in a much quieter huskier voice.

Jack Klugman was a terrific actor, and he will be missed.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quickies 12-21-2012


God Bless Ozzy Osbourne ~ This documentary produced by his son Jack explores the life, career, and addiction of the prince of darkness of the rock and roll world, Ozzy Osbourne. His early years, his time with Black Sabbath, his solo career, his reality television show, and of course, his addictions. Family, friends, bandmates and other musicians are interviewed in the in-depth, incisive, and surprising bio. Recommended.

Cedar Rapids ~ This overlooked film is a screwball slob comedy about an insurance sales convention in, where else? Cedar Rapids. While I prefer both John C. Reilly and Anne Heche in more serious roles, they shine here. Ed Helms stars as a naïve salesman whose job is in jeopardy as he attends the convention. Circumstances convince him to take chances and live life. Fun and mostly harmless, worth watching.

6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park ~ This intriguing documentary takes a look at the frantic rush to put together a new "South Park" episode each week, make it timely, make it funny, and make sure it gets on the air. It also explores the working relationship of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and their recent success with "The Book of Mormon." Fascinating viewing for fans of the show and even those who are not.

Alex in Wonderland ~ I saw this madcap 1940 one-reeler recently on TCM. Part of the "Broadway Brevities" series that seems to take a lot of its technique from the Three Stooges shorts, this one stars Walter Catlett and Eddie Foy Jr. as feuding brothers-in-law who end up at a upper class masquerade party where mistaken identity and pie-throwing ensue. Fun.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lost Hits of the New Wave #23


"The Fanatic" by Felony



Folks who were at last night's Dumpsta Players show in Philly got their heads refreshed for this one.

While they did continue to perform and make records, Los Angeles' Felony secured a true one hit wonder here, with "The Fanatic," which was used not only in the film Valley Girl in the 1980s, but also the recent Take Me Home Tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 12-19-12


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed (Hank Hall Smash) Evans, Allison (Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) Eckel, and Glenn (What Is Wrong with My Hair??) Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's Special Ninja Please Transition Hell episode includes: The Last Minute Midnight Madness Sale and Holiday Celebration, the Wheel of Fish, Hank Hall smash, Masks #2, pulp comics, Mars Attacks #6, Bionic Woman #6, Star Treks, MacGyver #3, Bad Transition Theater, Freelancers #2, Fables #124, The Bat Cave, Sword of Sorcery #3, Wonder Woman #15, Green Lantern #15, Blue Beetle #15, Avengery goodness, X-Men action, Hawkeye #6, Spider-Man Spoiler Warning, Indestructible Hulk #2, Captain Marvel #8, Allison's kids comics, secret gift for The Bride, and Ed's trades and toys.


Be sure to check out the rockin' All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Tacky 80s Kitschmas Showdown


The Dumpsta Players are back! Tomorrow night, Wednesday, December 19th, at Bob and Barbara's Lounge in Philly!

Pia Zahora Vs. Debbie Getsome! Frosty Jacks Vs. Hot Tamale! Amanda Playwithe gets sleazy! Plus The 2012 Dumpsta Awards and Highlights Show!

Bob and Barbara's Lounge, 1509 South Street, Philadelphia, PA

Doors open at 10:00 PM, Showtime is 11:00 PM Sharp!

Up from the depths of the bedraggled decade of The 80s come dagloo ditties of the Holiday Season! Lost between pastels and swatches of gaudy glare, Pia Zahora throws down her exhaustive almost hits! Yoko Ono wipes out while walking on thin ice and Aldo Nova rocks the Kitschmas metal! Debbie Getsome takes us on a slipshod Sleigh Ride, and Amanda Playwithe shoots us with her sexxxy mess! But what happens when chintzy non-chums Frosty Jacks and Hot Tamale make a play for Pia? And what advice does Father Queeno Santucci have for the Hypercolor dressed set?

Crank up your boombox, cut your hair into a mullet but don't miss the tawdry conclusion of… "TACKY 80S KITSCHMAS SHOWDOWN"!

A portion of the proceeds from the performance of "Tacky 80s Kitschmas Showdown" will go to MANNA.

Check out the Dumpsta Players on Facebook, YouTube, and on their own website.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lost Hits of the New Wave #22


"Marlene on the Wall" by Suzanne Vega


This alt folk tune song from 1985, the first single and video from Suzanne Vega's self-titled first album, a while before she hit big with "Luka" or "Tom's Diner," stirs a hard memory for me.

At the time it was the favorite song of an African-American girl I dated only twice. I thought I was cool with the racial differences between us, but obsessed constantly about how crazed my parents, especially my dad, would be if they found out. She insisted she wasn't going out with my parents, she was going out with me.

In the end it didn't work out. Two dates and it was over. I was an idiot, she was smarter than me, and the relationship was a lost opportunity I have regretted blowing for years. The song still makes me sad.

Suzanne Vega had a fairly successful run after "Marlene," with notably the two hits I mentioned above, from one of my fave albums of the genre, Solitude Standing. She continues to perform, record and is a musical pioneer in the digital world.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Charly


Charly ~ Back in high school we had to read the short story version of "Flowers for Algernon," we could read the novel by Daniel Keyes too, if we wanted, for extra credit. It was the tale of a mentally retarded man who is 'cured' by the miracle of science.

In 1968 it was made into the film Charly, which won Cliff Robertson an Oscar in the title role. I've never seen it in its entirety until now. What a pleasant and emotional surprise. Robertson's transformation from simple to complex, shall we say, is amazing, but then again, he's always been a terrific actor.

Claire Bloom is straight and adequate, somewhat of a cipher. She is neither good nor bad as Charly's teacher/girlfriend. The late Ravi Shankar produces an intriguing and decidedly non-Eastern score.

The director Ralph Nelson, who also did Father Goose, Lilies of the Field, and Soldier Blue, is one of the reasons Charly stands out as a film. His odd and original use of split screen, and picture in picture techniques mark the movie as different.

Toward the end, when the story and ending becomes clear, it takes on a Rod Serling vibe, as if it were an extended episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "Night Gallery." It's sad and troubling, but good is a story if it does evoke an emotional reaction, right? Great flick, recommended.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Arrow: Year's End


In many areas this episode was pre-empted or rescheduled because of the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I have no complaints about that, it's a noble and just cause, and being right in the center of the devastation, I know how bad it was. My nit is with local CW affiliate channel 57 - it might have been nice to let viewers know what was up with your regular programming, that's all, just a bit of courtesy. For the record, this episode of "Arrow" airs tomorrow night at eight.

Now on to "Year's End," the mid-season finale of "Arrow," which I hoped was good because the Huntress two-parter was very lacking. I was at first surprised and excited by this show only to be let down by those last two episodes. Although, from 'previously on "Arrow"' clips, this -could- be good.

We open on a member of The List, a Brian Michael Bendis lookalike (Marc Guggenheim?), being murdered by a shadowy someone who looks suspiciously like Oliver. The tool? Black arrows. Not green. Only one DC Comics character in the Green Arrow mythos uses black arrows. That's Merlyn the Magician AKA Arthur King or as reimagined here on "Arrow," Tommy and/or Malcolm Merlyn. On "Smallville," he was called alternately Vortigan, and the Dark Archer. He is (or will be) played by either John Barrowman or Colin Donnell. Finally. Just wait.

In the first ten minutes, in quick, almost HBO style plot succession we get some wonderful interaction with Diggle and Oliver, a return to the island flashbacks, and at a Queen family dinner party, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn names the vigilante "Green Arrow." Yeah. Squeee. It seems this special Christmas episode might just be a gift for the viewers.

Things I like include that Arrow, ahem, Green Arrow is beginning a tenuous relationship with the police, or at least Quentin Lance; and that Felicity Smoak is turning into Oracle/Chloe. At this point, it's a cliche character, but nerd girl Emily Bett Rickards is just so likable. Moreso than Laurel, and definite more than the cardboard Huntress. I also liked the shout out to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, the comics creators who revitalized Green Arrow in the late 1960s.

The island flashbacks bring much revelation. Yao Fei and the still unnamed Deathstroke were the only two survivors of a prison that was the island. There's even a quick rematch between the two. All fun stuff, but seriously, why does Oliver still have the top button of his shirt buttoned?? Maybe that's why he's always walking around shirtless since he got back to civilization.

As with most confrontations on "Arrow," and for that matter, the aforementioned "Smallville" (I seem to remember this being the case with both Doomsday and Darkseid), that don't last long. Such is the case with Oliver (even though I've done it, it still doesn't feel right to say Green Arrow) and the unnamed Dark Archer. For the latter, he's called the copycat more than anything else. It's a brief fight that ends with Oliver on the short end of the arrow, literally, and his foe escaping. More than unsatisfying.

Oliver defeated and the Other Archer on the loose (but finally revealed), that's the note this episode ends with. Malcolm Merlyn has a master plan for Starling City that doesn't look good, and has abducted Walter to keep Moira in line. None of this looks good. A bit of a downer, but an excellent episode. Can't wait 'til after the New Year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Wolverine




The new animated movie poster for The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman, to be released June 2013. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 12-12-12


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed Evans, Allison Eckel, and Glenn Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below. Don't know what to get on this week's trip to the comics shop? Here we come to save the day!

Discussion featured in this week's special Stocking Stuffer episode includes: Allison Deadpool cosplay, the Stuff Your Stocking Sale, The Walking Dead, Revival, dueling shows, Ed's indies, and Ed's hungry, Allison's Zenescope, Danger Girl-less Army of Darkness, Death of the Family, Grifter #15, Deathstroke past and present, Super wardrobe changes, Green Lantern Corps #15, Glenn explains Duela Dent, Ed's X-books, Glenn's Avengers, Allison's kids comics, and Ed's trades and toys.



Be sure to check out the rockin' All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

RIP Ravi Shankar




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Arrow: Vendetta


When last we left our CW prime time drama loosely based on the comic book superhero Green Arrow - Oliver and Helena had find each other kindred spirits in revenge, justice, and romance; Walter had returned home to care for Moira; Tommy was making time with Laurel, and had been financially cut off by his dad - finally revealed as the mystery character played by John Barrowman. Up to speed? Good, here we go with "Vendetta."

I have to confess I was a bit taken aback when I saw that Arrow was going to try to take the Huntress (never named thus in the previous "Muse of Fire" by the way) on as a sidekick/partner to train. It's not something that had occurred to me. He teaches her archery in a rather clever scene. She of course opts for a crossbow. At first, at least.

Arrow and the still unnamed Huntress make their debut against a warehouse full of drug dealers. Nice little fight scene. While Jessica DeGouw's acting has not improved, she does look good in costume, purple and black with a crossbow and cross motif. I would have questioned it if it had a cape, but I gotta say I would have liked a cape a whole lot more than this long coat. Sorry, it's an accepted conceit - superheroes wear capes. Deal with it. And the similarity to Hit-Girl's costume is unsettling.

Whereas last week Diggle was doing too much Alfred to Oliver's Batman, this week, he does a decent Lucius Fox, as played by Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight. Although, unlike Fox, Diggle is a sensible voice of reason. Stephen Amell's naked torso and Felicity Smoak both return in this episode, but we get enough of neither.

Last episode I was entranced by the bits with Oliver and Helena, and Tommy and Laurel. But here, where all four meet for dinner, I was bored and completely taken out of the show for the first time in a while. This was "Melrose Place," not a superhero drama. Zzzzzzz...

Ultimately the Melrose incident leads to China White and Frank Bertinelli going to war as well as Arrow vs the still as yet unnamed Huntress. It is a very unsatisfying conclusion, and she remains unnamed. I think that irks me more than anything.

This was not the best episode so far. The superheroics and the island flashbacks have vanished. The soap opera aspects have creeped in. I'm not happy. Hopefully things will get better for this week's mid-season finale. We'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Arrow: Muse of Fire


After a Thanksgiving break, "Arrow" is back, with the Huntress.

In the first part of this special Huntress double feature on "Arrow" we see the debut of a DC Comics super-heroine with a decidedly special pedigree.

History lesson time. Originally the Huntress was Helena Wayne, the adult daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of a parallel universe called Earth-Two. She was an extremely popular character, representing a next generation of crimefighters on that world.

When DC Comics decided to clean house in the 1980s, they effectively erased Earth-Two from continuity and rebooted the Huntress as Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante daughter of a crime boss. Notably this version lacked the charm of the original and was subsequently less popular.

When the CW (of was it the WB then?) decided to bring the comic Birds of Prey to the small screen about a decade ago, they featured the Huntress as once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The show only lasted one season and was, while sometimes fun, mostly bad, and a mish-mash of comic continuity. It's interesting that the show came up at dinner with friends the other night, and it was remembered with only contempt. You can read my thoughts from the time on the "Birds of Prey" series here.

Interestingly enough, DC Comics has returned to the Earth 2 concept and brought the Huntress back to her first origins. It's a shame that "Arrow" has decided to use the Helena Bertinelli version for their show. Maybe they thought the Batman reference would be confusing? Well, then they'd better stop referencing Bludhaven is all I have to say.

I think it's worth noting up front that in the comics, the Huntress and Green Arrow are two characters that have had very little interaction, despite their choice in common weaponry. The Huntress is an odd selection to show up here, just saying.

As "Muse of Fire" opens, Oliver's mom is caught in the crossfire of a mob hit. She was having lunch at the time with the mobster. And the hitter turns out to be our lovely Huntress, as played by Australian Jessica DeGouw, not the most charming or likable or even talented actress. Disappointingly her character turns out to be simply a female version of Arrow, working through her own list. I could think of more interesting ideas than that.

This episode also features the return of Kelly Hu as China White, as the Triad is revealed to be a rival of Helena's dad, crime boss Frank Bertinelli. The latter, scared, starts to rattle the cages toward a mob war. One incident leads to the first confrontation between Arrow and the Huntress. Great exchange between Diggle and Oliver follows as they try to figure her motives. I love Diggle more and more every episode. I just wish he wasn't so 'Alfred' in this one.

Anyone else ever notice that Tommy Merlyn is always around? At the Queen house, at their job, at Laurel's job, but he's never there to see his best friend Oliver. It's just odd. Did he just take his place with the family in a very creepy way while Oliver was on that island thought dead?

Tommy goes to dinner with Laurel, and Oliver goes to dinner with Helena. There is clever well written dialogue for both, and Stephen Amell does his best, acting against the cardboard wall that is DeGouw. Meanwhile Captain Jack Harkness visits Oliver's Mom's sickbed. It has been frustrating but I have admire how well the writers have concealed the identity of the character John Barrowman plays on "Arrow."

Spoiler alert for those who have seen it yet, but the secret comes out here. He's not Maxwell Lord, or John Deleon, or Count Vertigo. He's someone rather boring, at least for the comics fans. John Barrowman is Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy's dad. Of course, wouldn't it be cool if Barrowman turned out to be Merlyn the Magician?

There's a nice shout out to the co-creator of the comic book Huntress, Joe Staton, in the name of Helena's late fiancé. Nice touch. He also gave her the cross she wears around her neck - as much a symbol for the second comics Huntress as the bat was for the first.

The episode ends with Oliver and Helena entwined in a kiss, kindred souls in justice, revenge, and an understanding of one another. What happens next? Be here tomorrow, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel.

Friday, December 07, 2012

This Week's All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed Evans, Allison Eckel, and Glenn Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's special DMX Christmas Viet Nam Goodness episode includes: Rudolph Gangnam Style, Legends of the Dark Knight #3, Action Comics #15, Earth 2 #7, Rotworld, DC in seven minutes, All-New X-Men #3, Amazing Spider-Man #699, more Marvel NOW!, Thunderbolts #1, Ultimates #18.1, Invincible #98, indy wardrobe concerns, the lewdest Zenescope cover of the week, Cobra's ranch, the battle over New Crusaders, Allison's kids holiday comics, and Ed's trades and manga.



Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Life of Pi


Life of Pi ~ Well, it may not be the live action version of Calvin and Hobbes, but the moral of the story is Don't move to Canada.

I saw Life of Pi the day after I saw Skyfall, marking not only a return for me to seeing movies in theaters after a while, but also seeing two visually stunning films back to back. The visuals are amazing. This is notably the first film I have seen in 2D, that was available in 3D, that I have regretted not seeing in 3D. I spent a good amount of time saying, "Wow, that would have been incredible in 3D."

Told in flashback, in the framing sequence of a man telling a writer of a life-changing event he experienced as a younger man, Life of Pi is about perception. Pi's family, who owns a zoo in India, decides to move to Canada, with the animals, via a shady Japanese freighter. Shipwrecked, Pi finds himself alone with a tiger on a lifeboat at sea for months. His survival is at the core of the tale, and director Ang Lee makes it all worthwhile with this incredible piece of eye candy.

There's a kicker at the end, that in the film disappointed me, but had I read the book the movie is based on, I might have hurled it across the room. Yeah, it's like that. Good thing I didn't read the book, I'm sure it would have infuriated me. It is the stunning visuals in the film that talk my anger in off the ledge.

Young Pi, played by Suraj Sharma, is fantastic in a role using primarily gestures and facial expressions - and acting for the most part alone, with and against a completely CGI tiger. Yeah, that blew me away. There's no tiger, it's all CGI. But that tiger is a hell of an actor too. The adult Pi is played by one of my favorite Indian actors, Irrfan Khan, who folks might know from The Amazing Spider-Man or Slumdog Millionaire, but who I loved in HBO's "In Treatment." His performance is both solid and subtlety brilliant.

Life of Pi must be seen, preferably on the big screen, and preferably in 3D. This film will be in contention for several Oscars this year. See it.

And oh yeah, don't move to Canada, or at least not the way Pi did.

Dave Brubeck 1920-2012








Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Next Big Blog Thing


The Next Big Thing is a blog project designed to help writers get the word out about their latest works. Author Kevin R. Tipple tagged me, and I'll be tagging a few writers at the end of those Q&A, and they'll be doing their own blogs about their work next week. Check 'em all out.

1. What is the title of your current book?

Strange World is a short story anthology put out by Biff Bam Pop!, featuring previously unpublished tales of suspense and horror by various authors from across North America. My story in the collection is called "Live to Write, Write to Live."

2. Where did the idea for the story come from?

Believe it or not, writing on the toilet. Since getting an iPhone, I have stopping using small notebooks for writing notes on the go. I have almost exclusively moved to doing it on the iPhone with the Notes app. Sometimes this happens, ahem, when 'occupied.' This image is at the start of "Live to Write" and propels the plot from there.

3. What genre does the book fall under?

Strange World contains thirteen tales of thriller, horror and suspense. My own story in the collection, while containing horror and suspense elements, I feel is more black comedy than anything else. You'll have to read it yourself and see.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?

Wow. I never really gave this one any thought. I would say that Naomi would be well served by an aged and ragged version of either Sharon Stone or Michelle Pfeiffer. Mandy Patinkin as he looks in "Homeland" would make a good Blaine Taylor. The others you'll just have to use your imagination.

The truth is the characters are actually modeled on folks I know, but I ain't telling who they are. If I did, I'd have to kill you. And them. ;-)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?

Write what you know is not always the best policy.

6. Is your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Strange World is self-published by the Biff Bam Pop! pop culture website and staff, the first of several books. Keep a look out.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Unlike a lot of stuff I write, I wrote the story in a whirlwind of passion and creativity over a couple days. It is the first short story I have written and finished in decades, and the one done in the quickest time.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh my, I couldn't say. I would hope anything in the horror or suspense genre that has a sly wisp of subtle humor.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this story?

You mean besides writing on the toilet? I have nothing but kind words, gratitude and praise for Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of Biff Bam Pop!, for kicking me in the butt and getting me to submit a story to Strange World. It is all his fault. ;-)

10. What else about the book might pique a reader's interest?

Besides my own, there are twelve other terrific stories in Strange World by twelve other very talented writers, like Jason Shayer, Lucas Mangum, Anne Michaud, David Sanford Ward, and the aforementioned Andy Burns, among others. And don't forget, the book features an introduction by award winning author Jonathan Maberry.

You can purchase an ebook copy of Strange World on Kobo here.

One week from today, be sure to check out what Marie Gilbert, Fran Metzman, Ann Siracusa, Suzie Tullett and Bex Aaron have to say in answer to these questions, too. And also check out what my tagger Kevin R. Tipple has to say on his blog as well - he's a terrific writer and friend, always worth reading.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

At War with the Internet


Recently the Internet seems to have turned against me. I don't know what I did to it. I've always played nice, and fed it well, but lately, it just doesn't like me.

The first culprit is the Twitter. Twitter thinks I follow too many people. At first (and still) I didn't think that was possible. Isn't the whole concept of Twitter to follow other people and seeing what they have to say? Twitter doesn't agree. Here's what they have to say on the subject. Okay, I suppose that's fair, but then why, every single day, after they shut me down from following people do they continue to suggest people for me to follow??

Speaking of suggestions, then there's the Facebook. They are constantly suggesting friends for me on the right side of the screen, saying I may know them, we share hundreds of mutual friends, and mutual likes. But let me tell you something - if you decide to add any of these 'friends' the Facebook has suggested, and they don't want to be your 'friend,' they might just report you to the Facebook.

And I don't care how many times Facebook tells me Mandy Patinkin might know me, I am positive he doesn't. Don't click that 'friend' button. Yep, it's a double jeopardy thing just like the following problem at Twitter.

So if you want to friend me on Facebook, please do, and especially if you want to follow me on Twitter - please please do - so I can beat these fascist following rules.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Titanic, The Evil Version


Titanic ~ This is not the Titanic you think it is, in fact, this is not any of the Titanics you might think it is. It's not from 1997, 1953, or even 1915. I had never heard of this 1943 version until very recently, and it is a sad and very intriguing monument to the power of propaganda. This is the Nazi version.

This Titanic was made by the German film industry, controlled by the Nazis, in the midst of World War II. At a time when Germany was at war with Great Britain, this dramatic propaganda film showed the story of the Titanic sinking, not strictly because of an iceberg, but because of the greed and folly of the British ship's owners.

In this Titanic, the upper class British passengers are all rich, careless, and decadent, with the Germans poor and heroic, in fact, the only German crew member is our hero. The skewed almost-Bizarro World version of history has to be seen to be believed.

This subtitled anti-British piece of work was never actually released as Nazi officials thought the scenes of chaos inboard the ship might panic German citizens who were under attack during wartime. For years it was thought lost, but occasionally shows up on TCM. Worth watching as a curiosity.