A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday comics talk

The topic this fine day: the Batman trade paperback entitled Bruce Wayne: Murderer? The book is available at comics shop and local bookstores for about twenty bucks.

This thick, involving compilation of the various installments in the Bruce Wayne: Murderer? event that stretched across the family of Batman comic books a few years back has much to recommend it, but has a few flies in the ointment, too. On the plus side, there are plenty of pages to keep you busy (more than 250), the various artists do a nice job, and the story is decent, delivering solid mainstream superhero melodrama, no more and no less.

Chief among the negatives, however, is a kind of cut-and-paste quality to the whole affair, as this book doesn't compile full comic books that furthered the plotline, but only the specific pages within the original comics that spotlighted the story. So, while you get the occasional full issue of Batman, Detective Comics, Robin, Nightwing, etc., in this collection, you more often get small snippets from those issues, amounting to five or six pages each, before we move onto- more often than not- another small snippet. Things aren't as choppy as they could have been, but I wasn't crazy about the whole editing process employed here.

Also lacking is any kind of set-up at the outset... you know, one of those two-page text prologues peppered with drawings of the various players that most trade paperbacks now include to orient the reader, instead of just throwing us into the proceedings cold. I eventually figured out who all the various obscure characters were (just how many sidekicks and former sidekicks has Batman accumulated over the years?), but that could have been taken care of with a few short paragraphs at the beginning.

Finally, after 250-plus pages, there's no resolution. The central murder mystery is still unsolved, and the fate of Bruce Wayne is still very much up in the air. To learn more on those fronts, you'll have to pick up the various Bruce Wayne: Fugitive trade paperbacks. Good news in that area: they're cheaper than this volume (though thinner).

So, there you have it. You get a decent story that shows us a few things that we haven't seen a million times before (chief among them, Bruce Wayne in prison fighting off thugs), polished art of various styles, and facinating supporting cast members (once you get to know them). Just be aware of the shortcomings- which are somewhat annoying but not dealbreakers- and you should enjoy this novel-length comic book epic well enough.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Good couch movie

This review is pretty short not because I'm lazy (I've written plenty of longer reviews, honest), but because The Slammin' Salmon is best enjoyed if you don't know a million things about the movie before you pop it into your DVD player. Suffice it to say that, if you don't demand too much, you'll have a good enough time with the modest pleasures of this manic tale of a night behind the scenes at a hip and trendy restaurant, and the efforts of its waiters and waitresses to win a big cash prize from their clueless yet still threatening boss.

I enjoyed most of the jokes, the talented and attractive cast, and even found myself admiring the beautiful, chic restaurant set, which for some reason made the jokes and antics work even better (it somehow complemented the funny scenes, or effectively contrasted with them, or something). Oh, I should mention that the talented and very pretty April Bowlby should get some kind of award for having to go through the bulk of the film in yucky burned-face make-up after a couple of unfortunate mishaps (the restaurant business can be dangerous). In short, after that last scene with the hot soup, she couldn't simply rely on her looks to sell her scenes, yet she still did a great job making us laugh.

The Slammin' Salmon looks sharp and clean on standard DVD, but there are hardly any extra features. The movie's pretty good, though, and that's what really counts, right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Okay, okay... I'm back

Finally checking in after a day or so with my new iPad. I'm filing this post from my iPad, in fact. Much more to come, but what's the verdict for now? The iPad is an amazing, amazing device... it does so much. But (drum roll, please), my Kindle still has its place. It may not be the central planet anymore, but it's definitely a primary moon of that planet, and will remain so. Stay tuned for more details.

But, darn, this new device is sweet.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A little known fact

The protective cup was first used in professional hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.

It only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain was also an important organ to protect.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good film

The Wrestler is a complicated, balanced, but ultimately sympathetic examination of the wrestling profession and one man who makes his living in it. Regarding the profession, one thing especially struck me: although in scene after scene we're shown that most aspects of professional wrestling are fake, the injuries certainly aren't. In fact, I started thinking that there would likely be a lot less injuries if there was less choreography and showmanship in the matches and more actual wrestling. Another memorable scene showed a sad assemblage of broken-down wrestlers (some in wheelchairs) at a sparsely attended autograph-signing event. I really felt bad for those guys during that scene, and clearly, so did the movie.

Mickey Rourke's character is flawed but mostly likable, a man who loves his profession even though it really hasn't taken care of him as much as it should have over the years. However, his misplaced devotion to wrestling is likely responsible for his hurts and failures outside the ring, especially his longtime estrangement from his daughter. In his view, of course, wrestling is the only thing that hasn't hurt or disappointed him, and the only thing that's given him consistent joy.

The movie is raw, adult, and often hard to watch. But it's also intimate and sweet. You certainly don't have to be a wrestling fan to get something out of this simple yet surprisingly involving film.

The Wrestler looks and sounds fine on standard DVD. The image is a little dark and slightly grainy, but I'm sure those are intentional contributions to the mood of the piece. There are no extras on the DVD I watched.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Scary moment

I just read an article about the dangers of drinking. It scared the Hell out of me!

So that's it. After today... no more reading!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hammer's back

One of the cool things about attaining a "top reviewer" status at Amazon, as well as associating yourself with a small handful of other venues that happily publish your reviews, is that publishers, retailers, etc., start sending you things to read and watch. It'll probably happen even more, now that I've added my own blog to the list of places where I sound off. Anyway, It's thrilling at first, then a little daunting as books, DVDs, and all manner of other stuff start piling up, patiently waiting for your attention. It's definitely a situation worthy of the "be careful what you wish for" file.

In any event, the old "Wow, I'm getting stuff for free!" vibe comes back now and again when something you were looking forward to and absolutely was going to buy with your own money anyway is found sitting in your mailbox. That happened the other day when I received an advance reading copy of The Big Bang, the newly-completed Mike Hammer novel by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. If you're at all into hard-boiled detective material, you're probably already a fan of the late Mr. Spillane's work, and maybe even a fan of Mr. Collins (if you're not you should be). The Big Bang is the second Mike Hammer book completed by Mr. Collins from Mr. Spillane's notes and partially written book, with the blessing of Mr. Spillane and his estate. Even though I liked but didn't love their previous Mike Hammer collaboration, The Goliath Bone, I'm still greatly looking forward to diving into this one.

In fact, I'm actually a little jealous of the people who will pay for their own copy of the book, as my advance reading copy warns me that typos and other minor errors might still pepper the manuscript. Arrgh... I hope there aren't too many!

The Big Bang will likely be available on Kindle shortly, as The Goliath Bone has been available on Kindle since its release in 2008 (and is where I read it). Needless to say, I'll have more to say about The Big Bang once I dive into it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A bit of Bond

Enjoy the world of James Bond... the books, the movies, and everything related to them? If so, you really have to check out illustrator and major James Bond fan Peter Lorenz's blog, Illustrated 007. The blog has one simple mission: to show you great illustrations from the world of James Bond. You'll see art from James Bond movie posters, billboards, book covers, toys, puzzles, role-playing games, and all kinds of other stuff. Regarding all of the preceding, you'll see official released artwork, intriguing rejected prototypes, and obscure art produced for foreign markets.

Also, there are occasional fun features like comparisons between the American versions of 1960's Bond posters and their more risque British counterparts (generally, think less bikini and more skin), and interviews with the artists who created the great Bond art that's showcased on the blog.

Anyway, if the material described is at all interesting to you, this is a fun site that's worth a look every now and then. You can find it at http://illustrated007.blogspot.com. And, by the way, accompanying this post is artwork created by Rudy Obrero for the poster for 1983's "unofficial" Bond movie, Never Say Never Again. Mr. Obrero and his work is currently being spotlighted on Mr. Lorenz's site.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Did you hear about the pirate who sold corn at the farmers market?

It went for a buck-an-ear.

* * *

Did you hear about the pirate ship that shipwrecked with a cargo of red and blue paint?

It got marooned.