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Tossing Out Last Summer’s TV Super Hero Show Dinner Leftovers

26 Sep

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Have to make this bi-weekly offering short and sweet. Had a family member on my half-sister’s side of the family in Las Vegas pass away last Monday morning so I can’t expand on my preview of this fall’s comic book related genre shows as much as I would want to do.

However as a treat, I can afford you some episode titles from my database at work to tide you over until mid-October’s pulse pounding entry.

Gotham started things off last Thursday on their new night to make room on Mondays for the next Fox Marvel X-Men related shows seeing as how Legion hit all their target demos for FX. The major baddie as evidently seen on last week’s episode seems to be focused on Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow as Bruce embarks on a path to become a masked avenger (although the concept of naming himself Batman is a tad bit too premature much like Clark Kent first became the entity dubbed by the public as The Blur before naming himself Superman in Smallville) to take on Ra’s Al Ghul and the Court of Owls.

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Gotham Season 4

4 -1 Pax Peguina (September 21st FOX)

4-2 The Fear Reaper

4- 3 They Who Hide Behind Masks

4-4 The Demon’s Head

Unfortunately, I was one of the doofuses who got sucker punched into becoming all excited to see the premiere of the first two episodes of Marvel’s first big giant misfire into a epic major broadcast television mini-series event.

This series is so bad, that DESPITE the stupendous breathtaking IMAX camera work showcasing the entire beautiful state of Hawaii, you’ll feel so soiled that you’d immediately wish that one of Kim Jong Un’s handy dandy patented Hydrogen bombs will purge the rotten pineapple stink right out of you.

The cast sucks. There’s absolutely no chemistry between the cast members and there’s no research on how their characters should interact with each other in the comics. Gorgon doesn’t speak ghetto. There’s absolutely no martial art work displayed by Karnak until the end of episode two and even that is sloppy of Agents of SHIELD standards. The special effects of Medusa’s hair in this horrible piss poor piece of shit adaptation loosely  based on writer James Robinson and artist Jae Lee’s 1998 mini-series makes the 1994 Roger Corman’s version of the Fantastic Four movie look like a John Dykstra spectacular masterpiece. They knew the effects weren’t working, so they simply had Maximus chop off Medusa’s hair in the second episode to save any further embarrassment to the SFX department.

After you watch this you know immediately got to wonder what kind of carrot did they  dangle under Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon’s nose (Maximus) to make him participate in such a laughing joke? And alas, poor Anson Mount fresh off the Chinese railroad of Hell on Wheels, propped up in the lead as Black Bolt doesn’t have a single goddamn line of dialogue throughout. I won’t have to tune in until the third episode to find out the outcome of BB’s Honolulu jail house dilemma. Question is, will I even care? And I’ll tell you something else; after this mini-series, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD takes its’ slot over with the fifth season.  I guarantee with the low ratings this televised tragedy is generating ,you’re going to be witnessing the death knell of that series as well.

Marvel’s comic book formula just doesn’t translate well to ABC broadcast television. Netflix is where it’s at, man.

But props certainly go out to Lockjaw. It’s nice when a CGI giant dog actor can still get work five years after John Carter supposedly ruined his career.

And here’s to add insult to further fanboy genre misery – ALL the titles for each episode is lifted from every Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Fantastic Four comic book that guest starred the Inhumans.

 

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Marvel’s The Inhumans (September 29th ABC)

001 Behold the Inhumans

002 Those Who Would Destroy Us

003 Divide and Conquer

004 Make Way for Medusa

005 Something Inhuman This Way Comes

006 The Gentleman’s Name is Gorgon

007 Havoc in the Hidden Land

008 …And Finally, Black Bolt

Marvel teaming up with Fox for The Gifted will probably have better luck than ABC. Reviews for this show so far have been stellar. I didn’t know much about it until I watched the trailer a few weeks ago and found out that the X-Men team in this series is led by Thunderbird and Polaris. Fingers crossed that with Stephen Moyer’s involvement on this show that hopefully Anna Paquin might drop by and revive her Rogue character. Guess you got to tune in and find out.

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Marvel’s The Gifted (October 2nd FOX)

1-1 Exposed

1 -2 rX

1- 3 Exodus

1-4 Boxed In

1-5 Got Your Six

1- 6 Quick Fix

Lucifer comes back for a devilishly fun third season with Tom Welling coming out of Smallville mothballs as a new supporting cast member.

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Lucifer Season 3 (October 2nd FOX)

3 -1 They’re Back, Aren’t They

3-2 The One with The Baby Carrot

3-3 What Would Lucifer Do?

3-4 Welcome Back Charlotte Richards

3-5 Chloe Does Lucifer

3 -6 The Sinnerman

3- 7 The Sin Bin

3 -8 All About Her

The Greg Berlanti CW led version of the DC Universe in its’ four related shows, Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow will be joined with a reluctant fifth sibling called Black Lightning at the start of next year. The four super hero alumni shows all start the same week in October. The 4 part Thanksgiving epic extravaganza event “Crisis on Earth X” starts immediately right after the holiday.

The exciting addition to Supergirl this season will be the introduction of the Legion of Super Heroes, which definitely could work as a show concept in its own right once one of these shows is put to pasture giving its’ natural teen age soap opera appeal. But personally, I want to Berlanti to develop a show around the concept of Justice League Dark so that actor Matt Ryan can get his old job back as John Constantine who would be leading fellow dark leaguers such as Zatanna, the Phantom Stranger or Deadman to help solve occult and supernatural related mysteries week after week

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Supergirl Season 3 (October 9th The CW)

3 -1 The Girl of Steel

3 -2 Triggers

3 -3 Far From the Tree

3 -4 The Faithful

3- 5 Damage

3-6 Midvale

3 -7 Wake Up

3 -8 Greater Foes

I don’t know much with what’s going on with the new season of The Flash other than I was reading that they had cast someone to recur as the Elongated Man.

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The Flash Season 4 (October 10 The CW)

4 -1 The Flash Reborn

4 – 2 Mixed Signals

4 – 3 Luck Be A Lady

4 – 4 Elongated Journey into the Night

4 – 5 Girls Night Out

4 – 6 When Harry Met Harry

4 – 7 Therefore I Am

Legends of Tomorrow’s new season I hear is going to expand their cast with live version guest star appearances of Jack Kirby beloved 1970’s characters such as Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth and possibly OMAC, the One Man Army.

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Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 (October 10 The CW)

3 – 1 Aruba-Con

3 – 2 Freakshow

3 – 3 Zari

3 – 4 Phone Home

3 – 5 Return of the Mack

3 – 6 Helen Hunt

3 – 7 Welcome to the Jungle

3 – 8 Greater Menace (Part 4 of Crisis on Earth X)

In Arrow’s sixth season I hear that Deathstroke is coming back, along with Katie Cassidy as the Black Canary and a good actor that I used to bump into at my neighboring work area’s Starbucks‘ named Kirk Acevado  (Oz, Kingdom, Twelve Monkeys) is portraying handicapped marital arts instructor Richard Dragon. (Does that mean that Vic Sage aka The Question isn’t far behind in becoming a supporting cast member?)

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Arrow Season 6 (October 12 The CW)

6 – 1 Fallout

6 – 2 Tribute

6 – 3 Next of Kin

6 – 4 Reversal

6 – 5 Deathstroke Returns

6 – 6 Promise Kept

6 – 7 Thanksgiving

Black Lightning is the new kid on the block. It’s going to be a different type of super hero show in where the lead character is supposedly retired, but his daughters want to pick up the mantle from where he left off and become superheroes themselves.

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Black Lightning Season 1

1 – 1 Dark Matter of My Brain

1 – 2 The Morning After

1 – 3 The Apple Falls

1 – 4 Jagged Little Pill

1 – 5 Aches and Pains

1 – 6 Vengeance

1 – 7 The New Normal

Runaways is a try out to see if Marvel can work their streaming series magic on other platforms other than Netflix. Seeing as how Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale practically swept up the Emmy carpet leaving rest of the big streaming big boys to hang out to dry, perhaps Marvel’s gamble will pay off for them too. Plus geek nerdy boys and girls have been practically been begging for Buffy the Vampire Slayer alumni James Marsters to be involved with something comic book related and in here, he appears as one of the Runaways parents turned super villain – which is a occurring theme throughout the series. Super powered kids who run away from home because their all their parents are super villains.

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Runaways ( November 21st Hulu)

1- 1 Reunion

1 – 2 Rewind

I don’t understand the fuck is all the secrecy in the drop date of Netflix’s Marvel’s The Punisher. It’s fucking Thanksgiving weekend or early December. It’s disheartening to hear that Marvel’s The Defenders did not hold up to par to its’ expectations to be the streaming service highest Marvel related rated series. However, this one is guaranteed to shoot through the roof. Jon Bernthal practically shits, eats, and breathes The Punisher.

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Marvel’s The Punisher ( November 24 Netflix)

1- 1 3 AM

1 – 2 Two Dead Men

1 – 3 Kandahar

1 – 4 Resupply

1 – 5 Gunner

1 – 6 The Judas Goat

1 – 7 Crosshairs

1 – 8 Cold Steel

missing title to Episode 9

1 – 10 Virtue of the Vicious

1 – 11 Danger Close

1 – 12 Home

1 – 13 Memento Mori

I know absolutely nothing that it’s premiering on TNT and that it features Adam Strange in a supporting role and revolves around Kal El’s swashbuckling scientist grandfather.

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Krypton (Early 2018 Syfy Channel)

1 – 1 Pilot

1 – 2 House of El

1 – 3 The Rankless Initiative

1 – 4 The Word of Rao

The second season of Riverside ought to garner a lot of attention due to the character of Sabrina will featured in a couple of episodes and possibly spun off into her own series. Recently, lead actor KJ Apa got into a car accident due to over exhaustion on the set that had the Screen Actor’s Guild flying immediately to investigate the working conditions on the set. Practically half the season’s episodes have already been shot over last summer.  Slow it down guys and be safe.

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Riverdale (October 11th, The CW)

2- 1 A Kiss Before Dying

2- 2 Nighthawks

2 – 3 The Watcher in the Woods

2 – 4 The Town That Dreaded Sundown

2- 5 When A Stranger Calls

2 – 6 Death Proof

2 – 7 Tales From the Darkside

2 – 8 House of the Devil

2 – 9 Silent Night, Deadly Night

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The Walking Dead – there are no episode titles released yet with the exception of Season 8 opener “Mercy” which debuts October 22nd on AMC.

I will be researching more data into the streaming service performances of Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix and The Tick which premiered on Amazon Prime last month. Expect to see that when I do the November sweeps analysis.

Apparently with the addition of last summer’s Preacher Season 2, season 2 of Wynonna Earp, and Fear the Walking Dead’s third season. It looks as if the Comic Book genre shows are a nearly year around event. See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Parsippany Persona Non Grata Picture Show Part II: Leap Frogging Over Lake Hiawatha

19 Sep

 

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Recently I took a week off from my usual Los Angeles cluster fuck based shenanigans to cause a week full of east coast cluster fuck based shenanigans at my old childhood hangout in Lake Hiawatha, NJ – which occurring to Wikipedia is a “unincorporated” community in Parsippany, NJ. It has his own fire department, library, post office with its’ own zip code – but nada on its’ own mayor. police department, community funding, and zero signs of a Whole Foods or Jamba Juice anywhere (which is how I love my California franchises – STUCK in CALIFORNIA). Nope, all those amenities are made possible through the kindly community auspices of Parsippany.

There’s a whole township within a township that finally acknowledges that it’s a part of Parsippany Troy-Hills. Lake Hiawatha, once regaled as the premier vacation spot back in the early 20th century in all of Northern New Jersey had its’ swamp drained to make room for a new community. But as 1920’s and 1930’s roared, the once vacation resort to such early rising New York radio stars such as Fatty Arbuckle & Fred Allen was excavated and drained out and sold off as chunks for as little as $98 for two 25 by 50 foot lots. However property became hard to sell because of frequent flooding from the Rockaway River, so dikes had to be installed, along with levies and pumps.

I’m sure it was pretty much shit and giggles after when Hurricane Irene dropped down in 2011.

Whatever remains of the good ole’ vacation spots was pretty transformed into the Knoll Country Club where my stepfather did most of his hanging out when he wasn’t bartending. According to an old New York Times article I read online, The adjacent newly reconstructed 154 unit Knoll Manor condominiums along North Beverwyck Road is supposedly the largest in the area with units selling for inbetween $150 – 180 grand (must be that beautiful Jersey City Reservoir view I’ve been hearing about). Personally on that NY Times factoid I call bullshit, because my Vail Gardens apartment where I spent most of my childhood had about 271 residents. I should know, I delivered the Pennysaver, the Today weekly newspapers from Wayne, and the Morristown Daily Record to nearly all those tenants (and to those in the neighboring Lakeview Gardens)

When I was a kid, we weren’t living within walking distance of Lake Hiawatha – we lived on the diving line between Route 46 and Interstate 287 which was the border of Lake Parsippany (and it was a real lake too!) , so it was usually a pile up in the car on weekends to do errands at the post office, drop my half sister off at dance school, and me either wasting a Saturday morning and afternoon out at little mom and pop record stores, book stores, grabbing an Italian submarine sandwich at Don’s, or picking up my weekly fix of Marvel Comics at Gould’s Stationers. My mom and stepfather couldn’t get used to the new diverse cultures ramping up their presence at my old Vail Gardens apartment complex and later found a house within earshot of Lake Hiawatha in the late 1990’s, but it still zoned as Parsippany.

As a teenager in high school, usually after all my paper routes were all done, I’d sneak a ride on my ten-speed bike to hang out with my friends, the Zullo clan: brothers Mike, Joe, and Mark at their uncle’s bent out of shape decrepit falling apart house in which their uncle made them sleep in a tool shed on Minnehaha Blvd. Thankfully, as that crappy house sunk further into a shithole, the two older brothers moved to Los Angeles and younger Mark moved into a house in Cedar Knolls with his mom and sister.

So here I am some thirty old years hitchhiking down memory lanes looking for something positive to say about my mostly east coast upbringing. Still, I wished I lived out my teenage years in Southern California, but as we walk along scenic North Beverwyck (oh yeah, Ventura Boulevard has nothing on you), I bet we can find some interesting pontificating golden nuggets to reminisce about.

This is the second Parsippany Persona non-grata picture show I posted within a year. The reason why I call them Persona non-Grata picture shows because I don’t want the majority of assholes I went to high school with to know I’m in town because they’re marble mouth Trump supporters. Not that it matters anyway, I’ve always had a derisive past with most of the people I went to school. As a child of divorced parents since before I turned a year old, I’ve always been resentful of my dad moving out west and never allowing me to live part-time or never getting to meet my half sister and half brother until I was way into my twenties. Instead I was ridiculed and smacked around by a egomaniacal stepfather. Once I was back from spending a good enough time in Southern Californian before enrolling in high school (and not successful in seeking out those of my namesake), I already had the California gene imbued inside me. I was a west coast alien trapped in a east coast world. That’s why I gravitated towards few people in my youth such as Michael and Joe Zullo (and for intents and purposes, Linda Freeman too) because I knew that they all had California ties.

Hey, so here’s your host, namely me.

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I had to use stock photography  because on the day I took this walking tour, it was 85 stinking degrees out and my hair was sticking to the point where it looked like a sweaty patch of something closely resembling a Cousin It prop from the old 1960’s classic Addams’ Family show.  Humidity sucks in the middle of August in the tri-state area and since my mom had no pool in her backyard – it became fucking insufferable and miserable.

This is Lake Hiawatha school. I attended 1st grade here because of overcrowding at my usual elementary school at Northvail School which was only a hop and a skip away. The left photo is the front of the school and the one on the right is the back of the school where I entered to go to my class room.  I can walk here from my mom’s house through a wooded path in the back.  A neighbor of mine, a Miss McNay at the old Vail Gardens apartment I used to live at was a first grade teacher there, but I wasn’t one of her students. I had to take a bus to get there and on the way to another apartment complex, Dartmouth Village was where we picked up another Northvail school refugee, a James Vigilante, who grew up to become a heavy decorated marine and the county treasurer for the town of Parsippany. Sadly I heard he had passed away a few years back.

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Towne Tavern, now here’s where all the nameless losers such as Frank Dyer and Joe Ratz who turned out to be major nemesis on my facebook page are still stuck in Parsippany, NJ performing in crappy AC/DC cover bands that management allows go up on stage and publicly embarrass themselves. It used to be called The Tally Ho. It’s been upgraded since then to accommodate more happy go luckless affable losers who have nowhere else to go after graduating Parsippany High School.

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This used to be Gould’s Stationers before the US Post Office took over the entire building. Gould’s was the go to place if you wanted all the hot Marvel Comic books in the day before direct marketing came and conquered a lot of the North Jersey newsstand business in distributing. To me, Gould’s was the grade school snot nosed kid comic book paradise. They displayed them on wall racks and were a lot more appetizing than going to Baldwin Hills Stationers. In my high school years, I was making trips to Morristown to the Superhero Store or Fat Moose Comics in the Cedar Knolls Mall for my weekly fix.

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North Beverwcyk Blvd used to boast of how many pizzerias can you eat at on one street corner within a radius of eight blocks. There used to be around ten at any given time, but other culinary delights have arrived with Indian, Mid-Eastern, and Mexican to push the others out of the way. From what I hear, this is one of the last remaining four standing pizzerias that my mom says that is best.

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Lake Hiawatha can still lay claim that it has a very big fire station for such a small town and comes equipped with a very loud siren that we usually refer as the ‘five o’clock whistle (so loud, that I could hear it as far as my old place near Route 46).

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China City Restaurant. Hopefully their eggrolls are still tasty and greasy. One bite into a giant size eggroll out one end and grease comes splattering out like projectile vomit out through the other. They’re great for sharing. Sorry, I have no recollection concerning the joyous effects of the Kung Pao.

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This building used to be known as Morelli’s Primo Italian Restaurant, supposedly the best Italian food restaurant and pizzeria in the entire town of Parsippany. Now it’s a funeral home. The owner passed away in 2001. The owner wife’s sold the joint and went to work in her daughter’s hair salon until she died three years ago.  The day I was there, apparently one of Parsippany’s finest had passed away as there was a motor blockade of flashing fire trucks and police cars. My best friends at the time Mike and Joe Zullo used to work there and they would get free pies to bring to their house down Minnehaha Blvd, Ironically, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer had once dined there en route in their limousines to their Madison Square Garden date of their 1977 Works tour and signed autographs from their back seats. Looking back on recent events, perhaps Keith Emerson and Greg Lake never truly left.

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This place was heaven for my often inebriated step-father. All the Schlitz beer cases you can carry out the door, even on a Sunday when most places were closed back then. My stepdad usually picked up two to sustain him for those heavy football weekends that I didn’t want to watch with him but was usually forced to. All I remember from those time was the constant passing in and out on the couch and waking up to yell at me to tell him the score.

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The only redeemable quality of living to ripe old age in Lake Hiawatha, NJ. Owner Steve Conti is going on 25 years and every time I visit I come in say hello and show or tell him whatever project or Deposit Man book I have just printed,  he’s just too cool of a guy to wasting life retailing in a nowhere town such as Parsippany.  He’s a very knowledgeable guy in keeping up with the retailer trends. We had a conversation about how all this Marvel’s obsession with gender bending and diversity is hurting the industry and doesn’t give a frig about how many Doctor Who photo cover incentives that Titan books needs to sell to get customers in stores. Steve works on his own independent comic book when his is not operating his store. HOWEVER this is what gnaws about this whole scenario- you wait and open a comic book specialty store near my mom’s house ten years after I move out to California? Genius plan.

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Steve Conti’s small press book, Action Figure Kingdom. He has written, drawn, and self published ten or so issues of this series.

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Here’s a little known fact: not many people ever caught on to the notion that Dr. Stephen Strange keeps a summer home in Lake Hiawatha, NJ.

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The Lake Hiawatha Library is still here. For as long as I can remember, I checked out many Doc Savage paperbacks (Fortress of Solitude and Resurrection Day being in the forefront of my memory) Once checked out a cassette tape of Yes’ Going For the One back when I was thirteen and remembering not being very impressed with it – but yet when the fall of 1978 rolled along I was like the first one at the record store to pick up that late summer’s Tormato, MOST likely influenced by the previous summer spent in Laguna Beach, California locked in my aunt Megan’s cottage listening endlessly to Tales and Topographic Oceans and Relayer tokening on her neighbor’s roaches. Evidentally Going for the One grew on me in my developing high school years. Science fiction books by authors such as Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Ray Bradbury were also consumed from here.

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This place cracks me up. This used to be my bank where I used to have thousands and thousands of dollars stored (of which my stepdad would break into, forge my mom’s signature and take out a few bucks to bet on ponies at the Meadowland race track) that my grandfather had put away for college PLUS money I had saved up from my many paper routes. I remember when this place was first built heralding the age of the 1970’s modern art deco design. But now the place looks stupid and outdated and is dire need of remodeling.

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Before I get to the gathering of family, I was fortunate enough to stick to the original plan of checking out Anathema’s gig held at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre in the Chelsea district (for nostalgia’s sake, rather than taking the subway, I walked all the entire way from New York’s Port Authority to the venue – because when I was a teenager, I USED TO WALK everywhere in Manhattan rather than take the stinky subway) in support of their newest album, The Optimist. There were no west coast dates planned, so I didn’t want to miss out on the celebration, having not seen them since 2012 at Los Angeles’s El Rey Theater in support of “Weather Systems”. A band hailing from Big Bear, California opened up named Silver Snakes.

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The Gramercy Theater has been around since 1937 and has been refurbished by Live Nation who is headquartered in Hollywood, California. They also took over management of the Irving Plaza too. This is my first ever visit of the venue.

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Songwriter/lead vocalist and guitarist Vincent Cavanagh

I took lots of photos of the band and even some videos of songs they performed from the new album including new single “Can’t Let Go” and “Endless Ways” – but silly me, I’ve been unsuccessful in uploading it to here and to my facebook page. So I guess we’re all fucked once again because of my wi-fi tech ineptitude.

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Female co-lead vocalist Lee Douglas. I previously wrote about Lee and Anathema in these pair of  blog entries focusing on my current favorite female lead vocalists on Kscope Music and a profile and overview of the new album here.

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Daniel Cavanagh bassist/songwriter/vocalist- Note: Daniel will be releasing his first solo record. Monochrome in mid-October on the mighty K-Scope Music Label. The first single, The Exorcist is up on youtube now.

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The band in depth defying action. Just before posting, I’ve learned that the band won for album of the year for “The Optimist” a few nights ago. Congrats to a job well done. I don’t doubt that they’ll be back for a encore visit throughout the US sometime next year with stopovers in cities all along the West Coast.

Here is the official video for the single “Can’t Let Go”. This ought be a toptapping extravaganza experience for some of you. It was all shot along the great freeways of Southern California.

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Of course, if you’re staying at my mom’s house, choirs are inevitable – NO matter if you’re still pushing 53. One inescapable gig that must be performed is walking Bebe the Dog. Bebe is up to 9 years of existing as a quad ped on our mortal plane of existence. She’ll perhaps takse a shit one day, sometimes if you’re lucky, up to four times, if you luck out and run out of garbage bags to pick up after her and allow her to just shit on a neighbor – it’s probably in your best interest to run like hell before someone sees you.

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Anna’s stays at my mom’s house as a roommate, student, and sometimes assists my mom with cooking  Anna is from Romania and has gotten a lot better with her reading and speaking English since I last saw her.

Not to mention a great swagger as you’re watching her walk up the stairs in yoga pants.

I told her next time if I come out, I’ll shop to bring her all the best trinkets in Hollywood.

Or least the ones I find in a local souvenir shop for a couple of bucks here and there

Speaking of shopping….

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My mom went shopping at the local Rockaway Mall for one of her grandkids’ birthday. I got a brand new belt out of it, since my belt suffered a mishap of late, it’s no longer able to sustain my girlish 34 waist girth that somehow has snapped up another two inches to 36.

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My half sister Bernadette is approaching the half century mark and she looks a hell of a lot healthier and more fit than some of the girls I currently drool at jogging up and down the bike path along Venice Beach. My mom says she goes out on a two mile run every freaking morning without fail.

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No, Daniel Cavanagh didn’t mistakenly join us for dinner. Here is my brother-in-law on the East Coast, Peter. The great gazoo of Bernadette’s clan. Unknown to Peter he doesn’t know authors several pro Trump e-books. No wonder he’s usually strapped for cash these days. No one pays money to read that nonsense.

The young cubs on top are nephews Ty and Shea (the later of whom I’m busy researching a good agent on the east coast to help represent him in commercial acting and modeling gigs), are named after a famous baseball player and a stadium out in Queens where I hear this wacky team of lady guys who call themselves the Mets play. On the bottom is my niece Blaise and big nephew Aldo, whose recent graduation from school we were celebrating. These pictures were taken at some Japanese steak house along Route 46 in Denville NJ.

That’s it for the my east coast clan.

Next week, TV Fall season begins and there’s a shitload of comic book super hero shows to shuffle through and preview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Old Rusty Iron Giant Movie Review Dug Up From 1999

31 Aug

 

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What a crap week, I’ve had. First off, this last Sunday I was selecting photos originally meant for this week’s posting, which would’ve focused on my recent sojourn back to Parsippany New Jersey to hang out a few days with my mom, my half sister Bernadette and her tribe, my night seeing Anathema perform at the Gramercy Theater in New York City and a walk through memory lane down in Lake Hiawatha, NJ – then I came down with a fucking cold that knocked me out of work for two days. So I had no time to write out the way of how I was going to navigate you through the pictures, I sadly also had to miss Yes with special guests Carl Palmer and Todd Rundgren playing last Tuesday night at the Microsoft Theater here in LA. Hopefully I’ll gather the strength in time to check the IMAX presentation of the Inhumans this Labor Day Weekend. So in the meantime, here’s a little trip down my memory lane of movies in 1999- the Iron Giant portion was printed in Comics Buyer’s Guide, the rest of the meandering missive about other movies was jettisoned, but through the magic of my Yahoo mail account Draft section is restored in its; pristine glory is seen here for the first time in all its’ unedited glory.

Now in 2017, The Red Turtle is now the animated movie that currently tugs at my heartstrings – but that shall be another analysis for another time. I recently watched The Iron Giant on blu ray, and it still holds spectacularly after eighteen years since its’ debut.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the summer blockbusters sucking my wallet dry. Boy, we haven’t had that Coatney lad comment on any movies in a long, long while, maybe that’s because nobody been inviting him to any advance screenings lately ! Studios: If you want ass kissing reviews of your films- you gotta send me passes. I’m in Hollywood, man !

      So far, it has been a mostly impressionable turnout for the heat wave of Hollywood escapism. The only dud that I can ascertain is the preposterous premise of an African- American secret government agent raised by Apaches in the Wild Wild West besides being boggled down by a nonsense script with Tim Burton/ Batman borrowed motifs. Will Smith and Barry Schonfield would have more creditability if they went for an adaption of The Man of U.N.C.L.E. The after screening party in Westwood had better production values.
    Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace–  appealing eye candy as it was, lacked the heart and the panache of the first trilogy and only had one choked up scene of when Anakin Skywalker leaves his mom on that slave camp promising to come back for her. And hey, if you browsed at the back cover of the soundtrack, you would have found out what happens in the end of the movie- you didn’t even need to bother with Harry Knowles’ Ain’t- It- Cool- News website– the record industry had done it for you.
  Tarzan was nearly as close as a perfect animated movie that almost made me choke on my sissy-eyed tears. I don’t know if it was Disney’s almost faithful adaptation of the Burrough’s classic, the stupendous breathtaking animation, or Phil Collins being a total sold out, distancing himself even  further away from his  former bandmates, Genesis. Then again, I’m probably the only sane individual alive who thinks the new singer in Genesis is better than Collins. But I’m not here to spout about Phil.
  South Park was the number one booger flick to flick, with hilarity abound to land you in the pyscho ward. Brilliant, but crudely animated. I can’t wait to own it on video.
  However,  some little number  I caught last Sunday night usurped the crown hands down. The film is titled, The Iron Giant, and it’s not a knock-off of Gigantor or Big Guy and Rusty, the Boy Robot. But- it is a definite must see. It’s a new animated film from those sometime geniuses from Warner Bros;( see my comments on Wild Wild West above ) who I would drop and give twenty licks on a toilet seat for have finally created the ultimate film that every comic book aficionado should  immediately run out and see . Go ahead. Move it. Right now. I’ll wait. It should be out by the time you read this. I’ll just kick back here with a Mickey’s Big Mouth and read the works of Daudet ( Hmmm, I wonder what Tarantino is up to now ? )  until you get back. I only want to see if your jaw actually hangs off your knees. Told you, it wasn’t Gigantor.
    Okay,  Let’s talk a little about the Iron Giant- and I’ll have to say if you want to see a summer animated film without breaking into a song and dance, leaves you with an optimistic gut reaction of the human condition without the lingering antacid aftertaste and yet still manges to prove itself to be all ages safe ( even though it’s still rated PG-13- but in the goofy Phantom, Menace kind of way )  and  less acerbic than those others mentioned above- then this is the film to beat, hands down.
    Warner Bros has struck gold with the Iron Giant, almost making us forget the bad taste left from earlier efforts of Quest for Camelot and The King and I. They jumped on the Disney Snowball Express and found themselves hurled off the speeding train. All they had simply do is invent their own genre- look back at the success of what they’ve been doing in television animation with Batman, Superman, and Animaniacs and expand. What Disney ( with the sole  exception of Tarzan ) lack and what Warner Bros gains is solid clear and concise storytelling without being jerked  into a silly musical setting. It is in the running of an animated film that exits the extinguishing  years  of the twentieth-century with a tingley feeling.
    The Iron Giant takes most of its elements  from a story based on the book, the Iron Man  by british poet laureate Ted Hughes which incidentally, was also the basis of a concept album and a stage musical done by Pete Townshend (which premiered in La Jolla, Ca) with various guest performers a decade ago  So, it’s  more than a inky-dink coincidence that Townshend serves as one of the executive producers on this film.
    The Iron Giant takes on dimension like a Will Eisner graphic novel come to life. Characters that run the gamut of the three demensional reign of emotion and verbally expressive in rapid fire sequences. And even if you’re a Will Eisner fan- you owe it to yourself just for the nod of acknowledgment that is a paid tribute to the grand master of graphic novels during the first half of the film along combined with a certain homage to a neverending defender of truth, justice, and the American Way.
    Brad Bird, ( partnered with Tim McCanlies ) is a practiced alumni of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Dog animated shows adapted Hughes’ children’s book to the screen. Whereas the lamented Hughes’  version has a little boy simply befriending a giant rising from the ocean; Bird has opt to spin a 1957 cold war twist in Maine.  The robot, who is nothing more than a weapon with a soul drops in from outer space and is rescued from a certain power plant overload by a fatherless and imaginative boy named Hogarth Hughes ( maybe an intentional amalgam between Burne Hogarth and Ted Hughes ? ) who has to hide the iron giant from the trivial horrors of governmental forced paranoia and townsfolk fear.
  It has been said that the inspirations for the character design came from the voices themselves. Jennifer Aniston plays Hogarth’s waitress mother, Annie. young stage performer, Eli Marienthal, portrays an eccentric Hogarth, Christopher MacDonald gives a chilling performance as the hunt them down, seek and destroy government investigator, Kent Mensky, who infiltrates Hogarth’s secret by moving in as a boarder in Annie’s house. Harry Connick Jr. delivers a nostalgic tribute to all beatniks everywhere as the junk artist/ espresso enthusiast, Dean McCopper. And of course, with mechanical voice enhancements as the beaver…whoops, I meant to say.. the Iron Giant is Vin Diesel.
    Memorable moments include detachment of metal limbs that can reassemble itself on to its’ host. One amusing scene has Hogarth trying to conceal the presence of a runaway robot hand running rampant through the house from his unsuspecting mother. The Iron Giant doing cannonballs and munching on compacted cars in a junkyard. The ending does kind of intense for the under 7 ‘s in the house when the Iron Giant runs amok and realizes what his true purpose for his existence is for- but it all resolves peacefully and everyone will be happy, cheering and clapping for its undearing charisma by the time you’re ready to leave the theater.
  Go see The Iron Giant- you’ll hate yourself in the morning if you don’t.
  And for the Vertigo or alternative crowd who enjoy the catheterization of a mind numbing psychosis fix like the force of a blunt object to the head, there is
The Blair Witch Project. A low budget mockumentary guaranteed to make your psycho analyst happy after you book a month of appointments with him. Read the Oni comic. Run, Lola, Run ought to appeal to the sensibilities of those who enjoyed Grant Morrison’s Kill Your Boyfriend. Both films should be playing at your local movie art-house, unless you’re stuck living in Nebraska.

No John Payne, No Asia Gain

12 Aug
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A couple of weeks ago, I saw John Payne who used to play in THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia for a while until his notable contributions came to a crashing halt when original singer and bassist John Wetton got back together with original keyboardist Geoff Downes to resuscitate THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia to give it a second chance at life.
However it looked as if John Payne hadn’t recognized me when the few times we used to hang out fifteen or so year sago through the auspices of out mutual friend Christina Holtz, who used to published crapload of interviews with progressive rock dignitaries before internet and social media became the all around chic thing in a newsletter called the Music News Network.
When Wetton and the company went their separate ways after the disappointment in sales for the band’s third album, Payne was recruited by Downes before he could join Electric Light Orchestra to forge the band ahead for the next five studio albums (plus two albums of unreleased demos that were originally thought destroyed in a studio flood, a soundtrack for an interactive game, and a multitude of bootlegged live shows) in entirely new creative uncommercial direction that somewhat rubbed off on Wetton both socially and politically when the original guys got back together to record four albums from 2007 to 2014 on such songs as “Parallel Worlds”, “Holy War”, “Bury Me in Willow”&  “Nyctophobia” to sort up follow-up the somewhat political direction that Payne’s such as the 2004 title track to “Silent Nation” and “Free” from 2001’s previous album, Aura.

Payne brought a lot to the table to Asia on five fantastic albums, Aqua, Aria, Arena, Aura, and Silent Nation – the latter having broken the pattern of titles that begin and end with the letter A. On Aria, John Payne dedicated a song to his father called “Military Man” who served in the Royal Army. The above video is my personal favorite from the Aura album “Wherever You Are“. Payne and I once had a few drinks after a show they did at The Whisky a-Go-Go in West Hollywood and he confided in me that they lyrics were particularly tough for him to write because he was going through a lot of personal stuff and fending off demons. Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade joined Asia for their last two major US tours and you can see him in the video.
After his long stint in Asia, Payne teamed up with guitarist Guthrie Govan (formerly of Asia too) and drummer Jay Schellen (Circa) to form GPS. They recorded one album called Window to the Soul with Spock’s Beard Ryo Okumoto guest starring on keyboards. If any of the material from the album was performed, it was performed on any one of John’s John Payne’s Asia Featuring John Payne summer tours with Rocket Scientist keyboard wizard Erik Norlander. GPS’s label, InsideOut Music claims that GPS was contracted to deliver three albums, but the band was shortly dissolved after the release of it’s only single album. Last I heard, John Payne moved to Las Vegas to help produce a rock and rock styled rock musical called “Raiding the Rock Vault with a revolving door of a who’s who of rock and progressive rock legendary dignitaries (even Yes’ Jon Anderson stopped by for a stint) formerly at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. But after that show closed, he’s built a private studio in the Las Vegas area where he works on projects for him and close friends.
You can catch John touring as part of the Rockpack tour for the remainder of the summer along with former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm and former Journey singer Steve Augeri, and former Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball. They’ll all be under the stars in Sandy Utah this upcoming August 18th.
A bonus treat: Here’s a review of two Border storre appearances in the Los Angeles area bakc in the fall of 2004.
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Hanging out with John Payne at a Spock’s Beard show somewhere in West Hollywood 2006.
ASIA AT THE BORDERS
 

By Cary Coatney

One of my favorite all time closet bands (the kind of band you don’t dare admit to liking past the age of forty due to the retaliation of mullet haircuts and parachute pants jokes) embarked on a two week tour of Border’s Books and Music stores all across the US that was both intimate and unique. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the shows due to that they were within a reasonable travel distance from my place of residence. Earlier this year, Yes did a familiar type of event at a Tower Records that was within a two block walking distance from my house, but there were some unforeseen circumstances that made that event a little bit too much of a media blitzkrieg with all the waiting on line to get a wristband, the mandatory cash or credit plunk down for a new CD and DVD, and wind up with nothing but perhaps a fifteen second chat with each member- but alas, with John Payne and Geoff Downes of Asia, you could have a sit down and chat about the weather, Quiznos oven baked sandwiches, or who they think is going to win the November US presidential election until they got bored with you and sent you away.

The first show in Westwood or the West Los Angeles area which took place on a Friday night, was surprisingly sparsely attended by as few as twenty-five fans (but they had a nice little stage to perform on) with a few lookee-loos here and there peeking over the coffee bar to ascertain who was responsible for all the racket as opposed to the smaller and more crowded coffee bar area that followed on the next night in my hometown of Sherman Oaks, Ca ( approximately more than sixty heads were counted). If I owned some wheels, I would probably would have followed them up the coast to Santa Barbera for the next afternoon show.

From what Geoff Downes sermon to the audience at some point during the performance, he stated that the purpose of this chummy little cozy get-together was not only to promote or make aware of the newly released Silent Nation album (on that fabulous Insideout Music label), but to sort of demonstrate or ruminate to attendees of what goes into a songwriting process. If one can follow along with the bare bone essentials of how all the ingredients fall in place into what goes into a song, the better in the appreciation of listening to it- at least that’s what I tried to rationalize from what Geoff was trying to say after they finished playing Wildest Dreams on nothing but a Korg Triton keyboard and a Spanish guitar before launching into the current single, ‘What About Love’ off the new album.

John Payne revealed a few secrets of what inspired him to write the new material. The lyrics to the new single, Long Way From Home reflected on John’s feelings on traveling abroad to record the new album from all the way from Wales to Burbank, California and the origin behind the title track from the new album dealt with a Howard Stern rant on the eroding of America’s civil liberties by evidence of the FCC crackdown of radio shock jocks across the nation that John just happened to be tuned into whilst between tour stops during the last time they were toured America (Janet Jackson’s much talked about wardrobe malfunction during last year’s Super Bowl halftime didn’t help matters either).

The little bits of monologue in between numbers wasn’t all that adroitly somber. Both Downes and Payne had some lighthearted moments as if they were channeling the spirits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (or was it the Smother Brothers?) , especially when it came to telling amusing jokes & stories about Steve Howe since John Payne was fortunate enough to tour with the guitar legend when he first joined the band for the Aqua album. I never did quite get the punchline to the ‘how many Steve Howes does it take to screw in a guitar string? – are you sure you even want to be in the same room with them?’ John P also pondered on whether John Wetton was actually thinking of Steve Howe when he wrote the line in Wildest Dreams, ‘they recommended euthanasia for non-conformers everywhere.’ And the mystery still remains unsolved to this very day- did the hair band, Europe actually swipe Geoff Downes’ opening synth motif for ‘Only Time Will Tell’ for their hit single, “the Final Countdown’? Even Jon Anderson wasn’t immune from their schick- they made a playful jab on maestro Anderson’s Alzheimer antics based on accounts heard from their collaborator, Billy Sherwood on a couple of tracks of the new album about how Jon would keep getting his name confused with Bobby Sherman – leading to the dedication to him in ‘Ghost in the Mirror’, one of my favorite tracks off the new album.

For those crowd pleaser seeking late seventies retribution got their wish when Geoff did took off on his little medley of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ from which I understand that Geoff will be performing with his one time Buggles partner Trevor Horn for a benefit in his honor sometime in England next month. The new material was just as well received as the old stalwart hits judging from the audience reaction. Hearing the striped down versions of ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘The Heat Goes On’ had my mind floating in orbit back to those nostalgic times of innocence of rigorous pain-in-the-ass piano instructors or heated moments when I would hide with my Asia and Alpha sheet music in between recitals of Bach or Mozart or transcription assignments for Music Theory classes back in high school just for a little dose of sanity – so it was fun to hear these ‘low carb’ versions over the course of the two nights and from what I could see from over Geoff’s shoulder, the visualization of seeing him displaying his chops up close and personal- there is indeed a lot of argumentative thought that goes into the execution of these simple ‘pop’ songs.

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It was a shame that drummer Chris Slade hasn’t mastered the skill of figuring out a map of the Los Angeles area yet- otherwise, I would’ve gotten three autographs on the new album for the price of two. I’ll be anxious for Geoff and John to be bringing the full band back for a ‘real’ album tour sometime in April of next year.

Setlist: (both nights, October 14 and 15, 2004)

Wildest Dreams
What About Love?
Long Way From Home
Heat Goes On
Silent Nation
Only Time Will Tell
Ghost in the Mirror
Video Killed the Radio Star
Heat of the Moment

 

GUEST STAR MOVIE REVIEW – Wind River by Zak Alvarez

31 Jul

wind_river_ver2_xlgHello and thanks for taking a moment to read this review of ‘Wind River” written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) and starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olson, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, and others.

Wind River starts Friday August 4th and is rated R. Go see it if you can.  I, Zak Flying Around, stake my personal esteem in support of the high quality of this particular production.

I have been on the Wind River Reservation, the home of the once powerful Arapaho tribe of the Great Plains, and also the home of an equally proud band of the Shoshone Nation.

The reservation land is depicted accurately in the sense that it is exceedingly beautiful and vast. Of all the reservation lands in the Indian Country, Wind River has been described as being the most beautiful. I am glad that the cinematography and photography made sure to back up that claim.

I recall seeing an upside down US flag and defiant Native American frill flying together on a flagpole.  The flagpole is briefly shown in the beginning of the film, true to my memory, to which I say, “Right on. I had gone to the Wind River reservation near Lander, Wyoming in 2011, I had downhill skied all winter in Montana, Washington,Oregon, California Utah and Idaho. Lucky me. I wanted to speak to someone at the tribe to ask how they were coming along in tentative plans to possibly build a ski lift on one of their mountains. It would be a great little enterprise, and I wanted to somehow support the idea. I spent a day there and then headed to Utah (in a snowstorm system), and eventually, I went back home to California.I had a great time!

The second scene of the film captures the viewers’ attention well. It is a mountain valley in the winter. The sun is just up. Coyotes in heavy fur coats stalk a group of sheep standing vulnerable and unprotected. Then a powerful rifle shot occurs and a shocked coyote plops over dead. A camouflaged dressed hunter aims for another, but decides to let it run away. Interestingly, he is a US Fish and Game hunter.  What else is worth mentioning it without blowing it for you?

There is a rather awesome display of semi crazy snowmobiling several times which locals consider getting around in snow terrain, which I know to be the case in reality. Cowboy tough awesome, uh huh.  There are also some brand new trucks barreling everywhere, lots of guns, shooting, tough guy gear n’ shit. In fact, a few parts looked like a commercial for tough pickups and snow machines.

So for the rural fellows and fans of “Muricka, Come Get Some“, the film makers have got that covered.

Wind River is composed of great acting by the whole cast, seriously. There is no reason to get up and go to use restroom as the film is no more than 90 minutes long.  I saw no one in the industry professionals get up to use the bathroom at this screening except for my host Cary W. Coatney (hey, I got an important call from my sister – so I had to take it!) I personally had to go, but I couldn’t leave. I was too busy watching the movie. It’s a thriller.

To continue with the review.

A young native woman is running across a field of snow. It’s dark and its’ furring. She is so very cold, injured, bleeding, and perilously underdressed and it looks like she has no shoes! She is crying, weeping, fleeing from something or someone. How did she get in a mountain meadow in the Rocky Mountain wilderness in the middle of the winter, no houses in sight? She falls, gets up, runs and then falls down again. The cold and the snow is relentless and we hope she will be saved. She must not stop or she will DIE!

I recall the Louise Erdrich novel “Love Medicine” tragically begins this way too. This well written and well executed film is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on you, the viewer.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Zak Flying Around.

Zak Alvarez (who is a self-professed Native American spiritual stone mover) and I caught Taylor Sheridan’s new magnum cinematic opus a week ago at my employer’s theater screening. The film as been making the film fest rounds where it premiered at the Park City Film Festival precisely where the film was shot. Thus far, it had received a record eight minute long-standing ovation at the most recent Cannes. Zak was so moved by the movie’s Native American authenticity that he said he was willing to write a review about it. So I asked him, since he said the film on my dime, or rather my employee identification card, would be willing to write a version for it for my blog, since I’ve never really had a movie review posted on my blog before.

Chris Pine was originally slated for the lead role but had to drop out due to commitments to Wonder Woman and Elizabeth Olson actually suffered snowblindness during the film’s forty day shoot.

The movie, who premise is solving a murder that occurs on an Native American Indian reservation is so far a brightly lit gem in the director/writer’s Sheridan’s seedy exploration into the dark underbelly of man’s personal darkness first touched upon in Sicario and next in Hell or High Water. No doubt, once Oscar time comes around, the academy will most likely take a hard look into Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson’s mesmerizing performances as well as Graham Greene’s supporting role much like they did for Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water.

The movie has one hell of a wicked ending and is highly recommended if you’re looking for a thought-provoking modestly budgeted riveting mystery.

If Zak hadn’t had the Wind River review ready, I was going to go with a profile on once upon a time Asia song writer John Payne who came to perform a show near me recently. I will be posting that next week.

 

 

Where There’s a Will Eisner, There’s a Way to Enjoy the Spirit of Good Comics.

14 Jul

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There are always lessons in life to be learned. It’s taken me this long to realize, that no matter how old or young, either veteran or rank amateur, there are always going to shades of nuances left to instill on the sedulous path that one hopes to canvass. Comics can be there to help one to choose the course most wisely and a graphic novel borne from scratch by Will Eisner is akin to the sole equivalent of handing in a master thesis to a university professor. There is not one living being on this planet who can successfully dispute that Will Eisner is the ambrosia of the comic book industry, served without appetizer.

    Now, how did I walk in the door this late while class was in session ?
  Chalk it up to wanting comic books to mature along with you. One day, you wake up craving something more than the usual unctuous bread & butter mainstream fare which has the daily requirements of a stiff cardboard diet. You have your sugar powdered and undernourished diet of grown people in crotch hugging tights, and you have your furry animals who in turn sniff those crotches, and you have those mentally genre challenged types who buy nothing but anime, anime, anime, and anime just to see those characters expose their crotches. Independent and small press titles can still grab one’s attention looking for a health food diet of diversity, but you take your chances good and bad.  THEN a series comes along, and no matter how favorably reviewed ( or not that favorably reviewed ) will keep your heartstrings tugging along for perhaps all of eternity, or when hence said provider writer/artist/creator raises the capital to publish the next issue.
  With Will Eisner, you can’t go wrong the man is a genre all to himself. As testament to the inventor of the graphic novel, my eyes have recently feasted upon the current printing of The Dreamer (the DC Comics Will Eisner Library) and having completed it in one sitting clocking in around one hour and half of reading time, my gut reaction was as if a revelation has suddenly enveloped over me; releasing a floodgate of consonance steadfast in the ultimate plateau of storytelling. Not only is it an enlightening read of a personal account into the hardships of breaking into the comic book industry during the era of the 1940’s sharing the spotlight with characters built on onerous legends such as Jack Kirby and Milton Caniff, but it sort of acts as a behind the scenes reference material on the passion and the pratfalls of running a comic book company.
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The book that launched the graphic novel ship of millions- a definitive game changer.
As soon as I finished reading The Dreamer, I had immediately had to have more so I placed in an order through Diamond’s Star System to obtain the entire Will Eisner library that DC has gotten the rights to keep in print including; The Building, A Life Force, Droopsie Avenue, Life On Another Planet, and Eisner’s latest, A Minor Miracle. Dark Horse also has a relatively new work from Eisner entitled The Last Days in Vietnam (printed on pulp style paper). Now I may have all of these wonderful masterworks in my possession, but as of this writing, I haven’t had the time to savor them yet.
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   Even as I push to the side these revamped sequential editions of serendipity (due to lack of funds that I hope soon to rectify – hey, do you have any idea what it cost to publish your own comic book these days ?), I’ve still managed to place the mind on idle during the course of the holiday season drooling over page after page of the first three volumes of the archives commemorating the septuagenarian anniversary of the Spirit Sunday strips.
   For those not in the know, The Spirit Sunday section elicited comics’ first exposure to total independence and sole ownership. Eisner struck a lucky unprecedented deal with The Register and Tribune Syndicate to produce a weekly eight page comic book style strip as an insert to major Sunday newspapers across the country and retained ownership and all rights to the characters – something practically unheard of in those early 1940’s war-torn days of fly by night sleazy syndicate strip owners who would rather crack their hackneyed slaves over the skull with a bullwhip then freely surrender the reins of their own creation to them.
    With The Spirit, you got the best in adventure, romance and sheer thrills and derring-do that comics had to offer and remains even unparalleled to this day. Besides The Spirit, (aka Denny Colt, a police detective once believed to be dead) also included were a colorful palate of supporting characters such as his bumbling assistant Ebony White, Police Commissioner Dolan, and his ever persistent love stricken daughter Ellen, who’s always trying to be one of the boys. The Spirit also has his fair share of worthy adversaries, although most of them were mainly rugged gangsters and con men, a few stick out of the bunch: femme fatales P’Gell and Silk Satin, The ever unseen Octopus, and Carrion with his vulture companion.
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 Above: my first exposure to a Spirit comic book strip was in this book that mom got me for my tenth birthday, but  to a eight year old, I wasn’t mature enough to grasp was going in the strip.  
   Each week’s adventure was as varied and eclectic as a comic strip could get. One week, the Spirit is out halfway around the world smashing a spy ring or a gang of saboteurs and the next he could be playing cowboy somewhere out in the high plains. Mostly the Spirit stuck around his home base of Central City kicking ass over racketeers, crime lords, witches, and masked archers. I cite the example of my old favorite Spirit adventure, The Jewel of Death ( reprinted in Volume 3 of the 26 volume The Spirit Archives hardcovers reprinted by DC Comics ) which I first read when I was eight years old when it was presented in Jules Feiffer’s memoir The Great Comic Book Heroes ( Feiffer was an assistant on the 1940’s strip). Here you have The Spirit, lurking about Damascus searching for a doctor who has the antidote for a plague sweeping over Central City. He even goes as far as seeking information in a seedy bar that is hard pressed to serve him a glass of milk. Getting roughed up by Arabian Knight rejects, dodging a massive earthquake, and being the bearer of a prophecy coming true is all in a day’s work for our hero. This particular episode sticks out from the rest of the pack for the sole reason that The Spirit is sporting white threads instead of his traditional blue ones. As seeing how DC is printing these volumes in chronological order, the following week’s strip had him back on his home turf; business as usual, protecting a renown comic book artist from fussy gangsters. That’s how versatile Eisner made his creation.
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There are a total of 26 volumes of the Spirit Archives that run for $50.00 a pop, but you might be fortunate to seek deals on Amazon or Ebay. 
    No one can equal or parallel his style, attempting to ape it would leave one’s career in tatters if one so much as steps one step close to his level of unbridled genius. He is a one man band and traveling show. He will teach you and you learn to do it your own way. It would take more than a hundred Rob Liefelds or Todd McFarlanes to reach the pinnacle at the top of their milestone game to be on equal footing
    Just when you think you have everything and you just want to pack it all in and leave, here comes Eisner like gangbusters just like a consummate actor such as Al Pacino in Godfather III with something new and magical enough to pull you back in.
    The above was originally written for the Comics Buyer’s Guide sometime in 2000 while Eisner was still alive. I’m rather short on time this week and have been swamped heavily with overtime at the office, and with San Diego Comic Con International just around the corner, I found this lovely morsel in my e-mail draft file and I thought maybe posting this would be appropriate since (I think Spike TV broadcasts or streams it on television these days – BUT DON’T QUOTE ME ON IT) an award show is held at the venue in Eisner’s name. 
 
    Since originally composing this piece, as you no doubt know that Eisner passed away at the age of 88 in 2005 and since then his greatest creation, The Spirit has been revived several times across three different publishers with brand new stories by such juggernaut talents in the industry such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore (Kitchen Sink), the late Darwyn Cooke, J.Bone (for DC) and Matt Wagner (Dynamite Entertainment). There was also a team up with the Rocketeer in a four issue mini-series published by IDW.
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Worse comic book to film adaptation ever made. A direct poke to the scrotum insult to the legacy of Will Eisner 
    Forgot to mention that there was at one time a campy television movie made in the late 1980’s starring Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones and introduced Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Nana Visitor. In the late 2000’s, Frank Miller on one side, a modern comics renaissance man but on the other, a poor agent provocateur of directing movie flops unleashed his atrocious version of The Spirit in 2008 (it was subtitled Frank Miller’s The Spirit for ego kicks) that served as a bastard child to Robert Rodriguez’ s 2005 Sin City (a segment of that movie that Rodriguez allowed Miller to direct much to the chagrin of the DGA). The sidekick of Ebony White was omitted from the movie due to fear of racial stereotyping, but Miller goes ahead and has Samuel Jackson’s portrayal of the Octopus garbed in Nazi soldier regalia which was in fucking poor racist bad taste. I had seen this train wreck of a movie at a theater in Las Vegas and it was lucky for me, that my date, who happened to be a very modest religious black female had shined me on to accompany me to this movie. And it was a fucking good thing that she did, because I’m sure I would’ve been known as the white scourge you would want to avoid during a bi-racial one night stand.
    I will be down at Comic Con International this year on the first (the 20th) and the third day only (the 22nd). On Saturday from 7:00PM – 9:00PM, I will be attending the WGAW Animation & Videogame Writers Caucus being held at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Bayside Pavillion. So I’m betting it’s safe to say, that I won’t see any of you there.

HEROES OF K-SCOPE MUSIC: My Optimist Space May Be Anathema to Others

30 Jun

ABOVE: “Springfield“, the new single from Anathema’s new 2017 album The Optimist. The jury is still out on whether or not it’s a tribute to the long running animated show, “The Simpsons.”  

Remember the golden days of social media? NOT far back as Delphiforums or whatever dial up contraption that they called back in the day in order to chat with your buddies that you’d find on America Online.

I’m alluding to those days of myspace where not only could you make friends with every Playmate or porn star under the jizz stained covers – BUT all the musicians bands would pelt you with free samples of their works that you could download or sample for free.

Believe it or not, I still listen to a good handful of these acts of which FIRST got my attention through myspace including Gazpacho from Norway (of whom I already profiled here), Wolverine & Carptree from Sweden, Oceansize, Ayreon, and a quintet of 4 lads and a lass from Liverpool called Anathema.

After hearing snippets of their 2004 album A National Disaster album, I was hooked. Immediately found an import copy of it over at Amoeba Records and ever since that day, I never had the nerve to trade it in.

Anathema – such a strange name and probably a debate for subject of pronunciation. I first heard it pronounced as ANN – ATH- EMMA, but the current spelling on the promo sticker on their new 2017 K-Scope release suggests that it’s ANA – THEME – A.

BUT yet – dictionary.com INSISTS that it’s uh-nath-uh-muh    

I can already tell it’s going to be one of those “I say Sub -Mariner, you say SUBMARINE -ER. ” kind of things.

Dictionary defines the meaning of Anathema as thus:

  1. a person or thing detested or loathed:
  2. a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
  3. a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
  4. any imprecation of divine punishment.
  5. a curse; execration

How could anyone describe their music? I usually tell people who LATELY they sound something like as if Phillip Glass decided to wake up one morning and decided to wax off some ABBA covers (but the band members themselves would probably argue that it Tangerine Dream forced into a shotgun wedding with Talk Talk). But five albums later (and a long hiatus between 2004’s A National Disaster and their first album for K-Scope, We’re Here Because We’re Here in 2010 that had me worried on whether or not they decided to toss in the towel),they kind of throw some other musical type of trail mix such as electronica and folk into the blender, but most usually it isn’t an Anathema record these days without some monumental orchestra accompaniment.

The above video to “Closer” originally presented on 2004’s A Natural Disaster was what sold me to buy a one way ticket aboard the team Anathema bullet train. Recorded live at the ancient Roman theatre of Philippopolis for the live CD/DVD 2013 release, Universal– also available on K-Scope. 

One can attest that their surge in popularity (a theory I’m going to put to the test if and when I find out tickets are still available for the New York show in August I plan on flying out to attend) is that the writing between brothers Vincent & Daniel Cavanugh with drummer John Douglas has grown tighter or if its’ the addition of female vocalist Lee Douglas (brother to John) singing on its’ most heartfelt material that EVEN puts that overrated cow Adele to shame. I previously covered the velvety harmonizing and lead singing prowess of Lee in a previous K-scope entry wrote last summer here.

Personally I think their fame is chalked up to the fact that the band is more of a family affair which contributes to their endearing longevity. The band is led by three brothers, Vincent, Daniel, and Jamie and joined by two long time neighboring friends Lee and her brother John. The only outsider who joined the band after the release of their 2012 impeccable release, Weather Systems is keyboardist Daniel Cardoso.

They began life, believe it or not as a GOTH DEATH METAL band – much similar to other bands who have passed by the K-Scope roster that I’ve gravitated towards such as Ulver, Opeth, and Katatonia. (Anathema has toured with the latter two over the past few years) through the first five albums. It was until the release of 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit (which is essential that I need to pick up) that they began to attach themselves to a more alternative direction and referring back to the comparison I made earlier to Phillip Glass is a case of a minimalist approach to their writing. They love to make the music and lyrics as simplistic as they can with easy to memorize motifs that seem to aim towards a bombastic crescendo that can reach levels of euphoria that is rarely achievable in today’s music.

If you don’t believe me, you can ask former lead singer of Yes and now head maestro of ARW (Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman), Jon Anderson who by sheer chance, of wandering around a progressive rock theme cruise ship stumbled across their performance and was instantly flabbergasted that he nearly gobbled up their whatever they had available at their merch table.

And what bigger endorsement do you really need than that?

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This year the band released THE OPTIMIST just a mere few weeks ago on June 9th, their first release in three years TO THE VERY DAY that they released their previous album, DISTANT SATELLITES on June 9th 2014. Distant Satellites was very electronica heavy, this new album is more organic and done in takes with the band in the studio as whole with Mogwai producer Tony Doogan

The concept of the album of which I take the liberty of lifting from Wikipedia goes a little like this: The album reportedly follows the concept of the band’s 2001 release A Fine Day To Exit. According to band members Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh, the idea came from writing a narrative, culminating on what must have happened with the guy from that album cover. Vincent commented that “The guy who disappeared – you never knew what happened to him. Did he start a new life? Did he succumb to his fate? It was never explained. The covers of both albums also show its narrative connections, as the former contains a car in an empty beach during the day, and the latter a car in a road at night.

Anathema press session © Scarlet Page

Like I mentioned before, I’m hoping to see Anathema perform on the east coast – which will give me the perfect excuse to go see my mom out in New Jersey – but I’m just puzzled with all the tour dates they mention in support of the new album, that there no dates announced for the West Coast of the US, (It’s just Europe and the US east coast for now) since the concept of the album is allegedly supposed to take place in SAN FRANCISCO. I’ve seen them live once before at the El Rey Theatre back in 2013, when I just started working at SAG-AFTRA and I just happened to stumble across the theater while I was walking past it during a lunch break. I remember my eyes widening in disbelief reading the marquee – and it was a mid-week show and on a ‘school’ night. I remember that night real well, Anathema was the last out of three bands to perform that night and it was a mostly acoustic performance since all the members couldn’t get the proper visas to perform, but LEE DOUGLAS certainly made men fall to their knees that night with her flawless rendition of the 2004’s title track to A National Disaster (which was definitely a mandatory bic lighter flickering moment). And since they were stripped down to the main three core members of Daniel, Vincent, and Lee, we all didn’t get the full monty of that 2012 Weather Systems (which has since won many numerous European music awards and accolades. So as long as they remain in vogue, I’ll always be on the hunt for the full frontal electric assault of the Anathema concert experience – no matter what part of the globe it may take place on.

Overall, I feel as with previous other Anathema exciting album listening adventures, It’s safe for me to say that The Optimist, so far to ME with lovely Lee Douglas led songs such as “Ghosts” and “Endless Ways“, and Daniel and Vincent working that duo rocking minimalist melodic magic on “Leaving It Behind” Springfield” and “Can’t Let Go” – it’s another year running as the top contender when it comes to year end best lists. If the Optimist turns out to be an actual sequel to A FINE DAY TO EXIT, then it’s the best mystery revealed backwards.

If you’re reading this in Europe, make sure to check out the band in full faithful ferocious fury this weekend July 1 at the Be Prog My Friend Festival taking place in Barcelona, Spain.