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.
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.
Related: The Mother Load • Brew Ha-Ha • See You Next B'ak'tun!
I was reminded yesterday of David Moser's delightful "This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself".
While I first encountered it in the form of some unattributed, 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. The Abrams commentaries
on the pilot episodes of Lost and Fringe — the latter with Trek screenwriting duo Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci — were top-notch. I'm almost glad that I don't have a Blu-Ray player since the regular 2-disc edition looks just right in terms of my level of interest in extras.
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 their Wikipedia entry and a short interview with Marcella Puppini that's cited therein. Marcella's catalyst was 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. Oddly, 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 that in
addressing them I'll be able to return to the blog before too long with renewed purpose 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 everyone 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 film 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 cinéma 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've been a DC Comics reader for about 35 years now. While most kids in my generation dropped the comics habit by their teens, occasionally to rediscover the medium in college as it grew up with them, I went the opposite route, hitching my train to the industry and expanding my exposure to the art form. I had to go cold turkey several years ago, unable to work and in financial crisis, but when I finally, hesitantly put my toe back into the waters the first thing I did was check in on the characters I'd loved most dearly.
DC is different today. And while that's true in the larger sense of these times vs. those times, I mean that DC is actually different today. Paul Levitz is stepping down as President and Publisher of DC Comics after a long tenure in corporate positions, and its parent company has announced the formation of DC Entertainment.
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.
Glee photos © 2009 and logo TM 20th Century Fox Television.
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 made as much warily as humorously — are just that: jokes. The Marvel Bullpen won't be "Disneyfied". Remember, Disney also owns ESPN and Miramax. 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 promotional video, 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.
Related: On a Boat • Deep Sit • 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 intriguing 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 Peter Jackson, best known for his adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, there was little mainstream buzz about D9 until Entertainment 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.
I hadn't tried it yet when writing about Mad Men the other day, but now that I've done so I cheerfully direct you to "Mad Men Yourself" on the show's official website.
You get just enough choices at each stage that the process doesn't become a chore yet it still manages — in my case, at least — to produce a surprising likeness.
"She's a reader of rights. He's a writer of wrongs. They're New York's most unlikely crimefighting duo.”
I was thinking of that kind of grand old trope even before it showed up in a promo for ABC's Castle. The series, created by Andrew Marlowe, wears it well.
He? Richard Castle, best-selling mystery novelist, divorced with a child and a playboy reputation, struggling with writer's block. She? Homicide detective Kate Beckett, single, stoic, slightly star-struck over meeting Castle but determined not to show it. After his insights help her unit crack a spate of murders based on his books, arrangements are made for him to shadow Beckett as inspiration for his next one — to her consternation, when procedural friction and romantic tension ensue.
Blam’s Blog is a half-year old today.
I've just finished reassembling and republishing the last of my vanished entries —
at least all of those that I plan to put back up for the foreseeable future. Those of you who’ve been reading the blog for a while, or visiting and exploring older posts (I'm flattered), know that everything vanished in mid April and that similar yet different problems continue to plague this joint. I still haven't given up on an alternate platform, but there are only so many hours in the day and, sad to say, most of mine aren't that productive.
The aforementioned vanishing posts accounted in part for the drop-off after my big push in March, due to both the amount of time it took to deal with the issue and the discouragement wrought by the affair, not to mention our lousy Internet connection.
Also coming into play were plans for another, comics-specific blog and related work on a project that I hope to announce shortly. They've siphoned time and focus away from updating this blog as well as from the enjoyable pursuit of reading other blogs.
My thanks to everybody who's read, commented on, or written privately about Blam's Blog since its debut in February... I know it's just a tiny, tiny, tiny little corner of the cybersphere, but it's mine.
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.
Related: Crazy Talk • Brittality • Force Clicks
Leverage is a delight of a TV show whose second season begins tonight at 9 p.m.
ET on TNT. For maximum enjoyment you should record it and buy or rent the just-released first season on DVD, although I have a feeling you'll get everything you need
to know from tonight's season opener.
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 song 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.
Transformers movie still © 2007 DreamWorks, Paramount, Hasbro.
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".
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.
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 greater depth on Wikipedia.
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.
Here at last, on the heels of the brief Star Trek review I put up the other day, are
some expanded thoughts on the franchise and the film...
I suppose I'm a Trekkie. Star Trek's original series aired in reruns as I grew up, and
my mom introduced me to it. The Saturday-morning cartoon incarnation that debuted in 1973 was on as well — I recall most vividly (and not irrelevantly to the subject at hand) the episode in which 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 Testament, 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...
Photo: George Widman / The Associated Press © 2002.
Harry Kalas died on Monday.
If you live — or if you once lived, anytime in the past 38 years — in what they call the Greater Philadelphia Area, you've probably heard and almost certainly heard of Mr. Kalas. "Harry the K" was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies for nearly four decades, so established, so resonant, and so loved that his collapse in the visitors' press box before Washington's home opener shocked and saddened millions.
Football fans will recognize Harry's voice from narration on Inside the NFL. He also
did voice-over work for commercials, including the TV spot for last year's football movie Leatherheads. But he belonged to baseball.