Warner Bros.' 2007 Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD set is now
on sale at Amazon for an astounding $24.99. List price is $99.98 (per Amazon, a little higher or lower at other sites). You'll still be a penny shy of free shipping, which is surely intentional.
As there were problems with the release of an almost identical set in 2006, when this Ultimate Collector's Edition came out in 2007 I waited until it had a clean bill of health in online reports and then splurged the moment Borders held one of its very occasional 40%-off sales on DVD sets — knowing that if the set sold out we might not get another such package until there was another Superman movie to promote. I've still yet to watch everything in the set but no fan of the character or any part of the compilation should pass up this opportunity.
On 14 discs, packaged with a lenticular hologram of the Man of Steel in flight inside a tin case sporting both the 1978 and 2006 film versions of the big S, you get...
I don't know when this will get posted so it feels safest to focus my yuletide thoughts
on the morning after.
Many locations have made for a special holiday in my life, but none can match the house way up New Jersey, northwest of New York City, where my father's parents lived during my first decade. There were decorations, cookies, stockings, relatives, carolers, and gifts under what in memory at least is a majestic tree.
So much could be written about the annual anticipations of Christmas in Wyckoff —
my sister and me standing by the curb to greet Santa, in the company of firefighters,
as they handed out candy to the neighborhood children; trying hard to fall asleep, since we knew that the jolly old elf wouldn't return to leave presents until we did (but also hoping that his visit would awaken us so that we could finally catch him in the act); preparing for dinner, then waiting for Dad and Grandpa to finish their carbohydrate-
&-tryptophan naps so that we could roughhouse or enlist their help in explaining, assembling, and playing with games and toys opened earlier that day.
For me, though, the afterglow of Dec. 26th was just as magical as the eve of the 24th and the daylong festivities of the 25th.
If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you may very well have come across “word” verification.
On blogs hosted by Blogger, at least, the author can select an option asking people commenting to type a nonsense string of letters that almost always could make up a
real word, but don’t. Unlike the sort of jumbled-up, visually skewed mixes of characters used by some websites to ensure that users are actual humans rather than automated envoys of mischief or malevolence, these nonsense words generally have vowels and consonants placed in such an order that they're pronounceable; on rare occasion an actual word will even slip in.
I've taken to sharing definitions for my verification “words” in comments if they come readily to mind for the strings on the screen at that moment. It's like Sniglets, which Rich Hall popularized on HBO's Not Necessarily the News and in a series of books back in the '80s, except in reverse. I lay absolutely no claim to being either the first or the best at this, but I've amassed enough that I have some favorites to share.
forized — What you become when you put on your glasses.
Grango — The energy drink for active seniors.
MyStyMe — Architectural Digest's companion magazine for pigs.
beyacho — If you're, like, so over the frenemy thing, but a total beyotch has become a muchacho, just let 'em know that you're proud to call them your new beyacho.
Gapia — A melting-pot country of Denims and Khakis.
torchiti — Small Italian fire-bearing devices.
coryo — An unsuccessful attempt at merging British and hip-hop slang.
injug — Where Hulk find moonshine!
Cablegra — The World's Best Incomplete Cablegram Service.
I hope you’ll chime in with your own favorites, coined by yourself or somebody else, in the comments section to this post — or to get kind-of meta, go to leave a comment and trust that you'll have a good definition for the verification string that appears. The only rule is that no alteration can be made to a “word” as it appears on the screen save for capitalization if desired, although nobody will know should you cheat…
Updated and revised June 2019
The latest batch of cool stuff offered by Graphitti Designs includes, at long last, some Wonder Twins wear. Adult S through XL will cost you $17.95 each (plus shipping) for either Zan or Jayna. I wish children's sizes were available, but my nieces have already worn a couple of my old T-shirts to bed; their mom says they should be okay in these — as long as they don't fight too hard over who gets to wear which one when.
Pie is a tradition of the season.
Okay, I know that's actually a Venn diagram, not a pie chart, but it passes on account
of being laugh-out-loud, pause-the-video-to-catch-your-breath funny. It's from How I Met Your Mother Episode 4.22, wherein Marshall develops an addiction to poster-board visual aids: "This is a pie chart describing my favorite bars. And this is a bar graph describing my favorite pies." You're welcome.
Kindred Posts: The Mother Load • Brew Ha-Ha • See You Next B'ak'tun!
I was reminded yesterday of a delightful piece of writing, David Moser's "This Is
the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself".
While I first read it in the form of some photocopied pages enthusiastically foisted
on me by a friend, I discovered not long after that it was published in Douglas R. Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas, which became one of my favorite and most frequently re-read books. It collects installments of Hofstadter's column of the same name for the magazine Scientific American, a column that succeeded — and was
named by rearranging the letters to the title of — the venerable Martin Gardner's column, Mathematical Games. Hofstadter is best known for his opus Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. Gardner is the editor/curator of another of my favorite and most frequently
re-read books, The Annotated Alice; he has written many more, the latest of which is
an essay collection titled When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That, published two weeks before the author's 95th birthday. My grandfather hit the same landmark three weeks before Gardner, and I hope that my mind is as fresh as either gentleman's at that age.
J.J. Abrams' Star Trek was released on home video this past Tuesday.
I look forward to sitting down on a cold, dark night during the post-sweeps/holiday
lull in new television and digging into its special features.
I keep neglecting this post on The Puppini Sisters, and the universe keeps reminding me to write it up.
Back in March, during an episode of NBC's Chuck, I heard a rendition of The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" in the close-harmony swing style of The Andrews Sisters piped into the background and was smitten. I'd just been introduced to The Puppini Sisters — a trio formed in the UK in 2004 that actually consists of one Puppini and two friends, I learn from the Sisters' Wikipedia entry and a short interview with Marcella Puppini that's cited therein. Marcella's inspiration was provided by the great French animated film Les Triplettes de Belleville; further inspiration came from those Andrews gals, their antecedents The Boswell Sisters, and Marlene Dietrich.
You have to be wary of celebrating a single game too much when it only puts your
team up two to one in a best-of-seven championship series. At a certain point you can even get a mite self-conscious over a blowout, so you can only wonder how your team's hitters feel when they have to keep going to the plate those last couple of innings on such a tear — sure, they might not try as hard for extra bases when ahead by double digits, but they can't outright stop swinging. That being said, I found the Phillies'
11-0 rout of the Dodgers tonight to be a hoot.
At least part of the origins of a dream of mine from last night are obvious: I've had Lost on the brain due to peeking in on Nikki Stafford's Rewatch of the show and lamenting that I still don't have time to participate.
The context of the dream was me reading about an upcoming film in Entertainment Weekly — yet instead of seeing the words on a page, I was seeing the action described
in my mind's eye, as if I had peered into Dumbledore's "pensieve" from the Harry Potter series. And that action was Matthew Fox, in his role as Jack on Lost, standing on the turret of a castle while a storm raged. Julia Roberts was playing a version of Evangeline Lilly's Kate or someone connected to her, but she was inside. Jack, in a suit and tie, shouted amidst the wind and rain about something being unfair; at one point he dumped the contents of an old-fashioned physician's bag over the wall of the turret.
I believe that the name of the movie was In Absentia.
I have vivid dreams and tend to remember at least one upon waking. Sometimes I'll recall others later when actual events jog my memory. They're usually not completely mundane or completely gonzo, but there are exceptions. On rare occasions I'll have dreamt a slice of life so ordinary that only later when reality contradicts it will I both remember the dream and realize that it was a dream. Last year during a nasty bout of the flu I dreamt of nothing but thick, syrupy pitch-black shapes moving around.
I am officially taking a break from the blog.
The world didn't end just now, and — despite my constant, pleasant surprise at the
fact that Blam's Blog has a number of actual "followers" — I don't imagine that my lack of posting lately has particularly frustrated anybody but me. Still, I'd rather make the potentially vain proclamation than just let the blog sit here, suspended and untended sans explanation, like another tendril of dead virtual kudzu.
While attention must be paid to some other aspects of my life, I hope and expect that
in addressing them I'll be able to return to the blog before too long with renewed pur-pose and organization. You might yet see a nearly finished review or a totally awesome link pop up here on occasion if things go smoothly. My sincere thanks go out to every-one who's stopped by so far.
A few weeks ago my sister alerted me to an inadvertently hilarious detergent ad that
ran during Mad Men. It popped up again the other night, and thanks to the narration's awkward grammar it's still danged funny. You'll find the relevant lines in the first comment on this post in case you don't catch them or can't play the video.
I highly recommend the UK production In the Loop, especially if you enjoy gleefully cynical inside-politics satire.
Honestly, I'm afraid of how little exaggeration there may be in this fictional tale of
the run-up to a war in the Middle East based on flimsy — if not fabricated — evidence produced by factions in the US and British governments. But it's less an indictment of hawkish politicians per se or some would-be film à clef about the Bush Administration than it is an all-too-believable comedic gloss on how any perspective can be spun and sold through power, determination, technology, and the right people saying the right kind of thing amidst the 24/7 news machine.
I saw the, um, original repeat of Glee's first episode the other day and wish I'd been able to post a review before the encore encore tonight. Was it music to my ears? Not entirely, but I'm rooting for it.
Uneven but interesting, that pilot is certainly worth sampling before the series
finally continues next Wednesday, Sept. 9th, at 9 p.m. ET. It was previewed last spring — in prime real estate after American Idol — even though the show's actual debut was always scheduled for this fall. Fox must have felt it had an offbeat winner and hoped
to stoke buzz throughout the summer; indeed, reception was generally favorable and songs from the series have been popular downloads on iTunes.
Whether you should check it out depends heavily on your ability to (a) relate to the politics of adolescence, (2) appreciate tautly sung show-tune versions of pop songs from various eras, and (c) accommodate yourself to entertainment presented with and without irony in quick alternation if not simultaneously.
You've probably heard by now that Disney is buying Marvel.
I don't have any insight to share at the moment beyond the fact that most of the jokes — some of them made as much warily as humorously — are just that: jokes. The House of Ideas, as Marvel was once known, won't be "Disneyfied" by The Mouse House. Disney also owns ESPN and Miramax, remember. Which isn't to say there are no ramifications for the entertainment industry.
Before last week, I'd never seen a book trailer. No, I don't mean some kind of large mobile library; I mean a promo piece, like a movie trailer, but, well, for a book. I've now seen the one for Libba Bray's Going Bovine, and you should too.
Kindred Posts: On a Boat • Seat Happens • Brittality
District 9 is one hell of a movie.
I knew even less about it going into a screening the other night than I did about the
film Moon before seeing that thoughtful slice of science fiction, which I reviewed last month. A very broad synopsis of and general thoughts on D9 come after the graphic, but those who want to enter the experience totally blind (or at least with no spoilage on my part) should bail out now. The bottom line is that, yes, I'd recommend it, with the caveats that it dragged a bit in the middle, still impressive but not gripping until it re-engaged me in its final act, and that anyone who has difficulty seeing vomiting or viscera will have to avert their eyes on occasion.
District 9 flew under the radar — ironically, given the massive alien spacecraft that looms over Johannesburg in the movie — as director Neill Blomkamp shot on location in South Africa with a cast of largely first-time actors asked to improvise much of their dialogue. While produced by celebrated filmmaker Peter Jackson, best known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was little mainstream buzz about D9 until Entertain-ment Weekly devoted a cover story to what it called "the must-see movie of the summer" in its Aug. 14th issue (out the week before). I decided not to remind myself
of anything I might've heard about the movie or learn anything new before I saw it.
So a little while back I finished reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, over 300 pages of prose with chapter-break illustrations from Dave McKean. It was released last year by HarperCollins in the US.
The high-concept pitch for the novel would probably be "What if Harry Potter were raised by ghosts in an English graveyard?"
And it would be silly for a number of reasons, the least of which are that the book's central character, Bod, isn't a wizard, and that the book was awarded the 2009 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children, which to some is recommendation enough.
I made a comment about this video to my cousin the other night and realized that it never got shared here on the blog. It's called "Star Wars Retold (by Someone Who Hasn't Seen It)" and it's pretty much what the title says except that she's obviously seen pieces and picked up enough of it through osmosis to get things amusingly close but wrong.
Kindred Posts: Force Clicks • Brittality • Jedi Laugh Track
My last post was about the moon. This one is about the new film Moon, directed by Duncan Jones.
It opens with an in-story promotional video explaining that an isotope of helium abundant on the moon is now mined there to provide much of Earth's power. The lone man monitoring the collection of the isotope is Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell. A robotic apparatus called Gerty is his only company; with satellite communications down Sam can't even talk to his employers at Lunar Industries, let alone his wife and daughter, in real time. Thankfully his three-year hitch, darn near driving him crazy, is almost up. Or maybe it's driven him crazy already? (Gerty is voiced by Kevin Spacey in
a tone akin to that of 2001's HAL, adding to its potential menace.)
The moon was big and lovely the other night.
I didn't check, but it may have been at its perigee, the point at which its elliptical
orbit brings it closest to us. That word and its opposite, apogee, refer to any planetary body in relation to Earth, not specifically the moon, and they've stuck with me since my highly enjoyable 6th-grade astronomy/geology class. Likewise, the more euphonious terms for our proximity to the sun over the course of Earth's annual revolution: perihelion and aphelion (pronounced not "app-heel-yin" but “uh-feel-yin"; think the Irene Cara number from Flashdance). Wikipedia gives terminology for the distances of objects orbiting various heavenly bodies at the entry for apsis, and there are a trinity
of pairings variously used to describe something — a NASA lunar shuttle, say — in orbit around the moon.
I was "oh-fer" in my last entries for The Late Show's online Top Ten Contest. Once I'd recovered from shock over seeing the actual winners, not at all bitter, I went into some kind of fugue state and came up with no fewer than a dozen submissions for the next week's edition.
My Top Twelve Signs You've Encountered a Lame Transformer
12. Only turns into other robots.
11. Is writing a tell-all memoir about its wild night with Jay Leno's motorcycle collection.
10. Keeps referring to your college bumper sticker as a "tramp stamp".
The CMT Music Awards show last week opened with a laugh-out-loud — or at least grin-really-wide — collaboration between T-Pain, who even talks in vocoder, and Taylor Swift called "Thug Story".
It's worth a look if you're familiar with Swift; even better if you catch the references to not just her hit song "Love Story" but T-Pain's appearance in the SNL Digital Short "I'm on a Boat" with Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, who collaborate as The Lonely Island. (You probably know them from the infamous "Dick in a Box" and the laugh-out-loud — or at least... nah, for me it's totally laugh-out-loud — Natalie Portman rap.)
One of the several things I admire about Roger Ebert is his economy of words. No
doubt it helps that he likely spent at least his pre-fame years on strict word counts at The Chicago Sun-Times; also that his readership has become familiar with certain phrases of his which, though perfunctory, don't sound as judgmental as they might from an unknown source. He will often refer to a film as "adapted from the novel, unread by me". You have to marvel at such concise, neutral disclosure. The following books, graphic novels in the sense that the phrase has come to encompass just about any work of comics with a square binding, are as yet unread by me — but likely not
for long, and I have cause to recommend each.
Rod Espinosa's The Courageous Princess [ISBN 978-1-59307-719-8] had a softcover release from Dark Horse in 2007. Espinosa is a respected adapter of literary works to comics, but this is one of his original tales. It was recommended to me as a birthday gift for my 7-year-old cousin by the manager of Showcase, my local comics shop, and I recalled an issue of Espinosa's Alice in Wonderland that had found its way to me. Would you believe the birthday girl began reading it quietly to herself while her party was still rolling along?
A few years ago I was thrilled to find a DVD compilation of childhood favorite The Electric Company. You can read a bit about it — and in particular its crossovers with predecessor Sesame Street — on the Muppet Wiki, as well as in more depth on Wiki-pedia.
I have fond memories of the show, from Rita Moreno's familiar opening shout to the animated Adventures of Letterman shorts to Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader to Skip Hinnant in Fargo North, Decoder, to — of course — the strangely silent Spider-Man
(on which more another time). What surprised me when I popped in the DVD was how much was unfamiliar, including the delightfully absurd soap-opera parody Love of Chair. The first episode of the serial is up on YouTube, albeit bootlegged; just when you think it's started running on fumes about two-thirds of the way through, it finishes with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. Some interesting but spoilery trivia follows in the comments section below.
I have no idea why images have been failing to appear, leaving those charming little question-mark boxes. It's not happening with any rhyme or reason that I'm aware of; on a few occasions pictures that disappeared have reappeared before I can even check the post to ensure that links to Picasa (Google/Blogger's photo-hosting service) are correct. I've taken down posts that are largely depend on graphics and I won't republish them until this gets figured out because I'm just sick of having to constantly do so.
What's even better than hearing that my niece can't come to the phone because she's engrossed in reading Magic Trixie?
I was recently made aware that E and her sister M — that's for privacy purposes, not because my family names its children after club drugs and Fritz Lang movies — lent their book to a friend and were eagerly awaiting the sequel, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over. Sharing is great! And they need wait no longer. I'd already bought it, and I mailed it out after hearing this rather than hold onto it for the girls' upcoming visit. HarperCollins was smart to advertise the next installment in each book, price them low ($7.99 each), and of course snap up this series from the brilliant Jill Thompson to begin with.
I had to resist the temptation to tack this onto the brief Star Trek review that went
up the other day — a good thing, because it keeps getting un-posted somehow. Here, if we're lucky, are some expanded thoughts on the franchise and the film...
I guess I'm a Trekkie. Star Trek's original series was in reruns as I grew up, and my mom introduced me to it; I even faintly recall seeing the early-'70s Saturday-morning cartoon incarnation — specifically, and amusingly given the plot of the new movie, the episode where Spock goes back in time and meets his younger self on Vulcan.
Panels from All-Star Comics #58 © 1975 DC Comics. Script, Editing: Gerry Conway.
Pencils: Ric Estrada. Inks: Wally Wood. Letters: Ben Oda. Colors: Unknown.
Artist Ric Estrada passed away last Friday. He was 81.
While he didn’t rank among the best known comic-book pros, Estrada’s held a place
in my heart for decades thanks to his part in the revival of All-Star Comics in 1975.
I’ve been learning that he holds a place in the hearts of many others for very different work: illustrating passages from what's popularly known as the New Test-ament, plus The Book of Mormon, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as sampled below. Or perhaps not so different, given the superhero genre’s modern spins on ancient myth and legend, but that’s not the purview of this post.
Here's a round of quick bits on Fringe since I've yet to post a proper review.
On last week's episode we finally heard — but didn't see — the mysterious William
Bell via an old videotape. Even if you weren't aware of the recent casting news, it was easy to recognize the voice of Leonard Nimoy, soon to be seen as Spock for perhaps the final time in Lost and Fringe co-creator J.J. Abrams' Star Trek film.
I hadn't submitted anything to The Late Show with David Letterman's online Top
Ten Contest worth posting in a while — until the batch of entries for this week's subject. Note: They're sort-of raunchy. I don't want to offend anyone visiting or get this blog flagged for adult content on the basis of a few lame one-liners, so if you're easily shocked please just don't read my...
Top Nine Punchlines to Dirty Pirate Jokes
9. "And he said, 'How do you think I became first mate?'"
8. "Oh... That dinghy!"
7. "It were so dark she never saw me comin'!"
6. "This one ain't hollow."
5. "So now my ex marks the spot!"
4. "A squid."
3. "That's not why they call it the poop deck."
2. "But the bad news is, that wasn't no mermaid."
And the Number One (and Most Obvious) Punchline to a Dirty Pirate Joke...
I still haven't done a proper essay on Lost. Maybe with only a clip show airing this week I'll be able to collect and condense my thoughts. In the meantime, I thought I'd perform a little public service to fans frustrated by the lack of Norse mythology in last week's episode.
That episode was titled "Some Like It Hoth". And most people who bother to check the titles of upcoming episodes of Lost are at least passingly familiar with Star Wars. (I don't actively look them up myself, but now find them out when reading Jeff Jensen's Totally 'Lost' column at the EW website or from commenters at Nik at Nite, the blog of Finding 'Lost' author Nikki Stafford.)
So it's no surprise that most informed viewers assumed the titular Hoth was a reference to the ice planet seen at the opening of The Empire Strikes Back, which indeed it turned out to be. But some Lost followers either already knew or discovered through research that Hoth is one of the many variations on the name of the Norse god also known as Hod or Hodr, who was tricked by Loki into killing the otherwise invulnerable god Baldr. They were rewarded with bupkis last week.
We've seen hieroglyphics and other references to Egyptian culture and mythology on Lost. The Dharma Initiative is named for a central tenet in various Indian religions. Many allusions to Judeo-Christian messianism have been made, including the presence of an actual, apparently resurrected character called Christian Shephard. And the Island's mysterious smoke creature has been referred to as Cerberus, which is the name of the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades in Greek and Roman mythology.
There must be a way to tie Lost to Norse mythology. I will now attempt to do exactly that through free association. (Don't knock it. Stephen Colbert makes his Oscar predictions this way, and it's served him well.) While the following is obviously the product of my own cultural environs, anything particularly foreign to you should still be clear in context. No infringement upon trademarks and copyrights associated with these images is intended or implied.
Ready? If you don't already see the free association below, click here.
if you don't know what this is.
Not the one I had in mind, but whatever.
Big Audio Dynamite.
The Teen Titans.
Robin the Boy Wonder.
The Island is Paradise Island?
No way! I haven't seen any Amazons.
Wait... The Amazons are Greek mythology;
we're looking for Norse mythology.
Okay, Paradise Island.
The Wrath of Khan.
"Beisbol been bery, bery good... to me."
Chico and the Man.
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Medal of honor.
Chuck Woolery? Yikes! Let's try this again.
"The pen is mightier than the sword."
"Don't Fence Me In".
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.