Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summer Movie Preview--Clerks II

"Ten years ago,
they were going nowhere.
they've finally arrived."
Even with a new X-Men movie out and the return of the Superman film franchise, there really wasn't any movie scheduled to come out this summer that I was really looking forward to. That is, until I checked out some trailers on-line before writing yesterday's entry. Now there is one flick that I can't wait to see, and no, it sure as hell ain't Snakes On A Plane (Geeeezz, just the title gives the creeps.) I'm talking, of course, about the film whose trailer I quote above, Clerks II, the sequel to the 1994 low budget cult favorite that launched Kevin Smith's career.
Smith claims that he made the film because, while working on the 1oth anniversary DVD of the original, he was reminded of why he loved these characters and why he got into film making in the first place. Apparently, Smith also promised Jason Mewes, aka Jay of Jay and Silent Bob, that if Mewes could stay off drugs, he'd make one more Jay and Silent Bob picture.
Whatever Smith's reasons for making the film, I'm glad he did. Unlike some of his other film, like Dogma, he appears to have no message to convey or axe to grind and set out merely to make people laugh. Which, if the trailers are any indication, he has done.
The humor is in the same vein as the first Clerks, perhaps even more extreme, but the setting is new.
The Quik Stop burns down..
Randall surveys the wreckage. "Terrorists?"
No. Not quite.
"I left the coffee pot on again, didn't I?"
...and Dante and Randall move into a field even more degrading and dehumanizing than working in a convenience store---Fast Food. They end up at Mooby's, the fictional fast food chain that was, I believe, introduced in Dogma, bringing their eternally adolescent disrespect for both the bosses and the customers, especially the customers, with them.
Not much more to say until I've seen it, so I'm outta here.
See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Suumer Movie Preview--World Trade Center

The "summer movie season" officially started this past weekend, although in reality it's been in full swing for a while with Mission: Impossible III in theaters for the better part of a month now. There are plenty of wanna-be blockbusters on the way, including Superman Returns; Cars; Pirates of the Caribbean II; a Garfield sequel; a remake of The Omen; the bizarrely, yet intriguingly, titled Snakes On A Plane and even a Miami Vice movie, but I want to talk about a couple of films coming up in the next few months that aren't your typical summer "popcorn movie."
A few weeks ago, prior to the release of United 93, many people were saying it might be too soon for a Hollywood treatment of 9/11, but the quality and power of the film has won over most critics. The next 9/11 film to hit theaters, World Trade Center, may be controversial for other reasons, and I suspect that many people will make judgments about it before having seen it based solely on the man in the director's chair, Oliver Stone.
Since he made JFK back in 1991, Stone has, perhaps undeservedly based on his overall body of work, aquired a reputation as a purveyor of paranoid conspiracy theories. However, from all I have heard and seen of WTC, including the trailer, it seems that this time out Stone has left the conspiracy theories on the cutting room floor and filmed a straightforward, respectful and emotional story of two police officers trapped in the wreckage of the Twin Towers and their families' nervous vigil awaiting word of their fate.
Paranoid or not, Stone is a master of cinematic storytelling and World Trade Center should actually be worth seeing.
Next time, I'll give you my advance take on Clerks II.

The Word From The Box Office

Anyone who could not have predicted that X-Men: The Last Stand would top the box office this past weekend has no business writing about pop culture. The film's $120 million opening weekend is apparently a record for a film hitting theaters on Memorial Day weekend. (More details and complete box office top ten here.) So, I'm betting that this won't be the Last Stand for Professor X and his merry band of mutants after all. The boys at Fox have to be looking at that bottom line and drooling, besides I read in Playboy that they already got Kelsey Grammar to sign on to another film when he inked the deal to play the Beast.
Over The Hedge, meanwhile, continues to defy my will and fly in the face of my earlier prediction that it would disappear quickly, checking in at #3, with The Da Vinci Code filling the second slot. Mission: Impossible III, the sequel to a remake of a 60's TV show, and Poseidon, the remake of Irwin Allen's disaster epic, The Poseidon Adventure, round out the top five.
Y'know, whether Poseidon is a good film or not, and most reviews I've seen lean toward not, it has one distinct disadvantage compared to Allen's original: no Ernest Borgnine.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: In Concert

I was rereading George Carlin's book Napalm and Silly Putty recently, in which the "About the Author" blurb claims that Carlin performs over one hundred concerts a year.
What instrument does Geroge Carlin play? Has anybody ever heard him sing?
A comedian's performance isn't a "concert." A concert is a musical performance. Comedians stand up on stage and tell jokes. The only stand up comedian you could say gave "concerts" was Steve Martin, because at least he played the banjo. He even had a hit single with King Tut.
Apparently, there are also "dance concerts." Wrong. No such thing. Sure, there's music involved, but it's not the main point of the performance and the featured performers aren't making the music, just reacting to it. So it's not a concert.

Friday, May 26, 2006

So You Think Anyone Really Wants To Watch This Crap?

Success breeds imitations, often really, really, egregiously awful imitations, and sometimes the worst, most godawful imitators are the product of the creators of the original success. Simon Fuller, who with that other Simon, Simon Cowell, created American Idol is also responsible for the virulently lame Idol clone So You Think You Can Dance. Fuller has copied the Idol formula down to the minutest detail, from the open auditions in which untalented losers are held up for public derision to the bickering between judges. There's even a smarmy Brit among the judges.
Bad dancing, however, just doesn't have the entertainment value or mass appeal of bad singing, although the guy who slipped and smashed his nose into the floor during his audition was good for a chuckle or two. That kind of thing never happens on Idol, I'll bet. Overall, though, I was just bored.
The judges weren't very entertaining either. There was no one gushing mindlessly as Paula Abdul does on Idol, or desperately trying to sound hip like Randy Jackson. (Was he really in Journey? Now, that is not hip at all.) Furthermore, the British judge, Nigel, is most definitely no Simon Cowell. He lacks Simon's ego, his mean streak and his warped, sometimes cruel, sense of humor. In short, Nigel is too damned nice.
I don't think airing this the day after Idol's finale was a great idea. Fox should have allowed some time for memories of Idol to fade before foisting this lame, watered down copy on the public.

(Now, THAT'S Trivia! #16) Wandering X-Men

The third and supposedly (until the opening weekend box office numbers come in, I'll bet) final installment of the X-Men movie series opened today, so this week's trivia question examines some of the travels and travails of a trio of members of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original team from the early 60's, also known as the Silver Age of Comics.
It's hard to believe now, but back then X-Men was Marvel's lowest selling title, and was all but cancelled in the early seventies. The book continued by reprinting earlier issues from #66 through #93, until Len Wein, Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum introduced a whole new, and far more popular, team of mutants in Giant Size X-Men #1. Original team members Cyclops and Jean Grey, formerly known as Marvel Girl, stayed with the new team, but Angel, Beast and Iceman went off to make their way in the world away from Professor Xavier's school. These three did not rejoin the X-Men until the early 90's and spent the 70's and 80's with a variety of other super-hero teams.
Can you name those teams?
The answer is, as always, at The Answer Blog.
Meanwhile, among those who've commented, opinion on whether or not I should continue the weekly trivia questions is evenly split. So, for the foreseeable future, I'm going to keep it up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Idol Wrap Up

Last night, I watched two hours of filler with dubious entertainment value, including a "surprise" appearance by Clay Aiken that a blind man could have seen coming from due to its obvious and awkward set-up, to get to the formal announcement of what was pretty much a foregone conclusion by that point; that Taylor Hicks had defeated Katherine McPheeble to win the fifth season of American Idol.
Even though when he first showed up during the Vegas auditions no one could have imagined that he'd make it into the top twenty-four, let alone the top twelve or, perish the thought, all the way to the finale, Taylor's victory was pretty much assured weeks ago when Paris and Chris, the only remaining contestants who could have offered him any real competition, got sent packing. With Chris gone, Taylor found himself up against two singers, Elliot and Kat, whose performance varied widely in quality from song to song, often within the same episode. Hicks, on the other hand, while not the best singer in the game this season, consistently gave his best each and every time.
I'd never watched Idol before this season, but I would willing to bet that Taylor's improbable rise has to be the unlikeliest Cinderella story in the show's history. How, you have to have asked yourself at some point, did this happen? How did Taylor Hicks manage to outlast seasoned performers and better singers and win American Idol? The answer lies in the fact that even though Idol is, as Simon Cowell constantly reminded us throughout the season, a singing competition, the people who decide the outcome are not, for the most part, music industry professionals. (The country, not to mention the recording industry, would be in real trouble if there really were 63 million record company executives out there)
Simon said at one point that Taylor really was a good singer despite his "balminess," totally missing the fact that it was that very quality that had taken Hicks that far and would propel him to victory. More than his vocal talent, it was his boyish Southern charm and his spastic dance moves that endeared him to the viewers and, more importantly, the voters. Cowell also once compared him to someone's drunken uncle at a wedding, a type we all know and, despite himself, love, and want to succeed. We voted for Taylor because we liked him and wanted him to win.
As for the finale episode itself, it was, as I hinted above, about an hour and fifty minutes too long. The awards parody was lame and unfunny. Besides, Idol. itself may not have won any awards, but first season winner Kelly Clarkson picked up a Grammy or two this year and just Tuesday night season 4 winner Karrie (am I spelling that right--I ahve no idea) Underwood took two Academy of Country Music Awards. That should be validation enough, I'd think. It was nice to see some of the previously eliminated contestants again, though I hope that after last night I never have to see that little twerp Kevin Covais again. I do wish, however, that they'd let Mandisa have a solo number. She deserved it. She was the best female vocalist in the top twelve and her departure took a little bit of the luster off the proceedings.
So, now that Idol is over for this year, and with my season ending wrap-up put to bed, I can move on and begin looking forward to Big Brother 7.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

By The Seat of Their Pants

The great state of California has long held a reputation as a place where strange people do strange things for strange reasons, perhaps coming from its position as center of the American entertainment industry. The latest bit of weirdness from the Left Coast, however, has nothing to do with celebrities or even Scientology, showing that odd behavior is not the exclusive province of Tom Cruise.
California appears to be suffering a minor epidemic of men found stuck in chimneys without their pants. You may remember this item that I clued you into a few weeks ago:
It concerns a man who got himself locked out of his house and attempted to gain entry via the chimney, first shedding his clothes lest they slow his descent.
On its own, its an anomaly; a weird but meaningless curiosity. But yesterday, I came across this item:
Now, it's a trend.
The latest incident involves a man who claims he was up on a roof to "look at stars" when he tumbled into the chimney and got stuck near the bottom. Thinking quickly, he removed his pants and began waving them around in order to set off the home's motion detectors and summon aid. Eventually, it worked, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary.
The story he told about being up on the roof to look at stars doesn't wash, since his arrest for burglary would seem to indicate that this was not his house, thus why would he be stargazing from that particular roof? Maybe he meant that he took a few moments to check out the sky before going about his business of breaking in to the home and fell down the chimney moments before he would have jumped down it anyway.
So, what's behind this rash of pantsless men stuck in chimneys? Me--I blame global warming, the all purpose villain for the new millenium. Or maybe Californians really are as nuts as the rest of the country thinks they are. I do have an uncle out there who, in the few times I've actually seen him, has never quite struck me as being totally sane. Whatever the cause, I shall keep you abreast of further developments on the pantsless guy in chimney front as I hear of them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What I Won't Be Watching Tonight

After nearly four months, the improbable rise of Taylor Hicks reaches its crescendo tonight and tomorrow as the fifth season of American Idol concludes. After Mandisa left several weeks ago, I half jokingly predicted that Taylor would be taking what I had thought would be her place in the final two. Serious or not, it turns out that I was right. Of course, I was still convinced he'd be facing off against Chris Daughtry, so I won't be quitting my day job and going into the full time psychic biz anytime soon.
Now, if you're not an Ido worshipper, let's see what the other broadcast networks are offering up in competition.
The soon to be one mini-networks UPN and WB, most likely just biding time until the debut of the CW network in September, are just going with repeats of regular series, Gilmore Girls and America's Next Top Model. NBC ain't putting up much of a fight either, slapping up a lame clip show called Most Outrageous Moments. I wonder if it includes the outrageous moments when some moron at the network thought Deal or No Deal and Celebrity Cooking Showdown sounded like good ideas.
CBS is giving us The Academy of Country Music Awards. As far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any country music worth awarding, or even listening to, for about twenty years. The only possible reason to watch this is that it's being hosted by the lovely Reba McEntire. She's also the only real reason to watch the otherwise astoundingly average sitcom that bears her name. Reba isn't on the CW's announced fall schedule, but there's a possibility that it may return in mid-season.
Finally, ABC is airing Stephen King's Desperation. With the ratings Idol's been getting this season, the title Desperation is an apt one for anything seeking to compete with it. TV Guide describes this King outing as a story about "...a small town plagued by a big evil." I used to read a lot of King's books (before Misery, a book so awful that it turned me off the man's writing for life) and that description could cover about half of his total output. So, it doesn't appear that Desperation is going to offer anything particularly original, but if you're a King fan, "more of the same" is what you expect from him.
Looking back over the shows I've just described, I can see that, Idol or no Idol, except for Gilmore Girls, which is one of my all time favorite shows, I probably wouldn't watch any of that crap anyway.

Monday, May 22, 2006

At The Box Office

Well, for the moment, at least, it appears that Over The Hedge won't be disappearing all that quickly from theaters after all, despite the "Wendy's Curse," as a manager at one Wendy's restaurant dubbed my theory that every movie Wendy's is involved in promoting bombs. (I don't call it a curse because I don't believe in curses.) Hedge took in over 37 million bucks to land at No. 2 in ticket sales for last weekend. The reviews I've seen have been pretty decent, so Hedge might just be sticking around for awhile.
Of course, we all know what's going to be the No. 1 film at the box office for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Yep, it'll be X-Men: The Last Stand, the (supposedly) final installment in the X trilogy.
I say "supposedly" because you can be sure that if Last Stand makes anywhere near the moolah the first two did, 20th Century Fox execs will be thinkin' sequel. Sure, director Brian Singer intended the series to be a trilogy, but Singer split the Xavier School for Metropolis, Krypton and points west to guide the cinematic comeback of a certain strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. (According to the Internet Movie Data Base, Singer is already signed for what is currently known as Untitled Superman Returns Sequel, due in 2009. I like that title. they should keep it.) With Singer gone, the backroom bigwigs could probably give less than a flying fig about his "vision" for the X series, and likely care more about milking that cash cow until it dries up. So get in line now for X4, coming in 2009 to a theater near you!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hedging My Bets

The new computer animated film Over The Hedge, which opened yesterday, is going to tank. It'll be at the second run theaters in less than a month.
Why do I say this? Because Wendy's has the kid's meal toy account, and over the last few years every film that Wendy's has helped promote, from Quest For Camelot to Muppets From Space to, most recently, Curious George, has been gone from theaters after just two or three weeks. You know I don't believe in curses, so let's call it a "trend."
One thing that Hedge has going for it that may help it buck the trend is that it's computer animated, which has pretty much box office gold ever since Toy Story, so much so that traditional hand drawn animation has all but disappeared. Even Disney has abandoned hand drawn features in favor of compute animated fare.
I'm not sure this is such a wise decision. On a behind the scenes documentary on The Incredibles DVD, one of the animators relates the trouble they had getting Violet's hair right. At one point, the animators and programmers were ready to give up, believing the realistic animating of long hair to be "theoretical" at that time.
That's the main reason why I'm not in favor of the wholehearted embrace of computer animation at this time. Computer animation just isn't at the stage where it's ready to completely replace hand drawn animation. To a man with a pencil and pen, after all, nothing is "theoretical."

Friday, May 19, 2006

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #15) Heaven Trek (or) 7th Star

I think my fingernails have stopped growing...Seriously, I can not remember the last time I cut them. Well, that's a good thing anyway, because I've lost my nail clippers.
Sorry, that was...weird. Now what am I supposed to be writing? Oh, right--the weekly trivia question. Frankly, I've been wondering whether I should continue these. What do my readers think? Do you just skip these entries and think, "Oh, well, maybe he'll write something interesting tomorrow," or do you find them as enlightening and entertaining as I intend them to be? Please let me know.
Anyway, the broadcast TV networks are announcing their fall schedules, which I will write more about as soon as I see what ABC has up its sleeve for September. The other four networks, including the new CW network, born of the union of struggling mini-nets UPN and WB, have all released their fall slates.
Surprisingly, the CW's schedule includes a show that supposedly aired its "final" episode about two weeks ago, 7th Heaven. I might write some more on that later.
Anyway, today's trivia question concerns 7th Heaven, and Star Trek, which was a staple of the UPN network until last spring when Enterprise ended.
What does 7th Heaven have in common with the Trek movies?
The answer is at The Answer Blog.
By the way, two weeks ago, my question was about Superman's favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird. However, I recently read the Return of Superman trade paperback, collecting the Reign of the Supermen storyline in which Supes comes back from the dead, and Mockingbird is identified as Clark Kent's favorite movie! Now, I'm certain that in the original comic book they said "book." Am I remembering wrong, or did DC change it for the collected edition? A little digging through my closet will give me the answer, and I'll report back here as soon as I get around to doing that.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What I've Been Reading: The Comics Before & Since 1945

The Comics Before 1945 and The Comics Since 1945, both authored by Brian Walker, are big books, not just in size (though I nearly broke my arms carrying the set home from the library and I just live across the street), but in scope and ambition. Together, the two tomes comprise a comprehensive history of the American newspaper comic strip from the Yellow Kid in the late nineteenth century to early twenty-first century entries such as Agnes and Stone Soup.
The chapters are broken down by decade, each beginning with an overview of the period followed by a more in depth analysis of the most important strips and trends of the time and short biographies of several major artists, all generously illustsrated with numerous examples of the strips in question, many reproduced directly from the original art.
The Comics Since 1945 is perhaps the more significant volume, as it is the first real in depth exmination of the comics of the second half of the twentieth century. Most histories to date have concentrated on the artform's formative years from the turn of the century to just abefore World War II, and given short shrift to anything drawn after 1950, thus virtually ignoring such important strips as Pogo, Doonesbury, Dennis the Menace and Peanuts. Of course, most of the volumes I refer to, such as The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, were written sometime during the latter half of the last century and perhaps it was too soon for an objective historical review. The Smithsonian Collection was published in 1978 and gives only cursory notice to notice to the strips I mentioned above and, of course, strips that debuted during the last two decades of the century, such as Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County, are not included. A new century is upon us now, however, and the time for such a book has arrived. Hopefully, The Comics Since 1945 is only the first of many volumes to give this era of comic strips the critical consideration it deserves.
Both volumes of The Comics are must reads for anyone interested in comic strips, their history and their creators.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In The News

Sometimes I'll be reading the newspaper and I will happen upon a story so bloody ridiculous that I have to check the top of the page to make sure I'm not reading The Onion. (For those who don't know, The Onion, a.k.a. "America's Finest News Source" is, in fact, America's funniest news parody. Follow that link back there and prepare to laugh your ass off.) I don't remember just why i was even reading the Business section of The Columbus Dispatch, but I came across this--one of the silliest things I've ever read, and, yes, it seems to be true:
Personally, I think forcing cats to participate in "reality" TV should be classified as cruelty to animals. Someone e-mail PETA and tell them about this. At least people have a choice when they sign on to one of those festivals of degradation.
Then there's the not one bit god-damned funny at all:
Online game reopens Columbine wounds 7 years after rampage
According to creator of this atrocity known as Super Columbine Massacre, who wishes to remain anonymous,"...he wanted to create something unique and confrontational that would 'promote a real dialogue on the subject of school shootings.'"
I'm all for dialogue, but this isn't the way to get one going. Niether, by the way, is refusing to tell people who you are. The only dialogue that's going to result from this "game" is about how the guy who created it is a jerk and a coward who exploits a small town's tragedy and hides behind a pseudonym. I don't see how reliving the Columbine shootings again and again on-line is supposed to stimulate intellectual discourse. The least damage it will do is piss a lot of people off, and there is a possibility, a slim one, I hope, that it just might inspire some brain damaged loner to stage a live re-enactment somewhere.

Photos From SPACE (No, I don't mean the "Face On Mars")

SPACE 2006 Photos
From Matt Dembicki's blog Wasp Whispers
This set of pics includes the guy in the Drunken Cat costume...As soon as Brian Canini sends it to me, I'll put up the shot he took of me wearing the cat head....Now there's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Leavin' the Big Easy Behind

Hurricane Katrina may have been the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. We pretty much saw a city wiped out before our eyes. Sure, New Orleans will rebuild, but it will be a long haul and what emerges from the rubble will not be the same Big Easy that we had known.
Last summer, my nephew Tommy and his girlfriend drove down to Louisiana to help out with the clean up after Katrina. They passed through Columbus on their way back to their home in Edinboro, Pa, and I wish I'd asked them more about what it had been like down there. Unfortunately, my time spent with Tommy that day was shortened by the fact that while my sister had been trying to call me for hours to tell me he was in town, I wasn't answering my phone because I was actively and aggressively avoiding Atomic Tomorrow publisher Kevin Scott.
We all watched with horror the mess in New Orleans, but until this weekend at SPACE, I hadn't realized--actually, I'd forgotten--that I actually knew someone directly affected by Katrina. Vernon Smith is a comics artist whose works include The Adventures of Dexter Breakfast and Port Authority, and who, until last summer, lived in New Orleans. It was only when he made a remark about "massive flooding" at the Launch Party the night before the show that I remembered that. He is among the many New Orleanians (is that right?) who have not returned to the city. Apparently, he doesn't plan to go back. He told me that he'd been considering leaving New Orleans for some time and Katrina provided him with a "kick in the pants." Natural Disaster as motivational there's looking on the bright side of things.
Vernon is currently living in Mississippi and mulling over where he wants to settle permanently. He's considering four cities, though the only ones I remember are Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. Both are home to large annual small press comics shows, though I, of course, advocated for Columbus. I wouldn't have stayed here for almost a decade and half if the city didn't have some good points. Furthermore, this town is a home to an ever growing community of cartoonists, comic book artists and writers, as well as SPACE and Sequentially Speaking, a "support group" for comics creators and readers founded by Blink creator Max Ink. We ( I'm a charter member) meet the third Sunday of every month, and, Vernon, when (not if, but when--trust me) you decide to settle here, you're more than welcome to join us. Oh--so are those of you reading this who aren't Vernon Smith.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weekend In SPACE

First off, and I probably should've done this yesterday, I'd like to welcome any new readers who I may have picked up through my efforts at SPACE on Saturday. Hope you like what you see and stick around for awhile.
Yesterday, I covered the news from SPACE, and I'll get to the reviews in a day or two, just as soon as I have a chance to read a few more of the books I picked up. Today, we cover "The SPACE Experience."
Said experience begins the night before the show, at the "SPACE Launch Party." For me, the best part of SPACE is catching up with friends that I only get to see once or twice a year at comics shows, and the party before is the best place to do that. In past years, this event was held at local comics shop The Laughing Ogre. This year, however, the Ogre is under new ownership and undergoing remodeling and the new owners decided not to participate in SPACE. (I certainly hope this doesn't signal an end to the Ogre's commitment to independent comics...I can get X-Men anywhere, but there are darn few places in town to pick up Amy Unbounded.) This year's party was held at Kern's Cafe downtown and sponsored by the group of local artists calling themselves Panel. Because the drinks weren't free this year, I didn't get as drunk as I usually do at these things. Besides, I had a lot farther to go to get home--the Ogre is just about a block from my apartment--though I ended up grabbing a ride with Mike Carroll. Most of the evening I sat around drinking and talking with Larned Justin, Mike Carroll, Mike Lucas, Micheal Neno and Rene Blansette. It was great to see Rene again; he hadn't been to SPACE since the 2nd show in 2001. To tell the truth, I didn't recognize him when I first saw him; I thought it was Dale Martin next to Larned when they entered the bar.
So, the next morning my sister Patty dropped me off in front of the Alladin Shrine Complex, though it turned out that the entrance to the Multipurpuse Room, where the show was, from the outside was around back. I wandered around the place for about a minute until an employee guessed that I was seeking the comics show and gave me directions. "Was it that obvious?" I asked her. "Do I look like that type of preson?"
"I knew you weren't a Shriner," she replied. I guess very few Shriners wear sneakers, corduroys, and black sport coats over floral patterned shirts and T-Shirts with pictures of Snoopy and his brothers playing poker. Of course, it might simply have been my lack of a fez that tipped her off. I really, really want a fez, though.
Anyway, I checked in, and quickly set up my table, such as it was. I wasn't really planning on spending a lot of time there. All I had to offer were a few old books--I haven't self-published anything new in about two years--and the sheet of highlights from this blog. Most of those I distributed as I walked around the room catching up with friends who hadn't made the party the previous evening and meeting more of my fellow comic artists. As I was planning to write extensively about the event, I also checked out most of the panels; some for just a few minutes, just long enough to make sure that the listed participants actually showed up before I wrote that they'd been there. I did stay for the entire Day Prize ceremony, sitting in the front row of seats right in front of the podium with my tape recorder on. This day I was a working journalist.
I spent more money than I usually do at SPACE, mainly because I had nothing new to trade. I did work some trades with a couple of people who were new to the show and hadn't seen my stuff before. I bought a comic from one young woman who must've forgot about it later when she came by my table and we traded comics. She only had one issue of her book out, so now I have two copies. Oh, well--it doesn't matter...It was only a buck, plus she was really cute and I just love those pink boots she was wearing.
I also picked up a bunch of web addresses that I have to add to the links column to your right, and most of the owners of those sites promised to put up a link here. Hopefully, that will also help bring some new traffic this way.
I haven't had much chance to read the books I picked up, although the ones I have read, such as Melvin and Frank Comics, SlamBang #1, Weird Muse, Symphony In Ink, and Cowboy Clyde and the Pirates have all been great. I'll go into more detail in a later entry. Though I haven't read Day Prize Winner The Lone And Level Sands, in a way I like it already as it takes its title from my favorite poem, Ozymandias. Other books I'm looking forward to reading include A Boy and His Shadow, the last few issues of Rene Blansette's Thief: The Adventures of John Argent, and Brian Canini's Ruffians.
Brian publishes as Drunken Cat Comics, therefore he and his tablemates took turns wearing a home made cat costume resembling their mascot. There was also a woman in a skimpy outfit on roller skates. I believe she was promoting her boyfriend's web comic. Not that I cared. The costumed people inspired me to remark to a couple of people that "This is starting to turn into a comic book convention."
During one of the few interludes where I was at my table I embarassed myself by spilling my coffee; knocking it over with my jacket as I turned to hand a copy of my blog highlight to a passerby. Bob Corby's wife came over with some napkins and we got that cleamed up, but I still needed caffeine. I decided to drink my next cup of coffee outside on the steps, safely away from people and paper products. I spent a lot of time on the steps, smoking and talking with other smokers, such as Ryan Holgerson (that's how we've gotten to be such good friends) and Gerhard, the cool half of the Cerebus creative team. One time while I was standing out there smoking, a man whom I'd handed a copy of my flyer to a few minutes before emerged from the building and deposited the flyer in the trash. He didn't seem to notice me standing there, but somehow I doubt he would have waited to throw it away even if he had.
After dinner at the Raddison in Worthington, the official hotel of the show, I hung out for a while with a group of other cartoonists in Matt Feazell's room. I was just too tired to participate, however, and soon asked Mike Carroll to give me a ride home.
There's a lot I'm leaving out, but that's enough to give you an idea what the day was like.
All in all, it was another great day at SPACE. I recommend to anyone interested in comics that they make plans to get to the show next year. Bob Corby has already reserved the Shrine Multipurpose room for nest year's show, which will be sometime in April. I'll let you know the exact date as soon as I do.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Back From SPACE

Well, as you can see, I did not get to post in any manner yesterday while I was at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE), but I am here today to give my first hand account. I picked up quite a few new comics that I'll be telling you about as I have the chance to read them and a couple of opportunities presented themselves that, while I am by no means a superstitious person, I do not want to "jinx" by speaking too soon of. So, for now, let's concentrate on the panels and the presentation of the Day Prize.
Anyway, the panels, held in the Aladdin Shrine Complex's Oasis room behind the Multipurpose Room where the exhibitors' tables were set up, started at 11 a.m. with a discussion of the Business of Comics, hosted by Eric Adams with panelists Pam Bliss, Paul Hornschmeir, and Allen Freeman.
At noon, Jared Koon, David Orr and Ryan Holgerson talked about On-Line Comics.
Next came the presentation of the Day Prize, for which an hour and a half was allotted though the ceremony lasted only just over thirty minutes. Dave Sim, founder of the Prize and creator of the comic Cerebus, first presented plaques to the creators and publishers of the non-winning comics that had made the Short List of final nominees which he selected from all the entries recieved at last year's show and from which his Cerebus co-creator Gerhard picked the winner. One of the Short Listers, Allen Freeman of Slambang Comics, publisher of the nominated short story "Justin's Big Chance," was not present to collect his plaque, as well as the plaque for creator Anton Bogarty who lives in Seattle and couldn't get to the show, because he was left to mind his table in the exhibition hall and, furthermore, did not even realize that as the publisher he would be recieving a plaque.
The Day Prize went to The Lone And Level Sands, by A. David Lewis and mp Mann. Sands is, as Sim wrote on the SPACE web site: "A retelling of the story of Moses and Aaron from the Pharaoh’s side. Gorgeous front and back covers and a spare graphic style neatly complement this austere treatment that 'tells the story of a man trying to rule wisely, love his family well, and deal justly in the face of a divine wrath.'" Sands was originally self published by Lewis under the Caption Box imprint, but has since been picked up by Archaia Studio Press and released in a full color hardbound edition. Lewis accepted both plaques on behalf of himself and artist Mann, who also could not attend yesterday.
Following the presentation of the Day Prize, the Third Annual SPACE Lifetime Award was given to Tim Corrigan, whose mid-80's review 'zine, Small Press Comics Explosion, and it's late 90's revival as Small Press Creative Explosion, helped to create a national network of small press and mini-comics creators and influenced many aspiring cartoonists, including SPACE organizer Bob Corby, to enter the field.
Past recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are Dave Sim, and Matt Feazell, creator of The Amazing Cynical Man and a contributor to Disney Adventures Magazine, who is also cited by many small press artists as a major influence in thier decision to create and publish their own comics.
Programming resumed at 2:30 with a presention by founders of the All-Comics APA, followed by a panel on Manga, and wrapping up with a Comics Improv hosted by Stan Yan.

Friday, May 12, 2006

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #14) Secret Identities

Good Morning, World, and greetings from Downtown Columbus, OH.
This post is going up a little earlier than my normal weekday entries because I am not at my job as I normally would be at 10:30 on a Friday morning. Instead I have taken the day off to prepare for the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, known far and wide throughout the inhabited universe simply as SPACE, which begins at the Aladdin Schrine Complex Multipurpose room in just about twenty three and one half hours from now. I am, in fact, at this very moment doing my blogging not from the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which lies just across the street from my humble abode, but rather from the Main branch on Grant Avenue in the very heart of America's fifteenth largest city. I am here basically killing a little time while copies of the selected highlights from this blog are being made, for a quite reasonable fee, at The Monk's Copy Shop over on Gay Street. I shall return to fetch them in about an hour.
Anyway, it's trivia day, and since SPACE is tomorrow and Dave Sim and Gerhard, the creators of the independent comic book Cerebus will once again be guest of honor, I thought I'd throw out a question about their work.
Throughout the run of Cerebus, Sim used real life celebrities past and present as the basis for the likenesses and personalities of many of his supporting characters. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Woody Allen and even the Three Stooges have all been parodied in the book's pages. One of the earliest, most popular, and longest running of these celebrity based characters was Lord Julius, ruler of Upper Palnu.
Today's question is thus:
Which classic film comedian was Lord Julius modeled upon?
The answer continues, as you well know by now, to be available at The Answer Blog.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dawning of A New Day Prize

SPACE (The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) is but a mere two days away, and I'm busy as a bee, or a beaver, or any other animal whose name begins with B, such as a baboon, preparing to promote my humble efforts on this blog at the show and maybe bring a couple hundred new pairs of eyes to bear on these insane ramblings.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to post on Saturday, as I'll be at the show all day, though I will try to con someone out of their cell phone for a couple of minutes so that I can make an audio post with a live report from the scene. I think the best time to do that might be after the Day Prize presentation.
What, you may well be asking, is the Day Prize?
Awarded by Dave Sim, creator of the seminal independent comic book Cerebus, the Howard Eugene Day Memorial Award honors excellence in self-published and independent comics. As SPACE organizer Bob Corby explained in an interview I conducted with him last year for The Atomic Tomorrow: "...The Howard Eugene Day Memorial Award is Dave Sim’s tribute to his comics mentor, Gene Day, best know for his work on Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu and his own Dark Fantasy."
The winner is chosen each year from among entries submitted at the previous year's show and recieves a prize of $500 and a plaque.
The winner is picked by Sim and his creative partner on Cerebus, Gerhard. Each year, the duo alternate duties, with one drafting the "short list" of finalists from all entries recieved and the other judging those books and deciding on the ultimate winner. It looks like this year is Gerhard's turn to pick the winner after Dave does the real heavy lifting of reading all those books.
Entries for the initial Day Prize were collected at the second SPACE show in 2001, the first year in which Sim and Gerhard were Guests of Honor, and the first awards presentation was held at the 2002 show. The previous winners have been Bill Knapp for Faith: A Fable; Columbus, OH creator Tom Williams for Misa; Glenn Brewer, also of Columbus, for Askari Hodari, and Andy Runton for Owly: The Way Home.
The books on this year's Short List are:
Icecreamlandia second issue by Eve Englezos & Josh Moutray
Justin’s Big Chance by Anton Bogaty (Slam Bang #7)
The Lone and Level Sand by A. David Lewis & mp Mann
Maxwell the Demon by Tonia Walden (Attic Wit #6)
Point Pleasant #1 by Chad lambert with art by Steve Black, Ryan Scott, Dan Barlow and Jason Moser
Static Dreaming by Erik K. Siano
Zig Zag #1 by J. Chris Campbell; editor Chris Pitzer
Dave Sim will announce the winner and present the award at SPACE this Saturday at the Aladdin Shrine Complex Multipurpose Room, 3850 Stelzer Road, Columbus, OH. The show runs from ten in the morning until 6 p.m. and admission is a mere five bucks.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rosie Throws Her Weight Around At "The View"

I read in The Columbus Dispatch's People In The News section that when Rosie O'Donnell replaces Meredith Viera (who's replacing Katie Couric on Today who's replacing Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News who replaced Dan Rather who....and on and on) on The View, another current co-host, Star Jones, will be getting the boot. According to the article (more of a blurb, really): "'It was always Rosie O’Donnell’s condition of joining the show,' an insider said, ‘and Barbara Walters agreed from the outset.' " (Walters is creator and an executive producer of The View.)
Well, if that is the case, then I am very disappointed in Ms. Walters. This, if true, is very unfair to Jones, who has been with that show from the beginning. Then to have some prima donna newcomer who the producers apparently think will boost ratings just by showing come out of nowhere and demand that you be fired because she inexplicably doesn't like you is not just unfair, it's insulting and demeaning. Star Jones--hell, any human being--deserves better than that, and I really thought Barbara Walters was above that sort of crap.

Blak and Brew

My curiousity got the best of me at Kroger just a little while ago, and while my cat is unharmed, my tastebuds are suffering a little bit.
I brewed the last of my coffee this morning, so it was imperative that I obtain more before heading back northward on High Street to my apartment after work. I needed food for the cat, too, but replenishing my caffeine stash was the real priority. The cat can fend for herself if worse comes to worse. Anyway, in the coffee aisle, I came across something called Coca-Cola Blak, which the label described as "A Carbonated Fusion Beverage," whatever the bloody hell that's supposed to be. I had a pretty good idea, though. A quick peek at the ingredients confirmed my suspicions and revealed that Blak contains "coffee extract." In short, the term "fusion beverage" appears to mean cola mixed with coffee.
Thinking that anything that contains caffeine can't be all bad, I picked up a four pack to check it out. Unfortunately, Blak tastes pretty much the way you'd expect it to from my description of it--like Coke with coffee in it. It's not totally gross, but it's definitely a weird mixture of flavors. I guess you'd call it an aquired taste. If I wanted to waste more of my money on this junk to aquire it, that is, which I don't think I do.
Adding to the weirdness of the flavor is that Blak is sweetened with aspartame, the artificial sweetener known commercially as Nutra-Sweet. With all the other great scientific advances of our modern civilization, why can't mankind produce an artificial sweetener that doesn't leave your mouth feeling like you need to gargle. Y'know...another thing that science has been unable to duplicate is the flavor of bananas. Any candy or dessert I've ever had that included "artificial banana flavoring" tasted absolutely nothing like bananas.
Well, we, that is I, seem to have wandered off topic, as I sometimes do when I compose these entries off the top of my head. Back on the subject, the inclusion of artificial sweetener in Blak sort of puzzles me. Obviously, the whole point of this concoction is to produce a nice caffeine buzz in the drinker, so why not use real sugar--twice the normal amount to boot--and pile a good sugar rush on top.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go run a couple of laps around Clintonville. All that caffeine is starting to really kick in.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gilmore Girl--and Boy--Out

Tonight is the sixth season finale of Gilmore Girls. Due to the late hour that the show is dumped into around these parts, I will probably be taping it and watching it tomorrow. Thus, if I have any thoughts on it worth reporting, I'll share them on Thursday.
I was thinking recently that next season should probably be the last for Gilmore Girls. This entire year seems to have been one long exercise in delaying the inevitable--the wedding of Lorelei and Luke. But they can't put it off forever, or fans will get fed up and stop watching. Once it does happen, though, that's it. The central story of the show will be over, and the writers will be left struggling to find a new focus for the series as ratings plummet.
Furthermore, I recently read in TV Guide that the show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, and her husband, executive producer Daniel Palladino, have left the show after failing to negotiate with Warner Brothers a new contract that was satisfactory to both sides.
The Palladinos were the soul of Gilmore Girls, and without them it just won't be the same show. I'm not saying it will be bad. The West Wing didn't actually suck after Aaron Sorkin left following the show's fourth season, but it certainly lacked that spark of the early episodes, especially the brilliant first season. (See for yourself on Sunday, when NBC precedes Wing's series finale with a repeat airing of the pilot.)
With the Palladinos out, it's time to give in to the inevitable and march Luke and Lorelei down the aisle and off into the sunset.
Oh, while they're at it, they should get Rory and Jess back together too. Maybe they could end the series with a double wedding.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Ends Are Near

With both their long running formerly hit TV series airing their final episodes this coming Sunday, it looks as if married actors Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle) will have a lot of quality time to spend together now. That kind of thing can just kill a perfectly good marriage. I give it a year unless one of them lands a new series.
West Wing and Malcolm are just two of the network verterans taking their final bows during this May Sweeps period. Groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace, nostalgic comedy That 70's Show, cheesy supernatural thriller Charmed, and espionage potboiler Alias all check out in the next week or two.
Most of these series are well past their peak creatively and have seen their ratings drop. In the case of That 70's Show, I'd say it's probably about time to pull the plug on it, since, in the show's timeline, it was 1976 when the series started, so after an eight year run, this show about the 1970's should be well into the mid-80's. the appeal of Charmed, meanwhile, has always been a complete mystery to me, and I'm surprised a show that goofy lasted more than 13 weeks. Alias, for most of run, aired on Sunday nights opposite Law & Order: Criminal Intent, my favorite of the L&O series, so I never got hooked on it like many of my friends did.
Tonight is the end after ten seasons for the WB's heartwarming family saga 7th Heaven. The finale airs at 8 p.m. nationally, but 11 p.m. here in Columbus, OH on Channel 53. I've never been a fan of 7th Heaven, not because it's a bad show, but because I've just never been a devotee of the whole family drama genre. I will admit, though, that 7th Heaven was one of the better entries in that category.
It's sort of fitting that one of WB's earliest hits bows out just when the network itself will soon cease to exist as an independent entity after merging with UPN to form the CW Network beginning this fall. I suspect we'll see quite a few more series on both networks being canned as they attempt to merge their existing slates of programming while making way for the inevitable autumnal onslaught of new series.

Straight Talk

It was a hectic weekend here at The Word From On High HQ. I finally had to crash Sunday afternoon, so that's why I didn't get anything posted yesterday. Sunday morning, I, along with fellow cartoonists Max Ink, Millard Draudt and SPACE-man supreme Bob Corby, prowled the Ohio State University campus and surrounding environs posting flyers promoting the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, which occurs this coming Saturday. (But you know that because you're planning on being there, right?) The night before was the monthly poker game, which lasted until about 1:30 a.m. The good news is that I finally managed to beat Eric when it got down to heads-up between the two of us starting shortly after midnight. I will freely admit, however, that my victory is perhaps due more to a big mistake on Eric's part than to my own skill at the game.
We were playing No Limit Hold'em and just a few hands before the end, I was holding Ace-5 and the flop was 4-6-8, giving me an inside, or gutshot, straight draw. A 7 would have given me the straight. I checked, and Eric looked over at my pile of chips and asked how much I had left. I told him that if he tried to put me all in, he wasn't getting called. I wouldn't have been getting suficient pot odds to gamble on the chance of a 7 popping up. Eric laughed. "In that case, I check, too." That was the big mistake, because the next card, the turn, was a 7. Now I was ready to go all in, and the fool called. His hole cards where a 6-7, if I remember correctly, with no flush possibilties, so the only way he could win was to make a full house, but the 9 on the river only made my straight better.
Of course, I realize that if I'm going to beat him next time, I'll really have to work for it. He surely won't make the same mistake again, especially after he sees me gloating about it to the whole world here.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Literary Lederers

I was starting to get a little worried after trying to call my sister Ann several times on Tuesday night and her not answering added to the fact that she hadn't picked up when I called the night before. Finally, around 9:30, her oldest daughter, my 10 year old niece Samantha, answered as I was leaving another message. I don't know why Ann didn't hear the phone on Monday, though it was close to the girls' bedtime when I called, but this time she and her three daughters had been at the home of our sister Patty. Patty's phone, however, was, according to Sami, "dislocated," so I could not have reached them there.
"Dislocated" Maybe I should send that to Richard Lederer. That's exactly the kind of cute malapropism that he compiles in his Anguished English series of books.
Now, if that surname sounds familiar to those of you who follow poker tournaments on the tube, it is because Richard Lederer is, indeed, the father of two of the game's top pros, Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. The only time he mentions his famous offspring in any of his books that I've read, however, is in a chapter of A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language entitled My Kids The Poker Players in which he reviews the many phrases originating with the game of poker that have made their way into the mainstream vernacular.
You know, I think it's sort of ironic that, given his nickname of "The Professor," Howard is just about the only member of his family who hasn't written at least one book. Annie Duke has written, with David Diamond, a combination memoir/poker instruction manual called Annie Duke: How I Raised, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed and Won Millions at The World Series of Poker. Chapters alternate between an account of Duke's victory in the WSOP Omaha-8 tournament and the story of the various obstacles, both physical and psychological, that she overcame before finding her true calling as a professional poker player. Most of the instructional asides focus on Omaha 8, the game Duke is best at, with a little bit about Texas Hold'em, the current most popular poker game. The final chapter recounts her victory in the 2004 WSOP Tournament of Champions, playing Hold'em, which netted her a two million dollar prize.
Youngest sister Katy is a poet who has published a volume of verse called Winter Sex as well as the memoir Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers. One of those books I've read and the other I have tried to read. Most poetry really doesn't grab me. Poker Face, though, is definitely recommended reading. It's not only a compelling portrait of growing up in a dysfunctional family, but, when in conjunction with her sister's book, offers a different perspective on some of the same events Annie Duke describes and a more complete picture of the life of the Lederer familu.
Papa Richard leads the publishing pack, however. Including the Anguished English books and A Man of My Words, he has authored nearly three dozens volumes and writes a syndicated newpaper column, Looking At Language.
Anyway, Howard has released a couple of instructional poker videos and teaches poker seminars, so I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before he writes down all that wisdom and joins his family in the literary circle.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Forget Cinco De Mayo--Tomorrow Is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Tomorrow, Saturday May 6 2006, is the fifth annual Free Comic Book Day. On this day, comic book stores across the nation will be offering for free to anyone who comes in a selection of special edition comics from publishers large and small. The goal of the promotion is bring new people into reading comics and shopping at comic shops by showing them the range of what's available and letting them sample it at no cost.
In addition, Free Comic Book Day also allows those who do read comics a chance to check out titles they don't normally buy. For instance, on the very first Free Comic Book Day, I picked up a special edition of the first issue of a book called Hopeless Savages, which has now become one of my favorite comics.
Super-heroes will be well represented, of course, with DC offering a special edition of Justice League Unlimited #1, the comic based on the Cartoon Network series based on the DC comic, while Marvel is offering X-Men/ Runaways, a crossover starring two of their most popular teams. In addition to the capes and tights, though, there will be comics covering a range of genres and I'd bet almost anyone will be able to find something they'll enjoy.
For the kids, there will be an entry from Archie Comics and Gemstone, publisher of comics starring the Walt Disney stable of characters, offers a comic starring Donald Duck. Dark Horse Comics' offering features two of their most popular licensed properties, Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Eighties nostalgia rears its ugly head in comics featuring The Transformers and G.I. Joe, and Bongo comics offers up a sampling of comics based on the long running animated TV show The Simpsons. For Manga fans, Tokyopop, America's largest publisher of Manga, previews three upcoming series in Tokyopop Sneak.
For me, the book to get will once again be Amelia Rules, another one of my favorite comics. This one tells the story of nine year old Amelia McBride, who moves with her mother from new York city to a small town in Pennsylvania to live with her former rock star aunt after her parents divorce. Writer/artist Jimmy Gownley offers up a hialrious and touching look at life through the eyes of a little girl.
The books I've described above are only a few of the titles being offered tomorrow. The full list is at the Free Comic Book Day web-site, or just pop into the nearest comic book store and see for yourself.

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #13) What Would Superman Read

In honor of Free Comic Book Day tomorrow, here is a question from the world of DC Comics' super-heroes:
According to the 1993 "Death of Superman" storyline in the Superman comic books, what is Clark Kent's favorite book?
The answer lies at The Answer Blog.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Final" Is Just a Word, Y'Know: More "Star Wars" Stuff

This just in to The Word From On High's news desk, from the Associated Press via the Columbus Dispatch:
Hasbro has added a special figure to its line of Star Wars action figures depicting the saga's creator George Lucas as an Imperial Stormtrooper.
Wouldn't a Dark Lord of the Sith be more appropriate?

Vatican Gives "Da Vinci Code" 2 Thumbs Down

According to this article, that I found through this post on to give all due credit, the Vatican has apparently never heard the phrase "It's just a movie." The so-called Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, apparently once known by the more intimidating name The Office of the Grand Inquisitor, is urging Catholics to boycott the upcoming film version of the perennial best selling book The Da Vinci Code because of "its lies against the church."
Neither are the Catholics renowned for their self-deprecating sense of humor. This report reminded of the incident that occurred when I was in high school and our parish priest actually told my Sunday school class that we were not, as Catholics, allowed to see the then just released Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Of course, when I was in college just a few years later and finally did see the film, especially the hilarious, and catchy, tune "Every Sperm Is Sacred," I understood why Father Weber had his collar all in a knot about it. Nonetheless, his admonition to avoid the film only made me want to see it even more, which is usually the case when you tell someone, especially a teenager, that they can't do something. Apparently it works for forty year olds as well, because this latest "suggestion" from the Vatican has me wondering what the heck all the furor is about. Why is the church so against this film and why has the book been on the bestseller lists for over three years and spawned a cottage industry of books and videos about it? I'm actually thinking that I might attempt to read this thing. (I say "attempt" because most serious reviews of the book I've come across basically dismiss it as unreadable crap on the level of a John Grisham novel and I have litle tolerance for crap, especially in literature.) If I do, and if I can actually finish it, I'll give you my own take on it right here on The Word From On High.

Summer Movie Series Line-Up Unveiled

One of the highlights of the summer months in Columbus, Ohio for the past nearly four decades has been CAPA's Summer Movie Series, which unspools classic movies from all eras of cinematic history on the big screen of the beautiful, historic Ohio Theatre in the heart of downtown. This year's series is the biggest yet, with 24 classic films being screened between June 16 and August 27, including two classic silent movies, as well as two Saturday morning screening of classic theatrical cartoons.
The line-up for the 2006 Series includes some of the greatest films ever made, such as Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz and National Lampoon's Animal House. I can see that I will taking the bus downtown quite a bit. You know that I'll be there for Casablanca, 'cause there is no way I'm going to pass up a chance to see my all time favorite movie the way it was meant to be seen and with a crowd of people who appreciate the film as much as I do. (I'll leave my 8 year old niece, who told me the movie "sucks" at home.) I'll also be in attendance for Citizen Kane, Animal House, and Wizard of Oz. As many times as I've seen Oz, I have never seen it in a theater. There are also a couple of films I've never seen at all, like the James Dean classic Giant and Chinatown, the noir classic with Jack Nicholson, that I might check out. One of the silent offerings features Harold Lloyd, one of the all time greats of silent film comedy and certainly looks worth trekking downtown for.
As you can tell, I consider the opportunity to see films that I've only seen on TV on the big screen at last to be one of the major selling points of the series. Another big one is the price. Tickets are only $3.50 ($3.00 for you old farts) and a strip of ten can be purchased for the bargain price of $21.50, a savings of $8.50, or roughly 2 1/3 flicks free. For great movies and an air conditioned respite from the summer heat in a beautiful old theatre complete with live organ music before the shows and during intermission, as well as accompanying the silent films, plus special events and giveaways on Friday nights that's a heckuva bargain.