Saturday, May 28, 2005

The new creative team on the Fantastic Four comic. Posted by Hello

Diverse Diversons

Yeah, some might say my life is a diversion, but here's some fairly frivolous but fun non-events of the last week.

On Sunday, Amy and I put on our 1997 Star Wars Special Edition shirts (the black ones with the characters on the front and various sponsor logos on the back) and went to the former Cinerama Dome (now the Arclite At The Dome) to watch Revenge of the Sith. The only convenient non-sold-out performance was at 9:30 am on Sunday, so that's when we went -- and the theatre was still almost sold out.

How did we like it? Well, there were two problems with the film: First, I'm 40, not 12. There will always be an element of the Star Wars movies that appeals more to the young than to those who have watched films for decades. Second, all of the SW "prequels" have suffered from the absence of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Say what you will about their acting talents, they gave the first 3 movies a charm and warmth that the others have lacked. Reminds me of when Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in the 80's, and my younger brother, Steve, dismissed it as "scab football."

That said, we enjoyed the hell out of it. It was visually beautiful, and managed a drama, pathos and sense of fun the other films lacked. Ian McDermid as the emperor (an amazing carry-over from the first trilogy -- especially when you consider he's 60 now, and so was only 37 when Return of the Jedi was made) acts rings around everybody. He's simultaneously avuncular, paternal, and ruthlessly evil. His portrayal is in fact light years beyond his one-dimensional turn as the Emperor 22 years ago. His performance is strong enough to fill in some of the blanks left by Hayden Christensen occasionally unconvincing transformation into Darth Vader.

This is a nice kickoff to the summer movie season. We'll have to see if films like Batman Begins and Fantastic Four can run with the ball.

Speaking of the Fantastic Four, Marvel is apparently anticipating the upcoming film by putting one of its best writers, TV scripter J. Michael Straczynski, on the comic. Straczynski's forte is pulpish science fiction -- he created and produced Babylon 5 -- so he's a nice fit for the FF. Of the various comics Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created in the early '60's, the FF was always the one most redolent of '30's and '40's science fiction with a post-Sputnik twist. Straczynski is following up on an excellent three-year run by writer Mark Waid by taking the title in different directions. The art by Mike McKone isn't spectacular, but it tells the story and it's easy on the eyes. It's worth checking out.

Finally, today we started the Memorial Day Weekend off by honoring a great American Tradition: we bought a piece of recreational electronics. Specifically, we're bringing our TV viewing into the 21st Century by purchasing an HDTV. It gets delivered tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Tsubasa Chronicling

For anyone (like me) who enjoyed the manga or anime Cardcaptor Sakura, or who (again, like me) is enjoying the current manga Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (published in the US by Del Rey Books), here's a link to the official website for the animated adaptation of Tsubasa, entitled Tsubasa Chronicle. You can also find coming-attraction clips from the series here:
I don't know if this show will ever be released in the US (since it involves characters that are licensed by several different video distributors here), but I hope it makes its way here.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Riddle Me This . . .

Although much has been and will be written about Frank Gorshin's skills as a song-and-dance man, comedian, impressionist, and actor, to those of my generation he will always be best known as the first TV version of a comic-book villain who conveyed the idea that being a superhero's costumed punching bag might actually be fun. Reportedly, before the '60's Batman TV show, the Riddler was pretty much a washout as a comic-book character: He appeared in two stories in 1948, then did not appear again until 1965. Yet Gorshin's high-pitched giggle and sense of mania made such a lasting impression on the public that the Prince of Puzzles became a staple of Batman's Rogue's Gallery, and has appeared in just about every media incarnation of the Caped Crusader since. Indeed, yesterday the latest Saturday Morning animated Batman show debuted a long-haired, Euro-trash-like version of the Emerald-Clad Interrogator. The Riddler, as a fun villain, does not really fit into the current grim-and-gritty worldview of the Batman comics; and several attempts have been made to re-define his image, including the stylish Jim Lee version in the Hush storyline last year and a recent bout with plastic surgery. And the less said about Jim Carrey's pink-haired version, the better. But just as I can't think of the Penguin without Burgess Merideth's gravelly quacking popping into my mind, the Riddler will forever be associated for me with Gorshin's helium laugh and off-beat cadence.

Frank Gorshin R.I.P. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Trial, Trial Again

My trial appears to be winding down. It may be a shock to my system to stop working 12-14 hour days every weekday, and 10 hours on weekends -- kind of like hitting the brakes on a downhill grade.

You can find the Associated Press's article about the trial here:

Friday, May 06, 2005

Trials and Tribulations

For the last several weeks, I've been assisting one of my partners in my law firm in a trial at the downtown LASC courthouse (aka the "Stanley Mosk Courthouse.") This is the longest trial in which I've been involved; and it ain't gonna be over for several weeks.

Being in a trial like this is something like having snow days while in school. I'm away from the office and can concentrate on a single central project (the trial case) which takes up a huge amount of my time. But like schoolwork, the work on other cases doesn't go away; it piles up.

If I may be allowed a bit of justified nepotism, I must make an unsolicited plug for Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder books. I had a couple lying around, and while taking my mind off the continuing Sissyphean (or Herculean?) labors of trial, I tore through The Waking Nightmare and The Death Merchant. Now, I wasn't really a faithful viewer of the TV show (wrong demographic), and I confess I bought the books because Lee is my cousin, but blood relations won't compel me to read a bad book. These are really delightful light mysteries, with tight plots and fun characters. (Plus, The Waking Nightmare features an appearance by my home town, Walla Walla, Washington.) By the way, Lee's blog can be found at