Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On A Lovely Tuesday A.M.

I really do intend to update this blog more than once every two weeks, but sometimes time just runs away... this Memorial Day weekend was punctuated (punctured? Deflated?) by a hard drive failure and all the resulting tumult trying to get my work life back into order.  Past HD failures have driven me to an almost obsessive system of redundant backups, so I didn't lose anything vital, but it's still a complication and a headache and all that annoying stuff.  Computers have certainly made writing and research infinitely easier, but when they break down, it's like there's a conspiracy to make me insane...

I haven't talked much about Hemlock Grove recently, but work continues at a feverish pace on this very cool 13 episode horror project for Netflix.  We're busy writing scripts, finding locations, finishing casting, bringing in directors, designing creatures... the usual panoply of production "stuff."  And my previous show, Falling Skies, returns June 17th with an two-parter, part one written by yours truly and part two written by my pals David Weddle and Bradley Thompson.  It'll fun to finally see season two on the air! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Comic Reprintapalooza!

It is really kind of unbelievable, the amount of old comic book material being given the fancy hardcover reprint treatment.  It's way too much to digest, but I'm trying!  Among some of the newer releases:

Mysterious Traveler: Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3:  This ongoing series has been collecting Ditko's work from the 50's, which was an especially interesting period artistically.  The stories are mostly crummy Charlton mystery junk, but Ditko was still laying in a lot of detail and imagination in this era. Given Charlton's lousy pay ($6.50 a page for finished art, versus $14 at the time at Marvel) it's amazing he spent as much time as he did on this stuff.  But evidently Ditko savored artistic freedom over all else, and at $6.50 a page I'm guessing the Charlton editors were just glad the stuff was coherent.  I still think Ditko's best work was for Marvel (both superhero and in the Atlas mystery anthologies), but this material is a close second. 

Tomb Of Terror Vol. 1: A new series reprinting Harvey's horror line from the 1950's in full color.  I have a number of the original books and was never particularly interested in collecting these titles, because, sadly, the work is mostly awful.  That doesn't mean there aren't guilty pleasures to be had, but tedious "shock endings" that don't shock and bashed-out artwork gets pretty old after awhile.  On the other hand...

Forbidden Worlds Vol. 1: ...this new series, collecting books from the ACG comics group, is definitely a notch above.  Redeemed by a couple stories by the great Al Williamson and a (slightly) more literary tone, this is a series I'll probably keep getting.  If the weight of all these books doesn't smash through the Earth's crust and send me plummeting to the Earth's core...

Really, Arizona? Really?

Just when I think I've become inured to most of this madness, someone cranks it up another notch.  It must give Arizona's citizens a lot of comfort knowing their Secretary of State is dedicating time and resources to this...


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Musings On "The Gray" (SPOILERS!)

First, I really liked the movie.  It's everything a gritty, man-trying-to-survive-against-nature movie should be. Excellent characters, brutal locale, lovely photography, etc.   If you haven't seen the movie yet, briefly it's about a group of oil workers who crash in the remote Alaska wilderness and how the few survivors try to make it out alive.  Unfortunately they run into a pack of predatory wolves who sense dinner on the hoof (and invaders in their territory), leading to "problems."


It's the very very very ending that left me perplexed.  No, not the faux ending before credits that blacks out as our last surviving hero lunges at the (very large!) alpha male in charge of the wolf pack.  It's the two or three second clip at the END of the credits that appears to show the last survivor laying down against the mortally wounded wolf.

Here's my thing.  I totally understand the men defending themselves against the wolves.  But I also understand that the wolves are just doing their thing -- protecting their turf, bringing down food, etc.  Unlike the humans, who imbue the wolves with more complex emotions ("what do they want from us?!"), I don't think the wolves are hating on their prey.  They're just feasting.

So when hero Liam Neeson makes a heroic last stand and kills the head of the pack (if that is indeed what the final tiny scene represents -- it's not wholly clear), it strikes me as a cruel and almost futile gesture.  The movie makes it clear that barring unlikely rescue or a burst of fire from a falling meteor, Neeson's character is going to freeze to death in a matter of hours.  But I guess one last chest-puffing macho battle with some dumb critter in the frozen North gives Neeson's character a few moments of solace before entering the great beyond.  In which case, that's actually kind of sad.  Especially since the dying wolf is probably thinking "ow food pain ow oww" without giving two shits about the meat that jabbed it to death with sharp things.

It's still a good movie.  I guess I would have preferred an even bleaker ending.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kodak Had A Nuclear Reactor

I guess if they'd seen where the film business was going they could have used nuclear blackmail to take down digital cameras.  But they didn't.  *Whew*. 


Friday, May 11, 2012

New Stuff I Like! Some I Can't Get!

Andy Timmons Band - "Sgt. Pepper."  I'd never heard of Timmons until I read a review of this CD in Goldmine magazine.  As long time readers of this blog know, I am a fan of good covers, so an instrumental album covering Sgt. Pepper instantly hits my sweet spot.  Now some of these Beatles-related cover projects work (Smithereens, Big Daddy, Cheap Trick) and some don't... happily this one is the former.  Timmons' guitar playing is almost hypnotic at times, not drone as much as soaring.  Tasteful, powerful, it's just a great listen.  And now I've got to hear some of Timmons' other stuff!

The King - "Gravelands", "Return to Splendor."  I've been fan of The King (aka Jimmy Brown) since these two CDs came out in the late 90's/early 2000's.  Basically, "King" does an uncanny Elvis Presley impersonation while covering songs Elvis never did.  Stuff like Nirvana's "Come As Your Are" (a hit in the U.K. back in '99), the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", the Doors' "L.A.Woman" -- you get the drill.  I figured he had drifted into obscurity after not hearing a peep after album #2, but turns out he's been recording and performing in Europe quite a bit.  Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to get your hands on his newer material.  The one I've been trying to get is called "The American Sound Show" featuring The King plus the Memphis Boys.  As far as I can tell it was a limited 2 CD pressing from the German Elvis Presley fanclub, released in 2007. Part of me is mentioning this on the off chance somewhere out there can share a copy, but also to reveal my sad collecting mania has yet to fade.  (However, while scouring the internet looking for King material, I did find a bunch of CD singles...)

Billy Bremner - "Trouble Boys".  It's the same deal with Billy and his new band.  Bremner was a member of Rockpile, the 70's/80's band featuring Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, but after Rockpile split up Billy (or Bill now) moved to Sweden, where he's been putting out a record every once in awhile, sometimes colluding with a Swedish rockabilly-ish group called The Refreshments.  Now he's got his own band called "The Trouble Boys" and they released a CD last year that was only available at their shows and is now out of print.  Grrrrr.  Endless searching has turned up nothing, I'm trying to convince someone on the Bremner listserv (yep) to find me one, and I WILL NOT BE DETERRED.  Well, I may well be deterred, but not yet!