Monthly Archives: June 2019

Link’n’Blog – 6.28.19: Signed, Sealed, Delievered

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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

Apparently, researchers have taught Grey Seals to sing the Star Wars theme and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star… Exactly why the did so is unknown.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: June 19 – 25, 2019

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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 1.31.53 PM

The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Batman #73

Writer: Tom King

Artist:  Michael Janin

Yes, it looks like Batman will be the pick of the week from now until the end of the King run. And that is as it should be. Reading this latest arc underscores what King has been doing all along – that is telling one story, one coherent narrative about Batman. It’s a magnum opus and it is increasingly brilliant.

King decided – as Grant Morrison did before him – that all Batman stories were “true” and that all should be considered part of the continuity of the character. Then he set out to tell a story that brought some of the most disparate and interesting elements together: Thomas Wayne Batman, Kite Man and the list goes on.

As he and his best (in my opinion) collaborator Michael Janin continue to wind up in the run, the reader is the beneficiary of some of the best Batman stories in the last 10 years. If rumors are true that DC cut the planned 100 issue King run short because of criticism by fanboys, that is a shame and a regrettable decision.

Make mine King. And Janin.

 

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Toy Story 4 – A Movie Review


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While Toy Story 3 was an almost perfect swansong for Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the gang from Andy’s room, Toy Story 4 is not simply a nostalgic cash grab. The movie has a story to tell that is actually worth telling and, if the themes seem slightly revisited from previous installments, no one will be complaining when the lights come up.

As the movie begins, the gang is settled in with a new child and is fulfilling their life’s work of keeping her happy. Within a few moments, though, the audience comes to realize that Woody is in an existential crisis over his purpose as he has been left in the closet for a series of consecutive days. Looking for a way to remain relevant in a changing world, Woody discovers it in a very unlikely place: the new character called Forky.

Forky, an anthropomorphized piece of, well, garbage, is one of the least visually appealing characters ever introduced in the Toy Story films. Colorless, odd looking and weird, this spork is a strange choice around which to build a film but the minds behind Toy Story 4 make the character work and, further, make him the crux of a new story featuring some of the most beloved animated creations of all time.

Bonnie loves Forky and Woody decides that his life’s work is now ensuring that nothing happens to Forky.

Spoiler alert: something happens to Forky. Many somethings happen to Forky.

One of the subversive elements of the Toy Story movies has been the fact that most of the primary motivations of the characters are edgy and Woody’s actions in Toy Story 4 are no exception. As he goes to great lengths to save Forky from various impending dooms, it is never clear whether these actions are purely altruistic or if they come solely from a place of self preservation. The complexity of this dynamic has set these movies apart from other animated fare and the audience can expect no less than this kind of layered story-telling in Toy Story 4.

This is a very good movie. It is visually stunning, actually hewing closer to amazing in many scenes. The rendering is light years ahead of where it was when the original movie hit theaters some 24 years ago (a longer interval than between Star Wars and The Phantom Menace, by-the-way) and it should be. The characters are all the more charming, though, and the action all the more out-of-this-world. That the entire living voice cast returned speaks to the love they have for this world and Pixar does not waste their or the audience’s good will.

Toy Story 4 is a worthy addition to the franchise and the best family summer movie of 2019. While it does not plumb the emotional depths of prior installments, it is far better than most of the movies in theaters today. Provided they are always treated with the kinds of respect this movie affords them, Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the toy box gang will always been welcome on our screens.

TOY STORY 4 receives FOUR PLASTIC SPORKS out of a possible FIVE

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Link’n’Blog – 6.21.19: UFOs… Really?

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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

I am just going to leave this right here (CLICK the image for the story):

Capture

 

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Dark Phoenix – A Movie Review


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Dark Phoenix, the latest and last of Fox’s Marvel mutants movies (since Disney has purchased back the rights to the characters) ought to be an epic swan song for the franchise which has seen highs (X-Men, X-2, X-Men: Days of Future Past) and lows (X-Men Last Stand, X-Men Apocalypse). Instead, the movie makes a second attempt at telling one of the most iconic X-Stories of all time and bungles it.

Again.

This time, the story is told with the “new cast” of younger actors and, for the casual fan, that is confusing in-and-of itself. Those who have passing familiarity with the franchise might know they have seen a version of this movie in the past. Perhaps that’s okay. That rendition was not much good either.

This movie starts off in fairly promising fashion, with some snappy effects in a set piece involving a space shuttle (remember when we had a space program?) and a daring rescue by the X-Women (more empowerment is always a good thing) which entangles super powerful mutant Jean Grey with some kind of cosmic force. Things go quickly downhill from there.

Following the rescue, the team realizes there’s something wrong with Jean and spend the rest of the movie in various states of denial about the changes she is obviously undergoing. Compounding her challenges is the realization that Charles Xavier (played, again, by the very solid James McAvoy) has kept part of her past from her. Between the increased power coursing through her and her anger at her mentor, Jean seems very motivated to break with the X-Men and go rogue.

And she does.

She seeks out bad/good guy Magneto (the fiercely talented and totally committed Michael Fassbender) for good/bad advice in a scene that advances the plot Not. One. Inch.

There are far too many scenes that amount to nothing here and one begins to suspect that the plot of the movie is almost entirely based on a comic book cover and not the story contained within. Nowhere in the movie is this more obvious than with a major plot point that NEVER comes together. Jessica Chastain is on hand to play an alien villain that wants Jean’s new power. I think. The characters’ motivations are ambiguous at best even though she is made to constantly explain what she is doing. It’s possible that a better and more coherent cut of the movie would have resulted from removing her and this plot all together.

The bottom line on Dark Phoenix is this: it is boring. Through no fault of the actors who are all doing their best with limited material, the movie never makes the audience care about the characters or their plight. When a major X-figure dies, the scene does not land because the death does not matter. It is just as underwhelming as the rest of the movie is.

Which is a shame. This could have been a good story. It should have made a good movie. We could have had a fitting end to Fox’s X-Saga.

We did not get one.

DARK PHOENIX receives TWO ANGRY MUTANTS out of a possible FIVE

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: June 12 – 18, 2019

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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 8.42.30 PM

The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Event Leviathan #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist:  Alex Maleev

First, I do not understand the title. 

Second, I do not need to.

Event Leviathan promises to be the event of the summer and is written by a dude who knows something about constructing summer events. With a goal of streamlining the covert agencies of the DC Universe as a backdrop, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev take on the DC characters – specifically a group of DC detectives – in what is labeled a “mystery thriller” and the first chapter delivers on all cylinders.

Maleev is the perfect artist for the kind of street-level story the first issue of Event Leviathan seems to be. He clearly is enjoying this high profile DC event and is reveling in working with his frequent collaborator Bendis. The two seem to play to each others’ strengths and that bodes well for this title.

The joy of the book is found in the most quiet moments and the best – by far – is the dialogue between Batman and Lois Lane. In a book that suggests high stakes are afoot, this type of small scene is welcome and brilliant.

This is Bendis at his best. This is events comics at their best. This is the oddly titled Event Leviathan. It might be the best book of the summer.

 

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Thank You, Dad | Father’s Day 2019



I am very grateful to Dad today.

The summer, especially June, especially in my family, is filled with celebrations. We have many, many birthdays and anniversaries and we tend to get together for each one of these events or, at least, celebrate them in combination when we are together.

Father’s Day is, of course, one of these celebrations and something very obvious occurs to me on the occasion of this Father’s Day: without my father, we would not be getting together for any of these events. In fact, this combination of people would not be getting together at all. Some of us most of us would not even be alive.

It’s obvious, I know. It’s how families work: a mom and a dad get together and begats began begetting. I understand. And, equally obviously, without our mother, we’d not be around either but today is about Dad and the following is true of him:

  • Dad instilled in us a deep love of family. He was deeply loyal and incredibly protective. My mothers and sisters inhabit that space he left us.
  • Dad was incredibly dry and funny and the whole family continues to lovingly joke with and tease each other just the way Dad did.
  • Dad cared about serving others and I think he would be so proud of the lives his children and grandchildren have chosen and are choosing.
  • Dad loved food and gatherings and all of us around a table and, try as I might, I cannot avoid the continuation of family celebrations. In truth I do not want to

I know that not everyone has the father and grandfather my sisters and were blessed to have. We were blessed and every day, my dad influences my life. No one is ever really gone, right? Dad is not. He lives in days like Father’s Day but he lives in each of us as well and in the many people his life of service touched and in the lives his family continues to touch

Happy Father’s Day, Old Man. And thank you.

 

 

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