I have been absolutely obsessed with Law and Order: Criminal Intent. One night, a few weeks ago, my girlfriend suggested we watch some actual television -- most of our viewing is via Hulu or Netflix -- and we caught an episode of Criminal Intent. I was hooked immediately. While I'm fond of mysteries and crime fiction, I never got into the franchise before. What got me was that unlike vanilla Law and Order, CI doesn't feature the courtroom scenes which, in my opinion , detract from the pace of the plot. SVU, meanwhile, isn't really an option as I actively avoid reading/watching anything involving rape and sex crimes. But this show hit all the right notes.
Detective Robert Goren's character is what really got me involved. His investigative and interrogation styles are a perfect sweet spot between old-school, Holmsian detection and aggressive Chandlerian interrogation. Goren sees patterns, makes deductive connections, and uses all those other detective skills I feel has been lost in modern mystery dramas -- replaced, at least in part, by unrealistic technology. When faced with an individual, he unbalances, annoys and lies to them in order to get them to slip up, to tear a hole in their own cover story. He also regularly violates the rules which former-cop P.I.s in noir fiction usually attribute to making them leave the force and go into business for themselves. Goren comes off almost as a family-friendly, less sociopathic prelude of Hammett's Continental Op.
Anyway, this post isn't going to be about gushing over Criminal Intent. Rather, it's about set design minutia, a topic which I've previously revealed to be an interest. For instance, in Season 1, Episode 2: "Art", there's the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Crass poster (for some reason disguised as one for a band called "Pocket.") Appropriately enough, it's on an art student's dorm-room wall.:
Next, in Season 2, Episode 22: "Zoonotic", a man appears wearing a Vash the Stampede shirt, from the anime series Trigun. These sorts of shirts, although worn much looser and untucked, were rather popular around this time this episode was filmed. It was always strange seeing kids walk around school wearing shirts with characters from anime they've never watched and video games they've never played. The knock-off ones were even better, featuring near approximations -- just near enough to be uninfringing -- of said characters. (As an aside, the actor on the righthand side is James Urbaniak who, among other roles voices Dr. Venture on The Venture Bros.):
Finally, from Season 4, Episode 12: "Collective", is a Bruce Timm framed painting (?) of Two-Face, as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. The scene takes place in, from what I could tell, is an actual collectibles store, so it may not have been a conscious choice to put the object there. However, the brief shot was intentional, so I can only imagine it was a momentary thumbs-up to Timm:
This is all I could find in the first few seasons, or at least all that really stuck out at me. I went through Netflix's entire Instant Watch CI archive, so once I get my hands on some more, I may follow this up.
Official poster co. Mr. Gable's Reality
If you've been to a video store or browsed Netflix randomly, you've probably been exposed to films by The Asylum. They're responsible for such modern classics as Transmorphers, Sunday School Musical and the upcoming Almighty Thor. Basically, their entire company depends on grandma not paying attention to which DVD she just picked up.
However, this isn't about The Asylum. This is about a dude named Lewis Schoenbrun taking the concept far beyond the pale. Here is The Amazing Bulk:
CJ says that it is "beyond snark" because "everything is directly as the director envisioned." And, well, I wholeheartedly agree. The plot progresses from a crime procedural to blowing up the moon and the stilted dialogue ("Barney the purple dinosaur") throws this film into the artistic territory of 1990s FMV games. Something like 1995's never-released Duelin' Firemen:
Anyway, here is a minute's worth of footage from Bulk. As far as I can tell from the acting, everyone participating in this movie is having a whole lot of fun.
The entire six-season run of Kids in the Hall is on Netflix right now and I have burning right through the thing. Netflix's ability to scroll through a video with previews is a godsend for sketch comedy series; I can skip all the sketches I dislike -- sorry Scott Thompson's idiot-man and that annoying little kid Bruce McCullough plays -- without having to mindlessly scroll into the middle of sketches. Anyway, in the middle of the first Tammy sketch, I noticed something curious:
Cover via DC Wikia
It wasn't referenced to in any way. I guess a part of the sketch was that Jimmy Olsen happened to have been at that press conference. Just another reason to love (most of) Kids in the Hall.
So you've got these plans:
Co. Wikipedia. Click to Enlarge
...and you down to the hardware store...
...and build yourself one of these:
In comics news, the first issue of Nikki Cook's and Ben McCool's 6-issue mini Memoir is out as of yesterday, published by Image. The cover is by the always-excellent John Cassaday. Here's a preview co. Comixology. And here are the creators speaking about it for the Radar (also, I'm in it for roughly two-thirds of a second.)
If you're in your mid-20s right now, you probably remember the 1990s Jim Lee-design-inspired X-Men animated series, which ran from 1992-1997. If you're younger, you probably grew up with either X-Men: Evolution or the very-recent Wolverine and the X-Men. However, there is one series that predates all of these.
It was a failed pilot from 1989 called Pryde of the X-Men. I still remember sitting on my mother's boyfriend's couch, ten years old and confused as hell as to what I was watching and why it looked absolutely nothing like the TV series I caught, by hook or by crook, every Saturday morning.
Fortunately, someone uploaded the entire pilot to YouTube. For some reason, they saw it fit to give Wolverine has an Australian accent. Meanwhile, if the character designs seem familiar, that is because they were used by Konami for their 1992 X-Men video game, which has just seen a re-release on XBLA.
On a complete whim, I've recently started to read the early-90s Marvel crossover event Infinity Gauntlet. For video game fans who have never heard of the series, it was used as the storyline for the 1995 Capcom fighter Marvel Super Heroes. I'm not entirely sure what sparked my interest in that particular storyline, but so far I've been enjoying it. Early-90s Marvel was my entrance into comics, so it is a bit of a nostalgia trip as well.
This one panel stood out to me, because it is just absolutely adorable. I am not sure what the were going for -- omnipotent power or something -- but it looks like Chibi-Thanos has located the six Infinity Marbles he needs to beat the other Titans on the schoolyard.
So, today is this blog's one-year anniversary. One year ago, after a couple incessant weeks of bothering Andrew about the specifics of blogsmanship, I bit the bullet, Photoshopped myself a logo, asked my admin to run WordPress for me and, well, here we are. I have to say that this is the most responsible I have ever been with a personal project. Four updates a week – originally five but Friday Night Blogging didn't take – rain or shine and, barring some personal issues, I kept to it. When I didn't, friends stood up for me. Andrew, CJ and Josh were always there when I needed them to be. And not just, you know, posting a music video with a few lines of commentary.
Anyway, it's been a rough year for me (the roughest yet, honestly) and having this blog has made it just a shred easier. I had a thing to do, and I did it, and every day I went to sleep knowing that I accomplished something today. It didn't matter if it was an a prolix writeup of my first Velvet Underground record or a compilation of Perfect Strangers clips set to Offenbach's Galop.
So, in honor of the anniversary … I'm giving myself the day off. Considering this is more text than I've put into most entries lately that seems a bit weird, but it works for me. See you next week, everyone!
For those of you going to New York Comic Con this weekend, Nikki Cook (who just so happens to be my special lady) has written up a fantastic con etiquette guide. It's mostly aimed at her fellow artists, but you get enough geeks together in a convention hall and there are some clear and present rules everyone needs to follow.
She'll be at the Comic News Insiders booth on Friday from 4-5 and then on Sunday from 12-1, so drop by, say hi, and pick yourself up one of her awesome ashcans.
After nine splendid years of headaches, sore throats and money thrown toward my own demise, I've decided to Stop Smoking. Period. I spent the entire day on campus wearing a nicotine patch and it has been considerably less harsh than I thought it would be. I've “quit” twice before. The first time was a January several years back; it was a month-long group challenge of resolve, inspired by needing a month of recuperation from a December spent in the guise of Hedonismbot. The second time was just a few months ago when I stopped smoking for a week due to being more sick than I had ever been sick before. I was fine, honestly, until I had to actually leave the house and go to school, where I found myself surrounded by the vice. I gave in before the withdrawal tics turned me into a someone's Modern Dance thesis project.
...and now I'm done. Fin. Kaput. I swear that I will not turn into an evangelist and will still be as fervently pro-smoker's rights as I have ever been. I leave you with a small excerpt from David Sedaris' quitting essay “Letting Go” and one of the more bizarre Disney shorts I found while researching for this post on MetaFilter.
It’s one thing to give up smoking, and another to become a former smoker. That’s what I would be the moment I left the bar, and so I lingered awhile, looking at my garish disposable lighter and the crudded-up aluminum ashtray. When I eventually got up to leave, Hugh pointed out that I had five cigarettes left in my pack.
“Are you just going to leave them there on the table?”
I answered with a line I’d got years ago from a German woman. Her name was Tini Haffmans, and though she often apologized for the state of her English, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any better. When it came to verb conjugation, she was beyond reproach, but every so often she’d get a word wrong. The effect was not a loss of meaning but a heightening of it. I once asked if her neighbor smoked, and she thought for a moment before saying, “Karl has . . . finished with his smoking.”
She meant, of course, that he had quit, but I much preferred her mistaken version. “Finished” made it sound as if he’d been allotted a certain number of cigarettes, three hundred thousand, say, delivered at the time of his birth. If he’d started a year later or smoked more slowly, he might still be at it, but, as it stood, he had worked his way to the last one, and then moved on with his life. This, I thought, was how I would look at it. Yes, there were five more Kool Milds in that particular pack, and twenty-six cartons stashed away at home, but those were extra—an accounting error. In terms of my smoking, I had just finished with it.
Dark Horse recently revived Doctor Solar, the nuclear-powered hero with a nuclear physics Ph.D. As a pre-teen, I remember hanging around in the comic shop after school – the owner was a distant friend of the family who knew I was harmless (and had a direct line to my mom if I wasn't) and therefore never bothered kicking me out – and checking out all the cool stuff I didn't remotely have the funds to purchase. For some reason, Doctor Solar always stood out. He looked, to me, like a cooler version of the pre-Jim Lee (or post-John Cassaday) -era Cylcops. I thought he may have been a ripoff, what with the popularity of Valiant, the publisher of his first revival, long waning by the time I got into comics. It turns out that Solar's first appearance, published by Gold Key, was in 1962 – beating the debut of the X-Men by almost a year.
My favorite aspect of Doctor Solar is the Golden Age covers art. While the internals were pretty standard Golden Age work, the covers were painted and resembled dimestore pulp novels. I found a number of them on this website and want to share a few of my favorites. Unfortunately, I can't find who the artist was, so if anyone has a clue, let me know in the comments: