Sunny Jhanna

Bienvenidos a Sunny Jhanna, el sitio oficial de Las crónicas de Dae y Ruled by Spiders. ¡Gracias por visitarnos y regresad pronto!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reading List: July

One more month of reading books and comic books on the couch (and other places). This is what I read in July:

Every Which Way But Dead
The third installment in Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series is almost as good as the second one, and better than the first one. Recurrent characters such as Ivy, Kist and Trent Kalamack grow and develop, and new characters are introduced. Old plot lines are solved, some others remain obscure, and a few new ones are thrown into the mix. Do yourselves a favor and start reading these books.

El hombre sentimental
A novel by Javier Marías, El hombre sentimental is a love story that’s surprising and beautifully written. A great and fast read!

Madame Mirage
I already told you how cool this graphic novel by Paul Dini and Kenneth Rocafort is.

The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home
Again, I’ve already written about this great graphic novel by peter Robin Furth, Peter David, Jae Lee, and Richard Isanove, all of them working in Stephen King’s universe.

The Briar King
The first book in the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series by Greg Keyes, The Briar King is an amazing book everyone should read. The way Keyes writes and the interesting elements he throws in (dialects, the evolution of languages, among others) are so well integrated and so riveting that you can’t help but read on. The characters are so real and complex, and their interaction so fascinating, that I wonder why Keyes isn’t a much popular author. He is awesome!

Sky Doll #2
It seems like all I do is reread these books by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa. Well, they’re awesome, so you should do the same as well.

The Charnel Prince
This is the second installment in Greg Keyes’s Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. The first one is so good that I broke my unwritten rule of not reading books in a series in a row to find out how everything unfolded. The Charnel Prince is as good as The Briar King.

Sky Doll #3
I really can’t wait for the fourth volume of this phenomenal book. I really can’t.

Felipe II
A historical graphic novel by Antonio Hernández Palacios, it comprises the life of Spanish king Philip II and the events surrounding his time as ruler of the powerful Spanish Empire. The book does a lot of telling instead of showing, but I understand that is almost a necessity when summarizing so many things into forty-eight pages. The artwork is interesting, and I am curious to see it in black and white.

2033: The Future of Misbehavior
A collection of short stories put together by the editors of Nerve.com, these tales are full of interesting and funny premises, most of which become cool short stories. The element they all have in common is that all the stories take place in the year 2033, and that there is some sex or love or relationship issues going on. If you wonder how love will be in the year 2033, you have to read this book. A fun read!

Carlos V
Another graphic novel by Antonio Hernández Palacios, this one recounts the life of Charles V, even if said king barely shows up at all in the actual pages. I mean, what’s up with that?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are You Staring at My Butt?

It took me over a month, but at last I was able to go see Get Smart, the movie version of the old TV show created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and starring the late Don Adams. I remember watching some reruns with my mom, who used to love the show when it first aired, so I knew what to expect in terms of tone for the story and the character of Maxwell Smart. And, just in case I hadn't known all that, the hilarious previews summed it up pretty well.

I thought Steve Carell did a spectacularly great job as Agent 86, with his deadpan expression and his attempts at being an excellent field agent when he is more clumsy and inexperienced than anything else. Carell is consistently funny, likeable, and fits the role beautifully. Anne Hathaway, as Agent 99, also does a terrific job and looks competent, deadly, and hot at the same time. The artist formerly known as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, is also funny, likeable, and charismatic as Agent 23, and the two older stars, Alan Arkin (a dead ringer of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, if you ask me) and Terence Stamp, complete a very inspired cast.

The movie itself is silly and shouldn't be taken too seriously, but the surreal dialogue, the witty banter, Maxwell Smart's grotesque and devastatingly honest observations, and the ludicrous situations and plot developments work together quite well. I don't think I had laughed that hard in a movie in a long while, and I found Get Smart cute and tremendously hilarious. From the very beginning, with the homage to the TV show's intro, to the very end (with another throwback to the show), Get Smart entertained me to no end, and I think anyone who appreciates this kind of humor will have a great time at the movies with Agent 86, cringe-inducing moments included. And there's plenty of those too!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sherlock vs. Holmes

Por alguna extraña razón, los temas cinematográficos en Hollywood suelen venir de dos en dos: dos películas de volcanes (Dante's Peak y Volcano), dos películas de meteoritos (Armageddon y Deep Impact), dos películas de magos (The Illusionist y The Prestige), etcétera. Pues ahora resulta que se acaban de anunciar dos películas de Sherlock Holmes para empezar producción a la de ya. Sin embargo, y sobre el papel, ambos films no podrían ser más distintos.

En primer lugar, Columbia Pictures ha anunciado una película de Sherlock Holmes para el año que viene, con Sacha Baron Cohen (más conocido como Borat) como Sherlock Holmes, y Will Ferrell como Watson. Si se os ha desencajado la mandíbula del shock, confirmaros que dicen va a ser una comedia, pues no en vano el ubicuo Judd Apatow va a producir el invento.

En segundo lugar, Warner Bros. ha anunciado Sherlock Holmes, película más seria, dirigida por Guy Ritchie, que contará con Robert Downey Jr. en el papel del detective titular. Con respecto a la trama, al parecer la peli va a ser una adaptación del comic de Lionel Wigram, de próxima aparición.

¿Cuál de los dos proyectos parece más interesante? Para gustos, colores...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Organic #50

Bienvenidos una semana más a Organic, el webcómic raro para gente rara. Y hoy, además, minimalista.

Después de que el Científico Loco de tamaño familiar se zampara a Tomatito, el destino de Koori parecía estar bastante claro. Sin embargo, el virus con el que la azulada exploradora fue contaminada al llegar al planeta desencadena una mutación inesperada. ¿Qué sucederá a continuación? Esto es Organic, así que tú decides!

Bonus: Aquí tenéis un boceto preliminar, y otro algo más desarrollado. Al final, me decidí por un aspecto más minimalista, aunque la semana que viene os compensaré por la falta de detalle.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Technoloki

Check out the trailer for what seems to be shaping as a very interesting game. Too Human has been in development since 1999, when it was supposed to be a PlayStation game. Since then, it switched to the Nintendo Gamecube first, and to Xbox360 now. According to developers Silicon Knights, the game will be available for the 360 on August 19, so I guess we won’t have to wait for much longer to see if it's really worth it. The mixture of sci-fi and Norse mythology sounds very intriguing, and the runes on the cover, reading Machine of God of Man of Machine sound equally intriguing. I guess I’m just too human to figure it out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Del Toro Talks

Check out Rotten Tomatoes' hour-long interview with director Guillermo del Toro. I'm not a big fan of his, but many of the things he says make perfect sense, and for that if nothing else you should watch the interview. Also, the interview is split up in twelve different parts, so if you're only interested in a specific topic (they're listed), you can just watch that excerpt. Del Toro talks about movies he was offered but didn't want to do (Seven, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Sleepy Hollow, among others), comments on why he would like to go back and redo Mimic, and explains his take on The Hobbit and what creatures will be redesigned for the film. All in all, a very interesting video!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Diseñando un logo II

Como ya os conté el otro día, una profesora de la escuela me pidió que diseñara un logo para el equipo de ultimate frisbee, y yo, ni corto ni perezoso, accedí a hacerlo. Dado que soy de un creativo y un generoso que tira de espaldas, he hecho no una sino dos versiones del logo, para que las chicas elijan la que más les guste. La primera, en plan más abstracto, ya la visteis el otro día, así que hoy nos centraremos en la segunda.

Una vez tuve el primer dibujo terminado, simplemente copié el encaje, y dibujé a la chica con los requeridos disco (tal vez os resulten familiares las iniciales) y sombrero mexicano. Una vez listos los lápices, entinté rápidamente con mi querida plumilla, escaneé el dibujo terminado a tinta, y lo coloreé con Photoshop. La verdad es que no sabía de qué color pintar el sombrero, y al final parece más de mariachi que otra cosa, pero bueno. En fin, espero que os hayan gustado ambos dibujos!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Legendary Mr Wayne

I went to see The Dark Knight last Sunday, hoping The Rave wouldn't be too crowded. Well, it was, and I shouldn't be surprised, since The Dark Knight has apparently become the movie with the biggest opening ever. With all the hype, all the buzz, all the expectations, and the tragic death of Heath Ledger, I'm not really surprised. Will TDK be the top grossing movie of 2008, title so far held by Iron Man (in the US)? We'll have to wait and see what the second weekend percentage drop is.

I really enjoyed the movie. I'm not sure I would say it's as extraordinary as everyone else is claiming, but it is by all accounts a great film, and, as somebody said somewhere on the Internet, Christopher Nolan is the best thing to happen to the franchise --ever. The story is tight and packed with interesting questions and themes, like Huitzilin said on her blog. However, the movie is so action packed and so relentlessly paced that you don't really have too much time to digest all that goodness. It is after the movie is over that you need to take a deep breath and ponder some of the issues. But you won't be bored, that's for sure.

The dialogue is very well written, and thank to the great acting, it's effectively conveyed. Much has been said about how fantastic Heath Ledger is, and how he deserves an Oscar and all that. Well, Ledger does a formidable job, no question about it, but I think spotlighting him and him alone is doing a disservice to everyone else in the movie. Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine offer all of them outstanding performances, and I wish we got to see more of them. As I said before, so many things are going on all the time that some characters don't get the screen time they deserve. Gary Oldman as Liutenant Gordon blew me away, and Aaron Eckhart (brilliantly cast) did a phenomenal job as Harvey Dent, and I wish I had had the chance to see more of them in the movie. However, the two that were spectacularly underused were Michael Caine's Alfred and Morgan Freeman's Lucius Fox. When they're on screen they are -sorry, folks- as riveting as Ledger is, but Ledger's role is flashier, as that kind of character tends to be, and thus obscures other amazing performances.

As for the music, I found myself hearing echoes of Pirates of the Caribbean, and when the credits rolled I saw the music was composed by Hans Zimmer. I guess I was right.

At any rate, everything in this movie is tight, from Nolan's direction to stunts and wardrobe (ah, the Joker), and I doubt anyone will be disappointed. As for how this movie will affect the next installment in the franchise, we'll see. I think Nolan was only in for two movies, but after the huge success The Dark Knight already is, I hope he decides to stay.

To sum it up: go see this movie!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Goddess of Love & Lust

It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I say this month’s issue was terrific. Ron Marz begins a new story arc with Witchblade #119, and it seems like the events in this issue will have long-lasting consequences. The way the book is written is clever, and the dialogue between Sara and the IAB guy is snappy and great fun to read. As for the events themselves, suffice it to say that we see somebody we thought we hadn’t seen in a long time. My only complain is that somewhere in the comic book it says the story continues in The Darkness, and I don’t want to buy that series to follow what’s going on. Hopefully, it won’t be necessary.

As for the visuals, Stjepan Sejic outdoes himself, and the illustrations of Sara wearing the witchblade are eerie and beautiful at the same time. Also, I really enjoyed the way he depicted the “warrior using the cloaking device”, and how he illustrated said character, once its identity was revealed.
So there you have it. Witchblade keeps rocking, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be reading this book.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sprawling imagination

What a pleasant surprise Hellboy: II The Golden Army turned out to be. While I still think director Guillermo del Toro is overrated, I have to say that I enjoyed his latest movie a lot. Maybe it was because I went in with low expectations, since I don't like his movies very much, I don't read the Hellboy comic books, and the first film left me indifferent, but the truth is that I had a great time at the movies with Hellboy II.

The story wasn't all that original, but Hellboy's trademark fairy tale flavor certainly added to it. The dialogue was dynamic and entertaining, even if it wasn't terrific (and not all that original either), but the interaction between the different characters made up for it. But the visuals were arresting, and that was without a doubt my favorite thing in the movie. The creatures are fascinating and visually compelling, and the backgrounds and different locations are varied and fitting. Add del Toro's twisted vision, his fascination for dark criatures and strange monsters, and this fairy tale becomes creepier than any of its counterparts. In fact, the twin Prince and Princess both boast great designs, make-up, and costumes, and the golden army from the title looks phenomenal. Go steampunk!

Regarding the main characters, I liked Hellboy's blasé attitude, and how he just takes everything in stride. Abe Sapien was funny and beautifully rendered, and, while I didn't care for Liz all that much, Johann was very entertaining and visually interesting. And since I mentioned their interaction before, the Hellboy/Liz relationship is very interesting, and both the Hellboy/Johann and the Hellboy/Manning dynamics are really funny.

To sum it up, while Hellboy II is not the best movie I've seen this year, it was a lot of fun, and I recommend it to everyone who wants to have a good time and understands that Batman is not necessarily leading the only must-see comic book movie of the summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Organic #49

Bienvenidos una semana más a Organic, el webcómic cuyo nombre ya se está empezando a usar como sinónimo de sorpren-
dente, trepidante, y emocionante a lo largo y ancho de la galaxia.

Después de haberse merendado a Tomatito, el Científico Loco (¡ahora en tamaño familiar!) aplasta al (casi) resto de criaturas que a su alrededor pululan, y atrapa a la sufrida Koori, que a estas alturas no se sorprende ya de nada. Pero, ¿qué pasará a continuación? Esto es Organic, así que tú decides!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who Watches Them?

The trailer for the highly anticipated Watchmen movie just premiered on the web. I still think the costumes could look less superhero-y, but the truth is this preview looks sweet. Will director Zack Snyder deliver another impossibly cool romp like 300? Well, less than a year to find out.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I’m Sold

This picture just did it: I will go see The Spirit on December 25. Never mind that the movie is based on Will Eisner's comic book. Never mind living legend Frank Miller is writing and directing the adaptation. Never mind the hype. I will go see this movie because of this picture. Words can’t do justice to her beauty, so I’ll stop typing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Diseñando un logo I

Una profesora de la escuela me preguntó, hace un par de meses, si me apetecía diseñar un logo para las camisetas del equipo de Ultimate Frisbee de la escuela. Por supuesto, dije que lo haría (entre otras cosas, porque me dio de tiempo hasta agosto), y que me plegaría a sus designios. Las directrices venían de las chicas más que de mi colega, y eran tres. Una, que el logo debía ser una chica cogiendo un disco. Dos, que la chica debía tener coleta (extraño requerimiento, pero bueno). Y tres, que la chica en cuestión, y dado que el equipo se llama Las chicas!, debía llevar un sombrero mexicano. Cómo alguien podría jugar al ultimate frisbee luciendo semejante complemento es algo que se me escapa, pero, a fin de cuentas, no es problema mío.
El caso es que me puse a hacer el boceto para el dibujo y, cuando no había hecho más que el encaje, se me ocurrió que podía usar dichas formas redondeadas y genéricas para el logo, en plan icono de deportista en los Juegos Olímpicos y tal. Una vez tuve el dibujo sin masas negras, lo escaneé y rellené los espacios en negro con el Photoshop, y el resultado final podéis verlo ahí arriba.
Pero esto no es todo, porque, pese a tener ya este logo, todavía quería hacer un dibujo más en mi estilo. Ése, sin embargo, me lo guardo para el próximo post.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whip It Good

I was reminiscing with a friend, and we went to Youtube and started to play old music from the eighties. And when I say old music I actually mean geeky, horribly dated and spectacularly cheesy music that made us laugh until we cried. We watched plenty of old hits (I’ll list a few in a minute) and weird videos, but the one that beats them all, both in visual and musical genius is Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). There are so many juicy bits in that video that I find myself unable to pick the best one. Please watch it and tell me if that is not hilarious.

If you survived that blast from the past, you might want to check out (or not) one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen and listened to: Devo’s Whip It. I honestly don’t know where to begin with this one either. The lyrics? The pants? The hats? The whip? The crosseyed Asian chick? Freaking mindbending.

And now, let’s go for some (dis)honorable mentions: Modern Talking’s Cherry Cherry Lady (ah, the hair, the clothes, the falsetto), Milli Vanilli’s Girl You Know It’s True (it’s true they want to do each other, that is –and pay special attention to the guy in black’s "awesome" dance moves), and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby (check out Jim Carrey’s spoof, He’s White, White, Baby). Enjoy!

Bonus: I Should Be So Lucky. Super cute!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

DVDs on Sale

I just bought five DVDs that I found on sale, and each one of them cost me under nine bucks. There seems to be more comedies than anything else in the loot, but I think the titles are still eclectic enough to be recognized as a mesh only I would enjoy. The five masterpieces that I can now call mine are:

Click
Adam Sandler and uberhot Kate Beckinsale star in this touching dramedy. And did I mention Christopher Walken is in the movie too?

Almost Famous
I watched it for the first time last summer, and I loved it. Cameron Crowe's popular movie also made Kate Hudson a household name, and everyone loved the soundtrack.

Wicked Little Things
Part of the 2006 AfterDark Horrorfest, this is the only movie I actually went to see when it opened. For all the clichés this movie has, it's actually quite entertaining.

High Fidelity
An awesome movie based on an awesome book by Nick Hornby, John Cusack is priceless in this film.

Ladyhawke
A cool movie with a really strange and anachronistic soundtrack, it was this movie and The Witches of Eastwick that made me fall in love with Michelle Pfeiffer. Also starring Rutger Hauer, Matthew Broderick, and Alfred Molina, this movie directed by Richard Donner is one of the first movies I ever remember watching. They used to play it on the school bus for weeks on end (it was Ladyhawke or Return of the Jedi: they rotated them), and I would always get to see the same segment, since, apparently, they always started it at the same time everyday, so by the time I got on the bus, the same scene would always be playing. It was torture to get my mom to go to the video store with me and rent the movie, so that I could watch the whole thing! Ah, the memories...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

They Did It Again

I went to see Wall-e yesterday, and it was about time. I was eagerly anticipating Pixar's new movie because, well, the Pixar people are nothing sort of geniuses when it comes to writing and creating movies. And yes, I know writing them is part of creating them, but their scripts are always so amazing that I thought I would emphasize the point.

I am glad to say that the movie, director Andrew Stanton's first since 2003's phenomenal Finding Nemo, is very enjoyable, tremendously cute, and terrifically made. The animation, the textures, the character designs, the backgrounds… Everything looks absolutely gorgeous (or awful, if it's meant to look that way). The sleek designs of new robots and ships and environments clashes with the older robots and shabby cityscapes, achieving an eye-popping degree of realism, both for things grounded in reality as well as for the more out-there devices. There is not a whole lot of dialogue, yet the movie is so well written and the Pixar prodigies are so adept at showing us instead of telling us, that words aren't really necessary most of the time.

There's comedy, there's romance, there's heart-wrenching drama, there's brutal satire, and there's social commentary. But, above all, and tying all these together, there's a wild imagination at work that's not only having fun, but making the audience have fun as well. Wall-e is, just in case you haven't figured it out already, one of those movies that make you forget about everything else for an hour and a half. Put it another way, Wall-e is great.

PS: And Presto, the short film that precedes Wall-e, is beyond hilarious!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Organic #48

Bienvenidos una semana más a Organic, el webcómic que, poco a poco, se acerca a su primer cumpleaños. ¡Y parece que fue ayer cuando Koori aterrizó en este poco amigable planeta!

Claro que, para poco amigable, el ya probado Científico Loco, que, sin pensárselo dos veces, se ha tragado al bueno de Tomatito ante la impotente mirada de su hija. ¿Qué pasará a continuación? ¿Pedirá sal de frutas para hacer la digestión? ¿Querrá acaso un café y un purito para acompañar la charla de sobremesa? Esto es Organic, así que tú decides!

Bonus: una toma falsa culinaria.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Del papel al celuloide

Estaba por aquí sin hacer nada (tal y como corresponde a la estación en la que nos hallamos), cuando se me ha ocurrido que podía hacer una lista de buenas adaptaciones literarias al cine. Como, evidentemente, no he visto absolutamente todas las versiones cinematográficas que de novelas y relatos cortos se han hecho desde que el cine es cine, ésta no pretende ser una lista con "las mejores adaptaciones", sino que es, tan solo, un listado de, a mi parecer, diez excelentes adaptaciones. Ahí van las elegidas, sin ningún orden particular:

The Lord of the Rings
Basadas en los libros de J.R.R. Tolkien, las películas de LOTR no sólo son soberbias adaptaciones del material original sino que, en mi opinión, mejoran las novelas en que están basadas. Tildar de excelente el trabajo de Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens y Peter Jackson es quedarse cortísimo.

Harry Potter
En general, todas las películas que de momento se han hecho adaptando las correrías de Harry y sus amigos me parecen fantásticas versiones de los estupendos libros escritos por J.K. Rowling. Las cuatro primeras adaptaciones corrieron a cargo de Steve Kloves (quien también ha adaptado la sexta, que se estrena el 21 de noviembre), mientras que la quinta fue adaptada por Michael Goldenberg. ¿Quién adaptará la última?

Secret Window
Basada en el relato corto de Stephen King Secret Window, Secret Garden, la adaptación cinematográfica escrita y dirigida por David Koepp me parece sobresaliente, tanto en guión como en cinematografía y en, por supuesto, la actuación de Johnny Depp.

The Princess Bride
William Goldman escribió este clásico de aventuras, y William Goldman escribió la versión cinematográfica del mismo. El resultado, dirigido por Rob Reiner, es una fiel y excelente adaptación de esta popularísima historia.

Misery
De nuevo Rob Reiner dirige y William Goldman adapta una fantástica novela escrita, esta vez, por Stephen King. El resultado, como muchos aficionados tanto al cine como a la obra del de Maine coinciden en señalar, es una de las mejores adaptaciones que de una historia de King se han hecho. Y no sólo eso, sino que es una película excelente por méritos propios.

I, Robot
Basada en el entretenidísimo libro de relatos cortos de Isaac Asimov, la película, escrita por Jeff Vintar y Akiva Goldsman, y dirigida por Alex Proyas, captura perfectamente el espíritu de las historias de Asimos sin adaptar ninguna en particular. Aun así, el universo futurista en el libro retratado tiene un reflejo perfecto en los temas y preocupaciones que se muestran en la película.

The Shawshank Redemption
Frank Darabont adapta y dirige esta magnífica película basada en el relato corto de Stephen King Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Un peliculón donde los haya, me pregunto por qué no apareció en la lista de Entertainment Weekly en vez de, por ejemplo, Pretty Woman.

The Green Mile
De nuevo Frank Darabont adapta y dirige otra excelente película basada en la obra de Stephen King, aunque esta vez es una novela y no sólo una historia corta. Tanto el libro como la película me parecen soberbios.

High Fidelity
Basada en el hilarante libro de Nick Hornby, la película, dirigida por Stephen Frears y protagonizada por John Cusack, fue adaptada por D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, Scott Rosenberg y el mismo John Cusack. La recuerdo como la primera película que, tras verla, me hizo exclamar: "¡es una adaptación perfecta del libro!"

Sleepy Hollow
Tim Burton nos ofrece su particular versión de este clásico de Washington Irving, con Johnny Depp haciendo de Ichabod Crane. La estética burtonesca se presta a la perfección a esta historia fantástica de brujería y demás sucesos extraños, y Johnny Depp nos regala otra magnífica y extravagante actuación.

Y eso es todo por hoy. ¿Qué os parecen mis elecciones? ¿Atroces? ¿Acertadas? ¿Qué otras versiones añadiríais vosotros? No dejéis de dejarnos vuestros sesudos comentarios!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

But I Told You So

Ever since I got The Offspring's latest CD, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, I've been wanting to write this review. However, we all know that, when it comes to music, it's better to wait for a while, listen to the songs a few times, let them grow on you. That doesn't mean I didn't like it to begin with. On the contrary, I liked it from the very beginning, but it has certainly grown on me, and now I can present you with a more accurate ( or would that be even more biased?) opinion.

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace offers twelve new songs. Out of those 12, I think 7 are great, 3 are good, and 2 I don't care for. Ten songs I listen to, two songs I skip: All in all, not a bad balance. These are the songs (in the order they appear on the CD):

Great songs
1. Half-Truism. Cool lyrics and great beat, even though I could do without the slower segments. I'm still trying to decide what the song is about, though.
2. Trust in You. Again, cool lyrics and ultrafast beat.
3. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid. I already loved this one, and it certainly is one of the best songs on the CD, if not the best one.
4. Hammerhead. This is one of those songs that sounds good but you really need to listen to the lyrics to fully appreciate it. Terribly dark and twisted, as it talks about a soldier killing for "the greater good". Bloodcurdling!
6. Takes Me Nowhere. Great beat and cool, hopeless lyrics.
8. Nothingtown. A song making fun of a small town and how the singer wants to get out of it? What's there not to like?
9. Stuff Is Messed Up. With what could be the most euphemistic title in the history of music, this is classic Offspring: great beat and incredibly sarcastic lyrics in which Dexter criticizes the way society is. It reminds me a lot of Americana because of what he says and the overall feeling of desperation. An amazing song!

Good songs
7. Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? It's a ballad, though, and it doesn't feel like The Offspring at all.
11. Let's Hear It for Rock Bottom. Typical Offspring lyrics and an amusing beat.
12. Rise and Fall. Good beat and okay lyrics.

These I could live without
5. A Lot Like Me. Meh.
10. Fix You. The slowest song on the CD, it's also kind of a crappy ballad. Since when do The Offspring make ballads?

So there you go. If you like The Offspring, I recommend you buy Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. And, if you don't like them, well, repent yourself and then go to the store and grab a copy. You can thank me later.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ka is a Wheel

I just finished reading The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home, the second miniseries (or, I guess, graphic novel if you want it to sell more copies) based on Stephen King's strange (but tremendously compelling) fictional universe. Spanning only five issues, TLRH is shorter than the first one, The Gunslinger Born (which was seven issues long), but I found it equally enjoyable. The creative team remains the same, with Peter David writing, Jae Lee drawing, and Richard Isanove coloring, and the result is one book I recommend everyone.

The story is interesting, and the dialogue very well written and often hilarious. The witty repartee (especially between Cuthbert and Alain) is priceless, and the deadpan humor really gets to you. The combination of comedic relief and the darker, horrifying overtones of the bigger dramatic story are masterfully presented by David, and for that if nothing else TLRH is worth reading. Jae Lee's artwork is, just like in the first series, dark, moody, and beautiful, but it's starting to feel a little repetitive after all these pages: abundant closeups, vines everywhere, shadowy faces, static poses… Don't get me wrong: the book looks great, but it didn't blow me away like the first one did. And still, some illustrations look fantastic, especially when it comes to supporting characters (maybe because we haven't seen those as frequently and feel, therefore, fresh and more exciting?), but, come on: that ubiquitous mist really has to go. We want to see backgrounds, not foggy landscapes! However, said landscapes are, thanks to Richard Isanove's amazing palette, a gorgeous sight to contemplate, and this book wouldn't look half as striking without him, so let's give him his due.

To sum it up, The Long Road Home continues The Gunslinger Born's line of excellence, and I will definitely be getting The Dark Tower: Treachery, the next miniseries coming out this fall. And if you want to spend a good time reading and feasting your eyes, you'll do the same.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nunc id Vides, Nunc ne Vides

I finally got a chance to read what is now being called Madame Mirage's first season, and here's to hoping there will be a second one. Erratic shipping marred this very enjoyable story, but now the trade is (almost) out, you have no excuse not to get Madame Mirage and unveil her secrets. (I, for one, am glad I did.)

This book written by Paul Dini and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort is a fun, gorgeous read, and I recommend it to everyone. The story (Madame Mirage taking on Aggressive Solutions International --now that's a concise summary!) takes its time to unfold and present its different enigmas and questions, and it does so with snappy writing and witty dialogue. The artwork by Rocafort is always impressive, and sometimes even great. I like his page compositions and the way he draws Harper: I love her face, her hair, her facial expressions, and her clothes. Angie is, of course, well drawn as well, and she looks especially cute wearing civilian clothes. Some of the bad guys are very cool (I'm thinking about goth Weeping Willow) and often hilarious (Aphrodisiac, Cotton-Eye Joe, the aforementioned goth chick), and there's one supporting character in particular, Dude, who really shines because of the clever way he is written. Is he a dumbass? Is he an overeducated thug? Take your pick!

To sum it up, Madame Mirage is an entertaining book, well written, lavishly illustrated, and with amazing colors, that will make a summer afternoon go by in a very pleasant way. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lista de listas

Es lo que tienen las listas: que a unos ultrajan, a otros insultan, y a nadie contentan. Y, sin embargo, eso es precisamente lo que Entertainment Weekly ha hecho para celebrar el número mil (1.000) de su revista: listas con los cincuenta (o veinticinco, o cien, en algunos casos) nuevos clásicos de los últimos veinticinco años en cine, televisión, música, libros, videojuegos, y varias otras categorías. O sea, lo mejor de lo mejor en lo que a pop-culture se refiere desde 1983. Ni qué decir tiene, estoy en desacuerdo con prácticamente todo lo que dicen, pero bueno. Y como tampoco es plan de reproducir aquí todas las listas, voy a poner los cinco primeros puestos de varias categorías, y el que quiera ver las listas completas no tiene más que seguir los enlaces.

Las mejores películas
1. Pulp Fiction
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
3. Titanic
4. Blue Velvet
5. Toy Story

De esta lista de cien películas, me gustaría señalar la ausencia de Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Para ver qué otras noventa y cinco películas son, al parecer, mejores, mirad la lista completa.

Las mejores series
1. The Simpsons
2. The Sopranos
3. Seinfeld
4. The X-Files
5. Sex and the City

Como ya he hecho antes, me gustaría señalar lo aberrante que me parece que Futurama no aparezca por ninguna parte. El resto, aquí.

Los mejores libros
1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth

De esta lista de cien libros, este ávido lector sólo ha leído nueve, con lo que parece que me estoy perdiendo noventa y una estupendas obras literarias. Y ya que no lo preguntáis, los nueve que sí he leído son:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (número 2)
The Liars’ Club (número 4)
Bridget Jones’s Diary (número 20)
On Writing (número 21)
Case Histories (número 30)
His Dark Materials trilogy (número 40)
The Ruins (número 87)
High Fidelity (número 88)
The Da Vinci Code (número 96)

Pero vamos: cualquier lista de libros excelentes que incluya tanto His Dark Materials como –y especialmente- The Ruins, es una lista que pongo en tela de juicio inmediatamente. De hecho, y de esos nueve que sí he leído, creo que sólo incluiría en una lista así On Writing y Harry Potter (los siete como serie). Bueno, y tal vez High Fidelity.

Los mejores videojuegos
1. Tetris
2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
3. Doom
4. Super Mario World
5. Guitar Hero

Al menos, esta gente tiene la decencia de incluir Gears of War, aunque sea en el puesto veinticinco de cincuenta.

¿Qué os parecen estas elecciones? ¿Acertadas? ¿Abominables? No dejéis de decirnos qué pensáis!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Spread Your Love

The second Futurama movie is out! The Beast with a Billion Backs is, like its title anticipates, all about love. Kind of.

I thought the movie was very funny, especially the beginning and the end. The story itself wasn't all that great, but all the jokes were laugh-out-loud (especially, like I said, during the first thirty minutes and the last twenty or so), and the visuals were very much in line with the show and the first film. Besides, it's always nice to hang out with Fry, Leela, Bender and the gang.
The gang (or parts of it), however, wasn't all that present this time, and Hermes and Zoidberg have only a few lines throughout the movie. At the same time, the three core characters spent too much time apart without interacting with each other, caught instead in their own developing subplots (especially Bender and Fry), and maybe that's why the middle part of the film wasn't all that appealing to me. I said the funniest parts are the beginning and the end, and, now that I think about it, I believe that's when the whole gang is together. Still, this is Futurama, so even the less funny parts are still pretty entertaining!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Organic #47

Bienvenidos una semana más a Organic, el webcómic que a veces se pone raro y experimen-
tal y hace cosas extrañas que nadie espera. ¿Acaso estará vivo?

Pensamientos alarmistas a un lado, aquí tenemos a Koori y Tomatito luchando contra el presunto Científico Loco, que ha seguido creciendo desde la última vez que lo vimos, tanto en tamaño como en cabreo. Desde luego, parece que nuestros héroes van a tener algún que otro problema para derrotar a tan formidable enemigo. ¿Cómo se las ingeniarán para hacerlo? Esto es Organic, así que tú decides!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Spidery

Aquí tenéis un dibujillo que acabo de terminar. Después de hacer el boceto a lápiz, me puse con los rotuladores grises (Prismacolor Cool Gray 60% y 90%) y luego añadí los toques de rojo. Tras esto, usé mi bolígrafo blanco para redibujar la telaraña de bajo a la derecha, y finalmente lo entinté todo con mi fiel plumilla. Espero que os guste!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sorry Manners

When I read that David Fincher is going to make a CGI movie based on my beloved comic book The Goon, I rushed to find out everything I could about Blur Studios, the guys that will be making the movie. And, among other things, I came across this funny animated movie. A Gentleman’s Duel tells the story of two gentlemen that fight each other to win a curvaceous woman. It’s only seven minutes long, so check it out and have a laugh!

PS: They also have some Warhammer stuff, so Nash should be happy!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Call Me That One More Time

Today we have yet another movie review. Last night, I went to see the new Will Smith movie, Hancock, with a bunch of friends, and we all enjoyed the film.

Hancock is not great, as the harsh reviews at Rotten Tomatoes (36%) point out, but I found it very funny and very enjoyable. Just like Click, the first half of the movie is packed with laugh-out-loud moments, while the second half of the movie turns into something completely different. This has apparently bothered lots of critics, who claim this is one of Smith's worst movies ever (the worst since Wild Wild West, somebody said), and they blame it on the fact that parts of the movie were changed and reshot in May. I agree with the reviews that say that the movie has a hard time finding its own identity, though. Is it a comedy? An action movie? A drama? A bitter criticism of society? Well, all these elements are certainly present in the film, and sometimes a movie can be more than one thing at the same time, right? And still, Hancock changes so much that it sometimes leaves you wondering.

Still, the story is very interesting, and the first part is great, with Hancock dealing with his miserable life and being an ass to pretty much everyone (this includes, hilariously enough, little kids). The acting is also terrific, and Will Smith in particular knocks it out of the ballpark playing the troubled superhero. Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron also do a very good job, and their interaction is always fun to watch.

The one thing I didn't like at all was the camerawork. For some reason, the whole movie seems to be shot with a handheld camera, and every single take is wobbly and shaky and all over the place. Since this visual style doesn't add anything to the movie at all, I wonder why on Earth they decided to do it, since it looks terribly amateurish and it only annoys the audience (I wasn't the only one who pointed this out). Even scenes with people sitting at the table are shot this way. Why?

All in all, Hancock is a fun film, but it is far from Smith's best movies, even if his performance is indeed above average. It is enjoyable, surprising, and very foul-mouthed (always a good thing in my book), and I recommend it to everyone who wants to have a good time at the movies.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Talk About Eclectic!

I decided it was time to get some new tunes while I wait for Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace to be delivered to my mailbox, and the songs I bought reflect what a strange, eclectic taste I have when it comes to --pretty much everything. Here you have the nine musical masterpieces that I can now call mine:

Hey Julie, by Fountains of Wayne.
More Than a Feeling, by Boston.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot, by Pat Benatar.
Jessie's Girl, by Rick Springfield.
Good Lovin', by The Rascals.
Tell Me When, by The Human League.
The Little Things, by Danny Elfman
The Way I Are, by Timbaland
Your Love, by Culture Beat

More reviews and interesting posts tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bala curva

Ha sido volver a los Estados Unidos y empezar a recuperar el tiempo perdido, yendo a ver las películas que me interesaban que se estrenaron mientras estaba al otro lado del océano. La primera ha sido Wanted, basada en el comic escrito por Mark Millar y dibujado por J.G. Jones. La versión cinematográfica está dirigida por Timur Bekmambetov, y protagonizada por James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie y Morgan Freeman.

La verdad es que no estaba muy seguro de qué esperarme (no he leído el comic), pero confieso que la película me gustó y me pareció entretenidísima. También es verdad que sospecho que al resto de Blogueadores Oficiales del Reino probablemente no les haga maldita la gracia, pero a lo mejor me equivoco. Eso sí: un aviso para el que vaya a verla. En esta especie de realidad alternativa que se nos presenta en Wanted, las leyes físicas no funcionan igual que en nuestro mundo. Si alguien no puede tragarse que las balas no vuelen en línea recta, que los coches hagan piruetas acrobáticas que ya quisiera para sí el equipo olímpico de gimnasia rítmica, y que los asesinos protagonistas lleven a cabo las más increíbles hazañas no sólo sin despeinarse sino con una sonrisita desdeñosa y expresión casi desinteresada, entonces mejor que se ahorre el dinero y vaya a ver otra película. Si, por el contrario, ese alguien es capaz de ejercitar aquello que en inglés da en llamarse suspension of disbelief (algo que, por otro lado, tuvimos ocasión de practicar recientemente con Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), entonces probablemente disfrute con Wanted.

Como no quiero revelar demasiado del argumento, sólo diré que Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) es un perdedor cuya vida cambia radicalmente al conocer a Fox (Jolie). A partir de ahí, un mundo insospechado de posibilidades casi ilimitadas se abre ante sus ojos. Y hasta aquí puedo leer. Desde ahí (y antes de entonces), la historia se toma su tiempo para ir progresando, y los cambios, giros y sorpresas se van sucediendo sin prisa pero sin pausa.

La historia, en general, me pareció aceptable, aunque sin demasiados alardes. Las interpretaciones sí me parecen muy acertadas, y los dos personajes principales, Wesley y Fox, están bien construidos y mejor interpretados. Wanted tiene momentos divertidos, diálogos en ocasiones ocurrentes, y acción increíble -o creíble si dejas tu incredulidad en la puerta- a raudales. Hasta la música de Danny Elfman está de lo más bien, especialmente la canción por él cantada (algo que me sorprendió), The Little Things.

En resumen, Wanted me hizo pasar un buen rato en el cine, y si bien no es la mejor película del año, se deja ver con agrado. Espero que sea un éxito en taquilla para que Top Cow siga adaptando al cine sus distintas propiedades intelectuales!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Reading List: June

Another month went by, and yours truly managed to get some reading done in two different continents and over the ocean. This is what I read in June:

Hazed
I already wrote about this so-so graphic novel by Mark Sable and Robbi Rodriguez here.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
A terrific book by Kim Harrison, I said everything I had to say about this second installment of Rachel Morgan's adventures here.

Witchblade Takeru
I read the trade collecting this gorgeous series, and I liked it a lot. Read more about it here.

Messiah Complex
Once again, I told you what I thought about this story here.

Sky Doll #1
Yes, I read Sky Doll again, but this time it was in English. A must read!

The Hounds of Ash
I have mixed feelings about this book by Greg Keyes. The Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf is a book collecting a few short stories starring the aforementioned character. The stories are entertaining, and Fool Wolf is a cool character. The dialogue is usually witty, and the stories make you smile. The only problem is that the book is plagued by dozens of typos. As a matter of fact, there were more typos in this book alone than in all the books I've read over the last four years put together. It was obvious that whoever "edited" the book didn't actually read it but ran the spellcheck instead. That is the only way all those mistakes can be explained: "two" instead of "to", "Full" instead of "Fool" (part of the main character's name, for crying out loud!), and a million other typos like those. Also, there are missing periods, commas, and quotation marks, which make the book hard to read and enjoy. Good stories marred by an atrocious editing. Shame on Edge Books!

The Other Boleyn Girl
I liked the movie enough to get the book, and I enjoyed this novel by Philippa Gregory. Like the movie, it's not great, but it is very enjoyable. The writing is okay, even though there are way too many unnecessary adverbs, especially in dialogue attribution (I bet Stephen King would hit the roof if he read the book), the characters are solid, and the narrative compelling. It is also longer and more complex than the movie (sometimes gratuitously so), but I had fun reading it.

Cuando fui mortal
A collection of twelve short stories by Spanish author Javier Marías, the tales in Cuando fui mortal are extremely well written, witty, surprising, shocking, and intriguing all at once. An excellent read I recommend everyone!

Todas las almas
One of Javier Marías's most popular books, this novel about life in Oxford is tremendously well written, and it combines melancholy, deep thought, obsession, and love with interesting topics such as books, languages, translation, the difficulty to express in Spanish some English ideas, adultery, a Spaniard living alone in a foreign country, and the need to love and be loved. A very surprising and moving read which makes me glad I bought two more books by the author when I visited the country!