Casting Internets

I was on the now somewhat infamous Venom call with Rick Remender and Steve Wacker which resulted in this feature for Marvel.com. Fun stuff. That book sounds pretty rad. Remender’s a solid writer who has some great instincts when it comes to playing with superhero conventions.

Hey, check it out, Ron Marz read my post about Silver Surfer and Tweeted about it. It’s kind of surreal to have him reading me. Marz reading Dietsch just sounds completely backwards.

Ben Morse calls super speed as his super power of choice. I think I’d go with long range teleportation because I hate traveling but like going places. Super speed would be a close second if I could shut it off.

My buddy Jim Gibbons offers up his thoughts on Wizard’s closing.

Thanks to Whitney Matheson for bringing Amazon Studios to my attention. Looks like I’ve got an interesting place to submit my screenplays to.

A new Planet of the Apes comic from Boom? Oh snap. (via Bloody Disgusting)

I’d like to welcome my pal John aka Cybergeek to the wonderful world of blogging!

Check out F1sh‘s custom Deadpool in the costume he wore when he thought he was an X-Men. Man, that dude knows how to paint doesn’t he? (via Toyark)

You think you like Superman? Jason George has got you beat. I especially like the spinner of watches.

Check out this rad post with scans comparing Marvel characters to football players and their positions. Fun stuff. (via Tom Spurgeon)

And finally, some sad news. John Barry, who composed the James Bond theme along with plenty of other memorable tracks has passed away. RIP Mr. Barry. (via /Film)

Music Musings: The Vines

I’ve been thinking way too much about how best to write about music on the blog here. Every week, I move the “Music Musings” block further and further into the week on my calendar checklist, usually to wind up deleting it. It’s strange because, unlike movies and comics which I absorb and then write about, I feel the need to write about music while I’m listening to it. There’s so much going on on every CD that I find it hard to focus on things to write about, plus I worry that I’m just saying that same stuff that’s been said by others. I also have a different relationship with music than I do those other formats of entertainment. To me, movies and comics are an experience that I live through, meaning, I absorb them and then move on to something else, but I live with music. It stays with me and it’s more readily absorbable to me. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’ve decided to play Russian Roulette with my iPod to figure out my weekly music subject. This week it’s Australian retro rockers The Vines who made a big splash in the early 00s only to completely fade away from my personal memory. I picked up their first two records Highly Evolved and Winning Days and apparently my iPod wanted me to listen to them today, so that’s how it went down.

Like a lot of other people, I first heard The Vines thanks to their first big single “Get Free” which was all over the place in the summer of 2002. That was such a strange time in music because it seemed like rockers might actually be taking over pop music. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone talk about The Strokes (a band I never personally got into). Plus, bands like Jet and The Hives were getting some much deserved notice thanks to the surge of garage-influenced rock. Of course, it wouldn’t last, but some really interesting music came out of it. I remember purchasing the black plastic-covered CD while visiting the missus-to-be in New Hampshire, but the record didn’t make quite the impact on me I thought it would have. I think a combination of negative thoughts about the follow-up Winning Days and reading about lead singer Craig Nicholls losing his mind thanks to touring put me off to the record. Plus, you know how it is, there’s always more music out there to listen to, so unless something really smacks me in the face and demands my attention and devotion, I’m probably going to move on to something else.

With that in mind, I was a little skeptical about listening to Highly Evolved again, but that was all for naught because this is a pretty good record. The Vines did a great job in the early days (I can’t speak to their more recent albums because I haven’t listened to them) of combining some of the more psychedelic sounds of the 60s and 70s with the raw energy of punk rock and funneling all those obvious influences into something that sounded both modern and complimentary to their influences. The album starts strong with the title track, shows off its mellow side with “Autumn Shade,” a track that I probably didn’t like in my younger, more straight-up rock oriented state of mind but dig now and then kicks it back into high gear with “Outtathaway!” For me, the high point of the record is “Factory” with it’s bounciness and walking bass line.

There’s a few missteps, though. “In The Jungle” has some great musical ideas and riffs in it, but they don’t feel connected enough to be an actual song. This one really feels like several other song segments that were kind of mashed together without much of a through line which is too bad, because I think they could have been broken down and turned into even better songs than the last three tracks which are kind of boring to me. I dig 60s and 70s rock, but not so much the droning stuff. Anything that’s too repetitive gets on my nerves. I wouldn’t say tracks like “1969” and “Mary Jane” get to the annoying place, but they verge on it. Overall I was kind of surprised with how much I liked this record.

Unfortunately, Winning Days doesn’t seem to hold up nearly as well, even thought it starts pretty damn strong with a great rock song like “Ride.” This isn’t a bad record by any means, it’s just not the kind that I’m super interested in listening to over and over again. Like with their previous effort, the musical talent of The Vines–who I should mention are Nicholls on vocals and guitar, Ryan Griffiths on guitar, Brad Heald on bass and Hamish Rosser on drums–is very clear on this record, I’m just not sure if the place their at with their music is one that’s super interesting to me. They seem more intent on exploring slower, more melodic compositions, which is great for them as artists, but I’ll be honest, I want to rock! Instead of the psychedelic tinged rock songs I want to listen to, I’m getting alright explorations. I think the problem might be that the songs might be new ground to the band, but they’re not for me as a listener, so I kind of gloss over them in my head.

But how awesome is that video? The record is kind of a bummer because it’s bookended with such great songs. “Ride” very simply kicks ass and the final track “F.T.W.” which stands for what you think it does, is so much fun. It’s too bad the middle of the record is filled with stuff that isn’t super interesting. I found it interesting that the track “TV Pro” shares some of the same problems to my ear that “In The Jungle” did on the previous record: too much crammed into a small space with no through line. Again, there’s elements in there that could have made for a few different great songs. Instead we get one that’s uneven and other tracks that don’t really do much for me.

Even as I write this, I feel apprehensive about posting because writing about music is such a different animal to me. I didn’t take nearly as many notes while listening to Winning Days as I did to Highly Evolved. Was I being lazy or were there just fewer noteworthy elements to talk about? Am I being fair? Does any of it matter because I’m writing about six year old records that don’t seem to come up in regular music discussion? Those kinds of thoughts don’t really plague me when I’m writing about movies, but I do like writing about music, so I guess I better get used to it.

Comics Comics Comics Comics: Silver Surfer #54 (1991)

SILVER SURFER #54 (Marvel)
Written by Ron Marz, drawn by Ron Lim
While moving all our stuff from one storage unit to the other this week, I organized a bunch of the unread comics I’ve got and pulled out over a dozen Silver Surfer issues, thinking they might compliment all the Green Lantern comics I’ve been reading lately. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Since the issues were pretty spread out, I didn’t get much of an idea of the overarching story and also didn’t always care about the specifics of the issues. I’m getting to the point where I recognize the set-up for a specific kind of story and then just flip through to see if I’m right, which I tend to be. Things got better with the Ron Marz written issues, and, surprisingly enough, my favorite of the bunch was actually an Infinity Gauntlet tie-in.

Let’s all be honest, tie-ins have a tendency to suck because they’re very often foisted upon creative teams and feel like blatant cash grabs (like most of the Blackest Night tie-in issues). It takes a very special writer to take something like that and seamlessly combine the event with their ongoing story and Marz pulls that off beautifully in this issue, hooking you right from the beginning with a fight readers probably never thought they’d see. Rhino vs. Silver Surfer? Okay, I’ll bite.

As it turns out, the issue itself is a bit of a bait and switch. They get you in the door with the implied promise of a knock down drag out battle between two pretty tough though not nearly evenly matched opponents and turns it into a story about animal safety. But in a cool way. If you’re not familiar with Infinity Gauntlet, and even my memory’s a little rusty on the subject, there’s a part where Thanos kills half the universe for his lady Death. We’re on Earth after that as the heroes plan their attack. Not wanting to stand around and do nothing, the Surfer starts wandering around what looks like Central Park and comes across a tiger wandering around. After a little investigating, he finds that Rhino has been freeing the animals at the zoo so that they could spend the short time the universe still had free. It’s a pretty cool beat that shows some actual character for the bruiser. I’m not familiar with him outside of the 90s Spidey cartoon and some video games, but I got a pretty good feel for him in this appearance.

As you might expect, Rhino’s temper gets the best of him and he starts the fight with Silver Surfer. Like a drunk musclehead trying to fight a zen martial arts master, Silver handles him with kid gloves and the two finally stop after something happens to one of the freed animals. Realizing it might be better for the animals to get put back in their cages–for their own safety–the two work together and then part on pretty good terms. I really appreciate what Marz did by zooming in really far on some interesting character moments while this big giant threat to the entire universe was going on. You even get the fight promised on the cover, but that’s not what the comic is actually ABOUT. Actually, I’m not really sure what it’s about. Is there a message here about thinking things through and not being a hot head like Rhino? Is it that some people need imprisonment to keep them safe? I don’t really know, but I like that the comic made me think. I’ve also got to give credit to Ron Lim who has a great knack for drawing powerful looking and dynamic figures. Sure, the backgrounds could have been more detailed (there’s a lot of white in this book), but I like the look of the book.

So, if you’re digging through quarter boxes at your next comic con or have this issue deep in your collection somewhere, I recommend getting it and having some fun. Of the pile, this is the only issue of Silver Surfer I’ll be keeping, though I would be interested in reading more of Marz’s run on the book. Maybe they’ll get around to doing trades of that stuff soon.

Casting Internets

Hey look, I wrote this thing about giant Hulk collectibles for Marvel.com! And this thing about Hercules’ different costumes!

I also wrote Crossovers We Want To See: JSA & Invaders for MTV Geek.

And also, if you’re looking to see what’s on in the next two days, check out my TV column at Maxim. After seeing a bunch of shitty photos of the toys and whatnot the other day, it’s good to see legit artwork from the new Thundercats on CBR. I’m jazzed about the series and hope it eventually includes Silverhawks in an episode!

The other day’s Drawbridge art blog topic is Doctor Who. Check it out!

Bully‘s post about death in Fantastic Four comics is hilarious. Highly recommended.

Esquire asks if Kevin Smith is Hollywood’s Sarah Palin. I wanted to answer “no way” after reading it, but Stephen Garrett laid down a pretty convincing argument. Heck, even I’m getting a bit sick of his rantings and ravings and I’m a fan.

This infographic of all the Autobots in both vehicle and robot mode is pretty impressive and super duper geeky. (via /Film)

I understand very little of what my buddies Kiel and Ben say about Smallville, but it makes me want to watch that show. At least from the part where they start bringing in other heroes. Holy cats, I want these Back To The Future II 25th anniversary MiniMates. I know these Bill Mudron Amy Pond and River Song prints have gone around, but they just look so neat! Heck, $20 a pop ain’t that price either.
(via Shirtoid)

Friday Fisticuffs: Circle Of Iron (1978)

I think the story of the movie Circle Of Iron is probably a much more interesting one that what you see on screen. Bruce Lee wrote the movie as an martial arts film that would explore the differences in Eastern and Western philosophy. Basically, the story’s about a guy named Cord trying to track down a master fighter in possession of a book filled with all knowledge. Along the way he gets help from and fights various characters, four of whom are played by the same person. The original plan was for Lee to play the roles with offers going out to Steve McQueen to play Cord (he denied) and eventually James Coburn who agreed to do it and helped write the screenpaly. They were going to film the movie in 1969, but there were some problems, the production fell apart and a few years later, in 1973, Lee passed away. Some other folks purchased the rights to the screenplay, rewrote it, got David Carradine involved to play the Bruce Lee parts and also hired Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowell and some dude named Jeff Cooper to play Cord.

Here’s the rub, though, Carradine’s no Bruce Lee and, well, aside from Carradine, it doesn’t look like anyone in this movie actually knows how to fight, including Cord. He’s got a few moves, but he’s no martial arts master by any stretch of the imagination. The opening scene involves Cord and a bunch of other fighters throwing down in a tournament to see who gets to go after and fight Zetan, the dude with the book. The choreography feels stiff and a bit awkward right from the beginning, but to make matters worse, they insert these strange shots of the two combatants fighting against a cloudy sky background. But they’re fighting in a high-walled arena, so it just pulls you out of the movie right away. Not a good start and it doesn’t get much better from there.

The scenes with Carradine fighting are good, though it’s kind of a let down when you realize that all the good fight scenes involve the same dude in various states of make-up. Sure he mixes up his fighting styles a bit, but it feels a little cheap to always be going up against the same guy. Had it actually been Bruce Lee, that would be an entirely different story, but that’s not how this one played out.

The flick also seems LOOOONG, which is strange because it’s run time isn’t even 100 minutes. At one point, I turned the Xbox controller back on and was shocked to see that I still had 30 minutes to go. I guess it’s good that the movie feels more robust than it actually is with Cord visiting all kinds of different places and people, but the problem is that none of them are super interesting, so it just feels like yet another delay in his inevitable show down with, wait for it, martial arts master…Christopher Lee. Of course, being a kind of Zen movie, it turns out that SPOILER Cord has learned everything he needed to learn and Zetan winds up not being a fighter, but a kind of monk. Wah wah. I was almost hoping to see some really poorly put together fight scenes that would insert Christopher Lee into a stunt double doing all kinds of crazy kicks and what not, but it wasn’t to be.

Oh, also, this happens:

I get that I’m probably missing some of Bruce Lee’s surviving points from the original story/script in my Western impatience, but the movie doesn’t really make me want to learn from it. It seems to just spout of the usual stuff I’ve seen a million times on TV, in movies and on comic pages. Part of the problem is that I got the message pretty early on and felt like much of the rest of the movie was just beating that into my head. I don’t usually say this, but I think Circle Of Iron (a.k.a. The Silent Flute), should be remade, not just with more competent and skilled martial artists, but also to be more faithful to the original story and script written by Bruce Lee, James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant (who also wrote a favorite of mine The Poseidon Adventures). Basically, Bruce Lee’s vision deserves better.

Jersey Shore Season 3 Episode 5 “Drunk Punch Love”

This episode would have been much more aptly titled had the producers called it “Quit Playing Games With My Heart.” See, it would work on several levels. You’ve got JWOWW still dealing with her weird breakup with Tom at their place in Long Island, Vinny meeting a girl with protective family in the area, Mike and Pauly trying to smash and, of course, a huge dose of Ronnie and Sammi drama. But hey, “Drunk Punch Love” is pretty clever.

Anyway, we start right where the last episode left off with JWOWW and Snooki in JWOWW’s house. In an effort to keep her ex Tom from stealing more of her stuff, the pair buy and try to install new locks, but, being inept, they try to install the deadbolt where the regular handle went. Meanwhile, back at the house, Snooki’s friend Ryder shows up for her visit, which is also to celebrate her 22nd birthday. It’s super awkward between her and Vinny, especially after they hooked up between Miami and now, but Deena takes Ryder out to enjoy happy hour. JWOWW and Snooki finally return with the dogs, which Pauly nicknames Snooki and Ryder, and then they all go out to the club. Highlights include Vinny meeting a nice Sicilian girl named Gina AND her overprotective uncle and other family members and Sammi losing her shit on Ronnie for talking to a girl who just gave birth to his friend’s baby.

They head back to the house and this is where things get weird and interesting. JWOWW brought Roger, Vinny brought Gina and Mike and Pauly have both brought girls back, plus you’ve got Ryder who disappears to pass out on the upper  porch with Snooki at some point. Vinny, Pauly, Mike and their girls are hanging out in the kitchen eating pizza, while upstairs, Sammi’s grilling Ronnie once again. She’s kind of drunk and keeps saying something about him touching someone, but he has no idea what she’s talking about. Without much provocation, Ronnie finally says he’s done. She claims that if they’re done, then she needs to move out because she has no one in the house. I’ve never been so hopeful with an episode of Jersey Shore in my life. She goes down to get some pizza, but upstairs Ron is throwing her shit all over the room. She brings him a slice and doesn’t seem to notice the mess right away and he’s pissed that she didn’t bring him a protein shake. Pauly walks into the room to see what’s going on when Ronnie tells Sammi he doesn’t give a shit about her and his eyes go huge like a cartoon character.

Apparently once he got her back to the house, Pauly realized that his girl was something of a grenade and doesn’t want anything to do with her, but Mike’s still working on his girl. Vinny blows one of those horns that were super popular during the World Cup and the look on Mike’s face is just priceless, like Batman seeing the Batsignal in the sky. While trying to usher Pauly’s grenade out of the house, JWOWW sees Gina’s uncle and other family member walking up. This dude is kind of an asshole because JWOWW asks who he is and he asks who she is. That’s her house bro, have some manners. Luckily for everyone involved, Vinny and Gina were just sitting there nicely when the mafia rolled in. They pop inside and she gives him a peck on the cheek, but Vinny wisely says that she probably won’t be worth the trouble. Mike finally gets rid of the grenade and gets his girl into the guest room, but that’s not happening quite yet.

So Ronnie’s upset and spends a lot of the episode crying. JWOWW comes up to him and crouches down trying to console him, while constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure Sammi’s not coming up behind her (Sammi’s upstairs packing her stuff). There’s a pretty strange moment where JWOWW says the only reason she told Sammi about what Ronnie did in the letter is because she thought it would send her home. That’s pretty messed up right? Anyway, Ronnie moves outside where JWOWW tries to console him some more, but nothing flirty or over the line. Mike goes into Sammi’s room and asks if she has any condoms. She says no, but asks where Ronnie is and he tells her Ron’s talking to JWOWW, which flips her out. She jumps out of bed and stars yelling at him from the balcony off their room. She’s just harping, asking if Ronnie’s friends with JWOWW.

At this same time, the other roommates decide it’s time to celebrate Ryder’s birthday so they’re trying to get a cake to her while all this is going on. Sammi comes downstairs and starts in on Ronnie in closer proximity asking him over and over if he’s friends with Jenni. She slugs him when he doesn’t answer. Mike sees all this and comes down to see how his boy’s doing. The others sing happy birthday to Ryder. Sammi calls her mom to come get her. At this point, almost everyone goes up to Sammi and tells her to stay. Everyone but Ronnie, JWOWW and Deena who are all hanging out with each other. Ronnie tells JWOWW he’s going to make Sammi’s life miserable if she stays. I’m kind of shocked that everyone wanted her to stay with as much of a pain as she’s been. Vinny even compares her to Angelina, but in an attempt to keep her there so she can learn from her negative experiences. It’s all too weird. Mike’s girl is still waiting in the guest room. There’s a really funny moment where JWOWW gets up to get one of her dogs from Mike. The idea is that that one will shut the other one up so she can “get it in” from Roger. I wonder if that’s grammatically correct.

Anyway, early early the next day it looks like Ronnie and Deena have just been sitting in their same spots all night and Sammi’s been up in their room. Sammi comes down and apologizes to Ron and offers him to say whatever he wants to say to her because her mom’s coming to get her and she’s leaving. He just gets up and walks away. Upstairs. To cry some more. Sammi follows him once again and starts crying all up on him, then asks if he’ll go inside with her which he does. Then they cuddle in bed. And she apologizes some more. And she asks if he wants her to stay. And he says…yes. WHY GOD WHY?! Why did anyone have to open their stupid mouths and keep her there? Why couldn’t her awful stubbornness have actually made her leave? Hell, why didn’t her mom ACTUALLY leave to come get her?!

So, that happens. Ryder leaves that morning and the roommates settle down for a full Sunday dinner where Sammi thanks them for being cool and making her want to stay. Yeah, thanks a lot assholes. The rest of the episode breaks down like this: JWOWW and Roger go on a double date with Deena and that Dean dude. Also, Vinny and Snooki head out and she buys a stripper pole for the house. Later, the dudes head to the barber shop and word is being spread via Dean that Deena likes to lick butt, which is gross and she completely denies when the guys tell her they heard that later at the gym. Later at the club she tells Dean off for spreading lies about her. Good for her. Also at the club, JWOWW goes over to see if Ronnie and Sammi want a drink and Sammi winds up going to the bar with her. Looks like they’ve patched things up. Great.

Okay, I’m all for people being forgiving and trying to become better people, but I don’t see that as happening here. Sammi’s a mean, spiteful witch on this show and either needs to make an effort to get past Ronnie’s infidelities (whatever they may be) or just stop being with him. Bringing that shit up all the time just won’t work. However, I will accept at least an episode or two where everyone acts like they get along. I know the big fights probably get the viewers all excited, but it really makes for excruciating TV sometimes.

First Impressions: Perfect Couples

With Big Bang Theory being a rerun, I was able to watch tonight’s Community which was a lot of fun, but I didn’t have nearly as much while watching the new sitcom Perfect Couples on NBC. I didn’t see last week’s premiere, but this series about three sets of couples, two married and one trying to figure out whether they should stay together or break up, just falls flat to me. You’ve got the uptight couple, which includes geek favorite Olivia Munn, the couple that’s stupid/not right for each other and then the middle of the road couple. My problem with the series is that it lacks heart and none of these characters feel like they should be friends let alone married. I think I’ll be moving over to Wipeout instead of watching this one again next week. I really can’t get enough of people smashing into giant balls or getting their legs taken out by rotating arms.