David Letterman, We Love You!

David-Letterman-Obama

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Gerald Ford’s most famous line, opened the last broadcast for David Letterman. This was then followed by a clip with almost every living U.S. president uttering those famous words. I’m sure Jimmy Carter would have joined in if he thought it was really necessary.

I am in the same boat with Jimmy Kimmel and his admiration for Dave. He asked his viewers not to watch his show on May 20th and, instead, to go see Dave’s last show. I start to think about all the good oddball times watching Dave and it stirs up emotions for me too. I’m from the same generation as Kimmel and I understand. That David Letterman sense of humor. Honed to perfection over the years. Dave made it look easy. That’s the same that was said of Johnny Carson.

Even with all that’s been said and everything leading up to this last broadcast, it sort of caught me by surprise. Life happens. I had meant to watch the last couple of nights. I’d lost track. And then, there I am watching Dave’s last show. Well, he took it like a champ. No need to get misty-eyed or choke up. He’d planned ahead, paced himself. But the last show is the last show. He rolled a great montage of highlights from over the years. What showed through was a decent hard-working and humble guy.

The shows from the ’80s are legendary. The offbeat humor from those years has been dissected many times over. As one decade rolled into another, Dave continued to grow. The show’s humor calibrated itself by a hair or two like any other humor format. And Dave kept getting more real, more relaxed. They say it’s the end of an era and it’s true. David Letterman is one of those figures you have on a Mount Rushmore of Comedy. But his brand of humor lives on. He was one of the greats at being very serious about not taking things too seriously.

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Filed under Comedy, David Letterman, Humor, pop culture, Television

Review: The Walking Dead Hardcover Ruled Journal from Insight Editions

The Walking Dead Hardcover Ruled Journal

With Season 6 of AMC’s The Walking Dead set for this October, a perfect addition for any fan’s gear is The Walking Dead Hardcover Ruled Journal. This is another in a line of pop culture treats from Insight Editions. Take notes. Draw your own zombies. Write your own zombie story. Whatever you choose to pen down, this is a fine specimen, with a durable hide that can withstand any zombie attack.

AMC The Walking Dead

This is the real deal. A beautiful and rugged journal, 192 pages of archival ruled paper, with artwork gracing the inside cover and endpapers. There’s also a secret pocket on the back cover, just in case you need to save some zombie-related notes. Or just plain notes.

The Walking Dead Insight Editions

You’ll find a card in that back pocket letting you know about Insight Editions’ The Walking Dead poster books. Each poster is easy to remove and perfect for displaying.

AMC The Walking Dead 2015

A perfect little gift to give yourself or someone special. You’ve got four versions to choose from. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also find this item here and here.

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Filed under AMC, Gifts, Insight Editions, Television, The Walking Dead, Zombies

Review: THIS IS CEZANNE, published by Laurence King Publishing

This-is-Cezanne-Laurence-King

Like Van Gogh, Cezanne (1839–1906) stood out from his contemporaries. He was the original bad boy, or “enfant terrible.” He was brash, experimental, and ahead of his time. Unlike Van Gogh, his life and work is not nearly as familiar to the general public. “This is Cezanne,” part of the This is Art series from Laurence King Publishing, provides an inviting and illuminating look at a most intriguing and influential artist. You will delight in this work, monograph by Jorella Andrews and illustrations by Patrick Vale.

Cezanne

Cezanne first gained notoriety, or infamy, from his paintings that parodied some of the leading figures from the older generation of artists. It shocked. It offended. It was a sensation. And that common thread of sensation ran through his later work concerned with the tactile and immersive. A rebel to the end, Cezanne did enjoy working with conventional compositions (still life, plein air, domestic scene), often with a sardonic twist and, just as often, with a gentle quality.

Patrick-Vale-Cezanne-2015

Bad boy antics aside, Cezanne was deeply interested in art tradition at its roots, going back to basics of line and color. This was also of great interest to a fellow artist provocateur, Edouard Manet. The two of them lampooned mindless art traditionalists. However, they could both be found in the Louvre studying the masters…on their own terms, gleaning what they needed.

This-is-Cezanne-Patrick-Vale-2015

“This is Cezanne” is available now. Visit our friends at Laurence King Publishing right here. You can also find this book at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Art History, Cezanne, Laurence King Publishing, Modern Art

Review: THIS IS VAN GOGH, published by Laurence King Publishing

This-is-Van-Gogh-Laurence-King

Vincent van Gogh, the quintessential symbol of the artist. But, just like any public figure, the reality of the person is far more complicated. Unlike popular belief, Van Gogh was no caricature of a madman with a paintbrush. You could say there were two Van Goghs: the tortured soul; and the sophisticated artist attuned to trends in contemporary art. Make no mistake, Van Gogh knew his art and directly from some his most celebrated contemporaries. In “This is Van Gogh,” one of the latest in the “This is Art” series, published by Laurence King Publishing, George Roddam provides a concise and substantial monograph accompanied by moving illustrations by Sława Harasymowicz. This graphic novel format proves to be a most compelling look at the artist suitable for any age.

Van Gogh

As much as loneliness and rejection weighed upon Van Gogh, it’s essential to know that he was just as absorbed with art matters: content, composition, and, most importantly, color theory. Red. Green. Opposing colors on the color wheel. Brought together. They evoke tension. They evoke emotional turmoil. A band of colors, just like the ones used by the local weavers. Behold, their close unison creates a vibrant gray throughout. Black. A more complex and dazzling black is made up by blending multiple colors. Color theory. The impressionists, ah, some became mired in it. Color theory. The Post-Impressionsits, ah, some became too technical about it. Color! Use it. Revel in it. The tension between green and red!

Illustration in "This is Van Gogh" by Sława Harasymowicz

Illustration in “This is Van Gogh” by Sława Harasymowicz

The “This is Art” series is, I cannot stress enough, a wonderful treat and useful art tool. Each monograph is expertly written and the illustrations are from some of the best artists around the world. “This is Van Gogh” is available now. Visit our friends at Laurence King Publishing right here. You can also find this book at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Art History, Laurence King Publishing, Van Gogh

Review: MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD

Mercy-Shake-The-World-Dover-2015

A man of means, with everything to live for, finds himself in a coma. At 54, he’s had a stroke that has left him in limbo. He floats along, out of his body, amused and perplexed by all the fuss still being made over him in hospital. While in limbo, he becomes ever more familiar with an entity of great power. He observes. He gives it a sex and a name, Mercy. He concludes that Mercy is fully self-contained and yet she repeatedly ventures back down to Earth to help. It’s totally altruistic. But why do it?

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, and artwork by Paul Johnson, “Mercy: Shake the World” is the sort of graphic novel that Will Eisner would have appreciated. As was his understanding, since life really begins after 50, many a graphic novel will be created with a more mature and worldly reader in mind. This is just that kind of work. “Mercy” is unafraid to let it all hang out when it comes to asking the big questions and not caring so much for the answers. It’s like we’re somehow past that, so beyond just seeking wisdom here.

Our main character is totally free to see as much of the big picture as he chooses. He doesn’t gorge himself on insight. He’s along for the ride, has all the time in the world. Enlightenment is inevitable. So, he takes it slow and easy. He’ll take Mercy any way it comes.

This is a beautifully rendered work. Johnson’s artwork is in touch with the ethereal just as much as DeMatteis’s script. Nothingness. Emptiness. You can go anywhere from there. From nothing to everything. Graphic novels are a perfect venue with which to ponder and expound upon the metaphysical. And here you have a fine example of just that. Our Everyman, with one foot in our world and the other in the netherworld, is neither hero nor villain. He’s just trying, before too long, to find out what all the fuss is about.

“Mercy: Shake the World,” a 128-page trade paperback in full color, with extras, is published by Dover Publications, and available as of June 17, 2015. Visit our friends at Dover Publications right here. And you can also find “Mercy: Shake the World” at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dover Publications, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Will Eisner

Review: HARROW COUNTY #1

Harrow-County-Cullen-Bunn

You need to check out the video that shows you how a page from this comic is created. Tyler Crook is one of the best in the business. You’ll know him from his work on “B.P.R.D.,” a flagship comic from Dark Horse Comics. Now, he does Dark Horse proud with “Harrow County.” This one is a doozy, written by Cullen Bunn, the creator of the smash hit comics series, “The Sixth Gun.”

“Harrow County” is a southern gothic fairy tale. On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Emmy learns that she is somehow connected to the monster-infested woods she has lived nearby all her life. Wow. What more could you ask for, right?

It all began as an uneasy understanding amongst the townspeople to coexist with the witch, Hester Beck. But, once Hester had the town’s children involved in her rites, the tolerance gave way. And, once the rumors piled up about Hester engaged in unnatural acts with hideous creatures in the woods, there was nothing left to do. Kill the witch, that was the solution. And as the fire ate away at her flesh, the witch warned the townspeople that she would return.

Harrow-County-Tyler-Crook

Many years later, cut to Emmy, a young woman haunted by her surroundings. She knows that something’s wrong about Harrow County, just not sure exactly what. The woods. She’ll find the answers in the woods.

This first issue will definitely win you over. Bunn and Crook have mastered the art of the spooky. This thing has taken off. Enjoy. The gap between the inner world and the outer world is paper thin. That sensation of exposing our inner world to the outside, resulting in horror, is what French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called “glissage.” Harrow County has seen plenty of this. And Emmy is now sure they haven’t seen the last of it. She’s dead sure of it.

“Harrow County #1″ is 32 pages, priced at $3.99, available as of May 13. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Horror

Review: FERTILITY, published by Centrala

FERTILITY by Gosia Herba and Mikołaj Pasiński

FERTILITY by Gosia Herba and Mikołaj Pasiński

“Fertility” is a beautiful and strange graphic novel by Gosia Herba and Mikołaj Pasiński. The artwork is by Herba and, together, Herba and Pasiński create various work. This book is brought to you by Centrala, publishers of marvelous works from Central Europe.

Fertility-Gosia-Herba-Centrala

Think of one of the darkest tales of folklore you’ve read and then read this. “Fertility” works on a highly uninhibited level. It’s brought to life by Herba’s bold drawing style and held together by a relentless pace. The subdued blue hues running throughout kiss the work with dark grace. Rabbits are being tortured as they fall into endless traps set by the young village women. But the women don’t notice this. They are too caught up in their fertility rites. They know rabbits are synonymous with fertility. And, they believe, that eating their entrails with lead to them birthing baby boys.

Once we’ve witnessed the rabbits’ terror, it’s time to reverse the roles. If the women were callous, the rabbits are beyond heartless. It’s pretty rough stuff but it’s all rendered with poetic fervor. Each panel ratchets up the tension. The rabbits, once in bug-eyed fear, are now the masters. The young women desired fertility, but the rabbits tear that dream to shreds and then some. Herba is completely in touch with sexuality, the macabre, and very dark humor. This content is for mature readers, 18 and up. It’s a powerful work and one you won’t forget.

“Fertility” is a 36-page hardcover published by Centrala. For some of the most unique works in comics, visit our friends at Centrala right here.

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Filed under Centrala, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror

Superheroes Summoned to Sell West Los Angeles House

Photo Cred - Pablo Ortega

Photo Cred – Pablo Ortega

If you’re a serious comics collector, have you ever felt the urge to pin up some of your collection to a prominent wall in your home? You know, just so you can enjoy the spectacle? Well, that is exactly what a real estate agent and a production designer did when they set out to create a show stopping wall to enhance a property for sale. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and in the market for a beautiful home in Silicon Beach, then this is especially for you. The home was listed on May 11.

The following press release is enlightening inasmuch as it’s an interesting example of how comics are valued in our society. The memories, the power of myth, it’s all priceless. HGTV’s Matthew Finlason tore into his own personal $10,000 collection of comic books to make this altar to comics happen.

Press release follows:

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Review: TUFF LADIES, published by Centrala

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Tuff Ladies by Till Lukat

What does Belle Starr, Rosa Parks, and Ma Barker have in common? In “Tuff Ladies,” a new work in comics by Till Lukat, they are part of his kaleidoscopic tour of women in history. This is a most unusual book and quite a page-turner. Lukat has assembled 24 portraits of significant women. He calls his choices “remarkable” but, perhaps “colorful” is a better catch-all word. Or maybe “provocative.” It’s a fascinating collection.

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Profile on Ann Boney, Pirate Queen

There is certainly a subversive sensibility at play here. It’s not so much that Lukat is glorifying each and every woman he’s profiled. It’s more like he’s presenting each figure as a compelling character from fiction. Each woman here is depicted in Lukat’s energetic woodcut-like style. Each profile has its own crazy urgency: a bold portrait followed by a brief comic strip and topped off with some brief text.

The most controversial inclusion is Ulrike Meinhof of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a left-wing terrorist group that committed several murders, kidnappings, bank robberies, and bomb attacks. The overall theme is that all these women made a huge impact. Not all of them are well-known. In fact, Lukat pretty much avoids obvious choices. One of the more poignant ones is for Miep Gies. Thanks to her, the Diary of Anne Frank was kept safe from the Nazis to go on to be known throughout the world.

This book is a treat. It’s a perfect gateway for further exploration. It’s odd, artful, and most refreshing.

“Tuff Ladies” is a 64-page hardcover published by Centrala. For some of the most unique works in comics, visit our friends at Centrala right here.

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Filed under Centrala, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels

DVD Review: MAPS TO THE STARS

Mia Wasikowska gets inspired on Hollywood Boulevard.

Mia Wasikowska gets inspired on Hollywood Boulevard.

David Cronenberg gets to thoroughly explore hallucinations, one of his favorite themes (see 1983’s Videodrome), in his latest film, “Maps to the Stars.” It’s those things you think you see that may turn out to be most real of all. Hollywood comes under scrutiny in a most diabolical way as we follow the steady disintegration of the film’s characters. And, among the doomed players, no one is more set for destruction than Agatha Weiss (played by Mia Wasikowska).

The screenplay by Bruce Wagner offers up a delicious send-up to the entertainment industry, its nefarious machinations, and dehumanizing power. Everyone is quite sick in the head here. And the cure is surely not to be found from a Dr. Phil parody, Dr. Stafford Weiss (played John Cusack). It’s his family that is at the epicenter to the disaster that awaits. And it is his daughter Agatha who, upon her arrival to Los Angeles, brings back all the ugliness and chaos to a family in crisis. At 18, she can no longer be held at bay in some Florida rehab clinic. All the chickens have come home to roost.

Cronenberg gives LA the treatment: No one can function naturally in Los Angeles. Everyone has a scheme. Everyone is afraid. Everyone seeks the artificial light. They zig and zag from swank homes to movie sets to Rodeo Drive. Everything being relative, a breakfast burrito can suddenly become the most prized possession, at least for a moment. Nothing shines for long in LA.

At the heart of the Weiss family is the younger child, Benjie Weiss (played by Evan Bird). In contrast to his father’s role as a therapist, Benjie, at 13, is an unstable child actor close to going down in flames. His dad, however, is not too far away from burning out himself as his practice is more of a carnival sideshow than anything serious. Rounding out the family circle is Christina Weiss (played by Olivia Williams). Her stage mother is on similar shaky ground.

Maps-to-the-Stars-David-Cronenberg

The catalyst, and the destroyer, is Agatha. Wasikowska commands the screen with exceptional creepiness. It is comparable to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom in “Nightcrawler.” Through a series of insinuations, she manages to stake out a decent vantage point to the proceedings as a personal assistant to a fading movie actress, Havana Segrand (played by Julianne Moore). And Segrand proves a perfect match as she’s as crazed as Agatha in her own way. For one thing, she keeps battling with hallucinations of her mother, Clarice Taggart (played by Sarah Gadon). And she is certainly not alone when it comes to seeing things.

As a comeuppance, Benjie is spooked by what seems like the ghost of a young girl he was rude to during a publicity stop at a hospital. Benjie has been a very bad boy and yet he struggles with that. Old and jaded way beyond his years, he will often display poignant self-awareness. Bird delivers an impressive performance. And, while he may not be the star of the film in terms of name recognition, he clocks in a lot of screen time and proves to be the essential counterpoint to Agatha.

Another result of Agatha’s sly maneuvering is her dating a handsome aspiring actor with a day job as a chauffeur, Jerome Fontana (played by Robert Pattinson). This is Pattinson’s second Cronenberg film (see 2012’s Cosmopolis) and he makes the most of it. Playing a far less capable actor than himself, Pattinson presents for us, in his pivotal role, the perfect stooge and the perfect cad. Without a hint of irony, he says that he sees becoming a Scientologist as a good career move. He provides a fine example of how lost everyone is in this story while, at the same time, how aware everyone is of what they bargained for.

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Filed under Hollywood, Horror, Horror Movies, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews