The Oz Historian

One of the cooler comics that I’ve been getting was published by SLG/Amaze Ink, Dan Vado’s company. It was called The Royal Historian of Oz and it was written by Tommy Kovac who had previously written the fantastic Wonderland story drawn by Sonny Liew also published by SLG and was drawn by Andy Hirsch in his first “mainstream comics” gig and here’s hoping he gets more.

I was truly loving this mini series with 4 issues in the pot, Issue 5 would’ve been printed and shipped this month (June 2011), but sadly the preorders were only 800. Dan Vado surmises that people must be trade waiting or at least he hopes this, as do I.

Royal Historian of Oz is a great story, up there with anything Eric Shanower has done prior to his current OZ adaptations with Skottie Young.

Issue 5 is available though, as a DRM-free PDF file for only 1 buck.

I already picked it up because I wanted to see the conclusion. You can either wait for the trade or pick up the entire series in mobile formats. It’s worth it.

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Things That Are Awesome

-The full length version of the Punky Brewster theme song aka “Everytime I Turn Around” written and performed by Gary Portnoy. He was offering it on his website, but I think since he got iTunes to carry it, he moved it there. It’s worth the $1 for something so obscure and yet awesome.

-While trying to remember where I found the theme song sitting on my computer I came across this fake opener for a fake 1980’s TV show. I can’t seem to find much info about it, but it seems it was a wedding gift from writer/producer Chris McKenna to his bethrored writer/producer Sally Bradford (or at least that’s what I THINK from what I can discern). He tried making a theme song that sounds like something Portnoy would write and it looks like a show that would exist back when. Actually it looks like if Punky Brewster ended up with a single Black Man and his nerdy, fat son (or more, what if Punky Brewster found Cleveland Brown before he moved out of Rhode Island, but after his wife died). He called it “That’s Corky!”

Franklin & Bash continues to rock as it comes into its third episode. Mark-Paul Gosselear and Breckin Myer match up so well together and the writing is just superb. I’m still hoping that if the show lasts long enough we get a special episode where they confront Macauley Culkin and Seth Green.

– I tried out two drinks on Tuesday when we passed a gourmet/special indie food item store in Williamsburg. Both were amazing. One was Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, which seems to been around forever, but was new to me. Another was Beyond Kombucha, which is based in Queens. There’s another Kombucha company in NYC and I actually like them a bit better, but I can’t find the website. They can be found at Smorgasburg on Saturday’s and at Fulton Stall Market on the South Sea Streetport on Sunday’s.

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Looking at Trailers of Movies Coming Soon

Abduction: Taylor Lautner’s first lead role shows him in what looks to be a pretty good action-adventure film that will work for his already established teeny-bopper and teen fans and propel him into being up there with say a Shia Lebeouf or something like that. Taylor looks like he might’ve returned to his former world champion Martial Arts skills here as well. I’m also pretty curious to see what John Singleton did with something completely out of his comfort zone, especially from a script for the lead singer of stellastar*, who finally has one of his purchased scripts actually turned into film.

The Adventures of Tintin : The trailer truly doesn’t shown off much of what Steven Spielberg’s long wanted project will truly be like, but it definitely gives a feel for the motion capture animation and that there’s a fun intesity one would expect. I’m really curious to see what a Stephen Moffat script reworked by Edgar Wright and directed by Steven Spielberg with production from Peter Jackson using technology devised by Robert Zemekis and James Cameron shall end up being like that. It could be as bad as say A.I., Indiana Jones 4 and War of the Worlds or it could finally be the feather Spielberg needs back in his cap.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: I must admit the original books do not excite me as most other people. I also didn’t really enjoy the original translation other than the awesomeness of Noomi Rapace. Despite all that this trailer truly excited me. This is pure Fincher based on the trailer. This is the David Fincher who made Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room and Zodiac, instead of the one who made Benjamin Button and/or Social Network. I’m assuming there’s a pretty strong adaptation here as well, as the screen writer is accomplished. Although I have a feeling that won’t be what I’m enjoying in this film, it’ll be much more about performances, set pieces, editing and camera work.

Dont Be Afraid of the Dark: I am/was a huge fan of Troy Nixey’s comic work, especially his two “children’s” books with Andrew Cosby. I am less familiar with the short film that brought Troy to Del Toro’s attention and I am even less familiar with the original TV movie tis film is a remake of. The idea of Troy Nixey on a Guillermo produced horror film about a haunted mansion is enough for me to go on. Those two minds together are compelling and the trailer is a good seller.

Spy Kids 4-All The Time In The World: Honestly after Spy Kids 3 and the awesomesauce of Sly Stallone I really don’t see the point of this film, BUT any excuse to get Alexa Vega in something skin tight again is good enough for me. It seems from the trailer the Spy Kids moniker will be in place and we’ll get more of thsese new kids, but there seems to be plenty of Jessica Alba as well. Rodriguez with each of the Kids films has definietly made an attempt to make a kids film that the parents can sit through and enjoy, so I’m predicting he’s done the same here. Also, Alexa Vega in skin tight outfit. I’d probably be less excited about this if Darryn Soussman’s Mother’s Day in which Alexa plays a hooker was made easily available to see in America, but it’s not so… oh also, Ricky Gervais as the voice of the spy dog and Jeremy Piven as the bad guy definietely edge of the cool quotient.

Moneyball: I hate sports, but I love dramatic sports films. Hoosiers, Any Given Sunday, Bull Durham. There’s been a lack of baseball films based on real events, but there has been Cobb, 61, etc. Moneyball seems to be much more about backroom drama than baseball as it should be. There’s an amazing cast here on top of Brad Pitt. Although I’m quite ambivalent about Jonah Hill and the trailer doesn’t help there. From a drama standpoint it seems comeplleing, even if I really don’t care about the subject matter. It should have some amazing dialogue with an Aaron Sorkin rewrite and I’m very curious to see Bennett Miller’s return to film so long after his brilliant Capote. That film proved he definitely knows how to take a boring iceberg salad and make it tasty with handmade croutons and dressing.

The Hobbit: I really don’t have much to say about this one. I’m glad to see it happening after its production hell and this isn’t actually a trailer, but a production blog. These are always fascinating and you can at least see Jackson as excited about this as he has been with everything else he’s done.

30 Minutes of Less: This is quite an interesting follow-up for the director of Zombieland. It’s an oddball comedy starring three of the funniest dudes in the world and… Jesse Eisenberg. The trailer definitely got me interested for something that looks totally stupid. The kind of movie you hope to find at 11 PM on HBO/Showtime when you don’t know what to watch and you’re stoned.

The Change-Up: The writers of Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past and The Hangover teamed with the director of Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus sounds like the possibility for something funny, yet retarded. The trailer is both… there’s lame piss & shit jokes and it’s a retread on the Vice Versa/Freaky Friday/Like Father, Like Son motif, but it does look fun. It’s kind of hard to not be fun with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman as your stars though, but seriously, there’s way too many piss & shit jokes and those are just not funny.

Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter: I haven’t read this book, and not sure if I want to, but with Tibur Bekmambetov at the helm it could be awesome. Man knows vampires and he knows action. I can only hope the films ends up as good as the trailer for the book.

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Trevor Murdoch interview on Pitch.com

I’ve been a fan of Trevor Murdoch since I first saw him in his earliest role of Trevor Rhodes through the internet.  His WWE tag run with Lance Cade was fantastic and while this interview has him state he felt he ignored the entertainment side during his last WWE run, I disagree, his singing gimmick was great and WWE creative dropped the ball, not him.  He had a very short run in TNA as Jethro Holliday, where they didn’t used him as just another body more than anything.

I’m quite happy to see what he can do on a second WWE run, be it in singles or as the tag partner of someone again.

This interview he just did with Pitch.com is really good.

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A Bad Company, A Fun Book

The Hart Family is one of the most celebrated and possibly the first (there are timeline arguments to be made)  first families of professional wrestling/sports entertainment.  There have been quite a few books written about and by the Hart family, most notably Bret Hart’s biting, brutal, hate laced, but honest Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling.  I was a huge fan of this almost 10 year in the making tome which was more transcription of audio diary than Bret’s actual writing.  Bret happens to be a great writer and has/had a regular column in the Calgary Sun.  That column was once in awhile written by his older brother Bruce, the brother that without, Bret may’ve have never decided to have his father Fritz turn him into “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be”.

Bruce Hart, the second oldest brother,  has chosen that the time was right for him to tell his very slanted side of the story in ECW Press’ Straight From The Heart.

I was very gratified to get the opportunity to read and review this book from the Publicity department at ECW Press at Book Expo America.  As a story/skewed memoir it is as enetertaining as any wrestling autobiogrphies of recent memory.  There’s fervor, details, psychology, analysis and a great story.

It’s a shame that much of Bruce’s memories or at least how he chose to put them on the page are false, incorrect, missing details or just outright lies.  This doesn’t change their quality of storytelling, but if one wants to really learn about the history of Stampede wrestling or even Bruce’s own wrestling career, this isn’t the place to look.

As the book continues down its path Bruce is also much more bitter than Bret ever came across in his book.  Of course in respect, he has every reason to be bitter.  Even through the lies and machinations, the hardships that Bruce experienced do shine and they set him apart as a person way different than his more famous family members.  He seems to have a lot of vitriol for his former brother-in-laws David Smith and Dynamite Kid and he holds no punches with them, but he equally seems to have a detest for Bret.  He also seems to feel he deserves credit for Bret’s success, stating he ghost wrote every single column in the Calgary Sun and that every decision and gimmick concept that Bret used to become “The Hitman” came from him.  I find this a little hard to believe.  As hard it is to believe that every single time Bruce had the chance to make it big, some crisis happened or someone else messed it up and his family screwed it all up for him.

Even for as much respect and love he shows his father Stu and the great history, which seems more accurate than anything in the book, of Stampede’s beginnings, the latter passages show that he equally feels like his father was to blame for failure and he was the reason they had success, but since he was “in charge”, he had to take credit for everything, be it failure or success.

Later on, he seems to pull back on his anger of Stu, but the feelings on Bret do not stop and sound tantamount to slander, but its such interesting and intriguing slander that it comes across as awesome fiction instead of a statement.  Which as I stated much of the book comes across as, as have many other wrestling books.  Unlike the very personal and open statements of Mick Foley or Chris Jericho’s books, Bruce’s book have much more in common with the books he personally quotes from, such as Ric Flair and Vince Russo.  This isn’t history, it’s HIS history and he backs it up with other people’s skewed histories instead of the video truth.

There’s also a ton of hypocrisy in his world view, but that also makes for fascinating and compelling reading.  In the end though he thanks us the most and hopes we enjoyed the read, as much as he’s enjoyed the ride.  I did indeed.

I would’ve like some further clarity on the current situation of his life, where he once again got married to a woman 20 years younger than him and had a child at 56.  He skipped ahead from his father’s passing in 2003 to Bret’s return to the fold of Vince McMahon’s corporation (in which Bret continues to appear in 2011 and probably beyond).  Much happened in those intervening years though.  I guess Bruce couldn’t think of a sufficient lie to tell to make that interesting.

It may seem crazy, but I still highly recommend Straight From The Heart, just go in there with an open mind.  You can choose to also take it at face value and if you’re not a real wrestling fan who actually gives a damn, do that and enjoy it, cause well, you will.

Addendum:  The book has some awesome photos.  Here’s an example:

The book also provides you names and time periods that while his memories of how things went down is inaccurate, they give you a great guide to the resource that is the internet and you can find lots of classic Stampede wrestling on Youtube:

Bruce Hart vs. Dynamite Kid

Owen Hart vs. “Bad News” Allen

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A French Soiree in NYC

On June 9th, 2011 I went out to Random House’s first “Blogger’s Night Out”” event in celebration of the upcoming book FRENCH LESSON by Ellen Sussman.

While I sadly left my camera inside my bag, I hope my words can paint enough a wonderful picture.

First let me state that the Bertelsman Random House building is insane.  The lobby is book porn heaven!  This is what a true book enthusiast with money to burn would do with their mansion.   One could stare at the set-up and the limited editions and everything forever, even with it under glass, lock and key.

The event was held in one of the conference rooms which are also covered in amazing book shelves displaying every kind of book Random House has published since 1925.

There was a wonderful spread with cheeses of all kind, plenty of wine, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, all very french, very apropos for  la fete.  There were also pitchers of a delicious sweet drink with black berries that I think I might’ve had at least 5 cups of, it was that good.

To celebrate the France aspect of everything , there were tables promoting RH’s Living Language series as well as a Fodor’s table with both their France and Paris books on display and available.

Ellen did a wonderful presentation detailing the background of the book, where the research came from, where the roots of the plot came from and how she included much of her real life into a fictional narrative she felt carried the tale stronger and much more compellingly than her sweet and happy life.  She sold the book very well and I look forward to reading it.

Meeting all the various publicity and marketing folks at RH was fabulous and all the book bloggers and guests were equally exciting.  I had some really great conversations with everyone about everything one could think of.

A fantastic night with an awesome gift bag as well containing the audiobook of French Lessons, and other books and magazines pertaining to France capped the evening perfectly.

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Beginners X The High Cost of Living

I do not make it out to a movie theater very often.  It has to be a very special occasion or a very special movie to get me out actually.  The last film I saw in theaters not part of a happening was RANGO (which I anticipate the blu-ray of).  During the week of Book Expo America 2011 I made it out twice though.  Both were SAG presentations with a Q & A following.

The first film was Mike Mills buoyant, charming semi autobiographical feature BEGINNERS which had a spirited, yet flawed Q & A with Christopher Plummer.  Plummer was interviewed by a well known critic who would best be served sticking to the page as his interviewing skills are lacking.  Plummer was so awesome though that it didn’t become too much of a distraction.  You can even check out some of what was said at this Youtube video I posted.  I was not aware that security would actually shut down filming on the Q & A and they never turned on the lights during it, so you get what you get.

My friend Rich did a really nice & succinct post on his experience at his blog and it does cover the bases really well.  My added commentary is that I loved the hopefulness of the film.  Ewan McGregor’s character is over 35 and been unlucky in love and relationships for various reasons, never married, no children and yet he still strives, enjoys life and finds love.  The scenes where Plummer was very sick and bed-ridden were rough for me as I had to experience that myself with my father and it was very rough, but very well done.  I must state I find Mike Mills career trajectory to be quite interesting.  This film in many ways is his first time as auter.  Previously adapting a book for a studio and doing a documentary subject in which he had voice, as well as many music videos, this is our first introduction to Mike Mills and the choices he makes here make me very interested in see how/if he follows up.

The next day I went to see THE HIGH COST OF LIVING starring Zach Braff, who was there for a Q & A afterwards.  This is a much different film than Beginnings.  It is a heavy drama, with some truly compelling and difficult scenes, but essentially also has some trite plot resolutions and leaves one very heart heavy and torn on emptiness and appreciation.  The feature is a first for Deborah Chow and I feel she was possibly not ready to tackle her own script without getting her feet wet elsewhere, there are a variety of flaws in the film, from editing decisions, camera shots chosen, and in script choices.  The one place the film never falters is in acting though.  Zach Braff has lately shown an interest in directing and writing more than anything, but he proved with this film he definitely has the chops to chew on some meaty mainstream drama or even more intricately  written and better distributed indies.

Zach’s Q&A was a breath of fresh air.  His candor, biting honesty and undeniable presence were all awesome.  If it hadn’t been for my security snafu the night before I would’ve totally filmed it, instead I actually left my camera home after taking a break from Book Expo to drop off my haul.

These two films have one thing in common, two extremely beautiful, exciting young actresses with French backgrounds.  Mélanie Laurent, the energy and amazing mime in Beginnings, best known for Ingloruious Basterds, was actually born and raised in France.  Isabelle Blais is French Canadian, raised in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, which is part of what is known as New France.  What is very interesting here is that Laurent’s Anna is never specifically French other than her accent, no mention is ever mde, as she never speaks any French.  On the other hand, Isabelle’s Nathalie speaks French for 1/3rd of the film, as everyone she knows other than Braff speaks it as does the majority of the film’s location of Montreal.  This location in High Cost of Living is never very blatant either other than the French and the mention of Montreal bagels, if one didn’t know the topography of Montreal (as I am familiar) it could be any town anywhere in America or Canada as much of Montreal in bits of pieces looks like Toronto, Seattle, New York, DC and Philly.

I want to actually recommend both these films for very different reasons, Beginnings is currently showing in a very limited release, but I am sure will soon find a home on Blu-Ray/DVD/On Demand/Netflix/iTunes.   The High Cost of Living already had a very short limited release, but is currently available for rental on iTunes and other On Demand services and will soon enough see home “video” release as well.

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Armchair Comics Editing in 2011

In 2006, Dean Trippe did what all of us comic fans do occasionally, armchair editing. It’s much like armchair booking for wrestling. I had decided to really go the armchair route though. In armchair booking for wrestling you don’t just throw together matches, you tend to also come up with new angles and gimmicks as well. I decided what if I took that approach to armchair editing. I stuck to MARVEL and DC like Trippe did, but I’ created a whole new universe for both companies using their established characters.  The biggest thing to remember with Armchairing is that you can/try to ignore everything that is currently going on or is being set-up to go in a totally new and different direction that will still be possible and make sense to fans.

Now with DC about to do their own super reboot in September which almost resembles this entire idea and Marvel in kind of a strange state of existence with their titles, I’ve decided it’s time to try and do this again for shit & giggles.

My rules in 2006 were seven core titles for each company, but to be as progressive as possible.  I may be less progressive now with current interests, but I’ll keep the core 7, ignoring things such as MAX,, Ultimate Comics and such.   I’ve noticed that DC Comics is actually doing a super reboot as well, so my energies will be focused to just  MARVEL.  Still 50 titles is too many, 7 sounds just about right.  The 50 new DC titles do have some gems in the rough though. I hope you enjoy.

The Mighty Avengers by Roger Landrige and Chris Samnee.  The team that brought you The Mighty Thor bring it all back to the square one, but with a faster pace bringing in the full onslaught of all Avengers incarnations together for a book much like DC’s CURRENT version of JSA.

X-Men by Peter David and Clayton Henry.  Peter will bring his overarching, but brilliant pierced drama work of X-Factor to the more popular and well known mutants of film fame with one of the most under utilized artists in comics.

Spider-Man by Paul Tobin and Ronan Cliquet.  The writer of the Marvel Adventures version of Spidey understands the character and has created a version better than any.  While his current Matteo Lolli is fantastic, Cliquet has a dynamics needed for one of the premier titles of the universe.

Strange Tales by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Kev Walker.  The entirety of Marvel’s supernatural forces get explored on a regular basis from the man that brought us a great miniseries about just this and the current artist of Thunderbolts.

Mysteries of the Future by Dan Slott and Paul Pelletier.  Years ago Dan Slott described to me a great Marvel future exploring paths set up in his Great Lakes Avengers books.  It’s time those ideas saw fruition and who better than an artist who can tackle humor, action and space with precision.

Cosmic by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Marco Rudy.  The men who made Nova, Silver Surfer and more into the best things ever combine their writing efforts with another amazing, but underutilized current DC artist to bring the best the Beyond can bring.

Fantastic Family by Jonathan Hickman and Jimmy Cheung.  Hickman has proven himself with these characters and should be given the chance to reimagine them from scratch with an A-list artist who is also bar none one of the best in the biz and the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine deserves such.

To see my much more radical ideas from 2006, check out this link.

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So many videogames, so little time

This week inFAMOUS 2 comes out.  Upcoming there’s Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3 and so much more.  That so much more makes things so hard for an avid video gamer.  Now, I’m not super avid, as I don’t like Real Time Strategy, Fighters or First Person Shooters.  I am primarily an action/adventure or straight forward adventure kind with a love for 3rd person style.   E3 hasn’t even started and yet, there are announcements for games making me needing a $100 an hour job.  Some of them are games I knew about, but forgot, others don’t come out forever.  Here’s a small sampling based off of GameTrailers.com

Alice- Madness Returns American McGee’s return to his classic on new platforms is looking amazing.
NeverDead: The teasers never made me realize how huge this Konami game was, as more and more is shown it looks quite epic.
Tomb Raider: So far only a teaser trailer exists for Crystal Dynamics’ “Survivor” reboot, but what a teaser
Spiderman- Edge of Time: New video shows that Beenox didn’t just drop a new story and some extra dynamic onto Dimension’s but did a lot of rebuilding from the top down.

The biggest announcement of last week though has to be that Back to the Future-The Game will feature Michael J. Fox in its final chapter. I’m already a purchaser, but I expect this news to make the game go from where it is to another statosphere. Along with Claudia Wells in episode 3, this is awesomesauce.

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Book Expo America 2011 Photo Edition (Day 2)

Jimmy Fallon was very gracious and kind.  He loved that I told him how much I loved “The Bathroom Wall”

Kevin Sorbo was a little late, but he was awesome, even when I accidentally in my half-awake state confused Andromeda and Farscape.  I know the difference and knew which show he was on, I just confused their plots.

Duff McKagan seemed just amazed to be at a Book Expo instead of a rock event.  I praised LOADED and asked about the US leg of the tour.

I got be to be first in line for Joey’s signing and asked him some very intensive questions about the book, his condition and how it’ll affect his future work.  Very intriguing short conversation.

I almost missed out on Candace, but Henry Rollins ended up cancelling.  I have a feeling her book will have way too much Jesus stuff as she follows in her brother’s footsteps, but hey, I got the pic.

The publishers moved the Chuck Pahlaniuk line along pretty fast, but I’m just glad to have an early copy of DAMNED.

These photos of course only show a portion of the second day.  SO much more happened that I didn’t photograpgh.  These photos along with txt elsewhere tell a great tale though, or if not a great tale, a document of a time.

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