Monday, February 28, 2005

They're at it again....

Yep, those wacky "heroes", The Fathers 4 Justice group, are back again, scaling the walls of the Foreign Office building in London spreading the word of rights for divorced fathers -- and looking pretty stupid in their costumes.

I see where Bat Man's on his Bat-Cell Phone.

And what's up with Captain America? Looks a little bloated to me.

A bunch of cartoonists walk into a room...

This past Saturday afternoon I hosted another meeting of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society. We're a bunch of cartoonists/artists in the Philadelphia area (hence the name) who gather together at least once a month to sit around and draw, eat, ink, drink, draw some more and drink some more too. I like having the bunch at my place since my house is pretty suitable to house a group of degenerate cartoonists (at least for a couple hours.)

This month, beside the usual, we had a "Photoshoppin" afternoon". I was able to borrow a Mac G3, so along with my G4 and iMac we had three computers available to work on simultaneously. It was a successful afternoon, as we were able to pass on Photo Shop techniques, short cuts and special ways of working to each of us there. (and we were even able to get some web work in as well.) As the day wound down (and pizza and beer ran out) we popped in the Season One DVD of The Office. It was fun watching people who've never seen the show before. Everyone loved it (as I figured they would) and it was especially fun to watch people squirm, Grimmer even had to leave the room during one episode! David Brent can be hard to stomach-- which adds to the greatness of the show.

Before we broke up for the day we did briefly discuss current and upcoming projects that the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society will be involved with this year. On the heels of our Free Comic Book Day book we released last year, we have the first (of many?) of an Anthology Book that will be out in a few months. Here's a Jam drawing that will help make up the cover.

We'll also be appearing at some cons this year. Both the MOCCA show in New York this June and the SPX show in Bethesda this September are set as well for some local shows too. Beside the Anthology book mentioned above individual cartoonists will be selling their own books and projects as well.

For a sneak preview of my 5 page story from the Anthology, check out the background and pages here.

Happy Birthday! (2/28/05)

There are a few people that once you see them on the screen or hear them on the radio you start to laugh. Even before they say or do anything. For me, this guy is one of them.
Unfortunately most of his movies Problem Child, Beverly Hills Cop II and Look Who's Talking Too suck. But when he's doing stand-up or on the Howard Stern Show not many are funnier!

So a "squinty-eye" Happy Birthday to.....

Iago is the big 5-0 today.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Happy Birthday! (2/27/05)

He played teacher Charle Moore in the lame sit-com Head of the Class, he also played Smooth Walker in the even lamer movie Doctor Detroit but he will always, always be Dr. Johnny Fever in the classic W.K.R.P. In Cincinnati!

So "fellow babies" here's a Happy Birthday to.....

Dr. Hartley's gay patient, Graig Plager, is 65 today.

Friday, February 25, 2005

My Oscar picks.

Because of all the millions of award shows that have invaded our lives, the Academy Awards seem the most interesting and valid.
Because I see over 60-70 movies in the theatre each year.
Because everyone else in "Blog Land" will be posting their picks, so why can't I? (and I'll beat the crowd by posting two days in advance).

I won't bore you with a long, lengthy list of all the categories (but if The Incredibles doesn't win best animated film, there is no justice in the cosmos!)
Anyway, here we go.

Best Supporting Actor
Who I'm rooting for: Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"
Who Should Win: Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways"
Who Will Win: Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby".

Church was hilarious in "Sideways" and was the linchpin of the film, but with another strong Freeman performance I believe the Academy will finally honor him this year.


Best Supporting Actress
Who I'm rooting for: Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"
Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"
Who Will Win: Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"

It's a feel good, come back story for Virginia, but Cate pulled of the difficult task of becoming film legend Katherine Hepburn without turning it into a caricature.


Best Actress
Who I'm rooting for: Hillary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"
Who Should Win: Hillary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"
Who Will Win: Hillary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"

While I thought that Kate Winslet was excellent in the underrated " Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", Swank's plucky boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, was second to none.


Best Actor
Who I'm rooting for: Don Cheadle, "Hotel Rwanda"
Who Should Win: Don Cheadle, "Hotel Rwanda"
Who Will Win: Jamie Foxx, "Ray"

This is the tightest race of them all, IMO. Depp and DiCaprio are very good and sentimental Hollywood could honor Clint, but even though I think that Cheadle's performance was the best, all signs are pointing to a Foxx slam dunk.


Best Director
Who I'm rooting for: Martin Scorsese, "The Aviator"
Who Should Win: Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"
Who Will Win: Martin Scorsese, "The Aviator"

Clint pulls off a gem with a subject that could have been severely mishandled with a lesser talent, but I believe that the Academy will finally give a LONG overdue award to Martin Scorsese.


Best Picture
Who I'm rooting for: "Sideways"
Who Should Win: "Million Dollar Baby"
Who Will Win: Million Dollar Baby

I enjoyed all five nominations this year. I was ready to pick "The Aviator" until I saw "Million Dollar Baby". This film, much like Clint's past work ( Play Misty For Me, Mystic River and Unforgiven) has a dark, unsettling aspect to it. They aren't easy films to watch but once you start you can't turn away.

It's winter. And you know what happens in the winter...

Well, we "made it" through another snow storm around here.


It was no big deal, about 5-6 inches fell during the day yesterday, but if you listened to all the local weathermen and gauged the multitude of stampeding shoppers as they cleaned out the local grocery stores of milk, bread and kitty litter, you'd think that we just went through the second Ice Age!!!

Sure, last night's rush hour was a bitch, what with the snow still falling and the plows not getting a chance to clear most of the roads yesterday, but come on people! Just because you sunk your savings into the latest gas-guzzling SUV monstrosity doesn't make you invincible!
Your top heavy slab of metal will slide on the snow just like any other oversized vehicle.
But try getting that through the heads of the multitudes of ignorant, cell phone gabbing idiots as they weaved in and out of the traffic last night.

WAM!!!!! Not that I'd hope for injuries, but it did my heart good, as I chugged along in my little honda, to see a soccer mom and overweight insurance salesman trading insurance info while they stood by their damaged $UV's.

But beside all the panicky masses and stupid drivers, what REALLY burns me at this time of the year is when the chance of bad weather is called for, in late February, to hear a lifelong native of the north east to complain "It's going to snow? Aren't we done with that yet?"

People - it's winter, it's the north east.
It has snowed here when you were a child,
It has snowed here when you were a teen,
It has snowed here for years and years before you were born....


Happy Birthday! (2/25/05)

Yes, yes, I know, he played James Dean's father, Frank Stark in the classic Rebel Without a Cause, as well as the drunken wealthy pilot Tyler Fitzgerald in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and of course he was Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island, but for my money he'll always be Mr. Magoo.

A nearsighted Happy Birthday to .....

The "Millionaire" would have been 92 today.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Even more (proposed) New TV Shows

Here's a continuation from yesterday's list of real possible new TV series in your future. The pilots have been shot, and are now vying for time slots next fall:

Threshold(CBS): Scientists battle an alien life form.

Supernatural(WB): Two brothers in their old Mustang hunt down strange beings.

Commander in Chief(ABC): Follows the first woman president.

E-Ring(NBC): The latest from Jerry Bruckheimer's hit factory stars Benjamin Bratt in a Pentagon version of The West Wing.

Inconceivable(NBC): Medical happenings in a fertility clinic.

3 lbs.(CBS): Dylan McDermott stars as a brain surgeon.

American Crime(CBS): A new mom prosecutes suburban misdeeds.

Pros & Cons(ABC): Stars Billy Baldwin as a con artist turned FBI agent.

Briar & Graves(FOX): Partners a priest with a doctor to explore religious phenomena.

And finally,

Book of Daniel(NBC): A "hip, modern Jesus" offers guidance to a reverend/dad.

Kind of makes you not want to invest in a new Tivo.....

Happy Birthday! (2/24/05)

Yes folks, believe it or not today's Birthday Boy is STILL ALIVE!
(he's probably the most frequent guessed celebrity when asked "Living or Dead?)
Best known for his role as "Fish" the dour, slouch shouldered cop on Barney Miller and the self titled spin-off Fish (so of course I'm posting his picture as Sal Tessio from The Godfather).

So, happy birthday to (Ezra Braithwaite, yes, he actually starred in the old soap opera Dark Shadows) .....

Abe is 84 today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Kolchak without McGavin??

Say it ain't so ABC!!!
Unfortunately it looks that way. Carl Kolchak, one of the best TV characters ever created, thanks in large part by actor Darren McGavin, will be returning to the small screen. The networks are leaking out info on a lot of their fall pilots and one is ABC's planned remake of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

As for other shows we can either look forward to (or avoid like the plague) here's a list of some of the proposed series':

The Commuters: A CBS pilot about three couples in suburban New York, where secrets are revealed aboard the 7:40 train. (hmmmm can anyone say Desperate Housewives?)

Prison Break: A FOX series about a man who breaks into jail to get his brother out. (how many weeks can this last?)

Fathom:(NBC) A twisty mystery about a weird sea creature's effect on a San Diego family, the Navy and some fisherman. (hmmmm can anyone say Lost?)

Reunion:(FOX) This show follows six friends from high school graduation to their 20th reunion, as characters age one year in each episode. ( One year per episode... so they're be ready for retirement by the end of the second season?)

Love Monkey:(CBS) The dating and marriage foibles of four male friends. (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....)

Ticket to Ride:(FOX) Follows the lives of 20-odd acquaintances who share a huge lottery jackpot. (So now they're naming TV shows after Beatles songs. How soon to the weekly exploits of "I Am the Walrus"?)

The Prince:(WB) A soap about a rich family after the death of it's favorite son. (I think I'll wait for "The King".)

Triangle:(UPN) A doctor stays in the Caribbean after his wife disappears on their honeymoon. (Wait... UPN is still on the air?)

There are a number of other shows fighting to get picked, but these are the ones in the lead.
With a lineup like that, guess I better keep buying the DVD collections of classic old shows.

Now, how much is the X-Files Season 2 & 3 sets again?........

A "House" worth checking out.

As I said in a previous thread I currently make sure to tune in to only 12 Network TV shows. These are shows that if I'm out doing other things will make sure to set the VCR to tape. On that list are only two shows that premiered this year (the other being Lost) .

It's the FOX Tuesday night drama House, M.D.

I first tuned in because I'm a fan of the lead actor who portrays Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie. For those of you not familiar with this fine British actor he's appeared as Bertram 'Bertie' Wilberforce Wooster in the excellent series (adapted from the popular books) Jeeves and Wooster, seen here in the states on Masterpiece Theatre and as Roger Charleston in the film Peter's Friends (both costarring long time collaborator Stephen Fry). But of course, to me anyway, his best performances were in the GREAT comedy series Blackadder!!! (and if you've never seen any of the Blackadder series, then you've missed one of the funniest shows ever made.)

Hugh's Dr. House is an anti-social, brilliant doctor who specializes in infectious diseases. Each week he and his team of hand picked young doctors face a new baffling case to solve. Now that may seem like a "typical" TV drama, and maybe not to dissimilar to NBC's own new medical drama Medical Investigation but that's where you'd be wrong.
What set's this show apart, aside from the cool camera techniques that often take you into the body itself to seek out the cause of the problems, is the character of Dr. House himself. To put it bluntly, he's a bastard son-of-a-bitch! And for an American show, that's rare.

Some of my favorite British shows, the aforementioned Blackadder as well as Fawlty Towers, The Office and Cracker star lead characters that are unlikeable, full of faults and often difficult to watch -- and that's what makes them great! It brings an edge that in the comedies elicit incredible humor and in the dramas a touch of realism that are often nowhere to be seen in American shows.

I'm not a big fan of medical shows ( IMO nothing can ever top the superb St. Elsewhere!) but House, M.D. is not your typical medical show. Each week brings a new mystery that House must solve and while in most shows it's taken for granted that the "hero" will win, I wouldn't be surprised if he may lose every once in a while.

If you've been meaning to check this out or are just looking for something new to watch give House, M.D. a try. But do it quickly!! Remember, this is an American show. With 20+ episodes a season and the likely hood that it'll be renewed, this show could change. Unlike British shows which have the luxury of short seasons and short runs that prevents them from repeating themselves or *horrors* softening the characters, we in America have loooong runs. And just how long Dr. House can stay as insufferable as he is before some focus group tells the network and the show's creators that they need to make him likable makes me feel ill.

Happy Birthday! (2/23/05)

His famous father was known for his roles as presidents (Young Mister Lincoln), admirals (Midway) and a noble juror (12 Angry Men).
His famous sister starred as diverse characters as Lillian Hellman (Julia) and (Barbarella). So what do you do as the acting son/brother? Make the benchmark of counterculture movies, Easy Rider.

So here's some Birthday "Gold" to.....

Bridget's daddy is 66 today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I saw the film "Constantine" on Sunday

To top of my movie weekend on Sunday afternoon I saw the film adaptation of the DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer, retitled Constantine. (though I noticed during the end credits it said it was adapted from the "Graphic Novel" Hellblazer which isn't correct, I guess Warner Brothers are a bit ashamed to say that this is based on a "Comic Book"..... but I won't rant about that now.

The character of John Constantine was created by Alan Moore while he was scripting a great run on Swamp Thing in the mid 1980's. John, a tall, blonde, chain smoking brit (modeled after Sting) was involved with the occult, mystery and creatures of the damned. When he graduated into his own series, the aforementioned Hellblazer, we learned more of his background and were treated to a harsher, more bleak aspect of Mr. Constantine.

Of course after Hollywood got a hold of J.C. (no pun intended) he became a tall, dark haired, chain smoking citizen of Los Angeles portrayed by ..... wait for it ....... Keanu Reeves.
From the WB, the SYNOPSIS: Constantine tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldy events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost.

With the casting of the stiff, lifeless Keanu Reeves I was all ready to hate this picture.
But damn it ......... I couldn't!

The film opens with John banishing yet another demon to hell only to learn later on that bigger things are happening, which involve the "Spear of Destiny" the weapon that killed Jesus Christ. While his own fate is in doubt John, along with fellow operatives Father Hennessy and driver Chas Chandler, reluctantly takes on the case behind Angela's sister's death.

The bulk of the picture is filled with battles with various demons, grisley deaths and even a few trips to hell. (and yes, we even have the patented character waking from a horrible nightmare by popping straight up in bed --- which is physically impossible to do.)

Reeves is pretty bad, but for him that's just what you can expect. Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel is very good and I particularly enjoyed Peter Stormare's (the "wood-chipping" kid napper from Fargo) performance as,... well I don't want to give it away.

If you haven't seen too many "lone, sulking, reluctant avenger of the damned" type stories and films, then you might like Constantine. Unfortunately for this viewer, I've read hundreds of comics and books and seen just as many films that deal with fighting demons and creatures from hell. So a lot of this film is just, well, ho-hum. But that really is no fault of the film itself, though who knows, with a better leading actor ......

So weighing the pros and cons, this Baboon gives Constantine a not-so-bad:

Happy Birthday! (2/22/05)

He was an executive producer (The Andy Griffith Show, I Spy and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) and an actor (playing mostly mob bosses) on numerous TV Shows and Movies. You may not recognize his face, but you'll know his voice.

So here's a Birthday toast for Nick the Bartender ("look at me, I'm given' out wings.").....

The voice of King Linus would have been 98 today.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I saw the film "The Woodsman" on Saturday.

One of the advantages of living near a large city like Philadelphia is the availability of movies that play here. Nearly every film that gets released, no matter how small, eventually show here. One of the disadvantages though, is that a lot of the smaller films that finally get to the screens, play only "Art Houses" in the city. So I have to deal with the traffic to get into town, then find a (usually expensive) place to park. Heaven forbid that the damn huge multi-screen cinemas near my house could set aside one or two screens for these films..... but that's a rant for another time.

So, after striking out at the Tower Records signing, made it to the Ritz for the 2:50 show of a movie I'd been meaning to see, The Woodsman.

SYNOPSIS: After twelve years in prison, Walter (Kevin Bacon) arrives in an unnamed city, moves into a small apartment across the street from an elementary school, gets a job at a lumberyard, and mostly keeps to himself. A quiet, guarded man, Walter finds unexpected solace from Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick), a tough-talking woman who promises not to judge him for his history. But Walter cannot escape his past. A convicted sex offender, Walter is warily eyed by his brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt), shunned by his sister, lives in fear of being discovered at work, and is hounded by a suspicious local police officer, Detective Lucas (Mos Def). After befriending a young girl in a neighborhood park, Walter must also grapple with the terrible prospect of his own reawakened demons.

This is a strong film. Tackling the subject matter of child molestation is tough enough, but having the main character, the man with whom we the audience focus our attention as a child molester himself, well that's pretty damn gutsy.

Bacon pulls off a strong performance, never cheapening his character. Walter is a molester, no false accusations here, and the fact that through his apartment window he can watch young school children in the playground every day, intensifies his struggle.

As the film progresses he attempts to lead some kind of normal life. Though he's having a relationship with fellow lumberyard employee Vickie, he begins to lose his battle with his desires. He begins to follow a young bird watching girl that he sees on his bus ride home from work. This leads us to an incredibly tense scene in a park that elicited groans from the audience and made me squirm in my seat.

There's a secondary story that involves a rash of child molestation's in the area that in a lesser film would probably have resulted in a very "Hollywood-esque" ending. Fortunately director Nicole Kassell doesn't allow that to happen here.

The Woodsman (named for the hero in Little Red Riding Hood") is a stark, solid drama that pulls no punches. And while most of his contemporaries may play it safe with simple roles I applaud Bacon's choice here.

I give The Woodsman a disturbing but excellent:

Nope... No Artie here.

With no big plans set for this past Saturday I decided to head into the city and meet comedian Artie Lange at the Broad Street Tower Records, where he'd be signing copies of his new DVD.

I wasn't much of a fan of his before, I thought the film Dirty Work was pretty bad and never watched Mad TV, but since replacing Jackie on the Howard Stern Show I've found him to be very funny. He fits the role as an "normal guy" wise ass very well.

Just as I was about to leave my house though, I called first, to make sure I had the time correct. I was assured by the person at Tower that Artie would be signing from 1:30 to 3:00. OK, I should make it in plenty of time, even if there is traffic.

After parking the car and hustling a few blocks, I got to Tower at 2:15. I looked around and saw no lines, or any area that would lead you to believe that there was anyone signing anything.

So, why not ask another one of these "informative" Tower employees, shall we?

Me: "Excuse me, could you tell me where the Artie Lange signing is?"

Employee: "Oh, that's been over for awhile."

Me: "Over? It's only 2:15. I was told that it would last at least until 3:00"

Employee: *shrugs* "I don't know".


I guess if this was someone I really wanted to meet, I'd be pissed. 'Course, now that I've driven all the way into town - for nothing - I should do something. And since it's pretty damn cold outside-- If I hustle, I could make it to the Ritz 7 blocks away and catch the 2:50 movie...........

Happy Birthday! (2/21/05)

Thanks to a small supporting role in 1984 on Cheers his career took off. Yes, Fraiser Craine, a role he played for 20 years made him a star, but I'm also a fan of his Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2 as well.

A psychoanalysis Happy Birthday to ...

(and when congratulating him for reaching 50, try not to bring up Gary the Rat... the less said about that the better.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Do you know who you are?

I had to go to the Post Office to mail a few packages the other day. Of course when I got there I had to join a long, lengthy, slooowly moving line. (I have no idea why they have three teller slots, they never have more than two tellers working at one time.)

So, as I stood in this crawling line, evading a pair of kids running ram-pet around the lobby (god knows where their parents were) I watched the various customers in front of me.

Let's see... there's the guy who bought 10 stamps - and paid with a credit card (yeah, it's real hard to actually have $4 in cash) the woman who paid with a check - but hadn't bothered to have any of the check filled out (what, she forgot that she'd actually have to pay for the services?) or the guy who had to ask about every possible way to ship his package, priority, first class, etc... and then said "Eh, it doesn't matter, send it the cheapest" (what, you couldn't say that at the beginning???)

But my favorite was the plump, flustered looking woman. She was buying something or using a service - that required having a photo ID. When the teller asked her for an ID, her answer was:
"I left it at home."

Excuse me???

You left your ID at home?????

Think about this for a second. Of all the places on the planet, hell, in the universe, where's the one place that you don't need an ID, the one place that you have a 99.9% chance that everyone there knows who you are - YOUR HOME!!!!

Why the hell would you leave it there? Especially when you have to go to a government place (Post Office) and purchase something that would need proof of who you are!!!!!!!!

As I'm standing there listening to this pathetic woman trying to weasel this service without an ID, and as those annoying brats continue to run roughshod, and the line I'm in screeched to a halt, --

I begin to comprehend the concept of going postal.

Happy Birthday! (2/18/05)

You've seen his dark and twisted comics and cartoons for years, in publications like Playboy,National Lampoon and The New Yorker. While you've enjoyed his warped sense of humor, you probably don't remember his name.

Let's give out a macabre Happy Birthday to .....

Mr. Wilson is 75 today.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

My All-Time Favorite Comic Book Cover

While checking in at the message board on the Captain Comics Message Boards (an excellent message board BTW) the subject of comic covers came up. It got me thinking, out of all of my 10,000 comic books (yes....I collect things) could I possibly pick one cover out of them all as my favorite?

It's said that the age of 11-12 is everyone's personal nostalgic touch stone, the point in your childhood when the cartoons were the best, music the best, candy and gum the best and of course, when you read the best comics. It's, of course, the advantage of looking back in the past when we tend to forget the lousy stuff and to over inflate the best.

In any event, if pressed to choose one cover, I pick this one Fantastic Four #116. I was around 10-11 years old and had been reading comics for a little over a year. The FF was the best for me, no other group of characters came close, especially The Thing. Nothing could make a day better then sitting down and reading the latest adventures of my favorite team.

This was the end of a multi-part story pitting the FF against the alien villain The Overmind. So powerful was The Overmind, that he was able to take over Reed's (Mr. Fantastic) mind and leave the team as a leaderless trio. So dire was their situation that they needed the aide of their nemesis, the ultimate despotic monarch, Dr. Doom!

I'm sure there are plenty of other covers in my collection that are more dynamic, better drawn or prettier to look at, but for me it's the memories this cover brings back that help make it my all time favorite.

New Cartoon Network cartoons announced

While they haven't mentioned whether there will be new editions of Justice League Unlimited yet (keeping fingers crossed) I'm not too impressed by any of these "new" cartoons. Seems like a lot of retread ideas.

The new shows are as follows:

Krypto the Superdog (debuts Monday, April 4, at 9 a.m. ET):
After orbiting countless years in space as a test-pilot puppy on a malfunctioning rocket ship built by Superman's father, Krypto the Superdog seeks companionship on Earth.

The Life and Times of Juniper Lee (debuts Sunday, June 5):
A seemingly normal 11-year-old girl is also responsible for maintaining the equilibrium between the world of magic and humanity.

Camp Lazlo (debuts in July on the Fridays block):
A monkey wreaks good-natured havoc in a highly structured summer home.

GPX(debuts in November on the Toonami block):
In the year 2048, IGPX (The Immortal Grand Prix), the world's most popular sport, features two teams of three giant robots driven by human pilots and racing at speeds of 350 mph.

My Gym Partner is a Monkey (debuts early 2006):
Going to school becomes like a trip to the jungle for a 12-year-old boy who is accidentally enrolled in an all animal school.

Returning series include Star Wars: Clone Wars, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Totally Spies, Atomic Betty, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited, D.I.C.E., Dragonball GT, Duel Masters and Ed, Edd n Eddy. New acquisitions include Code LYOKO (26 episodes), Zatch Bell (52 episodes), One Piece (effective in May), Naruto (third quarter), and Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo (fourth quarter).

A boy in an animal school? Giant robots with human pilots??


Here's hoping for some great concepts from Adult Swim.

The NEW Bugs Bunny?????

Whenever I hear someone pontificating how "There's nothing good out in entertainment today, not like the past" I usually take it with a grain of salt. While there are times that I shake my head at the crap Reality Shows on TV and the millions of lame sequels the movie studios continue to spew out I like to think that if you look hard enough, you can find some great new work out there.

Then something like this comes out, and I feel like a complete ass for feeling optimistic about new entertainment projects.

KidsWB plans new series...
In somewhat of a surreal move, WB has revealed it's plan to breathe "new life" into the Looney Tunes franchise- "re-imagined" versions of the classic characters. They will launch a new series based on the descendents Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Lola Bunny, Tasmanian Devil, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. The re-invented characters will debut in Loonatics, set in the year 2772. The characters names have yet to be finalized, however the new characters will retain the personality quirks of the original characters. Each individual will even possess a special crime-fighting power as they face-off against the evils of Acmetropolis.

According to WB Animation president Sander Schwartz...
"The new series will have the same classic wit and wisdom, but we have to do it more in line with what kids are talking about today."

..... anytime someone goes out of their way to "give the kids what they want" to write "what the kids are talking about" disaster is sure to follow.

I mean come on WB, why the hell not come up with ORIGINAL characters????!!!! Why the hell do you need to dredge up the classics, bastardize them into this new stuff??? Just to SPONGE off their names.

Give me a break.

Happy Birthday! (2/17/05)

In recent years it's been hard to find a good new rock band to listen to, let alone a decent one.
Fortunately today's birthday boy formed Green Day in 1990 and with albums like Dookie, Nimrod and American Idiot they've helped a rock & roll starved audience.

So "Welcome to Paradise" and wish a Happy Birthday to.....

Joe is 33 today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hitchhiker trailer available online!

Great news, a full trailer for the adaption of Douglas Adams excellent book, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is available now to view here.

Good choice of Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office ) as Arthur Dent.

After watching the trailer I'm really looking forward to see this.

Greetings from the Cosmos!

What better way to wish someone a Happy Birthday or a Thank You than with a greeting from that galaxy-sailing herald of the world devourer Galactus, The Silver Surfer ??

You can do so here.

Happy Birthday! (2/16/05)

In this man's career he was seen in over 80 films (though in mostly uncredited roles) and may be best known as Dr. Jud Bellamin in The Mole People . Ah, who am I kidding, he'll always be known only as Ward Cleaver.

So here's a Happy Birthday to the ultimate father...

Daddy Cleaver would have been 96 today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

He can't possibly be enjoying this.

Tonight during a commercial break on The Simpsons was an ad for an upcoming Boat Show. Along with the usual rubbish they have at these shows, new models, new equipment, etc... was a film clip for a special guest, Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel.

Now I can see them booking some novel acts for these big sale shows, but come on, what's the deal with a water skiing squirrel? Did some marketing genius sit around one day and think "Yeah, I bet squirrels would love to water ski! Let's grab one of these nut gathering rodents, strap him on a pair of tiny skis and drag him around on a lake behind a speed boat. Squirrels were made for the water!"

What's next, Floppy the Parasailing Frog? Stewie the Sky Diving Skunk? Otto the Orgasming Octopus? (no wait a minute... I think that last one is a title of a movie. )

Sorry 'bout that.

Well, how do you expect her to battle evil like that?

Gotta love those old DC covers.

Away go the pounds - Part 1

Among the goals I set for myself in '05, one is to lose a lot of the weight I've put on in the last year.
Due mostly to the long hours I was putting in at work (which dominoed to not working out and eating late) I ballooned from under 220lb. to *gulp* over 260lb.!!

Now no stupid diet (eating no carbs or eating all carbs or eating no fiber or eating all fiber glass or etc...)
is gonna do it. You got to excercise!! You can't (and shouldn't) avoid it.

So I started on Monday, January 3rd, and have worked out every day. (with the exception of the three days I had the flu). On Jan. 3rd I weighed in at 258lb. As of last night I'm at 243lb (and have even had to add an extra hole to the belt- which is always good).

Of course since it's the winter months, most of my workouts have been at the gym. Gold's Gym to be exact. Luckily it's not too packed and the weights, bikes and treadmills are pretty plentiful. Here's what I can't get though...

... there are 6 to 8 handicap parking spots right at the front of the building. I have no problem with that, though I don't expect to see too many wheelchair weightlifters at Gold's.
-But- every day that I go there, the parking spots are full - of non-handicap tagged cars. Now, of all the places in the world, why the hell would people working out at Gold's, park in at the close, handicap spots. Why? They can't walk an extra 5-6 feet to get to the gym where they'll be working out at anyway???!!!!

Reason #235 of why people are idiots.

Happy Birthday! (2/15/05)

He could have gone through life known as the Life In Hell cartoonist and done quite well, but instead he created an odd over-bite laden family of five, for shorts on the Tracy Ullman Show
and the rest they history.

A yellow hued Happy Birthday to .....

The father of Fry, Homer, Leela, Bart, Bender, Apu, etc... is 51 today.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Happy Valentine's Day to all!!

And what's more appropriate on this day, to express one's love for another, then with a greeting from a hot-headed, adamantium welding clawed mutant!!!

*snikt* *snikt*

The Big Book of British Smiles

Instead of eating lunch today I had to drive over to my Dentist and have my semi-annual teeth cleaning.
All-in-all the experience isn't too bad. Somehow I've been able to avoid any problems with my teeth (and gums) so the twice a year cleaning is a small price to pay from avoiding a "painful" visit.

The only discomfort I have at these cleaning visits, is... the chair. No, It's not that the chair I sit in while having my teeth scraped, flossed and polished, itself is the problem, it's what it faces.

Smack-dab in the wall I face are plastered with picture after picture of horrible teeth!!!! Actual photos of rotted, gapped, infested, green hued teeth!!!! I'm actually glad that I missed lunch today, or it may have ended up spewed on this wall of rotted enamel!!

Happy Birthday! (2/14/05)

He was one of the most famous, most beloved American entertainer of the 20th Century.
Majorly successful in radio, popular in the movies and eventually star on television he was not only a favorite of the public but with his fellow entertainers.

Strum up the violin, Happy Birthday .....

Jack would have been 111 today.

My favorite drawing of Charlie Brown

I love this picture of "Good ol' Charlie Brown". It's on the side of the slipcase for Volumes 1&2 of The Complete Peanuts
(well worth the money, BTW. Volume 3 comes out this spring.) After a fairly quiet weekend it just seemed like a good thing to post.

I've been struggling with an art style that I'll be using for Action Figure; The Life and Times of Richard Marzalak.

It'll be the artwork that I'll be using for the framing sequence. Not to get "too technical", but it's a non-paneled, pen & ink cross hatch style. No brushes or mechanical pens.

Hmmmm, I guess I did get a little technical.

Well, it's still not too late, I guess I could give it another shot.

I'll be posting artwork for issue #1 later in the week.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Happy Birthday! (2/13/05)

He was one fourth of the infamous TV quartet. He wasn't the cute one (Davy), the funny one (Micky) or the serious one (Mike). Nope, he was the ... well, ... for want of a better title, the Dopey Monkee of the Monkees. To me though, he'll always be the singer of "Your Auntie Grizelda".

Here's a "Head" of a Happy Birthday to.....

Let's hope he'll have a "Pleasant Valley Sunday" while celebrating his 63rd. year.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why Playboy Magazine is like a Soap Opera.

There's a saying, (somewhere) that if you turn on a Soap Opera which you haven't watched for months, you'll have no problem following the story. Change doesn't occur often on the daytime Soaps.

Well, today in the mail, I received the March issue of Playboy. I had an offer for a years' worth subscription to Playboy for a $1 an issue and decided, what the hell. It had been at least 6 to 7 years since I had a subscription, let alone had picked up an issue, and I could always add another magazine to my monthly read.

After paging through today's issue while eating a bowl of Count Chocula for breakfast, I felt as if I had traveled back in time. This magazine has not changed One bit.

Yes, of course there are the usual pictures of gorgeous women in various stages of dress (and undress) but I'm talking about the entire publication itself.

The layout of the magazine, the series of three pictorials (including the centerfold) the placement of the articles, the B&W Grapevine pictures and Potpourri merchandise in the back.

The reviews (movies, music, etc...) the Forum, the Playboy Advisor all where they've always been. The Interview has the same layout and obligatory three photos.
Even the cartoons (which fortunately are still funny) are using the same cartoonists!

Now don't get me wrong, Playboy is still.....well, Playboy, which is a good thing. This issue, for me as a Howard Stern Show listener, was especially interesting, since Jillian Grace (Miss March) was discovered after appearing on his show. (and I was "curious" to see how she turned out) But geez, even the poses in her pictorial are the same old-same old (bent over here-bent over there, dripping wet, etc....)

You would think that in this day in age with "soft core" magazines like FHM and Stuff and with the endless competition on the internet that the veteran, the grand daddy of them all would have made some adjustments, some differences in layouts, wouldn't they?

Well, in conclusion, as an artist and designer, I'm somewhat surprised by the lack of growth this magazine has developed. As a heterosexual man though........................
it's still alright. :)

Happy Birthday! (2/12/05)

He was one of the first mediocre pro athlete to make celebrity status, playing up his ineptness on the field, while color commentating Baseball games or sitting on the panel in a Game Show. But I'll always remember him as the substitute for Johnny Carson the night John Lennon and Paul McCartney appeared on the Tonight Show*.

A big "passed ball" Birthday shout to .....

This former Pirate catcher is 79 today.

*- and yes, he actually was a guest host on the Tonight Show during the 1970's --- weird.

Friday, February 11, 2005

More "LOST" DVD info

While searching through the net over lunch today, I came across some more info on the upcoming DVD release of LOST Season One .

(thanks to Michael Ausiello from "Ask Ausiello" - TV Guide): The LOST Season 1 DVD is coming out in early September, and I predict it'll be the biggest TV DVD of the year. Lost cocreator Damon Lindelof tells me that they have an "amazing amount" of extras planned, including "awesome commentaries," deleted scenes between Locke and Hurley, Sawyer and Charlie and Locke and young Walt; footage of the Boeing 747 being cut up in the Mojave Desert and transported via barge to Hawaii; and a look at what went into making the original polar bear sequence. But here's the best part: Lindelof says he and J.J. Abrams are considering making an original mini-movie that "answers one of the questions we've been asked very frequently about the show but have made no attempt to answer so far. It has something to do with why the plane may have crashed." Like me, the exec thinks "the DVD is gonna sell really well with or without [the bonus material], but I wanna be sure the fans are rewarded for their $39.95 or whatever Disney is charging them for a show they've already seen." Only $39.95?!?!?! I'll take two!

We know there's been significant footage shot for the DVDs, including footage shot before the cameras began rolling on the pilot. Hopefully Buena Vista will put together a killer SEVEN disc set for the series, since six discs just won't cut it in our minds. They have the opportunity to put together a killer DVD set for one of the hottest shows this season.

Sounds good to me :)

Saw the film In Good Company a few weeks ago.

This one slipped past me a bit. I saw In Good Company just as I was coming down with the flu last month, so neglected to post this.

Synopsis: Dan Foreman is headed for a shakeup. He is demoted from head of ad sales for a major magazine when the company he works for is acquired in a corporate takeover. His new boss, Carter Duryea, is half his age--a business school prodigy who preaches corporate synergy. While Dan develops clients through handshake deals and relationships, Carter cross-promotes the magazine with the cell phone division and Krispity Krunch, an indeterminate snack food under the same corporate umbrella. Both men are going through turmoil at home. Dan has two daughters, Alex, age 18, and Jana, age 16, and is shocked when his wife tells him she's pregnant with a new child. Carter, in the meanwhile, is dumped by his wife of seven months just as he gets his promotion. Dan and Carter's uneasy friendship is thrown into jeopardy when Carter falls for, and begins an affair with, Dan's daughter Alex.

This is a film, that with a lesser capable cast, could easily fallen into a poor, predictable movie. Dennis Quaid (Dan Foreman) does a great job as the haggard middle-aged salesman while Topher Grace (Carter Duryea) once again shows that he's the That 70's Show actor who should be working in the movies. Scarlet Johansson brings her same skills that she did in films like Ghost World and Lost In Translation with the part as Dan's college headed daughter.

In Good Company also brings to light the growing problem we have with large companies gobbling up others, thus making many jobs redundant, and losing the personal touch. It's a too real situation that the film conveys very well.

The only problem that I had with In Good Company was when the Rupert Murdoch-esque character, Teddy K (played by Malcolm McDowell) shows up to give the "troops" a pep talk. While speaking and spewing out a lot of double talk a confrontation occurs that is a bit hard to swallow (in reality I believe that the character in question would have been sacked), but it's a small complaint and overall didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film.

I was especially satisfied with the resolution of the film. It could have gone off into a sickeningly sweet conclusion, but it doesn't - and that was the correct choice.

For a Jan/Feb film, the time of the year we usually get dumped on with some poor, poor films, In Good Company is a little gem that's worth getting out of the cold and into the theatre.

I give this film a "merger":

Happy Birthday! (2/11/05)

For most, her claim to fame is that of being the sister of the more famous Zsa Zsa and the less famous Magda, for others she was known as the "long time companion" of Merv Griffin, but to me she'll always be Lisa Douglas, wife of Oli-vah, on the great, Green Acres!

Let's make up a batch of Happy Birthday Hotcakes to .....

The "good Gabor" would have been 84 today.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Daniel Clowes helps the ride home.

Whenever I go on trips, knowing that I'll be in a plane for 1+ hours I usually bring some books that sit on my "To Read" pile, next to the bed. Paperback collections that I've been meaning to read. So, on my flight back last night I caught up with Twentieth Century Eightball by Daniel Clowes.

I've been a fan of Clowes since his old Lloyd Llewellyn days. Twentieth Century Eightball is a collection of 1-3 page stories that really didn't fit in any of his past paperback collections. For the most part it's an enjoyable read.

Some highlights are "Art School Confidential" a nice breakdown of what you can expect if you attend an art school. It often hits too close to the truth.
"The Stroll" is a neat piece of storytelling with each panel of the authors' walk through the city from his point of view.
"Marooned on a desert island with the people on the Subway" has the author imagining what would happen if he were marooned on an island with just the people in his subway car. By just what they look like he breaks down how they would survive.
"Playful Obsession" is warped look at Clowes version of an old Harvey Comic.

My only real complaint with Twentieth Century Eightball is really through no fault of Clowes work, but since so much of his short pieces are really just angry tirades of his lot in life, when compiled here in a collection it can be a tad redundent.
They were great when spread out over 20 some issues of his comic, Eightball but when read one after the other in this book, you need to take a breath.

Twentieth Century Eightball is still a nice addition to your TPB collections, especially alongside other Clowes works like Ghost World and Caricature. If you'd like a copy, you can order it here at Amazon.

I do have to add this panel here though. I think that this is one of the funniest panels EVER in a comic book! It's hilarious on so many different levels!

Ya Wanna look like The Thing?

Some more toys/products are showing up, to tie-in with the Fantastic Four movie this summer (which as been pushed from a July 4th opening to a July 8th opening. Yeah, great move guys, does that show that they're afraid of opening up against War of the Worlds or are they afraid of their own film?)

So let's see, I can wear my Thing feet (picture of the feet can be seen elsewhere on this blog) along with my Thing mask and my Thing chest. Yeah, I'll look good standing in line for the film.

Or- if I'm not in a Thing-mood that day....

I can wear my Human Torch mask and Human Torch hands! (I wonder if that comes with a bottle of gasoline and a match?)

Got back from Chicago last night.

And returned from my one day visit to our parent headquarters at Tootsie Roll Industries.

Most the day was spent meeting department heads of the various candy groups, putting faces to names (and e-mails). We're preparing to get work from the Tootsie, Charms, Blo Pops, Sugar Babies, Dots, etc... groups. Let the onslaught of projects begin!

Perhaps the highlight of the day came when we toured the plant. Housed in a building that dates back before WW2 and, size-wise, is as large as the Sears Tower, if you laid the Sears Tower on the ground. 'Course if you could actually lay the Sears Tower on the ground....

Anyhow we walked most the length of the plant taking in the chocolate and candy aromas and getting extreme close-up looks of how they make Dots, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops and more. Also got to see a lot of the unique robots they've created especially for their products (which is a reason why I couldn't bring in a camera to take some up close shots.)

-BUT- I was able to "create" a image of the most impressive sight we saw. During the process of making Tootsie Rolls, it comes out as 3 foot long logs weighing in at between 8 - 10 pounds! We were told that they at one time tried making a limited edition of a 3 ft. Tootsie Roll log. I'm not sure why the idea was squashed, whether it was the cost, a freshness issue or shipping problem.

Personally, I'm thinking that it could have been a nasty weapon. "Man knocked unconscious by Tootsie Roll" would have been an embarrassing headline.