Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading List: November

It looks like I have read surprisingly little this month. As a matter of fact, I can't recall another month in the last six years in which I read this little. How did this happen? Well...

1. I did watch the first season of Hex (more on that soon), and the eighth season of Scrubs.

2. I watched weekly episodes of Flashforward, V, and Plutón BRB Nero.

3. I spent a lot of time playing Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia.

4. I devoted a lot of my free time to an illustration I was commissioned to do. (More on that soon.)

5. Some of the books I read I didn't particularly enjoy, which means I took a long time to finish them.

All these factors combined prevented me from reading too much, so I will try to compensate next month. Let's talk about the three books I actually read.

Fablehaven
A friend let me borrow this book by Brandon Mull, and I really enjoyed it. It is a book for young adults, and it deals with teenagers, magic, and strange events. Fablehaven is the first book in a series, and I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to turn it into a movie (or a franchise), so I'll be paying attention to IMDB.

Indigo Springs
This book by A.M. Dellamonica is one of the books I was referring to a couple of paragraphs ago. The premise was interesting, but the pace was too slow, the dialogue stilted and very unrealistic, and I just didn't like the way the story unfolded or how it was told. As it happens, the only thing I enjoyed in this book was the gorgeous cover by Julie Bell.
It took me forever to finish Indigo Springs because I had no interest in reading it after a while, but I forced myself to continue... which happened really slowly. As a matter of fact, I took a couple of breaks in between chapters to read some passages from Ovid's Metamorphoses and a handful of chapters from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart. In the end, I did return to Indigo Springs and suffered through its pages until the torture was over.
There is a sequel in the works I will make sure I don't buy.

T is for Trespass
The best book I read this month hands down, and one of the best books I've read this year. I told you all about it yesterday, so go enjoy my musings there.

Other than that, I have been reading Kushiel's Dart, which is also very slow-paced in the beginning, and ridiculously long. I am on page 500, and the book has over 900 pages, but now it's getting more and more interesting, so maybe I'll be able to finish it faster than I thought. At any rate, I hope December brings a lot more books!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Infuriating Kinsey Millhone

I just finished reading T is for Trespass, perhaps one of the best books in the great series by Sue Grafton. This time, Kinsey is working against a formidably cunning opponent, and she will have to try her hardest to have a happy ending.

At first, I was a little bit skeptic of this book because of the split narrative. Up until R is for Ricochet, Kinsey narrated all her adventures in first person. However, S is for Silence introduced a change in this (for me) cherished tradition, and the Kinsey-narrated chapters alternated with third-person passages in which we witnessed events that Kinsey would later discover. It took me a while to start enjoying S, and I think it was because of this split narrative, so when I saw T had a similar structure, I was worried. However, the book sucked me in right from the start, and I can now say it is one of my favorites in the outstanding series. This time, instead of being flashbacks, the third-person chapters offer a different point of view in Kinsey's investigation --her nemesis's point of view, to be precise. Grafton makes the most out of this literary device, and we get to see Kinsey in a way we've never seen her before: through the eyes of her enemy. Needless to say, the results are hilarious, and I just wanted to keep reading.

Sounds interesting? Well, that's because it is, so if you haven't checked out Kinsey's adventures yet, do yourself a favor and start learning your ABC's.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Donde comen siete

Según la página oficial de Stephen King, el incansable escritor ha anunciado recientemente que ha tenido una idea para un octavo volumen de su serie The Dark Tower, que, como bien sabemos terminó con la séptima entrega. Este octavo capítulo tiene el título provisional de The Wind Through the Keyhole, y King dice que tardará como mínimo ocho meses antes de empezar a trabajar en el manuscrito.

Por supuesto, no voy a desvelar nada, y más sabiendo que mi querido coblogueador Halagan se está leyendo la serie, pero, sabiendo lo que sé sobre cómo terminó The Dark Tower, no puedo sino preguntarme qué pasará en este nuevo capítulo de la saga. Habrá que esperar como mínimo hasta 2011 para averiguarlo.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Lesbionic Woman

Want to see Olivia Munn's antics as an unlikely (but very hot) cybernetic heroine? Then check out The Lesbionic Woman, a very silly, very short video starring the Attack of the Show hostess that obviously spoofs a certain TV show. Call me crazy, but I think this would actually improve the original premise. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vampire Gummy Bears

A girl in my Cartooning Club is obsessed with horses, vampires, and gummy bears, so I suggested she drew a horse gummy bear, which I proceeded to draw as well. After we were done, we decided to kick it up a notch and combine all three to create the first vampire horse gummy bear (or perhaps just vampire gummy horse) ever, which I also rushed to portray. Silly as these concepts were, we had a blast, and that's all that really matters. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pokerface

Do you know Lady GaGa's hit song Pokerface? Have you ever found yourself wondering how it could be improved? Well, wonder no more, my dear friends, because I have the elusive answer you've spent countless nights looking for. The perfect way to improve this pop concoction would be… to have Christopher Walken recite it on TV. You're welcome.

PS: For a mash-up of both Lady GaGa and Christopher Walken performing the song, make sure you watch this hilarious video.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Metapfffhysical

Have you guys seen The Fountain? Can you guys explain it to me? I think I got most of it, but I'm not really sure. I found this Darren Aronofsky movie rather boring and too full of itself, and this pseudo-metaphysical trip was quite dull, if flashy. It was cool to see Hugh Jackman looking so different from one scene to the next (a Spanish Conquistador, a bald yogi, a scruffy veterinarian), but the movie took itself too seriously while not taking the audience into account at all. A hot mess of a film you can certainly skip, if you haven't done so already. But if you did see it when it came out, then by all means enlighten me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Break From Work

What do stormtroopers do on their free time? If it was up to George Lucas, it would be something tedious that would bore you out of your mind. Thankfully, these pictures were not dreamed by the visionary from Modesto. Check them out and be ready to laugh until you cry.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Drama than Laughs

The only reason I added Catch and Release to my Netflix cue was because Kevin Smith had a big acting part in the movie. It doesn't hurt that the very attractive Jennifer Garner is the female lead, but I confess Smith was the main draw for me. Other than that, I didn't know much about the movie, and maybe that's why I was surprised CAR turned out to be more of a drama than a comedy.

I won't spoil anything for you, but the laughs were few and far between, while the melancholy and the drama permeated the whole movie. I wasn't ready for that, but I still liked the movie enough to watch it in its entirety without being bored or feeling restless.

The funniest thing was that I didn't know where the story was supposed to take place, and early in the movie I saw a street that startled me into recognition. "I've been there!" I exclaimed. "I think." I gave it some thought, and I concluded it looked like Boulder, CO, a suspicion that kept growing as I sighted some Boulder posters and I meditated about the fact that fly fishing was featured somewhat prominently in the film. Then I saw another street, and I was certain that was Boulder because I had absolutely walked down that same street a couple of years ago. This jolt of recognition was really cool, and it made watching the movie a more enjoyable experience.

In the end, I thought CAR was okay, but it is the kind of movie you're not missing much if you don't see. If you're a Kevin Smith fan, though, I would suggest checking it out, if only to see Smith basically play himself and have a good time. Plus, the movie is kind of cute and not too long. With such a stellar review, who could say no?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wolverine y los X-men

Esta última semana que he tenido algo más de tiempo libre me he entretenido viendo esta serie de animación. Los guiones son bastante dignos, así como los dibujos. La trama principal es que el profesor Xavier y Jean Grey han desaparecido en un ataque y los X-men se han desperdigado cada uno por un lado.

Como era de esperar los malos que quieren encerrar a los mutantes están cogiendo a la mayoría, y Lobezno se ve en la necesidad de volver a reunir al grupo para poner fin a tanto mal. Como Cíclope, líder natural de los X-men, está muy deprimido por la desaparición de Jean, y Tormenta está en África, Lobezno será el nuevo jefe de la Patrulla, cosa que, sinceramente, no le pega nada al personaje, pero bueno: como es el mutante que más vende se lo perdonamos.

Otra cosa un poco mala de la serie es que está en latino, pero se puede aguantar, así que, si tenéis tiempo, vedla que merece la pena.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dawsonville Express

Here you have a quick picture I drew while playing D&D with my friends a couple of weeks ago. The setting for the campaign is a mixture of chop-socky adventure and Sergio Leone westerns, with a generous helping of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series to finish it off. The day I drew this, my group found some railroad tracks and ended up riding a train driven by a guy named Charlie. Whether or not he looked like this in the Dungeon Master's head is open to discussion, but I kind of like it. I hope you do too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clash of the Titans

Another epic movie trailer has just been released. We recently spotlighted Prince of Persia, and today we showcase the teaser trailer for the Clash of the Titans remake, starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, and an angry giant scorpion. And maybe this would be a good moment to confess I've never seen the original, at least not completely. Will this new version be better than the classic film starring Harry Hamlin, Claire Bloom, and Laurence Olivier? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

D'ohme

Stephen King's latest whopper of a novel, Under the Dome, came out on November 9th, and here you can watch a brief interview with the author. Needless to say, I have already bought it (new in hardcover for only $9 --thank you, Amazon!), but I doubt it will be scarier than the hairdo Mr. King sports in this video.

The book stars a town that wakes up one morning to find itself surrounded by a transparent dome that traps the whole population inside. Sounds familiar? King has gone out of his way to assure us it has nothing to do with The Simpsons Movie that came out a couple of years ago, and whose premise was, well, Springfield being trapped inside a giant transparent dome. Apparently, King started writing this book in 1975, abandoned it, came back to it in 1979, and abandoned it once again until last year. I have a long tradition of trusting King's word, so I absolutely believe him and will not think of Matt Groening while I read the over 1,000 pages Under the Dome packs between its covers.

Will I love this book as much as I do most of King's previous efforts? Stay tuned to find out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Best 50 Inventions

Time Magazine just published their list of The Best 50 Inventions of 2009. There are lots of interesting things, such as the Ares rockets (which happens to be on number 1), the Natal controller for the Xbox360, the bladeless fan, or the robo-penguin. At any rate, it makes for an interesting read, so check it out and let us know what you think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kill Those Nazis

The Saboteur comes out on December 8, and it looks all kinds of awesome. It could be pitched as Assassin's Creed in France, and it has certainly caught my attention. Check out this video (it's fifteen minutes long, but oh so worth it) and then tell me you're not excited about it.

Regardless of how the game turns out, it is exciting to see Electronic Arts developing new IPs. I really enjoyed last year's Dead Space, and hopefully The Saboteur will be at least as good if not better. Based on the video I mentioned above, you will be able to spend an incredible amount of hours in this virtual Paris accomplishing all sorts of missions, and the featured sandbox gameplay looks really cool.

It will be interesting to see how well this game sells, because Assassin's Creed II comes out tomorrow, and both games are directed to the same target audience. Here's to hoping both games are amazing, so that we can enjoy them for many months to come.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scrooged

I didn't expect A Christmas Carol to blow me away, but I enjoyed it very, very much. This new adaptation of the classic tale by Charles Dickens was written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, and he definitely knows what he is doing. If you're thinking about his previous photorealistic animated Christmas movie, The Polar Express, and understandably shivering and swearing you will not go through that again, I can't blame you. But you are mistaken.

ACC is a feast for the eyes, with arresting visuals, fantastic textures, amazing animation, and incredible likenesses. Jim Carrey, the voice of Scrooge among many other charactes, does a formidable job giving the old miser tremendous personality, depth, and humanity. Other voice talents include Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Robin Wright, and they all bring their A game to this movie. And best of all, like I said, is the dark and shadowy look of the movie. Poorly lit rooms that feel gloomy and oppresive, half-crazed ghosts who have been driven insane by death, and ominous coaches steered by nightmarish horses that chase you through damp alleys all combine to create an oppressive atmosphere of despair and poverty, which is why the lights shine even brighter whenever they appear.

I don't particularly care for Christmas-y stories (and I sure didn't make ACC sound like one), but I must say that Zemeckis won me over with this solid movie that I can't help but recommend, so go check it out, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mi boda

Bueno: después de muchos años, por fin me han dicho que sí, y me estaré casando hoy en unas cuantas horas. Será una boda sencilla, nada de grandes despliegues con vestidos lujosos y leches varias.

La ceremonia será en una ermita en mitad de las montañas en Alcoy, y después una comida en una casa rural cercana. La tarde nos la pasaremos jugando a juegos de mesa chulos, intentaremos organizar campeonatos de mus y fórmula D, y jugaremos al billar y al ping-pong. Y el que quiera y se atreva puede pasear por las montañas, que están muy bonitas. Por la noche haremos una barbacoa y ceneremos cerca de las chimeneas, que seguro que algo de frío hará.

Sólo lamento que algunas personas a las que aprecio mucho no puedan venir en un día tan importante para mí, pero sé que, estén donde estén, pensarán un porquito en mí.

Friday, November 13, 2009

La estupidez humana

Con la historia de hoy inauguramos nueva etiqueta en Sunny Jhanna: la estupidez humana. Ni qué decir tiene, ya hemos tenido varias entradas en el pasado que trataban el tema, así que las he revisado todas para aplicar la etiqueta donde correspondiera, que si algo soy es concienzudo.

Lo que me ha hecho desenfundar el látigo de mi sarcasmo hoy es un aviso que he recibido del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores con respecto al Consulado español en Nueva Orleans. En esta carta, que recibí el viernes 6 de noviembre, se me comunica que el Consulado de Nueva Orleans cerrará sus puertas el 31 de octubre, y que a partir de ahora el Consulado de Houston será el que se encargue de cualquier trámite pertinente. Espero que hayáis notado que el tiempo verbal empleado en la carta es el futuro de indicativo, que se utiliza para describir acciones que aún no han sucedido. Sin embargo, a 6 de noviembre, el 31 de octubre no es el futuro, sino el pasado.

Podéis decirme que bueno, vale, es comprensible. La carta ha tardado una semana en llegarme, y por eso el aviso me ha llegado tarde y me resulta del todo inútil. Y estoy de acuerdo: es hasta cierto punto comprensible, aunque de ningún modo admisible. Imaginaos si fuera al revés y que, después de mandarle yo al gobierno cualquier papel que me pidieran con una semana de retraso, adujera que bueno, oigan: no es culpa mía que la carta haya tardado una semana en llegar. Sin embargo, eso no es lo más sangrante, no. Lo mejor es que en la segunda parte de la carta se especifican diferentes fechas límite para tramitar distintos documentos en el consulado:

1. Registro administrativo: hasta el 30 de octubre. Vaya hombre. Llego una semana tarde.

2. Protocolo notarial: hasta el 30 de octubre. Por qué poco se me ha pasado el plazo. No sé ni lo que significa, así que espero que no sea muy importante.

3. Registro civil: hasta el 14 de octubre. Jo. Afortunadamente, no me he casado en las últimas dos semanas, que si no...

4. Pasaportes y visados: se aceptarán (futuro) solicitudes hasta finales de septiembre. Más de un mes hace que se cerró el plazo. Más de un mes.

Lo bueno es que me puedo reír de todo esto porque no necesitaba sus servicios, pero hay que tener poca vergüenza para hacer cosas así. Ya sé que es el gobierno, y que se asume cierta ineptitud, pero aun así la cosa tiene delito. En fin...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

La leyenda de Actarus

La entrada de hoy va dedicada a nuestro querido co-
blogueador Nash, de quien me acuerdo siempre que me pongo a pensar en series de dibujos de cuando éramos pequeños. Como me pasó recientemente con Galaxy Rangers, hacía siglos que no pensaba en la serie que hoy nos ocupa, y que conozco tanto por Goldorak como por Goldrake, Grendizer o Grandizer (Gurendaiza en japonés). Recuerdo haber visto la película cuando era pequeño, y luego seguir la serie a diario en Canal 9. Pese a hacer años que no había oído la canción de la intro, recordaba la música perfectamente, y en cuanto empezó el vídeo fue como volver a tener doce años. No he podido encontrarla en valenciano, pero aquí la tenéis en japonés, que tampoco tiene desperdicio. Qué gran serie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Choices, Choices

A new multiplex opened last Friday in downtown Chattanooga, and I felt it was my duty to go check it out, see whether I approved of the facilities or found them lacking. The Carmike Majestic 12 replaced the old (and crummy) Bijou, and it is as awesome as The Rave. Plus, the fact that it is much closer to my apartment than The Rave makes it even more appealing, and I think I will patron it often in the future. To pop the Majestic's cherry, I chose The Box, and while I liked the movie, I was also strangely dissatisfied.

The Box, written and directed by Richard Kelly, is based on a short story by Richard Matheson named Button, Button. Matheson, whose name you might be familiar with because he also wrote I Am Legend, named his story aptly, seeing as it deals with a mysterious box with an ominous button. If you push the button, somebody you don't know dies, and you get a million dollars in cash, tax free. An enticing deal, right?

I thought the story was interesting, and the movie, even though it's incredibly slow paced, is very suspenseful and intriguing. Both James Marsden and Cameron Diaz do a great job starring as the married couple who has to decide whether to push the pesky button or not, and Frank Langella is super creepy as Mr. Steward.

As the story unfolds, the audience gets more and more pieces of the puzzle, never enough to reveal everything, but always enough so as not to try your patience. And yet, by the time the movie was over, I was left with a meh feeling. I enjoyed most of the film, but the last ten or so minutes I didn't like, and in the end I was left with mixed feelings.

I thought the acting was the best thing in the movie (especially Diaz's southern accent, which was amazingly accurate without being overpowering), but with such an interesting premise and story, I would have thought I'd enjoy the movie better than I did. In the end, I thought it was okay, but I have this weird feeling I should have liked it more than I did. Just like I Am Legend, come to think of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

V de Calatrava

Mientras veía el estupendo primer episodio de la nueva versión de V, serie que recuerdo seguir fielmente cuando era pequeño, me asaltó una pregunta. O más que una pregunta, un comentario. Cuando los turistas entran en la nave nodriza (¿hacía cuánto que no usabais esa expresión?), en el minuto veinte del episodio, se encuentran con un auténtico paraíso en su interior. Es un lugar de jardines exóticos y elegantes edificios de diseño exquisito; edificios que, a juzgar por su aspecto, debe haber diseñado uno de los visitantes infiltrados en la Tierra desde hace años, porque, no sé lo que pensaréis vosotros, pero a mí me parece que Santiago Calatrava es el responsable de esas maravillas arquitectónicas. No tenéis más que echarle un vistazo a la foto de la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias de Valencia, y compararla con la ciudad de los visitantes, capturada para este propósito por el abajo firmante. ¿Son imaginaciones mías, o Calatrava es en realidad un reptiliano visitante haciéndose pasar por humano?

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Return of Alice

I shouldn't be surprised that American McGee and Spicy Horse studios are working on a sequel to my beloved Alice game. I mean, with the Tim Burton movie coming out next March, this is the perfect time for a renewed interest in all-things Alice sparking everywhere. Apparently, this great piece of news was released in February, but I didn't find out until right now, and in a strange, roundabout way.

Apparently, a guy named Troy Morgan made a super creepy fake teaser trailer for the game The Return of Alice (you can watch it here as well) that became so popular that McGee himself had to step up and say the trailer wasn't official. Other than that, there isn't much information out yet, and seeing the game is supposed to be released in 2011, I think it's going to be a while before we get any more details about this (for me) must-buy game.

No matter when the game is released, this is great news, and I, for one, can't wait until it's finished, especially if it's at least as good as the firs one!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Prince of Persia

Do you remember the classic Prince of Persia game? The one in which a guy wearing pajamas jumped around and always ended up impaled on some deathly spikes? I know the game has seen many incarnations after the original (and very basic) PC version from 1989, but the franchise has never looked this good.

I already knew they were working in the movie version of the beloved game, and I had actually seen a couple of pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal in full costume, but the trailer just blew me away. I had also read that the tone of the movie is going to be similar to Pirates of the Caribbean's, and seeing the big "from Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of POTC" they've included on the teaser makes me salivate in anticipation. Prince of Persia opens on May 28th, 2010, and it looks terrific!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

X-Marathon

Shortly after my World of Warcraft marathon, I had another one, this time starring Marvel's most enduring mutants: the Uncanny X-Men. I read issues 500 to 514 in a row, plus a few pertinent extra issues, and I had a lot of fun.

The first story arc was SFX, which I had already read and written about here. SFX was drawn mostly by Greg Land, and even though plenty of people seem to dislike his work, I really like it, so that was a blast. The second arc was Lovelorn, which I started back in January but never actually finished. This one was drawn by Terry Dodson, and man is he good. His style is very different from Land's, and I like it even more. I actually got to meet Dodson at the San Diego Comic Con last July, and we chatted about his European series Coraline. He also had a bunch of his original pages there for display, and I was almost drooling over his incredible illustrations. I would love to get some of his original artwork, but it is just too expensive. He was very nice and friendly, though, and the fact that he is so talented makes me even more willing to support him and buy his X-Men issues.

Greg Land illustrated the next story arc, Sisterhood, which is about the return of Psylocke. I liked it too, but not as much as the previous three. Still, seeing Domino after such a long time was a treat, and I must say Land's Dazzler looks, well, dazzling.

This brought me to issue #512, a surprisingly fun story drawn by Yanick Paquette. Throughout the previous ten issues, Beast had been gathering a brain trust (the X-Club) to solve the precarious situation the mutants are in, and this unlikely team of scientists (plus Psylocke) travels back in time to the 1920's for a retro Victorian adventure that I really, really enjoyed. Was I the only one who thought Psylocke looked great in that long skirt? Well, she did.

Fortunately, the team was back in time for the next story arc, Utopia, which was a crossover between UXM and Dark Avengers. In true Marvel fashion, you needed to buy the opening one-shot and the closing one in addition to a couple of Dark Avengers issues if you wanted to understand what was going on. Luckily for me (bad luck for Marvel, though, but see if I care), a friend had already bought them and I could borrow them, so I was able to enjoy the whole story without having to part with my cash. Luke Ross draws the DA issues, and my beloved Terry Dodson draws the UXM chapters, which were interesting but there was just too much fighting for my taste. However, the mutant status quo at the end of this event is very intriguing, and I wonder what's going to happen next. Regardless of what it is, as long as Land and Dodson keep rotating and delivering the goods, I will be there to find out.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Genrific

After reading my comments about Craig Ferguson's American on Purpose, Nash expressed his surprise at my liking "that kind of book". I wasn't sure what he meant by that, but Halagan came to the rescue and pointed out I do read a lot of funny biographies. Or perhaps not a lot, and that's what the erudite discussion that followed centered on. What genres do I read the most? Halagan said fantasy and sci-fi, but I disagreed, especially on the latter. However, I was not really sure, so I decided to go back and look at what I've read over the last five years to ascertain what my favorite genre is. These are the results of my exhaustive research (to make it shorter and easier to read, I will only list the top five categories each year):

2005

Fantasy (20)

Humor (13)

Horror (9)

Other (8)

Historical (7)

2006

Fantasy (12)

Horror (11)

Humor (10)

Thriller (10)

Nonfiction (8)

2007

Fantasy (21)

Thriller (11)

Other (11)

Sci-Fi (10)

Horror (9)

2008

Thriller (14)

Fantasy (13)

Crime/Mystery (10)

Other (10)

Urban Fantasy (7)

2009 (so far)

Thriller (14)

Crime/Mystery (12)

Urban Fantasy (9)

Fantasy (8)

Other (7)

Regarding science-fiction, the results were 5 (2005), 5 (2006), 10 (2007), 4 (2008), and 2 (2009). As for more or less funny biographies, the results were 1 (2005), 3 (2006), 3 (2007), 4 (2008), and 5 (2009). Therefore, it looks like fantasy, crime/mystery, humor, thrillers, and horror are my favorite genres. Surprising? Hmmm… I don't think so, but let me know what you guys think!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Four Already

Happy birthday, Sunny Jhanna!

Today, your favorite blog turns four. It's been four years of celebrating pop culture and shamelessly promoting my artwork, but I hope you guys have had fun. And to celebrate such a milestone, here you have a picture by yours truly that is reminiscent of last year's. At any rate, here's to four more years of irrelevant posting!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Creative Process

I went to see This Is It over the weekend, if only to help my box-office predictions come true (very unlikely, seeing it only made $32 million). I did enjoy it, but the two hours it runs for seemed longer than that, and twenty minutes or so before the end I was really ready for the movie to be over.

As we all know by now, This Is It is made out of footage from Michael Jackson's rehearsals last spring, and the scope of the ambitious stage sets, choreography, and projected images is staggering. These concerts would have no doubt been memorable for anyone who attended, and it's a shame Jackson's untimely death prevented this from happening.

This Is It features plenty of songs by Jackson, and I thought it was very interesting to see the rehearsals and to see Jackson giving directions and making sure everything was just right. That was something that surprised me a little, how adamant he was about what he wanted, and how things should be exactly how he envisioned them. He was always polite but firm, and you could see he exerted absolute control over everything. Like one of the musicians says in the film, Jackson knew everything about his music: every beat, every bar, every key, and he wanted it all exactly right. And I find I can't fault him for that. He had a very specific vision and he wouldn't accept anything less than that. Maybe some people would think he was a control freak, and that's what I thought at first. However, when I gave it some more thought, I realized I agreed with him. I wouldn't tolerate anything that didn't meet my standards, so why should he? Then again, maybe I am an AR control freak, who knows…

I think my favorite part of the film was the Thriller movie, with the new makeup and the graveyard, but the Smooth Criminal movie with Rita Hayworth was also very neat. Also, I can't forget the two or three times when guitar player Orianthi was in the spotlight being hot and talented... and surprisingly short. (Very cute, though.)

This Is It is definitely a movie for Jackson fans, and people who didn't care for his music will find little in it to enjoy. I like his music, but I've never been a big fan (as it happens, I only own one song by him), and maybe that's why the movie seemed to drag on for perhaps a little bit too much. Still, I enjoyed it, so if you really loved the King of Pop, This Is It is made for you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Favorite SModcasts

Halagan expressed interest in starting to listen to SModcast, but he found the task daunting because of the number of episodes already out. I suggested I could give him a list of my favorite installments and that he could start by listening to those, and he thought that was a great idea. (And of course it was.) So, I gave it some thought, and I came up with the following Top Ten SMods (plus an extra 11 great episodes). Before I give you the names though, keep in mind that SModcast is best friends Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier talking about stuff, but sometimes, for different reasons, Scott Mosier can't record the show and we get one or two guest hosts to cover for him. I love Scott Mosier, but some of my favorite episodes are the ones with Walt Flanagan, another one of Smith's best friends. That said, let's get this party started:

Top Ten SMods
1. SModcast 14: On Guard For Thee
Along with #13, this is probably my favorite SMod ever. Malcolm Ingram joins Kevin and Walter Flanagan for several of the funniest things you've ever heard. I don't want to oversell this episode, but it is pure genius from beginning to end.

2. SModcast 13: SFodcast (or SWodcast)
This one is one of my favorite episodes of all time. Walt Flanagan guest-hosts for the first time, and the flea market story is one for the ages. I don't know how many times I've listened to this one, and it cracks me up every time I play it.

3. SModcast 15: The Pretty-Good Worker
Kev and Scott discuss Helen Keller in one of the funniest episodes SModcast has ever seen. You really need to listen to this one.

4. SModcast 56: And Now a Word from Our Sponsor
How far would you go for a Make-a-Wish kid? How would road rage blind you? This is one of my favorite episodes ever!

5. SModcast 52: The (c)Rapture
Kev and Mos plot a movie I would definitely want to see. The whole thing is so absurd and bizarre it will make you laugh until you cry.

6. SModcast 28: Scottacita Wants a Carnita!
Kev and Mos discuss bizarre experiments. Laughter ensues.

7. SModcast 34: Jersey Justice League
Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson guest-host and talk with Kevin about the Tooth Fairy and being kicked out of parties for being too charismatic. I love this episode, I really do.

8. SModcast 43: SMorpheus
Kev and Mos dissect The Matrix and try to make sense out of it. Plus, we find out how the movie would have turned out if they had made it.

9. SModcast 57: Terrorist Pizza
It's the righteously indignant Canadian! 'Nuff said.

10. SModcast 37: In A Row?
Kev and Mos talk about the body snatchers and how creepy baristas can be. Priceless!

The Eleven Runner-ups
1. SModcast 40: Ned Smitty
Or how Kev could have been cast in an imaginary porn movie.

2. SModcast 58: Kodachrome
Kevin and Scott wonder who doesn't take naked pictures of their girlfriends.

3. SModcast 24: Rigg-er, Please!
Walt is back to talk about the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies, back when Bruce Willis had hair and Mel Gibson was a hot commodity instead of a laughingstock.

4. SModcast 49: Attack of the Banantulas
Creepy spiders and plenty of everything else.

5. SModcast 84: OUTBREAK!
Kevin talks with Bryan Johnson about having an affair with your girlfriend's mother.

6. SModcast 90: Forgeticus!
The best spell Harry Potter never knew.

7. SModcast 70: SMod Bless Us, Everyone!
A Christmas special in true SMod fashion. Definitely worth listening!

8. SModcast 42: SMerry Christmas
Another Christmas Special that will keep you laughing for a long time.

9. SModcast 10: Eating a Chicken’s Soul
Kevin and Scott talk about how humiliating it would be to be eaten by a shark.

10. SModcast 8: The Entirely Too Over-Long Episode
Kevin and Scott talk about directing the pilot episode of Reaper, the now-defunct TV show.

11. SModcast 7: An Icelander Showing You Your Own Beating Heart
Kevin reminisces about not having any freedom when he was a teenager.

There you go. I hope this gets you started, and that you enjoy your time with Kevin and Scott. And if you do, there are over seventy more episodes where these came from!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Crashing Guitars

Check out the video for According to You, the first single of Believe, Orianthi's new album. Orianthi is a 24-year-old Australian artist who is best known for her incredible guitar skills. She has played with artists such as Prince and Santana, who raved about how talented she was. After she showed her mad skills with the guitar while playing with Carrie Underwood at the 2009 Grammy Awards, Michael Jackson himself hired her to play guitar in his This Is It concerts, which never happened due to Jackson's unexpected death. Still, she got to play in the rehearsals, and I bet she will also be in the This Is It movie. At any rate, I really like this song, and I hope the rest of her CD is equally great!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Reading List: October

Well, October was packed with comic books and manga and not so many books. I guess I'll have to read more books than graphic novels over the next couple of months if I want to bring up my total for the year. At any rate, this is what I read this month:

--> S is for Silence
Another Kinsey Millhone adventure by Sue Grafton, it took me longer than usual to get into the groove of the story, but once I got there, I enjoyed the book immensely. The bad news is that there is only one more book out on paperback, and after that I'll have to wait for a year before I can read the next one!

Locke & Key, vol. 2: Head Games
Another mindbending tale written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. I think I liked the first volume better, but that doesn't mean this one wasn't all sorts of awesome, because it was.

Transformers: Stormbringer The artwork by Don Figueroa was amazing. I could just stare at every single panel for hours, and I would find new details every three seconds. This, my friends, is how the Transformers are supposed to be drawn. Unfortunately, the story by Simon Furman was boring and derivative (an enemy from the past so powerful everyone has to work together to destroy!), which is a shame, because the visuals are out of this world.

Assassin’s Creed Limited Edition Art Book What a coincidence that I found out about this book at the same time I was replaying the game. needless to say, I bought it immediately and read it pretty quickly. It is a comprehensive look at the making of the game, yet I wish there was more. Then again, even if the book was twice as long, I'd still be clamoring for more. If you love the game like I do, then you must buy this book, simple as that.

I Shudder This book is a collection of essays and stories by Paul Rudnick, the man who wrote In & Out and Addams Family Values. I thought the book would deal with Hollywood and screenwriting, but it doesn't, and I was therefore disappointed. The book is entertaining, and the "I Shudder" chapters are pretty hilarious, but, overall, I didn't like this book as much as I was hoping.

The Goon, vol. 9: Calamity of Conscience It took me so long to read volumes 7 and 8 that volume 9 came out and I had just finished the previous two. This volume closes the story arc that started in book 7, and it is dark and grim and depressing. At the same time, it is a great read, and I have to tell you guys once again to start reading Eric Powell's phenomenal series. Knife to the eye!

Wolverine: Old Man Logan As I said before, I liked the story, but I hate Marvel for putting it out the way they did. Still, definitely worth reading.

Nightmares & Fairy Tales, vol. 4: Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales
I bought this TPB written by Serena Valentino and drawn by Camilla D'Errico, and while it was whimsy and weird and mostly enjoyable, it really wasn't anything to write home about. Plus, I thought the book would benefit from a more polished and finished look.

Bastard!!, vol. 1
The first volume in Kazushi Hagiwara's series, Bastard is funny but sort of a one-trick pony. I liked it, but I am happy I borrowed it from a friend instead of paying for it.

The Titan’s Curse
The third book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, it took me a while to really get into the story (kind of like what happened to me with S is for Silence). Once I did, though, the book was a lot of fun, and I certainly enjoyed the second half!

Tag & Bink Were Here
I reread the silly adventures of Tag and Bink before I let a friend borrow them, and they still made me laugh. Kevin Rubio's script is funny, and Lucas Marangon artwork is just right for the story. Hilarious!

Battle Angel Alita
For the last century or so, James Cameron has been saying he wants to turn Yukito Kishiro hit manga into a movie. I don't know if that will ever happen, but having watched the first season of Dark Angel, which Cameron produced, I can see lots of common elements. The book was fun, but I think I would enjoy the movie version much better.

Bastard!!, vols. 2- 5
If the first volume felt a bit repetitive, imagine how I felt after I finished the fifth one.

American on Purpose I already told you how much fun I had with Craig Ferguson's autobiography, so just go ahead and buy it!

The Walking Dead, vol. 9: Here We Remain I hadn't read Robert Kirkman's incredibly successful book in a while, and I found volume 9 as fun and grim as the previous installments in the series. Great writing, but I'm still not a fan of the artwork.

The Walking Dead, vol. 10: What We Become Yet more horrible things happen to the main characters. And I hear they're turning the book into a TV show, so we'll see how that turns out.

Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn Part of my X-Men marathon, I'll tell you more about it soon. For the time being, suffice it to say that I enjoyed it.

Uncanny X-Men: Sisterhood
Not as good as Lovelorn, yet still enjoyable. More on that soon.

Utopia
The Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover was fun to read, but I wish Dodson would have drawn everything and not just the X-Men issues. As a matter of fact, I think Dodson should draw pretty much every comic on the planet. I think I need to get some original artwork by him!

The Battle of the Labyrinth The fourth book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, it was also great fun to read, and it probably was my favorite in the series along with the first one. The problem is that now I have to wait for the last volume to come out in paperback next year, because it just came out in hardcover. I'll have to find other books to keep me entertained until then.

And that's if for this month. Only two left before the year's over, and then, I get to choose my favorites for the year. Stay tuned!