Sunday, February 27, 2005

The O.C.'s okay by me!

I've been watching the O.C. since it began. It's not my favorite TV show, that used to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now I don't have one. I've always been a teen soap fan, even dug 90210 for the first few years (except Donna she bugged the hell out of me) and then Dawson's Creek (I still have a thing for Joey.) I think the O.C. falls somewhere in the middle. It doesn't have the clicks and friendships 90120 had, and lacks some of the overwrought dialog Dawson packed in. What O.C. does have is a weird indie hipness factor that I find cool (I think others may find it irritating or even offensive). Like the episode I saw last night, #13: The Test, referenced Hellboy and Marissa's caught reading Please Kill Me, the fantastic oral history to Punk Rock. Other episodes center around comics and feature bands like the Killers. The show itself could be a little more daring, the relationship with Ryan and Lindsey bores me to death, and Seth and Summer are way too back and forth. However, the Marissa and Alex lez thing is just hot and I'm hoping it gets hotter. Is it realistic? Nope. Does the show pander to the lowest common denominator? Usually. But, it keeps me watching and smiling.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Just Fantastical! (Not)

.... Keanu Reeves, who plays Constantine, says that "staying true to the essence of characters" ... Comic-book movies "have fantastical characters, but you're still telling stories you want people to relate to. If you get that right, you'll be OK."

The problem with the above quote is just how inaccurate of a statement it is when talking about the movie Constantine, which I had the unfortunate experience seeing a couple of days ago.
Let's breakdown his quote as a way of reviewing just how bad this movie is.
"Staying true to the essence of the characters"
This is soooo far from the truth, just because Keanu may be smoking and wearing a tired suit and tie, he didn't come close to capturing the Constantine from the Hellblazer comics. The John Constantine I know (owning over 100 issues) is an asshole through and through. He sells out his freinds, scams everybody and drinks as much as he smokes. He talks in more than one line, clipped sentences and would sleep with any woman offering it up. The movie's Constantine is a stilted mess of contradictions, stumbing around in the pouring Los Angeles rain.

"...stories you want people relate too"
Hmmm..that's a crazy statement for any comic book based movie to make. Yeah, that part when he goes "I need a three foot mirror" and pulls a demon into it, then throws it out the window. You know something like that happened to me just last week! Actually, the opposite is true of Constantine -- there is nothing anybody can relate to or would want to.

"If you get that right, you'll be OK"
Well, let's just say Hollywood blew it. To be honest, as a fan of the comic I never actually understood why they would want to bring Hellblazer to the big screen. And, in my own strange way I feel sorry for Keanu because he wants so hard to be taken seriously. To be thought of as a convincing actor capable of more than "Whoa." But, when it comes down to it, he's just not capable of more, it's not in his make-up.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Comic Review: Mystic

I picked up the first two graphic novel collections of Mystic a couple weeks ago, really cheap. I don't buy comics much anymore, but once in a while I still like to get my comic fill. CrossGen is a fairly successful independent comic publisher that doesn't have many superhero comics which I appreciate. Mystic is more of a fantasy with magic playing a major role. "Rite of Passage," the first collection tells the origin of Mystic, as a party going girl, Giselle Villard absorbs powerful spirits giving her amazing magical powers. The conflict is the powers should have went to her sister, Genevieve, and were also taken from the Guild Masters that rule Ciress, Giselle's world. Giselle tries to master her powers while the Guild schemes a way to get them back, with Genevieve caught in the middle. "Rite of Passage" also includes many articles on the writing and artwork behind Mystic which are interesting. While, the storyline is good and the artwork is terrific, Mystic suffers from just playing by the book. Nothing outrageous happens and the story predictable. This doesn't take away from the goregeous look of the comic or Giselle, who is potrayed as very attractive (what comic heroine isn't?).
The second graphic novel, "The Demon Queen" picks up the storyline with the Guild again going after Giselle with a demon queen they've summoned. While the story is a little quicker paced than "Rite of Passage," it's not quite as interesting. My real complaint about Mystic, and what really kept me from thoroughly enjoying it, was her talking pet, Skitter. Of all the cliche comic elements to drag into a comic, why the talking pet that meddles into everything? Well, there's always the artwork to enjoy...
One last note on the subject, these graphic novels were individually priced at $19.95 each, which is typical for GN's. In my mind this is just way too much money to ask. I paid $1 for each, a steal in my book (I should be able to get $5 a piece on eBay).

Friday, February 18, 2005

Book Review: Gorgon's Child -- Steven Barnes

To honor Black History Month I recently read Steven Barnes' Gorgon Child. I could probably count the number of African American Sci-Fi authors I know on one hand. Steven Barnes is one of them (Simon Delaney is another). Gorgon Child is one of those novels that sound better explaining than actually reading. Aubrey Knight, former Nullboxer (never explained what that is) now a heavy weight hero in the not too distant future helps a near super band of (gay) mercenaries escape a fanatical leader that has his eyes on being president. Then Aubrey finds himself a target, so he escapes with his sexy dancin' girlfriend, Promise, to her lesbian ruled commune, Ephesus. The plot gets murky as Aubrey learns about fetuses being sold to create a powerful army and a renegade group trying to destroy the above mentioned fanatical leader. Dragging on throughout the book is Aubrey's personal demons constantly doubting his love for Promise and whether he cares about living at all. At times I had trouble sorting through who was doing what and what side they were on. And, in the middle of bloody fighting and balls-out battling, there are these awkward tender moments with Aubrey and Promise. I guess I'm not recommending Gorgon Child, but I'm not sure I'll cross Steven Barnes off my reading list. If his story-telling matched his story he'd really have something.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

An Athlete I Like!

After 3 so-so episodes, I decided to stop watching Pointe Pleasant tonight, there's just not much in it for me. It's disappointing because the executive producer, Marti Noxon, wrote many Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel episodes. The problem with PP is the cool kids are the main characters and plays too much like a bad teen soap (hell, I already watch O.C. I don't need another!). The great thing about Buffy was that they were cool geeks and had a sense of humor. All PP has is a pretty blond with fantastic eyes. Maybe, I'll keep it on with the volume down!

I'm listening to Antony & the Johnsons right now and it's very good, but I'm going to save more on him for a later post. What I'm going to write about is a band I just discovered by the name of Athlete. Apparently, I'm not as up on bands as I like to think, because the CD I'm listening to "Vehicles and Animals" was released in 2003. Their new CD "Tourist" was just released on Jan. 31 st. "Vehicles and Animals" is one of those rare albums that I like immediately as I'm listening. A nice mix of indie pop, white boy R&B, quirky keyboards and electronics. The vocalist is very good and the songs have this great way of mixing subtlely bizarre moments with catachy pop hooks (a little bit Beck or Flaming Lips but not really) . Some of their choruses even remind me of ("gasp") boy bands. The song you have to check out by them is "Shake Those Windows" it's glorious!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The New, New Wave

Call me cheesy, call me geeky, but I always liked the term "New Wave" to describe alternative music with synthesizers playing a key role. In the early 80's we had Gary Numan, Devo, Duran Duran, Heaven 17, OMD, etc. While grunge put one the finishing nails in the coffin of New Wave, the past year or so have see a number of new bands bringing the well-dressed beast back to life. Better, stronger and in some cases faster than before. Interpol, the Killers, Stellastarr, Elefant, Communique, are just a few of the bands that are injecting a New Wave edge to their sound, or, in the Killers case, replicating it note for note. I can't say I enjoy any of these bands as much as their predecessors, but they at least make it cool for me to dust off my old Devo albums. Further developments coming....

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Book Review: Dreamcatcher

I haven't read a Stephen King novel in years, I picked this one up recently as a discounted hardback for $5.99. Dreamcatcher was on my bookshelf next to IT. The sheer immensity of IT puts me off, so Dreamcatcher got the call.
Stephen King's own story behind Dreamcatcher is probably about as interesting as the actual novel - King wrote Dreamcatcher, during his recovery after being run over by a van. He wrote the 600 page novel by manuscript (for those of you shackled to your computer, that means a pen!)and under quite a bit of pain. You can almost feel his pain through his characters' experiences. There are many scenes of excruciating pain and physical exhaustion. More surprising though is the time King spends on passing gas. You see, Dreamcatcher is a story about alien landings and abduction. A side effect of the alien being implanted into a human is passing gas with a stench that is overwhelming. I haven't seen the movie adaptation of Dreamcatcher, but I can't imagine it dwells on this like King does.
Dreamcatcher, like many of his novels, centers around four close friends and how important events from their past come back to impact their future. Roughly, the story is about their hunting trip gone haywire after they bring in a stranger that acts and smells very strange. As King tells about the lives of each of the four friends, they become easily likeable, well-constructed characters. The problem is, and this is a spoiler, a couple of them die, just as soon as you feel you know them. After the four friends mishap with their "strange" stranger, the book shifts to a covert military group that is investigating the area in hopes of eliminating the alien threat. King loses me a bit here. Introducing the leader of the mission Kurtz, a cranky and somewhat crazy dictator among his troops. They bring the second section of the book to a screeching halt with too much tactical military conversation. Luckily, King reels his focus back to his central characters and adds more depth to his story with Duddits, the mentally handicapped friend of the quartet. He plays a much bigger part in their lives than they would have ever counted on. Sure, many scenes with Duddits are very hokey but I'm willing to give King some leeway here if he can spin it into the story. And spin he does, with a thrilling chase that makes up the third and final part of the novel. While all of King's novels I've read havebeen quick and satisfying reads, I'd have to say Dreamcatcher is probably my least favorite.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

More Music! More Music!

I did buy the other Bright Eyes CD today -- "Digital Ash In A Digital Urn" I think I may like this one better. A little less country, a little more indie rock!
A couple of other songs that have caught my attention are:
Kaiser Chiefs - "I Predict A Riot" The chorus is great because if you didn't know that he was saying "I Predict A Riot" you'd have no freaking idea!
Elefant - "Misfit" Yeah it sounds a bit like Interpol light but it's still catchy as hell!

I'm watching the Brit Awards right now on CBC TV, this show is so much better than most awards shows it's not even funny! I've just seen The Streets perform and Shirley Manson (I'd almost forgotten about you!) present an award. For more check out the winner's list.

And one last drop on music -- there are lots of downloading and internet services out now, and while most are buying off iTunes, besides Emusic I like MusicMatch's "On Demand" service. For $9.95 a month or less you can listen to almost any artist you like and create your own playlist of internet songs and your own downloads. This gives me the best of both worlds! With pressure from Napster to get this to your MP3 Player, MusicMatch shouldn't be far behind. Also, MusicMatch was recently bought by Yahoo! Launch the combination of these services should be great.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Catch Up on 2005

I bought the new Bright Eyes CD "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" this is the folk one and so far as I'm listening to it, it's not bad. Now just so you know I didn't just jump on the Connor Oberest bandwagon, I've been into Bright Eyes for a few years now, I had songs from "A Collection of Songs". I'm not sure he's the genius some think he is, but compared to a lot of other young singers he's at least worth putting money on (and it was only $8.99!) It's funny though because I'm listening to him and my wife is watching American Idol. I'm sure Connor wouldn't even make it past the auditions on American Idol, yet he's a press darling and gets to sing on stage with REM. I don't buy into A.I., because I'd rather listen to an off key, not-so-good-loooking singer that writes his/her own songs with integrity. I think I'll buy "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" tomorrow.