Sunday, February 29, 2004

Let's see how I do. 

As predicted half an hour before the Oscars start:

Best Picture: Return of the King.

Best Director: Peter Jackson (second choice: Clint Eastwood)

Best Actor: Bill Murray

Best Actress: Charlize Theron

Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins (by a sliver; second choice: Ken Watanabe)

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson (second choice: Holly Hunter; potential surprise: Zellweger)

Best Animated: Finding Nemo

Best Adapted Screenplay: Mystic River (second choice: American Splendor)

Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation (the fact that Finding Nemo nominated is beyond fucking cool, by the way.)

Best Foreign Film: No City of God = this category is dead to me.

Let's see how I do...

UPDATE: Post-show.

So I got 6 out of 9. That's the best I've ever done, by FAR, and that of course happens on the year I don't run a contest on LD for the express purpose of looking smart.

And by the gods, I love LOTR, I really do. Star Wars of the new generation, blah blah blah. But did they really have to take best adapted screenplay? They got quite enough compensation, I think, in winning everything from Best Picture to Best Use of Pointy Ear Prosthetics. You could have spread the love a little, to the less obvious nominees.

Adrien Brody with the breath spray, that was genius.

Overall, good show. But good god that fucker goes on forever, doesn't it?

Awwww yeah. 

The Punisher
You are The Punisher.
Frank Castle was a career U.S. Marine, who served
five years in Vietnam, and worked as a special
forces trainer in upstate New York. While
picnicking in Central Park, Frank's wife and
children were caught and killed in the
crossfire between two warring factions of drug
dealers. On that day, Frank vowed to use his
skills and experience to wage a one-man war on
crime. He set out to punish all criminals, and
more often than not, that punishment takes a
very lethal form indeed.

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, February 28, 2004

To spammers and programmers of adware and spyware: 

I hate you. Every week -- nay, every day -- you attempt to prove to me that the world is not in fact worth saving. You give a pretty strong case. The fact that I cannot go to most web pages without one of your ads that I will NEVER, EVER CLICK ON, NOT IN A MILLION FUCKING YEARS OR FOR A MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS popping up really, really crushes my fucking spirit sometimes.

What is it about you people? Do you have infant skulls where your hearts should be? How much of your humanity do you have to swallow to accept a paycheck for that kind of work -- all of your own, or all of your own plus some other peoples' too?

Alas, your efforts to ruin the last great frontier on Earth will not succeed. I promise you that.


A clever plan. 

So the Pulse decides to put up some numbers on sales, per issue, of all the top titles for Marvel and DC, as well as some prominent indies.

Some interesting statistics there, and a fair amount of insight into how the Big Two operate. Aquaman #15 sells out at 24,000 issues, which is just about the number of issues Elektra sells, and that title is getting cancelled.

Also, look at those JLA/Avengers numbers. There truly are 180,000 fanboy fetishists out there. I admit, I've nabbed all three issues -- not out of any particular love for either team, or the writer, or the artist... I just kinda wanted to see Batman kick ass in two worlds, instead of just one. The quality of the story spiked in #2 and really went down the shitter fast in #3. I'll probably end up finishing off the series out of a sense of duty more than anything else. Is that a horrible thing? I'm undecided.

Punisher Max has a leg up on its previous MK imprint, and that warms my pulsing, black, corrupted heart like you wouldn't believe. If you're not a Garth Ennis fan, ask yourself: why does God let people like me continue to exist? We're only three issues in. Go get those three. You don't need to have read anything else to enjoy the Max series.

Runaways doesn't make the kinds of numbers that it should. Have you been buying the issues? No? Well get your ass out there and start picking them up. I realize the book is targeted at adolescents and you can definitely feel that, while reading some of the dialogue. However, Brian K. Vaughan knows how to pace a story and keep things interesting, if nothing else. I want this man to do well. Support him. Or, remember? I'm John Constantine. Don't fuck with me.

The funniest part is how The Ultimates is under "Skip Months." It's not actually a skip month book. It's supposed to be a monthly. A lot of people have given Millar and Hitch a lot of shit about putting out such a tardy book, especially one that does such amazing, consistent numbers. I'm a fan of Millar the writer (as opposed to Millar the man), but even I have to wonder what the hell these two are so busy doing elsewhere that they can't put out a quality title like Ultimates a bit more regularly.

Then again... consider this: Let's say you're a fan of a quality TV show, and for the sake of argument it's The Sopranos. Now. The show comes on once a week, for many weeks straight, until the season's out. So while you may feel a compulsion to watch each episode the Sunday night it premieres, it is not an absolute goddamn necessity to life that you have your ass on that couch at 9pm/8pm CST. You can always watch one of the repeats throughout the week, or at the very very least, the next episode is only one week away and it explains what you missed from the last time.

But, let's say the programmers at HBO catch a spontaneous burst of complete insanity. Now, the Sopranos only comes on once every two months. It becomes an Event. You're a big fan, so by this point you're chomping at the bit from the last episode, and you wouldn't miss this new one for anything in the world. You gotta get your fix in, since it's so rare that it comes around.

See what I'm getting at? Could be Marvel ensures a steady fan base for The Ultimates by drawing out the anticipation from issue to issue for as long as they possibly can. Or it's not so much a proactive thing as something they realize while tapping their fingers on their desks, waiting for the new script to show up: "Hey, maybe this isn't such a bad way to keep everyone loyal." It's just one theory, but look at those numbers. For all the kvetching on the internet about Millar's tardiness, that book still sells 100,000+ every issue.

So don't try any shit. 

John Constantine Pic
You are John Constantine.
John has a strong knowledge of the occult and at
times he appears to wield strong magical powers
but he has also become known as something of a
con-man, more likely to talk himself out of
trouble than pull a rabbit out of a hat.

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

That's right, bitches. I've got the magick in my blood, and I ain't afraid to bargain your soul off to a demon if you give me any troubles. Also, I'm British, so that accent (theoretically) gets me a lot of ass. It also means I'm destined to get lung cancer and then barter my way out of it and into immortality. It also also means that all of my friends are destined to be eviscerated by Satan or grouchy occultists.

Sorry, guys.

This also also also means I'm going to be portrayed by Keanu Reeves when the movie comes out. Being Keanu Reeves = More Ass, Less Dignity. A tradeoff I suppose I can live with.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Back off. 

I'm a fanboy. What of it? Wanna start something?

That's what I thought.


Paper curtain. 

Interesting column.

I too don't understand the polarization of comic book fandom, or of polarization of fandom in ANY popular medium. You like Batman? You still have full permission to like Stray Bullets. You aren't contradicting yourself.

But then it seems that in the comics community, the most valued trait is total uniformity. If you're into diversification, you're a hypocrite.

Anyway. I'll be picking up Video #1. You should too.

Because it's good for you. 

Some music I've been listening to lately, and naturally I think you should be too. Here's what you do: fire up one of those "file-sharing" programs, the one your mother would disapprove of, and download the suggested tracks here and maybe a few others from these artists, if you're feeling frisky.

And for fuck's sake, if you like the song, go out and buy the CD. Seriously, folks. Music is cheap. If you're paying more than $12 for a CD that's not an import or a bootleg or a double-disc set, you're shopping at the wrong fucking CD stores.


Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Album: R
Song: "Tension Head"

Integrity moment: I was into QOTSA long before it was cool, fucker. Lay off.

Anyway. You'll probably hate this song, when you first hear it. Or just think it's pointless. Lord knows I did, for about two years. Then all of a sudden I just really fucking liked it. Couldn't get enough. Listened to it over and over and over. It's creative chaos with a solid hook and some good, honest screaming. I love it and you should too.

Artist: Plink
Album: The Sleeping Lines
Song: "Turning Around"

Plink is mellow, mellow, mellow. The kind of music that's good for suicide, or for lonely nights with bottles of cheap alcohol. "Turning Around" is also mellow, mellow, mellow... until about three-quarters of the way in. And, all right, I'm a sucker for a solid female vocalist.

Artist: Monster Magnet
Album: Powertrip
Song: "See You in Hell"

It's only Rock & Roll, but I like it. Remember when rock was about having a good time? Monster Magnet does. Really, any album by the Magnet will serve you just fine, and it just so happens they got a new one dropping next month (already out in Europe, the bastards). "See You in Hell" is one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs, and a good place for neophytes to dig in.

Artist: Nathaniel Merriweather, aka Dan the Automater
Album: The Lovage, Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By
Song: "Archie & Veronica"

How the hell can you go wrong with an album title like that? This is a collaborative CD with about thirty thousand different artists, but the mere presence of Mike Patton and Damon Albarn on one disc was enough to get me in. It's kind of all over the place, but every song is.. well.. it's really great music to make love to your old lady by. Title Says It All.

(Once upon a time I had a real link to a real page, but that one above will have to suffice. At the very least, it has some samples up and a link to buy the CD itself. Indulge yourself.)

Artist: Probot
Album: Probot
Song: "Shake Your Blood"

Actually, every track on this album (maybe save one) is pretty fucking great. Dave Grohl, former drummer for Nirvana and current everything for the Foo Fighters, assembles some of his great underground thrash metal heroes for 11 songs that expose most modern, popular heavy metal acts for the limp, contrived bullshit that they really are. "Shake Your Blood" is the single featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, and if you need to be told, Lemmy's the guy who says "I edited the high school magazine" in Airheads. If you still don't know who that is, get the fuck off of my blog, poseur.

(Check out Southern Lord in general. They got the Mondo Generator going on, and their label compilation CD is a measly $6.66. You can spare that, can't you?)

Artist: Tomahawk
Album: Mit Gas
Song: "Mayday"

Mike Patton again. An all-star cast of musicians that nonetheless sound kinda like an updated Faith No More. Except, you know, they're still together. Patton can never be accused of pulling any punches, and he certainly doesn't fail to serve it all up here: hate, fury, loathing, it's all there in spades.

(And feel free to roam around Ipecac like you did with Southern Lord. You'll find some things that are good for your circulatory system.)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Film at Eleven. 

More Hate List soon. Probably Monday. No one topic is consuming my soul whole, just a bunch of smaller ones, so that's what the HL will be like.

Hold your breath till then.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

We need to be different, like everyone else. 

I guess this issue still matters to some people.

In short, the writer of Stormwatch on DC's Wildstorm imprint feels it's time to be a big, bad rebel and revert to the old style of comic book covers; namely, by putting text and dialogue on the front, to make covers more like "movie trailers, instead of movie posters."

I guess that's fine. He can do that. I don't particularly care one way or another. But some of his comments are friggin' hysterical:

“I wanted to shake things up with a new approach. Every Local Comic Store Owner I talk to says that the back-issue comics which sell best out of the bins are the ones with great cover dialog. I wanted to see if that approach could be brought to bear on current publications.”

So... in order to be new, we must copy the styles of old. Gotcha.

Yes, I too dislike how every single comic book cover on the racks on Wednesdays looks pretty much just like every other, that most are filled with "a pretty pose of Superheroes staring off into the distance or flying over a city." But I can't quite buy this guy's solution. Everyone using Posing Covers is a problem, so if we all revert back to the old dialogue style, we'll be fresh and new again? Has anyone ever suggested to this guy that DIVERSITY might be the key?

Look, this is an artform, all right? Whenever some new idea comes along, you'll have five or ten great people championing the cause or revolution or whatever, and for the next five years you're going to have every simian who can hold a pencil mimicking that style. Usually poorly. This happens in every art form under the sun. Die Hard is singlehandedly responsible for the careers of Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme. Does that mean we need to stop making action pictures altogether and go back to making musicals?

Fuck. No.

The proper response to a particular style clogging the arteries of your given artform is DIVERSIFICATION, not a spineless retreat into what worked for people who stopped writing comics 30 years ago.

The biggest hoot is that Wright brings up that old chestnut about how Japanese and French comics sell "100 times" more than American titles, and that somehow, this may relate to the fact that their covers feature expository dialogue.

No one who's tackled the great "Why do manga sell better than comic books" debate has come even close to a very obvious explanation, so I'll lay it out for you: French and Japanese culture are EXTREMELY FUCKING DIFFERENT from our own. This is not rocket surgery. Cultural biases and differences have always and will always exist, and cracking the great Manga Sales Mystery probably doesn't have a whole lot to do with having Santini scream "THIS ENDS NOW!"

Or that's just me.

Good Guy to Bad Guy: 

You lose.

Congrats to Neil Gaiman, for finally, once and for all, defeating that parasitic little has-been Todd MacFarlane. Score one for the good guys.

In the words of Gaiman himself, this case's signifigance to the larger community is thus:

"My own hopes for all this are that we've helped clarify copyright law in favour of creators (Scrivener's Error calls it a "victory for authors' rights") and helped to protect authors and artists and creators from unscrupulous publishers up the line (something that the Todd McFarlane of the early 90s, who proclaimed that Image was all about creators' rights and respect might have approved of); that we can move on and bring the existing Miracleman back legitimately into print, and that I can finish Miracleman: The Silver Age and write the concluding book, The Dark Age; and that the CBLDF (and possibly some other comics-based charities) can make some money out of all this foolishness."

Okay, so that last part about Miracleman is just the fanboy love part, but any victory in favor of creator's rights is a solid one.

For those who care. 

If you happen to read Journalista, or just dig good blogging with a heavy side of Smarm, you'll know that Dirk Deppey has basically gone AWOL while he takes over editing duties at The Comics Journal. Luckily, Deppey has chimed in on when our beloved Journalista will be returning, and on what terms.

Hooray. Sometimes I can't stand the guy's elitism, but he's a thorough bastard, if nothing else.

The weakness. 

All right. I'm weak. I gave in. I used to bitch about blogs, and I still can't stand the self-involved, angsty, Friendster-inspired hipster lovefests that permeate places like LiveJournal. Not interesting. I don't care about what a bunch of losers in black-frame glasses and fucking vintage t-shirts have to say about anything. At all.

I dated an indie girl for awhile, y'see. And I still have a bad taste in my mouth. (Not THAT taste, ya fucking pervert.)

Where do I start? Comics, I guess. How appropriate is that? It's Wednesday, which is New Comics Day. That great exhalation you hear every Wednesday about noon is dorks like me picking up their latest issue of the Punisher or Lone or, god help us all, X-treme X-Men.

By the way: Good call on that last title, Chris Claremont. I know you were big shits in Marvel about three hundred and eighty five FUCKING years ago, but anyone who puts the word "X-Treme" in a book title, soft drink ad, or abstinence handbooks ought to be penetrated in all traditional orifices, along with any new ones that a crackhead might carve in.

Short Attention Span Topic Jump: I'll give you The Passion of the Christ, bitch.

Honestly, I want to see that movie. I would not give up a chance to see my generation's The Last Temptation of Christ for the world. There's been a whirlwind of bitching about this movie, pretty much by people who've never even seen it yet, and mostly because Gibson is apparently a very conservative man.

But hey: So fucking what? I took a trip to visit my brother up in Missouri this past week, and drove through some very conservative areas of nowhere. Church after church had billboards and signs posted relating to the movie, how to interpret it, what to take away from it, and so on and so forth.

I consider this to be a good thing, even if half those churches probably still teach that "negroids" are in actuality ape-men with a propensity for watermelon. Movies are art, aren't they? Art is supposed to stir up controversy and challenge our ideas, isn't it? Shouldn't art generate conversation and controversy and new levels of thoughtfulness? We could do with some uncomfortable shit in our lives. We're way too comfortable with ourselves as it is.

And I defer to The Man on one very interesting argument for increased dialogue about Heavy Topics, in this case religion, in movies (swiped from his review of Dogma):

"There is a long tradition that commercial American movies challenge conventional piety at great risk. For a long time, any movie dealing with religion had to be run past Hollywood's resident monsignors, ministers and rabbis for approval (the habits of actual orders of nuns could not even be portrayed, which led to great ingenuity in the costume department). On the other hand, nobody has any problem with a movie that treats spiritual matters on the level of the supernatural. This has led to an emerging anti-religion based on magic, ghosts, reincarnation, mediums and other new age voodoo. Talk shows allow "psychics" to answer your questions over the phone, but God forbid they would put on a clergyman to supply thoughtful spiritual advice. And if a movie dares to deal with what people actually believe, all hell, so to speak, breaks loose."

In other words, if you're all challenged by this Passion business: Fuck you. Suck it up, go spend $7, and have your thought processes challenged.

My, but I got off to a start, didn't I? More later. And uh.. welcome aboard, or whatever.

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