Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Watchmen

I'm pretty sure that I'm probably the last person on earth to see this
film, just having watched it this morning. I was really tempted to see
it in the theatre, but I hate the theatre anymore (actually I just
dislike the ignorant people with no courtesy, in the theatre), so I
waited for the DVD. I didn't buy the extended version, nor will I
probably bother with the special version that's rumored to be coming
out later this year. I wanted to see it as presented in the theatre, I
wanted to see what everyone was whining about.

It was suggested to me that I go back and read the book before
watching it, but I thought, "why?" I had no intention of judging it
based on the book, and if I won't understand it without reading the
book (as some have suggested) then it's certainly not going to be a
good film! I've heard that it was good, bad, too long, too slow,
departs from the book too much, the whole movie focus' on Dr.
Manhattan's penis, the music was all wrong, and all kinds of other
things. I heard so much I almost didn't want to watch it because it
seemed like I'd already seen it.

Truth is, I liked it. There are a few things I wonder about, like why
did the filmakers decide to make the 40's costumes look so chintzy?
But all in all I really like it. At a little over two and a half hours
it seemed the right length (although I had the advantage of the pause
button so I could get up and go pee without missing anything). The
music? Hey! It's "my" music, no complaints there, I thought it well
used for setting the times and the emotions. I thought all the actors
were fine, in particular Jackie Earle Haley, his last scene was really

Maybe if I'd read the book before watching I'd have nitpicked a bit
more, who knows, but I thought the film did it's job and I'm delighted
to have a "superhero" movie I can recommend to people.


Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 11, 2008

iPhone/iPod Touch Comic book reader

The new application for the iPhone and iPod Touch, ComicZeal, has
turned out to be one of my favorite applications. The program allows
you to view comic books on the 2X3" screen. Viewing can be done in
either portrait or landscape formats, and using the "pinch and resize"
feature, you can zoom in to view at a size that's comfortable. The $2
price tag is more than fair if you only read the 50 or so public
domain comics that are downloadable from the company's website.

But there's more! Using a Beta program provided free at the Bitolithic
website, you can change your own comic scans into the .cbi files that
can be viewed on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. Sharing your scan
with others though has so far eluded me. At first I thought it would
be as easy as allowing them to access my comic downloads folder using
the same I.P. Address that I use. That however didn't work. I have
seen mention that folks are indeed uploading files to the Internet for
sharing, but I have yet to figure out how to do it myself. And of
course there is the issue of copyright and just what is legal and what
is not. Right or wrong, I have my own opinions but I don't want to
argue them (again) so I'll leave that decision up to you.

You can get more information about ComicZeal at:

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hammer Horror Double Feature

Woke up with a sinus headache, Deb is working, so I decided to just take
it easy and watch some movies. First up was Revenge of Frankenstein, the
sequel to Hammer's Curse of Frankenstein, and then The Mummy, the first
of Hammer's Mummy series.

Revenge of Frankenstein is a sequel to the 1957 Curse of Frankenstein,
indeed it takes up where the first one ends off, starting out with
Victor Frankenstein walking to the guillotine. He's rescued by
hunchbacked man named Carl (thought I was going to say Igor, didn't you!
I was as surprised as anyone.)

Three years later we find Dr. Frankenstein posing as a Dr. Stein, and
operating a clinic. One would think he'd finally reformed, but then, one
would be wrong. Joined by another doctor who has recognized Frankenstein
for who he truely is, and wants to assist him, In secret he's still
working on his experiments, having refined them to the point that he's
ready to try again. Its here that the story departs from any we've seen
filmed before, in that the monster is not the hulking brute, but a much
more subtle evil. Well worth the watching, although I would suggest
viewing Curse of Frankenstein first (not necessary, but suggested).

The Mummy is, as far as I can tell, a pretty faithful adaptation of the
original, I guess I should say, remake. Cushing is his normal excellent
self, and Christopher Lee as Kharis the mummy, is much more expressive
than Boris Karloff was in the original. An excellent watch.

The main thing that impresses me about the Hammer films is their
quality. I'd remembered the films as being cheaply produced, and indeed,
according to what I've read the budgets were indeed low, but you
wouldn't know it by watching the films.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Doctor Who

I've been a big fan of Dr. Who since it returned to new episodes a few
years ago. There've been good episodes, and there've been bad, but
mostly they've just been good solid storytelling. This season however
has been particularily weak. The stories have all seemed recycled and
the Dr's new companion Donna, doesn't seem to have a solid personality,
and that's a shame because I like Catherine Tate.

And then along came episode 8 and suddenly I was on the edge of my seat
again, not as much because of the antagonists this episode, because the
plot reminds my of my favorite Dr. Who so far, Blink, but because of all
the overall story developement that's gone on. We get another piece of
the puzzle as to who the Dr. Really is and and just a tad more insight
as to his history. Hooray!

As I understand it, Steven Moffat, one of the better writers, has taken
the helm, and if this two part episode (episodes 8 and 9) are any
indication, the ride has gotten interesting again.

I've got my fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Weekend Scenic Journey

A couple years ago, Deb and I spent a weekend trying to traverse as much
of the PA portion of the Lincoln Highway as possible. When we've
mentioned it to friends many of them have suggested PA Route 6 in
northern PA as a good follow-up. So this years goal is to do route 6 the
length of PA.

This weekend was the first one that we hoped we could make the trip,
depending on the weather. Reports throughout the week varied from day to
day. Saturday morning they were calling for sunny skies but by late
afternoon, thunderstorms. Sunday was also looking like mostly rain, but
we decided to go ahead and take in the eastern part of route 6 anyway.

We got a late start, leaving Hellertown at 10:30 and heading due east to
pick up route 611 (the river road) in Durham PA. We headed north through
Easton, stopping to take our first two pictures*, and then continued on
611 North driving through Delaware Water Gap*. From there we parelled
rout 209 on a road through a state park area and eventually joined up
with 209.

Close to Milford, we took a side road to get a look at the Dingman's
Ferry Bridge, which as I understand, is a privately owned toll bridge
spanning the Delaware. I couldn't get too close without paying $7 to
enter a park but I did get a long shot of it*.

At first we'd considered going up 209 into Port Jervis New York and
picking up route 6 there, but we've been to Port Jervis recently, and it
was starting to cloud up alreadyand it was after 1:00 already. Both of
us are on a low carb diet and we considered stopping for some boneless
ribs at a chinese place in Milford, but decided we'd be alright for a
while. Big mistake!

Next on the map was Shohola Falls, a very poorly signed little park. We
passed it, noticing the small sign at the last moment, but we couldn't
believe it wasn't marked better and continued on thinking we weren't
quite there yet. A couple miles later we realized we were wrong and
turned around. Hiking down the short trail to the roaring sound we were
horrified to find it was a damn. Luckily a couple was just hiking back
and pointed us to the trail to the falls. It is indeed a wonderful
series of small fals that drop into a dark and exotic ravine.*

Leaving the falls we continued West on 6 enjoying the scenery along the
way, lakes, creeks, and ponds all over the place. Eventually we arrived
at Lake Wallenpaupack (you fans of The Office television show will
recall the infamous Lake Wallenpaupack Cruise episode a couple seasons
ago). There was an ice cream stand where we parked, so after getting a
gander and a pic* we ordered a couple hot dogs and two diet sodas. The
soda turned out to be Diet Rite and the hot dogs tasted as if they'd
been on the rotisery grille for days, yuch!

Once again we headed west and 6 soon became a limited access highway,
something I hadn't expected, skirting a very highly populated valley. We
passed town after town and finally picked an exit so we could take a
much needed bathroom break. It was raining pretty good as we got back on
the highway which had merged with Route 81 and followed it to the end of
the days trip, Clarke's Summit. It was about 5:00 when we hit a "chain"
restaurant for dinner.

After dinner we took 81 down into the "coal region" of PA so that we
could get off and drive to one of the small towns to visit a friend.
Sadly, he wasn't home...

Since we both forgot to take the camera, I took some pics with the
Sidekick and I've posted them at:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D. by Al Michaud

Once again my good friend Steve has started reading the latest Fantasy
and Science Fiction magazine before me, even though I have subscription
and receive it a week before he does. Steve has an incredible knack for
knowing just which stories I'll like the best and this month is no

The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D. by Al Michaud is a fantasy (of
the horror type) set in Clapboard Island, Maine. This is Michaud's third
story of Clem Crowder and his involvement in unusual goings on. Early on
in the story, Clem realizes that a local apparation that hasn't been
seen in years is haunting again. Much to his chagrin, he realizes that
she's not haunting a place as ghosts normally do, but haunting him
personally, as wherever he goes, he's followed by the headless woman.
After his wife kicks him out of the house he goes to stay with friend
Dunky Drinkwater who in turn takes him to see a professor at local
Bainbridge Colllege, who specializes in "Parrot Psychology." (Did I
mention that all of this drama has generous doses of humor splashed

That is the start of this 47 page novelet, which gets crazier, funnier,
and more exciting as it goes.

Its not as easy to find F&SF as it used to be, but most of the Borders
and Barnes and Nobles around here carry it, and at $4.50 for over 160
pages of fiction and reviews of books and movies, I consider it a
bargain. But if you're one of those "I need proof" types, you can read
Clem's first published story, from the pages of the July 2003 F&SF, Clem
Crowder's Catch, on the website located at:

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Immortal Snake by Rachel Pollack

I subscribe to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine and I'll admit that
some issues are better than others, but for me, it is the most
consistant, quality wise, of the major SF magazines. Now bear in mind
that my SF reading generally tends towards less Hard SF than many folks,
not that I don't like Hard SF.

My friend Steve knows my tastes and recently emailed me to ask if I'd
read a story in the latest issue of F&SF entitled Immortal Snake by
Rachel Pollack. From experience I know that's Steve's way of saying that
he thinks I'm going to like it. I actually hadn't started reading the
May issue, but I pride myself on reading all the fiction in each issue,
so when I decided to tackle this months issue, I read that story first.

Imagine my delight to find that this novelet, 42 pages in length, was a
wonderful fantasy story written along the manor of say, 1001 Arabian
Nights, or something from the Brothers Grimm. I guess that fairy tale
might be the best description but these days that might imply that the
story is for children, and its not.

Its the story of the current Immortal Snake, newly chosen by the
Readers, priests who divine the word of god by their study of the stars.
The Immortal Snake rules for an indefinite time until it is time for him
to "shed his skin" when the old Immortal Snake is poisoned by the
Readers and a new one is chosen. In the meantime, the Immortal Snake is
treated to constant pleasure. But the new Snake picks his sister as his
female companion, and a slave storyteller as his male companion. The
sister is not at all thrilled with his choice, as the companions are the
first to die when it is time for a new Snake to be chosen. The story of
how the sister uses the strange storytelling powers of the male
companion in an attempt to save all their lives is a wonderful tale, and
in and of itself, worth the $4.50 price tag for the magazine

Now when I review comics I can often, if not prove what I'm saying, at
least send folks somewhere to get a preview of the comic to help them
decide whether I'm right or not, but I didn't think that would be the
casr here. Well, in a way, I was wrong! As it turns out, when I went to
the Fantasy and Science Fiction website, I found another short story by
the same author, Rachel Pollack, waiting right there in the description
of this months contents. Its a much shorter story, but I think it will
at least give you the "flavor" of the Ms. Pollack's fantasy stylings.
You can find that shorter story, The Fool, the Stick, and the Princess

And if you like it, you can probably find the May issue of F&SF at your
local Borders, Barnes and Noble, or possibly your favorite news agency,
or if you're so inclined, you can download a digital version of the mag
from eReader or Fictionwise which are linked on that same page. Or, if
you trust my recommendation I'm sure there's a link to subscribe to the
print version of the magazine. But if nothing else, at least go and
check out the free story so you can judge for yourselves.


check out my latest podcast at:
my comics at:
And my blog at: