Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pop stuff: What I'm reading, watching, hearing, etc.

James Bond: Skyfall. My son and I had a chance to see this (in Big-D!) last weekend and it was a blast! Not as grim as Daniel Craig's first Bond outing, not as silly as those of Roger Moore, this serves up everything in the proper  proportions: Action, humor, suspense and -- still something a bit new for Bond -- deeply felt emotion. More than any Bond film, we get under OO7's skin as he copes with problems he can't simply shoot away (although, he can still dispatch with many of his challenges that way). We also get a better sense of what makes him tick.

Along the way we get a wild opening chase sequence that I won't ruin by trying to describe, other to say it's hilarious, jaw-dropping and goes on and on (in a good way); a new Moneypenny; great performances by Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney; and a delightfully creepy villain played by Javier Bardem, who seems to adopt a new, weird hairdo in every film he's in these days.

Everyone likes to list his or her favorite James Bond actors. On my list, I'd put Sean Connery first, followed closely by Craig. He's great in this role and has many of the same characteristics that made Connery so attractive: He's funny, charming, tough and lethal.

"Skyfall" is also among the better Bond films I've seen. It's certainly one of the best post-Connery entries in the series.

Seeing as how this is 007's 50th year on screen, it was also nice to see a few tributes to the old films in this new one. I won't spoil those, either.

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Russ Cochran's Sunday Funnies. I'm sure you can all  relate: What with being a husband and dad and having a full-time job and other projects on my plate, it sometimes takes a while to get around to reading some of the great stuff that piles up around here. But lately, I've had a chance to dive into these bundled treasures of vintage Sunday comics compiled by famed comics historian and collector Russ Cochran.

This is great stuff that really gives one a sense of what it must've been like to be a kid in the 30s and 40s, when the Sunday newspaper delivered beautifully illustrated adventures and humor in the form of Tarzan, Frank Goodwin's Connie, Buck Rogers, Alley Oop, Frank King's Gasoline Alley and more.

Drawing on the legendary Bill Blackbeard archives and other sources of vintage comics, Cochran has printed well-chosen selections from these strips and more in a huge broadsheet format. If you sit in a chair and open up these pages, you'll disappear behind them. And that's what's so cool, you really get enveloped in the strips and can appreciate, say Hal Foster's Tarzan art, up close as never before.

Each "issue" of the Sunday Funnies includes three broadsheet sections bundled in plastic. The paper is durable and the art and colors are nice and clear, yet shot from original newspapers. I have two issues, not sure if the third is out, yet, and I've purchased them online via my comics retailer.  But you can order directly from Russ here.

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