Inspiration and wild timing

Earlier this morning -at 10:17 A.M. to be precise- I posted the following blog entry regarding zeppelins (you can read the post here).  The upshot of my entry was that I was turned on, via reddit, to a great photograph from 1931 of a zeppelin flying over a pyramid at Giza and that, in turn, made me wax nostalgic for my love of zeppelins in general, which had me noting how I used them extensively in my first published work, the retro-futuristic noir mystery graphic novel The Dark Fringe.


Not 45 minutes later and posted on i09 I find the following article by Katharine Trendacosta:

The 10 Best Times TV Shows Completely Swapped Genres

Although it wasn’t presented among Ms. Trendacosta’s top 10, I wasn’t terribly surprised to find the Fringe second season episode Brown Betty listed among the comments as another example of a show using a different genre within its run.  For those unfamiliar with the episode, here’s the trailer to Brown Betty:

Interesting stuff, no?

So what the heck does that have to do with my similarly titled The Dark Fringe?

I strongly suspect my book, originally released in 1996 (Fringe first aired in 2008 and some ten plus years after my book’s original release and Brown Betty in particular first aired on April 29, 2010), was at least a partial inspiration for that particular episode.

Now, before you think I’m one of those creative types who screams “they ripped me off!” every time some work comes with some vague similarity to my own, take that thought from your head.  I don’t and I’m not making this claim regarding Brown Betty.

As I said, I strongly suspect my book INSPIRED that particular episode.  Not in its story, however, but in the setting/visuals they used.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I said before, I published the four issues of The Dark Fringe in the mid-1990’s and collected and published a Trade paperback (TPB) of the run in 2003.  The TPB caught the eye of one Scott Rosenburg at Platinum Studios.  He had brought the Men In Black comic book to the big screen (I believe he originally had a hand in its creation as a comic book) and founded Platinum Studios to promote other comic book stories/concepts for the movies.

Anyway, he found and read The Dark Fringe at the time the TPB was released and offered to present the book to the movie studios.  I agreed and he did.  During that time, he also managed to get another of his properties, Cowboys and Aliens, off the ground and made into a feature film and I know he presented my book to the people behind that movie.  And among that movie’s creative staff were some of the same people behind a little TV series which would soon appeared entitled, you guessed it, Fringe.

Was the Fringe inspired, at least by its title, by my The Dark Fringe?  I don’t know and it is irrelevant.  As it originally appeared, the Fringe TV show was clearly inspired by The X-Files rather than anything remotely similar to what was in my series.

However, when Brown Betty appeared in season 2 and my wife and I watched it, I distinctly recall turning to her not ten minutes into the episode and after seeing its film noir setting along with zeppelins and old-fashioned radio/computer hybrids, and saying: “Looks like someone on the show’s read The Dark Fringe!”

My wife was incensed.  “How could they rip you off like this?!” she said.

I wasn’t as bothered.  As I’ve already noted, the story presented in Brown Betty was nothing remotely like what I wrote for The Dark Fringe.  However, back in 2010 and to the best of my memory there wasn’t anything quite like the Zeppelin heavy retrofuturistic film noir setting that I presented in my book and which I now saw in that episode.

So while Brown Betty had nothing like my story within it, I to this day believe someone on the show’s staff (perhaps several someones) were at the very least inspired by my book’s “look” and emulated it for this episode.

This was not an unusual thing, either.  Several episodes in that second season of Fringe were clearly inspired by other comic books, including the season’s two part conclusion which liberally used DC’s multiverse concept.

So there you have it, for what its worth.  Whether inspired by my work or not, I enjoyed Fringe and I enjoyed Brown Betty.  Maybe moreso because they maybe, possibly, could have, might’ve drawn some inspiration by one of my own humble works.


Indulge me here for a moment…

Waaaaaaay back in 1984 there appeared a “new” and, at that time, most restored version of Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 movie Metropolis.  While some didn’t like the use of then popular music to accompany the colorized film, I was blown away…

So much so that I started working on what would be my first complete and eventually published (though nearly ten years later and in graphic novel form) story The Dark Fringe.

When I first produced this book, steampunk didn’t exist except in the works of Jules Verne and when he wrote his science fiction, it was just that.  Along with my head-spinning amazement at Metropolis, I was also intrigued with the original Tim Burton directed Batman movie.  It came out a few years later and introduced what would eventually be termed “retrofuturistic” fiction.

Not to toot my own horn, but when The Dark Fringe was finally released back in the mid-1990’s, it was among the first books to combine the 1940’s look of a film noir mystery with a retrofuturistic ideal (1982’s Blade Runner clearly merged sci-fi with film noir, but it wasn’t “retrofuturistic” in nature).  In effect, I was trying to create a work that melded The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon or Kiss Me Deadly with a setting that shared technologies like those found in the forward thinking of 1927’s Metropolis.  And one of the instructions I kept giving John Kissee, the incredibly talented penciller of that series, was to always show a zeppelin or two in the sky.  I was -and remain- crazy about zeppelins and this was, along with the clunky computers and villains with metal hands, a short-hand way of telling people this setting, while clearly looking old and featuring technologies that were for the most part older (I did have him design computers for the book as if they were second cousins to the old radios of the 1940’s) was a reality divorced from any “real” past.

While I haven’t pursued the world of The Dark Fringe for a while now (who knows, I may circle back to it eventually), I remain intrigued with zeppelins.

Which is why when I was on reddit this morning I was delighted to find this photograph:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s a zeppelin flying over one of the Pyramids at Giza, circa 1931.  Seeing the picture intrigued me and reminded me there are a wealth of fascinating photographs of zeppelins out there.  A quick google search revealed the following beauties:

First, the Graf Zeppelin over Montevideo, circa 1930…

Image result for zeppelins

Over Buenos Aires…

Image result for zeppelins

A few others:

Image result for zeppelins

Image result for zeppelins

Image result for zeppelins

And of course there’s this one, perhaps the most iconic photograph(s) involving the best known -and for all the wrong reasons- zeppelin ever.  In 1937 the German airship The Hindenburg was on its way to land in New York…

Image result for zeppelins

Image result for zeppelins

It horrifically exploded while attempting to dock.  This tragedy ended the era of the zeppelins…

Image result for zeppelins

This photograph, which shows the Hindenburg already hitting the ground and half gone, is also quite iconic:

Image result for zeppelins

What was intriguing was finding some other photographs of this tragedy which I hadn’t seen.  Such as this one, which takes place seconds before the first, most iconic image above:

Image result for zeppelins

And this…

Image result for zeppelins

And this…

Image result for zeppelins

And, the end…

Image result for zeppelins

A Hindenburg movie was made in 1975 (I don’t recommend it) and the legend of the Hindenburg, and questions about what exactly happened to it, remain to this day although many feel the glue used to put the airship’s out shell together was the likely chief culprit in this tragedy.

Anyway, nothing much to add to this.  Zeppelins were a fascinating part of a fascinating era.  The idea of lazily flying on a zeppelin across the ocean has, to me anyway, a romantic appeal.  Perhaps one day we may again see something like them in the air and used for actual tourism instead of for sporting events.

On writing…re-writing

Rainy days have a way of making me reflect on my life and passions and one of the biggest ones is writing.

As of today, I’m knee deep in my 10th (!) draft of the latest Corrosive Knights novel and as of this month, its been two full years since I first began writing it.  The fact that I’ve been working on this material as long as I have and remain as laser focused on getting this book cleaned up and released is proof of my love for this work and my love, in general for writing.

After this book is released?

I’ll do like I usually do, take a day or two to pat myself on the back and admire the fact that the bookshelf devoted to my works has filled up just a little bit more.  After that day or two is over, I return to my computer and begin writing my next novel.

Getting back to the topic on hand, my guess is it takes approximately three months (give or take) for me to write the first draft of a novel but, obviously, much, much more time revising and rewriting it before I feel its ready for release,

I’m not the only one.  While googling the topic of rewriting, I was struck by many of the quotes I found.  For instance,

“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” Vladimir Nabokov

Another one:

“Writing a first draft is like groping one’s way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you’ve forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one’s mind comes to inhabit the material fully.”  Ted Solotaroff

Perhaps the most succinct and to the point quote I found regarding this topic comes from author Truman Capote:

Good writing is re-writing.

It is also, needless to say, a lot of work and someone like me, as passionate as I am about writing, would find it far harder to work on a novel if I still had to use a typewriter as opposed to a computer.

Mind you, I have used both.

When I was much younger and computers and word processing programs didn’t yet exist, I wrote a few stories (none good, trust me!) and found it an incredibly frustrating process.  The process of writing those works on a typewriter was slowed considerably every time you hit the wrong key or realized, mid sentence or mid-paragraph or mid-thought, you could write whatever it is you were writing a lot better better if you did this or that.  With a typewriter, you’re stuck.  You could either tear the page out or draw a line through the “bad” sentence/paragraph or you could keep going and make a note on the page that when you re-wrote it, you needed to change x or w or z.

Regardless, if I were using a typewriter today rather than a computer my latest novel, now two years in the making, would easily take twice as long if not more to finish off.

And I would have done it.

Mind you, it would not have been easy and my level of frustration would be far greater but I would have done it.

I love writing that much.

Why point all this out?

As the cliche goes, the best thing in the world is to find your passion and make something positive out of it.

Having said that, one should look oneself in the mirror and see if their passions, whatever they may be, are something that can be realized.

If your great passion is to be an Olympic swimmer but you have neither the long, lean body, the physical strength, and/or patience to spend hour after hour in a pool exercising, then chances are you’ll never accomplish that which you desire.

Similarly, if you want to be a writer and have this extraordinary idea you think would make for a great book yet day after day put off writing that book to spend time watching TV shows or playing video games or taking a walk, then chances are you’ll never get that book done.

Put in the work.  The sad fact is that even if you work extremely hard, nothing may come of it.

However, if you’re anything like me and the day comes for you to look back on your life and your accomplishments, you’ll find yourself thankful for many things.  For me, I’ll be thankful for my family.  I’ll be thankful for the friends I found along the way.  I’ll remember the good times and try hard not to dwell on the bad.

For me, I’ll look at that bookshelf which houses my works.  By then, I hope it’ll be full of wonderful works I can be proud of.  They may not make me rich and famous but their existence sure fills me with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

Have fun at it.


The future is creeping up on us…part deux

I’ve posted frequently about self-driving vehicles.  It is my belief they’ll be here very, very soon and with their arrival, society will inevitably change.

The very bad news is that many people who have jobs driving vehicles, from taxis to Ubers to public buses to trucks, etc. etc. will find themselves out of those jobs.

This is sadly inevitable.

On the plus side: Vehicular accidents will drop, injuries and deaths will drop, traffic jams might become a thing of the past (self-driving cars, I’m assuming, won’t rubber neck), and people will have more money to use on other things.

About that last item I listed: With the arrival of self-driving vehicles, I envision a future where people won’t need to buy cars.  Instead, they will use an app on their phones (or whatever) and summon a self-driving vehicle to take them to wherever they want to go and, once they’re finished at the place they were taken to (their job, the mall, etc.), they again summon a self-driving car to take them back.  They will obviously pay for the use of the self-driving vehicles but I suspect the price will be quite low given the self-driving vehicles look to be small and very efficient.

With no need to buy a car, you obviously don’t need to spend money on insurance or fuel or car service (from oil changing to fixing a flat/replacing a tire, etc. etc.).

So, what’s keeping us from this future?


As with almost all new technologies, especially those that could potentially cause a person’s injury/death, the government has to look in on the matter and determine it is safe and reliable.

Already there are self-driving vehicles being tested all across the country and it is well known the Tesla electric cars have self-driving features people use even today.

The United States, however, isn’t the only country investing in self-driving vehicles.  The below article, written by Annabelle Liang and Dee-Ann Durbin for AP, notes…

World’s first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore

It would appear each passing day edges us closer and closer to this big technological shift.  What I found most fascinating in the article were these quotes, from Olivia Seow, who tested one of these vehicles:

“It felt like there was a ghost or something,” (Ms. Seow) said.

But she quickly grew more comfortable. The ride was smooth and controlled, she said, and she was relieved to see that the car recognized even small obstacles like birds and motorcycles parked in the distance.

“I couldn’t see them with my human eye, but the car could, so I knew that I could trust the car,” she said. She said she is excited because the technology could free up her time during commutes or help her father by driving him around as he grows older.”

Soon, people, soon.

Gawker, R.I.P.

I enjoyed Gawker and still enjoy the various sub-sites surrounding it.

The site was alternately irrelevant, hilarious, and informative, often providing news you simply wouldn’t find elsewhere.

And that last item is what ultimately did the website in.

I’m certain many of you are aware of Gawker’s tribulations.  In a nutshell, one day they presented a snippet of a sex tape of Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, and a woman surreptitiously recorded by the man’s wife (!).

Mr. Bollea sued and, unknown to many at the time, he was underwritten by Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech entrepreneur who spent years figuring out a way to get revenge on the site for “outing” him.

The lawsuit went very badly for Gawker and Mr. Bollea not only won but Gawker was ordered to fork over an extraordinary amount of money for presenting that sex tape.  This led to the auctioning of the company and, after it and the other websites around Gawker were purchased by Univision, it was announced Gawker would be gone.

There are plenty of more details regarding this matter and, in the site’s final posting, Nick Denton offers his take of the situation:

How Things Work

Having read about the trail and the history of Gawker, its clear there are many who admire/enjoyed the site as well as plenty of others who look upon its official closing yesterday and say “good riddance”.

For myself, I’ll miss the site though, given some of the details of that trail, I can sorta/kinda understand why the ruling went against them.

When engaged in a lawsuit, don’t be glib and/or a smart-ass.

Anyway, Gawker, I’ll miss you.

A little more on Suicide Squad and DC movies musings…

Looking over the news today, I found this tidbit at box-office mojo regarding last week’s movie take up to August 21:

Suicide Squad Threepeats at #1 while Ben-Hur becomes latest big budget flop

This summer has been an interesting one when it comes to expectations and internet fueled opinions.  Batman v Superman was the first film to face the internet firing squad well before it was actually released.  After its release, opinions appeared to be divided between those who hated the film and searched far and wide for any little or big reason to justify their hatred and those like me who defended the movie and felt it was…gasp…quite good.  Great even.

I’ve stated before (to the point where I’m in danger of beating a dead horse) that BvS, especially in its director’s cut version, is a far better film than the critics and some internet posters made it out to be.  In time (what the hell, I will beat that dead horse) I believe the film will rise in people’s estimations and may become viewed as one of the better superhero films ever made.

Once BvS played itself out, the sometimes red-hot internet hatred found its next victim in Ghostbusters.  Much of the venom, sad to say, came from people who claimed the film was “sexist” because the leads in the film were female.  To those I say: Please look up the term “projection”.  The only sexism in Ghostbusters was the one coming from those who accused the movie of it.

Nonetheless, the film didn’t do all that well at the box-office.  While I enjoyed it and recommended it, I was nonetheless not too surprised to find it underperformed.  While I still believe the movie was good, even I’ll admit it never reached that next gear of hilarity that really great comedies hit.

As the summer died out, one of the last “big” films to be released was Suicide Squad (you knew I’d get there eventually, right?!).  As I’d written before, I was curious why this film would be the next big DC tent pole versus so many other properties out there they have.

Despite that feeling, the first few trailers of the film blew me away and had me hoping for a genuinely entertaining work.  Sadly, the film, to me, proved to be a mess, storywise.  Despite that, I nonetheless enjoyed the bulk of it after its very rocky start.  Perhaps it was the performances or the giddy vibe it sustained but I didn’t feel like I’d just wasted my time and hated myself for spending my time and money on it.  On the other hand and unlike BvS and Ghostbusters, there was no way I could recommend the film to anyone.

Nonetheless, Suicide Squad is, as the article above points out, doing quite well at the box-office.  Now in its third week of release, it is still #1.

Which makes me wonder…

The critics hated BvS, liked Ghostbusters, and hated Suicide Squad.  Yet of the three, the ones that made money were BvS and Suicide Squad.  Clearly there’s a disconnect here and I wonder what it is.

BvS, as stated, had plenty of negativity from critics and many on the internet but, as I stated above, there was stuff in the film that even the harshest critics would agree was good.  Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman, for instance.  Or Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.  The cinematography (even the film’s harshest critics can’t deny the film at times looks gorgeous, even if its palette is dark).  But moving past all that, there is a solid story, IMHO, here.  One that is far deeper than many are willing to admit and/or recognize.

Which is something I can’t say about Suicide Squad.  Despite this, the film is drawing tremendous amounts of cash.

Which leads me to wonder why the DC films made as much as they did given all the flack they got.

I’m just guessing here, but I think part of the reason is that fans are starved/primed to see big budget versions of DC comic heroes.

Marvel, for better or worse, has dominated the movie landscape these past few years but after so many films, there may be a sense of fatigue starting to appear regarding the “Marvel style” hero movies.  The fact is that all the Marvel Universe films thus far have displayed certain tendencies.  This is not surprising given the fact that the same people who run the Marvel show have been behind it since its inception.

When one gets a new toy, its shiny and beautiful and you play with it to your heart’s content.  But after a while, that shiny new toy no longer entertains you as much as it once did.  With the Marvel Universe films, they were shiny and new and intriguing but I’m wondering if audiences are starting to see through the “magic” and that shiny new toy may become just a little bit dull.

While Captain America: Civil War made a tremendous amount of money (more than BvS) over its run, I find it fascinating how little people talk about the film now.  Those who do are just as likely to disparage it, noting its plot was weak and the film, overall, was underwhelming.  That’s not to say everyone who writes about the movie does this, but it is curious how even now BvS can inflame passions and create a commentary hurricane while CA:CW engenders far less enthusiasm.

So, is it possible people are starting to tire of the Marvel movies to some degree yet remain thirsty for superhero films?  This might explain why Suicide Squad, despite its many deficiencies, manages to hold on to the box office pole position.  Despite its many weaknesses, one thing you can say about Suicide Squad is that other than having a cast of super-beings, it is nothing like a Marvel film and so too was the case with BvS.

Sometimes, variety can indeed be the spice of life.

Summer 2016 is almost gone…and a brief Corrosive Knights update

So I head out the door early this morning to do some errands and before me appears a school bus.  Its picking up kids for their first day of the 2016/17 school year.

Around these parts, obviously, today is the official start of the new school year and for many parents I’m sure its a day to finally relax.

For me, the summer was alternatively fun and frustrating.  I didn’t get a chance to take any day off and let’s see when I can actually do so but it was pleasant to have my daughters around.

On the other hand, it was difficult to focus as I wanted to on my latest Corrosive Knights novel, #6 in the series.  I’ve made progress on it and will get into more details in just a second, but suffice to say I’m not as far along as I was hoping to be by today.

So, where exactly am I?

By later this morning I’ll be finishing up reading and jotting down notes/improvements to the latest draft of the book (this is draft #10).  When last I wrote, I was finishing up draft #9 on 7/16/16 and therefore it took me a month to read through this latest draft, a period of time larger than it should have taken me at another point in the year.

On the plus side, the book is rapidly approaching the end.  After I finish my latest read through today and because I can now focus much better on the book, I anticipate it will take me not much longer than a week/week and a half to put all those corrections into my Word file.

As it stands now, the book is just a little north of 100,000 words in length.  The first half of the book, after this revision, is all but done.  The second half has some areas that need attention but after I finish this draft, that’s where my focus will be.  In other words, I’ll no longer need to re-read and revise the entire book.  We’re down to just parts of it.

And the parts that need revision aren’t all that bad.  They just need a little more clarification and editing.

So, when will the book be ready?

I hesitate to make any guesses but at this point and barring any more delays/interruptions to my schedule, it will be soon.

Very soon.

Corrosive Knights Covers

Suicide Squad (2016) a (very mildly) belated review

Bear with me here…

Way back in 1967 director Robert Aldrich assembled a large, powerhouse cast including Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, and John Cassavetes, and made what many consider one of the best “anti-hero” war films, The Dirty Dozen.

The story?  A group of volatile criminals are recruited for a top secret mission behind enemy lines.  They are considered expendable because of their history -some commited crimes which may cost them their life anyway- and the mission they’re being tasked to do has a very low probability of survival.

If you’ve seen Suicide Squad, you’re already seeing the similarities, no?

When writer John Ostrander wrote the first “new” Suicide Squad story back in 1987 and for DC comics, he was clearly inspired by the above film.  Because he was writing for a comic book universe, the “ordinary” criminals brought together were instead turned into super-villains.  Their missions were dangerous and could well get them killed.  The series proved a moderate success and, as with many comics, there were good stories to be found along with the bad but, as far as I know, Suicide Squad was never much more than a cult -or perhaps a little better- hit.

With the financial success of comic book movies of late, it came as little shock DC/Warners would eventually try their hand at creating a “shared” movie universe not unlike that found in the thus far very successful Marvel films.

After the “self-contained” Christopher Nolan Batman films were complete, DC/Warners began the process of making their version of a shared universe.  They started this with 2013’s Man of Steel, director Zach Snyder’s first crack at Superman, and followed it up with this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS from now on) and, of course, Suicide Squad.

Given what I thought was the cult nature of Suicide Squad and so many more interesting properties DC had at their disposal, it seemed odd to me this one was chosen.  Some have speculated the movie was meant to be DC’s answer to Guardians of the Galaxy.  I suppose that’s as good a reason as any for green-lighting the project.

Despite some ambivalence regarding the logic of pursuing this particular project, I will readily admit the first official trailer to the film blew me away:

So summer (almost) arrives and BvS is released…to significant controversy.  While the theatrical cut of this film did the movie no favors (see the Ultimate Cut) and was hated by most critics and engendered some incredible bile from average moviegoers…the movie nonetheless went on to be a box-office behemoth.

If you’ve been following my thoughts on this blog, you know I found the Ultimate Cut of BvS an ambitious, fascinating -though flawed (the Batman/Apocalypse dream should have been left on the cutting room floor)- work, one that once all the hysteria dies down I suspect will be re-evaluated and, IMHO, eventually viewed as one of the better comic book films ever made.

I could be wrong, but that’s my opinion.

Anyway, history sure did appear to repeat itself once Suicide Squad was finally released (Read my thoughts on that here).  You had the critics savaging the film (it, like BvS, scored a pathetic 27% positive among them) and yet audiences liked it far more (BvS and Suicide Squad are viewed positively by approximately 70% of audiences).  Further, as with BvS, there appear to be those in the media and disgruntled fans alike that were so baffled and/or bothered by these films’ box-office success that they’re intent on proving the incredible amount of money each has made/is making is really a sign of how unsuccessful the film is (Suicide Squad has made record amounts of money for an August release and even in its second week is performing well -it’s still #1 at the box office- yet some headlines make it sound like the film is a complete washout).

So, given the similar roll outs of both films and my love of BvS, would it follow that I’d feel the same about Suicide Squad?

The short answer is “No,”

While BvS was an ambitious work that carefully took on and deconstructed the superhero genre, Suicide Squad is clearly meant to be a “popcorn” film, an enjoyable romp that doesn’t aspire to terribly high cinematic goals.  In effect, this movie’s goal is to be an enjoyable/exciting summer action film and not a whole lot more.

Does it succeed on that account?

Here, its a little more difficult to provide a “short” answer.

While watching Suicide Squad, I found the first few minutes confusing and, frankly, not all that great.  Sometime shortly after the credits rolled, the film found its grove and was, for the most part, enjoyable to watch if waaay too dark.  And when I say “dark” I’m not talking about the story: I’m saying the director should have brought in more lights.  The damn film looks like it was shot in a cave with a flashlight.

Despite the murky look, the movie moved along nicely and was aided immensely by the charisma of its large cast.  Will Smith is fine as Deadshot, even if he’s not stretching particularly hard.  Margot Robbie is quite good in the film’s splashiest role, that of the Harley Quinn, the Joker’s whacked-out girlfriend.  Viola Davis is fine as the steely Amanda Waller, the government agent behind the forming of the Squad.  Jai Courtney was also highly amusing as Captain Boomerang even though his character was ultimately irrelevant and unnecessary in the film (see video presented below).

Others may disagree, but I also enjoyed Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg and Cara Delevingne as June Moone/Enchantress.  It was their story that wound up grounding the film and, though I didn’t expect it, provided an interesting and satisfying resolution (I don’t want to give away too many spoilers here regarding it, but I’ll just say I’m a softie for matters of the heart and leave it at that).

Of note too was Jaret Leto as the Joker.  I thought he wasn’t bad taking on the role but neither, IMHO, was his performance all that memorable.  Unfortunately for Mr. Leto, he’s given something like five total minutes of screen time to take on a role made memorable by heavy hitters like Jack Nicholson and, of course, Heath Ledger.  And those actors had a hell of a lot more screen time to deliver their work.  So at this point I’m willing to give Mr. Leto a pass and wait to see what he does if given more screen time.  Maybe he’ll get that chance in the next Batman film?

I’ve beaten around the bush long enough: What of the film itself?


Here’s the thing: After that rocky start, I enjoyed myself.  For the most part.  However, let’s not kid each other: The film was a mess.

Anyone who has read anything about the behind the scenes of the film knows a) Director/writer David Ayer had to bang this out very quickly and b) the critical bile directed at BvS appears to have caused the people at DC/Warner’s to OK even more hasty re-shoots.  Word is that once the film neared release, two “cuts” were created, a more serious in tone one by Mr. Ayer and another, lighter in tone version created by the same people who made the movie’s memorable trailers.  In the end a “compromise” cut was created between the two and this was what was released to theaters.

Unfortunately, the end result is a film that very much feels like a compromise between two different visions.  Early on there are too many scenes presented with music much as they were in the trailer and while it may work wonderfully there, doing it over and over again in the film itself got annoying.  Worse still, some of the lesser characters get shorted badly, perhaps in favor of providing higher level cameos (Batman and Flash).  While I enjoyed seeing these bigger heroes appear in this movie, they didn’t really need to be there.

As for the story, this is where the film failed the most.  As a writer, I firmly believe the success of any film lies in having a strong story behind it.  In the case of Suicide Squad I’m reminded of my feelings for films such as Skyfall and Star Trek: Into Darkness.  While watching both films I enjoyed them but the moment they were over and I thought about what I just saw I realized the story made absolutely no sense at all.  This too is the case with Suicide Squad and one has to blame Mr. Ayer for that, whether he was rushed or not.

So here’s the bottom line: Flawed as Suicide Squad was -and there are significant flaws in the film- I nonetheless for the most part enjoyed myself.  Having said that, its impossible for me to recommend the film.

If you’re anything like me, you will be thrilled to see Harley Quinn, the Joker, Ben Affleck’s Batman, Flash (for all of 3 seconds), Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, the Enchantress, Katana, and, yes, Rick Flagg on the big screen and being played by flesh and blood actors.  You’ll probably also “go with the flow” and enjoy the film for what it is.  However, I know there will be those who will think back to what they’ve seen and find that the proverbial “bridge too far”.

In the end, DC/Warners has done well, financially, with their two 2016 comic book releases.  While I feel BvS was damn good, I feel Suicide Squad can only be qualified as decent at best.  Hopefully the powers that be learn from their mistakes and sharpen their next product(s), especially if they involve these characters.


For those who have seen the film and liked it to those who hated, hated, hated it, this video posted on YouTube by Jenny Nicholson IMHO hilariously skewers the plot…or lack thereof of Suicide Squad.

Beware, SPOILERS a-plenty:

The collectables marketplace

For most of my life I’ve collected things.  Not “hoarder” level, mind you, as I really dislike clutter, but things that I like I tend to buy and, if I really like them, I will hold on to them to hopefully enjoy them again later on.

When I was much younger, I bought and held on to comic books (still do, to some degree).  For a very brief while I also got into stamp and coin collecting (I still have a jar nearly completely full of old coins.  To this day, whenever I stumble upon an older coin, I stick it in the jar).

I’m not alone in this.  My parents at one time had a very extensive betamax collection of movies and, when the VHS format killed it, we switched to and bought quite a few movies that way.

My sister, in particular, really got into buying Disney films when they were first released in that format in the 1990’s.  I suspect she still has a closet in her house with the movies.

I point this out because of this amusing article by Matt Novak and presented on paleofuture:

Why Do People Want Thousands of Dollars For Disney VHS Tapes on Ebay?

The upshot of this article is that somehow a rumor spread that those old VHS tapes, the same ones my sister bought back in the day, were suddenly worth many thousands of dollars.  Some of the people who believe these rumors have therefore posted their Disney VHS tapes on eBay and are asking sometimes outrageous amounts of money.

We’re talking $10,000 plus.

You read that right: Ten thousand dollars plus.  Here’s a screenshot presented by BobbiBrown, on of the people offering comments on the article:

If any of them get that kind of money, good for them and (read it in a Trump affect) very sad for the buyer.

I’ve seen this kind of insanity (how else describe it?) before, where people think something is worth far, far more than it is.

The fact of the matter is the collectible market lives on supply and demand.  In the comic book market, the reason Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 is worth nearly a million dollars is because a) Superman is a cultural icon and this is indeed his first appearance in any medium and b) there exist very few -perhaps no more than ten- “mint” copies of Action Comics #1 out there.

But the VHS Disney films?

First off, the VHS tapes sold very well back then and I suspect there are many, many people like my sister who bought and then stored those films away, thinking they were “collectable.”  This is as opposed to Action Comics #1 which while many people bought individual copies way back in the 1930’s (some individual comics did sell in the millions), there was no sense of their having a collectable nature and therefore huge quantities were read and thrown away and, over all these years, very few “mint” copies of them remain.

Further, while you can still “use” a mint copy of Action Comics #1 (you can read it, should you own it), the VHS market is dead.  Further to that, today you can get most of those Disney films either on DVD, BluRay, or digitally, should you wish.  All these presentations are far, far better than what you would see on a VHS tape.  So it begs the question: Why in the world would you want to own an inferior image of a Disney movie via a VHS copy of the same?

In the above linked article, the author makes the same point and several comments below the article note that VHS copies of these films are available for pennies at garage sales or in thrift shops.

The point of all this is: Beware the collectable marketplace.  Just because you have something that is of value to you doesn’t mean it has an equal monetary value in the “real” world.

There’s a reason many things are worth high amounts of money but, again, this relates to their rarity and desirability, both of which are just not the case with regard to the Disney VHS tapes.