Monthly Archives: November 2011

DC – The New 52

I know there are a million opinions out there regarding this subject, but I feel the slight need to add my own to the pot.

So, what could I possibly be talking about? The New 52 from DC. Okay, I know that the internet is filled to the brim with those on both sides of the fence tossing out their thoughts about what has happened, what has happened, and what they expect to happen in the future. I will start out by saying that out of the 52 new titles I currently only read Justice League, Justice League International, Teen Titans, Legion of Super Heroes, and Legion Lost. To be perfectly honest, most of what DC offers simply doesn’t appeal to me. They spend way too much ink and paper on solo heroes, which is not my cup of tea. The team books, and the dynamics that are created by those situations are what I find intriguing. Of course, there are other “team” books in the New 52 that I didn’t pick up, but I did that for various reasons.

I do not like anything having to do with the supernatural, do that ruled out the “Dark” series of titles for me, including Justice League Dark. I avoid magic, vampires, zombies, and all their associated crap like the plague. And don’t even get me started on subpar idiotic ideas like Deadman. What a load of crap that is. That’s one of the biggest reasons I skipped the entire “Blackest Night” storyline from last year. I also shy away from gross and disgusting over-the-top violence and blood, which seemed to be the only thing anyone who read Animal Man and titles like that could talk about.

Comics used to be fun and rewarding experiences. They took you away from your own personal reality to a world where people could fly and see exotic lands and planets and save the damsel in distress. They were the modern forms of chivalry that no longer existed in the real world. Sadly, comics have been reduced to mindless violence, blood, gross sex, and other such disturbing images. Comics used to be for kids, they haven’t been for kids for a long long time. I pick and choose as to what titles I read for various reasons and the few titles that I have picked up from the New 52 have so far met my need for creative inspiration and storytelling without the disgusting things I mentioned. For that, I’m glad.

The Justice League is a true origin tale. It’s starting off slow as the heroes meet one another, not trying to slam all of them into the first issue, but rather raising the stakes as they go along and add more heroes. I like this new approach. It gives you the status quo while not overwhelming you at the same time. I’ve only read the first 2 issues, but if the quality continues as it has, there is little reason to question whether Justice League will continue to lead the sales charts.  Justice League International is the only place currently to catch up on one of my favorite characters, Booster Gold. The book showcases lesser known heroes and ones that were in the Pre-52 JLI. So far it’s been a standard team book, but hasn’t really brought anything new to the party that I was hoping it would.  I will continue to read it, but I can only hope that it improves story wise. Teen Titans looked interesting because of the new take on Red Robin. I like what I’ve seen of Wonder Girl so far but so far I really do not like the fact that they feel the need to introduce brand new heroes at this point. There are so many characters that could have been included that it seems a little stupid to have to resort to never before seen characters at this point. We were looking for a “reboot” or a “reimaging” of the heroes were knew and loved. The jury is still out on this book as well.

Legion of Super Heroes and Legion Lost will always be on my pull list no matter what.  I have been a fan of the LSH since I was a little kid and I have loved every reboot or reimagining that they’ve been put through over the years. What I appreciate about the Legion of Super Heroes is that they haven’t really been that affected by the “reboot” of the New 52. Rather, they continued on right where they had been before. I’m still not a big fan of some of the new members they incorporated from Adventure Comics but I’m sure if they were to give them some new costumes that they might eventually grow on me. Still, this is a comic that is well worth looking into. Forget the crap in the Edge and Dark lines and take advantage of the great work being done in the LSH. Legion Lost stars three of my all-time favorite legionnaires: Wildfire, Dawnstar, and Timber Wolf. For those three alone I would purchase this comic. The art and the story so far have drawn me in and are keeping me there for the long haul. I can only hope that other LSH fans pick up this book and devote as much energy to it.

So, over all, I would give the New 52 a D. A lot of what I’ve seen isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, but at least I have found a few books that I can really put on my pull list that still incorporates the great things about comics that I have loved since I was a child.

Advertisements

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

After seeing Shrek 4, my faith in Dreamworks and the Shrek franchise was nearly shattered. So, when Puss in Boots was announced I was prepared to hate this movie just as much as the final Shrek production. All I can say, after watching this flick, is that I am pleased to announce that my faith in this studio has been restored. Finally, a great family movie with superb animation, a coherent storyline, ear friendly voice actors, and excellent production values.  And the script itself wasn’t half bad either.

As in the previous outings, Puss in Boots is voiced by Antonio Banderas and he is joined by Salma Hayek as Kitty Softpaws and Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Alexander Dumpty.

The story takes place before Puss in Boots ever met Shrek and goes into his early life as an orphan living in a Spanish style town with another orphan, his “blood brother” Humpty. Humpty has big plans of one day escaping the orphanage and the town and wants Puss to help him on his quest. Along the way, however, Puss develops some honor and pride in the town and his guardian, Imelda, voiced by Constance Marie.  During the story, Puss saves an elderly townswoman from a rampaging bull and becomes a hero to the town. As a reward, Imelda gives him his famous boots and hat that become his signature style.

No longer wishing to go along with Humpty’s plans, Puss instead attempts to talk him into accepting himself and the town and this seems to work up until the point where Humpty tricks Puss into helping him rob the town’s bank. Running from the local law, Humpty is capture on a bridge, Puss escapes, and the ill-gotten gain is lost into the river below. With his name now tarnished because of Humpty, Puss is now spending his time attempting to clear his name and repair his reputation.

The rest of the movie, filled with hilarious characters and situations, and follows Puss’ efforts–including his reteaming with Humpty to steal some magic beans from the evil Jack and Jill. Jack hasn’t been the same since he fell down a hill and broke his crown, after all. His desire to stop being evil and start a family with Jill is laugh out loud funny.

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, all I can say is that it is a definite must see! There’s no wonder why it beat all of his competition at the theatre opening weekend, I assure you! Take that Eddie Murphy!

Do yourself a favor and renew your faith in Dreamworks and this franchise! Not everything is answered perfectly, I was left with a few questions linking the movies together, but that’s another movie to be made—hopefully!

Agree or disagree – see if for yourself and make up your mind! You won’t regret it!

Indiana Experience 2011

Well, I had a fantastic week in Brazil, Indiana.

As I mentioned in my pervious blog about the trip up, which was basically uneventful, I wanted to make some observations about my old hometown and some of the people there. While my intention is not to be insulting in any way, I will have to admit that I come from one of the most backwards places I think I’ve ever been to. The streets, which haven’t been paved since I was in high school, are all the same. In fact, I think I hit some of the same potholes that were there last summer when I went to visit. It’s become sort of a running joke concerning Brazil, one that I’ve used on several occasions in a story or novel I’ve written.

The day after I arrived in Brazil my dad took me out of lunch at a little mom and pop restaurant called the Sunshine Diner. I had to have a sample of a northern delicacy that I have yet to find in Florida except during Bike Week, the breaded tenderloin sandwich. Okay, while that may not sound very important to you, the casual observer, it was important to me. You have never had a sandwich until you have munched on a tenderloin that is three times bigger than the bun, is breaded and fried to perfection, and is topped with the best condiments. For me, that includes a slice of cheese and some ketchup, although I have had them with pickles before and that is just as great. After my surgery, I can only eat about half of my tenderloin, but it was fantastic and reminded me of why I love those sandwiches so much. Darn Florida, learn how to make tenderloin!

The restaurant was filled with your basic Sunday afternoon crowd of older individuals who looked like they had escaped one of the local nursing homes, one old guy even had his oxygen tank in tow, and your average Brazilian. One guy came in dressed like a crazed biker, including leather chaps, vest, and hat. Only he was the skinniest guy I think I have ever seen apart from a starving children commercial. And his head looked like it had been shrunken by a witch doctor to boot. Now that was a pretty comical sight. They needed to start feeding him better or the wind was going to knock his moped over while he was riding it.

After we returned from the restaurant, my sister Dee came over and we sat and talked for while. Yeah, real excitement there. HA! It was great to visit, I talk to my sister way more than I ever speak to either of my brothers so it was nice to just relax and blather on about what was going on in the family. My dad, obsessed with westerns found an Encore station that is 24 hour westerns so that makes him extremely happy. I watched so many westerns up there it was ridiculous, ha! Reminded me of every Saturday afternoon growing up. So, that was nice in a way. 🙂

Sunday evening I went with my cousin Roberta and her daughter to see Puss in Boots. I’ll talk about that more in another blog. Needless to say I really enjoyed it. Afterwards I went over to her house and we talked for while.  And wouldn’t you know, right in the middle of the visit if Nancy didn’t call Roberta. Talk about bad timing! It made my cousin very uncomfortable having to talk to her, while I was there, but my cousin is a genuinely good and nice person and so spoke with her for a little while. Fortunately I had a homemade strawberry daiquiri to drink and forget about who was on the phone.

On Monday I went to Terre Haute with Dee just to run around and talk and stuff. Nothing too exciting there. I wanted to visit a store up there called Disc Replay to check out their DVDs but I couldn’t find anything I couldn’t live without so ended up not purchasing anything. I will say that I saw one of the funniest signs on a store that I have ever seen. It’s a serious sign but when I first glanced at it I busted out laughing the people in the car next me thought I was crazy. Okay, I AM crazy but that’s an entirely different story. Anyway, here is a picture I took of the sign:

During the week I also got to hang out with one of my old friends, Jesse and his two daughters Amelia and Arlie. Not sure if I spelled their names correctly, although I hope I did. It was great to spend time with Jesse. He is one of my best friends from up north, and one that I have attempted to keep in contact with over the years. He’s been through a lot himself and recently was divorced after his wife left him and his two beautiful children. She was never a real brilliant bulb anyway, just the same as the dim bulb in my life.

On Tuesday, I went back to Terre Haute with Roberta and Cassie (her daughter, I forgot to mention her name earlier) and ran around aimlessly for while. It was good to see the old stomping ground though I was sorry to see that the old comic book shop was now gone. I had gone to that same shop for over fifteen years when I lived up there. It was very sad to see that New Concepts was now just another memory. Sigh.

Oh! Before I forget, I was also able to partake of yet another delicacy I cannot get down in Florida. And don’t even say Krystals because they are pale imitations of the real thing: White Castle! Oh how I love those gut bombing sliders! And the onion chips are fantastic! Since I’ve been in Florida, Terre Haute finally managed to put in a White Castle that I had wished had been there since I was in high school! It is a true going home experience. Dang, when I lived up there we would often drive all the way to Plainfield, which is about an hour away, just to get White Castles! They are that good! The smell may make Cassie sick, but they were a bountiful bouquet of beauty to my nose! Yum yum get me some!

Even better than White Castle–I know, how could anything possibly be better–Tuesday night, at Roberta’s we had the best pizza on planet Earth! By far, this is the best pizza I have ever eaten and is something that I have to get every time I go back to Brazil. Maurizio’s Pizza in Brazil simply makes the best pizza anywhere. I have eaten a lot of pizzas in my time, remember I used to be 500 pounds just a couple of years ago, so I know what I’m talking about, and Maurizio’s has never been beaten. Oh, my goodness is it good! A big thank you goes out to Roberta once more for the dinner and the fine company that evening!

Wednesday evening my dad and I went to my brother David’s house for dinner. I had honestly been dreading this part of the visit as I was preparing myself of one of David’s famous lectures. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only had he invited us over but several others as well, which meant he wasn’t about to air my dirty laundry in front of everyone. The evening was surprisingly nice and laid back and we even went on a short boat ride in my brother’s pontoon boat on the small lake behind his house. Of course, I had fixed myself a rum and fruit juice drink and was feeling mighty good by then so the trip was great and I was able to take a few more awesome pictures. Oh yeah, speaking of pictures, I almost forgot the best part of the whole day on Wednesday. Before dad and I went over to David’s, we took a drive up through Rocky Fork in Parke County, Indiana. Now, Rocky Fork is an entire story onto itself and is a beautiful area out in the rural of Indiana where my mother was born and raised back in the 1930’s. When mom passed away back in 2008, dad and David took mom’s ashes and buried them out in Rocky Fork on some land that David had purchased to use for deer hunting season. So we stopped along the road where they had buried the ashes and I was able to see it for myself, and take some pictures. I’m sure mom would have thought it was nice to be back where she grew up, just up the road from the old homestead. I love that area of Indiana and have a lot of great memories of that place growing up. But, as I said, Rocky Fork is a story onto itself so I won’t go into any more details here.

Thursday I just lounged around the house with dad and watched some westerns and some old Godzilla movies I found on the movie stations. There was a really cheesy movie called “Rebirth of Mothra” which was really hilarious. I had no idea I was in for several more cheesy movies before the night was over. Thursday was the day I went over to visit my friend Scott in Paris, Illinois. Now Scott and I have been friends since the 8th grade when we met in math class. We both had Transformer watches and I remember telling him that my watch could beat his watch and our friendship grew from there. Besides Tim in Mississippi, Scott is my oldest and dearest friend. He’s been my music collaborator and writing partner for over 20 years. You don’t forget a friendship like that. So, anyway, over at Scott’s house we hung out for a while and went to Wal-Mart, which has been our tradition for the last two visits there. It was freezing at his house and his furnace is a joke so I ended up buying a space heater to use for myself that night and left it there for him to use. His old house that he rents is extremely drafty and looks like it’s ready to cave in all the time. Seriously, I wish I could convince him to move to Florida but for the first time this trip he admitted that he finally found a place that he grew roots and is going to stay there. I admire that in him. I hope that I can finally make that assertion about Florida, that I’ve truly laid down my roots, but with the uncertain future I face when it comes to everything else going on in my life, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to make that proclamation.

Wow, talk about getting off on a tangent. Ha! The movies we ended up watching were old sci-fi shows from the 50s. One was filmed at Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida called “Wild Women of Wongo.” Oh. My. Goodness. This cheese was so bad that it made Limburger stand up and say “what stinks?” Talk about hilariously bad acting and even worse dialogue. We followed that up with a pair of Japanese sci-fi movies from the 50s. “Prince of Space” and “Invasion of the Jupiter Men.” Wow. Talk about your crazy plots for movies. They were so bad they were good and kept us in stitches the entire time. Of course we sat there and made fun of everything, which made the experience all the better. It was like old times back in our early twenties, watching some cheesy B movie over at Quincy’s, making fun of it as it played as if we were MST 3000 or something. It was a great end to a great week.

So, now I’m back home, ready to get back to the old grind at WellHome and in the rest of my life. You never know what tomorrow will bring, ain’t that the truth? I hope it’s happiness for all of us–one way or another.

 

 

Trip to Indiana

Well, I left home around 4:45 Saturday morning and headed for the Hoosier Homeland. Thankfully I had actually planned everything in advance in such a way that for the first time ever all I had to do was toss my pillow, blanket, and laptop in the car and hit the open road. I had already gotten cash out of the bank, filled up the gas tank, and even had all my snacks and drinks in the front seat ready to go.

I was in Georgia by 8AM and Atlanta by eleven. That was a new record for me. Yeah, not too spectacular, but I was happy with the results. 🙂  I decided to stop in Dalton, GA for lunch around 1PM and managed to find the slowest Wendys on the face of the planet. I swear I stood in line for over twenty minutes and there was only like 4 other people in front of me. AND, when I finally get my sandwich and I’m back on the interstate I discover that when they made my sandwich they forgot to add the pickles and onions and instead put on so much ketcup and mustand that it was literally swimming in the condiments. Talk about tricky eating at seventy-five MPH. Grief, and thankfully I didn’t make a huge mess, which was another new first for me. Ha, I normally would have been covered head to toe in the stuff. I’m just glad that didn’t happen because I was wearing my Weird Al concert shirt and sure didn’t want to get that all stained.

Anyway, after I finally got back on the road again, I quickly moved through Chattanooga and Nashville without much incient. Going over Lookout Mountain I was able to take some really beautiful pictures that I will attempt to upload to FB some time this week. The fall colors and the mountains really combined to create some aweinspiring scenery. It was incredibly beautiful.

Besides those highlights, the trip was uneventful. I hate now and will always hate the part of the trip between Terre Haute and Evansville. You have to go 60 and it’s stop and go through several small towns and intersections. I wish there was a faster way to get there but until I can train my car how to fly I guess this is it.

I will blog more about Brazil, Indiana itself later. Dad took me out to lunch at a little mom and pop diner and I have a couple of observations from that to share.