Wednesday, December 29, 2004

This will probably be my last chance to post before the end of the year. I've finished a couple more books since my last post, but I'll save them for now. (I will mention that I've read over 600 books in 2004.)

Anyway, on to movies. (I'm so far behind that some of the movies I saw in the theater are now available on DVD.)
  • Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Beginning of the End (Borrowed from Teena.)
  • Roman Holiday (Borrowed from the library.)
  • Collateral Saw with Teena.
  • Ju-On: The Grudge Very scary. Also good at showing you things the characters don't notice or only catch out of the corner of their eyes. I think this was much better than the American remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but that may be because I saw this first & knew what was coming. I should rent this & watch it again to see if I think it's still as creepy.
  • Babylon 5, The First Season: Signs & Portents This isn't as good as I remember it being when it was first on. However, it does an excellent job of setting up things for later seasons (which I think will hold up better).
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Saw with Teena. Although I had a few problems with the premise (there's now way a process like that would get FDA [or whatever] approval), this was really good. It was a reminder of how good an actor Jim Carrey can be. The plot reminded me of something from a Philip K. Dick story, so that's good.
  • Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, The Complete First Season Terrible animation, but wonderful cartoons. Excellent writing, with stuff for both kids & adults.
  • Garden State Saw with Teena. Excellent. Who knew Natalie Portman could actually act? (It's not like Lucas has given her much to work with.)
  • Samurai Jack, season 1 Gift from Teena. One of the best of Cartoon Network's original programs. Kick-ass action.
  • MST4K: Rocket-Ship X-M (Teena.)
  • Jaws Believe it or not, I had never seen this movie before. From cultural osmosis (not to mention the Mad magazine parody), I had picked up the plot & new about most of the startling scenes beforehand, but still a very good movie. What happened to Spielberg?
  • South Park, season 1 Watched with the audio commentary on CD (& which is only available if the DVDs are purchased directly from Comedy Central).
  • The Ring: The Final Chapter This is a Japanese TV series (13 episodes) that says it's a sequel to the Ringu movies, but it feels more like a variation on a theme than a sequel. All in all, not terribly scary.
  • MST3K: Fire Maidens of Outer Space (Borrowed from Teena.)
  • Classic Commercials Old commercials are amazing cultural artifacts. The 70's public service announcement "VD is for everybody" has to be seen to be believed.
  • MST3K: The Human Duplicators (Borrowed from Teena.)
  • Farscape, season 2 Damn the Sci-Fi channel for cancelling this show. Probably the best SF on TV in a long time. (Library.)
  • The Anniversary Party
  • Lou Reed: Transformer
  • Waking Life
  • MST3K: Zombie Nightmare (Borrowed from Teena.)
  • The Last Wave Seen as part of the 2004 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
  • The Resurrected Another selection of the HPLFF
  • The Crimson Cult 60's adaptation of an HPL story.
  • At the HPLFF I also saw a selection of shorts, including an adaptation of "Dreams in the Witch House" which has to be the most incompetently made movie I've ever seen. Nobody seems to have told the editor that you can cut out long seconds of dead air at the beginning & end of scenes. The performers seem to have had acting described to them but never actually seen it done before they tried it. The ferret playing Brown Jenkin was entirely too cute to be believable as a horrible witch's familiar. For some reason, the witch was made up to look just like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. And they did an excellent job on her make-up. The entire movie is terrible (in an entertaining way), but they did an amazing job making that woman green.

Well, I'm still not caught up on movies, but the library is about to close. If I can, I'll update again before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not caught up yet.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket. Only two more books to go after this one. (Checked out of the library.)
  • X-Statix, vol. 3: Back from the Dead by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred. Somebody high up at Marvel decreed that this comic would do a storyline about Princess Di returning from the grave & joining this team. Wiser heads (or protests) prevailed, and instead, the character is a pop singer from "Europa."
  • Robin: Unmasked! by Bill Willingham, F.R. de la Fuente, & Rick Mays.
  • Global Frequency, vol. 2: Detonation Radio by Warren Ellis et al. The second volume collecting a series about a worldwide organization dedicated to handling crises that local agencies are not equipped to deal with. This almost became a television series, but the deal didn't come through.
  • The Essential Tomb of Dracula, vol. 2 by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, et al. More great horror comics from the mid-70's.
  • Godzilla: Age of Monsters by various.
  • Life on the Border edited by Terri Windling. An anthology set in the shared world of "Bordertown." Man, if the cheapest copy of this is going for over $30, maybe I should put mine up for sale. Hell, I got it of eBay for something like $5.
  • Bad World by Warren Ellis and Jacen Burrows. An essay by Ellis about people with very odd world-views.
  • The Willowdale Handcar: or The Return of the Black Doll by Edward Gorey. (Library.)
  • The Silk Tapestry and Other Chinese Folktales: Songs of Our Ancestors, vol. 2 by Patrick Atangan. (Library.)
  • Fantastic Four, vol. 5: Disassembled by Mark Waid, Karl Kesel, Paco Medina, & Mike Wieringo.
  • Batman: As the Crow Flies by Judd Winick & Dustin Nguyen. (Library.)
  • A Few Perfect Hours... and Other Stories from Southeast Asia & Central Europe by Josh Neufeld. This is the kind of thing I think more people should be doing: a travel book done in graphic novel form.
  • Strange Killings by Warren Ellis & Mike Wolfer.
  • The Pulse, vol. 1: In Thin Air by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley. This series picks up where Alias left off. Private investigator (and former super hero) Jessica Jones has been hired by The Daily Bugle to be a consultant on a new supplement to the paper.
  • Hard Time: 50 to Life by Steve Gerber & Brian Hurtt. Gerber is at his best when he's doing broad social satire, as he did with Howard the Duck in the 70's (trust me, it's a LOT better than the movie). Unfortunately, there's not much of that in this book. It's okay, but the story isn't helped by mediocre artwork. And the artwork isn't helped by the coloring. Everything is done with a limited palatte that just makes things look muddy. It's just ugly. And while a book about life in prison shouldn't be pretty, I don't think I'll be picking up any further collections of this series.
  • Dark Blue by Warren Ellis & Jacen Burrows.
  • Bad Signal by Warren Ellis & Jacen Burrows.
  • Wonder Woman, vol. 2: Challenge of the Gods by George Perez with Len Wein.
  • Batman: Strange Apparitions by Steve Englehart & Marshall Rogers.
  • Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks. This amazing graphic novel is about the history of comics (both real & imagined) by somebody who clearly loves all forms of comics, from the smallest print run minicomic to the biggest superheroes. Wonderful stuff, wonderfully told. (Library.)
  • American Splendor: Our Movie Year by Harvey Pekar et al. Picking this up reminded me of what an excellent movie American Splendor is. But I have to say that this collection of stories from various places does get a little repetetive. It may not have been the best idea to put all of Pekar's stories about the movie in one volume, since he has to explain just what's going on each time. Or at least they could have broken them up with some of his record reviews that appear later in the book.
  • Oustiders, vol. 2: Sum of All Evil by Judd Winick, Tom Raney, et al. One of the characters in this comic is beginning to look and act like Morph from Winick's series Exiles, which is fine with me, because I really liked that character.
  • What's New with Phil & Dixie, vol. 2: Sex ad Gamers...No, Really by Phil Foglio. A collection of strips Foglio did for Dragon magazine in the mid-80's.
  • What's New with Phil & Dixie, vol. 3: The Magic Years by Phil Foglio. When collectible card games hit big, Foglio revived his strip. Unlike the previous collection, which I think could be enjoyed by non-gamers, I think this one requires at least a passing familiarity with "Magic: the Gathering."
  • Creatures of the Night by Neil Gaiman & Michael Zulli. Adaptations of a couple of Gaiman's short stories. Not yet listed at Amazon.
  • The Matrix Comics, vol. 2 by various.

And now I'm caught up.

With books anyway. I was behind on movies & DVDs before I started working at ACT. At least there are fewer of them than books.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

More books.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Continuing with books read in November.
  • Even More Fund Comics by various. A benefit book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • Crypto Zoo: The Collected Rare Bit Fiends, vol. 3 by Rick Veitch. Dream diaries in comic form.
  • Slaine by Ian Sturrock. This is a role-playing book, adapting the setting from the "Slaine" comics from 2000 AD.
  • Jack Staff, vol. 2: Soldiers by Paul Grist. A rather British take on superheroes. I really enjoy Grist's work.
  • The Archer Foundation by Scott Gearin & Patrick Kapera. Yet another role-playing book that will get sold to Powell's.
  • Mister X, The Definitive Collection, vol. 1 by Los Bros. Hernandez, Dean Motter, et al. A nicely designed collection of one of the best designed comics of the 80's. If only it weren't missing some pages; they just seem to have been left out when they put this reprint volume together. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised; this comic always was more about the look of things than about story.
  • Don't Call Me Stupid! by Steven Weissman. (Checked out of the library.)
  • Human Target, vol. 2: Living in Amerika by Peter Milligan & Cliff Chiang.
  • Expo 2001 by various. Another benefit for the CBLDF.
  • Hand of Glory by various. A sourcebook for the Shadowforce Archer setting for the Spycraft role-playing game.
  • Bluebeard by James Robinson & Phil Elliot.
  • Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist by various. In his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the title characters created The Escapist, & now there are actual comics featuring him. This book collects two issues of a quarterly comic. Unfortunately, this collection came out less than a month after the second issue. I found myself wondering why I was spending the money on the individual issues when there was such a short wait for the collection. So I stopped getting the quarterly. However, I also seem to have stopped buying the collections. The second collection has been out for several weeks, and I haven't picked it up yet.
  • On the Road to Perdition: Detour by Max Allan Collins & Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. This is the third of Collins' sequels to the graphic novel that became the Tom Hanks movie. (Technically they're not sequels, since they're set during the time that's covered in the first story.)
  • Delta Green: The Rules of Engagement by John Tynes. Probably the best novel I've read that uses a role-playing setting. DG does an excellent job of updating H.P. Lovecraft's stories to the modern day.
  • Wounded Man, vol. 1: The White Haired Demon by Kazuo Koike & Ryoichi Ikegami. Manga.
  • Y: The Last Man, vo. 4: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, & Doran Parlow. The latest collection of the comic about a world in which every male on the planet (except one) has died.
  • Edge by various.
  • Lords & Ladies by Terry Prachett. This is one of my favorite Discworld novels, probably because Pratchett gets faeries right in it.

That's enough for now. At this point I'm less than a month behind. Looks like I'll get caught up before the end of the year.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Starting books read in November:
  • Way of the Ninja by various. Another role-playing book.
  • Fables, vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, & P. Craig Russell. The latest collection of Willingham's update on all sorts of fairy tales. Because this series seems quite popular, and it looks like Vertigo will continue to publish collections, I have stopped buying the individual issues. From here on out, I'm just waiting for the book. It's tempting when I see a new issue in the store, but it's simply a matter of economics.
  • The Walking Dead, vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore. A pretty good zombie comic. My only major complaint is that the opening is remarkably like that of 28 Days Later. (Checked out of the library.)
  • Captain America, vol. 3: Ice by Chuck Austen, John Ney Rieber & Jae Lee. (Library.)
  • Creatures of Rokugan by various. Yet another role-playing book that is destined to be sold at Powell's.
  • Love Hina, vol. 1 by Ken Akamatsu. Manga. (Library.)
  • Runaways, vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrain Alphona. The story of what 6 teenagers do when they discover that their parents are super-villains. Entertaining.
  • Girl Genius, book 2: Agatha Heterodyne & the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio. Another collection of this wonderful series. I greatly enjoy the steampunk genre, and when it is handled as well as it is here, it's easy to see why. The Foglios have clearly put a lot of thought into how this world works, and it comes out in the comics. Things aren't thrown in simply because they're a neat idea; they hint at characters' pasts or highlight the differences between Agatha's Europe and our own. The fact that they're also neat ideas is simply a bonus.
  • Negima, vol. 3 by Ken Akamatsu. More manga.
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, vol. 2: The Face & The Brute by Matt Wagner, John Watkiss & R.G. Taylor. This is another series where Vertigo has finally started collecting more than the first storyline. This is the Golden Age Sandman, nothing at all about the embodiment of dreams or the rest of the Endless, just a man in a trench coat & gas mask who investigates crimes.

Okay, that's it for now. More later.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Still catching up.

Okay, that takes me through the end of October, so that's a nice cut-off point for now. With any luck, I'll be caught up by the end of the year.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

If I wait until I write about ACT, I'm never going to get caught up on the book list, so here we go. (Descriptions may be a little short because I'm so far behind that I don't want to get too bogged down. Also, I may not remember much on some of these.)

  • Just a Pilgrim by Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra.
  • Manhattan Beach 1957 by Yves H. & Hermann. (Checked out of the library.)
  • Three Days in Europe by Anthony Johnston & Mike Hawthorne. (Library.)
  • Crossfire, vol. 1: Hollywood Hero by Mark Evanier & Dan Spiegle. This comic was a spin-off of DNAgents, but I like it a lot better. That's because it's not so much about superheroics as it is about Hollywood. In fact, my favorite part of this comics (which unfortunately isn't getting reprinted) were essays Evanier wrote about his experiences working in the entertainment industry.
  • The Doom Patrol, vol. 2: The Painting that Ate Paris by Grant Morrison & Richard Case. I am thrilled that DC is finally reprinting the rest of Morrison's run on Doom Patrol. This was one of the funnest (and strangest) comics ever. How can you not love a comic where the bad-guy group is called The Brotherhood of Dada (and who includes The Quiz, who has every superpower you haven't thought of)? Plus, this collection contains the issue with the fight between two disembodied brains.
  • Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest by Brad Meltzer & Phil Hester. (Library.)
  • Summerland by Michael Chabon. Man, I love this book. I would have enjoyed it even more if it had been written when I was 10. A very nearly perfect children's book. Plus, it contains a journey across mythic America that goes from west to east. And as somebody who has lived on the Left Coast my entire life, it is wonderful to see the west not depicted as unexplored wilderness.
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Rereading one book about myths and America made me want to reread another.
  • Hi-Horse Omnibus, vol. 1 by various. (Library.)
  • Mr. Monster: Worlds War II by Michael T. Gilbert.
  • Godwalker by Greg Stolze. This is a privately published, limited edition (200 copies) novel by Stolze, set in the world of the Unknown Armies role-playing game. Good, but the prose struck me as a little flat. But that's probably because I'd recently read books by Chabon & Gaiman (not to mention Faulkner a little before that).
  • Superman: Return to Krypton by various. (Library.)
  • Batman: Death and the Maidens by Greg Rucka & Klaus Janson. (Library.)

Well, now I'm only 2 months behind on keeping this list updated. That's enough for now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Still not quite ready to write about ACT, but I've done a new mix CD, so here's the track list:

Happy Winter Holiday