Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Collecting


When I was around 11 years old, I was all about collecting action figures. That's nothing unusual, most 11 year old boys are. And that time period was pretty good for it too, thanks to the Star Wars action figure boom. We also got action figures for Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Black Hole, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, not to mention the Micronauts, and all in 3 3/4" scale. To this day that remains my favorite scale for action figures, and I have no doubt that it's due to that childhood influence.

One day my local Toyco got in a box of Battlestar Galactica Series 2 action figures. This was around 1979 (possibly 1980) and back then of course there was no internet to let us know new toys were coming; it was just the thrill of discovering them at the toy store. So I had no idea that these action figures even existed. I only had enough money for one, so I agonized over whether to get Baltar or Lucifer, and decided on Baltar. Which turned out to be the wrong choice; when I went back the next week to buy Lucifer after getting my allowance he was gone, but there was still another Baltar left. I never did get that Lucifer figure. Oh well.

But I loved the packaging as much as the figure itself, because the back of the toy card had drawings of all the new action figures pictured on it. I could look at all those other new figures and still feel that rush of excitement I had when I discovered them, and plan out which ones I was going to get next.

The card with the new Battlestar Galactica figures that I gazed at lovingly for days.
Image swiped from John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV.
This exasperated my mother. "Why can't you just enjoy the ones you have instead of focusing on all the ones you don't?" It was a very valid question that I didn't have a good answer for. I did enjoy the ones I had; I still played with them at that age. I loved looking at all the details on them. And I loved simply lining them up and admiring them all.

But oh, the excitement of the ones I didn't have yet! The thrill of the hunt, trying to save up the money just to get the next figure, planning out which one my next conquest would be, only to change my plans when I got to the toy store and discover the one I wanted had sold out or new figures had been released. These were all things I just couldn't articulate at the time.

Over the years the things I've collected have changed, and so has the game of collecting them. Hasbro puts out the same number of Star Wars action figures in a month that Kenner used to put out in a year, but most of them have become new versions of old figures so it's rare that I'm interested in any of them these days. I was really into the Doctor Who figures for a while, but ironically now that I have 11 Doctors and a bunch of companions and monsters in the 5" scale, I'm not interested in starting all over from scratch with them since manufacturer Character Options has rebooted the line in the 3 3/4" scale. And while the ReAction Figure line has totally pushed my nostalgia button, I have yet to see any outside of the internet and be tempted by holding one in my hands.


http://www.2xlrobot.com/fer/images/doctor-who-big-finish-covers.jpgBut this doesn't mean the collecting bug has gone away by any means.  My new love of collecting has been Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama CDs.

These are great, and if you are a Doctor Who fan, I urge you to check them out. And right now is the perfect time to do it, because they're celebrating their 15th Anniversary of making Doctor Who audios, so if you try them out before August 20, 2014 you'll have the opportunity to download some of their stories for just $1 each. They change the audios they're putting on sale every 48 hours, so go early and go often!


These all feature the original actors performing new stories. Yes, even Tom Baker. Think Paul McGann is a one-off Doctor? Not here-- the Eighth Doctor has no less than 67 stories with five different companions (you may have heard them name-checked in The Night of the Doctor minisode) spread out over 190 episodes. Oh yeah, did I mention they recreate the episode format of the original series? McGann's changes from the 4-episode/ 2-hour serial style to the new series 1-episode/1-hour-with-a-story-arc style about halfway through his run, so it makes the perfect transition into the new series.

But I digress.

A good friend of mine got into the Big Finish audios when they first started making them 15 years ago. He played a few for me, and I started borrowing some from him that I wanted to listen to. Then the real world got in the way and he fell behind on getting them. I wanted to pick up the torch but was unable to do so until the Doctor Who DVD line ended, at which point I started channeling all my money that had been earmarked for DVDs into these CDs. In addition to keeping up with all the new releases Big Finish puts out each month we also had a sizable backlog to get caught up on. While I used my DVD money to keep up on the new releases, I now started selling my old stuff on eBay to make money to catch up.

That's when the lists started. Lists of which ones we needed, wishlists at places that sold them, chronology guides so I could determine the listening order I wanted to use for both listening them and storing them, budget plans figuring out which ones to get next...

Oh, yes. The hunt is alive and well.

And that's when it hit me today-- this isn't just wanting to be able to listen to them all, this has become a collection. It finally clicked when I was looking over those lists, watching my wishlist shrink and my iTunes grow, and I had a flashback to that day with my mother when I was looking at those Battlestar Galactica figures. Can't I just be happy with what I already have? Hmmm... yeah, I think so. I'm loving listening to these. I've been listening to an episode per day since January, in the "order" that they would take place if they were lost episodes of the TV series. But the excitement of closing in on those last couple dozen titles we need, that rush of collecting them, is almost as big a high as -- or is possibly even equal to -- the fun of enjoying them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to episode two of Helicon Prime, starring the Second Doctor as told by Jamie McCrimmon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Robotech: Love Live Alive

The international cover, because I like it better.
Spoiler Level: Atomic  NEUTRON-S!


Okay, time for me to dust off the old blog. I finally found something that made me want to spout off an opinion. And that thing is-- what else? -- ROBOTECH! Specifically, the new release Robotech: Love Live Alive.


The Good:

* First off, let's give kudos to Harmony Gold for successfully completing and releasing a new Robotech project. And no, I don't mean that in a snarky, ironic way; I am genuinely grateful when new Robotech material is completed and released, and the canonical Robotech universe is made a little bit bigger.

* The new animation. The majority of it is absolutely beautiful. We get to see so many of those classic still frames from the beginning of "The Invid Invasion" brought to life! We get to see the Invid destroying the three mountains that contained the remains of the SDF-1!!! Talk about beautifully tying Southern Cross and Mospeada together... wow, just wow. And we get to see Dana, watching the Invid invasion happen, and climbing aboard a ship and leaving Earth. (That few seconds of animation is very crucial, my fellow Robotech fans... it establishes officially that Dana did not leave Earth before the Invid arrived as was commonly cited in other media, but that she was there for it. And the implication is that she may have been part off the Southern Cross that "weary from the constant battles with the Robotech Masters, was no match for the battle hungry Invid." The implication we're left with is that Dana was in fact killed in those opening still frames from "The Invid Invasion," and we just never knew it. Of course, we're still not shown that, so the possibility that she survived the battle and headed for Tirol is still there. But I digress.) And we get to see Lancer, now officially identifying himself as Lt. Lance Belmont of Yellow Squadron, trying to join up with Jonathan Wolff and Point K in an earlier attempt at reclaiming Earth and meeting with the same fate as Scott Bernard. Great stuff.

The new animation of Sera and Lancer at the end is, admittedly, pretty weak. I honestly do appreciate the effort to mimic the original 80's style so it would look consistent when intercut with the original Japanese Mospeada: Love Love Alive animation, but the result is more reminiscent of the times when Sandy Frank Productions tried to have Mark and Princess interact with 7-Zark-7 on Battle of the Planets. But you know what? I DON'T CARE!! Because it gives Lancer and Sera the absolutely best post-finale ending they've gotten in any media since 1985. It's wonderful, it made me smile, and it made me forgive that the animation didn't really work.

* The return of the classic voice actors! And everyone is there, even the classic announcer! The homages in the dialogue to "Booby Trap" also seriously warmed my heart. Oh sure, everyone sounds older, but that's okay.

* The new musical score.  Now I mean absolutely no disrespect to Scott Glasgow when I say this, but this was more like it. The score he wrote for The Shadow Chronicles is very beautiful music, but the themes he created reminded me more of Stargate than Robotech. This time he stuck to the original Robotech compositions, but rearranged and reorchestrated them into an absolutely beautiful opening medley of the Robotech theme and the Flower of Life theme. It evoked the classic Robotech feelings while exciting me for something new. I hope it gets released on a soundtrack someday.

* The "next episode" promos for both Robotech: Love, Live Alive and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles using the original announcer. Priceless.

Dana watches the Invid destroy the SDF-1 burial mounds.



The Bad:

* It's a 90-minute clip show.  Okay, I was always a staunch defender that Robotech is something new and not beholden to its original Japanese source materials. But good gods, what a horribly wasted opportunity. Mospeada: Love Live Alive was a farewell love letter for the Mospeada fans, a Yellow Belmont concert featuring new songs, classic songs, and new renditions of classic songs, all done up as music videos using footage from the original Mospeada TV series, with about 6 minutes of new animation used as a framework.

Now of course you can't just drop the Robotech Yellow Dancer songs on top of the Mospeada Yellow Belmont music videos, but this would have been a great opportunity to create new music videos to the Robotech songs that tied all three generations together.

But no, instead Robotech: Love Live Alive is a freakin' meatloaf episode.

And it's not even that they wrote dialogue to go with the original Mospeada clips used in the music videos; no, those original clips are completely excised in favor of simply showing us truncated versions of the episodes "Lonely Soldier Boy," "Eulogy," "Enter Marlene," "Ghost Town," "Frost Bite," "Reflex Point," "Dark Finale," and "Symphony of Light," with a few origin sequences from "The Secret Route" and "Metamorphosis" thrown in.  And there isn't even any connecting dialogue for most of it, it just fades out from one episode clip and into another episode clip.

Robotech: Love Live Alive restructures Mospeada: Love Live Alive so that the opening Yellow Belmont concert is now instead a climactic Yellow Dancer concert at the end of the show. The interview sequence in the middle of M:LLA now forms the frame work for R:LLA, with Lancer telling his life story (and thus explaining the clips) to the interviewer. And that's fine; in fact, in many ways I feel they were very creative with the way they mixed everything around and integrated some new animation for the interviewer.

But the end result is we get a wonderful new 9-minute opening sequence and an enjoyable new 8-minute closing sequence sandwiching 70 minutes of boredom. And that's a lot of time to be bored. Oh, sure, I suppose if you haven't watched Robotech since 1985 it's a nice nostalgia trip, but for those of us who have... a lot... it's dull. ("Definitely cute, but dull.")

* No new Michael Bradley music. Again, such a wasted opportunity. Michael Bradley's already recorded new versions of his Yellow Dancer songs on his wonderful albums Lonely Soldier Boy and Lonely Soldier Boy II (available at www.michaelbradleymusic.com), and using some of those instead of the standard Harmony Gold Music versions would have mirrored the Mospeada version nicely. But they didn't do that.

I have no idea why, I haven't heard anyone comment on it one way or another. I assume because if they wanted to use Michael Bradley's new versions, they would have had to pay him, while they can use the versions already owned for free. I doubt there's anything malicious about it; it's just less expensive to do it that way.

But it's also a lost opportunity that creates more lost opportunities. Remember how I mentioned the new renditions Scott Glasgow did of the background music? Well, that's less than 9 minutes worth of new music, but if you had some new Yellow Dancer songs too... well, they could have put out a whole Robotech: Love Live Alive soundtrack album.

(And I have to mention this-- Michael Bradley is also lead singer for a Police/Sting cover band called Ghost in the Machine, and they've done a version of "Synchronicity II." Now, as any self-respecting Southern Cross fan knows, there was a piece of frequently used background music in the original Japanese Southern Cross that was a direct rip-off of "Synchronicity II." So they had a chance to do a Robotech Masters music video to Synchronicity II as sung by Yellow Dancer! Yeah, yeah, it now means paying Michael Bradley AND Sting instead of using all your own music for free, but... man, that would have been cool.)

* No Macross clips. Part of what makes projects like this special is the opportunity to tie all three generations of Robotech together. But just like how the new version of The Sentinels removed every frame of Macross, there's not a frame of it here either. Granted, they wouldn't fit in as smoothly as the Southern Cross clips due to the time frame, but an image of Admiral Hunter from either Sentinels or Shadow Chronicles during one of the times Lancer referred to him in the interview would have been nice, and would have represented the Macross Saga generation without getting into any sticky legal issues of likeness rights.

In the interest of full disclosure, for the last two complaints I'm being the kind of fanboy I find annoying. Because around 1997 when the first full length Robotech soundtrack came out, I started making my own version of Love Live Alive. (But I think I called it Robotech: We Will Win 2045, or something like that.) And with the release of Michael Bradley's new albums, my vision for it only got more grand. (The only thing that I felt I still needed was Michael Bradley making a cover of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis!) So I am totally suffering from a case of "That's not how I would have done it!"

But that still doesn't forgive 70 minutes of clip show.


The Ugly:

* The 2-Movie Collection. I wanted to have Robotech: Love Live Alive on my DVD shelf. Instead to even get a copy of Love Live Alive, I had to rebuy The Shadow Chronicles. Again. Which means I don't even get the nice Lancer cover art that was made for it. Or have a Love Live Alive logo all nice and prominent on my Robotech shelf. I was willing to let it slide that I had to rebuy something I already owned just to get something new because the price point was the same as I would have willingly paid for Love Live Alive by itself, but I wasn't pleased about it. Especially since...

* The Love Live Alive disc is a bare-bones DVD. It has a small art gallery (which granted, is nice because the M:LLA art book is impossible to find) and the previously mentioned "next-episode" promo, but that's it. Which could also be forgivable if it wasn't for the fact that...

* Mospeada: Love Live Alive subtitled and all the bonus features for Robotech: Love Live Alive will only be available in the new Robotech: The Complete Set DVD Box set. For $89.98. So, instead of giving me a full DVD with both the Robotech version and the subtitled Mospeada version-- something I've been wanting since the 80's-- they make me rebuy The Shadow Chronicles and then tell me I'll have to rebuy everything, again, if I want the stuff that should have been on this release in the first place.

Um.... no.

You know, I'm not a Harmony Gold hater. But you know what? I don't like being treated this way either. Harmony Gold-- fuck you. I'm breaking up with you.


The Final Verdict:

While containing some wonderful moments, it runs too long, rehashes too much, and is the victim of some horrendous business practices. It's worth getting if you can get it cheap, but only if you're a big fan who will get the same big thrill out of those first 9 minutes that I did.

Maybe I'll go back to making my own adaptation again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Battleship

Spoiler Level: High

What the-- I'm breaking my blogging dry spell for Battleship?!? Why on earth would I do that when there's been so much other good stuff to talk about?!?

Well, because poor little Battleship needs a little love. Sure, I could rave about how much I liked The Avengers, but everyone's doing that. And while I can't honestly say I loved Battleship, it's not the utter drek everyone's treating it as.

Yes, there are some parts that made me want to groan. When the radar went out so they came up with a tracking grid, and started calling out their attacks ("Echo One-One! Foxtrot Seven!" "It's a miss!") I just thought to myself, I can't believe they actually went there. And the alien missiles actually looking like pegs as they smashed into the ships just made me groan inside as well... and I tried really really hard to overlook that, because the missile launchers revving up to fire them looked so cool. And lastly, the Hasbro logo coming up as a movie studio logo at the beginning of the film made me actually laugh out loud. I recognized the logo as soon as it started, because it's on my Japanese Collection Transformers DVDs (something else I hope to review someday). On the DVDs it makes sense-- a DVD is a consumer product, so I can understand Hasbro putting their stamp on their product. But putting it right after the Universal logo makes me feel like Hasbro is trying to say, "Look, we're a real film studio!" Now that takes some serious pegs.

But the thing is, those are all small parts of the movie. I went into this movie with the attitude that this was no different than Cowboys & Aliens, it's just Navy & Aliens. And I like me some good military-vs-aliens shoot-em-ups. And in that sense, this movie delivers-- there's lots of great hardware, both human and alien. And the scenes of the USS Missouri launching and joining the battle, with those great big guns swiveling and blasting away, warms my Yamato-lovin' heart. Very good eye candy, very exciting battle scenes. And they worked in a believable reason for why there's a Japanese Destroyer in the fleet.  And having the veterans come back aboard to run the Missouri with the younger generation worked great for me as well... I just loved seeing these octogenarian soldiers kicking butt.

And there's a lot of cool little in-joke homages to other science fiction, including Star Trek, Star Wars and X-Files. They're all subtle enough to make me smile and not so over-the-top to make me feel like they were trying too hard. (I would have even dismissed the Star Wars one as coincidence if it hadn't been the third one I caught.)

So that's what, three things I didn't like and five that I did? So it comes out two points ahead.

Battleship is by no means a great movie, but it's good enough. Heaven knows I've sat through much, much worse.

Monday, November 21, 2011

V - Season 2

Spoiler Level: High

I have to admit, I was very impressed with Season 2 of V. (Once I finally got to see it, that is.) Oh sure, I'm very disappointed that the "Let V no longer stand for Visitor; let it stand for victory" attitude was lost again after only one episode (and could there be any bigger perversion of the meaning of "V" than Tyler spray-painting a red V as a pro-Visitor message?), but in this season the show stopped trying to imitate the original and found its own voice, and as a result it was a much better show. And since it did have its own voice, I found myself being more content with what it was than being frustrated with what it wasn't.

For starters, we learned the real reason for them coming to Earth-- and it's got nothing to do with wanting to pillage the Earth for our resources. It's not to use the human race as food, but as breeding stock. Apparently they've been stealing DNA from different races, harvesting the best of every race in the universe so they become the genetically superior beings. And the human race is next on their list.

The way they go about it gets a bit convoluted; apparently Visitors and humans can interbreed with some scientific help. But the survival of the race depends on their queen, who is only fertile during a short period of her life. So they infiltrate a few decades earlier and set up test subjects to be containers of all the best DNA mankind has to offer. Then they show up with the smaller fleet, get into the planet's good graces, and the next Queen-to-be mates with one of the test subjects, thus ensuring new offspring with all the best DNA. Then they bring in their fleet en masse, round up all our women and turn them into baby factories (yes, this show could have been called Visitors Need Women), ensuring that their race continues. I'm a little hazy on how the two points connect, but that's it in a nutshell.

Storytelling wise, this was revealed in a very even pace, much better than the first season. Each episode felt like it was advancing the story, and like we were actually getting answers. We also got to see the resistance movement finally grow, expanding both on their own and then finally hooking up with a world-wide network. Of course, it may have helped that I watched the entire season over two weeks on DVD instead of over ten weeks on TV.

And then there's Jane Badler, returning as Diana. Not the same Diana, of course, but at least the producers of the show had the sense to always dress her in red to hit the proper nostalgia buttons. This Diana is almost a good guy-- she's learned the value in human emotions and the soul, something that her daughter, Anna, doesn't agree with. It makes Diana an interesting character-- she's just as concerned with the survival of their species as Anna is, and her loyalty is definitely with her own species and not humanity, but what Anna sees as humanity's flaws and a risk to their survival, Diana sees as something that can improve their race, making them something greater than they were.

And then there's the finale.

Like most shows these days, V was canceled without enough notice for any kind of wrap-up. But the ending we're given here works for an ending. Not a happy ending in any way, shape or form, but still an ending.

* Diana's plans fail completely as Anna kills her in front of their entire race. Anna wins.
* Ryan's plans to rescue his daughter Amy fail completely as his daughter kills him when he tries to take her away. As far as she's concerned, Anna is her mother, and Ryan isn't fit to be her father. Anna wins.
* Lisa II mates with and then kills Tyler. Anna wins.
* Chad Decker's role in the Fifth Column is exposed and he's taken into custody by the Visitors. Anna wins.
* Amy helps Anna spread Bliss to humanity, enslaving the entire human race to the Visitors as the breeding ships move in. Anna wins.
* The only hope left at all is Project Ares, a secret military organization run by the world's governments hidden literally underground so they escaped the Bliss (and lead by none other than Mark Singer).

What a great set-up for Season 3. At last, everything is out in the open, and Project Ares would have had to fight a war against the Visitors to save their own people who wouldn't even want to be saved. As closure goes, this is The Empire Strikes Back-- a series of down endings, ultimately ending in defeat but with a hope for the future. Only in this case there will be no third act. And who knows, maybe it wouldn't have worked, but there is closure here for nearly all the characters, and the potential for what could have come next is fantastic.

I've said before that if they did any V novels or other media tie-ins with this show I'd give them a pass, but I have to go back on that now. There's potential here for a great story, either in prose or comics. I don't believe we'll actually get it, but if it happens, I'll check it out.  Otherwise, for me the ending of this story is what we got on screen-- the Visitors triumphant, with Erica Evans and Project Ares still out there fighting the good fight to save humanity.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Robotech Ratios [UPDATED]

The new Robotech Complete Series box set is out, and I have three questions before I commit to buying all of Robotech again. I'm posting this because my friend and fellow Robotech fanatic Lisa has offered to help answer them for me!

For those who don't know, Robotech was remastered several years ago. On the plus side, this remastering corrected a problem the video releases has always had: the image ratio was finally fixed. More on this later. On the negative side, they changed all the sound effects, and changed the opening titles. Instead of having one title sequence for all 85 episodes mixing all the generations together, they gave them three separate title sequences focusing only on one generation. I didn't like that; I like the way that showing all three generations made it feel like one big story. I liked the change in sound effects even less. This version was then collected in one giant box set called the Protoculture Edition, which has become a kind of shorthand for referring to this version.

Now the impression I was getting from the convention appearances of the Robotech staff this year is that with this new edition, they were able to recover the original, separated audio tracks, and so were able to restore it the sound to the original versions yet still keep enhance it for 5.1. However the sticker on the box in this picture posted by Harmony Gold from NYCC says it's the Remastered Extended Edition. So do they mean it's been remastered for this edition (as they made it sound at the cons), or is it the same as the previously released Protoculture Edition?


So, here's my questions (and anyone can feel free to chime in and answer):
UPDATED: Lisa's gotten back to me with the answers, so I'm sharing them here in case anyone else cares.



(1) Does it have the original, multi-generational opening and closing title sequences?


Original titles


Remastered Titles
VERDICT: No. This edition has the Remastered, single-generation openings and closings.


(2) Does it have the original sound effects?
Here's a brief comparison from Episode 2, "Countdown"

VERDICT: No. This edition has the Remastered sound effects.

(3) Is the image in the correct ratio?
This is a tough one to explain. Some time after 1985 but before the Remastered Extended Edition, the show was tweaked. Some of the background music was altered for different scenes. However, something went wrong on the video side. The image was now zoomed in too close. It's still 4x3 (or 1.33:1), like a regular television image; it's just that the image has now been blown up, and parts are no longer able to be seen. I've put together a few examples below. Click on them to make 'em bigger.



 

VERDICT: Yes. This edition has the correct ratios (just like the Remastered Edition)

So all in all, this is the same as the Protoculture edition. It may be a Re-Remastered Protoculture Edition with some of the music restored to what it originally was in 1985, but it still has the same good points of having the correct ratio and added footage, and the same bad points of the changed sounds and openings. But on the plus side, that volume of bonus features sounds SWEET.

Thanks to Lisa for doing all the detective work to try to appease this cranky old fanboy!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2011

Been feeling the itch to blog again.

I just got done reading this year's Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Presents Liberty Annual 2011. I always tried to make sure I was a member back when we ran Joy's Japanimation, because a lot of the cases where a retailer is being arrested for selling a comic book, it turns out to be a manga book. And these are always cases where the books are sold to adults. So being an anime and manga store, I always felt we were a prime target. I remember putting the CLBDF phone number in our rolodex-- I wrote on the bottom of the card, "Let's hope we never have to use it."

Since leaving the comic-selling industry, I've still made the occasional donation, usually at the urging of Peter David's blog. I bought More Fund Comics when it came out, but somehow never got around to Even More Fund Comics. It's still an important cause-- comic books are always a target because the public still views them as kids stuff, even though kids don't read comics anymore. (Seriously, according to a poll at Comic Book Resources, only 5.19% of comic book readers are under 17. The largest group was 30-40 year-olds. It's part of the reason that the comic book industry is shrinking-- there's been no new generation of readers since the 90's. But I digress.)

So I'll confess by saying I bought this comic because it has a new Grendel story in it by Matt Wagner. And yeah, it always feels good to know that I'm helping the CBLDF at the same time.

What I didn't expect was for it to possibly be one of the best anthologies I've ever read.

Seriously, there's not a bad story in the bunch. And while the main topic is of course about free speech, it covers such a range of related topics from Free Speech to Separation of Church and State to the "It Gets Better" campaign that it never gets dull. It actually felt downright inspirational.

For starters, I was pleasantly surprised to learn in Bob Shreck's introduction that he's bi too. Bob Shreck was art director for Comico, which means I always saw his name in the Robotech and Grendel comics back in the 80's, and from there he moved to Dark Horse (more Grendel for me) and Oni Comics (where I read various Kevin Smith comics). So his name is one that has always kept showing up in my comic reading history and that I've always associated with quality books. So as a bi guy, it makes me very happy that he's willing to casually out himself as part of this project. Hence the focus on the "It Gets Better" stories.

Extra points has to go to Carla Speed McNeil's piece "Dunce," which ties it all together very strongly, where she talks about the frustrations she's run into even trying to talk about her son who has Down's Syndrome, or Trisomy 21 as is apparently the new PC thing to call it. The problem is that terms used to describe people with learning problems immediately get turned into insults, so how can you talk about the problem when the words that weren't intended to be offensive now are? To me this is the comic that ties the entire book together, because it's shows how people being offended by words that have been twisted to bullying lead to both outside and self-censorship.

Another gem is J. Michael Straczynski & Kevin Sacco's "Separation of Church And State - The Best Friend the Church Ever Had!" where he explains that because the Founding Fathers specifically stated in the treaty of Tripoli that "the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion," it allowed for all denominations of Christianity to grow without the fears of conflict with each other such as the whole Catholic vs Protestant mess. We always hear about how Separation of Church and State has allowed all religions to practice here, but it never occurred to me that it also saved us from the infighting that Christianity has faced in the past in the UK. This piece should be required reading in schools.

I could go on and on, but really, you should just buy this comic and read it. Heck, I'd buy this as a monthly book. I'll certainly be buying every CBLDF Liberty Annual from now on, and that'll help give me that reminder to donate to the cause as well.

And incidentally, the CBLDF is currently handling a case where a guy entering Canada brought a hentai manga comic with him, and was arrested at customs and is now facing a prison term of up to one year. I can't imagine being jailed just because someone objected to what you were reading. The CBLDF is paying for his defense and they could use help. You can make a donation at cbldf.org. It doesn't matter how small, every bit helps.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Lantern

Spoiler Level: Medium

Sorry I've been away so long.  I burned out on blogging and it's been a busy summer. But I didn't want any more time to go by without posting my real review of Green Lantern, especially since I went to so much trouble to do my April Fools fake review.

I loved it.

The movie's been completely trashed by fans, and I just really don't get why. This is everything I wanted a Green Lantern movie to be, and I've wanted a Green Lantern movie for a long time.

I was worried that the power rings would only be used like laser guns.  Nope-- the constructs are here, and lots of 'em, and they look great.

Oa is absolutely breathtaking. I was worried that with the crowds of CGI Lanterns that they would all look too much alike; I needn't have worried. Lots of great alien Lanterns stood out, including ones I didn't expect to see, like Chaselon and Olapet.

The story worked great. There's lots of outer space action, balanced out with a very human Hal Jordan. (The scene where Carol meets him in costume for the first time is priceless.) Some people have complained how the action cuts back and forth between Earth and Oa, but that didn't bother me at all. I liked the way Sinestro was handled a lot, and I hope with all the energies of a Blue Lantern that there will still be a sequel so we can see the development of the Sinestro Corps. Hector Hammond's new origin works great with the layout of the movie, and his hyper-intelligence is still alien based, so that's close enough for me. He's the perfect embodiment of Hector Hammond's character, getting creepier and more disturbing as his powers increase and his body decreases.

Just to be fair, there are three things I didn't like about it:

1. The ending of Hal's first battle with Hector Hammond was confusing; I'm still not exactly sure what happened there.

2. Hal sees the helicopter is crashing, runs off to become Green Lantern, and then the helicopter spends a good minute or two crashing and sliding around before he shows up.  What happened? Did he have to recharge the ring first again?

3. While on Oa, Hal recites some information the ring downloads into his brain about Tomar Re's Sector, and how it contains multiple galaxies, which makes perfect sense if you're dividing the entire universe into 3600 sectors.  However, we then see a later scene saying something along the lines of "Sector 1234: The Edge of the Milky Way Galaxy." Well that doesn't work at all. If each sector needs to cover multiple galaxies, then shouldn't the Milky Way be completely in sector 2814?

So there! See, I'm not giving the movie a free pass just because I'm a huge Green Lantern fan.

What I am is a very grateful Green Lantern fan.  I wanted a live action Green Lantern that was able to use today's special effects to make Green Lantern come to life on the big screen just like the comics, and this movie delivered. From Oa to the Corps to the constructs to Parallax, this movie was everything I wanted to see. I'm disappointed that it's doing so poorly that even if it does get a sequel it's unlikely to get the money it would need to look as good as this one, but at least we got this one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dressing Up for the Movies

I have no idea how the idea of doing this came to me, but once it did it somehow took over.

The important part to know going in to the video is it starts in the middle of me saying "I'd like to purchase a ticket," and the woman in the ticket booth responding "2D or 3D?"



I almost backed out at the last moment, not out of any sense of real fear of embarrassment (after all, a Green Lantern must learn to overcome fear, right?) but more out of a sense of "I'm getting too old for this." I mean come on, I'm 42, I got a kid... isn't this a little juvenile?

And then I thought, Hell yeah. As the Doctor once said, what's the point in being grown up if you can't be childish once in a while? And really, the fact that I am 42 is what makes it work.  It wouldn't be nearly as funny if I didn't have that middle-aged gut hanging over the underwear.

Kudos to my daughter for having a sense of humor about it and being willing to film it even though she was embarrassed by her old man (and rightly so), and to the ticket woman for being a good sport. 

And yeah, sometimes I do scare myself.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern 2-XSteL

2-XSteL, the smartest toy robot of Sector 2814!  In brightest day, In blackest night, no answers shall escape his sight! 

Couldn't make the midnight screening of Green Lantern tonight, but I'm excited enough about a real GL movie finally being here that I couldn't resist putting this picture together of my favorite toy joining the Corps.  I got the idea a month or so ago when I got the 3D mask with an action figure and stuck it on my 2-XL, and 2-XSteL was born!  Note that he's carrying The 8-Track of Oa.

To everyone who was interested in having me continue with the blogging, I just haven't been able to get myself motivated.  I think I need (needed?) a break.  Hopefully this is the start of me coming back to it.  Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Any requests?

I've decided I'm going to scale things back a bit.  I've been posting an average of one review a day for the last six months now, and while that's been fun, it's getting to be a bit exhausting reviewing everything I watch. (Plus the laundry keeps backing up.  You'd be amazed how cranky people get when they don't have clean underwear.  I keep telling them, just turn them inside out, then they're good for five more days, but that doesn't seem to satisfy them.)  So I've decided to only dedicate myself to continue the posts I've been having the most fun writing:  Doctor Who, K9, Star Trek, movies and books. I'll probably still do the occasional review of other stuff as it strikes me, I'm just not dedicating myself to reviewing every single episode of everything.

That is, of course, unless you want me to.

I'm grateful to each and every one of my nine loyal readers (and yes, I'm counting you too Evan-- Scott Gordon is a second account for one of the other eight, which brings me back to nine), and if there's a specific series I've been reviewing that you've been enjoying reading about, I'd be willing to keep doing that one too.  The thing is, when I check my stats, the majority of the hits I get are for this picture:

1,948 hits out of 8,202 hits in May were for this picture.
...so I don't have a clear idea of what people might be enjoying.  So if you'd like me to continue with my reviews of Primeval, Transformers, Tiger & Bunny, SGU or Survivors just leave a comment and let me know.  I live to serve.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to folding underwear.