The Devil You Say

I came up with a dozen entries for the Late Show with David Letterman website's
current Top Ten contest [dead link]. You can enter this round through the end of the week, although I'm usually keen to brainstorm as much as I can on Monday when
the newsletter arrives in my inbox in case of similar entries.

My Top Twelve Signs Your Neighbor Is Really Satan

12. When you had a come-as-you-are party, he came as Satan.

11. His barbecues always smell like grilled person.

10. The hot chick gardening out front has an "I'm with Satan" T-shirt.

9. He keeps leaving his Underworld's Best Dad mug on the porch.

8. Blues guitarists drop by at all hours of the night.

Leaps and Bounds

We’re an hour away from Superman's birthday, according to old comics lore.
Stories in various media are in conflict — at times, within their own continuity — over both when the Man of Steel was born on his homeworld of Krypton relative to Earth’s Western calendar and when his rocket landed near the Kent farm. As I wrote a few years back, though, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz and writer/historian E. Nelson Bridwell noted in response to reader mail with a giant wink that Superman barely seemed to age because his birthday only came around every four years.

Superman in mid-leap between sketchily drawn buildings above a trafficked city street, holding a flailing fellow by the ankle
Panel from 1st story in Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Script: Jerry Siegel. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Joe Shuster. Colors: Unknown.

On the heels of the Feb. 29th date seeing print in a 1976 DC calendar and those occasional lettercolumns, Alan Moore used it in the acclaimed tale “For the Man Who Has Everything”, drawn by his Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons for 1985’s Super-man Annual. The same calendar gave alter ego Clark Kent’s birthday as June 18th, however, carrying on from a 1973 story establishing the date as that of Kal-El's arrival on Earth. Writer Cary Bates may have chosen that month based on the character’s 1938 introduction in the pages of Action Comics #1, bearing a cover date of June but on newsstands at least one month prior — despite which DC celebrated Superman’s 50th anniversary with a party on the Friday before Leap Day in 1988.


I'm sure that the world doesn't need another Oscars analysis. And while that hasn't stopped me the past couple of years, real-life concerns have me too distracted right now to forge ahead with any prolonged insight; neither my head nor my heart is in the game.

Billy Crystal's return as host was more triumphant in terms of his professionalism than truly rollicking humor, but that's probably okay. We had some good, yet not much bad or ugly — mostly things were perfectly fine but unremarkable, unless that was just my mood — and it's the controversy, the unexpected, the WTF moments where quick-minded emcees (with backstage writers at the ready for good measure) like Crystal shine. I noticed and appreciated his ease at moving the show along, perhaps due to the particular contrast with recent hosts, even while wishing for some wittier material.

My dislikes, mild though they were, included...

Pre-Oscars Post

The Oscars telecast, you may have heard, begins Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC, with red-carpet coverage launching at 7 on the East Coast.

Billy Crystal is to host. He got a standing ovation just for walking out on stage at last year's ceremonies, in defiance of the failed Hathaway & Franco Gambit of 2011 and proving the point of a poem that I wrote in free verse a few years ago (still one of my own favorite pieces). 

I hope to have a writeup here on Monday, but for the first time I'm loosing a pre-Oscars post, too, offering some links relevant to both last year's and this year's telecasts... plus some really bad puns.

First up is a blooper reel for leading Best Picture contender The Artist. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it is charming, especially as set to Ludovic Bource's Oscar-nominated leitmotif. And it shows that breakout star Uggie ain't necessarily a first-take kind of dog.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I didn't see The Tree of Life in theaters. Reviews of the film were mixed enough, and my moviegoing is limited enough, that it didn't make the cut during its release. I was curious about it, however, and I got it on DVD last month from Netflix.

Between critics and acquaintances, I'd heard the film described as everything from magnificent to pretentious to nauseating. I didn't find it nauseating. Pretentious? Yeah, I wouldn't quibble with that, yet I also thought that it was magnificent. I'm not sure that a spoiler warning really applies, but if you know absolutely nothing about The Tree of Life and don't want to, either, stop now and consider my recommendation; otherwise, continue after the pic.

Death and the Maidens

The other night I got the chance to see the 1977 Japanese film ハウス, or Hausu,
alias House.

Video still of large, wavy white letters reading 'House', with the Japanese katakana reading the same in small characters above, superimposed over silhouette of tall oddly shaped house that appears to have either tree branches or hands sprouting from it all around, full moon and red sky in the background

Frankly, I'm not sure what I can tell you about it of import that the insane trailer doesn't — except to verify that while the movie does have a basic plot it actually lives
up to that trailer's wildly abrupt shifts in scene and tone. Even if you don't think you'll ever see the film, I urge you to click through the link; House's trailer is a distillation of sublime weirdness unto itself.

Week Links

If you're looking for a laugh amidst pre-Oscar fatigue or, heck, just because, I commend to you a gallery of doctored movie posters over at The Shiznit.

Ali Gray has once again reworked posters for this season's annual glut of prestige films to give them titles and taglines bluntly reflective of what the viewing public and/or the promoters themselves think about them.

Word Up

Blogger has apparently switched wholesale from its old style of word verification to a much uglier CAPTCHA format that I've seen elsewhere and which I'd always been glad I didn't have to deal with on Blogger blogs.

As my mother is fond of saying, "Oh well..."

Under the Rainbow

I've been meaning to write about comics veteran Tom Ziuko since the news broke a year ago that he was ill.

Ziuko was a longtime colorist for DC. I vividly recall being struck by his muted yet vibrant work on the cover to 1986's Legends #1, which I'm pretty sure was also one of the earliest covers to carry a colorist signature along with that of the pencil and ink artist(s) — in this case, John Byrne.

Cover to Legends #1 © 1986 DC Comics.

The Grand Comics Database lists over 1,500 credits for Ziuko spanning nearly 30 years of covers and interiors, from Superman to Hellblazer to Animaniacs, including color reconstruction on reprint projects for both Marvel and DC.

The Slog Delayed

I'd hoped to have more up today to mark the blog's third anniversary. My actual
first post (“0.1”) — which set the tone for much of my blogging by complaining about, you guessed it, trouble blogging — went up three years ago December, but my first substantive post (“Welcome”) got published on this date in 2009. For its anniversary
in 2010, I published my inaugural State of the Blog report (“The Slog”); while I planned to follow that up annually, I had to defer in 2011 due to my grandfather's sudden illness and passing soon after, waiting another six months to take stock of things (“The Clog”). Nothing so dire has kept me from completing another update, thankfully. A cold percolating all week long has roared up with a vengeance and made it even harder to concentrate on stringing together the words than usual, however, so like the title
above says...

41 Favorites: #6

DC covers by Nick Cardy have long been among my favorite things.

I didn’t always know him by name.