Now that the conventions are over…

…the real campaign for Presidency, obviously, begins.

I’ve made my opinion of this Presidential race pretty clear and don’t want to dwell on too much of what went on these two weeks (there are people far more eloquent than I all over the internet and TV to offer fascinating opinions) but I will say this much: The Trump convention looked like a cheap carnival show compared to the far more polished, optimistic, and buoyant Clinton convention.

Just my opinion.  Whether these conventions frame the race to come, we will see.

There were so many interesting moments -good and bad- from both campaigns and I could go over them but instead choose this one tidbit of absurdity, presented on and written by Geoff Herbert:

Bradley Cooper at DNC: American Sniper fans upset actor is not a Republican

The upshot of this article is that some people were upset to see Bradley Cooper at the Democratic Convention, especially since he played the lead in what many feel is a red-blooded “Republican” film, American Sniper.

To them I say: Jeeze.

Comic Con part deux…the not so good

Yesterday I posted what I felt were some of the highlights of this year’s San Diego Comic Con, all related to upcoming movies (and I didn’t focus on the plethora of TV and *gasp* comic book related material!).

As fascinating as so much of the stuff released and teased was, there was one noticeable negative to emerge, and that involved the panel focused on the as of yesterday, July 25th just released The Killing Joke, the animated DC feature adaptation of the controversial Alan Moore written, Brian Bolland drawn graphic novel from 1988.  This is the cover to that graphic novel…

Over at, the i09 Staff offer a very good article concerning the panel and how it went so very wrong…

The Killing Joke movie is a disaster, right down to its Comic-Con panel

I don’t want to step too hard on the article’s toes (you really should read it) but the bottom line is the panel revealed additions were made to the original graphic novel story as it was only 48 pages worth of material, in order to make it a full length animated film.

To many in the audience, these additions didn’t go over well.

In the original Alan Moore penned graphic novel, readers learn possible aspects of the Joker’s origin while wrapped around what I considered then, and still do now, one of Mr. Moore’s darkest -and most perverse- stories, if only because it features such comic book icons (take that haters of Batman v Superman!).

I nonetheless say this with considerable regret because up to about that point, Alan Moore was an author that, in my mind, could do absolutely no wrong.

I got into Alan Moore’s writing earlier than most people on this side of the pond for I was one of the very few buying Saga of the Swamp Thing, his first American work, as it was released to newsstands.  In fact, I recall many snickering when I told them the book was really, really good.

I still recall the thrill of reading “The Anatomy Lesson”, Issue #21 of the book which brilliantly framed the beloved character in a whole new light.  So blown away was I by Mr. Moore’s storytelling that I hunted far and near in those pre-internet/pre-Amazon days desperately searching for more of Mr. Moore’s works.  Imagine my thrill when I got my hands on issues of Warrior Magazine and was exposed to MarvelMan (later MiracleMan) and V for Vendetta.

My point is this: I was a HUGE fan of Mr. Moore’s writing.

And then things changed.

While Saga of the Swamp Thing started so incredibly well, I found the series lost steam as it went on.  Sometimes the stories Mr. Moore presented were really out there and while this worked in some cased, in others it didn’t.  Part of the problem, I suspect, was the grind of releasing a book on a monthly basis.  Because of the time crunch, Stephen Bissette and John Totleban, the magnificent main artists during Mr. Moore’s run, were unable to keep up that schedule and there were more than a few “fill in” stories presented now and again.  Some worked (Issue #28’s “The Burial”) while others…didn’t.

I also noted that as good a writer as Mr. Moore was, his strengths lay in “single issue” stories and in initiating longer stories and not so much in providing a strong conclusion (the “American Gothic” storyline, IMHO, started strong and then kinda limped to its end).

Having said all that, Mr. Moore would go on to write Watchmen, one of the greatest superhero deconstructions ever made, before going on to write The Killing Joke.

When the graphic novel was announced, I was very hyped to see it.  An Alan Moore written, Brian Bolland (one of the greatest British artists to come, ever!) drawn Batman graphic novel?  One focused on Batman’s arch-enemy, the Joker?

I mean, come on!  What was not to love?

As it turned out, quite a bit.

In Mr. Moore’s story, the Joker pushes Batman to his limits.  He does this by ambushing Barbara Gordon, ie Batgirl while she’s in her civilian clothing in her apartment.  He shoots her, she falls backwards through a glass table, then he strips her and, as the cover of the book shows, starts photographing her nude while in her injured/bleeding state.  While it isn’t outright stated, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Joker hadn’t raped her as well.

But wait, there’s more!

Afterwards, when she’s in the hospital, we learn Barbara Gordon was crippled as well.  Later still, Commissioner Gordon, her father, is captured by the Joker who tortures him by showing off those nasty nude photographs he took of Barbara.

Incredibly, incredibly nasty stuff…and what made it all worse is that the story, for all its bleak perversity, just wasn’t all that good.

In looking back, the release of The Killing Joke may well have been the moment I really started questioned Mr. Moore’s writing.  While there was always a dark edge to his works, it seemed he went too far.

Mr. Moore would leave DC comics soon afterwards and the split was far from amicable.  Mr. Moore swore to never again write for the company, a promise he’s kept to this day.  He produced more comics, some which featured a softer tone while others were just as -if not more, dark, but these independent works never appealed to me quite as much as his 1980’s output and, with a couple of exceptions (From Hell, among them), I haven’t read most of his post DC stuff.

When I heard Warner Brothers was working on an animated version of The Killing Joke, I was curious yet harbored doubts this was a worthwhile project to tackle.  Well, the movie was made and, incredibly, it appears to be even nastier than the graphic novel.

In the movie, panelists at the Comic-Con found, the story was expanded to include Barbara Gordon and Batman “getting it on,” this despite the fact that she’s the daughter of his biggest ally!  Further, the movie then presents her as a jilted lover, pining for the return of her beloved Batman, when the Joker comes-a-callin.

And then there’s this tidbit of something that happened during the panel, as presented in the article linked to above:

It was during the Q&A that things got dicey. A Joker cosplayer asked the writers why they would downplay Barbara Gordon, such a strong female character, and make her story more about the men in her life. According to Bleeding Cool reporter Jeremy Konrad, the writers insisted she was still a strong female character. Konrad, who’d already seen the film and didn’t agree, himself sarcastically shouted, “Yeah, by using sex and then pining for Bruce.”

That’s when co-screenwriter Brian Azzarello seemed to put it all out there. “Wanna say that again? Pussy?” he asked.

Now, I wasn’t there and who knows what the mood and emotions were like in that panel up to that point.  I’ve been a guest at conventions and know that sometimes the pressure can get to you. Regardless, if Mr. Azzarello said what he said…come on, man.  Control yourself.

Regardless of all that, the bottom line for me is this: The Killing Joke graphic novel was, to put it kindly, a very flawed product to begin with and the animated film and the additions it makes to an already flawed story are just as, if not more, questionable.

In the long run, however, this is but one Batman animated film -and graphic novel- out of tons of them so for those who find the whole thing icky, just get it out of your system and ignore the movie.

Certainly another, better one is to come.

Comic Con trailers…

This past weekend and at San Diego’s huge Comic Con, fans of the fantastic were treated to an incredibly large variety of trailers and clips from some very hotly anticipated movies.  DC comics, IMHO, had the best showing and, ironically enough, possibly the worst as well (I’ll get into the one sour note in the next posting.  Why spoil the good?).

Here we have the beautiful trailer to the upcoming Wonder Woman film…

And here’s an intriguing first look at the Justice League film…

Here we have another intriguing trailer, this one to Kong: Skull Island, which looks like it takes equally from the King Kong features as well as, of all things, Apocalypse Now!

Lest you think Marvel Studios had nothing to offer, here’s the first, in my opinion, intriguing Doctor Strange trailer.  As much of a fan of Benedict Cumberpatch as I am, until this trailer, I wasn’t all that impressed by what I saw.  Now I am…

Looks like there’s some really interesting stuff coming your way very soon!

Apropos of Nothing, part deux…

Very weird story found here:

Meet Graham: The Only Person To Survive On Our Roads

From the story, by Rae Johnston at Gizmodo Australia:

…the Transport Accident Commission has collaborated with a leading trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a world-renowned Melbourne artist to produce ‘Graham’, an interactive lifelike model demonstrating human vulnerability.

Graham is a representation of what a human body geared toward surviving car accidents would look like.  As noted in the article, our bodies, through years of evolution, can survive hitting a wall, for example, while running at it but vehicular accidents are (obviously) beyond the range of what our bodies can handle without any kind of safety harness/features.

Therefore, the design of Graham is a suggestion of what our bodies might look like if they could withstand harsher/faster impacts.

So, what would people “designed” to survive car crashes (and Donald Trump rallies) look like?

Glad you asked:

There are more photos available at the above link above, if you’re curious.

A very weird concept and topic yet one that nonetheless proved intriguing to me.

Apropos of nothing in particular…

In these days it seems many studios rely on popular young adult novels (like Harry Potter and Twilight) to create movie franchises.

But just because you have a successful book franchise it doesn’t mean your path to movie success is a given…

The Last “Divergent” Movie Did So Badly That The Finale Will Be Made For TV

I haven’t seen any of the Divergent films nor have an interest in doing so.  Having said that, there is absolutely no joy/gloating at the (mis)fortunes of these films/filmmakers and the various people who worked on these films.

I feel it is nice the producers of these films, despite the disappointment of the last film, will present a conclusion to this series for the many (though not enough) fans out there.

If nothing else, its an interesting new wrinkle in the way films can be made and series can be concluded.

Zoolander 2 (2016) a (mildly) belated review

Released mere weeks in 2001 after the tragedy of 9/11, the original Zoolander was a film that came to theaters and disappeared quickly.  The country, needless to say, didn’t appear to be in the mood for something light and funny at that time.

As this things are wont to do, time somewhat healed the pain of 9/11 and over the subsequent years people caught this film when it appeared on cable and regular TV…and they liked it.  Though even today I don’t think people consider the original Zoolander a comic “masterpiece”, they do acknowledge it is a pleasant, entertaining goof that featured some wild cameos (David Duchovny and David Bowie in particular come to mind) and an almost surreal alternative world plot: What if male fashion models –idiot male fashion models- were the most important people in the world?

Again, while the film may not be a stone cold classic, it had its charm and as a time killer, you could do far worse.

I wish the same could be said of the movie’s very belated sequel, 2016’s Zoolander 2.

While amping up (ridiculously, it must be said) the number of star cameos, this movie also tries to meld James Bondian and DaVinci Code-type plots.  There are laughs to be found, for certain, and some are (IMHO) quite hilarious, but when the film reached its climax I turned to my wife and daughter who sat through this with me and said:

This has to be the stupidest film ever made.

The statement was not intended as a complement.

As I said before, there were moments I found myself laughing and sometimes the laughter was quite loud.  For the most part, and unfortunately, this happened toward the film’s end, when our “heroes” the lame-brained Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller, who also directed) and his equally stupid partner/friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) confront Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) who, as he did in the first film, is apoplectic at the stupidity of everyone around him.

Good as that joke is, it was done better in the Pink Panther films via Chief Inspector Dreyfus (a hilarious Herbert Lom) and his having to deal with the inept Inspector Clouseau (an equally hilarious Peter Sellers).

The worst problem Zoolander 2 has is that it appeared the story totally got away from Mr. Stiller.  There were moments I couldn’t understand what the heck was happening and the gag cameos, while at times interesting, ultimately felt like they became the movie’s sole reason for being.

For example, as famous as Katy Perry is, her cameo was completely pointless and, even more importantly, not at all funny.  Had Mr. Stiller exerted more self-control over his product, he should have decided that despite her popularity and (I’m certain) the hoops he had to go through to get her into his film, the movie might have worked a little better without that unfunny scene.  Or, barring that, create a funnier scene!!!

The movie also inexplicably hired the usually hilarious Kristen Wiig but chose to hide her behind so much makeup that you can’t tell who she was and, further, she like so many others had precious few humorous things to add to the proceedings.  Later in the film, when the makeup was removed (SPOILERS, I suppose), instead of revealing Ms. Wiig under the makeup we have another actor appear, this time one of the stars of the original Zoolander, as the person hiding behind that disguise.  This actress’ appearance, like many of the cameos within the movie, felt like it was done before a green screen in no more than an hour of time and stitched into the film proper long afterwards.

As for jokes that completely flopped, no bigger example of that was the extended joke involving Hansel’s Harem, which has, among others, Kiefer Sutherland in it.  They kept returning to this joke and it…Just.  Didn’t.  Work.

I could go on and on (why, Sting, why!?!) but suffice to say this film isn’t recommended.  For those out there who so gleefully slagged Ghostbusters, I dare you to compare these two films and not say that Ghostbusters, even with its faults, isn’t a far better product.

Not to pile on…

When I woke up this morning and heard Melania Trump had plagiarized portions of a Michelle Obama speech in hers last night, I figured it would be a line or two.

I was wrong.

Truly, I’m almost at a loss for words.

While I’m absolutely terrified of the idea that Donald Trump is this close to being a possible President of the United States, I have no opinions, good or bad, regarding his family and wife.

It seems pretty obvious that whoever helped Melania write this portion of her speech (assuming it wasn’t Melania herself, as she has stated she wrote most of the speech on her own), deserves to be fired.

I mean, if you tried to screw her over, and by extension Donald Trump, you couldn’t have picked a better, bigger venue than this speech.

The Trump people today claim she didn’t plagiarize the speech but come on.  You can ignore reality only so much.

Oh well.  On to day two of the convention!

A little more on Ghostbusters, and specifically Leslie Jones

Yesterday I reviewed the new Ghostbusters film and found it a solid, enjoyable comedy that did not, in my opinion, reflect the extreme negative comments people made on the internet regarding it.

Today, I find this article on, written by Sandra Gonzalez:

Leslie Jones busts Twitter haters, gets love in return

All I have to say about this is the people who are going out of their way to insult Ms. Jones are nothing more than cowards and bullies.

I suspect the people insulting her are among those who claim Ms. Jones’ portrayal in the Ghostbusters movie was nothing but a “loud, annoying, street-smart stereotype”, as I mentioned yesterday.

First, those who have seen the film should know her character is not presented this way.  Secondly, her character proves very useful because her “street-smarts” involve knowledge of New York’s HISTORY.  She is the one who knows what happened in certain parts of the city, knowledge that eventually helps the others understand what is going on.

I will repeat what I wrote yesterday regarding those slamming Ghostbusters from way before its release: If you don’t like something, why focus so much on it?

Couldn’t you spend that energy doing something more productive?

Ghostbusters (2016) a (for the most part) right on time review

With the Ghostbusters remake, one need look no farther than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to see another example of a movie being completely taken in by pure, unadulterated craziness.

Look, I completely get it: We’re human, aren’t we?  We’re just as capable of loving one thing and hating another.  God knows, I was never a fan of Star Wars and to this day cannot understand why people love it so much.

However, I don’t go out of my way to point fingers and yell from the rafters as to why Star Wars is crap.  Frankly, I’m happy people found something they like and enjoy the hell out of it.  Especially those people my age who experienced it first, in 1977, as a child.

When BvS was first announced, there seemed to almost immediately appear a group absolutely convinced the movie would be terrible…even when it was a year or more away from release.  Some of their opinions I can’t debate: If you have experienced all of the Zach Snyder directed films and found they weren’t your cup of tea, it was logical to assume you would probably not be pleased you with his latest film.

Having seen only one Zach Snyder directed film in its entirety before BvS (for the record, it was Dawn of the Dead), I came into that film a near “virgin” with regard to the works of Mr. Snyder.  I also tried, despite the very negative critical reactions, to see it with as neutral a mindset as I could.

I liked the film.  I really liked the film.

And I now hate it because the Ultimate Cut of the film is so much better than the theatrical cut!

Similar negative vibes moved to the Ghostbusters remake.  People primed themselves to hate it many months before the film was released and, surprise surprise, many of the things they were so-damn-certain they would hate they wound up finding -and hating- in the film.

A self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one.

Over at the IMDB listing for the movie you have a featured 1 star review wherein the author, Girlycard, goes over everything s/he felt was wrong with the film.

Here’s the first of their complaints: This movie was stolen. Everything in this movie was stolen from the first two. All they did was literally take the first movie, and remove the action parts and the horror parts.

I don’t get it.  The movie is a remake.  If you hear they’re remaking Ghostbusters and the movie comes out and turns out to be a romantic film set in the 1800’s British highlands involving the upper and lower casts, wouldn’t people have been scratching their heads and wondering what the hell did this have to do with the original Ghostbuster films?

Then there’s this: The sexism. This movie is probably the most sexist movie since Doomsday Machine. They replaced the entire main cast with only women to appeal to the radical Feminists. When your ideology discriminates against who you can cast in a role, that is called Fascism, and it’s not a good thing.

Hoo boy.

I just didn’t see it.  If anything, the film slyly inverts some standard movie sexism jokes.  In the Mel Brooks comedy The Producers, you have a sexy (female, natch) secretary who is a complete bimbo and does absolutely nothing but get oogled over by the men.

In Ghostbusters, you have Chris Hemsworth play Kevin, the male iteration of this stereotypical female role.  He’s quite literally this very same “dumb blonde” secretary who the female staff (actually, mostly Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert) oogles over and makes an ass out of herself doing so.

So, in The Producers using the dumb blonde female secretary is ok but if we invert this trope in Ghostbusters we’re being…sexist?!

Worse, fascist?!?!?

Complete bullshit and the purest of exaggerated hyperbole.

Also, the male characters in this films are not all portrayed as idiots.  Apart from Kevin, they seem reasonably “normal” characters (male AND female) for a slapstick comedy.  It’s like focusing on Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully playing a nerdy/horny fool in the original Ghostbusters and thinking that’s anti-male sexism.

Allow me one more thing pointed out by Girlycard: The racism. The only black character was turned into a loud, annoying, street-smart stereotype.

In this case, I have to admit when I saw the first trailers for the film, I feared there might be a possibility of this being the case.  Not the “racism” (more bullshit hyperbole) but rather that the “only” (by the way, she isn’t) black character was turned into a “loud, annoying, street-smart stereotype.”

Instead I was delighted to find Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan far from just “loud” and “annoying”.  She was presented as “street smart”, but this was done in a positive way.  For you see, her “street smarts” involved knowing about historical aspects regarding New York the other Ghostbusters did not and proved herself to be very much a helpful character in their mission.  And she does this while not yelling!  Imagine that!

Not to get too far afield, but if you compare her character with that of Ernie Hudson’s in the original film, she comes out better.  Remember that Mr. Hudson himself stated in interviews he views his participation in the original Ghostbusters with great ambivalence.  He was brought into the film thinking he would have a meatier role but once the cameras started rolling his character’s participation in the film was trimmed to almost nothing but the token “African-American” guy by the end.

My point here is this: I can totally understand people really, really loving the original Ghostbusters and not stomaching a remake that does not involve Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, et al.

I get it.

But you know what?  You can do as I do with films I don’t care all that much about:  You can simply ignore them.  Why expend so much energy hating on something you probably aren’t interested in seeing in the first place?  Seriously, you don’t have to do it.

The Ghostbusters remake, for those willing to give it a shot, is a funny, engaging film that, while far from perfect, promises a good time…if you can overlook some of the movie’s faults.  At times there is a certain choppiness to the story and there was at least one major plot element that was clearly cut from the theatrical version…though perhaps it was just as well.  Finally, not all the jokes land, but –shocker– that’s not unusual for a comedy.  As long as you do laugh several times during the film’s run, it’s done its job.

The movie, like the original Ghostbusters, concerns a group of people (yes, women are people, too) who are drawn together because mysterious things are a’happenin’ in New York.  As already mentioned, Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, nerdy scientist who is desperately seeking tenure at a prestigious university.  Melissa McCarthy is Abby Yates, her childhood friend who, along with Erin, were once a duo determined to prove ghosts exist.  Erin left that behind but is drawn back and meets up with Abby at her university.  There, Erin meets Abby’s right hand woman, the bizarre Jillian Holtzmann (a very funny turn by Kate McKinnon) and they go investigate a potential spiritual apparition.

This investigation winds up squelching any chance for Erin to get her tenure so the trio decides to form their own “ghost hunting” business.  Soon, they are hired to take on a job by the not-always-yelling Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who later joins the group, while also hiring the absolutely clueless Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as their secretary.

As it turns out, there is a menace brewing which may lead to an apocalypse.  The Ghostbusters not only fight this menace but, in an amusing turn, they also have to deal with the Mayor of New York who…ah, I won’t give it away but will say the Mayor proves a funny twist on the “typical” higher-up reaction to something fantastic.

Getting back to something I noted a little before: The one major plot element which seems to have been trimmed from the film involves Erin leaving the Ghostbusters.  This sequence is never shown and when Erin does get back to the group in the movie’s climax Abby happily states “You’re back!” yet we never saw her leave in the first place.  Why they didn’t remove or change that line I don’t know.

Again, nothing terribly big but it does point out the film had sequences which were eventually discarded (they also got rid of the very funny joke about the selfie picture in the heavy metal concert.  I thought its presentation in the trailer was funnier than the truncated version in the film proper).

As for the cameo appearances by the original cast…I hate to say it but they were largely not all that great.  There are those who stated Bill Murray’s cameo was the best but, frankly, I thought it was only ok.  It was, however, the longest of the cameos and involved two sequences.  My favorite was probably Sigorney Weaver’s but even that one could have been funnier, IMHO, if instead of having her they had Dan Ackroyd in that particular scene instead of Ms. Weaver.  It just “fit” Ackroyd’s character in the original movie a little better.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough.  If you can put aside your emotions and nostalgic fondness regarding the original Ghostbusters and give this new version a shot, you’re in for some fun.  This film may not be the best comedy evah, but it will have you laugh plenty of times.


Corrosive Knights: A 7/16/16 (and about damn time) update

This is a photograph of my desk, taken just moments ago:

At the Desk

What you see on the photo’s left side is my printer printing out the completed 9th draft of my latest Corrosive Knights novel, which will have this cover (the title will be kept secret just a little longer):

Corrosive Knights Book #6

…and which I offered the following promotion for:

Foundry Web Ad

I began this latest draft of the book just a little over two months ago, on 5/12/16 and it really hurts to see it took me this long to get through this draft, especially since it took me about a month to do draft #8.

Why the considerably longer time?

Two factors:  First, because of this particular time of the year, ie summer, I’ve been traveling about.  Sadly, my travels do not involve any actual vacationing.  Instead, I’ve been helping my youngest daughter as she’s started up college and had to move in for her summer courses (it was recommended all freshmen take at least one summer course so they can acclimate themselves to this new setting).  Shortly, I’ll be moving her out as well as helping my other daughter move to her new apartment (thank goodness it is in the same building) and she starts her new year in college.

Maybe we’ll get some actual, honest to goodness vacation time.

We’ll see.

The second reason it took so long to do this draft is that while the first half of the book was pretty much good to go and required little more than grammatical/spelling corrections, the second half of the book required much more.

I was forced to get down and dirty and sift through almost every single damn line to get that second half of the book “right”.  On the plus side, the end result should make this second half of the book almost print ready.  It has to, given all the work involved!

But there’s little need to bore you with this, the bottom line is that I’m that much closer to being….DONE!!!!  FINISHED!!!!


But before getting too excited, I’ll finish printing out this completed draft and, yes, once again revise it.  At that point I’ll have an even better idea of how far off we are from publishing this thing.

Regardless, we’re closer to the end.  We should be there quicker than you think.