Tuesday, September 27, 2005

is this great or what?


Collection of pictures of people pointing at things (or sometimes nothing).

Monday, September 26, 2005

Joss, Neil and Time


Great conversation between Joss Whedon (even if they misspell his name), Neil Gaiman and Time's Lev Grossman.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Constantine & The Brothers Grimm

By accident I saw on consecutive days two films about fighters against the supernatural with Peter Stormare in supporting roles. No point, just lumping them together.

Constantine (Francis Lawrence 2005) is the lesser of the two. Actually it would probably be the lesser of anything you paired with it. Comics fans were annoyed at reports of changes to the original character (American instead of British, now in Los Angeles, no longer blond) and in the end the film Constantine is not the “real” Constantine. Instead of a genuine anti-hero--an abrasive, lying conman who leaves death and misery in his trail even if he does save the world--you get a brooding hero who is, well, rude. And has a sidekick. That’s about it. You see bits and pieces of familiar stories but it’s more a misfired Elseworlds tale. There’s a scene where Weisz’s character is about to get into a tub of water for a mystical vision and asks if she has to remove all her clothes. Turns out that’s not necessary and the film Constantine tells her so. The “real” Constantine would of course have said yes, stark naked, even--or especially--when it’s not required.

Now, admittedly Constantine unexpectedly turns out to be a moderately acceptable way to pass time but so what? The story barely makes a bit of sense and everybody except Stormare and Tilda Swinton declaims the dialogue like portentous statements just waiting for the stone engravement. Why set it in L.A. if pretty much no use is made of the city? Except for some helicopter shots it all looks like backlots anyway.

The Brothers Grimm (Gilliam 2005) takes a stab at being an essay on the nature of storytelling though it ends up primarily an exercise in set design. Any ten minutes of it are worth more than all of Constantine though in the end it doesn’t really achieve too much. The problem isn’t what Gilliam thinks he’s doing but that the connections are left unconnected. So Hans and Greta become Hansel and Gretl but why? Why Little Red Riding Hood if there’s no wolf? When does Jacob Grimm hear these stories? Did the French invasion actually trigger the supernatural elements? You can see Gilliam and scripter Ehren Kruger (most notable credit is the intriguing Arlington Road, most famous credits are the American Ring remakes) trying to contrast legends against theatre, children’s tales against reality, con artists against propaganda, but there needs to be more than just setting them up next to each other. That said, The Brothers Grimm looks great and is mostly light on its feet and sharply acted. Given a writer (or maybe just a script doctor) with a better sense of character it could have been a minor success.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

War Poetry of the South


Project Gutenberg has just released this 1866 collection of poems "highly
creditable to the Southern mind" though I don't think many of us today will
agree with that assessment. Take this:

Gentlemen of the South,
Gird on your glittering swords!
Darkly along our borders fair
Gather the Northern hordes.
Ruthless and fierce they come
At the fiery cannon's mouth,
To blast the glory of our land,
Gentlemen of the South!

or from "The Confederacy":

Born in a day, full-grown, our Nation stood,
The pearly light of heaven was on her face;
Life's early joy was coursing in her blood;
A thing she was of beauty and of grace.

Still, where else will you find a versified report on parliamentary debate
on "England's Neutrality"
(http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8wrpm10h.htm#77), an apparent
defense of the Ft. Pillow massacre
(http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8wrpm10h.htm#87) and an
almost-free-verse tribute to "The Cotton Boll"

The editor William Gilmore Simms was a famous-in-his-day Southern poet and
novelist who's had a small resurgence of interest recently (Univ of South
Carolina Press published a study earlier this year and several of his books
have been reissued recently). His LL.D was honorary from Univ of Alabama.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Way to go Canada!

Canadian search-and-rescue team from Vancouver beats US Army and FEMA to Louisiana parish.



Their on-site reports: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/usar/

The Onion's version:

Government Relief Workers Mosey In To Help
Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown,
leading a detachment of 7,500 relief workers, moseyed on down to New
Orleans Monday afternoon. "Well, I do declare, it's my job to see if any of
these poor folks need any old thing," Brown said from his command rocker on
the command post porch, adding, "Mighty hot day, ain't it?" Follow-up teams
of emergency relief workers are expected to begin ambling into the Gulf
Coast region as early as this weekend. "They should be getting the trucks
good and warmed up anytime now, and they'll be cruising into town just as
soon as all the reservists stroll in," said Brown, who is currently at his
desk awaiting offers of food, water, and evacuation buses to roll in from
"somewhere or other."

Sunday, September 4, 2005

more annotations for The 49ers

Jess Nevins has again done annotations for an Alan Moore work, this time The 49ers. Here are some additions I saw:

p4, panel 1 - “I think he was at Okinawa” - This is a stretch for Private Iron but the Battle of Okinawa was informally referred to as the “typhoon of steel”. See for instance http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/About%20Okinawa/History%20Page.html

p5 - “Framing at 116 Fulton St.” - This seems too close to be a coincidence but apparently there was a real framing store at that address in NYC which advertised on spots visible from elevated trains. See http://www.14to42.net/21street0.5.html

p7 - Isn’t Irinescu the name of the vampire in the Top 10 story in the 80 page giant?

p8, panel 1 - Looks like the boxcar right by the stairs might have “Quality Group” on the side as a reference maybe to the publishing company. // Except for the alligator (clearly Albert), the animals don’t look familiar from Pogo to me. // I thought the ghost might be the Canterville Ghost but the costume seems wrong. Other movie sources might be The Time of Their Lives or The Ghost Goes Wild. // It’s a stretch but the turtle might be Touche Turtle. // Do you think the dog is Offisa Pupp from Krazy Kat?

p8, panel 4 - Note the British pronunciation of “z” as “zed.”

P9, panel 1 - The two planes appear to be a British Sopwith Camel and a German Fokker triplane. Probably a reference to Snoopy and the Red Baron. // Note the car in front of Pegleg Pete’s has a face like the Jokermobile.

P10, panel 2 - Is it my imagination or on the left is that an older Little Orphan Annie and with his back to her Daddy Warbucks? // On the right, the guy in the sailor costume looks very familiar. Walt from Gasoline Alley? // Notice that the Dartmobile doesn’t have lettering on the side in this panel.

P11, panel 1 - I think at the top of the stairs is the Bride of Frankenstein. (That also seems to be her hair on the left of p13, panel 1.) // "Finnian and Odessa Schwarm"? Note that F, A and O are emphasized and that they sell toys. F.A.O. Schwartz.

P12, panel 5 - For whatever this is worth, the US Air Force didn’t become a separate branch until 1947. Until then it was part of the army.

P13, panel 3 - The head to the left is Jiggs from Bringing Up Father.

P15, panel 1 - Possibly a silhouette of the Shining Knight in the top right corner. // “Macra Boy”? Mac Raboy.

P15, panel 4 - The robot right in front of the Phantom looks familiar.

P18, panel 3 - “All-Stars” is possibly a reference to All-Star Comics. // There was a Timely aviator team called Sky-Sharks.

P22 - Don’t know if this is too obvious but The Maid is from one of Joan of Arc’s French names Joan the Maid (Jeanne la Pucelle).

P24, panel 4 - There’s something very familiar about the design on the police craft/bubble.

P25, panel 2 - The two struggling characters in the street look like they’re from Little Nemo.

P29, panel 4 - Bobby Darin would have been 13 in 1949, a tad young for such a role but not inconceivable. In the real world, he didn’t start recording until the late 50s. However I can’t think of an alternate unless in the Top 10 world there is a singer called Bobby Sox (would be easier to tell if the dialogue wasn’t in all-caps).

P31, panel 3 - Is that supposed to be a Keystone Kop?

P36, panel 1 - Are the kid and the cook from Terry and the Pirates? // The guy on the left in the Henry VIII costume looks like that should be recognizable.

P37, panel 4 - I think the “African” figure is from Winsor McCay.

P38, panel 1 - Are the flying buckets also from Dick Tracy? // One of the signs in the top right edge seems to read “Marx Bros.” // Is the sign “Smash” a reference to Smash Comics?

P41, panel 3 - The airplane has Tex Avery’s Wolf on it. A reference to Wulf?

P45, panel 1 - Is that Snow White with two dwarves? // The guy in the turban should be somebody recognizable.

P46, panel 1 - The figures on the left look familiar.

P69, panel 1 - “Willi Lohmer” is probably a reference to Wilhelm Lohmer who was Captain America’s foe Master Man.

P74, panel 4 - About the car tag: I’ve heard that “23” and “630” had some special significance to Aleister Crowley though I couldn’t explain it or even be sure that’s correct.

P77 - Some of the street names on the map are artists: Cole, Flessel, Everett. Most don’t seem to have any obvious significance.

P81 - The kids with guns (toys?) look familiar. Note on the left two more pigs with hats.

P83, panel 1 - An assortment of clowns, none immediately identifiable to me.

P86, panel 7 - Do you think the man in the space helmet is from the EC Comics story “Judgement Day”? I can’t find an image right away. The figures on the left somewhat resemble Abbott & Costello while the running guy might be Marlon Brando from Streetcar Named Desire. (And there’s something in me that wishes all those characters did exist together.)

P87, panel 1 - Note that when the captain is in disguise he resembles Clark Kent when normally he looks like Superman’s father. The short figure with the tall hat looks very familiar.

P88, panel 1 - Think the redheaded woman on far left is Vicki Vale?

P89, panel 2 - Man touching the radio looks like Captain Ahab. // To the left of Popeye is his father Poopdeck Pappy. // The picture on the right is Gene Kelly dancing with the cartoon character Jerry from Anchors Aweigh. See http://groups.msn.com/ClassicMovies/wallpapersampmore.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=1714 // The picture above Popeye’s shoulder might be Kelly in On the Town but it’s hard to tell. There is a scene with the film characters on a bridge. // I don’t see Robinson Crusoe. // The people at the table might be Howard Hughes and Rasputin but maybe I’m starting to free associate.

P93, panel 1 - These are probably all famous vampires but as you say they’re hard to place. I thought that the woman in the top left with the long black dress might be from Mark of the Vampire but isn’t that Gomez beside her so she would be Morticia from the Addams Family? In any case that look originated in Mark of the Vampire. (& possibly Uncle Fester above the captain’s head.) Guy at top edge with Eastern European outfit could be from The Fearless Vampire Killers.

P94, panel 1 - Osiris was the Egyptian god of the dead so naturally vampires curse with his name.

P95, panel 1 - Lilith also has magical connotations based on an old legend that she was Adam’s first wife (before Eve).

P97, panel 1 - “Drink Tin Lizzie” - This reference to a brand of oil also appeared on p28.

P100, panel 5 - Isn’t one of the firemen Smokey Stover? The one in front is Fireman Farrell (see for instance Showcase #1).

Friday, September 2, 2005

Vacation Is Over


see also:





and I'm sorry but this looks like something that would have been dreamed up by Monty Python at their most bitter and cynical:

The [Emory University] Ethics Center will host a panel discussion about the crisis in New Orleans on September 13, 2:00- 4:00pm in Cox Banquet Hall. Proposed topics include: - The Moral Question of Incompetence - Paralysis of Leadership in Time of Crisis - Long-term Public Health Issues: Disease, Sanitation, Malnutrition - Racial/Socioeconomic/Class Inequity - Environmental Repercussions: Wetlands Destruction, Development, etc. - Media Coverage and Perception

Let's discuss the morality of incompetence while looking at http://katrina05.blogspot.com/2005/09/katrina-missing-personsfound-persons.html