When these posts began their avowed purpose was to make sure the blog had some content while my attention was mostly directed elsewhere, stoking my own and hopefully my readers' enthusiasm for the new Muppet movie.
Of course these past few months have ended up being among the busiest on the blog, not only in terms of posts posted but viewers viewing them — which is one reason why I decided to keep the new content flowing with more than just Muppet Monday stuff, but that too, even after the movie opened. I'll share some further thoughts on bloggy business in a couple of weeks; right now I'm wrapping up this volley of Muppet Monday with one last round of links.
Here's a list of seven sites for Muppet lovers interested in further exploration, most official and most mentioned on the blog before.
Christmas is here. As always, I wish you a day of peace — and family, and tradition, and fun. My grab-bag of goodies is especially full of music this year.
I heard a very clever parody of The B-52s' "Love Shack" called "Toy Sack" on WXPN the other day. Bob Rivers apparently wrote and recorded the ditty for his 1997 album More Twisted Christmas. His version is on Vimeo set to holiday lights at the preceding link.
Photo © 2011 Brian Saner Lamken.
This year the winter holidays have been a bit different for my family. We had a bunch of cousins move up here to the Philadelphia suburbs from South Florida this past summer, bringing with them an annual tradition of doing Christmas big, whereas usually I either try to visit my father in New Jersey or hang out with friends if I'm able to get out at all. Last weekend there were almost twenty of us decorating cookies; the menorah with the blue background at the bottom of the photo up there and the Christmas tree right above it are both mine, paying homage to my interfaith heritage.
We've had this little travel-sized, traditional-styled Chanukah menorah for
at least as long as I can remember.
I'm fonder of it with every passing year, not just for the memories but for how its collection of "battle scars" — the bits of leftover wax, never completely scraped off the arms and base or entirely gouged out of the little cups that hold the candles — have accreted over the years to give it extra character.
The last three movies I saw were about movies. And one of the next ones I see probably will be too, as The Artist is opening soon at my local art-house theater. I came to this realization walking out of a screening of My Week with Marilyn the other day, my last cinematic indulgences having been Hugo and The Muppets.
While the Muppets actually put on a telethon in The Muppets, and the film's cornerstone reference is TV's The Muppet Show rather than the 1979 Muppet Movie (reprises of "The Rainbow Connection" notwithstanding), it's about movies in the way the characters make metatextual references— in the broader sense of the word; "metacinematic" if you prefer — to being in a movie.
Hugo could be said to be a movie about the moviegoing experience by virtue of the way in which it takes full advantage of the medium of film — the 3D process in particular. Of course, Hugo is also about movies themselves in the very literal fact of its plot involving silent-film auteur Georges Méliès. The scenes of Méliès and company producing his early-1900s fantasias is a highlight of Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, as is the opportunity to see actual clips from classics of early cinema featuring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Louise Brooks, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin rendered in Hugo's surprisingly thoughtful 3D.
Jimmy Fallon returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend — and so did Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan, to help him close out 2011 with a rendition of their old standard "Christmas Is Number One".
Screencap © 2004 NBCUniversal.
The last time the song was performed on the show, seven years ago, Sanz was the only one of the four still in the cast, and stopped the tune almost before it had begun when he realized there was nobody to back him up. Until, that is, Kermit the Frog popped up to tell Horatio that his friends would happy to join in... Here's the video from this past Saturday, to jog your memory, and the previous clip with the Muppets.
Kindred Posts: Muppet Monday [12/5] • Stocking Stuff
Screencap © 2011 Disney.
Given that last week's installment was another long one — also that I've had trouble posting, with both that and this going up late — I thought I'd keep today's Muppet Monday brief. A music video for the song "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets (performed by the new Muppet, Walter, and Jason Segel as his human brother Gary) has been released with clips from other parts of the film interspersed with the song's scene in the movie. For those who've seen The Muppets, the song is a treat to revisit, but for those who haven't seen it and plan to there are some surprises spoiled — like what's probably the funniest cameo in the film, even if like me you don't actually watch the show that made the actor in question famous.
Whether you're fortunate enough to still be in touch with your sense of wonder or have lost it and thought it never to be regained, I beseech you: See Hugo.
Directed by Martin Scorsese from John Logan's screenplay, based on Brian Selznick's acclaimed book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo is 126 minutes long. About 120 of those minutes are pure cinematic nirvana. I'm almost mad, yet also strangely relieved, that no matter how many films I see as this stacked season progresses — and no matter that it's difficult to compare movies of wildly different styles, aims, and approaches — I've clearly seen the most fascinating, most captivating movie of the year (unless, somewhat ironically given their subject matter, The Artist ends up matching it).
I haven't yet read Selznick's book, although I plan to do so before I see the movie again, so I can't say how faithful the film is to it. I can only tell you that Scorsese has delivered a masterpiece.
The look at some of my favorite things begun last year after my 40th birthday is finally continuing. Now, though, it's 41 Favorites, since I took over a year off after my last post; I'm going to try to wrap it up before I turn 42.
My fifth favorite thing in alphabetical order of the bunch that I spitballed last October is the music of Edie Brickell.
Above is a neat homage to the iconic, oft-mimicked Robert Freeman photograph used on the cover to 1963's With The Beatles and early the next year for the US release Meet The Beatles! It's from a recent Parade article titled "Meet the Muppets (Again!)" — which is also the general theme of this post.
Since I'm under the weather and behind on everything, here's another batch of the word-verification definitions that I leave when commenting on other blogs, starting with a seasonal one that's been gathering virtual dust until this time of year came back around. You can find an explanation of what's going on and a collection of
all the definitions to date at the dedicated page I've set up for that purpose.
• adynog — [ad ee nahg] n. (Spanglish) Having promotional material in one hand, a traditional Yuletide drink in the other.
• britend — [brit end] n. 1. A bum (not a panhandler; rather, the buttocks region) in Merry Olde England. 2. The farthest point of the United Kingdom's territorial waters in the English Channel or Atlantic Ocean.
• colifou — [koh ly foo] n. French bacteria strain that takes your sanity.
• copone — 1. [kop wun] v. Get handsy. 2. [koh pohn] v. Make cornbread in tandem.
• Exhiali — [eks hee ah lee] Alien race of heavy breathers.
• Flumenta™ — [floo men tuh] The first FDA-approved treatment for psychic influenza.
• grizato — [grih zah toh] n. Italian ice cream made from brown bears. [No animals were actually harmed in the creation of this definition.]
Well, America got it right in voting Pentatonix winners of this year's edition of NBC's The Sing-Off. I was a bit bummed that just about everybody turned in sub-standard performances on Monday night's live finale, when presumably viewership would get a bump from Dancing with the Stars' absence; maybe it was the lack of pressure, since voting was already closed, but more likely the crazy rehearsal schedule and holiday weekend are to blame. Friends who finally tuned in after hearing me rhapsodize about Pentatonix, Afro-Blue, and Urban Method have my apologies.
Photo © 2011 NBCUniversal Media LLC.
I complained in a post last month about the judges' inexplicable preference for certain groups over others — on the whole, traditional large university-based ensembles beating out more inventive, idiosyncratic but clearly cooler combos. Not that a cappella is all about being "cool", nor that I have an inherent dislike of the collegiate model; quite the opposite, in fact.
Since my review of the new Muppets film isn't done, I offer some snippets of songs from the movie.
The scene in which Camilla the Chicken and friends sing — well, bwawk — the hit single known politely as "Forget You" is a showstopper. I lie not; in the theater, the audience was laughing raucously the entire length of the number. While the clip on DisneyMusic's YouTube channel incorporates other footage (and inserted audio) from the film, in the movie itself the scene is center-stage, uncut, and much the funnier for it.
I'll be spiffing up the blog in the coming months — fixing graphics that have broken links or are too big given the recent template switch, and making some other revisions
of varying degree. One change will be the addition of links to related items sold on Amazon in certain posts. Why?
Cue the boilerplate: Blam's Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
Jason Segel was joined by the Muppets in his monologue this weekend on Saturday Night Live. The real highlight, though, was Kermit the Frog showing up during Weekend Update to join anchor Seth Meyers in one of my favorite recurring segments in all of SNL. Ladies and gentlemen: Really!?! with Seth & Kermit. Yaaayyy!!!
Screencap © 2011 NBCUniversal Media LLC.
I must say that Kermit oversold it at times, but at least they let the follow-up to the "sausage casings" line go with relative subtlety.
The seemingly paradoxical nature of the Zen koan adapted for this post's title is reflected in its subject: Friday night's series finale of Batman: The Brave and
I expect that fans who loved the series loved the episode, "Mitefall", whose title is a reference to Bat-Mite, the magical imp who appeared regularly in the often-goofy Batman comics of the early 1960s, and to Knightfall, the grim-'n'-gritty Batman storyline of the early 1990s. (A Mitefall one-shot parodying that era was published in 1995.) It spotlights many of the show's most popular traits and co-stars B:TBATB's breakout version of Aquaman — less rooted in past depictions of DC's sea king than in his pompous Marvel counterpart Namor the Sub-Mariner, with a big nod to Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Despite the almost reverently expectant note on which my last post ended, I carry a small amount of dread that The Muppets will be unfulfilling or, worse, offensive in some way to its heritage — and moreover I understand that no matter how satisfying it may be on the whole it can't help but lack an essential ingredient.
Promotional photo for The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson © 1990 Muppets Studio LLC.
I'm speaking, of course, about Jim Henson, who invented the Muppets, performed Kermit the Frog (among many others — including Rowlf the Dog, as much his alter ego as the little green dude), and guided a sublimely creative, colorful enterprise for decades.
Next Wednesday The Muppets will be released by Walt Disney Pictures. Since the countdown to the film was the impetus for these Muppet Mostly-Mondays, I figured that now would be a good time to share the numerous posters and links to the various trailers that have been produced to date.
The Muppets' first trailer debuted May 20th online and in theaters with Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
I'm very sorry that this post is going up late. And I realize that there was no Muppet Monday installment at all last week, although I'll try to make it right by doubling up on them soon. What can I say? Accidents happen. Things fall apart. If you don't believe
me, ask the cast of that hit musical Spider-Monster...
Kindred Posts: On a Boat • G Love • No-Spin Zone • Muppet Monday
• The Amazing Spider-Man Minus Andrew Garfield Plus Garfield
I hadn't entered The Late Show with David Letterman's online Top Ten contest
[dead link] for several months before doing so this week. As usual, I threw in a couple of options that weren't stellar along with my personal favorite(s), because you never know what will ring the bell of whomever makes the selections. Even though I didn't submit very many, there was a winner among my...
Top Five Surprises in the Steve Jobs Biography
5. He slipped Bill Gates' barber a fifty every month for 30 years.
4. But for the flip of a coin, he'd have been wearing black pants and a denim turtleneck every day.
3. His kids had to show him how to program the VCR.
2. Ironically, he got the idea for the Apple when a book about Isaac Newton hit him on the head. (Think about it, people!)
And the Number One Surprise in the Steve Jobs Biography...
What if Scooby-Doo was genuinely spooky... and every member of the Mystery Machine gang had paws... and, supernatural stuff aside, the setting was surprisingly realistic... and the end result was totally awesome?
You'd have Beasts of Burden, a delightful breed of horror stories featuring ghosts who walk, creatures that stalk, and most particularly dogs who talk (to one another), created by comics virtuosi Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. I've blogged about both before, Dorkin briefly in April and Thompson back in May 2009 when I praised her bewitching work on Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie.
The initial BOB story was published in 2003's The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings. "Stray" introduced us to the troop — or didn't, actually, jumping right in and making us figure out the dogs' names from dialogue as we went along, but that's the closest thing I might have to a complaint about it. We meet them as they attempt to summon a so-called Wise Dog to help them figure out the strange sounds, smells, and sensations surrounding beagle Jack's new doghouse.
"My grandpa told me when I was a pup... 'Howl at midnight, three strong,'" Whitey,
an excitable terrier, assures his pals after the invocation seems to fall flat. "Then again, they did put Grandpa down the next day."
I've had to restrain myself mightily from blogging on NBC's The Sing-Off each week. As I proved last year, I'm capable of going on at ridiculous length about the show, given my love for a cappella music and creative arrangements of pop songs in general. Until now I've been successful at holding back, but my resolve finally broke last night after the latest in a string of confounding eliminations.
The Sing-Off upped its roster this year to a stunning sixteen groups, starting with two brackets of eight groups each. My early favorites in the first bracket were Afro-Blue, Delilah, and Urban Method, although Delilah soon proved uneven; second-bracket standouts were The Collective, Pentatonix, Sonos, and North Shore. It's curious to me that of these groups all but North Shore, a traditional male doo-wop quintet, and Delilah, an all-women's outfit based on the collegiate a cappella model, are smaller and more experimental.
I didn't get around to publishing this post during the regular season, and the Phillies' early exit from the playoffs left me too bitter to come anywhere near the subject of our national pastime. Since yesterday's unnecessary behemoth of a disquisition tied a belated bow on 2011 baseball for me, however, it's now or next year to discuss my favorite jersey accents.
We're not talking about Tom Kean, Danny DeVito, or Joe Pesci here.
The World Series began last night, with the St. Louis Cardinals taking Game 1 from the Texas Rangers. I didn't watch.
I'm still bummed about my Phillies falling to the Cardinals in the NLDS playoffs, which is a large part of the reason why. As I wrote in the last week of the regular season, 2011 was a banner year for the Phils — which makes it all the more confounding (if not ironic) that they didn't win a pennant. Charlie Manuel's team won a franchise record 102 games, by far the best mark in the major leagues, yet as more than one wag put it the team's ballyhooed four aces were beat in the first round of the playoffs by a wild card; none of the wags, as far as I know, referred to the Phils as royally flushed.
There are those — fans, journalists, and ballplayers, not necessarily in that order — who believe that even (perhaps especially) a stellar regular season is for naught if you don't make it to the World Series.
Just a quick (and late) link this week: OK Go's rendition of The Muppet Show's theme song, featuring the Muppets themselves.
Screencap © 2011 Walt Disney Records.
It premiered on Vevo, where you'll also find a behind-the-scenes short. The band's other intricate efforts are referenced throughout. Don't forget to close the annoying ad at the bottom if you get one and expand the video player to fullscreen...
The song is now available on Amazon as a single MP3 download or as part of The Green Album in CD or MP3 form. If you purchase the song or anything else after clicking through the links in this paragraph, Blam's Blog receives a small percentage of the sale. OK? Go!
I'm not feeling particularly grumpy, nor am I going to wax philosophical about age here like I did in my last birthday post. Really the title is just to keep up the usual conceit of my word-verification definition offerings. For those not familiar with the phenomenon, I've explained it on the dedicated page that collects accumulated entries to date.
• antick — [an tik] n. 1. Ye olde foolish behaviour. 2. Half ant, half tick.
• bledlump — [bled lump] n. A smidge of clotted exsanguination.
• botica — [bah tih kuh] n. The study of 'droids and other 'tomatons.
• Clola™ — [cloh luh] Clam-flavored cola. [Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.] [Uh... But don't try it.]
• derbsaly — [durb suh lee] adv. About or referring to a horse race (or a sporting contest in general). "Derbsaly speaking, Kentucky is my favorite."
If your life was lacking Glee tonight due to those gosh-darned baseball playoffs, maybe some day-after-Monday Muppetude will get you grinning again. Sesame Street has given us some great goofs on popular songs and TV series, from a Billy Idol lookalike Muppet singing "Rebel L" to the detectives of ABCD Blue. Now give it up for... G.
I got a grin out of Rachel's lines in the crowd noise that opens the skit, the bearded piano player who pops up out of nowhere, and more, but the grandest giggle goes to the amazing likeness of "Mr. Goo".
Grover and I share a birthday, according to the awesome book 'Sesame Street' Unpaved — Oct. 14th.
A prototype of Grover called Gleep appeared as early as 1967 on an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show. I get that info from the Muppet Wiki link at the beginning of this post, which is not to be confused with The Monster at the End of This Book (on which more shortly). Nearly all proper nouns seen in blue hypertext during Muppet Mondays, if not otherwise specified, head over to that expansive and entertainingly informative website despite it not being an authorized outlet.
I've been tickled by having a birthday in common with Grover since I found out about it. He is so earnest and so lovable and so game for anything — running Near and Far to exhaustion, for example, as seen right now on his home page at the official Sesame Street website — that he edged out Kermit as my favorite Muppet; his occasional adventures as Super Grover didn't hurt, of course. [Just in case "Near and Far" has cycled off by the time you visit the page, I'll throw in a YouTube link.]
The last time Saturday Night Live ran a Fox & Friends sketch, I transcribed the litany of "corrections" that scrolled across the screen and ended up with what was for about a day a very, very popular post. We've become used to being able to find almost anything we want on the Internet, quickly, so to do my part I've just repeated April's effort.
Once again, I've left all typographical conventions intact, from the line breaks to the occasional omission of a necessary clause-ending comma to the lack of italics around TV-series titles to the failure to properly hyphenate "Spider-Man" — except that I couldn't help but put in periods on the last few items, which as aired were missing, for consistency's sake. (To an inveterate copy-editor like me such restraint doesn't come easily, I assure you.) I had to go through the whole thing a few times from the start, since the DVR I'm using is actually less responsive than the VCR used last time around, but I'm pretty sure I got everything. The relevant text is copyright 2011 NBC Studios and reproduced as a public service.
Seth walks into his friend Harry's office as Harry is ending a telephone conversation.
"I'll see you when you get back from Tanzania, Reb Jacob," he overhears Harry say.
"Tanzania?" Seth asks.
"Yes," Harry says. "I just spoke to Jacob Lieberman. He flew in from Toronto yesterday and now he's off to Dar es Salaam. After Tanzania it's Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique before he comes home."
"Jacob Lieberman," Seth muses. "He did the circumcision at my son's bris."
"Indeed he did," Harry replies.
"And last time I was here you were talking to the fellow who performed your son's bris — asking for references, if I recall."
"Right again," Harry says. "I caught him in between trips to Europe. He's quite a traveler."
"What the heck is this all about?" Seth asks.
Here's a 15-minute segment featuring Jim Henson that aired on Iowa Public Television in 1969.
I thought about running it last week but decided to start my Muppet Mondays with more of a bang; while it'll surely suck in any Henson admirer, it's longer and slower-paced than your usual Internet video. Henson is so mellow that he makes Mister Rogers look like Gilbert Gottfried.
I haven't finished converting the cover dates on my master list of comics milestones
to on-sale dates, so the 25th anniversary of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen #1 is being observed late. The issue actually came out in June 1986, three months before its cover and indicia date. You can read more about this practice at the above link, and expect more commemorative posts once I finally get The Comicologist online, but I didn't want to let this occasion pass without mention.
The mid '80s were a renaissance era for the American comic-book industry, as the direct market of specialty shops led to a rise in alternative / independent publishers, creator-owned projects, and more sophisticated storytelling.
I find this post's title most apt given the options, but Fringe's Season Four premiere didn't actually bring us back to the point at which the rewritten timeline we're viewing diverged from the familiar one decades ago. Rather...
... picked up shortly after the Season Three finale, with Peter erased from reality due to actions he undertook to save his native and adopted universes. Over Here and Over There both still exist; in fact, they coexist in the room that houses the First People's machine — where members of each side's Fringe Division meet to compare notes, as we see Olivia and her counterpart Fauxlivia do grudgingly.
Yeah, I've decided to write up some thoughts on the episode, despite the near certainty that I won't be doing so weekly. Partly it's an imperfect salve for the fact that I never got to finish out the brief run that I began at the end of last season — not that there aren't plenty of other unpublished or just plain unwritten posts in Blam's Blog history whose absence irritates me — and partly it's because if/when I do get to resume Fringe reviews I'll likely appreciate having this as a foundation. In case you're new to these posts, I should explain that having named my Lost episode analyses after Beatles tunes I decided to name my "Fringe Thinking" installments after John Lennon songs (Beatles or solo); unfortunately, some titles perfect for this post were either already used for "Lost in Thought".
Here's some of what made me think:
This past Saturday would have been Jim Henson's 75th birthday.
Since I really and truly plan to take a break from the blog come October, with the exception of publishing or re-publishing some backlogged material as time allows, I thought that I'd set up a series of short weekly posts counting down to the much-anticipated opening of the new Muppet movie as a way of ensuring at least a bit of fresh content. It's just a coincidence that so many of my stockpiled links are perfect for such an endeavor.
Our first installment is a clip from a pitch that Henson & Co. made trying to sell a little something called The Muppet Show to CBS. Like many of my links it comes courtesy of Mark Evanier, who places it in some context.
I have my sister to thank for this most excellent video link featuring my favorite character on Glee, whose new season premieres at 8 p.m. ET tonight on Fox.
Heather Morris does the voodoo that she does so well — and which I've praised before — in "A Day in the Life of Brittany S. Pierce".
My family is full of special kids — funny, smart, good-looking. I'd expect nothing less from the Saner gene pool, really, but a small part of me figured that statistically there'd have to be one dud in the bunch, if only by comparison to the rest. So far, though, from the youngest up through the eldest, born my senior year in college and now a sophomore herself, the next generation is pretty universally awesome.
Ravi, however, is a little more special than the rest. That's in part due to his being on the autism spectrum, yes, but also because — to take the aphorism from Job out of context and turn it on its head — while the Lord taketh away, the Lord also giveth.
A year ago at a family dinner, I had a chat with Ravi to figure out a good book to get him for his impending 6th birthday, asking if he preferred history or fantasy (or liked both).
Ravi: "I prefer history and non-fiction to fiction."
Me: "Do you have a favorite period of history?"
Ravi: "About 4.6 billion years ago is the limit of my interest in history."
Ravi: "That's approximately when Earth and the solar system were created."
Of course I remember September 11th, 2001. Not a soul who was of age to
remember it will ever forget. And no matter what that day was going to be for them, when it started, it ended up different.
I was supposed to move that morning, only the truck broke down. We got a call quite early — at my mother's house, where I'd been staying between apartments — that the hauling of stuff would have to wait a day. Sure, I could have gone over to the new place and spent the night there anyway; the events that soon unfolded, though, called for family. I sat and watched Peter Jennings cover the unfathomable news just as I had 25 years earlier, home from school with the flu on the day the Challenger was lost.
That's all you'll hear me say directly about the grim scenes whose 10th anniversary we mark today because, really, there are no words.
What to do, then? How to do… something?
Logos TM/® DC Comics.
Here's an index to the DC reboot I put together. All 52 titles are listed alpha-
betically with credits. So far each blue title just links to the one of the seven posts
I've published — six on the 37 series in my main DC Universe line, plus one covering the 15 "Multiverse" projects — in which the series at hand is synopsized, although since I recently learned how to do jump-links to specific points within a post I might just be crazy enough to tackle that level of linkage for the index at some point.
Writers: Bill Willingham, Jane Espenson, et al. /
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Amy Reeder Hadley, et al.
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Writers: Kurt Busiek, et al. / Artists: Carlos Pacheco, et al.
Cover Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Writers / Artists: various
Writer: Greg Rucka / Artist: Steve Epting
Cover Artist: Steve Epting
Writer: Mark Waid / Artist: Chad Hardin
Cover Artist: Geof Darrow
[continued from yesterday]
The Secret Six
Writer: Marc Andreyko / Artist: Stefano Gaudiano
Even among those beings of power and valor who've dedicated themselves to patrolling the vast skies and dank alleyways, few are aware of all that imperils humanity, peace, and the very existence of life as we know it. Yet through the ages demons and dark magic have ever lurked, and ever have six champions wielding sorcerous arts and artifacts been chosen by the mysterious Seventh to defend the world. The Secret Six follows the fractious endeavors of the latest such assembly, whose current membership consists of investigator Richard Occult; modern-day
ronin Tatsu Yamashiro, alias Katana; the shaman known only as Doctor Mist; the enchantress named June Moon; the medicine woman called Manitou Dawn; and powerful but irreverent wizard John Constantine. Writer Marc Andreyko [DC's Manhunter, Image's Torso] and interior artist Stefano Gaudiano [DC's Gotham Central, Marvel's Daredevil], bring grim humor and grit to this crossroads of the literal and metaphorical underworld, with covers from The Unknown's Erik Jones.
[continued from yesterday]
Writers: Bill Willingham, Jane Espenson, et al. /
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Amy Reeder Hadley, et al.
Metropolis has been ground zero for rapidly developing technology and metahuman activity since Superman's arrival. Action Comics is an anthology set in America's First City that explores the Man of Tomorrow's friends and foes, from Lois Lane to Lex Luthor, in a variety of features — fronted by a look inside the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit written by Bill Willingham [Fables, Shadowpact] and drawn by Jésus Saiz [Manhunter, Checkmate]. Among the first round of rotating backups is a Daily Planet dramedy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Jane Espenson and Madame Xanadu's Amy Reeder Hadley; Kane creator Paul Grist waits on deck with a story about Mr. Action himself, Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen, while Dan Panosian handles the covers.
[continued from yesterday]
Writer: Landry Q. Walker / Artist: Zander Cannon
While numerous extraterrestrials have appeared on Earth following Superman's revelation to the world, none have concerned Kal-El more, in both senses of the word, than a girl named Kara. She claims to be the sole survivor of a Kryptonian lunar colony known as Argon, wiped out in the wake of Krypton's destruction, but there's no mention of Argon in what little information Superman has of his birthplace and the memory tapes in her spacecraft are Kara's only evidence. Americans, Amazons, and even Atlanteans — most especially her sometime boyfriend — have embraced her, but for all her charm questions about Supergirl remain. Landry Q. Walker provided a delightful spin on Kara Zor-El in Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade;
now he transfers to the brand-new DC Universe proper to teach some revised history. The Replacement God creator and Top Ten artist Zander Cannon handles
the interior art with covers illustrated by Age of Bronze's Eric Shanower.
I'm finally picking up the geeking out that is my DC reboot again with mere days to go until the real thing hits. As I wrote in a preface two months ago in greater detail, I've gone for broke on a friend's challenge to come up with 52 titles and attendant creative teams relaunching DC's main superhero line just as the company itself is doing; I couldn't help devising springboard premises for many of them as well. My first and second capsule-bible posts covered 10 of the 37 series taking place in the new core DC Universe, while my third covered 15 mostly independent Multiverse projects. Another 12 of the DC Universe series appear today and tomorrow with the final 15, all anthologies or team titles, to be published as soon as possible.
Writer: Jeff Parker / Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
The Starman name first belonged to a second-string superhero and was then bequeathed upon a litany of lesser lights until a legacy was built around the label over a dozen years ago. Now the newest DC Universe is seen through the eyes of its newest champion as another Starman is born at the hands of writer Jeff Parker [Marvel's Hulk and X-Men: First Class], who reinvented characters from a bygone era for DC's distinguished competition in Agents of Atlas. Rafael Albuquerque [Blue Beetle, American Vampire] applies his fluid yet crisp linework as interior and cover artist.
25 years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics is doing what many fans and creators felt it should have done back then: making a clean break with the continuity it's rewriting, streamlining, and/or leaving behind entirely by starting every pertinent series over with #1.
This isn't the post where I talk about that rapidly approaching "New 52" initiative from reading and retailing perspectives, however. Nor is it the post where I go all retcon scholar by tracing the history of DC's reboots, reimaginings, and reintegrations from the establishment of the Multiverse, through the 50th-anniversary event that could not long ago be shorthanded simply as Crisis and which had its own 25th birthday last year, on to Zero Hour and the dithering recent run of Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown, Final Crisis, and, yes, this thing that's come after Final Crisis. Rather it's another stopgap post where I tell you that that stuff is on its way, fingers crossed, as quickly as possible, but, alas, not necessarily — oh, the irony — in time.
So I ask my fellow fanboys and fangirls who recall the prolonged dwelling on Crisis in the pages of All-Star Squadron to indulge me as they did Roy Thomas, who had Mekanique somehow stave off the merging of the known multiverse in Squadron's early-'40s setting for a spell despite the fact that the event basically occurred outside time and affected all of reality at once. (We'll leave aside the fact that All-Star Squadron was canceled soon after Crisis, if only in favor of the replacement series Young All-Stars.) I think that The Spectre did something similar in the Last Days of The Justice Society one-shot, by the way, so you can think of me either as a shiny gold robot woman from the future or as a giant bone-white guy in a green Speedo, gloves, and hooded cloak who metes out divine vengeance; the salient point is that I need to will a protective bubble around Blam's Blog — or just metaphorically stick my fingers in my ears and sing la-la-la — for the coming round of reviews to remain relevant as Flashpoint concludes and the latest New DC Universe debuts.
My laptop should be going in for yet another round of repair to try to fix that Wi-Fi problem this week, meaning that — while I have everything backed up in multiple formats, including all my documents on redundant USB flash drives for ease of continued writing — if I can't get a loaner there will probably be another hiatus in publishing here.
Priority in the immediate future goes to the rest of my own imagined DC Universe relaunch, now that as much has been reconstituted or rewritten from faulty backups as possible. After that it's a race to complete my reviews of issues from the past year of Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as to at least begin my sprawling look at the Batman titles from the point of Batman Reborn through the still ongoing Batman Incorporated. Then with luck comes my take on this whole "New 52" deal, along with thoughts on reboots both within the DC Comics line and elsewhere in media, followed, or in a less fortunate scenario merely supplanted, by another post on what's in the ever-changing, ever-taunting, ever-clogged queue...
Logo ® Major League Baseball.
The All-Star break seems like the perfect time to talk a little baseball.
I'm very happy that the National League won this year's MLB All-Star Game, 5-1 — not only because the game decides home-field advantage for the World Series, a fact that I fervently hope affects my Phillies, but because of good ol' NL pride. National League baseball is real baseball.
Kudos to 2011 MVP Prince Fielder for his 3-run blast and letting his kids hold the trophy.
Last night my nephew "I", alias Ishmael for the sake of public sharing, arrived
with his sisters, "E" & "M", and their mother for their annual summer visit.
Mom-Mom: "Are you ready to get in your PJs?"
Ishmael, who turned four last week: "No!"
Uncle Brian: "I just heard Mommy tell your sisters to put on their pajamas. She'll probably be in here in a minute."
Ishmael: "Yeah... We're gonna have to hide."
Kindred Posts: I ♥ Elephants • An M and E Mail • What I Said
I'm taking a break from listing the 37 main DC Universe titles in my DC reboot,
in part due to the file-recovery problems noted yesterday, to share the 15 series out
of the overall 52 that are part of the non- or alternate-continuity DC Multiverse line-within-a-line. (As with the actual DC relaunch, my 52 titles only cover the core DC continuity dominated by superhero adventure, not the Vertigo line, licensed-property titles, titles aimed primarily at younger readers, and so forth.)
The first trio consists of non-continuity series with rotating creative teams and features. Everything after that — save for the last title — stands on its own, although
a couple of series are linked to one another by virtue of being set in the same fictional reality. You can of course rest assured that all the old stories you love still "exist" somewhere out there as well. 8^)
My rationale for superhumans and even supertech in this new multiverse paradigm
is that when Kal-El's rocket arrived from Krypton its wormhole brought with it massive energy that over time accounts for the development or at least the gone-into-overdrive mutation of a metagene whose effects vary from enhanced intelligence to hardiness and longevity to obviously outrageous abilities in a small but significant minority of the population. That's something that I recall discussing with friends way back when Crisis on Infinite Earths brought about the first intentional overhaul of DC continuity a quarter-century ago, but at this point I don't remember whether we came up with it ourselves or it was discussed by a likely culprit such as John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, or Len Wein in some fan magazine. The parallel realities in my multiverse differ in when or even whether a Kryptonian craft came to Earth, with the debut of Superman or his analogue occurring in both strange and familiar ways but always marking some kind of singularity in each reality's development of supernormal phenomena.
[continued from yesterday]
Writer: Mark Waid / Artist: Chad Hardin
Ray Palmer has disappeared and Ryan Choi aims to find him, but if, as Ryan suspects, his former physics professor has shrunk to submolecular size, that's like searching for a needle in an unmarked haystack among a nearly infinite succession of barns. Meanwhile, as The Atom, he's put through his paces as a fledgling superhero by master craftsman Mark Waid [Kingdom Come], who expertly probes the perspectives of those with seemingly impossible abilities, here joined by his Traveler fellow Chad Hardin [Countdown to Mystery]. The divinely detailed Geof Darrow is on cover duty.
I put up a substantial preface to this batch of posts on Friday, but here's a brief recap: DC Comics' May 31st announcement that it would relaunch its main superhero line with 52 new or rejiggered titles come September prompted a friend of mine to put out a call for folks to brainstorm a wish list of what those titles and their creative teams should be. I took up the challenge and, before I knew it, had premises for the whole deck of cards within a new paradigm.
The bulk of my line takes place within yet another "rebooted" DC Universe whose heroic age began at the dawn of the new millennium with the first appearance of Superman. A few of the series are showcase titles with rotating creative teams divorced from continuity, while a dozen more are largely disconnected but together can be seen as evidence of a wider DC Multiverse; we'll get to those shortly. I figured that it made sense to start with the big guns.
I did all of this save for some tweaking before DC itself had released much information on its actual slate of titles, by the way, so it's interesting to see how different and in a few cases how similar my imagined and DC's genuine rosters turned out to be.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi / Artist: Rags Morales
Clark Kent is the Last Son of Krypton. He was raised by a good, kind couple in the heartland of the USA, but although he feels human he knows that, biologically at least, he isn't — that's as obvious from his amazing strength, speed, senses, and other super-powers as it is from the alien craft that bore him. For the past decade, since revealing his existence to the world as Superman, he's inspired others with special abilities to join his never-ending battle against crime, hatred, and injustice, including some who are themselves from beyond the stars. And while his dedication as well as his very origins have prompted much of humanity to unite, looking at the cosmos in a whole new way, there are those (of pure and perverse intentions) searching for answers to why the 21st century has ushered Earth into the realm of what seems like science fiction. Peter J. Tomasi [Batman and Robin, Green Lantern Corps] pairs with his Nightwing cohort Rags Morales [Hourman, Identity Crisis] to begin an enduring legend anew. Jeffrey Spokes, who provided stunning variants for Boom!'s Irredeemable, handles the covers.
The very day that DC let fly news of its plans, come Aug. 31st, to relaunch its main superhero line in the form of 52 first issues — and, not so incidentally, move to digital release simultaneous with print — my interest was piqued by my friend Stefan's invitation to pitch creative teams for any or all of the titles.
Logos TM/® DC Comics.
It was purely a fan exercise, to be clear. Stefan Blitz, of the Rhode Island Blitzes, is
a pal from our days working together at the fabled Philadelphia comics shop Fat Jack's Comicrypt and unlike at least three other friends I made during that time has not gone on to work for DC Comics. No-one had yet heard, 25 days ago, what these 52 titles were or what the state of the DC Universe would be. Stefan, in his capacity as editor-in-chief of Forces of Geek, was just asking a small circle of folks to brainstorm on a lark; then he'd post a slate of the most intriguing combinations. By the time he told me that he'd canned the endeavor I'd already put together an entire roster of 52 series within the framework of a targeted continuity reboot.
Yeah, I know.
The blog's drought should be ending soon, as my computer is expected to come home in full working order tomorrow.
I feel awful about the lack of posts here over the past few weeks and will do my best to make it up to you with as much material as possible published as quickly as possible. One silver lining in all of this — very long in coming, to be sure — is that while a tech at the local Apple Store was diagnosing my laptop's latest round of hardware problems he was finally able to replicate the connectivity issues that have plagued me for three solid years, so between our house's recent switch from Comcast to Verizon FiOS and the lap-top's new WiFi card there will, fingers crossed, be a lot less trouble getting online.
I have the blog's first stand-alone page up, a collection of my word-verification definitions (with an explanation for the uninitiated), so here's another installment of that series in celebration.
• applayer — [ap play ur] n. Someone hooked on their smart-phone games.
• bedness — [bed niss] n. Whedon-esque term for sleeping: "After a night like that, I'm just looking for some quick snackage and the bedness."
• boation — [bo shun] n. Movement on a seafaring craft.
Just the short for now:
Smallville's series finale repeats on The CW tonight from 8 to 10 p.m. ET/PT.
I watched it when it originally aired last Friday, with hope, skepticism, and ultimately the same disappointment familiar to me from throughout the show's 10-year run. You've probably already seen it if you cared at all about this controversial take on the Superman saga, but if you haven't and spoilers in my overdue series review will bother you then you should tune in.
The long has proven tremendously difficult to get published, and if I can't do so soon it'll have to hang out on the ever-growing scrapheap of abandoned posts. I certainly hope it will be online by this fall, when Smallville: The Complete Series is released by Warner Home Video in a 62-disc collectible package with all 218 episodes and special features not available on the season-by-season boxed sets; past that point, nobody including me will give a fallow acre until Superman's 75th anniversary a couple of years out.
Assuming your connection is better than mine, you should be able to access the final episodes at the CW Network website for at least a month after this post is published. The two-part series finale is available for the price of one episode on iTunes, $1.99 standard or $2.99 for HD, and as Forces of Geek recently reported iTunes also has the premieres of Seasons One through Ten available for free download for a limited time in partnership with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, with discounted prices on full seasons.
May 1st is celebrated in various places as May Day with events welcoming spring. The date has nothing to do with the international distress call "mayday" but seemed as good a time as any to offer some links for disaster relief.
I don't write much about "real-world" stuff here on the blog, with the exception of some family anecdotes. For a while now, though, I've been feeling like I should address the tragedies wrought in recent months by natural disasters.
We've had a noticeable string of such events going for the past several years, in fact, perhaps due in part to climate change but according to many geologists and meteorologists largely due to the fluke of earthquakes affecting more populated areas than usual — even if the number of such earthquakes (and resultant tsunamis) isn't significantly greater than normal on a global average.
When my niece E was quite little, she was fascinated with a book at my mother's
house on Louis Pasteur that Mom's husband had from his days as a teacher. It referred to germs as "the invisible enemies" but E kept calling them "the invisible anemones" — not realizing, of course, either her mistake or the fact that there were actually such things as anemones.
E and her younger sister M are older now, eight and six respectively, yet still delighted by books and still coming out with terribly funny things.
"Let's pretend we are in the olden days," my sister J overheard E saying to M recently. "Pretend it is 1980!" ("And no," J added, "she did not mean 1880; I asked.")
I'm about to call a moratorium on posts beyond what's in the pipeline because there's so. much. to write. The 11 o'clock edition of Action News tonight, however, ran a story that just screams to be blogged on both for what it said and for what it left out.
The main thing that I was surprised anchor Jim Gardner didn't mention during the story was that today was the birthday of John James Audubon — which I'll admit I only knew thanks to the day's Google logo.
And one reason why the omission is surprising is that the story was about some
ducks hatching outside a fast-food restaurant across the bridge from Philadelphia in Camden County. In case you didn't know: Audubon, born Jean-Jacques Audubon in France, was a renowned ornithologist — Hello! — who became an American citizen right here in Philly during the War of 1812.