Thursday, January 30, 2003

One of the delights of setting up this Blog is that it gives me a chance to introduce folks to other sites on the Internet. One of my personal faves, and one that I try to visit several times a week, is Mark Evanier's POVOnline.

Mark Evanier probably knows more about show business than some folks twice his age, and he hasn't let his own closeness to the industry turn him totally cynical. He can still enjoy those things which urged him to become a writer as a kid.

As time goes on I'll be adding more links to this page, but I'd be doing you a Mark a disservice if I didn't make his one of the first.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The Ring – Boy, this sucker had me slouched down in the theatre chair and afraid to hold my popcorn. I figured the next scene would have me spilling it all over the floor.

It’s easy to see why this film is still packing them in at the box-office after bigger budget movies have come and gone.

My new favorite actress Naomi Watts gets to show a different side as the reporter who seeks the reasons behind her niece’s sudden death. Hearing rumors of a mysterious videotape, whose viewers die within a week of them watching it, she travels to the mountain lodge and discovers the tape (this is probably the biggest coincidence in the film, and you have to allow it for the rest of the film to hold up, but I think they could have come up with a more logical way of getting the tape in her hands).

If you’ve seen any of the trailers for the film, you’ve already seen some of the disturbing images that appear on the tape. Watching it, along with the movies characters, you immediately think of BLAIR WITCH or just about any college film project shown on PBS or cable access.

Based on a Japanese novel and film, The Ring does make some changes, but remains one of the creepiest films that I’ve seen in quite a while. I can only imagine how seeing this on video or DVD at some later point would only add to the chills of the films ending.


I have since seen the original Japanese film and have to commend the American filmmakers for retaining so much of the original. I can certainly understand why some changes were made, especially hesitating to give the ex-husband psychic powers. If the Japanese crew had had the financing of the U.S. version, I can't imagine them doing better than they did. In some ways the ending of the Japanese film was even creepier than the American, since it implies the reporter would be willing to sacrifice another to save her son.

Die Another Day – Pierce Brosnan again does a good job as the second best James Bond I this long-running series of films. (You all know who #1 is!) Halle Berry does a very nice job at more than looking great, as Jinx an American agent and more than a match for Bond all around.

If you can ignore the horrible Madonna theme song (one of the worst Bond opening tunes) , as well as her cameo as a fencing dominatrix…I mean, instructor, the movie is a lot of fun. Not a great Bond film, but certainly better than some other entries in the series. Just don’t go in expecting anything but the usual.

They - If THE RING was scary than this feature by director Robert Harmon (who directed the very creepy THE HITCHER with Rutger Hauer in ’86) goes up several levels into terrifying! Wow!

I know that the film was pretty predictable, as the plot reveals that certain children who suffered from ‘night terrors’ had actually been marked for later capture by creatures from another dimension (which is more implied than explained clearly) when they are in early adulthood. Still the suspense and scares continue to mount until the final scenes where one frightening image follows another.

Given its use of dreams and ‘nightmares’ it is easy to see why it appealed to Wes Craven enough to put his name on the movie as distributor. You really expect to see Freddy Krueger pop up at the end of the film.

I love scary movies!!
The following was published in my most recent zine. I've actually cut & pasted it from the original draft, so I apologize for any typos or spelling errors.

Cerebus (Dave Sim) and Bone (Jeff Smith) –I’m sure that there are fans of both these gentlemen who eagerly await each and every issue of their respective titles. I have to admit that at one time you could certainly have counted me among them. However, as it stands now it's more a matter of habit than interest that keeps me picking up each issue. Also, as both titles are nearing the end of the runs I still want to see where their creators are taking the characters.

Oh sure, we all know that Cerebus is going to die (alone and on mourned, we have been led to believe), but we are not so sure where the fates of the Bones shall lead them.

In the case of Dave Sim and his book, I have actually been finding it chore for the past half dozen issues, as Sim's Woody Allen stand-in takes dictation from Cerebus on the earth pig's interpretation of the Bible.

No doubt there are folks who are riveted by Sim's anti-feminist ranting, but I'm certainly not among them. It was easy to ignore his, provocative and misogynist spouting for the past few years, as there were enough other things going on, plus Dave kept his speeches at the back of the book and you could ignore them, if you saw fit. The current story line does little but produce page after page of bile and I really don't care what Sim thinks about Canadian politics, feminism or Islam.

Get on with it, for Pete's sake! If you don't have anything to say with you character (besides using him as a mouthpiece for your own theories) kill the book and just admit that you ran out of ideas years ago. You painted yourself into a corner by declaring early on that you had 300 issues of story, but found that you ran out around 100 issues short. Even at 250, you could have ended it, as you joked in the book, and I really don't think more than a half dozen folks would have cared.

Naturally, the guys over at the COMICS JOURNAL would have had a field day, but you claim not to care what they have to say anyway!

Sadly, I pick up each issue and find that after I've read everything else in my bi-weekly shopping I still hesitate to skim the book. I can't wait until 300,when all of us can R.I.P.

It's not quite so bad with Jeff Smith's BONE. Smith still tries to make the adventures of his characters interesting and he seems to actually care about them. The problem is that I no longer do!

The book seems to have fallen into the trap of
a lot of fantasy tales. Once you set your characters out on their journey, how do you maintain interest until they finally arrive. Apparently, Smith hasn't figured it out and worse yet his characters, for the most part, seem not to have changed or grown since their journey began.

Oddly, it seems that only Smiley Bone (initially little more than comic relief) has added any depth to his character. While still playing second banana to Phoney, it is Smiley who demonstrates he has learned from what has happened, becoming wiser and better for it. Phoney, more so than any other character seems to be actually dim-witted, since he continues to motivated totally by greed, even when his own life is in danger. Having been saved by the intervention of just about every other major character, at one point or other, you have to wonder why any of them (Smiley included) wouldn't just want to let him finally pay the price for his stupidity. While Fone, the title character, has become bitter and lost almost any sense of the warm-hearted creature to which we were first introduced.

The book, as with CEREBUS, just isn't fun to read anymore. I enjoy Smith's art and still find that some of his writing shows the skill that drew me initially into the book.
A brief introduction is probably in order, for those of you who don't feel obligated to visit here simply because you know me.

My name is Steve Chaput and I'm a librarian at a University in New England. For close to fifteen years, prior to coming back to my home state, I had been a public librarian in Brooklyn, NY. Having been born and spent most of my life in New England I just felt it was time to move back, if only to escape the hussle and rudeness which seems to be growing in The City. I'm also a Navy veteran, having joined the service back in 1969, when the U.S. was still deeply mired in Vietnam. If you want to peg me politically, you can think of me as somewhere to the left of almost any politician who still calls himself 'Liberal'.

If I'm doing this Blog thing correctly I would assume to eventually make an A** of myself. Feel free to drop me an e-mail and let me know if I'm living up to that. :-)

Primarily I'll be ranting about comics, movies, television and even an occasional 'real' book. I'll also be reprinting some of the reviews and commentary that I do for my apa-zine, NOTARY SOJAC. (Just in case you think that sounds familar, it was something often seen in the comicstrip SMOKEY STOVER. As a kid it just seemed like something cool and it always stuck in my head.) I've been active, on & off, in various apa groups for over twenty years now and I just can't break the habit.

By the way, if my name is familiar to anybody it is probably because I used to review comics for the newsletter INSIDE JOKE (published by fellow blogger Elayne Riggs) and for a while FACTSHEET FIVE (in the Mike Gunderloy days). For several years I was active in Friends of Lulu's Metro chapter, so you could have spotted me at numerous conventions around the country. Also, for several years (primarily during the mid-1990s) I was quite active over on some of the Usenet groups, especially the Comics related ones.

That does it for now!