Tag Archives: Entertainment

Book Review: ‘To Marry Medusa’ by Theodore Sturgeon

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“To Marry Medusa” takes us further into the ideas explored in Theodore Sturgeon’s landmark novel from 1953, “More Than Human.” I reviewed that recently and you can read that here. Five years later, in 1958, “To Marry Medusa” finds us with one unconventional character, Dan Gurlick, instead of an ensemble of damaged misfits. The main idea is that we all have worth. Even Gurlick who, as his very name suggests, is quite an unsavory figure. This is a completely different and separate story from “More Than Human” but carries on that same humanist spirit.

Gurlick is as far down the heap as you can go: a illiterate homeless alcoholic with the thinnest grasp on reality. But, as Sturgeon would be happy to point out, he is still a member of the human race. Yes, …but. He’s human but he behaves more like an animal and pushes to the limits anyone’s tolerance for him.

And when an extraterrestrial being emerges, in pursuit of a human host, it is Gurlick who it stumbles upon and places the fate of humanity in his hands. As far as this entity, “the Medusa,” is concerned, Gurlick is as good as any other human to achieve its goals. Without a second thought, Medusa simply needs to plug into Gurlick and use him to plug into the rest of the humans and take over Earth. It really should be as simple as that, once a few details are carried out.

Medusa is a hive mind and has always been able to conquer other beings, once converted into hive minds. Why would humans be any different? The first mistake Medusa makes is attaching itself to Gurlick. In turn, Medusa finds humans to be a most unpredictable species. They are smarter than given credit for. They are more resilient than first believed to be. And they are more capable of fighting back than ever expected.

In a beautiful fable-like story, Sturgeon evokes human activity across the globe with vignettes of various characters. We see them at a bit of distance, never get too close to them other than to get a sense of their dreams and struggles. For a good part of the novel, we alternate between a profile from somewhere on Earth, whether it’s within an African tribe, or an Italian village, to the latest phase in the odd pairing between Medusa and Gurlick.

Sturgeon has such a seemingly effortless style. Every description and dialogue follows what appears a seamless path. Highly readable, Sturgeon’s work grapples with incredibly complex notions. He clearly loves his characters and it’s Gurlick who he loves the most. The guy can barely form a thought. He’s so limited and primitive as to be more suitable to another place and time other than a contemporary American city. When he’s out attempting to do Medusa’s bidding, he sounds insane, more so than usual. Medusa and Gurlick, no doubt, make for a delicious coupling of high an low.

We are given every indication that humanity will survive. However, it may not be as planned. For one thing, the hive mind perspective proves to be enlightening beyond measure. In fact, humans find that they can accomplish far more as a group than they ever could as individuals. Does that sound familiar? Well, sure, it’s us today on the Web, isn’t it? As Gurlick demonstrates, maybe we’ll always only be as strong as our weakest link. And Sturgeon never even once mentions a computer.

You can find “To Marry Medusa” over at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Hive Mind, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Theodore Sturgeon

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 Review

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

It’s as if Christos Gage is working from some master plan with how Buffy’s story continues to unfold. For those of you just arriving, we have a sweet spot to jump in. In this new arc, “Love Dares You,” we find Buffy navigating through the rituals of being single and sort of carefree. She even indulges in a round of speed dating. She can’t help but attract the more edgy sort, or poseur edgy. It’s a funny opening scene that sets the tone for much to follow. I’m loving the artwork by Megan Levens, with colors by Dan Jackson. It’s a uniquely cartoony look with an aggressive punch to it.

Buffy is down there in the trenches trying to figure out life. In the current configuration, you have Xander and Spike sharing an apartment. And you have Buffy, Willow, and Dawn sharing an apartment. And then there’s Giles. Only a season ago, who would have ever thought we’d have Giles back as a walking and talking character. Of course, Giles is not exactly where he’d like to be in human form. But you can’t have everything. And, to top it off, you have Buffy and Spike working together again. You have a lot of room to move around with action and characters, perhaps more than ever before. And bubbling in the background is a world …on the verge of magic. That’s got Willow working overtime figuring out the new rules.

If all of this sounds rather involved for new readers, it’s really a very good place to be. You may want to do some binge reading and pick up one or more trade paperbacks collecting previous issues. But, if you’ve been looking for a nice jump into single issues, this is a very good one.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #11″ is available as of January 21. This is Buffy on a very good track. Pick up your copy today. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics

LA Journal: iO West and the World of Comedy Improv

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Comedy is a serious business. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s a dangerous business too. Why else would some people rather have an eye poked out than stand up on stage and let it all hang out in the world of comedy improv? One of the best places in the whole wide world to answer such questions, and so much more, is iO West.

I laughed, and learned, so much from my visit to iO West. And it left me with plenty to process and incorporate into my own life, comedy-related or not. Let’s just say that what goes on in improv applies to life in a myriad of ways. Want to be a better problem-solver? Improv has got you covered. Want to be more creative? Improv all the way. Oh, yeah, want to be a better comedian, actor, and/or writer? Improv! Lucky for you, iO West is not only the place to see improv, it is also the place to train in improv. It also happens to be the place all the winners go to, like Amy Poehler. You know, the coolest and most successful comics and writers on the planet.

Go with your first instinct. That’s the golden rule. You think you’ve got something funny to say? Say it! Blurt it out and see what happens. You can see how that would apply to other aspects of your life. Everything under the sun, really. Don’t be afraid to go with your first thoughts. That’s what I got to see at a high level of skill. These were performances put on my teams of comics. Each team takes the stage and begins with a cue from the audience. They’re given something to work with and then create a narrative. How about the scintillating theme of…condiments? Or the alluring topic of being called a…schmuck. What is a schmuck, really? Well, a loser. This process of making with the funny is known as “Yes, and…” or “The Harold.” What it all comes down to is that this kind of contact sport comedy is as good as its players.

Heyday

Heyday

King Ten

King Ten

I took in a couple of sets from two fierce and hilarious House Harold teams, Heyday and King Ten. The key is trust. Each player makes a leap of faith that what he or she blurts out will be caught by another player and will either continue or be redirected or will be discreetly obliterated.

The object of the game is to not think, or not overthink. Do that when you’re writing. Just write. You already know this. But it always helps to remember that. You just do it. You edit later.

An improv team is both writing on the fly and editing on the fly. Heyday and King Ten are master storytellers able to create whole worlds from a single audience suggestion. Each team is made up of stellar players, like Heyday’s Mort Burke. I knew I’d seen him before somewhere. I saw him at the Seattle Improv Fest a while back. I really appreciate his droll style. If you’re performing at iO West, you’ve got the chops after many years of hard work, like Karen Graci, who is part of King Ten and is also an instructor at iO West. She has a distinctive bubbly vibe to her. Well, like I say, each player has his or her own unique qualities.

For me, I would love the danger of performing on stage. You would feel naked on stage, wouldn’t you? Ever have that dream where you’re naked while in a classroom full of students? Usually, you’re also taking a final exam. What does it mean? You want to bare your soul? You want to be, if you aren’t already, a nudist? How about: Everything is peeled away and you’re being tested. I have that dream a lot and I like it. I think it means I want to challenged. Reminds me of a comedy show I recently saw in Seattle and one set had a comic incorporate a confessional narrative with actually stripping down to nearly nothing. There’s a need in performers to expose a greater truth, let people see them raw. Yes, comedy is a serious business. It’s also an empowering business. Brings me back to the concept of “Yes, and…

iO West is located at 6366 Hollywood Boulevard. If you are visiting Los Angeles, you need to go here. Did I mention the great drinks at great prices? Yes, you can order from the comfort of your own seat while watching the show too. If you want great comedy, if you want a taste of the real LA, then visit our friends at iO West right here.

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Filed under Comedians, Hollywood, iO West, LA Journal, Los Angeles, Seattle Improv Fest

Review: TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS #3

Cover art by Borja "Borch" Pena; Title Design by Adam Pruett

Cover art by Borja “Borch” Pena; Title Design by Adam Pruett

The great Western writer Max Brand had one of his characters say, “Words is worse’n bullets. You never know what they’ll hit.” That holds doubly true when you’ve got words and pictures telling your story. “Tall Tales from the Badlands #3″ explores the lore of the Wild West in this latest comics anthology published by Black Jack Press.

The stories are written by Mark Wheaton (Dark Horse Comics, horror novelist and screenwriter of “Friday the 13th” and “The Messengers”) Robert Napton (Dynamite, Top Cow), Matt Dembicki (Oni Press, Editor of the Eisner nominated “Trickster”) and Sean Fahey (Digital Webbing Presents, GrayHaven Comics, 215ink, Soaring Penguin Press, DC Comics). There is also have a great collection of artists on this book: Jerry Decaire (Marvel, Moonstone), John Fortune (Blue Water Comics), Ruben Rojas, Franco Cespedes and Ezequiel Rosingana (Blue Water Comics, Soaring Penguin Press). There are five stories collected here. Lettering throughout the book is done by Kel Nuttall, which enhances the book’s beautifully consistent look.

"The Judgment of the People" by Mark Wheaton and Jerry Decaire

“The Judgment of the People” by Mark Wheaton and Jerry Decaire

“The Judgment of the People,” script by Mark Wheaton, art by Jerry Decaire, is a satisfying and spooky tale about justice gained by whatever means necessary. Wonderful pacing. Great build-up. The character of the malicious judge is perfect in his swine-like depiction.

"Apologies" by Sean Fahey and John Fortune

“Apologies” by Sean Fahey and John Fortune

“Apologies,” script by Sean Fahey, art by John Fortune, packs a real punch with a story about a family in dire straits. There’s a delicious tension throughout as we see what looks like an ideal family on a downward spiral.

"Rustlers" by Robert Napton and Franco Cespedes

“Rustlers” by Robert Napton and Franco Cespedes

“Rustlers,” script by Robert Napton, art by Franco Cespedes, is a total knock out. The scope of this comic is very ambitious and lives up to its promising opening panel. With exquisite timing, you get a first-rate train robbing caper. And a fun surprise ending.

"All Mine" by Matt Dembicki and Ezequiel Rosingana

“All Mine” by Matt Dembicki and Ezequiel Rosingana

“All Mine,” script by Matt Dembicki, art by Ezequiel Rosingana, will bring to mind the feverish mania in the movie classic, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Except, this time around, the crazed searching for riches leads to a supernatural connection. Wonderfully concise. Within the span of a few panels, you appreciate a bigger story being suggested and you care about the two main characters.

"Where The Heart Is" by Sean Fahey and Ruben Rojas with Kel Nuttal

“Where The Heart Is” by Sean Fahey and Ruben Rojas

“Where the Heart Is,” script by Sean Fahey, art by Ruben Rojas, takes the cake with a really inventive twist on what happens when a homesteader family develops cold feet about living in the wilderness.

“Tall Tales from the Badlands #3″ is one of the smoothest comics anthologies I’ve read. It is distinctive in how well it keeps to its thematic vision. It is quite a polished and professional book. Also included is a set of fun pin-up art by Mauro Reifschneider, Crash Landen, and Adrian Bago Gonzalez. This is a 52-page comic priced at only $3.99 for print and $1.99 for digital.

“Tall Tales from the Badlands #3″ is available in print from Indy Planet. And in digital from DriveThru Comics and My Digital Comics. Visit our friends at Black Jack Press right here.

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Filed under Comics, Westerns, Black Jack Press, Sean Fahey

Seattle Focus: Emerald City Comicon (March 27-29, 2015) Embarks on First Year with ReedPOP

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There has been a lot of buzz lately over Emerald City Comicon’s acquisition by pop culture events organization ReedPOP, a subsidiary of Reed Exhibitions. You can read Paul Constant’s report at The Stranger right here. Constant deems ECCC as “just the right size and not too super-intense. The comics professionals at the show always enjoy themselves, and so their interactions with the fans tend to be looser and more fun.” Now, there is no truly accurate basis for this but anyone can appreciate the enthusiasm behind such a remark. New York is New York. Seattle is Seattle. And so on. Each convention, large or small, offers its own unique dynamic. And, certainly, ECCC has its vibe.

According to The Stranger’s article on the sale of ECCC, its owner and staff will be retained by ReedPOP to act as consultants for all its comics conventions around the world. ReedPOP already runs such prestigious conventions like New York Comic Con. ReedPOP is, without a doubt, huge but they say they want to listen to any feedback. In April of 2014, it had to deal with controversy leading up to the first annual BookCon in New York which ReedPOP was responsible for. There was a panel of writers entitled, “Blockbuster Reads: Meet the Kids Authors That Dazzle” which touted an “unprecedented, power-packed panel” of the “world’s biggest children’s authors.” The panel of writers: Daniel Handler, Jeff Kinney, James Patterson, and Rick Riordan. All middle-aged upscale white guys. Moments after the news hit, the backlash ensued with leaders in the book industry crying foul on social media over the lack of diversity. And ReedPOP did indeed listen and responded with a panel on diversity.

For ECCC, it should be calm and steady waters ahead. Seattle is such a great location as we love our high and low culture from movies and television, to books, to games, and, of course, comics. We have more comic shops than some larger cities. We have more comics creators than some larger cities. ECCC definitely has an ideal location.

Talent headlining ECCC for 2015: Amanda Tapping. John Wesley Shipp. Dante Basco. Karen Allen. Clark Gregg. Anthony Mackie. Kevin Eastman. Gina Torres. LeVar Burton. Grant Imahara. Stan Lee. Emerald City Comicon is being held at the Washington State Convention Center on March 27-29, 2015. For more information, visit ECCC right here.

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Filed under Bookcon, Books, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, New York City, New York Comic Con, Paul Constant, ReedPOP, Seattle, The Stranger

Review: Star Wars (2015-) #1

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Star Wars returns to Marvel Comics with “Star Wars #1.” That pretty much sets the tone right there, doesn’t it? We start with solid cover art by John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny Avengers), who also does the art inside. Written by Jason Aaron (Original Sin, Thor: God of Thunder), this is something of a starting off point as we find the original Star Wars gang running through familiar terrain with plenty of fun twists and turns. The Death Star has been destroyed. The Rebel Alliance is gearing up for a mother of all battles against the Empire with Darth Vader and the Emperor personifying evil. You get the picture. Of course, we love a good familiar story and, when it comes to Star Wars, indeed, we can’t seem to ever get enough. This first issue does not let anyone down. It’s really a credit to everyone involved. As C-3PO says, in a brief moment of calm, “I have a very good feeling about this.”

“Star Wars #1″ is available now. Visit our friends at Marvel Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Marvel Comics, Star Wars

Review: Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1 (of 6)

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Marceline is having a really tough time in her latest series, “Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift.” In the first issue, she just can’t seem to write songs worth a hoot when she used to know greatness. And, to make things worse, she’s really harsh on Jake. Hey, the guy was turned into a human (human/dog?) target for frustration as Marceline vents, disparaging nachos and everything Jake, and Finn, hold dear. It’s really time for Marceline to go off somewhere and chill out. But this is Marceline The Vampire Queen so it’s not going to be easy. Written by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) and drawn by indie talent Carey Pietsch, this is quite an epic story we see unfold.

It turns out that Marceline is so out of control angry that she’s stirred up some serious bad mojo. She’s got the whole kingdom of Ooo upset and that puts Princess Bubblegum in quite an awkward position. Marce and Bubblegum are pals, right? Marceline’s belligerence forces the princess to respond but she overdoes it by casting Marceline into deep space. And now our story really takes off as Princess Bubblegum must rescue Marceline. The art and writing are fun and zippy. Compositions are nicely balanced. It’s really fun to follow to the last page.

“Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1″ is available as of January 14, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at BOOM! Studios right here.

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Filed under Adventure Time, Boom! Studios, Comics, Comics Reviews, Marceline The Vampire Queen

LA Journal: The Hollywood Museum

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Like any great museum, The Hollywood Museum has earned its reputation. It is Hollywood’s attic, with the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world. The museum, featuring four floors of breathtaking exhibits, is home to more than 10,000 authentic show biz treasures to delight any movie lover and anyone interested in the history and glamour of Hollywood.

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Like the ocean, the limelight is a force of nature without feelings. It just shines. A few mere mortals become stars under its beam. A select few of these stars, like Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, feel the radiance and the burn of the light and then transcend it to gain immortality. The Hollywood Museum proves to be a most attractive venue to gaze upon, and learn about, the stars.

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A most charming fact about the museum is that it is housed in the former legendary Max Factor salon. That was a veritable dream factory! You will see beautiful exhibit rooms in what once were the three separate salons for treating blondes, brunettes, and redheads. From there emerged such iconic beauties as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lucille Ball.

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It’s uncanny how the Max Factor connection is inextricably linked to the museum on many levels: image, beauty, stardom, style, fashion, and glamour.

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Max Factor and Marilyn Monroe certainly go well together.

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There’s a wonderful mix of permanent and temporary exhibits on view. “Tyrone Power: Man, Myth & Movie Idol,” closing this weekend, is an excellent show covering the actor’s life and work in great detail.

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You won’t leave without adding numerous new movies to your must-see list, like “Marie Antoinette,” starring Tyrone Power and Norma Shearer.

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You will rediscover, or discover for the first time, such stars as Theda Bara.

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You can easily wander through the memorabilia and absorb some history on the run. Check out the replica of the Lasky-DeMille Barn, one of Hollywood’s first film studios. You won’t leave without having a fuller appreciation of Hollywood.

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The Pee-wee Herman exhibit! Yes, this place is full of surprises.

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If there’s room for Pee-wee Herman’s suit and bike, then you know this is the right place.

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Whatever your taste, there is something for everyone at the museum. While I’m a movie buff who favors old Hollywood, you’ll find young Hollywood here too for sure, like the above exhibit for “The Hunger Games.” There is so much more I could have covered. I didn’t even go into the Hannibal Lecter exhibit. You’ll have to come see that one for yourself.

The Hollywood Museum is in the Historic Max Factor Building located at 1660 N. Highland Ave. at Hollywood Blvd. For more details, visit our friends at The Hollywood Museum right here.

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Filed under Hollywood, LA Journal, Los Angeles, movies, The Hollywood Museum, Travel, Travelogue

Comics in 2015: Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1

From "Wonder Woman: Earth One," art by Yanick Paquette

From “Wonder Woman: Earth One,” art by Yanick Paquette

It was this time last year that I posted about looking forward to Grant Morrison’s “Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince.” Well, now it would seem to be an even better deal as that story will join forces with Earth One, an ongoing series of graphic novels published by DC Comics which retells the earliest adventures of various DC Comics characters. These stories give each character a freshening up on their origin story and on an alternate Earth so that it is free from, as they say in the comics biz, “continuity restraints.” That means that these stories don’t have to answer to what has already been sort of set in stone in the official DC universe. So, it’s like maybe a dream and it never happened, or maybe it did, but probably not. In the end, a good story should result.

Earth One titles slated for 2015:

Superman: Earth One, Volume 1-2 and Volume 3 will be released February 10, 2015.
Batman: Earth One, Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be released May 12, 2015.
Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1 to be released in 2015.
Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1, originally slated for a Summer 2014 release, now slated for 2015.

The Wonder Woman Earth One graphic novel will be well worth the wait, with Grant Morrison finally tackling his first full-length Wonder Woman story and with art by the wonderful Yanick Paquette, who has worked with Morrison on “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Seven Soldiers of Victory.” For more details, visit our friends at DC Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Grant Morrison, Wonder Woman

Le Cagibi and L.B. Cole at Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle, January 10, 2015

"Black Light: The World of L.B. Cole," published by Fantagraphics Books

“Black Light: The World of L.B. Cole,” published by Fantagraphics Books

If you are in Seattle this weekend, get yourself over to Georgetown and the monthly Art Attack. Then go right over to the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. This Saturday, you have two special treats at Fantagraphics. You can enjoy a slide show lecture on L.B. Cole, the all-time great artist of proto-psychedelic comic book covers. And, there will be a workshop conducted by visiting artists from Le Cagibi, an engraving studio in Lilli, France. This all takes place on January 10, from 6 to 9 pm. Visit our friends at Fantagraphics right here. More details follow:

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics Books, Georgetown Art Attack, Seattle