Exactly one year has passed since I mentioned on this blog the impending launch of Nikki Stafford's Great Buffy Rewatch over at her blog, Nik at Nite. The exercise in entertainment and insight ended this past week, as our group viewing of and conversations about the seven seasons of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including, for some of us, the first four of five seasons of spinoff series Angel — drew to a close.
I'd hoped to be writing companion pieces here, but it was all I could do to keep up with the Rewatch schedule, read the posts over at Nik at Nite from Nikki and her guest contributors, read the comments on those posts, and then add my own comments to the mix. Often I didn't even get to do the latter in a timely fashion, and it became pretty clear early on that with the amount of time I was spending on Buffy posts for Blam's Blog — none yet published beyond a look at the original feature film and an update saying basically what I'm saying right now — I was sacrificing other content here as well as participation in the Rewatch discussions there. So I stopped with an eye towards restarting my "Vampire Slayer Diaries" at a later date. While it would be nice if I could do so this summer, to coincide with the movie's 20th anniversary, I'd have to get a lot more written in advance than I have now to feel comfortable about rolling out the posts in a timely fashion; my aim is to cover all of both Buffy and Angel's TV incarnations as well as some choice comics along the way, including the official Whedon-blessed (and sometimes even Whedon-scripted) continuations of both series that began several years ago with Buffy Season Eight. Each post will link to the relevant posts at the Great Buffy Rewatch and entries at Wikia's Buffy the Vampire Slayer wiki.
Should you be moved to watch or rewatch Buffy sometime before my posts do resume, you should check out the Great Buffy Rewatch Archive post for links to each installment; Nikki Stafford and a host of fans and scholars offered original material each week from a variety of perspectives and areas of interest. The only downside to the Rewatch, due to understandable time constraints, is that it covers Angel tangentially at best and in lockstep with Buffy starting with the premieres of Angel Season One and Buffy Season Four, whereas like I said when I linked to a recommended combined viewing order in my update last May it's sometimes necessary to watch ahead on one show or the other — especially towards the end of Angel Season Four and Buffy Season Seven — to make the continuity between shows jell.
Why can't the X-Men use Twitter?
Because you're limited to 140 characters.
I've been holding onto that one at least since the X-Men: First Class movie came out.
And if anyone knows a better graphic to run here than the above stuffed-but-not-stuffed-enough shot that looks to have been drawn by Carlos Pacheco (inker, colorist, and source unknown), they're more than welcome to tip me off to it.
Image copyright year of production, featuring characters who are trademarks of, Marvel Comics.
Kindred Posts: A Slice of Humor • Nice Day for a Sprite Wedding • Grey Matters
• Cinema Paronomasia • This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It Hurts You
When these posts began their avowed purpose was to make sure the blog had some content while my attention was mostly directed elsewhere, stoking my own and hopefully my readers' enthusiasm for the new Muppet movie.
Of course these past few months have ended up being among the busiest on the blog, not only in terms of posts posted but viewers viewing them — which is one reason why I decided to keep the new content flowing with more than just Muppet Monday stuff, but that too, even after the movie opened. I'll share some further thoughts on bloggy business in a couple of weeks; right now I'm wrapping up this volley of Muppet Monday with one last round of links.
Here's a list of seven sites for Muppet lovers interested in further exploration, most official and most mentioned on the blog before.
Christmas is here. As always, I wish you a day of peace — and family, and tradition, and fun. My grab-bag of goodies is especially full of music this year.
I heard a very clever parody of The B-52s' "Love Shack" called "Toy Sack" on WXPN the other day. Bob Rivers apparently wrote and recorded the ditty for his 1997 album More Twisted Christmas. His version is on Vimeo set to holiday lights at the preceding link.
Photo © 2011 Brian Saner Lamken.
This year the winter holidays have been a bit different for my family. We had a bunch of cousins move up here to the Philadelphia suburbs from South Florida this past summer, bringing with them an annual tradition of doing Christmas big, whereas usually I either try to visit my father in New Jersey or hang out with friends if I'm able to get out at all. Last weekend there were almost twenty of us decorating cookies; the menorah with the blue background at the bottom of the photo up there and the Christmas tree right above it are both mine, paying homage to my interfaith heritage.
We've had this little travel-sized, traditional-styled Chanukah menorah for
at least as long as I can remember.
I'm fonder of it with every passing year, not just for the memories but for how its collection of "battle scars" — little bits of leftover wax, never completely scraped off the arms and base or entirely gouged out of the little cups that hold the candles —
have accreted over the years to give it some extra character.
The last three movies I saw were about movies. And one of the next ones I see probably will be too, as The Artist is opening soon at my local art-house theater. I came to this realization walking out of a screening of My Week with Marilyn the other day, my last cinematic indulgences having been Hugo and The Muppets.
While the Muppets actually put on a telethon in The Muppets, and the film's cornerstone reference is TV's The Muppet Show rather than the 1979 Muppet Movie (reprises of "The Rainbow Connection" notwithstanding), it's about movies in the way the characters make metatextual references— in the broader sense of the word; "metacinematic" if you prefer — to being in a movie.
Hugo could be said to be a movie about the moviegoing experience by virtue of the way in which it takes full advantage of the medium of film — the 3D process in particular. Of course, Hugo is also about movies themselves in the very literal fact of its plot involving silent-film auteur Georges Méliès. The scenes of Méliès and company producing his early-1900s fantasias is a highlight of Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, as is the opportunity to see actual clips from classics of early cinema featuring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Louise Brooks, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin rendered in Hugo's surprisingly thoughtful 3D.
Right in time for Chanukah...
I'm not gonna say it's a miracle. Over the past couple of days, though, I was finally able to get up some blog posts that I've been trying to publish properly since the start of the month. So, y'know, it's no oil lasting in the Temple for eight days, but I'm happy about it.
Jimmy Fallon returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend — and so did Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan, to help him close out 2011 with a rendition of their old standard "Christmas Is Number One".
Screencap © 2004 NBCUniversal.
The last time the song was performed on the show, seven years ago, Sanz was the only one of the four still in the cast, and stopped the tune almost before it had begun when he realized there was nobody to back him up. Until, that is, Kermit the Frog popped up to tell Horatio that his friends would happy to join in... Here's the video from this past Saturday, to jog your memory, and the 2004 clip with the Muppets.
Screencap © 2011 Disney.
Given that last week's installment was another long one — also that I've had trouble posting, with both that and this going up late — I thought I'd keep today's Muppet Monday brief. A music video for the song "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets (performed by the new Muppet, Walter, and Jason Segel as his human brother Gary) has been released with clips from other parts of the film interspersed with the song's scene in the movie. For those who've seen The Muppets, the song is a treat to revisit, but for those who haven't seen it and plan to there are some surprises spoiled — like what's probably the funniest cameo in the film, even if like me you don't actually watch the show that made the actor in question famous.
Whether you're fortunate enough to still be in touch with your sense of wonder or have lost it and thought it never to be regained, I beseech you: See Hugo.
Directed by Martin Scorsese from John Logan's screenplay, based on Brian Selznick's acclaimed book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo is 126 minutes long. About 120 of those minutes are pure cinematic nirvana. I'm almost mad, yet also strangely relieved, that no matter how many films I see as this stacked season progresses — and no matter that it's difficult to compare movies of wildly different styles, aims, and approaches — I've clearly seen the most fascinating, most captivating movie of the year (unless, somewhat ironically given their subject matter, The Artist ends up matching it).
I haven't yet read Selznick's book, although I plan to do so before I see the movie again, so I can't say how faithful the film is to it. I can only tell you that Scorsese has delivered a masterpiece.
The look at some of my favorite things begun last year after my 40th birthday is finally continuing. Now, though, it's 41 Favorites, since I took over a year off after my last post; I'm going to try to wrap it up before I turn 42.
My fifth favorite thing in alphabetical order of the bunch that I spitballed last October is the music of Edie Brickell.
Above is a neat homage to the iconic, oft-mimicked Robert Freeman photograph used on the cover to 1963's With The Beatles and early the next year for the US release Meet The Beatles! It's from a recent Parade article titled "Meet the Muppets (Again!)" — which is also the general theme of this post.
Due to me being under the weather, some posts that should be up are getting delayed even further. Here to start the month off with some fun is the lucky 17th edition of the word-verification definitions that I leave when commenting on other blogs, starting with a seasonal one that's been gathering virtual dust until the holidays came back around. You can find an explanation of what's going on here and a collection of all the definitions to date on the phenomenon's dedicated page, "Meaning Full".
• adynog — [ad ee nahg] n. (Spanglish) Having promotional material in one hand, a traditional Yuletide drink in the other.
• britend — [brit end] n. 1. A bum (not a panhandler; a tush, a fanny, the buttocks region) in Merry Olde England. 2. Farthest point of the United Kingdom's territorial waters in the English Channel or Atlantic Ocean.
• colifou — [koh ly foo] n. French bacteria strain that takes your sanity.
• copone — 1. [kop wun] v. Get handsy. 2. [koh pohn] v. Make cornbread in tandem.
• Exhiali — [eks hee ah lee] Alien race of heavy breathers.
• Flumenta™ — [floo men tuh] The first FDA-approved treatment for psychic influenza.
• grizato — [grih zah toh] n. Italian ice cream made from brown bears. [No animals were actually harmed in the creation of this definition.]
Well, America got it right in voting Pentatonix winners of this year's edition of NBC's The Sing-Off. I was a bit bummed that just about everybody turned in sub-standard performances on Monday night's live finale, when presumably viewership would get a bump from Dancing with the Stars' absence; maybe it was the lack of pressure, since voting was already closed, but more likely the crazy rehearsal schedule and holiday weekend are to blame. Friends who finally tuned in after hearing me rhapsodize about Pentatonix, Afro-Blue, and Urban Method have my apologies.
Photo © 2011 NBCUniversal Media LLC.
I complained in a post last month about the judges' inexplicable preference for certain groups over others — on the whole, traditional large university-based ensembles beating out more inventive, idiosyncratic but clearly cooler combos. Not that a cappella is all about being "cool", nor that I have an inherent dislike of the collegiate model; quite the opposite, in fact.
Since my review of the new Muppets film isn't done, I offer some snippets of songs from the movie.
The scene in which Camilla the Chicken and friends sing — well, bwawk — the hit single known politely as "Forget You" is a showstopper. I lie not; in the theater, the audience was laughing raucously the entire length of the number. While the clip on DisneyMusic's YouTube channel incorporates other footage (and inserted audio) from the film, in the movie itself the scene is center-stage, uncut, and much the funnier for it.
I saw The Muppets last night. You could find a worse way to spend a couple of
hours — many, many worse ways, in fact, among them enjoying a hot-fudge sundae after a Swedish massage; I almost unreservedly loved it. A review's on the way, but for now I present one more movie-related video to add to the onslaught from Muppet Tuesday last week: a pre-film policy trailer for AMC Theaters that advertised the gang's return to the big screen.
More Muppets after we break for some timely comics-related stuff — the first of which is actually related to Timely Comics...
I'll be spiffing up the blog in the coming months — re-sizing graphics that are too big since the recent template change and making other long overdue corrections to older posts to the extent possible. One noticeable change will be the addition of links in relevant posts to items mentioned therein sold on Amazon, just as you'll find in some newer posts. Why?
Cue the boilerplate: Blam's Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon websites. [Adventures in Comicology, the site I've established to archive my writing on comics, will be too.]
Jason Segel was joined by the Muppets in his monologue this weekend on Saturday Night Live. The real highlight, though, was Kermit the Frog showing up during Weekend Update to join anchor Seth Meyers in one of my favorite recurring segments in all of SNL. Ladies and gentlemen: Really!?! with Seth & Kermit. Yaaayyy!!!
Screencap © 2011 NBCUniversal Media LLC.
I must say that Kermit oversold it at times, but at least they let the follow-up to the "sausage casings" line go with relative subtlety.
The seemingly paradoxical nature of the Zen koan that was adapted for this post's title is reflected in its subject: Friday night's series finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Image © 2011 DC Comics.
I expect that fans who loved the series loved the episode, titled "Mitefall" — a reference to Bat-Mite, the magical imp who appeared regularly in the often-goofy Batman comics of the early 1960s, and to Knightfall, the grim-'n'-gritty Batman storyline of the early 1990s. It references many of the show's most popular traits and co-stars B:TBATB's breakout version of Aquaman, a pompous cross between the classic incarnation of DC's sea king, his Marvel counterpart Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Despite the almost reverently expectant note on which my last post ended, I carry a small amount of dread that The Muppets will be unfulfilling or, worse, offensive in some way to its heritage — and moreover I understand that no matter how satisfying it may be on the whole it can't help but lack an essential ingredient.
Promotional photo for The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson © 1990 Muppets Studio LLC.
I'm speaking, of course, about Jim Henson, who invented the Muppets, performed Kermit the Frog (among many others — including Rowlf the Dog, as much his alter ego as the little green dude), and guided a sublimely creative, colorful enterprise for decades.
Next Wednesday The Muppets will be released by Walt Disney Pictures. Since the countdown to the film was the impetus for these Muppet Mostly-Mondays, I figured that now would be a good time to share the numerous posters and links to the various trailers that have been produced to date.
The Muppets' first trailer debuted May 20th online and in theaters with Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
I'm very sorry that this post is going up late. And I realize that there was no Muppet Monday installment at all last week, although I'll try to make it right by doubling up one week soon.
What can I say? Accidents happen. Things fall apart.
If you don't believe me, ask the cast of that hit musical Spider-Monster...
Screencap © 2011 Sesame Workshop.
I hadn't submitted any entries to the online Late Show with David Letterman Top Ten Contest in several months until doing so this week — and coming up with a winner.
As usual, I threw in a couple of options that weren't stellar along with my personal favorite(s), because you never know what will ring the bell of whomever makes the selections.
Here are my...
Top Five Surprises in the Steve Jobs Biography
5. He slipped Bill Gates' barber a fifty every month for 30 years.
4. But for the flip of a coin, he'd have been wearing black pants and a denim turtleneck every day.
3. His kids had to show him how to program the VCR.
2. Ironically, he got the idea for the Apple when a book about Isaac Newton hit him on the head. (Think about it, people!)
And the Number One Surprise in the Steve Jobs Biography...
What if Scooby-Doo was genuinely spooky... and every member of the Mystery Machine gang had paws... and, supernatural stuff aside, the setting was surprisingly realistic... and the end result was totally awesome?
You'd have Beasts of Burden, a delightful breed of horror stories featuring ghosts who walk, creatures that stalk, and most particularly dogs who talk (to one another), created by comics virtuosi Evan Dorkin of "indie" fave Dork! and Scary Godmother author Jill Thompson. I've blogged about both before, Dorkin briefly in April and Thompson back in May 2009 when I first praised her bewitching work on Magic Trixie; I'll blog about 'em again, too.
The initial BOB story was published in 2003's The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings. "Stray" introduced us to the troop — or didn't, actually, jumping right in and making us figure out the dogs' names from dialogue as we went along, but that's the closest thing I might have to a complaint about it. We meet them as they attempt to summon a so-called Wise Dog to help them figure out the strange sounds, smells, and sensations surrounding beagle Jack's new doghouse.
"My grandpa told me when I was a pup... 'Howl at midnight, three strong,'" Whitey, an excitable terrier, assures his pals after the invocation seems to fall flat. "Then again, they did put Grandpa down the next day."
I've had to restrain myself mightily from blogging on NBC's The Sing-Off each week. As I proved last year, I'm capable of going on at ridiculous length about the show, given my love for a cappella music and creative arrangements of pop songs in general. Until now I've been successful at holding back, but my resolve finally broke last night after the latest in a string of confounding eliminations.
The Sing-Off upped its roster this year to a stunning sixteen groups, starting with two brackets of eight groups each. My early favorites in the first bracket were Afro-Blue, Delilah, and Urban Method, although Delilah soon proved uneven; second-bracket standouts were The Collective, Pentatonix, Sonos, and North Shore. It's curious to me that of these groups all but North Shore, a traditional male doo-wop quintet, and Delilah, an all-women's outfit based on the collegiate a cappella model, are smaller and more experimental.
I didn't get around to publishing this post during the regular season, and the Phillies' early exit from the playoffs left me too bitter to come anywhere near the subject of our national pastime. Since yesterday's unnecessary behemoth of a disquisition tied a belated bow on 2011 baseball for me, however, it's now or next year to discuss my favorite jersey accents.
We're not talking about Tom Kean, Danny DeVito, or Joe Pesci here.
The World Series began last night, with the St. Louis Cardinals taking Game 1 from the Texas Rangers. I didn't watch.
I'm still bummed about my Phillies falling to the Cardinals in the NLDS playoffs, which is a large part of the reason why. As I wrote in the last week of the regular season, 2011 was a banner year for the Phils — which makes it all the more confounding (if not ironic) that they didn't win a pennant. Charlie Manuel's team won a franchise record 102 games, by far the best mark in the major leagues, yet as more than one wag put it the team's ballyhooed four aces were beat in the first round of the playoffs by a wild card; none of the wags, as far as I know, referred to the Phils as royally flushed.
There are those — fans, journalists, and ballplayers, not necessarily in that order — who believe that even (perhaps especially) a stellar regular season is for naught if you don't make it to the World Series.
Just a quick (and late) link this week: OK Go's rendition of The Muppet Show's theme song, featuring the Muppets themselves.
Screencap © 2011 Walt Disney Records.
It premiered on Vevo, where you'll also find a behind-the-scenes short. The band's other intricate efforts are referenced throughout. Don't forget to close the annoying ad at the bottom if you get one and expand the video player to fullscreen...
The song is now available on Amazon as a single MP3 download or as part of The Green Album in CD or MP3 form. If you purchase the song or anything else after clicking through the links in this paragraph, Blam's Blog receives a small percentage of the sale. OK? Go!
Bob Mahoney photo of The Walking Dead cast © 2011 TWD Productions LLC.
The Walking Dead begins its 13-episode second season tonight at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
Its character work — the hallmark of AMC's original series, thanks to brilliant contributions on both sides of the camera — makes Dead recommended viewing for anyone who can stomach the viscera and suspense-laden filmmaking that are endemic to a show set during a zombie apocalypse. You don't have to be a horror enthusiast to enjoy it, however, any more than you have to know or care about the advertising world or crystal meth to get hooked on the stellar storytelling in Mad Men or Breaking Bad. Sure, The Walking Dead is about survival in a world where a global outbreak has left living, breathing humans the minority amidst hordes of shambling corpses whose only instinct is to feast on fresh flesh and transfer their disease, but the emphasis is on the stark reality of our protagonists' existence.
For those who missed the 6-episode first season that debuted last Halloween, or just want to watch it again, AMC is airing it in order today starting at 2:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. CT). The 90-minute second-season premiere follows, repeating at 10:30, after which comes a live special discussing the show called Talking Dead. Extras including behind-the-scenes videos and six brief "webisodes" are available the above-linked site.
I'm not feeling particularly grumpy, nor am I going to wax philosophical about age here like I did in my last birthday post. Really the title is just to keep up the usual conceit of my word-verification definition offerings. For those not familiar with the phenomenon, I've explained it on the dedicated page that collects accumulated entries to date.
• antick — [an tik] n. 1. Ye olde foolish behaviour. 2. Half ant, half tick.
• bledlump — [bled lump] n. A smidge of clotted exsanguination.
• botica — [bah tih kuh] n. The study of 'droids and other 'tomatons.
• Clola™ — [cloh luh] Clam-flavored cola. [Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.] [Uh... But don't try it.]
• derbsaly — [durb suh lee] adv. About or referring to a horse race (or a sporting contest in general). "Derbsaly speaking, Kentucky is my favorite."
If your life was lacking Glee tonight due to those gosh-darned baseball playoffs, maybe some day-after-Monday Muppetude will get you grinning again. Sesame Street has given us some great goofs on popular songs and TV series, from a Billy Idol lookalike Muppet singing "Rebel L" to the detectives of ABCD Blue. Now give it up for... G.
I got a grin out of Rachel's lines in the crowd noise that opens the skit, the bearded piano player who pops up out of nowhere, and more, but the grandest giggle goes to the amazing likeness of "Mr. Goo".
Grover and I share a birthday, according to the awesome book 'Sesame Street' Unpaved — Oct. 14th.
A prototype of Grover called Gleep appeared as early as 1967 on an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show. I get that info from the Muppet Wiki link at the beginning of this post, which is not to be confused with The Monster at the End of This Book (on which more shortly). Nearly all proper nouns seen in blue hypertext during Muppet Mondays, if not otherwise specified, head over to that expansive and entertainingly informative website despite it not being an authorized outlet.
I've been tickled by having a birthday in common with Grover since I found out about it. He is so earnest and so lovable and so game for anything — running Near and Far to exhaustion, for example, as seen right now on his home page at the official Sesame Street website — that he edged out Kermit as my favorite Muppet; his occasional adventures as Super Grover didn't hurt, of course. [Just in case "Near and Far" has cycled off by the time you visit the page, I'll throw in a YouTube link.]
The last time Saturday Night Live ran a Fox & Friends sketch I transcribed the litany of "corrections" that scrolled across the screen and ended up with what was for about a day a very popular post. We've become used to being able to find almost anything we want on the Internet, quickly, so to do my part I've just repeated last April's effort.
Seth walks into his friend Harry's office as Harry is ending a telephone conversation.
"I'll see you when you get back from Tanzania, Reb Jacob," he overhears Harry say.
"Tanzania?" Seth asks.
"Yes," Harry says. "I just spoke to Jacob Lieberman. He flew in from Toronto yesterday and now he's off to Dar es Salaam. After Tanzania it's Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique before he comes home."
"Jacob Lieberman," Seth muses. "He did the circumcision at my son's bris."
"Indeed he did," Harry replies.
"And last time I was here you were talking to the fellow who performed your son's bris — asking for references, if I recall."
"Right again," Harry says. "I caught him in between trips to Europe. He's quite a traveler."
"What the heck is this all about?" Seth asks.
Here's a 15-minute segment featuring Jim Henson that aired on Iowa Public Television in 1969.
I thought about running it last week but decided to start my Muppet Mondays with more of a bang; while it'll surely suck in any Henson admirer, it's longer and slower-paced than your usual Internet video. Henson is so mellow that he makes Mister Rogers look like Gilbert Gottfried.
I haven't finished converting the cover dates on my master list of comics milestones to on-sale dates, so the 25th anniversary of the release of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen #1 is being observed now. The issue actually came out in June 1986, three months before its cover and indicia date. You can read more about this practice at the above link, and expect more commemorative posts once I finally get The Comicologist online, but I didn't want to let this occasion pass without comment.
The mid '80s were something of a renaissance era for the American comic-book industry, as the direct market (another of my frequently referenced posts) led to a rise in alternative / independent publishers, creator-owned projects, and more sophisticated storytelling.
The Phillies P is a trademark of The Philadelphia Phillies.
Last night The Phillies didn't just reverse the frustrating if statistically inconsequential losing streak that they'd finally snapped the night before. They won their 101st game of the season, tying a franchise record. And in doing so they handed Charlie Manuel his 645th win as Phillies manager, tying the mark of Gene Mauch. Tonight both records can be broken during the final game of the regular season as the Phillies look to sweep the Atlanta Braves, up their winning percentage of .627 (the best in MLB) a skitch, and play a potentially deciding role in whether the Braves themselves make the National League playoffs. Win or lose — and of course win is the preference — the Phillies begin their postseason battles on Saturday, Oct. 1st.
I find this post's title most apt given the options, but Fringe's Season Four premiere didn't actually bring us back to the point at which the rewritten timeline we're viewing diverged from the familiar one decades ago. Rather...
... picked up shortly after the Season Three finale, with Peter erased from reality due to actions he undertook to save his native and adopted universes. Over Here and Over There both still exist; in fact, they coexist in the room that houses the First People's machine — where members of each side's Fringe Division meet to compare notes, as we see Olivia and her counterpart Fauxlivia do grudgingly.
Yeah, I've decided to write up some thoughts on the episode, despite the near certainty that I won't be doing so weekly. Partly it's an imperfect salve for the fact that I never got to finish out the brief run that I began at the end of last season — not that there aren't plenty of other unpublished or just plain unwritten posts in Blam's Blog history whose absence irritates me — and partly it's because if/when I do get to resume Fringe reviews I'll likely appreciate having this as a foundation. In case you're new to these posts, I should explain that having named my Lost episode analyses after Beatles tunes I decided to name my "Fringe Thinking" installments after John Lennon songs (Beatles or solo); unfortunately, some titles perfect for this post were either already used for "Lost in Thought".
Here's some of what made me think:
This past Saturday would have been Jim Henson's 75th birthday.
Since I really and truly plan to take a break from the blog come October, with the exception of publishing or re-publishing some backlogged material as time allows, I thought that I'd set up a series of short weekly posts counting down to the much-anticipated opening of the new Muppet movie as a way of ensuring at least a bit of fresh content. It's just a coincidence that so many of my stockpiled links are perfect for such an endeavor.
Our first installment is a clip from a pitch that Henson & Co. made trying to sell a little something called The Muppet Show to CBS. Like many of my links it comes courtesy of Mark Evanier, who places it in some context.
Here's one from the vault that's a little bit about Glee, more about Taylor Momsen, and in a broader sense about American culture in general. I wrote the majority of what follows a year ago, at a time when publishing to the blog was about as frustrating as it's ever been; the piece languished on my hard drive until the perfect storm (well, the sufficient one, anyway) of yesterday's post, the title of a post from earlier this month, and periodic noodging from my friend LK prompted me to dredge it up. Some of the particulars are dated, but whatever points it makes — and my internal jury is out on their significance, believe me — should still be valid.
Photo © 2010 Getty Images / Dave Hogan
LK is mildly fascinated by Momsen. She brings her up all the more often when we talk because she knows the topic makes me squirm — often enough that we have our own nickname for Momsen, which in a strange way helped me feel less pervy discussing her because it abstracted Momsen's image from her as a person (a dubious merit, I know).
Momsen was just 17 when I began this post, a fact reflected in the nickname itself. "She looks like a blond, underage Elvira," I said to LK one fine day.
"Yeah," LK responded, "Albino Elvira."
"Jailbait albino Elvira," I clarified.
"Jalbira!" we said at the same time, in one of the most questionable eureka moments known to humanity.
I never thought I'd be linking to Perez Hilton, but in honor of tonight's season premiere of Glee (at 8 p.m. ET on Fox) I can't help pointing you to a most excellent video clip featuring my favorite character on the show.
Heather Morris does the voodoo that she does so well — and which I've praised before — in "A Day in the Life of Brittany S. Pierce".
I've been a fan of Michael T. Gilbert, good egg and gifted cartoonist, since coming across his work a quarter-century ago. My own personal Silver Age of comics was aborning as the era of the "independents" caught steam in the mid 1980s, and features that pushed the boundaries of the kinds of superheroes that had mainly interested me — Gilbert's Mr. Monster, Paul Chadwick's Concrete, Scott McCloud's Zot! — in turn pushed me to explore and accept new publishers, genres, creators, and styles. Gilbert's humor, versatility, and clear love of comics led me to seek out his stuff wherever it popped up; not only that, his obvious jones for collaboration introduced me to other creators when it wasn't just reinforcing the great taste that I had when it came to reading comics done by someone with such obvious great taste himself (Alan Moore, William Messner-Loebs, Ken Bruzenak).
Likewise, I've admired Ken Quattro's blog The Comics Detective since it debuted early last year, as I did his Comicartville website — referenced here many moons ago during my review of It Rhymes with Lust — before it. Among the unpublished posts of mine are more than one linking over to that blog, where Ken has unearthed plenty of material absolutely fascinating to followers of comics history like me.
So I eagerly invite you to experience "The Green Rock of Terror". It's an unpublished story (and backstory) that Mike has generously passed on to Ken for presentation as a historical document of interest to the traditional comics in-group and Gilbert aficionados especially. While a mere trifle compared to much of Mr. Monster and MTG's nifty contribution to Legends of the Dark Knight, the 7-page tale is sure to make you wish that the anthology for which it was commissioned had come to pass.
My family is full of special kids — funny, smart, good-looking. I'd expect nothing less from the Saner gene pool, really, but a small part of me figured that statistically there'd have to be one dud in the bunch, if only by comparison to the rest. So far, though, from the youngest up through the eldest, born my senior year in college and now a sophomore herself, the next generation is pretty universally awesome.
Ravi, however, is a little more special than the rest. That's due in part to his special needs as an autistic child, yes, but also because — to take the aphorism from Job out of context and turn it on its head — while the Lord taketh away, the Lord also giveth.
A year ago at a family dinner, I had a chat with Ravi to figure out a good book to get him for his impending 6th birthday, asking if he preferred history or fantasy (or liked both).
Ravi: "I prefer history and non-fiction to fiction."
Me: "Do you have a favorite period of history?"
Ravi: "About 4.6 billion years ago is the limit of my interest in history."
Ravi: "That's approximately when Earth and the solar system were created."
Of course I remember September 11th, 2001. Nobody who was of age to remember it will ever forget. They might want to forget, at times, but they can't and won't.
I was supposed to move that morning, but the truck broke down. We got a call quite early — at my mother's house, where I'd been staying after my wife and I split up — that the hauling of stuff would have to wait a day; sure, I could have gone over to the new apartment and spent the night there anyway, but what soon unfolded called for family. I sat and watched Peter Jennings cover the unfathomable news just as I had 25 years earlier, home from school with the flu on the day the Challenger was lost.
And that's all you'll hear me say directly about the grim events whose 10th anniversary we mark today because, really, there are no words.
What to do, then? How to do… something?
Why the face, Blogger?!?
You'd be reading a couple of new posts right now, and I would not have lost more precious hours of my life this evening, had the evil imps who live inside my hosting service not decided that this was a good time to throw yet another last-minute, screw-everything-up-right-before-publication spanner into the works.
The link above goes to a very short video clip, safe for work and kids. If you've seen it before, you know what it is. And if you're in the mood for stronger language, there's an entry from this time last year that might be up your alley.
Justice League #1 cover © 2011 and elements TM/® DC Comics.
Pencils: Jim Lee. Inks: Scott Williams. Colors: Alex Sinclair. Logo: Unknown.
Justice League #1 came out last Wednesday.
It's the opening salvo in DC Comics' relaunch of its main superhero line, hyped as "The New 52!" You may have heard tell — if only from reading this blog, although there's been coverage in mass media from Entertainment Weekly to USA Today (one hopes, just to continue the trend, even World News Now) — that DC has taken the radical step of more-or-less clearing the decks of the primary so-called DC Universe, rewriting and compressing its history in hopes of making it more accessible while restarting all of its series at #1. Over the next four weeks, 52 extant, revived, and/or flat-out new monthly titles will release their first issues, with further limited-run and ongoing series on the way.
The move is something of a Hail Mary pass on DC's part in reaction to consumers' transition away from what have long been the twin pillars of the American comic-book industry.
Oct. 8th, 2010, edition of The Joy of Tech © 2010 Geek Culture.
I figured some levity was in order after the ordeal that I've had with my computer, and therefore with the blog, lately. The above is from the Joy of Tech strip that runs at the website Geek Culture. (I've long since learned that being a tech geek is no guarantee of a clean, well-organized, easily navigable website that won't assault you with ads, animation, and a host of clashing typefaces 'n' stuff, but I'm still surprised when tech-geek artists' websites turn up that way.)
While the cartoon is almost a year old, it's sort-of timely for a couple of random reasons.
Logos TM/® DC Comics.
Here's an index to the DC reboot I put together. All 52 titles are listed alpha-
betically with credits. So far each blue title just links to the one of the seven posts
I've published — six on the 37 series in my main DC Universe line, plus one covering the 15 "Multiverse" projects — in which the series at hand is synopsized, although since I recently learned how to do jump-links to specific points within a post I might just be crazy enough to tackle that level of linkage for the index at some point.
Writers: Bill Willingham, Jane Espenson, et al. /
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Amy Reeder Hadley, et al.
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Writers: Kurt Busiek, et al. / Artists: Carlos Pacheco, et al.
Cover Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Writers / Artists: various
Writer: Greg Rucka / Artist: Steve Epting
Cover Artist: Steve Epting
Writer: Mark Waid / Artist: Chad Hardin
Cover Artist: Geof Darrow
[continued from yesterday]
The Secret Six
Writer: Marc Andreyko / Artist: Stefano Gaudiano
Even among those beings of power and valor who've dedicated themselves to patrolling the vast skies and dank alleyways, few are aware of all that imperils humanity, peace, and the very existence of life as we know it. Yet through the ages demons and dark magic have ever lurked, and ever have six champions wielding sorcerous arts and artifacts been chosen by the mysterious Seventh to defend the world. The Secret Six follows the fractious endeavors of the latest such assembly, whose current membership consists of investigator Richard Occult; modern-day
ronin Tatsu Yamashiro, alias Katana; the shaman known only as Doctor Mist; the enchantress named June Moon; the medicine woman called Manitou Dawn; and powerful but irreverent wizard John Constantine. Writer Marc Andreyko [DC's Manhunter, Image's Torso] and interior artist Stefano Gaudiano [DC's Gotham Central, Marvel's Daredevil], bring grim humor and grit to this crossroads of the literal and metaphorical underworld, with covers from The Unknown's Erik Jones.
[continued from yesterday]
Writers: Bill Willingham, Jane Espenson, et al. /
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Amy Reeder Hadley, et al.
Metropolis has been ground zero for rapidly developing technology and metahuman activity since Superman's arrival. Action Comics is an anthology set in America's First City that explores the Man of Tomorrow's friends and foes, from Lois Lane to Lex Luthor, in a variety of features — fronted by a look inside the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit written by Bill Willingham [Fables, Shadowpact] and drawn by Jésus Saiz [Manhunter, Checkmate]. Among the first round of rotating backups is a Daily Planet dramedy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Jane Espenson and Madame Xanadu's Amy Reeder Hadley; Kane creator Paul Grist waits on deck with a story about Mr. Action himself, Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen, while Dan Panosian handles the covers.
[continued from yesterday]
Writer: Landry Q. Walker / Artist: Zander Cannon
While numerous extraterrestrials have appeared on Earth following Superman's revelation to the world, none have concerned Kal-El more, in both senses of the word, than a girl named Kara. She claims to be the sole survivor of a Kryptonian lunar colony known as Argon, wiped out in the wake of Krypton's destruction, but there's no mention of Argon in what little information Superman has of his birthplace and the memory tapes in her spacecraft are Kara's only evidence. Americans, Amazons, and even Atlanteans — most especially her sometime boyfriend — have embraced her, but for all her charm questions about Supergirl remain. Landry Q. Walker provided a delightful spin on Kara Zor-El in Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade;
now he transfers to the brand-new DC Universe proper to teach some revised history. The Replacement God creator and Top Ten artist Zander Cannon handles
the interior art with covers illustrated by Age of Bronze's Eric Shanower.
I'm finally picking up the geeking out that is my DC reboot again with mere days to go until the real thing hits. As I wrote in a preface two months ago in greater detail, I've gone for broke on a friend's challenge to come up with 52 titles and attendant creative teams relaunching DC's main superhero line just as the company itself is doing; I couldn't help devising springboard premises for many of them as well. My first and second capsule-bible posts covered 10 of the 37 series taking place in the new core DC Universe, while my third covered 15 mostly independent Multiverse projects. Another 12 of the DC Universe series appear today and tomorrow with the final 15, all anthologies or team titles, to be published as soon as possible.
Writer: Jeff Parker / Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
The Starman name first belonged to a second-string superhero and was then bequeathed upon a litany of lesser lights until a legacy was built around the label over a dozen years ago. Now the newest DC Universe is seen through the eyes of its newest champion as another Starman is born at the hands of writer Jeff Parker [Marvel's Hulk and X-Men: First Class], who reinvented characters from a bygone era for DC's distinguished competition in Agents of Atlas. Rafael Albuquerque [Blue Beetle, American Vampire] applies his fluid yet crisp linework as interior and cover artist.
25 years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics is doing what many fans and creators felt it should have done back then: making a clean break with the continuity it's rewriting, streamlining, and/or leaving behind entirely by starting every pertinent series over with #1.
This isn't the post where I talk about that rapidly approaching "New 52" initiative from reading and retailing perspectives, however. Nor is it the post where I go all retcon scholar by tracing the history of DC's reboots, reimaginings, and reintegrations from the establishment of the Multiverse, through the 50th-anniversary event that could not long ago be shorthanded simply as Crisis and which had its own 25th birthday last year, on to Zero Hour and the dithering recent run of Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown, Final Crisis, and, yes, this thing that's come after Final Crisis. Rather it's another stopgap post where I tell you that that stuff is on its way, fingers crossed, as quickly as possible, but, alas, not necessarily — oh, the irony — in time.
So I ask my fellow fanboys and fangirls who recall the prolonged dwelling on Crisis in the pages of All-Star Squadron to indulge me as they did Roy Thomas, who had Mekanique somehow stave off the merging of the known multiverse in Squadron's early-'40s setting for a spell despite the fact that the event basically occurred outside time and affected all of reality at once. (We'll leave aside the fact that All-Star Squadron was canceled soon after Crisis, if only in favor of the replacement series Young All-Stars.) I think that The Spectre did something similar in the Last Days of The Justice Society one-shot, by the way, so you can think of me either as a shiny gold robot woman from the future or as a giant bone-white guy in a green Speedo, gloves, and hooded cloak who metes out divine vengeance; the salient point is that I need to will a protective bubble around Blam's Blog — or just metaphorically stick my fingers in my ears and sing la-la-la — for the coming round of reviews to remain relevant as Flashpoint concludes and the latest New DC Universe debuts.
My laptop should be going in for yet another round of repair to try to fix that Wi-Fi problem this week, meaning that — while I have everything backed up in multiple formats, including all my documents on redundant USB flash drives for ease of continued writing — if I can't get a loaner there will probably be another hiatus in publishing here.
Priority in the immediate future goes to the rest of my own imagined DC Universe relaunch, now that as much has been reconstituted or rewritten from faulty backups as possible. After that it's a race to complete my reviews of issues from the past year of Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as to at least begin my sprawling look at the Batman titles from the point of Batman Reborn through the still ongoing Batman Incorporated. Then with luck comes my take on this whole "New 52" deal, along with thoughts on reboots both within the DC Comics line and elsewhere in media, followed, or in a less fortunate scenario merely supplanted, by another post on what's in the ever-changing, ever-taunting, ever-clogged queue...