Monthly Archives: December 2019

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 25 – 31, 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:

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The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Incoming #1

Writer: Various

Artist: Various

This preview for upcoming Marvel events was also the only comic I read last week, so…

It was fine. There were a few story threads to which I am looking forward, a few to which I am not and a few that made no sense to me at all.

It was fine.

I read many, many better comics last week… and I am sure I’ll have many, many more better comics this week. This is what happens when Christmas falls on a Wednesday it seems.

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The 2019 Denver Broncos Week Seventeen|Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos


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LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Detroit 17 @ Denver 24 

Actual: Detroit 17 @ Denver 27 

BACKGROUND

There were plenty of times this season I didn’t think I would make it through all 16 games for this blog. After demoralizing losses and a season and franchise that seemed stuck in neutral (or worse) I thought about dropping these predictions.

But I am glad I did not.

I still bleed orange and blue.

Now, here come the Oakland Raiders in their last game as the Oakland Raiders with a crazy-slim chance to make the playoffs and the Denver Broncos and Drew Lock stand in the way?

Bring. It. On.

KEY MATCH UP

With Denver’s offensive line on life support this week, the match up has to be the O-Line of the Broncos versus the D-Line of the Raiders. Denver is motivated to get Phillip Lindsay his second consecutive 1000 yard season and to keep Drew Lock proficient. To do both of those things, the O-Line will have to win in the trenches. If they do, Denver wins this one. The running game is the key to play action, the key to going downfield, the key for the Broncos to win.

X-FACTOR

Drew Lock until next season.

Drew Lock until next season

Drew Lock until next season

PREDICTION

I am hopeful for a classic game, a down-to-the-wire AFC West clash worthy of the Denver/Oakland rivalry. I am equally hopeful for a Broncos win.

It’s a win I think they get. 

Denver has found their guy in Drew Lock. They have a surprisingly effective young core. Though there is little carry-over season-to-season in the NFL, a win tomorrow would give Lock 4 wins out of his first 5 starts and wouldn’t that be nice to see?

Check that. It will be nice to see!

Oakland Raiders – 20

Denver Broncos – 31

 

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Link’n’Blog – 12.27.19 | A Real World Jedi

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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.

When Star Wars fan Riley Howell sacrificed his life to stop a shooter at UNC Charlotte, he was already a hero.

He was also a Star Wars fan.

This week, his friends and family received an amazing surprise.

You can read the full story from NPR HERE.

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Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker – A SPOILER FREE Movie Review


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MV5BMDljNTQ5ODItZmQwMy00M2ExLTljOTQtZTVjNGE2NTg0NGIxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODkzNTgxMDg@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_The Rise of Skywalker worked for me. It worked very, very well, indeed. Because I love Star Wars, love emotional beats and love happy endings (I hope that’s not a spoiler!), I was primed and ready for the type of movie that JJ Abrams ably wrote and directed and I was thrilled to be along for the ride. 

I will be thrilled to be along for it again very soon.

The movie, reputed to be the last chapter of the Skywalker saga, had an incredible amount to accomplish. With 42 years of stories behind it and a massive amount of expectations in front of it, the movie was expected to bring together plot lines, character arcs and themes to the satisfaction of millions of fans who have been writing the end of these very plots, characters and themes in their heads for ages. Talk about a daunting task.

For my dollar, it absolutely succeeded.

There are many things I completely love about The Rise of Skywalker and these are as well done as any elements in any other Star Wars film (in my opinion). The interplay among the 3 main characters is wonderful. The balance between the light and the dark sides of the Force is handled beautifully. The theme of hope reigns. 

Rey, Finn and Poe, played by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac respectively, have terrific chemistry and they really sparkle when they share the screen. Their mission to secure an ancient Jedi relic allows their relationships to develop in ways we’ve not been able to see as they have spent the first two movies of this sequel trilogy on separate adventures. Their interplay intentionally evokes and Luke, Han, Leia vibe and it’s delightful. 

The center of this trinity is clearly Daisy Ridley’s Rey and The Rise of Skywalker is her movie. In scenes with Boyega, she draws the attention of the audience and she gets the upper hand in scenes with Issac. This is not to denigrate the work of her co-stars. No. They are terrific. This is to say that Ridley is magnetic and she is the character around whom the movie revolves. Engaging and believable as the last hope of the galaxy, Ridley shines as Rey and is a suitable heir to the series. She’s simply so good.

Paired with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, she’s even better. Driver is an amazing talent and he is all-in as the villain of the sequel trilogy. Whether he is viciously chopping through the helpless denizens of a red planet or using the force to choke his “allies” in classic Darth Vader fashion, Driver’s Ren is malicious and magnetic, somehow asking for the audience to root for him despite all of the terrible things he has done. Each time he is on screen, he commands the action and when Driver and Ridley share the screen, The Rise of Skywalker really pops. Their relationship is the core of this movie and the core of the sequel trilogy. In my opinion, both get the ends they deserve.

The movie was full of twists I did not see coming. Some landed with more force (pun intended) than others, and some seemed a bit far fetched but, in the overall context of Star Wars (“I am your father” and “my sister has it”) they surely did not seem out of the realm of possibility to me. There was use of characters I, likewise, was both surprised and pleased by. Two long running Star Wars characters have wonderful arcs in the movie and receive surprising and terrific send offs. There were new characters, too, that I found most enjoyable, especially Babu Frik and the new droid D-O. I also liked the inclusion of Zorii Bliss. 

But it is here that the movie stumbles a bit for me. I’ve just noted 3 new characters (Babu Frik really steals the show for me) and there are others, too. With so many mouths to feed, a new and popular character really gets short shrift: Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Trico. There are a great many scenes set on Ajan Floss, a planet serving as the new headquarters for the Resistance and Rose is in a few of them. She could have been in more had new characters not squeezed her out of the action. I think this was a miscalculation on the part of JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio. Rose deserved better than what she got here. Perhaps we’ll see her on a future Disney + series…

However, the joy of Carrie Fisher in one last turn as Leia (and receiving top billing!), Lando on screen again, C-3PO step out of the shadows, returns by other beloved characters outweigh this flaw for me. The movie is chock full of fan service. Of course it is. Of course it should be.

I found Rise of Skywalker very emotionally satisfying and I thought much of the action was incredibly exciting. It is a wonderfully fun Star Wars movie that features moments of rousing heroism and incredible sacrifice. The flavor, the feel, the love and the logic of the movie all seem very much a part of the grand Star Wars universe and, while it’s not perfect, it is absolutely entertaining.

I will miss this corner of the universe and these characters. I loved this send off. The Rise of Skywalker is a very fitting final chapter.

STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER receives FOUR BABU FRIKS out of a possible FIVE

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – A Movie Review


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220px-A_Beautiful_Day_in_the_NeighborhoodIn the realm of “roles born to play,” it is difficult to come up with a better match than Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. As A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was opening, it was reported that Hanks and Fred Rogers are actually distantly related.

Color me not shocked.

Following on the heels of last year’s delightful documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood had a challenge ahead of it: to live up to the real story of Fred Rogers and his life and philosophy. The documentary was touching, heartwarming and affirming. Hanks’ project needed to stake out its own space or suffer by comparison.

Clearly the filmmakers understood and embraced the challenge because, rather than offer a Fred Rogers biopic, this movie focuses instead on a different protagonist: Matthew Rhys’ Lloyd Vogel, a slightly disaffected, all business, prickly magazine writer who, at a low point in his personal and professional life, is assigned a profile of an American hero: that hero is Fred Rogers.

Vogel takes the profile assignment promising his editor that he may not turn in the story she’s seeking.

He does not. 
 
What he does turn in is something far more real and far more beautiful.

Rhys is terrific as Vogel, a character who does not come loaded with redemptive qualities. Angry and frustrated, Vogel is a new father, but not at all sure he wants the role, a tortured son whose own father – played with hard-scrabble grit by the ever enjoyable Chris Cooper – left Lloyd and his mother in a terrible situation and a difficult husband, perhaps not as much in love with the radiant Susan Kelechi Watson as he wants to be.

It is into this crossroads that Hanks’ Mr. Rogers walks. Vogel accepts his profile assignment quite reluctantly and writing the feature, perhaps predictably, changes his life. Through a series of conversations and coincidences Mr. Rogers and Vogel become friends and the influence that the famously friendly and philosophical Mr. Rogers has on Vogel is the gear on which the movie turns. Buy it and you buy the movie.

To be clear: it’s all but impossible not to buy Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. He does an amazing job embodying the iconic character. He does not slip into parody and makes Mr. Rogers his own while also evoking the spirit of the man who came into so many living rooms for so many years. Hanks seems to understand the gravity of playing the man and gives a performance that may be nominated. He’s simply that good.

Rhys is wonderful, too, and it is the interactions between him and Hanks that carry the movie. The two actors have a timing and a chemistry that works very well and it is very easy to watch them weave this story. When the movie does not feature them together, the audience is aware that it wants more of that interaction. They are terrific.

Equally wonderful are the loving recreations of Mr. Rogers’ set and puppets, of his wardrobe and sweaters, of the world he inhabited. Director Marielle Heller is more than up to the task of lionizing Mr. Rogers and even stages amazing location shots and travel sequences that are right out of the Neighborhood. She directs a lovely movie.

While perhaps not as stunningly good as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is well worth a viewing. Hanks shines, Rhys engages and the story inspires. 

We could use more of these kinds of days…

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD receives FOUR RED SWEATERS out of a possible FIVE

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 18 – 24, 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:

CaptureThe Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Doomsday Clock #12

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Gary Frank

A love story to the importance of Superman the likes of All Star Superman or Whatever Happened to the Man of TomorrowDoomsday Clock #12 (and, truly in retrospect) the entire Doomsday Clock series illustrate as clearly as any story in recent memory what a pivotal figure Superman is in the DC Universe, the overall superhero genre and the annals of American fiction.

How’s that for meta?

Doomsday Clock has been on a very long,  very slow burn given the fact that it took two years for the 12 issue series to run its course and, in that time, many of the plot elements and reveals of the book were undone or overrun by events that had to continue evolving in DC Comics’ other books. That’s too bad. One is left to wonder what universe might have resulted if Doomsday Clock had been allowed to reset the narrative structure of its comic universe.

As it turns out, it plays as a smartly written, brilliantly illustrated commentary on the nature of the most critical character in comic history – Superman – and a commentary on the adaptability and ever-malleable nature of the genre itself. That’s a pretty mean feat. 

Geoff Johns remains a DC historian, master-writer and leading author of American comics. He does not let the readers down here and fills Doomsday Clock #12 with the kind of dense narrative readers have come to expect. The last installment may not have the propulsive energy of the first, but it wraps things up neatly and in a most satisfying manner.

The wait was long for Gary Frank’s art, but more than worth it. His work here is career best and his attention to detail rivals his writing partner’s. Seeing the work as a whole, it is very difficult to imagine anyone other than Frank behind the pencil. I am glad DC delayed and distended the schedule to allow him to complete it.

Time will tell if Doomsday Clock takes its place as an absolute classic. I suspect it will.

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The 2019 Denver Broncos Week Sixteen| Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos


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LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Denver 24 @ Kansas City 35

Actual: Denver 3 @ Kansas City 23

BACKGROUND

Hi. Still sure Drew Lock is the future…?

Hey, everyone is going to have bad days and rookies are going to have them on multiple occasions. Drew Lock probably wasn’t going to undefeated for his career. So, it’s okay that he lost.

Is it okay that he lost the way he did?

Sure. Yes. It’s fine. 

But let’s not do it again this week. The Denver Broncos should be able to beat a bad Detroit Lions team this weekend. Handily? Unlikely. But they should beat them. 

KEY MATCH UP

I am going go outside the box here… the match up is the Denver fans vs. the Denver Broncos. One of the emerging narratives (the truth of which is hard to assess) that fans are finally turning away from the team after 3 seasons of bad football and they are beginning to stay away from the stadium. The numbers support this.

If the Lions come out and take it to a depleted Denver squad, the fans will express their displeasure. Vehemently. 

Were I head coach Vic Fangio and I win the toss Sunday, I would not defer. I would take the ball and take it to the Lions.

X-FACTOR

Drew Lock until further notice. 

Drew Lock until further notice. 

Drew Lock until further notice.  

PREDICTION

Denver is going to get it done on Sunday.

Merry Christmas, Broncos Country!

Detroit Lions – 17

Denver Broncos – 24

 

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