Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joke or Hoax?

I happened onto the AOL website today and saw this headline on their front page:

X-Men Illustrator Dies Wearing Superman Pajamas

When I clicked the link, it said the page did not exist. Was this a hoax story? A joke by a headline writer? A hack by a creative teenage geek? Or perhaps some sort of viral marketing scheme, like the on-line interviews with Gary Troup, author of Bad Twin, that appeared over the summer?

Does anybody know anything about this?

UPDATE: Finally got the link to work, and now I'm sad, because it's true. Dave Cockrum was the one who died.

Cockrum's work first got on my radar when he started drawing the "Legion of Super-Heroes" backup feature in Superboy during the late 70's. Like his later work on X-Men, he redesigned costumes and brought a fresh, exciting look to a property that had become stagnant and dated. Then he moved to Marvel and did the same thing with the X-Men, not just drawing the book but creating the characters of Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus.

Unfortunately, the property took off in a way that his career never did. When Cockrum left the X-Men, John Byrne stepped in and immediately pushed the book to greater heights of popularity, and even though Cockrum later returned for another lengthy run, his work was never as popular as that of other artists on the feature.

But I remember his work fondly, and I'm sorry to hear about this, and now I'm pissed about that flippant headline.

Plus, I was about to call out this story about Lindsay Lohan as a hoax, too, wondering if it was National Hoax Day or something. Now I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fall Finale Bandwagon

First Lost went on hiatus after its big fall finale three weeks ago. Last night, Prison Break had its fall finale, and next week, Heroes will do the same.

As much as I love the show, I think Lost comes out the big loser here. Having a "finale" after only five episodes created a lot of resentment, first of all. Second, both Heroes and Prison Break will return before Lost, meaning they shouldn't lose as much of their audience. Third, Lost was replaced by Daybreak, which is a high-energy drama that promises to play out completely in twelve weeks; how much patience will the audience have for Lost's extended teases when Daybreak finishes? Boston Legal lost its time slot to Grey's Anatomy when it went on hiatus. Could the same thing happen to Lost?

We'll see.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Feet

A while back, my family bought the DVD of "March of the Penguins." There was a movie trailer on there that just instantly captivated us, of a computer-animated baby penguin tap-dancing to Stevie Wonder. It was just a marvelous bit of animation, full of joy and charm. Most trailers on DVD, you're anxious to skip over so you can watch the movie. This one, we rewatched something like three times, and when the feature was over, we went back and watched it again. It was that cool. And of course, as soon as it was over, we were all saying that we couldn't wait to see the whole movie.

Well, on Sunday, we did. And I wish I could say that "Happy Feet" lived up to the promise of that brief teaser, but alas, it does not. Or maybe it does, depending on your politics.

Let's put it this way: if you voted for Al Gore in 2000, you're a lot more likely to overlook this film's shortcomings than if you voted for Bush.

Or I could quote the Village Voice review by Jordan Harper:
And even the wee ones may start to notice something's amiss when the movie's theme goes from "be yourself" to "we must regulate the overfishing of the Antarctic oceans." No, for real.
The thing is, technically, the movie's marvelous. The animation is amazing. And the musical numbers are awesome, combining hooky, infectious medleys of pop songs with terrific motion-captured dancing moves. But sometimes the film has to really give an artificial heave to make the plot do what it wants (like the number in which, instead of singing a duet with his love interest, Mumble taps a counterpoint to her voice instead - it gets pretty good toward the end, but it's clunky and forced at the start).

And after the movie has already kind of exhausted your suspension-of-disbelief muscles, it then sprains them altogether by veering from a Hollywood-standard self-esteem theme into trendy enviro-preaching. My eyes hurt from rolling them so much in the last fifteen minutes of the fim.

If my daughter has her way, we'll probably end up buying the DVD, but I have to say, the Pixar films do a much better job of integrating adult themes painlessly into an ostensibly children's entertainment. I would have preferred more dancing and less preaching.

An Experiment

I'm going to be trying something new here for a while. Every now and then, I'll be writing a sponsored post for cash. There's a company called PayPerPost that offers to hook up bloggers with advertisers and what they call "opportunities."

Some people see a terrible ethical dilemma with this; I don't. Sure, we look back now and think the Flintstones were awful people for advertising Winston cigarettes, but radio talk show hosts do the same thing even today. Rush Limbaugh rhapsodizes over the Sleep Number Bed and Paul Harvey is cuckoo for Citracal. And you know they're not doing all those spots for free (and don't you dare say anything bad about Paul Harvey).

But here's the bargain and the promise: from time to time, I'll include a post for which I hope to receive monetary compensation (I don't get paid until after the post has been reviewed and approved). But I won't be making such posts indiscriminately. I don't plan to get rich off these things, just earn a little beer money here and there. So I will only post about opportunities that interest me, and I will always identify these posts, in case you want to skip them, with a lead-in of "P-Three-Oh sez:" and a link back to this post so you'll know the deal.

Cool? Let's try it out:

P-Three-Oh sez:

One of the main concerns involved with this type of advertising is that folks won't disclose the fact that they have received compensation for the posts. They're worried about perceptions of blogger payola. So there's a group called that will auto-generate disclosure policy boilerplate text based on your answers to a few questions. The text it generates is clunky and dry, but that just makes it sound more legal. You can use it verbatim or as a template to write your own.

Here's mine:

This policy is valid from 21 November 2006

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

To get your own policy, go to

Friday, November 17, 2006

Replacing What's Lost

Lost is on official hiatus, which may or may not be a good move on ABC's part. Luckily for us, if not for them, the interim replacement series, Daybreak, is really good. At least the pilot was.

The premise is an iffy one, a combination (as others have said) of "Groundhog Day" meets "The Fugitive." To wit: a cop keeps living the same day over and over again, and over the course of this same repeated day must find a way to clear his name (he's being framed for a murder he did not commit) and save the lives of those close to him. The pilot kept the premise from seeming hokey, and Taye Diggs is an excellent, engaging lead. It appears that the mystery will be solved in twelve episodes totalling thirteen hours, which would be excellent if true. I want this show to succeed, but I worry about what would happen if it does, because I cannot imagine how they could pull off a second season.

Then again, I thought the same thing about 24, and it's about to start season 5, so what do I know?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Studio 60 Sanctimony

"Sin City" was on over the weekend, so I watched it again. God, it's so frustrating! I loved the comics, but the movie, while translating the images with awesome fidelity, creates an absolutely unique visual experience, then kills it with these awful performances. I mean, even reliably good performers, like Bruce Willis, just seem to sleepwalk through this movie. Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro are simply awful, Owen killing any suspense with a plodding performance and Del Toro taking what should be a fascinatingly scary character, a flirty-funny dude who can explode at any moment in frightening ways, and yoking him with this goofy voice that turns him into a boring prop-that-talks.

Heroes (Freudian typo - I originally typed "Herpes" - silly qwerty) is about to hit what we thought would be the big climactic showdown with Sylar, but looks like it's just going to be another twist. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm finding that, week by week, I keep watching "Wheel of Heroes" not because I enjoy it so much, but because I want to be there when it turns cool. There's so much pent-up potential in these characters, and I want them to start realizing some of it. It's like watching some dude drive a dragster through a school zone at the speed limit; at some point, you know he's got to open up the throttle and let it rip, and you just wish he'd get to it already.

And Studio 60...


The two-parter in Pahrump, Nevada summarizes everything that's good and bad about this show. The cast of interesting characters played by appealing actors (Stephen Weber, who I thought was just adequate on Wings, is awesome here) gets into an amusing scrape, which rachets up through complication after complication into a potentially hilarious situation, only to fall flat because all the characters turn sanctimonious and preachy. The sermon du jour: gay marriage, with a side order of War Is Dangerous.

And on the subject of gay marriage, let me briefly dip my toe into these oh-so-treacherous waters. Mary Katharine Ham got pretty close to summing up my feelings on the subject here when she said:

I don't think all the pro-traditional-marriage amendments would have been so widely supported had conservatives not resented the redefinition of a long-standing social institution being imposed upon them by the courts and a small community of activists. It was "The Interference" more than "The Gay,"...

For my own part, I'm an atheist. I don't have a religious objection to homosexuality. But I recognize that marriage, in its various forms, has been a staple of basically every culture across the world thoughout history, and in about all of them I've ever heard of, the basic unit is man and woman. Not necessarily one-and-one, but male and female.

And suddenly, in the past couple of years, I'm being told that people want to change the meaning of this word I've known all my life, and furthermore, that if I object to this sudden political redefinition of one of the basic building blocks of civilization, I'm a terrible person. I'm a Nazi. I'm a slaver. I'm Evil Incarnate.

Dude, I just want you to leave the word alone. Sure, everything changes. According to Wikipedia, ketchup was originally the name for a Chinese fish sauce. But not everything has to change now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Week in TV

One thing we learned on TV this week: never trust a white guy. This season's Survivor, which started out divvying up tribe on the basis of race, quickly showed the gimmick to be insubstantial when the tribes mixed after two weeks and new alliances formed. One alliance in particular looked strong: two of the Asians allied with two of the Caucasians.

This week, we discovered that the two Caucasians, Jonathan and Candice, were merely biding their time until the merge, when they could ally with the other white folks again. And when they got the chance to jump ship and join the other tribe, they leaped for it. Bad move: now neither side trusts them.

Meanwhile, on Heroes, we have a noble Indian scientist searching for clues to his father's death, a Japanese man searching for the hero within himself, a black man wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and his genius, half-black son...

And a whole bunch of nasty white folks: a schizo woman who is a stripper on one side and a murderer and thief on the other, a corrupt politician, a heroin addict, a wife cheating on her cop husband with his partner, a suicidal cheerleader, her potential boyfriend/would-be rapist, and her upstanding dad, who is the head of a secret conspiracy. Oh yeah, and a super-powered serial killer who eats the brains of his victims. There are a couple of minor henchmen characters of other races, and a few decent white folks, but we can see which way the wind is blowing.

Studio 60 was pretty good this week. The behind-the-scenes part of the show is still funnier than any of the skits, although at least this week, they only showed the skit in rehearsal and acknowledged it wasn't that funy. One good thing: John Goodman guest-starred. One bad thing: he doesn't look healthy.

What else? Supernatural did some stunt-casting this week, with Linda Blair playing a cop investigating the Winchester boys. It was the weakest episode of the season as far as I'm concerned, which means it wasn't bad, because the show has been surprisingly good. But Blair is just not a strong actress. If it weren't for her famous face from a movie she made when she was 12 (?), she wouldn't get any work at all nowadays.

And Smallville keeps inching toward the Justice League, which is about the only reason to keep watching, because otherwise this season is pretty damn dull.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Never underestimate the ability of the Dallas Cowboys to give away a game they ought to win. Missed 2-point conversion, dropped passes, and worst of all, 150+ yards in penalties.

And am I the only one who, when KFC runs their commercials for the "famous" bowls (mashed potatoes, corn, chicken, gravy and cheese in a bowl) thinks of Mr. Creosote in "The Meaning of Life" ordering everything on the menu all mixed up in a bucket?

I haven't been doing as much TV blogging the past couple of weeks, partly because we're settling into the middle of the season and the newness is wearing off. Also partly maybe because Studio 60 took a week off, and as mediocre as the show is, it always provides something to write about.

That said, Lost this past week was awesome, and the next episode, the "fall finale" as they're calling it, looks like it will be really intense.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Corrupted File?

Heroes is finally starting to come together. It looks as if they'll start accelerating the pace, now, as they get into the meat of their arc. I hope. I hope.

Finished Turn of the Screw finally, but I seriously thought I had a corrupted file, because it literally ended at the moment of the climax. It was like those kung-fu movies that freeze-frame and super "The End" at the moment the bad guy dies, sometimes as the death-blow is landing. I read the final sentence and hit the page down, and nothing happened. So I closed and reopened the file, thinking it might have frozen up or something, but it stil ended the same. So I went to Cliff's Notes on-line to find out if it mentioned a missing denouement, but no, their summary ended just like the book file.

That sucks, y'all. I know some people say this is the finest horror ever written in the English language, and yeah, I guess it was groundbreaking in its way, but that ending sucked.