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Archive for September, 2016

520

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

520

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Star Trek 4 :the voyage home

case againstMV5BMjEzOTk1ODU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODEwNDI4OA@@._V1_SX214_AL_There been times when Star Trek four has actually been considered the best of the series. I mean superior even to Star Trek 2 : The Wrath of Kahn. I never understood that, in my mind is actually one of the least successful of the series.

I think its biggest sin is that it is so dated. This is a quintessential 80s film. It’s not just the setting either, not just the product placement of things like Winchells or Michelob or specific places,  it’s the save the whales conceit. It’s the fish out of water conceit. It’s the brand of comedy is being used here, the RUSSIAN looking for nuclear wessels. It’s all just so very 80s. So very hanging out in San Francisco in 1984. Star Trek should ever be dated like this. Sure you can look at Star Trek Next Generation and tell that the hairstyles began in 1987 and ended in 1994, but the series doesn’t feel like a product of its time (with the possible exception of counselor Troi, then again really she’s just doing a job that Dr McCoy qualified to do but still took on in the original series).

One of the great arguments here for this film is that everybody has something special to do. The only other little bits whether it Sulu in the helicopter or Scotty figuring out how to house the Whales and giving over the formula for transparent aluminum. Little bits – I’m not sure how good that small focus is as an argument.

I kind of get that and it’s something that William Shatner tried very hard to do with Star Trek five. It’s also something he failed to do there, but that’s neither here or there. Still it’s not about them having something to do, rather it’s how goofy and stupid those things they have to do are. Goofy antics? This is not what I watch Star Trek for. I want to see the beautiful starship and the red uniforms and charcters in peril and intrigue and this is none of that. It just fails in so many ways for me.

I think time has helped my argument on this by the way. Wrath of Khan is nowgenerally considered the best of all the Star Trek films and Star Trek 4, while still enjoyed doesn’t enjoy quite the notoriety that used to. Still for me, this is an even weaker entry then Star Trek 5.


519

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

519


Hall of Fame City Comic Con

Conmanhof14433166_1286213531423067_5556665941654163354_nIs it just me or is that a very, very long name for a convention? It’s also a kind of a long drive – and traffic was not kind. I first heard about Hall of Fame city comic con around the time AllAmericon was in full swing. The draw for me here, like AllAmericon, was the guests. I had already met Jim Steranko, but they were bringing in George Pérez and Howard Chaykin. That’s a pretty big deal. Perez in general is a huge deal, and a massive catch… But Chaykin matters as well. Before there was a vertigo imprint at DC comics Chaykin really was the linchpin of their mature readers line with his revamps of both Blackhawk and The Shadow. He’s returned to the Shadow at Dynamite comics as well as being the powerhouse behind a whole slew of creator owned comics.

HOF had a couple of problems right off the bat – mostly communication issues. First and foremost, they specifically answered a convention goer’s Facebook question about parking… Stating there are plenty of free parking on site. T14440658_1286211811423239_6658250298626736782_nhis ended up not being the case and if you want to park in the convention hall lot, you were going to drop six dollars. Just as much for a couple of surrounding spaces as well. I flew my little Superman Honda straight past the convention hall, and found a quiet little side street to park on about a block away – it was there that I started to unpack my doctor octopus costume. ( an old man came out of his house and asked me what all this was…was I there to spray for bugs?).

Ock has been upgraded, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do since his appearance at Neo comic con last year. It’s one of those outfits that for me, has always been about the engineering – a way to make or four arms move. When I first deputed at Lake Effect some four years ago, it was even simpler. Sunglasses and tinfoil insulation around my arms, with duckbill flappers instead of claws. For NEO, I had the bright idea of adding in a 14462920_10154142865783853_8921292067643440835_ncouple of grabbers from the dollar store – this necessitated a few more lengths of tinfoil insulation, but that at the happy effect of making my arms much longer than they had been previously. I liked it. The thing is those arms while practical, don’t have the absolute fantastic look to them that I see on so many other cosplayers. It was time to upgrade those tentacles. I enclosed the insulation with rings and rings and rings of foam, detailed and painted to look like a pig iron. I also added a waistband this time around.  It’s a detail that you don’t see in every incarnation, but for this particular look I felt like it would be a great place to do a little bit more dremeling and perhaps add some lights. I had hoped to add a couple of strings of EL wire through the octopus arms as well, but never managed to get around to it.  Still the effect was everything I had hoped for, and this time round I added a new innovation– attached to one of those grabbers from the dollar store, I worked in a selfie stick that once properly attached and turned on, I could take photographs from my phone at any time. (When you get to the end of this article, there’s going to be a LOT of Ock selfies. Sorry about that….)

Traffic held me up, and I was running late anyhow. Instead of arriving around noon-ish as I had hoped to, I arrived 14446004_545454132307303_5851712154395218899_nat ten minuets ’till one. I was immediately greeted by convention goers just outside of the hall, who informed me that the registration for the costume contest was just about to close! I panicked, and they were nice enough to open the door for me as I swept in got my admission and begged them to let me sign up late!

A side note here, I am never doing Dr Octopus again unless I have a handler. I underestimated the difficulty of doing certain things… Opening doors, swiping my phone or changing it to sort the mode with my class stylus, stuff like that. When I got to the admission table I leaned over and the ticket taker cheerfully plucked the $10 admission fee out of my lab coat pocket then wrapped a wristband around one of my Ock claws. I immediately ran into friends Taylor and Nick who were both kind enough 14369865_1286217528089334_7062448235767755552_nto be my hands when I needed them. It’s one of those things I love about the cosplay community – socializing and getting to know everyone while we wait in the line-up for the costume contests… One person was nice enough to turn on the lights on my lower claws, another was nice enough to turn on the lights on my midsection. Everybody took selfies with me and giggled at the octopus arms with the cell phone attached! It was a great group, very friendly and everybody was so happy just to be there. There were dozens of Harley Quinns, there were actually two Bob’s burgers groups… Who would’ve thought that? There was a bubbly, friendly Supergirl who I had enormous fun discussing the Supergirl TV show with. It’s so nice to be able to gush about such a perfect Superman series! I’m jealous, she’s got Melissa Benoist’s autograph!

We all ended up in the line up for a while, but once that costume contest began, they got every through at an impressive speed, and everyone watching seemed to really love what they were seeing. There was such a wonderful diversity of outfits, not just super heros and villians, but horror characters like Freddy and Ash, in addition to anime and game characters! as I headed towards the stage i realized the unthinkable had happened. My Goggles, which were on my forehead had completely fogged up. when I slipped them down I was blind! I pushed them back up and gingerly negotiated the stairs, making my way to the “X” mark. As the announcers were introducing me, I grabbed the goggles with an Ock arm. There was a fine layer of perspiration on my forehead, making it easier to slide the goggles down then stared blindly at the big  dark blob that I could only hope was the audience. Behind me, the announcer from Heroic Adventures was delightedly shocked. “Did you just move the glasses down with the arm? Like in the movie?” Ryan, in his gender bend Katana outfit, insisted on us all taking a selfie with the Ock arms  right there and then before I left the stage! (Big thanks to Amenisty Cosplay for shooting this!)

As I passed through one hall, a flash of light went to buy my eye and I heard crashes done I turned and found light saver battles going on in an empty room.you know, I’ve said it more than once but it really is true – it’s just not a party until the light savers come out.

14463057_1286216851422735_956221891079947432_n14433082_1286217914755962_6069680817035874901_nWith over 2000 people in attendance, crowd control was occasionally a problem… Especially for a guy with four extra arms who was larger than he is used to being. I managed to get around, but the artist alley where the cosplay booth was set up always seem to be shoulder to shoulder. The dealers room was slightly better, with aisles and line set ups for the artists to help manage traffic flow a little bit more efficiently. I was surprised at how small a space the vendor’s room actually was . For such a huge building they weren’t using a great deal of it – the convention really only had the dealers room, hallway antechamber outside of it, and one side room to spread the show across. I can see why they weren’t doing any panels or screenings – the con hadn’t secured enough space.

Howard Chaykin was exactly as advertised. He’s brash, rude and obnoxious. If you’ve ever read any interview with him or heard an editor talk about him, it comes through. He greated us with a hearty “What the f#$% are you just standing back there in line for? Come on up!” He waved us up as he said goodbye to the last people departing his table “People wasting thier entire f@#$%&!* life waiting….”. He eyed us up and down. “Well I see the dignity police have the day off….”

I had a boss like Chaykin. Everyone hated him, but I discovered the trick to dealing with them was to give as good as you get and play along.

“Yeah,” I replied. “That’s why I’m in disguise. Now just tell me one thing; of all the things you could write why Blackhawk?”

Without missing a beat he shot back “Why not?”, then considered the question for a moment and we were o14446028_1288188497892237_5393821480195685266_nff, talking about his fascination with those comics and the concept, hearing about his ideas on the character and his opinions on more recent iterations

The line for George Pérez was endless. Well that’s not exactly true, it was actually the WAIT for George Pérez that was actually endless. Earlier in the day they handed out 100 tickets, and you would come back to check where they were at – if there is no one in line with the ticket then someone without a ticket could come up and get an autograph or sketch. I’m not sure how I feel about this system, if you got a high number you’d be stuck there all day… And that dealers room does not provide enough to do if you were going to be stuck there for say, three hours or so. I was fortunate enough to have friends to hang out with – and God bless Taylor and Nick for hanging out so that they could pull out my comics to be signed and help me lug my swag around. It was fun running into Sean and Mike as well, not to mention the Rubber City Cosplay group with all the familiar faces there. it’s one of the fun things about doing the convention circuit, you run into a lot of the same people despite there being significant distance between everyone normally. The dealers room wasn’t bad, I was pleased to see some booths that I’m not familiar with, not to mention several 50 Cent bins. Not as many deals as I would normally be hunting for, but 14369892_545448045641245_2038040652420621344_nthat didn’t seem to be bothering anybody else.  The atmosphere was happy and cheerful – everybody was having a great time. That’s certainly a good sign for first-year.

Still, there is room for improvement. The parking situation needs to be addressed, and I think this convention may have outgrown its space within its first year. I would really like to see more programming going on, if you’re going to bring in a few top-level talent like this, I’d love to hear them speak.  I know that can be difficult, Steranko and Perez’s lines never ended, and according to the organizer, both Steranko and Perez declined to do a panel because they didn’t want to leave people standing in line (But shouldn’t the ticketing strategy solve that? Perhaps not. It didn’t seem to be working out as ideally as it might). Still, as much as I enjoy the shopping and the hobnobbing with friends – I want more.  I think Hall of Fame City Comic Con really could offer more as well, and become one of the essential stops on the Ohio convention circuit. I’m curious to see what happens next year, and cautiously optimistic. I’m not entirely certain I’ll be back next year…

But I assure you, I’ll be watching.

14390740_1663100647261871_5715534096328513173_n

 


Phantasm remastered

Movie banner14457349_1287267471317673_5192525131738943887_nOver the weekend, I caught the newly restored, remastered version of phantasm. Really, you don’t need the resolution upgrade and digitally cleaned up pretty print to get me out to see this movie. The mere prospect of seeing Phantasm on the big screen is more than enough of an incentive to propel me to the theater. Before we get into the effects of the new restoration, I’d like to talk a little bit about the film itself.and establish a pedigree. There’s lots of Freddy Kruger fans, there are plenty of Jason Vorhees fans. Heck, even Hellraiser has a significant following (Who are abused by their franchise almost as much as Cleveland Browns fans are….).

Phantasm fans are little bit more rare.  It’s a weird niche film, that doesn’t quite get the respect that it deserves. It’s certainly more beloved than most people realize – I noticed at two different conventions, they never seemed to be prepared for the MASSIVE autograph line that the Tall Man would draw. Phantasm fans are a different breed – and I’m the biggest Phantasm fan you’ll find in the Midwest, I assure you. It’s what’s driven me to meet all the members of the main cast- no mean feat (Remind me to tell you all about the repeated near-misses and letters sometime).

 

So what is it about this series that draws my devotion? I recall as a child seeing the phantasm_2advertisements on television for Phantasm 2. They made a big deal about “the ball is back!” And they featured the tall man heavily. I was confused, how did I miss Phantasm one? With something that looked is interesting as this, I surely would have seen the commercials for the last few years. I always perked up when I saw this commercials for Nightmare on Elm Street sequels or Friday the 13th sequels! So what was going on here? It wasn’t too long into the theatrical run of phantasm two that the original start playing on the late night UHF channels. I was not quite as steeped in the look and feel of the 70s then as I am now, so it was a strange beast to me. The hair was actually a little bit off-putting, especially young Mike’s, but there was so much about this that I immediately latched on to. The feeling that I was watching something on those late night UHF channels that I was probably too young for. The genuine creepiness of those endless marble corners, and The mysteriousness of the hooded dwarves. It all created a perfect horror movie… And then in the last act, everything changes.it turns into a completely different film – somehow they tricked me and I don’t watching science fiction all along. It’s a marvelous twist.  Funny, if you just look at it objectively on paper, coming up and saying 14469577_1287266907984396_6839442167741886021_n“It was aliens “really does seem like a cop out, but here it works on unimaginably well. Maybe it’s the fact that there are no flying saucers, no little green man, just a stark white room and those two simple chrome poles… used to brilliant efffect with a simple splitscreen effect.  I was hooked there and then, and it wouldn’t be long before I finally made it to Phantasm two. It  gets some flack for being the high budget entry in a low-budget series, it gets grief for not bringing back Michael Baldwin or Bill Thornbury back, but it’s undeniably where a lot of the mythology starts. It’s where we see four barrel shot gun, it’s where we finally see what really is underneath the hoods on the dwarf robes. It’s the point where the series turns into a road movie, and propels Reggie into action stardom. They bring in the same haunting score, and it proves that this formula can continue to work.

Even though Bill and Mike didn’t come back for this one, Reggie and the tall man aren’t the only two returning characters – the car is back. That’s surprisingly important, the hemi-cuda in the series is every bit of character as any of the actors. I’m not a car person in the least, but that this vehicle really is the through line spanning all the movies, and  it struck me profoundly enough that I spent a couple of years searching for a hot wheels or matchbox version of the car, something to add to a meager Phantasm collection (there really isn’t that much merchandising out for the series sadly. It’s tough to even get all the movies in one set!).

14484685_1287266874651066_4279771011608535694_n

14484770_1287266841317736_7800697036673455131_nSo what about this for a restoration? Interestingly enough, Phantasm really benefits from it. This is on the first time I’ve seen the film on the big screen, cinema wasteland ran a 16 mm copy one year and I was thrilled at how clear it was – being a to read what kind of book is on Mikes bedside table, and being able to make out some of the names on the tombstones. Still, I hadn’t realized how dirty the print was until I saw this treatment. The colors pop, more vibrant than I’ve ever seen them and there’s been some mild re-editing – nothing so insidious as the “Han shot first” thing, but judicious inserts in places like the antique store, the ball victim losing control of his bladder, things like that. Most of the improvements will be late when noticeable, even if you seen this film on hundred times as I have. It looks good, … Sometimes this kind of restoration will actually make movies look cheaper. It’ll turn them into Soap Opera quality rather than Godfather quality. Phantasm is one of those films that really feels elevated by the new treatment. Of course the Capital, being the cult and art house theatre that it is, screened trailers for upcoming presentations of “I drink your blood” and “the Pit”. It all added to the overall atmosphere of the evening. These are the kind of films phantasm would’ve played with at the local drive in or corner grind house.

Sadly, we weren’t quite in synch with FantasticFest at the Alamo Drafthouse so we only got the intro to the film and not the Q&A which featured a beautiful duet between Bill Thornbury and Kat Lester – I see the good folks over at the Horror Parlor have posted it up on Youtube.

14470398_1286341708076916_8484064258982743829_nHowever, the film WAS preceded by a short feature on the upcoming phantasm ravager, What is hoped to be the definitive end to the series, particularly now that it’s star Has passed. The poster was up outside the theater and that alone was enough to give me chills. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I was so excited for a film coming out… Perhaps Freddy versus Jason? But that was a long time ago, and to be perfectly candid, as much as I love both of those franchises, neither mean as much to me as Phantasm does. I will be there in the center of the theatre come October 7!

I hope to see you there to.


517

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

517


Outlook slow switching between folders

techtipsWhen I’m not writing comics or watching terrible films I also work as an IT consultant. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last 17 years.

 
Problem:

A delay between switching folders in inbox, which is als present when switching back to inbox from other places such as Calander and Contacts. This can be fixed by disabling hardware accelleration.
Solution:

There may be a control for this in file/options/advanced under “Graphics” or “Display”. If not, you’ll have to edit the registry.

Step 1 – open your registry. Press the windows key and type “Regedit” then press enter or click the Regedit icon, windows 7 users you can type Regedit in your start bar.

Step 2 – Browse to: COMPUTER \ HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Office \ 15.0 \ Common\ Graphics. If you don not have a “Graphics” right click on “Common” and choose “New” then “Key” and create “Graphics” (no quotes)

Step 3 – Once on the Graphics “folder” right click it and choose new DWORD (32-bit) Value

Step 4 – Give the new DWORD a Value name: DisableHardwareAcceleration and give it a Value of 1 – Click OK to save it.


516

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

516


The wolf man

remakesthe_wolfman_poster_by_galipaksularIt really breaks my heart to say it, but we all know what the biggest problem of the Wolfman remake was don’t we? I don’t understand how after giving such an incredible performance as Van Helsing in Coppola’s god-awful Dracula that Anthony Hopkins just sleepwalks his way through this film. His presence was one of the big selling points for me and yet every line delivery is flat and uninspired. It’s said that he does three takes of every scene at least, I can help but wonder was this is the director just picking the most dreadful versions of this line readings or was Hopkins just there for the check?I just don’t know.

Benicio Deltoro is great in this role and the design is more than Wolfman-final-smalladequate, although I’ve always preferred my wolf man to be more Man-like and this still tips a little more in that direction. However the biggest thing I could do to help this film if I were remaking it would be replacing Anthony Hopkins with somebody who genuinely want to be in this role and could deliver the sinister with the zeal and grim delight.

I’ve got nothing else on this one. This is a surprisingly good movie and it’s a shame that Hopkins lacklustre performance drug it down so much. I do hope that we see another try at this with some more traditional feeling, although it seems like the wayuniversal is doing things were likely to go down another false rabbit hole again.


31

Movie banner31-headerthirty_one_ver7Here’s the thing, I like Rob Zombie.  At least, I like it when Rob Zombie is making horror. That seems to be the problem, at least in the middle of his career… he came out strong with house of 1000 corpses which I genuinely think it is the prototypical Rob zombie movie. It is the blueprint, the archetype. But he got so much blowback from the way it ended – and I’ve heard this criticism myself on more than one occasion. This idea that the end is too fantastic, that it goes off the rails, that it becomes a cartoon… I disagree with all of that by the way, I think the ending is just fantastic enough and it actually punctuates the movie for me. I like that it goes off the rails, because it turns the film into a bona fide horror movie  (when it was teetering on the brink of either being a thriller or a genuine horror). Still, I think he got so much flack for that ending that he felt like he had to go darker, more serious and gritty to be legitimized as a filmmaker. That’s what we get in the devils rejects, and it is absolutely a departure – it’s a different genre then the movie it’s supposed to be a sequel to. It’s very much a road trip thriller, and at the sharp contrast to the horror movie that House was. It’s a trend that we continue through his Halloween films – a far more serious and straightforward tone… with an occasional high concept thrown in just to try and remind you that he can in fact think. Still this gritty serious tone makes those films joyless and sucked A lot of the fun out. This is why I actually appreciate his last film, Lords of Salem. It feels like Zombie had remembered that movies are supposed to be fun. They can be bloody and violent and complete head trips, but they don’t have to be nihilistic. They can still be fun. There are some missed opportunities in Lord of Salem, but it certainly felt like Zombie beginning a return to form. 31 is the fulfillment of that promise and the 31-1true return to form I’ve been hoping for. I feel like this film really drives us  back to that original prototype with a bloody scary, fun film.

We have a group of traveling carny people en route to the next destination when suddenly they find themselves abducted (in a scene very reminiscent of house of thousand corpses) and trapped in a very Saw-like dungeon to play a game called “31 “. They must survive the night… 12 hours trying to move through this factory Labyrinth while killers stalk and attempt to exterminate them. It’s a reasonably simple premise, and we’ve seen 100 times before. Somebody else described it as the running man meets the purge and I think that’s a great description. What that doesn’t tell you though is how much fun this movie is. You root for the heroes, and you desperately want them all to get out. I like these people, and I want to see them escape. You boo the villains. They’re little more than stereotype stand ins, but that doesn’t keep them from being interesting. And yes, the imagery is clown is there, but these are not actually 31-rob-zombie-peliculaclowns. Their masked and made up and that’s about as much as we get to the clown thing.  The kills are bloody and gory and inventive, and our heroes fight back wonderfully. We don’t get a lot in the way of twists although there is a sprinkling of Illuminati behind it all. Still,  I dig this one. it’s Rob zombie doing what I like, bringing the blood, while keeping it larger-than-life. It’s absolutely a Zombie film, we have Sheri moon zombie as one of our leads, it’s set in a 70s that looks more like the way somebody imagined the seventies looking… It’s filtered and greasy and effective..31 is probably my favorite zombie film since his first one, and I’m relieved to see this as his second horror film in a row… It’s a path I hope he’ll stay on, because I genuinely enjoy it when he does.