Monday, October 31, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I suspect that journalists are especially enamored with this story because journalists play such a key part in it. Nothing like doing a story about your colleagues.
My candidate for my favorite comic book this year (so far) is DC Comics' SOLO issue 7, written and drawn by rock musician, independent filmmaker, and comic book maker Michael Allred. This issue is Allred's love letter to the DC comics he loved as a kid in the sixties and seventies. He is the perfect artist to draw tributes to and satires of this era. His work is like good rock music: a little nostalgia, a little cutting edge, a little slick, a little rude.
The issue includes fun little stories, like one where golden-age superhero Hourman takes his Miraclo pill, which gives him super-powers for an hour; responds to a false alarm; and then, like a crank addict, frantically burns off the extra energy the pills gave him -- painting a house in two minutes, delivering a pizza in 10 seconds, heading to the gym and juggling three guys with his feet. Another crazy story (bottom) features the two most self-consciously "hip" series of the sixties, the Doom Patrol and the Teen Titans, in a hilarious generation-gap riot that manages to squeeze in scores of minor characters (in both age and magnitude).
The standout feature, however, is a dark tale of Batman and Robin (top right), in which the hermetic, perfectly-ordered world of the sixties Batman TV series is invaded by the "relevance" that would dominate comics in the seventies. "Real life" concerns interrupt the hero-villian dance, with Commissioner Gordon deriding Batman as irrelevant while he and Chief O'Hara head off to quell a race riot. As Alfred frets in the story, "Why is it the good things are never 'real life,' only the bad?"
The only negative aspect of this comic is the price: $4.99 is way too much for a comic, even one with pretty printing and no ads.
All of the above images are copyrighted 2005 by DC Comics.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Interesting differences between these two films, released 12 years apart. Both were produced and designed by Burton; both had Danny Elfman scores and songs; and both had a gothic sensibility. But Nightmare was both simpler and more iconic than CB. Although Jack Skellington was created by Burton, one look at him and you're convinced that, in fact, there always was a "pumpkin king" who ruled Halloween Town, and he looked just like Jack. It had a straight-ahead story that mainly served as a springboard for the various wacky visuals and sight gags. And it was far more colorful -- in an actual color sense -- than CB.
CB has a story that aspires to be more complex -- attempting to address what makes a good relationship between a man and woman, living or dead. It mixes in class differences (the cashless landed gentry attempting to forge a marriage alliance with nouveau riche merchants -- that's not implied, that's spelled out in the opening music number!) and two appealing female leads, one living, one dead (as well as a male lead whose primary character trait is that he just means well). It's fun and pretty to look at, but it just doesn't have the charm of Nightmare.
In the end, that may be why Nightmare will continue to be a weird-kid touchstone (and a Disney marketing cornucopia) for years to come, while Corpse Bride will become an occasional midnite feature.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Meanwhile, in the mid-eighties, Macross was shown in the U.S. as the first segment of Robotech, and an American voice actress, Reba West, played Minmay.
Now things appear to have come full circle. ADV Films is preparing a new dub of the Macross series; and according to Iijima's website, they have asked her to play Minmay in English. She has agreed.
To my knowledge, this is unprecedented -- a voice actor who did the Japanese voice of an anime character also dubbing the English voice over here.
Iijima is excited about the opportunity. She notes that she did not really have acting experience when she previously played Minmay; she was mainly recruited for her singing skills. Now she has studied acting, and is eager to put her skills to use.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Please stop it.
Everyone behind you can see your phone.
It's a dark theatre. It's a bright light. Work it out.
If the message is so crucial that you must take it now, step outside.
If the movie is so boring that you must entertain yourself by messaging your friends, please leave.
And if you're in the Arclight or another "black box" theatre, where patrons pay extra for perfect viewing conditions, and all distracting lights have been eliminated -- why create one?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
On the other hand, two other coffee/tea places in my vicinity -- Calle Vista Coffee and Volcano Tea -- that previously offered wi-fi at a fee now offer it free. Volcano tea has, hands-down, the best honey jasmine tea that I've tasted.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
This morning, cousin Lee Goldberg (top) hit Westwood's Mystery Bookstore to promote his critically-acclaimed new mystery, The Man with the Iron-On Badge. As the middle photo shows, he was almost immediately surrounded by admiring female readers. The grey, rainy day lent support to Co-signor Pari Noskin Taichert's belief that the sun never really shines in L.A.
(Bottom): Meanwhile, Amy hit the bookstore stacks in search of Brother Cadfael books.
On the one hand, bare backsides are the nearly-acceptable public nudity. Butts can be flashed on prime time TV -- as witness NYPD BLUE -- whereas a bared nipple on broadcast TV causes a national meltdown. Cheeks are readily exposed on California beaches, and young women wear hip-hugger jeans with thongs with the apparent goal of exposing themselves.
On the other hand, a mannequin in a thong is causing a scandal in Manhattan Beach. Understand, this is not a live woman, or even a particularly life-like one; it is a plastic doll with white skin like the Silver Surfer (the white John Buscema version, not the shiny silver Jack Kirby version). And her rump is not bare; she is wearing a yellow thong-like pair of knickers. Nor is she flaunting her assets; she is lying in repose, with her foundation casually aimed at the viewer. Bare -- er, bear -- in mind also that there are artistic statues of completely nekked men and women to be found throughout Southern California.
Yet mothers hide their children's eyes, and protests inundate (well, trickle into) the MB City Hall. "It's public nudity!" sniffs one lady on the TV news. Well, no, it isn't.
Sigh. Once again, So Cal becomes the butt of the world's jokes.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
This was the official West Coast party to launch Tod's new anthology, Simplify, which has already garnered raves from the LA Times, the LA Weekly, and similar periodicals and broadsheets.
The Tod-lovers turned out in throngs, filling the chairs in the second-floor signing area and spilling out into the DVD/CD area. Tod, resplendent in his untucked striped shirt, read the crowd a story that was dark, funny, insightful, and horrifying all at the same time. Then, the strains of Neil Diamond filled the air -- also dark, funny, insightful and horrifying ("Hands/Touching hands/Reaching out/Touching me/Touching youuuuuu!") -- as the faithful lined up to get their crimson books personalized.
After Tod moved multiple books for Borders, we took him and his wonderful wife Wendy out to dinner at our neighborhood temple of all foods Jewish, Junior's Deli, before they sailed off to their desert home. All in all, a delightful evening. It's good to be reminded that I'm related to such entertaining people.
Photos below. For better composed and focused photos, see Linda and Karen's blog.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The Official Hellsing OVA Website from Japan (partially translated into broken English);
A Japanese fan site about the OVA; and
The listing for the OVA on the Japanese Amazon site (featuring great jacket art).
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Had we written a listing like this one, the tapes would've been out of here. Nice to see some folks (a) have a sense of humor about themselves and (b) can use it to move a product.
Last month, I saw "Pretty in Pink" on DVD. The film was practically a time capsule of mid-eighties' fashion (post-new-wave, post-Annie-Hall, post-preppy, pre-grunge), music (melodic, synth-laden pop rocks), and attitude. Which led me to wonder: Is this the ultimate 80's movie?
What movie would you say captured your memories of the '80's best? (This question is of course directed to those who have memories of the '80's.) Not necessarily the best movies of the decade, but those that bring back those summer nights of 1985 or whenever in a rush.
Myself, I think that there were so many facets to the '80's that one movie can't do them justice. Thus, I think that Wall Street captured the pre-bust economic philosophy of the decade; Rambo: First Blood Part II captured Reagan-era foreign policy; and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension captured the general loopiness of popular culture during that time.
What do you think?
One odd thing about having readers in the family, however: little parts of your own life keep floating to the surface in their fiction, in odd ways. The first Tod story read was "Disappear Me"; and in the middle of this magical-realist story about a teen in San Francisco who seems to have become invisible, the main character reminisced about the basement of his Nana and Papa Dave's house. "Nana" is, and the late "Papa Dave" was, Tod's maternal grandparents, whom I know as Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Dave. And, yes, I had been in their basement at their house in Walla Walla. Tod mentioned he hadn't read the story in a while, and had forgotten the family reference.
On Sunday, Tod is having an autograph party/reading at Border's Books on Westwood Boulevard. I plan to be there. Tod's siblings are scheduled to be there too, leading to a massive blog crossover. Can the blogosphere survive?
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
How freaked out would I have been, though, to see the new Belgian UNICEF PSA -- in which a peaceful Smurf village is bombed into a flaming hell, Smurfette dies, and Baby Smurf is left crying uncontrollably? And this in Belgium, the home of the Smurfs. They supposedly want to get a reaction to their campaign to support African ex-child-soldiers-- and this should deliver.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The movie industry originally came to LA about 100 years ago because shooting here was cheaper -- the plentiful sunshine enabled longer shooting days. Today, outsiders may be surprised at how the entertainment industry dominates the town. It takes a lot of people to make a movie. The average person knows the names of some actors and a director or two. Some more discerning moviegoers may know the names of some writers and cinematographers, and perhaps some composers of movie scores. Yet many more names swell the credits of movies. There are probably few LA dwellers who don't know at least someone involved in movie or film production. The issue of movie and TV production moving to Canada and other countries is therefore a very real one for the working people of LA's entertainment industry, and all the other local businesses that they patronize.
Whedon isn't a purist; he states he will be shooting Wonder Woman in Australia. But his simple wish to make Serenity here because it's best for his wife and kids set an excellent example for Tinseltown movie creators.
We finally finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which Amy and I read out loud to each other. This is the first HP novel we both worked on at the same time, since Amy read a bunch of them straightaway after the first movie came out.
In terms of style, I think this book is far more tightly written than the last few books. In Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, I sometimes cringed at JKR's overuse of adverbs -- especially when she repeated an adverb two or three times on the same page and sometimes within the same paragraph! Little of that appears in this book.
I wonder how the movie version of this will come out. Much like Goblet of Fire, this book (mild spoiler warning) has a transitional end that may leave an Empire Strikes Back type feeling of second-act inconclusiveness.
Speaking of Goblet of Fire, we're looking forward to the movie, especially with the lively trailers we've seen. My thanks to the official HP site from Warner Brothers, which is allowing web pages to legally use photos from the movie like the ones above.
Friday, October 07, 2005
The movie was produced by Jim Henson studios, and viewers may note that the story structure bears quite a bit of resemblance to another Henson fantasy movie, from two decades ago: Labrynth. The similarities go deeper than the young female lead who finds a nasty wish coming true, and who journeys into a storybook world to try to remedy it. This film is more surrealistic and (thanks to Gaiman) both more British and more poetic than its American counterpart, but the echoes are there.
The film is definitely a mind-warper -- it may be best if you don't drive home after watching it, as reality may seem a bit too real after immersing yourself in this world. Just don't expect something as entertaining as Gaiman's prose or Gaiman and McKean's graphic novels.
Yesterday, Batman fans heard the chilling news that the Tudor mansion in Pasadena that stood in for the Wayne ancestral home in the 1960's Batman TV series had burned down.
But in true Batman fashion, the stories of its demise turned out to be greatly exaggerated.
In fact, a mansion two blocks from SWM had succumbed to a flaming doom. Authorities mistakenly thought the demised domicile was the former haunt of the Dynamic Duo. Now all the caped crusader need worry about is the tectonic instability caused by that big cave under the house.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
As for me, my published work boils down to some articles for legal publications; some fanzine work when I was a teenager; and a handful of letters to comic book lettercolumns. Yawn. Thank goodness my relatives went through the sweat and hard work of becoming fine authors, so that I can name-drop and bask in their reflected glory.
Anyway, the point of all this is to congratulate Lee and Tod for simultaneously having their books listed as staff recommendations at Westwood's Mystery Bookstore. Another family honor that I did nothing to bring about -- but can feel proud of just the same.