Saturday, July 09, 2005

Things that helped make today suck:

Came in to work late because I had to wait for an appliance repair guy to come repair my clothes washer, and it turned out I could have done it myself.

Discovered that my hot water heater is leaking, so I need to get that fixed. (Actually discovered that last night, but it's not leaking any less today...)

A co-worker told a joke today, and I absolutely could not tell.

And, thanks to the Monday holiday, comics came out late, so they got mailed to me late, so they didn't come in the mail today.

And I tried to watch the first episode of Camp Lazlo on Cartoon Network, because it's the new show from Rocko's Modern Life creator Joe Murray, and I really liked that show. And I really couldn't get into Lazlo, so I gave up after, like, five minutes.

On the plus side, I've been watching the first season of Drop the Dead Donkey on DVD, and I'm loving it as much as I did the episodes that aired on Comedy Central back in the '90s. And Green Wing continues to be great as well, but there's only one episode left, and I don't think they've even started making a second season in the UK.

(On the other hand, BBC America has yanked the anthology series I enjoyed, Murder in Mind, and replaced it with the more traditional cop show, Murder in Suburbia. Bastards.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

From Warren Ellis' Bad Signal mailing list, on the London bombing:

My American friends have noted
that four bombs have been met
with stark indifference by the
British public, and have asked if this
is some stiff-upper-lip thing. Listen,
Christmas bombing campaigns
used to turn up with the same
regularity as the Queen's speech.
We've done this before, and,
frankly, the IRA were better at it.

This 7/7, 070705 shit is bugging the
fuck out of me. Especially when it's
coming from Americans. It's an
insult to the genuine disaster
suffered in New York, and it goes
against the general feeling here.
This isn't something to be enshrined.
It's something to leave behind. It's
happened before, and it'll happen
again. Don't expect us all to go
insane. Most of us went to the pub.

For those following the details of
the thing: this was a real low-rent
operation. The attacks were on the
most indefensible part of London --
the public transport. The bus bomb
is indicative of small-scale devices
-- London buses are basically tin
and sellotape, and yet most of the
seats on the top deck, where the
bomb went off, were left intact.
There's photography of the upstairs
passengers standing up and looking
at the new hole in the bus. The
pressure wave of the blast blew out
the sides and took the top off --
tin and sellotape meant that the
pressure wasn't contained in the bus,
which probably saved a few lives.
If you want to kill everyone on a
bus, you put the device on the
lower deck, not the top. This was
crap terrorism, using devices they
obviously were not confident of
smuggling into Live 8 or even the
crowds that gathered for the
Olympic win.

Most people are still joking that
it was the work of the French.

Hell, probably so are the French.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bombings Rewrite G-8 Agenda - New York Times: "The bombings in London on Thursday knocked the meeting of major industrial nations off its carefully scripted focus on global warming and African poverty and turned it into a forum for President Bush and other world leaders to pledge unity in confronting terrorism."

That son of a bitch.
So, today, I decided to stop watching The Inside on Fox. Part of it is that I never really found myself getting excited about the show. It never really turned me off, the way TNT's The Closer did, but it never really turned me on, either.

What pushed me over the edge, though, would be the London bombings. Once again, the darkness of the real world has made a dimly-lit, melodramatic, overwrought drama about serial killers seem that much more pointless. Everything about The Inside always seemed so heightened, so determined to really drive home the notion that it's a dark, dark, nasty world using manipulative filmmaking techniques. And then something horrible happens in the sunlight, and affects people who talk with real words using normal voices. And the rest of it all seems so unnecessary.

On the flipside, I'm sort of sorry that this season of Beauty and the Geek. There's a reunion/"Aftermath" episode on next Wednesday, and they're apparently looking for a cast for a second season (I'm planning on sending a tape), but that's it for this bunch. (If you missed the show, check your local listings; some WB affiliates are apparently showing a marathon this Sunday.) And the next paragraph has some spoilers for the ending, so if you plan on watching the reruns and don't want to know who wins, stop reading now.

I wasn't surprised at all to see Chuck and Caitilin in the final two, considering that they had won almost every single challenge throughout the show. Richard and Mindy were less certain, but since the show ended up being shaped into a battle between Richard and Chuck, that made for some nice closure. In the final episode, I particularly liked that the teams got to go out and show each other things that were really personally important to them. We've seen them working so hard outside of their comfort zones these past few weeks, it was nice to see them take the time to relax for a change. Richard seemed particularly at ease, until he started getting all worked up over the final elimination.

I was also pleased to see things get so close and down to the wire at the end. It proved that these were both teams who deserved to be in the finals, and it didn't seem so cheesy. In the end, though, I'm glad that Chuck and Caitilin ended up winning, because they did seem to be the two who had learned and grown the most over the course of the show.

Bring on season two (hopefully starring ME!)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Sun Online - TV: A Shameless return: "MANCHESTER'S finest The Gallagher family are set to return for a third series of Shameless - packed full of more sex and drama."

Loved the first season on BBC America, bought the DVD (surprise!), looking forward to seeing the second season ... somehow, so this is good news.
How's this for irritating? Last night's episode of Fire Me... Please! was half-rerun and half-new. The first half reused the opening segment from the first episode, while the second half was new. WTF?!?

This may be the final episode (Big Brother airs in that time slot next Tueday), but that's a bunch of crap. Either the episode is new or not. I shouldn't have to fast-forward through every episode to see if it's really a rerun or not.
Okay, this is another post for my comics-reading friends. Everyone else can skip this one.

So, as another prompt to post something with some regularity, here's the new stuff I'm ordering from Previews this month:

Curse of Dracula collection from Dark Horse:
I actually have the original miniseries, by Tomb of Dracula creators Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. But I really liked this attempt on their part to revive the magic of that series as a creator-owned book, and hopefully, if sales are good on this collection, we may see more.

Fog trade paperback:
I've never seeen the original movie, and I'm not sure I'm particularly excited about the remake. But the script is by Scott Allie, who I always try to support, unless he's doing something I'm really not interested in, like Titan AE comics or something. And the art looks nice.

Chosen trade paperback:
This collects the miniseries by Mark Millar and Peter Gross that really impressed me with the first issue. I really like the energy in Millar's work, and had been waiting for this for a long time. Hopefully, it'll really come out this time...

Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle from DC:
Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers mega-series hasn't disappointed me yet, and I'll be sticking with it to the end. How nice to see someone who understands that you can create a new superhero series, even one based on an existing characters, and it doesn't have to disappear up its own backside in continuity references.

The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin from Wildstorm:
The Authority, as a series and concept, has long since lost my interest. Garth Ennis' Kev stories, however, are so hilarious and do such a fantastic job at poking fun at these characters, I can't resist. And this one is drawn by Carlos Ezquerra!

Fell from Image Comics.
It's a new creator-owned Warren Ellis series, and it's drawn by Ben Templesmith, and it's only $1.99 an issue. I was already sold, and the fact that it's a detective series, sort of, and that the preview pages I've seen are so great is just icing on the cake.

Black Forest 2: Castle of Shadows from Image:
The first Black Forest graphic novel was great. One of my favorite artists, a WWI setting, and a story that shows that you could do a concept like Van Helsing well. I also liked the creative team's follow-up graphic novel, The Wicked West. Well, here we have a sequel to the first one, with a backup story following up on Wicked West, and at a very nice price.

Long Hot Summer from Image:
Written by the guy who put together Four Letter Worlds, a collection of stories I've raved about previously, nice art, and it sounds like a nice, gentle, romance story, but not too sappy. And, again, under ten bucks.

Sherman's Room (can't be arsed to look up the publisher):
Chris Eliopolous, one of Marvel's number one letterers, has been trying to publish his comic strip about twentysomethings, Desperate Times, for years. A couple of years ago, he announced he was giving up to try to focus on something more commercial. Jimmy Gownley did the same thing, and it resulted in Amelia Rules, and that's not a bad thing. And I like Eliopolous' work, so I'll try this one, too.

Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror from Bongo:
It's got a story by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan (see above) and a story by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson, creators of Swamp Thing. What's not to like?

Giant Monsters from Boom Studios (I think):
I don't get everything he writes, because he writes a lot, but I like most of the stuff I read from Steve Niles. Now he's doing a giant monster comic, and it's only two issues.

Digital Webbing Presents #25:
Only getting this for the Jay Faerber Firebirds story. A friend of mine can't see past the Electrawoman/Dynagirl influence, but I like Jay Faerber's creator-owned projects enough that I'll support almost anything he does for himself. (Less so when he writes for Marvel or DC, but as long as he's doing such a good job doing his own superheroes in Noble Causes, why bother reading anything else?)

Shadowplay from IDW:
It's a horror comic featuring two serials, one written by Buffy actress Amber Benson, the other by original Witchblade writer Christina Z. Benson's not a bad writer, although I haven't read too much that she's written on her own. And the early, Z-penned issues of Witchblade were pretty cool. Even better, the stories are drawn by Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith, who I like. So...

Keep from IDW:
F. Paul Wilson adapts his own WWII horror story, drawn by Mike Mignola clone Matt Smith. I like period horror stories, I like what I've read of Wilson's work, but I haven't read this. A friend of mine raves about it, so I'm going to order it.

Complete Jon Sable Freelance Trade Paperback Volume 3 from IDW:
I love Mike Grell's Jon Sable series. And I want it on my bookshelf. 'Nuff said.

Grimjack: Killer Instinct trade paperback from IDW:
Yes, I bought the miniseries. I still want the book, because I'm getting all the other Grimjack books, and I want them all together on the shelf. (But it's more important to me that there be Grimjack comics at all, which is why I'll keep buying the individual issues, too.)

Complete Clive Barker's Thief of Always Trade Paperback from IDW:
The Thief of Always is probably my absolute favorite Clive Barker book. The art on this adaptation looked really nice. But I had decided to wait for the collection, and here it is.

Lai Wan from Moonstone:
This was sort of a gut-level decision, but the art looked nice on the web site, and the story sounded interesting. And I like CJ Henderson's original stuff.

Vengeance of the Mummy from Moonstone:
It was pretty much the cover art that sold me, although the interior art isn't too bad. (Well, the art, and the fact that Justin Gray, who co-wrote Monolity, 21 Down, The Resistance, and other stuff is writing it.)

McCandles & Company: Insecurities:
I had another McCandles and Company one-shot, which I'm pretty sure was different from this one. I love detective stories--please let it be true that IDW is reprinting Mike Barr's Maze Agency--and this is drawn by Gene Gonzales, who is a particular favorite of mine.

Lost Official Magazine from Titan:
Will it be good like the Alias and Stargate magazines Titan publishes? Or will it be crap like Smallville? Only one way to find out...

Feast of the Seven Fishes:
Another book from the guys who wrote Black Forest (see above). And this one is drawn by Alex Saviuk, who I remember fondly from my youth.
Okay, so I tried to watch Troy on HBO last night, and I made it maybe 40 minutes in before I just gave up. Maybe it got better when people stopped talking and started killing each other more, and I still kind of want to see the big horse... but not that bad. It was pretty and all--and, ooh! look at the finely oiled muscles of the male cast, nothing homoerotic going on there--but the actual script written in that formal, serious Hollywood-pretentious-historical-speak, and delivered with such straight faces, I just got bored.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Finally saw Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, thanks to HBO. This would be the edited version, but it was pretty good. Now I want to see the "director's cut" version, which means buying another DVD. Which isn't really a problem. And, surprise, surprise, it's a better, more gripping, more emotionally satisfying story than the regular Batman comics seem to be telling these days... Go figure.

Also watched Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which premiered this weekend on... Can't remember, either Skinimax or Starz!. (I recorded it, didn't watch it live, so I couldn't tell you.) The first one turned out to be more fun than I had expected, and this one did, too. Not great movies, not by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly no Shaun of the Dead when it comes to zombie movies, but now I'm looking forward to the third one. (And probably a fourth one, apparently.)
Okay, going to try to start something new, partly because some of my comics-reading friends read this blog, and partly to force myself to write something with some sort of regularity. So I'm going to talk a bit about the comics I've read this week, so far:

Shaun of the Dead #1 from IDW.
Pretty much what it says on the tin, it's a straightforward adaptation of the fantastic movie from last year. (Last year? I think last year.) I pretty much got it to bump up sales for them, which would hopefully increase the chances of IDW publishing original movie creator Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's proposed graphic novel sequel, From Dusk Till Shaun. The adaptation had a couple of bumpy spots where it didn't seem to really capture the feel of the scenes it was adaptating, but for the most part was okay. And the art was nice.

Angel: The Curse #1, also from IDW.
This one is a sequel to the TV series, which I loved. Wisely, it doesn't follow directly on from the fantastic ending of the TV series, but picks up some time later. It's written by Jeff Mariotte, who does fabulous work on the horror Western series Desperadoes (the most recent miniseries from IDW, where he used to be editor-in-chief) and decent work on CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations, a sort of vampire commando comic. He's also written Angel novels that I haven't read. His script here feels like it fits naturally with the tone of the TV series, but is definitely a story tailored for comics (unlike the Shaun adaptation). The art, by David Messina, is very nice. Angel--the only character from the series--is clearly recognizable, but doesn't look like he was traced from photographs. Overall, the art is somewhat reminiscent of Mike Mignola, but not too derivative of him. Dark and moody, and totally in keeping with the feel of the series, if this first issue is indicative of the tone of the Angel comics to come from IDW, I think I'll be sticking around.

Planetary #23 from Wildstorm.
By Warren Ellis and John Cassiday, this has been a personal favorite since it premiered, I don't know, at least five or six years ago. Very much sort of an X-Files type story set in a comic-book universe, it's become this really fascinating science-fiction story. Things are definitely coming to a head, with the end apparently in sight, but the book comes out on a pretty irregular schedule, so who knows how long it'll be until we see that last issue? However, we're finally getting some of the blanks filled in for the main characters, and the mysteries behind the entire series look to be gradually revealed. And the art, by Cassiday, continues to be stunning, and proof--as if more were needed--of how wasted he is on a book like Astonishing X-Men.

Albion #1 from Wildstorm.
Alan Moore plots and his daughter and her boyfriend write the revival of some of the greatest British comics heroes of the 20th century. Britain has never really had much of a superhero tradition, so I'm looking forward to the revival of all of these oddball characters who, quite honestly, I've never actually heard of. My first impression is it's Paul Grist's comic Jack Staff crossed with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. This first issue is an intriquing set-up that provides very little hard information, but definitely makes me want to come back for more. And the art is gorgeous. Of course, there is the slightest bitter taste knowing that this is one of the last projects Moore will be working on for DC, but it's not like he created these characters anyway, so that's not too bad.

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities #4 from Dark Horse.
Written by creator of The Goon, Eric Powell, and drawn by Kyle Hotz (whose art makes him appear to be the bastard offspring of Kelley Jones and Berni Wrightson), this comic is almost but not quite as completely mad as The Goon. Worth the price of admission to witness the exchange between old-world Hammer Horror style Dr Frankenstein and Billy the Kid, who lets loose a stream of accusations of pedophelia, homosexuality, and bestiality reminescent of classic Joe Lansdale.

Nat Turner #1, created and published by Kyle Baker.
48 page of gorgeous Kyle Baker art telling the early life of Nat Turner, almost entirely wordless. Fantastic!