Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yeah, so I failed at the whole "posting daily" this year, didn't I. Anyway, it's New Year's Eve, so have yourself a good one, and more importantly a safe one.

I do plan on posting much more often in 2010, so I've got that going for me. See you in the future!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 23

I saw a fair amount of live music shows in 2009, but without a doubt one of my favorites was seeing a cover band. Tributosaurus is a Chicago collective that, once a month, picks a band and performs one show "as" that band, playing pitch-perfect renditions of their songs, obtaining all of the necessary musicians and instruments required. Though I've only seen them once so far, I got to see them "be" one of my absolute favorites, XTC. Which is nice, because we're not likely to see XTC ever tour, should they ever choose to reform, that is. Here's a infomercial they did to promote it:

They started of with a version of Life Begins at the Hop that blew the doors off, cycling through multiple vocalists and musicians in order to get every song exactly right, and they did.

It was a great night, both from my overwhelming familiarity with the music and with the fact that they played it so well. I can't wait to see them in just over a week when they play a New Year's Eve show "as" Tom Petty. I'm sure it'll be a fantastic evening.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 14*

A quick one for today, here's DC Comics Holiday Card, featuring Jonah Hex, with pencils by José Luis Garcia-Lopez, inks by Kevin Nowlan and colors by Matt Hollingsworth. Just a beautiful card.

click to Santa-size

Art via Kevin Nowlan's blog.

*I know, I know, I'm three days behind here. Will catch up tonight!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 13

Today's favorite thing is a repeat from last year, it's the internet. Mostly because of shit like this:

A compilation of all of the deaths from Total Recall. YES.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 12

Since it's a lazy Saturday here at the Phoning It In Industries compound, let's pull out an oldie but goodie, what is probably my favorite single comics panel:

It's from JSA: The Liberty Files, a DC Elseworlds title reimagining a Wolrd War II era Justice Society. But even on an alternate earth, Batman's still The God Damn Batman.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 11

Whew, almost missed today, well shit. Sorry about this, but I've been on a business trip, but let's go with one of my favorite artists of the last few years, Gene Ha. I got the chance to meet him at my local, Amazing Fantasy Books & Comics and he's a darn nice guy, he even did this awesome sketch for my youngest.

Anyway, though he hasn't done any interior work this year, he did do the covers for what was probably my favourite mini-series of the year, JSA vs. Kobra, here's one of those covers.

Anyway, he's a cool guy, and it just so happens if you're in Chicago, he'll be appearing at 3rd Coast Comics tomorrow from 12 - 5. Swing on by and meet him, grab a sketch and buy some books.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 10

Sorry, on a business trip this week, so I'm kind of out of sorts but here's an album that I love so very much from this year and it's great and you should get it*. Mayer Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement is as fine an R&B record as I have heard this year and it is the JAM.

*Can you tell I'm a little drunk as I write this?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 9

Skottie Young has been on my radar for a couple of years, and though I generally enjoyed his cover work, I never eally got into his storytelling. However, this year saw the release of his & Eric Shanower's excellent adaptation of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Young's cartoonish art perfectly fit the book and it brought a wonderful story (that I was thus far only familiar with from the movie) to life. I highly suggest checking out the book, especially if you have kids as it is easily the best all-ages book released this year.

Favorite Things II - Day 8

Well, I've already gone over my favorite movie of the year, now let's talk about the movie I thought was the best.

Moon is easily the best movie I saw this year. Sam Rockwell puts in an amazing performance as a man working alone on the moon, waiting for his tour to end so he can return to his wife and child. One morning, he has an accident and from there, things get strange. I hesitate to say more and if you don't know anything else about the movie, I urge you not to seek out any more information before seeing it. While foreknowledge of the plot does not lessen your enjoyment of it, but the movie is best if you go in with no expectations. This is just a great movie and Rockwell is great in it. Co-Writer & Director Duncan Jones takes a simple story and did not go the easy route with it, so many times I expected him to take a different approach to the story, but where he went ultimately felt much more natural and "real" than most genre films. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't come to video till late January, but I urge you to seek it out, it's a winner.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 7

A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about my problems with Fringe. Fortunately, most of my problems were solved through the remainder of the first season, opening up the series universe(s) to show where creator JJ Abrams and co. were going with the show. The thing I like most about the show, and something it shares with his previous show, Alias, is that he's not afraid to blow up the shows status quo from season to season. Initially, we thought The Pattern was to be the big bad of the show, the enemy for our heroes to fight each week, but by the end, The Pattern were shown to be much more complicated than previously thought and then pushed aside to show what the true enemy was: another Earth, one that wants to take over our own.

Throughout this, they've kept the stuff I liked, Crazy Walter is still crazy, but his madness has been deepened and given reason, something that just about anyone can understand. Peter's mysteriousness has been given an edge, one that the character himself doesn't yet understand. And Olivia has been further humanized, both by the inclusion of her sister and the fact they've since allowed her to smile once or twice.

I've really been enjoying the second season thus far, though I could have done without the baseball playoffs throwing a wrench into the scheduling, but it's quickly risen to be one of my must watch shows. Glad to know there's something that will still keep me guessing in a few months once Lost is gone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Favorite Things II : Day 6 *UPDATE*

Well shit, not 12 hours after I hit "publish" on today's post, does Saturday Night Live do a parody of the very same infomercial. Probably the finest thing they've done this year:

Favorite Things II - Day 6

Another lazy day here at the headquarters, but do I have a treat for you. This had undoubtedly been my favorite viral video of the year. Though you may be unfamiliar with the uniquely awful "musical" stylings of the Insane Clown Posse (once notable for being kicked off their label for being too obscene...and awful), but they have built up quite a large following, called Juggalos. This following is so large that they hold a massive, three day festival called the "Gathering of the Juggalos". To promote it this year, they made an infomercial. The most awesome infomercial I have ever seen. I warn you, it is close to 15 minutes long, but goodness, is it worth it. I'd recommend reading The International Society of Supervillains running commentary on the video as you go, as it is one of the best pieces of of internet comedy writing of the year:

Are you entertained? Disturbed? Good.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 5

As you may remember, Saturday's are lazy days of the Favorite Things. So here's a video featuring one (or rather two) of my favorite things of 2009: DRUNK EWOKS.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 4

As with most previous years, I only managed to see a few movies in the theater this year. Most of those were with the boys and for some, the less said, the better . Part of the reason I didn't see a lot was simply because this Summer's blockbuster movie season was rather lacking. No big releases that made me block out time in my schedule just so I could see it on opening night or make an evening of it with some one. That is the new reboot of Star Trek.

While I am a Star Trek fan, I am not a STAR TREK FAN. I am in no way scandalized that Paramount chose to re-boot the original series with an all-new cast. It makes perfect sense if you are trying to cast the net past the same fans that are going to see the movie no matter what. People who aren't fans know certain things just because they are ingrained in the culture: Kirk, Spock, "Beam me up Scotty", etc. To drop $150 million or so on anything that lacked those makes no sense.

Going into the movie, I expected some pretty explosions, and hopefully a few nods to the things that made Star Trek such a great show, the relationships, the nobility and promise of a hopeful future...and they nailed it. Instead of having the actors simply impersonate Shatner, Nimoy, etal, they managed to capture the spirit they brought to their roles and still make it seem new. And it's just all such a good time. Saw in twice in the theater and have seen it now a few more on DVD and it's just excellent. It certainly isn't the best movie of the year, but it certainly is my favorite.

*For more, go ahead and click over to my original review of the movie from this Summer.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 3

I'm going to try to stick to more theme-days this month, simply because it makes it a little easier to plans things out for me, so Thursday shall here-by be THUG THURSDAYS, celebrating some of my favorites in crime fiction from the past year (either new released or new to me).

Let's start with what is easily one of the best books of the year, Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter.

If not the best of Stark's Parker books, it easily the most adapted, being made into films such as Point Blank and Payback, and many others that are not official, it is a simple story. After a big heist, Parker's partner and wife attempt to kill him and run off with the money. Living through the attempt, Parker slowly recovers, and then comes back looking for his money...and if he gets a little revenge along the way, so be it.

The best choice made with this adaptation is that they kept the setting in the sixties, which plays to Cooke's artistic strengths and the book is stunning to look at. Eschewing full-color to work in a muted palate of blacks and blues conveying the mood of cold dread throughout the whole book. Take a look at this preview of the fist 20 pages of the book to see how he conveys the silent ruthlessness of Parker, moving forward like a shark looking for his money.

I really can't praise this book enough and others have done it much better this year (and probably in the next few weeks since it is sure to end up on every year-end best-of list), so simply if you enjoyed the genre of crime books/comics this is an essential.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 2

It's Wednesday, so as most of you know it is new comics day so every Wednesday this month I'll try to spot-light a new comics series from the past year that has wowed me.

Let's start off easy with what is without a doubt in my mind the best series of the year, though not new, it is certainly a new direction, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III run in Detective Comics, featuring Batwoman. I've been a fan of Rucka's for quite sometime, starting with his initial comics work, Whiteout*. Since then, through his creator-owned series Queen & Country and his excellent work on my favorite series Gotham Central (along with co-writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark) he has created/worked on some amazing female characters. When he created the new Batwoman, Kate Kane, in the weekly series 52, I was interested, though the media centered on the fact that she is gay, I saw that there was much more possibilities with the character than what we was initially on display. I kept up with her appearance in other event series, but she was never given a spotlight until now and man, was it worth the wait. We're still mid-way through the origin arc of the character, but it's something special and unique and it's nice to see that in mainstream superhero comics there's still room for something new.

Obviously when talking about this series you can't ignore the art, J.H. Williams II I a truly great artist. His painted work on the Batwoman scenes is just amazing and the effortlessness that he moves between other styles is just amazing. If you'd shown me this book without the artist credits, I would have told you there were at least three other pencillers working on this book, but he just makes it work so well, and instead of seeming a mish-mash it blends together so well. Here's an example of a fight scene that he did that is just amazing:

The fluidity of the image is amazing. And also, it include two face-kicks, which is awesome.

Also, I shouldn't leave out the back-up stories featuring The Question, the secret identity of my favorite character from Gotham Central, Renee Montoya. It's unfortunate that these stories are getting overlooked or criticized simply because they are very good rather than great. The first arc told a nice action story about human smuggling and Cully Hammer's art is perfect for it. It's good stuff, but it can't help but be overshadowed by the main story.

This is a great book, and easily one of my favorite things of the year.

*We won't speak of the, shall we say unfortunate, movie adaptation from this year.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 1

Ho ho ho folks, as it is the happiest season of the year (for some of us at least), I figured it's once again time to share some of my favorite things from the past year (and just the past). Anyway, let's start off light, though seasonally appropriate. though the idea of a Bob Dylan Christmas album sounds odd, I've found myself enjoying it quite a bit. I think the video for "Must Be Santa" sums it up quote weel, though Bob looks like he's auditioning for the role of the Mad hatter in a Holiday-themed version of Alice in Wonderland, it works within the rather mad-cap feel of both the video and the song.

So I hope you all are starting to emege from your post-Thanksgiving food-coma and are starting to get into the mood. Look forward to sharing a lot more over the coming days.