Thursday, October 19, 2006

Massachusetts School Bans Tag

An elementary school in Massachusetts has banned the playing of Tag, Touch Football, and "any other unsupervised chase game" for students at recess. The ban is a victory for panophobics everywhere.

In a related story, a Kettering, OH school has banned students from ever leaving their desks, in order to keep them safer.

Changing classrooms and using the bathroom are "accidents waiting to happen," said one local school official who wished to remain anonymous. "There's entirely too much walking aroung going on. Someone's just asking to trip and fall and hurt themself and hold the school liable, and we don't want that to happen," the official added.

Speaking on behalf of her son, one student's mother said, "Little Jimmy loves not being able to leave his desk. He definitely feels safer now that he doesn't have to worry about accidentally hurting himself." Little Jimmy could not be reached for comment.

The same school district recently instituted an "All Safety Scissors for All Ages" program for grades K-12. A PTO meeting will be held later this week to determine whether or not pencil sharpeners are detrimental to students' safety.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

POWERS Online and STUDIO 60 News

POWERS is a series from ICON Comics by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. The lead characters, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, are homicide detectives specializing in "powers-related" cases - cases involving people with superpowers. It's one of my favorite series, and I've been trying to get people to read it for years.

And now those people have no excuse. They can read it daily for free. The first page was posted yesterday, so read that one before you read the second one (obviously).

I cite Brian Bendis as one of my favorite writers and biggest influences. His dialogue is second to none in comics, in the vein of playwright/screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet.

Speaking of Sorkin, his new series, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, premieres on NBC on Monday, September 18th, at 10 PM. It stars, among others, Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, and Amanda Peet (I ask you, where is Joshua Malina? I'm still waiting to hear who he'll be playing, but you know it's coming...). Also, if you want to read the pilot, don't bother asking me, because I don't have a copy and I would never e-mail it to you even if I did. It's not fantastic, and doesn't have everything you like about Aaron Sorkin. Wink. Wink. Wink.

Go read comics now.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Movie Musings

After long and careful consideration, I have determined that I am unable to write any sort of review for SUPERMAN RETURNS, at least not in the same way that I analyzed X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. I cannot maintain any sort of objectivity regarding SUPERMAN RETURNS; I just love it too damn much. I know there are things in the film that are problematic (tell me again why Lois decides to take her kid with her onto the mysterious yacht?), but I can't get over the way it made me feel. I grew up with the original SUPERMAN movies. One of my earliest memories is of watching SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE with my dad on HBO on a Sunday morning. An equally early memory is of watching SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE at my uncle's house. I can't remember much about my pre-7-year-old years, but I distinctly remember Superman being a part of them. So when the opening credits for SUPERMAN RETURNS rolled. And they were exactly the same style as the opening credits for the original two films. And the John Wiliams Superman theme began to play. I was weak. I was ten years old again. It was the most religious experience I have ever had.

So yeah, that's why I can't write any sort of objective review of SUPERMAN RETURNS.

That said, I saw PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST today, and I would LOVE to rip that film to pieces before your very eyes.

If you're planning to see the film and haven't done so yet, or you just don't like to have stuff ruined for you, you should look away. HERE THERE BE SPOILERS! And detailed ones, at that, revealing plot points and the ending of the film. So, yeah, run along now. Go read that thing I wrote a few years ago about dog poop. That was a good one.


What I'm going to do now is tell you every way in which PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST is similar to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Some of the parallels may seem like a stretch. But, really, they're not. Just go with it. The format for these comparisons will be: "[element of DEAD MAN'S CHEST] = [element of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK]. Brief explanation, if necessary." You with me? Let's go.

Will Turner = Luke Skywalker.
Elizabeth Swann = Princess Leia.
Jack Sparrow = Han Solo.

Once you've got those three, the rest of it is cake.

Developing love triangle between Will, Elizabeth, and Jack = developing love triangle between Luke, Leia, and Han. Only the third film will tell if Will and Elizabeth are really brother and sister.
Davy Jones = Jabba the Hutt. 'But Jabba doesn't appear in EMPIRE!' you say. His presence is felt in the form of bounty hunters that are after Han, just as Davy Jones is after Jack to repay an old debt.
The Kraken = Boba Fett. Boba Fett was an ever-present threat in EMPIRE, same as The Kraken is in DEAD MAN'S CHEST. EMPIRE ends with Boba Fett, in the service of Jabba the Hutt, in possession of Han Solo. DEAD MAN'S CHEST ends with The Kraken, in the service of Davy Jones, having eaten Jack Sparrow.
'Bootstrap' Bill Turner = Yoda/Obi-Wan Kenobi. Think about it. I suppose he's more Obi-Wan than Yoda, given the whole 'ghost' connection, but who does Will learn how to be a pirate from/who does Luke learn how to be a Jedi from? I'm not saying that pirates = Jedi; the parallel is in learning to fulfill your destiny, that which is in your blood. For Luke, it's being a Jedi. For Will, it's being a pirate.
"I would give anything to bring back Jack Sparrow!" = "When we find Han and that bounty hunter..." They end almost exactly the same way, with the remaining principle characters getting ready to go save their lost buddy. There's a twist at the end of PIRATES, though, that would be like Grand Moff Tarkin appearing on the Rebel's Medical Frigate and agreeing to help Luke and Leia save Han. More on this later.

Unfortunately, I cannot end it with "PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST = THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK," because whereas EMPIRE is a classic, an amazing story that builds upon and expands the universe created in the first film, DEAD MAN'S CHEST is mostly just a rehash of the first film with a couple new elements added in. Also, there's no Lando Calrissian in DEAD MAN'S CHEST, so it is, sadly, sorely lacking.

There's a lot more to DEAD MAN'S CHEST than just what I've mentioned above, but the rest of it is pretty pointless. No joke. I'm not just saying that because it doesn't fit into the EMPIRE comparison. I'm saying that because it does nothing to advance the actual story of the film, which doesn't really present itself until about halfway in. There is a sequence with a tribe of aborigines that Jack has somehow become the leader of, and the whole thing is just bad, and completely irrelevent in the grand scheme of the film. It's a long movie made longer by wasted, wasteful scenes. A subplot with Will and his father aboard the Flying Dutchman is thrown in and underdeveloped. The love triangle aspect is, put bluntly, ridiculous and horribly forced. The comic relief characters from the first film are back for no reason at all but to be comic relief in the second film. And sadly, the comparison between Jack and Han doesn't ring completely true. At least Han was likeable in EMPIRE, whereas Jack is just a dick and almost wholly unlikeable in DEAD MAN'S CHEST. It's not enough to think the guy's mannerisms are funny (and kudos to Johnny Depp for an amazing performance. I don't blame you for hating Jack, I blame the four people it took to write the script [Anyone else familiar with the phrase 'too many cooks in the kitchen'? Something to think about...]); if he's unlikeable, he's worthless.

I'm not saying DEAD MAN'S CHEST wasn't enjoyable; I'm just saying it was kind of boring at some points and fairly predictable at others. There are a few standout good points to the film, though, mostly having to do with the special effects. Davy Jones looked amazing, with tentacle hair that was alive and moving at all times. Equally as amazing was The Kraken. Aside from maybe one or two instances (and I'm talking split-second cuts here), the CG on The Kraken was seamless. I really believed that both The Kraken and Davy Jones (who, yeah, I know there was an actor in there, too, but the majority of him was CG) were, as my friend Steve put it, 'inhabiting space in the film'. In other words, it looked real and not digital, and that was fantastic. The appearance of the undead monkey from the first film was just stupid and totally random; the appearance of the undead monkey's master, Barbossa, at the end of the film was also totally random, but foreshadowed subtly and incredibly brilliant. Barbossa was a likeable bad guy in the first film, and he will bring a charm to the third film that was seriously lacking in this second one. Let's just hope they don't spend half the film trying to explain how he came back from the dead (of course, of his undead monkey is undead again, perhaps Barbossa is again as well? Who knows).

If you liked the first PIRATES movie, you'll probably enjoy this one, though not as much. It's full of forced references to the first film that are amusing on the level of sitting in the crowd and saying to yourself, 'Hey, I get that! I'm smart!' It has a darker feel to it (just as EMPIRE did compared to STAR WARS), though, and I thought it lacked a lot of the fun that was present in the first film. If you're on the fence about seeing it in a theater, watch EMPIRE STRIKES BACK instead and wait for PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST to show up at a cheap theater. I hesitate to say wait to rent it, if only because the Kraken looks so damn cool on a big screen.

Still, there's no Billy Dee Williams in it, so how good could it really be?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SUPERMAN RETURNS - A One-Sentence Review

This is not a full-out review of SUPERMAN RETURNS, so you have nothing to fear in the way of spoilers about what SUPERMAN RETURNS is about, but I would like to say this about SUPERMAN RETURNS.

SUPERMAN RETURNS is fucking amazing.

I'll have more to say after I see it a few more times.


I just like saying it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alex Toth 1928 - 2006

If you've ever laughed your ass off at HARVEY BIRDMAN, ATTORNEY AT LAW or SPACE GHOST: COAST TO COAST, you have Alex Toth to thank for that. If you've ever watched Boomerang on a Sunday afternoon and caught episodes of SUPER FRIENDS or FANTASTIC FOUR, or even of BIRDMAN and SPACE GHOST sans funny edits, you also have Alex Toth to thank for that.

Toth was an artist/designer with a distinctive style that has been influencing artists for years. Bruce Timm, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, David Mazzuchelli, Klaus Jansen. All of these artists and more owe something to Alex Toth. He designed Space Ghost, Birdman, and others. He also acted as the principle designer for the original SUPER FRIENDS series. If you have never heard of Toth, you should google him. His style is cartoony yet realistic, simple yet complex, and wholly distinctive. I cannot get enough of looking at his work.

Alex Toth passed away at his drawing table on Saturday morning. He was 78.

That's all.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Yesterday was opening day for the third X-Men film, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. I've decided to put down some thoughts on the film, partly because I like reading reviews for movies and think others might like to see what I have to think, but mostly so that I can organize my thoughts and try to come to a definite conclusion on the film.

I will do my best not to ruin anything, but regardless,

Here There Be Spoilers.

If you don't want the movie ruined, or if you just don't want your opinion of it tainted before you even see it, turn back. Come back after you've seen the film.

Okay? Okay.

The Good:
- Like the first two X-Films, for a comic book movie, this film was remarkably grounded, and when I say this, I'm mostly referring to the explanation for Jean's manifestation of the Phoenix powers. Those familiar with the Phoenix saga of the comics know that it deals a lot with space travel and cosmic forces and an alien race called the Shi'ar. None of those things are present in this film. The explanation for where the Phoenix came from is an interesting one, and it makes sense. Admittedly, I had a terribly obnoxious comic dork moment as the explanation was laid forth and I stared in disbelief before uttering, "What the fuck?!" But as I think about it now, I can think of no better explanation for where the Phoenix came from (although the explanation for her miraculous resurrection stays pretty true to the comic, and the comic explanation was lame, so...).
- Sex appeal. Okay, let's get something straight. When I'm watching a movie, I don't normally sit there and drool over actresses that I find attractive; in fact, I know a lot of people that do do this, and it has always sort of annoyed me. But I'll make an exception for this movie (maybe not the whole movie, but certain scenes...). My thing for redheads aside, Famke Jannsen is just amazingly hot, and she has never been hotter than she was in this film. There is a scene between Jean and Logan that is, quite honestly, the hottest thing I have ever seen. I'm sorry if I'm weirding the readers out, but it's true. This movie is just damn sexy.
- That said, this movie has a lot of heart. Once again Wolverine is placed front and center (and if Hugh Jackman never played anyone else ever again, I would be okay with that), and the ways in which the character has developed over the course of the series are obvious ones. He's the rough-housin' Canuck with a heart o' gold, he is, and it shows in this film. There are moments in the film (not necessarily Wolverine moments, but just moments) where I almost wanted to cry, and in a good way.
- The Beast. Kelsey Grammer is excellent as Dr. Hank McCoy. 'Nuff said.
- Iceman vs. Pyro. I got what I wanted out of that fight, and while it was a brief battle, the payoff was fantastic.
- Fastball Special. For those that don't know, the Fastball Special is a combination move in which Colossus picks up Wolverine and throws him at a target. It's one of my favorite X-Men things, and we get it in this movie, and not just once.
- The Danger Room. Perfect, though I wanted to see more of the enemy they were fighting in there (that's one surprise I won't ruin for you).
- Kitty Pryde, Angel, and Colossus. Three of my favorite X-Men, along with Iceman and Beast, all are featured prominently in this movie. If only Nightcrawler had stuck around.
- Jamie Madrox. A-freakin-mazingly perfect casting. He looked JUST like his comic book counterpart.
- Olivia Williams as Dr. Moira McTaggert. I've been in love with Ms. Williams since Max Fischer fell in love with her in RUSHMORE. Perfect casting for Moira, too.
- The special effects were stellar.
- There's a lot going on here. The sheer amount of stuff that happens in this film is ridiculous, and it all moves fairly briskly. It felt short (which it is, it's less than two hours long), but I say that in a good way. When it was over I wanted to watch it again. That said, we turn to...

The Bad:
- There's too much going on here. Brisk pacing is nice, but not at the expense of character development. There is so much happening and there are so many new characters bopping around that I don't really feel like I get to spend any time with anyone outside of the already established characters (Logan, Jean, Magneto, Charles, Scott, Storm). Angel and Colossus are wasted in this movie, as is a certain multiplying member of Magneto's brotherhood, and a Rogue/Iceman/Kitty subplot is underdeveloped at best. Kitty does get some nice moments on her own, in particular a fight with Juggernaut that is just damn cool. Overall, though, it felt like a four- to five-person movie, with one of those people being the most boring X-Man of all time, Storm. Thanks a lot for your years of service, Halle Berry. Don't call us, we'll call you. But hopefully not.
- It didn't build to anything. I think this is a result of the pacing, but you never get a chance to sit and breathe and recover, which I think is always important if you want a movie that has any sort of rising action. If the movie is just one non-stop fight, you never get that chance, and as a result, it doesn't feel like anything ever escalates.
- One word: camp. One-liners abounded in this movie, and it was distracting. I hate bad writing, and the dialogue needed help here.
- The pacing. It's worth mentioning again.
- Colossus was too shiny. Sorry, I like Colossus, and that bothered me a little.
- Jean never Phoenixes-out. You all the fire stuff around Jean in X2? The fire bird in Alkali Lake at the end? Any of that? We never see any of that in this movie. As faithful as this movie is to the comics, it completely ignores the 'phoenix' aspect of the Phoenix, and that disappointed me.

The Other:
- I don't know if this is a complaint or what, but the solution to the problem at the end did not seem to me to be the most obvious choice. I had a problem with the ending of X2, though, which I will explain. X2 ends with Jean saving the team and sacrificing herself against a wall of on-rushing water. So here's my beef with that ending. A significant portion of the movie was centered around Rogue and Bobby, their relationship and their development as mutants/X-Men. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that X2 would've had a greater ending if, instead of Jean dying, Bobby had stepped off the ship and used his powers to freeze the onrushing water. It would've been an amazing 'rite of passage' sort of scene, and the scene in which Bobby lives up to his potential and becomes a full member of the team. Plus, it would've grown organically out of the rest of the movie. Instead, though, Jean limps off the ship and saves the rest of the team. Okay, so sure, it sets up the Phoenix stuff later on, but I still think that Iceman saving them all would've been far more effective, and a more obvious choice.
Okay, so HERE'S A BIG SPOILER for the end of the film. Seriously, you can't avoid having the film ruined if you read these next few sentences. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE END OF THE FILM, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH.
In one of the final scenes of the film, Jean-Phoenix is essentially destroying everything. She's using her powers to un-make people (seriously, they just disappear into little bits) and to destroy everything around her, and this is taking place outside of the facility where the mutant cure has been developed. The source of the mutant cure is itself a mutant, a small boy whose power is to 'deactivate' a mutant's mutation. The X-Men are there to save the kid, while Magneto's brotherhood is there to kill him and end the cure. So Phoenix is destroying everything with her powers, and Kitty and Colossus have the kid whose power it is to shut down people's powers. ...Hello? Is it just me, or do you use the kid whose power it is to shut down people's powers to stop Phoenix? ...Nah, that's a stupid idea. Let's have Wolverine do it instead! Now, admittedly, Wolverine stopping Jean was powerful, but it was also just illogical. The argument was made for me that Wolverine was the only one who could get close enough to Jean without being unmade because of his healing factor, and I can buy that, I suppose. Still, the kid was a handy plot device that they ignored at that crucial moment in favor of giving Wolverine the spotlight. But then, these have all been essentially Wolverine movies. At what point in history was it decided that Wolverine was the most popular X-Man? I say, why not Colossus? But that's just me.

The Overall:
I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It has obvious problems, but the geek moments and the special effects extravaganza make up for it. I would say that the first two films are better than this one, though. I read a review that said that Brett Ratner (X3's director) lacks the subtlety that Bryan Singer (director of X-MEN and X2) brings to his films, and I think that's absolutely spot-on. Singer does character and impact like it's nobody's business, which is part of why I cannot wait for SUPERMAN RETURNS (I'm sure I will talk more about this one as it approaches - we've only got FIVE WEEKS, and I'm already freaking out with anticipation). X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is a decent comic book movie, a solid action flick, and an entertaining sequel to the stellar X2.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Well, alright, then.

So in my last post, I said I was going to be writing a lot more and posting a lot more on this thing. And I think I made that post...what, three months ago? So sue me. It's my blog, I can do what I want.

I'm going to break one of my cardinal rules of blogging and write about myself today. Not an essay about myself, just about myself and what I've been doing. Hopefully this will get me back into the swing of blogging, and I can come back and be better than ever. Probably not, though. But it's a nice thought. This is mostly a status report for the five or six people that read this blog, and for the one or two people that read this blog and that I don't talk to regularly. On with it, then.

Part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I've been excruciatingly busy. For months it was with a job search which had, effectively, sucked away my will to live. Now, though, it's with an actual job itself. I started work a few weeks ago as an editor for a company that does editing and design work for textbook publishers. It's a temp job, for now anyway, so who knows how long it will last, but it's something. It may be enough for me to get out of my parents' house. That's really my goal at this point. I wouldn't mind of this job became permanent at all, not only for financial reasons, but also because I genuinely like what I'm doing. I like the people around me and I have a good time when I'm at work. (And I really want to move out.)

Other big stuff: I just had my first comic put out. A few friends and I put together an anthology of short stories. We're called Buyer Beware Comics, and the book is called (wait for it) Buyer Beware Comics Anthology #1. I have a three page story in it that I wrote and that my friend Jason drew. It's called "A Minor Obstacle," and it stars Rex Driver, Man of Action, a character that I created with my friend Julie. It's a fun short story. If anyone cares, I'll scan the pages and put them up for you to see. Having this out there has got a lot of new things flowing through my brain, and I'm really excited. The next few months should be a really fun and exciting time.

So that's more or less what I've been up to lately. I'll try and get back onto a more regular schedule for this, but who am I kidding, honestly. It'll never happen.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The best day of the year

As a lot of people know, there's a day of great importance coming up this week. It is a day that brings people together, a day on which we are encouraged to express our feelings towards one another. Gifts are exchanged often, and, in theory, one leaves the day with a cliched warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

I am talking, of course, about February 15th, otherwise known as "Joe G.'s Birthday".

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, 'Joe! I can't believe I completely forgot your birthday!' It's okay, really. Happens all the time. In fact, the majority of people that I encounter on that day probably won't even acknowledge my existence, much less that it's my birthday and that they should be nice to me for no other reason than that happens to be the day that, 23 years ago, I popped out of my mother's womb. It's a fact that I have, over the course of my 22 previous birthdays, come to accept: no one really cares that much.

Could it be that the placement of my birthday, on the day after the accursed St. Valentine's Day, is what causes this total lack of interest in my happiness? Valentine's Day is a taxing affair, requiring a lot of attention and thought, at least for those who either a) have someone to celebrate it with or b) decide that they want to find someone just as desperate as they are to spend it with. A lot of sweat goes into planning a successful Valentine's Day - just ask the people at Hallmark. As a result of this hard work, I can understand why people would be less than enthusiastic about yet another national holiday not even twenty-four hours later. It's draining to be that happy for that long.

I have always taken this into account, of course, and have, as such, never taken part in Valentine's Day festivities with anyone. I have to save my energy for the following day, and, really, what's more important: a celebration of my love for someone else, or a celebration of my very life? It's clearly the latter. Because, honestly, every other day of the year should be a celebration of the former, albeit on a smaller scale, but still. I do not disparage the sentiment behind Valentine's Day; I'd just rather it fell somewhere else in the year. Perhaps in June. Nothing ever happens in June.

In fact, I feel that moving Valentine's Day to June would clear up a lot of the 'holiday clumping' that occurs throughout the year. Most major holidays appear around the ends of the year, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day all falling within consecutive months. That's quite a bit of money to be spent in a five month span. Moving Valentine's Day to June would alleviate some of the burden on consumers' wallets, and allow people more time to think of bigger and better ways of expressing their affection for a loved one. (On second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea.) The money saved by consumers could then be put to better use - supporting charities, paying off debts, and funding the appropriate worldwide celebration of February 15th.

So I say, this year, on February 14th, do not celebrate Valentine's Day. Instead, celebrate Joe G.'s Birthday Eve. At the stroke of midnight, instead of turning to the person that you love and kissing them passionately, turn to me, and think of all the money that I saved you from buying flowers and candy and cards and singing telegrams and jewelry and hookers and dinner and movie tickets and condoms. And then give that money to me.

It is my birthday, after all.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I have a blog?

So a few things occured to me this morning.

1. I have neglected this thing. I realize that, when I set it up, I set it up as something that I wouldn't expect myself to post on every day, but it's been a little while since my last entry, and I feel bad about that. I know there's a few of you out there that like (nay, CRAVE) my blog, and I will try, in the future, to be more accomodating. Still no promises though.

2. My blog has lost its way. I set this up as a place where I could just write random stuff without having to worry about a context for it. (When I say 'random stuff,' of course, I don't mean 'mundane details about my life' or 'whinings about how girl-I-like doesn't like me'. Just so we're clear on that one.) It occurs to me that I've only ever really done this twice, and those are the posts that I'm most interested in personally. This, then, is my new mission statement: I need to harness my inner Sedaris (more the writer part, less the gay part) as I have done in the past, and I need to reconnect with what makes writing fun for me. That's what this blog is for, and that's what I intend to use it for from now on. This is not to say that I will cease with the posting of fun and humorous links - I love that stuff as much as the next guy - but that's not the main purpose anymore, just a side thing for when I'm bored. But really, when I'm bored, shouldn't I then be writing?

3. Chili cheese fries before bed = strange, strange dreams.

Having recently graduated from college, I am currently in the midst of a massive job hunt that spans both time and space. As such, my posting may still be few and far between. However, I will do my best to bring this blog back to where I wanted it to be when I started it. If anyone has any objections, you know where to find me.

That's all.