Reality Rundown: Real World St. Thomas, Million Dollar Listings & Gallery Girls

Regular readers and those of you who have discovered the site because of my Real World, Challenge and Jersey Shore posts, I apologize for not keeping up with my TV writing. One of the problems with being a work-from-home writer is that I spend most of the day on my couch with my laptop, so the last thing I really want to do in an evening is continue to sit on the couch with my laptop, take notes while watching and then write a post as fast as possible. But, I’m still watching and will probably get back into the swing with whatever the next Challenge is.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve been watching Real World St. Thomas and I must say I’m not very impressed. In fact, I’d venture to say that this might be one of the most boring casts of all time and a huge part of that revolves around the fact that the cast members seemed to pair off so quickly (or at least that’s the story that production wants us to experience). But I think things are finally starting to get interesting now that the pairs are showing cracks or starting to full-on break.I should note that I haven’t seen every episode and missed the first 15 minutes or so of last week’s, so my opinions might be way off.

My least favorite cast member as of now is Trey. I hate how he treats the women in his life, essentially doing bad things and then trying to get each of them to be the bad guy and break it off with him. His jealousy is also super ugly, verging on full on deplorable. He actually said in the previous episode something like “How could you say something like that to me when you know it makes me mad.” That does not sound good. At the same time, Laura needs to stick up for herself and become more of an actual person instead of a reflection of whoever she’s with. Hopefully she can learn that on the show.

Let’s see, I don’t have much to say about Robb and Marie. They’re just a couple of people who like to get wasted all the time, there’s not much interesting there aside from the fact that Robb clearly hates phones, his skull or both. That will be interesting to see where it goes. LaToya…eh, whatever, I haven’t seen a lot there either aside from pride and an inability to see things from another person’s perspective. I really didn’t like how she reacted to the time with Swift and the urchin, but I also despise when people laugh at other peoples’ pain. Brandon would be more interesting if he wasn’t such a sad sack. I know that’s mean to say about a recovering drug addict, but that’s how I’m calling this one. Lastly, I actually really like Swift. He seems like an upstanding dude. Sure he’s got a temper and gets in arguments, but I don’t get that violence-bubbling-under-the-surface vibe with him. I’m curious to see what happens with these kids, but not incredibly so. I’m good on not seeing the episodes I’ve seen so far. Who do you think will wind up on the Challenges? I’m guessing Rob, Trey and Marie with Trey being the only one who can legit compete, but we’ll see.

I’ve watched Bravo’s Million Dollar Listings (now dubbed LA to differentiate from the newly minted NYC version) since its inception. I’m convinced it should be retitled Rich Assholes Don’t Understand Real Estate, but that might alienate some people. I’m sure a lot of people get all slobbery over the drama between Madison, his former assistant Heather and Heather’s new boyfriend Josh Altman, but that’s not where my heart’s at. Sure, that’s juicy, but it’s not super interesting and it’s pretty clear that most of it’s based on misunderstanding, which is not something I enjoy watching.

I love this show for one reason: Josh Flagg. I used to hate this kid because he was so goofy, and, I’ll be honest, because I’m jealous of his wealth and success (pretty sure he’s younger than me). And, even though the producers have a penchant for putting clown music on in the background of his scenes, I think he’s by far the most interesting character here. Have you seen his office? It’s got this gigantic blue chair, a huge desk, enormous lamps and I want to say a pair of lions? It’s amazingly weird and that’s why I like Josh. At first I thought he was putting on a show, but I’ve learned from watching long enough that this is pretty much who he is. He’s the result of being brought up in a very rich family and actually finding the trappings of wealth very interesting. He’s essentially a 75 year old man from 20 years ago in a 20-something’s body. And that’s just weird enough for me to like. Give that dude and his boyfriend their own show and I’d watch.

Shows like Bravo’s Gallery Girls very clearly let me know that I’m an old man. The series follows two groups of women working in the NYC art gallery scene, one located in Manhattan, the other in Brooklyn. It makes me feel old because I want to shake most of the Brooklyn women and tell them to grow up and stop playing into the hipster stereotypes so explicitly and want to high five the Manhattan women. Actually, now that I think of it, the only one of them I really liked after watching one episode was Liz, she works for the Manhattan gang and seems like a good hard worker. Plus, her dad is a renowned art collector who likes rolling into places in jeans and shirts, so she understands that it’s not about what you wear, but what kind of person you are (or at least how much money you have).

The Brooklyn ladies just drive me nuts. They’re actually starting their own gallery, which is no small task, I’m sure. However, only one of them seems worried about money and that’s because she borrowed $15Gs from her parents and has to pay it back in one year. One of the other women, the one on the far right in the above picture, had the gall to be like “I have $2,000 of my own money in this too” and blow off her financial concerns. SERIOUSLY?! I know artists can be difficult to work with, but my impression of this woman is that she clearly doesn’t care, just wants to MAKE ART (not money) and doesn’t care who she screws over so she can play gallery co-owner. Blech.

Had I seen this show when I was in high school and at the peak of my Daria-wannabe-ness, I wonder if I’d think more highly of these women. I’d like to think not, that I’ve always had a good head for business and a dislike of people who abuse those who do. Plus, the affectation of hipsterdom just drives me nuts. I get it, you like black “vintage” (read: thrift store) clothes, not doing anything with your hair and whatever red lipstick you find on the subway, it’s boring, it’s old and it’s unoriginal.

Christian Slater Double Feature: True Romance (1993) & Broken Arrow (1996)

Even though Reservoir Dogs required my brain when I first watched it around the age of 16 and I became a little obsessed with Quentin Tarantino, I only ever watched True Romance one other time and only remembered a few random scenes (Clarence and Alabama visiting his dad, James Gandolfini visiting Alabama). Tarantino wrote this one, but Tony Scott wound up directing it. I used to know all the details as to why, but they’re lost in the fog of memory.

It’s funny watching this film now, knowing more about Tarantino than I did back then at how autobiographical the flick is. Actually, I’m not sure if that’s the right word, it seems more like that kind of what if daydreaming creative types do on a regular basis: what would I do if I loved a woman I just met who happens to have been a prostitute for a few days? I do that all the time, though not that specific scenario. You see the parts of Tarantino in the beginning of the film, a guy in early adulthood working in a seemingly dead end job (for Tarantino it was a video store, for Clarence a comic shop), he loves watching Sonny Chiba movies and even winds up at a pie shop afterwards (Tarantino famously wrote Reservoir Dogs in LA’s House of Pies). Aside from a fascination with Elvis and some Hollywood encounters, I’m not sure how much of the movie stays autobiographical, but it’s interesting to see those early elements in there because they point to the writer very specifically.

Like many of Tarantino’s crime flicks, this one feels a lot like an Elmore Leonard book. Clarence and Alabama get married right away, Clarence tries to deal with Alabama’s pimp, something very unexpected happens and Clarence does his best to deal with it. What I like about Clarence is that he’s kind of every writer’s dream. He was this guy living a regular life, but when put to the test he succeeded, this geeky guy was able to defend his woman’s honor and even make the best of a bad situation. After his encounter with her pimp, he’s like an all new man, but one who still makes plenty of pop culture references. I posit that most writers have this kind of fantasy kicking around their brains. I think Slater absolutely nailed the subtlety of this role without being too on-the-nose with it.

I dug this movie for all the above reasons and more. It’s an amazing film to star watch in as it’s packed to the gills with recognizable actors. Brad Pitt plays a stoner on a couch, James Gandolfini a mob heavy. Heck, I even recongized the woman playing a casting agent. Even if you don’t know everyone’s names, you will spend the entire movie going, “Hey, it’s THAT guy.”  But even if the film was packed with people I didn’t recognize, it’s a pretty amazing crime story mixed with a love story that always keeps you guessing. Who’s being honest? Who’s lying? How will this all end up? Who’s going to survive? Those are great questions to have while watching a movie and I’m glad I wasn’t obsessed with it in high school or college so they were still bouncing around in my head.

I must take a second to talk about the brief comic book scenes in the film. First off, that’s the craziest comic book store I’ve ever seen. Secondly, shame on the DVD’s subtitles for spelling it “Spiderman.” Third, what issue of Spider-Man was that? He says “Spider-Man #1,” which I assumed meant Amazing Fantasy #15, but it looks like a straight 90s joint. I distinctly saw Sleepwalker in one panel. Is it literally Spider-Man #1 from 1990? If so, no wonder that dude hasn’t gotten laid in a while. Lastly, I remember this movie getting called out a lot when I worked at Wizard any time we did a “comic geeks in movies” story. Because it was mentioned so many times, I figured that there were tons of comic book references therein, but this one scene is pretty much it. It’s like Tarantino felt the need for one comic book reference in each of his movies and no more. I’m sure I’m missing some but there’s the Joe/Thing comparison in Reservoir Dogs and of course Bill’s Superman speech at the end of Kill Bill 2.

From one kind of film to a drastically different one, I finally watched John Woo’s Broken Arrow starring Slater and John Travolta. While True Romance is a smaller, grittier story about people trying to make the best of a bad situation, Broken Arrow‘s more of a straight up, world-hanging-in-the-balance action flick. From what I know, both are pretty damn good examples of what their respective directors can do.

Broken Arrow was one of the many mid 90s action movies that I saw trailers for and even ads in comics, but didn’t actually get to see. I would have been 13 when this movie came out and my parents were pretty strict about the whole not seeing R-rated movies thing. I’ve caught up on quite a few of them in my movie watching career since then, but Arrow here eluded me until the last few days (it took me three sittings to actually get through it, not because it’s bad, but because I’m old and kept getting sleepy).

Anyway, the movie follows two pilots, Slater and Travolta. Travolta has decided to steal some nukes and Slater makes it his mission to stop him with the help of a park ranger. Unlike something like True Romance, there’s not a lot of subtelty for Slater to play with here, but there is a huge opening for Travolta to mug like a maniac and chew scenery like a hungry hungry hippo. And, you know what? He’s FANTASTIC at it. Seeing Travolta in this film reminds me a lot of Nic Cage in his more bonkers roles, the ones where he really cuts loose and just acts the maniac that I assume he is. This makes me want to watch Face/Off again.

I liked Broken Arrow for the most part, but it’s not really the kind of movie I’ll want to watch over and over again and I don’t think it would have been if I had seen it back in high school, though you never know. I’m not a big fan of the park ranger, she doesn’t have much screen presence, though she can kick some ass. Speaking of the fights, they were pretty good, but how many action scenes on moving trains have we seen? It’s not super duper exciting past the inherent danger of fighting on a train. However, I thought the underground/mine stuff from the middle of the film was actually pretty rad. This is the perfect kind of movie to check out on a lazy Saturday or to pop on in a marathon with some friends or some beers, but not necessarily the kind that you need to add to your collection. Still, I had a great time watching.

Quick Doc Review: Darkon (2006)

The reason I like documentaries and reality television is because they offer me a glimpse into lives I’m otherwise unfamiliar with. Now, how accurately those lives are portrayed differ from project to project, but even a skewed look is a look, you know? Darkon seems like a pretty honest look at its subject matter, but I’m not sure how well it explains that world.

The film focuses on a Baltimore-based group of live action role players who play their game in the fictional world of the title. It focuses mainly on the leaders of two rival countries who wind up going to war, which seems to give it a kind of King of Kong feel, but never quite reaching that level of awesomeness for me.

I had two main problems with how the film was put together. First of all, since I’m not a LARPer, I don’t really know all the ins and outs of it. I assumed that many of my practical questions (where do they do their battles, do they need permits, where do they practice, etc.) would have been answered, but I do not believe they were. It’s difficult to bring people into your life when they don’t explain it all that well. The other major problem I had was a seeming lack of knowing what to cut from the film. There’s a long scene of one of the star’s kids doing a sword routine for no real reason. Meanwhile, there’s a single mother the film introduces, but doesn’t really do much with as the focus shifts from the people in general to the two main guys as their conflict intensifies.

I’m also not sure I fully understood the point or the stakes of the conflict. One guy thought the people should be treated one way and the other another way, essentially, though I couldn’t tell you the details. But, I also wasn’t sure what difference the battle would make or what changes victory could or would bring about for either side. At one point we’re told that if you die in a game you’re out for 24 hours, but do other changes stay longer? I think someone said that countries had been absorbed, so maybe some things like death don’t stick, but other things like land grabs do? Again, I was confused. Maybe this was all in the movie, but I didn’t catch it.

At the end of the day, Darkon’s not a bad movie, but maybe an amateurish one. It got me about 70% into this world, but didn’t seem to know who or what it wanted to focus on. Still, I thought the intensity with which these people play this game impressive. People who don’t LARP might look at these folks and giggle because, yes, it does look silly, but the level of dedication and intensity is no different than people who get really into a sport or even fantasy sports. At least the LARPers get outside and get some exercise while doing their thang.

Friday Fisticuffs: Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance (2011)

Guys, this should come as no surprise considering I love Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor-directed flicks (Crank, Crank 2 and Gamer), but I really dug their first comic movie effort Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. They brought their trademark super-kinetic, down-and-dirty directing style to a character who rides around on a flaming motorcycle and fries bad guys with his eyes. I love that Marvel allowed one of their weirder characters to be treated how he should have been on film. Ghost Rider is essentially a pretty goofy idea (remember, flaming face and motorcycle)  so creators really need to just embrace that and run with it. That’s what Jason Aaron did on his wonderful run of GR a few years back (I read the omnibus of his stuff last year, but didn’t get around to reviewing).

I remember very little of the first Ghost Rider movie, almost nothing in fact. This time around, Idris Elba finds Nic Cage (Ghost Rider) and makes him a deal: help his religious order find this mystically important kid  and get severed from the Rider. So, Cage unleashes the beast (both the Ghost Rider and the maniac that lives inside that man in the real world) and all kinds of fun unravels. The kid starts off with this one hood who winds up turning into the villain I believe is based on Blackout. I’m not sure familiar with Ghost Rider’s world, but I do have one of those GIT DVDs, so I kind of want to catch up.

If you can’t get behind the idea of the devil having a kid with a woman just so he can then take over that half human/half demon body and a man who turns into a fiery demon and pees like a flamethrower, do not apply, this movie is not for you. If you dig that kind of stuff and Cage’s wackiness, this movie is pretty fantastic. Neveldine and Taylor were the prefect guys for this project and really brought a realness to it, which is difficult when you’re dealing with so much inherent CGI. The chase scenes look great as do the fights, even when moving between the real world and Blackout’s weird dark-inducing one. That expert use of effects combined with some of the lowest tech ways of filming (holding onto the back of a motorcycle wearing rollerblades and holding a camera) make for something that feels real most of the time (Blackout’s disintegration powers didn’t always look great on our TV).

At the end of the day, I had a ton of fun with this movie. It was exactly what I wanted from both the directing duo and Cage. I have a feeling I’ll have a better time remember SOV than the original flick too. I have no idea what Neveldine and Taylor are working on next, but I will definitely see it…probably on DVD well after it comes out, as is my lot in life.

Ad It Up: Crazy World

Can’t quite remember which comic this came from, but these Truth Crazy World ads were EVERYWHERE around the early 2000s (right?). I’ve never really understood the point of this non-smoking campaign. Everyone already knows that smoking is bad for you and have for the last 20 years. If people want to smoke, let then, just make sure it’s not where I am or let me know so I can get out of there if I want to. Also, this smacks of Truth not understanding the comic book audience. I’m sure the 20-to-60 year old dudes reading these comics were totally enlightening by something as brain-melting as Crazy World.

Toy Chest Central, The Toy Podcast That Could Have Been

Back in the fall of 2010 I had been laid off from ToyFare, but was still writing for them.  What I really wanted to do was branch out on my own and start a weekly collectible podcast that would cover the length and breadth of the toy world. I wound up filming two different episodes, but then it fell off the radar. I think I was partially worried about getting in trouble with my then-highest paying freelance client (Wizard) and also the new information that we were having a baby and I probably wouldn’t have time to keep up with it. The former probably would not have been a problem, but the latter has proven to be completely accurate. I didn’t want to start something and then have to stop for however many months and leave whatever viewers I amassed int he dark.

As you can see, it’s pretty rough. I keep bouncing around the frame from segment to segment. You’ll also notice some pretty gnarly cuts that leave much to be desired. The thing I learned from doing both episodes was that having an idea of what you’re going to say before getting in front of the camera is a great idea. I also had trouble figuring out a good way to set up the lighting, hence the lamp to the side there.

I will say that for all it’s problems — and all of my “ums” — I’m still pretty proud with how this turned out. Figuring out how to insert all those photos and videos in iMovie took a while, but wound up not being a huge hassle. The first episode I shot is pretty bad, so you won’t be seeing that one. This one is leaps and bounds better, so I wonder what it would be like had I kept up with it. Anyway, here’s what would have been the first episode of Toy Chest Central had I continued on with it.

Justice Society Trade Post: JSA All-Stars Glory Days & JSoA Supertown

JSA All Stars: Glory Days (DC)
Written by Matthew Sturges, drawn by Freddie Williams II & Howard Porter
Collects JSA All-Stars #7-13

I fully intended to write this post towards the end of last weekend, but lost track of time. In the end, I guess it doens’t really matter. Anyway, like I said in that post (or maybe didn’t, it was so long ago, who can remember?), I read these four JSA trades back to back to back to back in the order they’re presented in these posts. As you’ll remember, JSA All-Stars was a spinoff book that featured the more proactive (and younger) members of the fairly unwieldy group. When I say proactive, I don’t necessarily mean the usual “we’re gonna go after the bad guys instead of wait for them to attack” idea, but a team that is well trained in order to be more active and effective when they fight the bad guys.

The second trade features three stories, the first dealing with SPOILER Atom Smasher’s death during Blackest Night, the JSA fighting a gang of gods running amok and a two-parter answering the question: why are there so many Cyclones running around?

While the actual death of Atom Smasher might have been told in a one-off mini that held almost no baring on the larger Blackest Night story (I’ll get around to reviewing that book eventually), but the issue here was actually pretty heartfelt as it followed Judomaster exploring her feelings towards AS in depth.

I wasn’t as interested in the details of the gods story, but I will say that any script that offers Freddie Williams II the chance to draw monkeys riding tigers in the jungle, some iconic super heroes and building-big gods, I’m happy. There were some revelations and characters moments that were pretty important to the larger story as well, which I also appreciated. The multiple Cyclone story was also pretty cool, kind of along the lines of a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode over two issues, with an ending that actually had me going, “Whaaaaat?” I’d really like to see how this book wrapped up. I believe there was one more trade’s worth of issues, but don’t know if DC has any intention of collecting them right now. Anyone know?

Justice Society of America: Supertown (DC)
Written by Marc Guggenheim, drawn by Scott Kolins & Mike Norton
Collects Justice Society of America #44-49

Supertown is a little but of an outsider when it comes to this particular quartet of JSA books. The first JSoA volume I read lead right into the two JSA All-Stars books, but the original book has a collection called Axis of Evil that I don’t have and a crossover with JLoA that I’m holding off on until I go through all the post-Infinite Crisis JLA books. So, I don’t have as great of a sense of this team and its motives in the wake of the split, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a more difficult comic to read, I just like having all the pieces of the puzzle, you know?

Anyway, this arc revolves around the battle with a super powered terrorist named Scythe. The JSA takes him on in the first issue and tells young member Lightning to, essentially, go supernova and blast the crap of him, destroying a huge area of the town. Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott gets mortally wounded in the battle and we soon discover that he and Golden Age Flash ran into this thing as a child experiment in WWII.

With the fallout, Flash focuses his efforts on rebuilding the whole city, a job that takes a lot longer than it usually does in comics, taking a more real world approach to that trope. More terrorists show up to give our heroes a hard time, but we also get a brand new design for Alan Scott’s costume, which is pretty clunky, but actually serves a purpose.

I’ve talked before about how I get bored with comics that feel too familiar with other comics I’ve read, especially when said older comics are from the same character or team’s history. This one included a few elements that have been very popular in the last few years for the JSA: a major member gets nearly killed (actually two in this collection) and a villain that comes out of nowhere with seemingly all the answers. However, I thought Guggenheim did a pretty great job of building this story around different character beats and moments. I’m still not sure about the GL costume, but I’d definitely be interested to see how JSA ended just prior to New 52.

I Very Much Enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises

My wife has very kindly offered for me to head over to the theater and watch Dark Knight Rises a few times. I bowed out because it was too late one night, I wasn’t up to the three hour commitment and I just wasn’t feeling up for something so seemingly intense another night, but today I took her up on her very generous offer. As I tweeted before heading over to the theater, I actually can not remember the last movie I saw inside as the few new movies we’ve gone to since Lu was born 15 months ago have been at the drive-in.

Somehow, I’d actually been able to avoid any and all spoilers since the film’s July 20th release date. I might have written about Dark Knight Rises a few times a week for Spinoff leading up to the film, but since then any and all stories have been purely about box office. I’ve scrolled over tweets, avoided emails and even skipped some of my favorite podcasts to stay in the dark. I’m actually shocked it worked.

I don’t think I need to get into too much detail about the plot, but this film picks up eight years after the events of Dark Knight. Batman’s been out of commission since then, vilified thanks to his plan with Jim Gordon while Harvey Dent was turned into the city’s fallen knight. It’s been a good time for Gotham…until Bane comes to town and wants to knock everyone off their collective high horses.

Okay, the rest of the review until otherwise stated will take place in SPOILER country, so you’ve been warned. What I liked about this movie is the journey it took us on, even if it’s not one that’s necessarily the most original. Bruce is destroyed by the death of Rachel from the previous film and doesn’t know how he can go on living when she can’t do the same. This dovetails nicely with the plan he hatched with Gordon, giving Gotham the Batman they deserve. We also discover that Bruce’s distrust of humanity make him automatically deject any plans that might be used negatively even if their primary source could be good. That’s the kind of person her is at this point.

Bane is a whole different animal, one whose MO feels like a living breathing thing throughout the movie because we’re only hearing and seeing it from other peoples’ perspectives for the most part. I thought that was a really interesting take on him: you basically only know him by his actions and his speech, not because you know anything about him or his past. The way that his plan not only confirms the fears Bruce always had about the tech getting into the wrong hands but maybe also that you might as well get some good out of things even if they can be abused for evil (that’s not said anywhere on film, but something I thought while watching). I will say that the voice took some getting used to. It almost sounds like someone dubbed in a funny voice in that opening scene, but gets a little less cartoony as it goes on. I also had a hard time understanding him a few times, but that didn’t really bother me. You tend to understand the point he’s trying to convey.

I also want to talk about Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. Man, I loved this character and his arc. He’s Bruce Wayne if he wasn’t rich, an orphan who learned later how to hide his anger at what happened to him and his parents, but eventually decided to do good by joining the police force. How he goes from that to freedom fighter could have been a whole movie in its own right and one I would have watched. I also enjoyed Anne Hathaway’s performance. She really dug into her bag of actor tricks going from flummoxed demure maid to femme fatale in no time flat, something that could have felt slopping in the hands of a lesser actress. She’s the bad guy side of the Bruce Wayne/John Blake model: poor kid taking what she needed to survive and never really stopping, but wanting to.

Making the proceedings even more entertaining for me was the fact that some of the Batman comics I read growing up were the basis of this story. I’m seen lots of comic movies and really enjoyed them, sometimes going back later and reading the stories they were based on, but I really can’t explain to you how much a part of me the long form Bane story Knightfall meant to me. Those were the first Batman issues I ever collected. I devoured the parts of that story I could find and it lead me to buying Batman comics for the next 20 years almost. But that’s not all, the movie also includes elements from the No Man’s Land story that saw Gotham cut off from the rest of the country and even some of the Bane/Ra’s al Ghul stuff that came about in later issues. I was even retroactively remembering how things fit in with my comics after we found out who Miranda Tate really was (facepalm, of course it was her!).

The movie wasn’t perfect though. Like I said, Bane’s voice was pretty cartoony at times, to the point where I was trying to figure out what animated character he sounded like. It doesn’t help that I have no idea what Tom Hardy sounds like normally. I also thought some of the larger crowd fighting was a little weak, specifically outside city hall, though the bouts between Bane and Batman were always gnarly. OH, and how awesome was it seeing Batman and Catwoman fighting awesomely side by side?! Oh, right, I’m on complaints. Let’s see…oh, Batman took an awful lot of very previous time to stop and say goodbye to Catwoman and Gordon when flying the bomb out, didn’t he? It reminded me of a much less campy version of that famous scene from the 60s Batman movie where he’s trying to get rid of the bomb.

Speaking of the end, I thought it was very curious. Going in, I knew that this was going to be Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film (unless the famously tricky director is playing with us once again), but I was also assuming that this would be the last Batman movie set in his movie universe, like Warners would just scrap it and start over again with a new idea. But that’s pretty silly isn’t it? In comics, sometimes a writer leaves and blows everything up, leaving the next guy to pick up the pieces and sometimes there’s a really smooth transition. It seems like Nolan was giving whoever comes after him a very easy access point. They can clearly move forward with the John Blake developments or bring our hero back any number of other ways. Heck, Nolan could even still produce like he’s doing on Man of Steel, that would give him time to work on whatever his next original project will be. I don’t know any of the answers here, but I like having the questions running around my brain.

End SPOILERS. So, yeah, I really enjoyed this movie. It didn’t grab me right away in the beginning, but kept winning me throughout and by the end, I was completely in, rooting for Gotham and believing that one man really can make a difference. I was so pumped on the way home I had to make sure to watch my speed. I also bought in hard to the idea that you have to make sacrifices to help change things, you can’t just hide behind whatever’s safe or even your family because you’re just making a crappier world for your kid to live in if you’re not helping change things.

Preferred Podcasts: Matt & Brett Love Comics

One of the many rad people I met while working at Wizard was Brett White. Brett is, without a doubt, the biggest X-Men fan I’ve ever met. We both came up reading comics at around the same time in the early 90s if memory serves, but were on different sides of the DC/Marvel fence. Anyway, when I heard that he has a comic book podcast along with his pal Matt Little called Matt & Brett Love Comics I was definitely intrigued. Of course, being a work-from-home dad, it took me quite a while to start listening, but in the last week I’ve downloaded and listened to all 27 episodes. (Before I forget, I snagged the above picture from Benjamin Ragheb’s Flickr.)

Before getting into why I like this podcast so much, I should probably explain what it is. Much like another podcast I greatly enjoy, How Did This Get Made?, M&BLC does a new episode every week: one longer one with some of their friends talking about a particular comic in the vein of a book club and a shorter episode preceding that one that both explains what the book club selection will be, but also talks about newer comics. They also sometimes interview comic creators, interviews that sometimes stay in just the shorter episode and sometimes go into the main review episode. Even though I know Brett to be a huge X-fan, they don’t stick exclusively to those books, he and Matt cover a much wider swatch of the comics world like Sandman, Death Ray and Courtney Crumrin.

I’ve listened to a few different comic podcasts over the years for varying lengths of time. I was really into the iFanboy podcasts for a year or two and only stopped watching when I started getting behind in new comics. I didn’t want the stories I was interested in spoiled for me, so I stopped. I can’t remember the names of some of the others I’ve checked out, but my problems with them were fairly standard: too nerdy, too whiney, too much up their own asses or, quite simply, too grating. Thankfully, M&BLC is found significantly lacking in those departments.

Well, it does get really nerdy, but in a good way with either Matt or Brett explaining what they’re talking about. I’d be mostly lost in a conversation about certain issues of X-Force, but they do a great job of explaining exactly what’s going on, giving context to those of us who might not have it already. In addition to their friends from the UCB and comic creators, Matt and Brett are regularly joined by the wonderful Nicole Drespel who brings up lots of interesting points from her perspective as someone who’s not as ingrained in the world of comics. I’m always curious to see what people who don’t normally read comics think about comics.

The key behind the success of this show in my mind is that Brett and Matt really do love comics. They’re not the kind of fans who sit around complaining about every little thing in comics, which you can’t throw a cat without hitting on the internet. Sure, they have their gripes and pet peeves like anyone, but that’s not what the show is ABOUT. When I was an intern at Wizard, a group of us were talking about how we’d rather high five comics than smack them down, which winds up being the real theme behind this show. Keep up the good work, guys!

Casting Internets

So behind on links again, but after a few trips, I think I’m going to be back on point (I hope).

I’ve done lots and lots of writing lately. I wrote about Nowhere Men, Point of Impact, Where Is Jake Ellis?, Star Bright and the Looking Glass, Multiple Warheads and Black Kiss II! Whew, that was a lot of writing.

Do yourself a favor and check out my pal Rickey Purdin’s new blog VHS Notebook. He watches movies, takes notes and draws, it’s a wonderful thing.

The question at the center of my pal Sean T. Collins’ review of Earth One: Batman over on TCJ is an important one that more comics need to ask: Why does this comic exist?

I don’t truly know what it means to be discriminated against or outwardly hated, but I do completely agree with this editorial by Lucas Grindley over on The Advocate when he says that homophobia is not a political issue, but one that can threaten a person and their families. People need to stop worrying about what’s going on in their neighbors’ bedrooms and start worrying about the starving, dying people all over the world.

Okay, on to less serious stuff. Everyone saw the BBC‘s latest preview of Doctor Who Series 7, right? It looks raaaaaaaaad.

I’ve been watching a ton of Olympics this week and will most likely do so next week as well. As such, I found this AP article about the decaying structures built for the Athens games to be quite interesting. What DO you do with an outdoor Olympic pool when all the people go home?

Oh man, there’s gonna be color versions of Scott Pilgrim? Oni‘s trying to get more of my money!

Flea released a digital EP of all original, weird, emotional soundscapes? Yeah, I downloaded that, now I just gotta listen to it. (Rolling Stone)

The possibilities of DreamWorks buying Classic Media are close to endless and very, very exciting. (THR)

I love reading interviews with Pat Carney from The Black Keys, like this one on Rolling Stone. I like how that dude doesn’t buy into the fame.

I’ve been slow on the uptake when it comes to Wreck-It Ralph, that is until I read this LA Times article about how the filmmakers scored rights to all those classic video game characters.

Denis Medri’s Steampunk Spider-Man characters look so cool, it would potentially get me to read something about Steampunk. (via Project: Rooftop)

Beau Smith suggests more comics have a little fun with their books. I agree their needs to be more humor in comics.Final Girl Stacie Ponder created this fantastic Casual Friday Jason Voorhees shirt. I like it very much.

Speaking of Final Girl, her next FG Film Club selection is Deadly Blessing which is great because it’s on Netflix Instant AND already in my queue. Now I just need to 1. remember, 2. find time to watch it and 3. write about it by August 13th. I CAN DO IT!

Finally, I was really saddened to hear about Tom Davis’ passing. He was such a huge part of SNL, one of the pillars of my concept of comedy. (THR)