Thursday, March 20, 2008


Two of today's headlines from

This was also a day where a women dying after a freak collision with a sea ray got a lot of play.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The New York governor without fear?

Who is new New York governor David Patterson? I mean really. When nobody is looking, who is he? Here's a theory:

Patterson was left blind by a childhood ear infection.

Daredevil was blinded by a childhood accident with radioactive waste.

Patterson's father served as Secretary Of State of New York, setting an example that his son would have to struggle to live up to.

Daredevil remains haunted by the death of his father, killed by gangster's after refusing to throw a fight.

Patterson has a law degree.

So does Daredevil.

Patterson: Tortured romantic history.

Daredevil: See above.

I guess what I'm getting at is that while I'm not sure there are tights and a fighting stick in Patterson's closet, I'm not sure there's not. The more Obama asks for change...

Barack Obama delivered a speech yesterday that a) excellently defused the Rev. Wright controversy b) demanded that this political season be played on higher ground and c) revealed the soul beneath the politician. I thought I might have overestimated its effectiveness until I read an editorial than went even further than I was thinking.

Not everyone got it, however. Here's how it appeared in the headline feed at


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Box Of Paperbacks Book Club: Supplemental

In the Box Of Paperbacks post that went up today I wrote about Wolfshead, a 1968 collection of miscellaneous Robert E. Howard stories. It was packaged, like the paperback collections of his Conan stories, with a cover featuring Frank Frazetta art, in this case a slightly censored version of the painting below (as always, click to enlarge):

One of my readers commented that "The Howard and E.R. Burroughs boom [of the 1960s and '70s] was the result of the Frazetta covers as much as the stories." I don't think he/she is right but they certainly played their part. Frazetta is the definitive adult fantasy artist. And one whose work fills me with profoundly mixed feelings. As I wrote back, "Every bit of good taste and refinement in me wants to resist all those image of musclemen, dripping swords, heavy-breasted women, and scowling animals but I can't. His stuff is amazing." It's all that's leering, and sexist, and simpleminded in fantasy and science fiction but it also accesses the parts of those genres that reach directly to the id. I shouldn't overthink it. If I can like Brahms and The Cramps and I can like Mondrian and Frazetta.

That's not even the point of this post. The point was to spotlight a few weird Frazetta corners I found in researching that Wolfshead post. Namely, a couple of paintings done for L. Ron Hubbard Novels.

This is The Lieutenant from Final Blackout, a Box Of Paperbacks subject I covered (pretty unfavorably) here:

And this is a puny Man-Animal doing battle with an alien in Battlefield Earth. (If the movie looked like this, it would have been much better):

Finally, here's a piece of art from From Dusk Til Dawn I'd never seen before, with Salma Hayek in full Vampirella mode and Frazetta renderings of Tarantino, George Clooney, and Juliette Lewis:

Again, that's much better than the movie I remember. Maybe, if they'd used that as the poster, it would have drawn a bigger audience. Maybe that guy who wanted to credit Burroughs' and Howard's latter-day success to Frazetta was on to something.

The Awesome Pulp/Archie Mash-Up You Didn't Know You Were Waiting For

From Chris's Invincible Super Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Enter The Hulu

Hulu, NBC and Fox's joint online video venture debuted today and it's pretty neat. Scott Tobias and I both signed up to be early users. He got accepted; I did not. But via his login I've been playing around with it for a little while. Now that it's a fully operational Death Star of a site it's even more impressive. You can embed whole movies in your blog, if you choose, in addition to TV shows from The Office to Galactica 1980. Users can also watch them on the Hulu site and the quality is impressive.

But one of the neatest features has to be the ability to trim clips. Like, say, you just wanted to share the part of Boat Trip when Cuba Gooding Jr. and Horatio Sanz realize they've accidentally signed up for a gay cruise, gay Roger Moore and all:

Oh, Boat Trip. As if seeing you once for professional reasons wasn't bad enough, you came back to me like a bad meal last fall when my dad was in the hospital. One of his succession of bad roommates was a grotesquely overweight man prone to make room-clearing use of his bedpan in ways that were pleasing to none of the senses. He also liked to play his TV at maximum volume. Consequently we once spent a Sunday morning in a fetid hospital room while a TBS showing of Boat Trip blared in the background. I can laugh about it now. Kind of.

"This is only the beginning!!!"
I don't usually promote Onion (as opposed to A.V. Club) stuff here because a) I figure everyone in their right mind is already checking out The Onion and b) It's always good, so what is there to say? But every once in a while something really sticks withe me, like this disgusting/hilarious Onion News Network piece:

Anonymous Philanthropist Donates 200 Human Kidneys To Hospital

It is nice to have a positive story once in a while, isn't it?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'd heard good things about The Mist for a while now, from general buzz, from my pal Josh Rothkopf and our own Tasha Robinson's review. This week Scott Tobias became a convert. I was still skeptical. I've never had any great affection for writer/director Frank Darabont. The Shawshank Redemption is solid enough, and I like the way it balances roughness with sentiment. But after sitting through The Green Mile and The Majestic I'd lost the faith. But after watching The Mist tonight I can confirm the rumors are true.
Adapted from a 1980 novella by Stephen King, it combines the best of King—the class-conscious realism and the ability to make horror emerge from the fabric of everyday life—with the best of H.P. Lovecraft—hungry, tentacled beasties. (Side note: Do this and Cloverfield suggest a trend of stealth Lovecraft adaptations?) It's tense and minimal, extremely well-crafted, and able to deliver on the promise of shocks. Is there any cheesier horror movie device than one character looking over the shoulder of another and gasping, "Oh god!" Probably not. But every time it happens here the imagery that follows is truly Oh God!-worthy, even if there's not an element lacking an easily identifiable source of inspiration.
It's also political as hell, thanks to Marcia Gay Harden's fire-and-brimstone crazy lady character, who uses fear to make herself a demagogue. There's no shortage of monsters here, but the bulk of the action concerns the meltdown of trust amongst characters trapped in a supermarket. It's like the Twilight Zone episode "Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" only with, you know, actual monsters. And unlike a lot of King story's, it has an ending that works, courtesy of Darabont. A horrific, horrific ending.
I think a cult following awaits The Mist, which did little at the box office but has already had a couple of midnight showings At The Music Box here in Chicago. It's certainly one of the best mainstream horror movies of recent years even if, after that final scene, I'm now thinking Darabont's kind of a bastard.

Noel Murray and I put together an Alan Moore Primer for The A.V. Club last week. I think it turned out pretty well. We spent quite a lot of time on Moore as the cause and solution to the grim and gritty trend in superhero comics. I didn't have room to talk about it in the piece but over the course of putting this together I came across, "Grit," a funny little four-page parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil from the early-'80s that I came across in researching its piece. It's interesting for two reasons: 1) It's a reminder that all those funny (and occasionally "funny") short stories in Tomorrow Stories didn't come out of nowhere. And 2) It's a send-up of the grim and the gritty from a the perspective of a then-outsider to the world of American superhero comics. He was about to get his hands dirty with the very material he's parodying here. Click on the images to enlarge:
Well, once you factor me out. This is Scott and Ali's daughter Isabel meeting our dog Sophie.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I've been laying off music reviewing a little this year, if not quite as thoroughly or publicly as Noel Murray. But I still have opinions and my opinion is that Cardiff's Los Campesinos are awesome. They're young. They're Welsh. They have a violin player. And they sound like they're having a lot of fun while making some unpredictable-but-not-fussy and rhythmically charged music. Noel turned me on to the band's debut EP last year. The forthcoming full-length Hold On Now Youngsters does not disappoint. Here's a great track, that's not even the best on the album:

Los Campesinos: "We Are All Accelerated Readers"


• I'm in Ohio visiting the parents now and it's destined to snow. That's been the case the past few time I've been here. I foresee a lot of sitting around. Also, it's the second time I've shown up here after the state has gone what I believe to be the wrong way in an election. But looking around at least I'm not filled with rage that the people I see might have voted for Clinton. When it went to Bush in 2004 I felt like I was in Invasion Of The Body Snaachers. Clinton supporters seem essentially human.

• From here by way of io9: LOLTHULU!:

• Why does Brett Favre, the only football player I've ever cared about, seem more pissed than sad announcing his retirement?: