Friday, June 21, 2013

Pop culture roundup: David Lynch! Captain Marvel!

An upcoming album by director David Lynch will spotlight the "Twin Peaks" creator's guitar skills.
The follow-up to his solo debut, 2011’s Crazy Clown Time, the album (distributed by Sacred Bones) features a cover of Bob Dylan’s "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" and a bonus track with Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li. Lynch describes the collection as “modern blues.”
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Jon's Random Acts of Geekery posts images from a cool 1940s Captain Marvel coloring book. Print the scans and color at home!

Fab Friday: Vintage Beatles pics

Ciggies.







Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vintage horror mag fan club buttons




New trailer for Cartoon Network's Beware the Batman


BBC radio this week: Stream comedy, drama and music documentaries

Click the links to hear the following shows.

Robinson Crusoe Dramatisation of Daniel Defoe's castaway classic stars Roy Marsden.

Fear on Four Series of horror and suspense tales, hosted by the Man in Black.

The Goon Show Classic material from one of the all-time radio comedy greats.

The Man in Black A creepy raconteur, played by Mark Gatiss, introduces spooky tales.

An Hour with Jon Pertwee The star of Doctor Who, The Navy Lark and Worzel Gummidge entertains an audience with his one-man biographical show.

Ian Rankin: The Third Gentleman Cully, the 1790s Edinburgh sleuth, is forced to investigate a series of ritualistic wine-cellar murders. Stars Alexander Morton.

Ian Rankin: Rebus Adaptations of Rankin's novels and short stories about his famous Edinburgh detective.

Terry Pratchett: Small Gods Dramatisation of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel starring Anton Lesser, Carl Prekopp and Patrick Barlow.

In Concert: Sousxsie and the Banshees Chris Hawkins presents Siousxie and The Banshees at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1988.

6 Music Live Hour The Kinks live in 1977, plus BBC sessions from Lotion and Southern Tenant Folk Union.

Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone Stuart's featured album is Pat Metheny's debut record Bright Sized Life.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Superman: Man of Steel - some spoilers

Even non-comic book fans have now seen the Superman legend re-told enough times that they can spot deviations from the canon. And, as you may have heard by now, there are some interesting changes made in this latest retelling.

Right from the start, we see a lot more of Krypton and get a lot more back story on the planet's impending destruction than in previous tellings.

We also see a lot more of Jor-el: Action Hero. As played by Russell Crowe, Superman's dad gets more screen time than in any previous Superman film. This sort of makes sense. Crowe is a great actor and probably cost a lot of money to hire, so you might as well get some use out of him. Also, this is a very Krypton-centric film, which is interesting in that it's different, but which also may account for its chief failing -- it's not a very human Superman story.

Plot-wise, this film is essentially a remake of "Superman II," in which three Kryptonians bust out of the Phantom Zone and wreak havoc on Earth. That's what happens here, too. Although, CGI being what it is, the baddies can wreak a lot more havoc this time around. In 3-D, to boot.

The detailed back story on Krypton helps provide some context for these villains. We also learn a few things about Krypton's culture and politics, and a little bit about how they make babies. That  last part didn't really make much sense to me, but is crucial to the plot, explaining why General Zod, the appointed guardian of pure Kryptonian culture, comes after grown-up Kal-el with such a vengeance.

But Krypton is a cold-looking place full of cool, emotionally-detached, people. And, as a result, there's not as much focus on Superman's human side and his supporting cast. But there are some bright spots here and there.

The brightest is Henry Cavill, who is a great Superman. He can sell the goody two shoes aspect of the character, while also hitting the mark on brooding and anguish. He's very reminiscent of Christopher Reeve in his approach to the part. We buy him as a nice guy who's just trying to figure stuff out. Why is he different? How does he fit in?

Also nice are Diane Lane and Kevin Costner who feature as probably the most-developed Ma and Pa Kent in Superman's movie history. We see where Kal/Clark gets his sense of morality and grounding. There's a nice parental warmth from both actors, you sense they really care about this crazy kid and his mixed-up superpowers.

Scenes from Clark's growing-up years are deftly woven into the narrative throughout the film and are all good. The presence of "Smallville" producer David S. Goyer as one of the film's screenwriters probably helps with this.

On the downside, there's Lois Lane. Amy Adams is a great actress and is typically fun on screen. But there's not much to this Lois. If we buy her as an enterprising, aggressive reporter, it's only because we figure we're supposed to, having seen Lois Lane plenty of times in other movies and TV shows and in comic books. But, really, the part is pretty flimsy.

I liked Laurence Fishburne as Planet Editor Perry White, though he didn't get to do much. The other Planet staffers are not really developed characters -- just extras in peril. I also liked Christopher Meloni as a military man who befriends Lois and Superman.

The one thing about Lois in this film I thought was interesting, and maybe even a good idea, is what many Superman fans will hate: Lois knows from the get-go that Superman is Clark Kent.

Now, Superman history buffs know that Lois knowing Superman's secret isn't sacred lore, just nearly so. Back in 1940, Superman's creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created an unpublished story where Clark revealed his secret to Lois. Also, many years later, Lois and Clark were married and, obviously, Lois knew her hubby was bullet-proof and could fly, etc.

But to not have Lois in the dark, even for bit, may seem like sacrilege or at least a lost opportunity to some fans. Superman hiding his secret from Lois is half the fun of the character.

On the other hand,75 years after Superman's debut, can we really buy a Lois Lane who isn't smart enough to see through that crazy spit curl and glasses trick? How can the world's foremost investigative reporter not figure it out?

I have mixed feelings. I like, for the sake of Lois Lane as a viable, respectable character, her knowing the secret. But I also missed the secret identity hi-jinks. Maybe there might have been a way to have fun with this: Clark trying to fool Lois and Lois saying "are you kidding me?"

Back to Krypton: The battles between Superman and the Phantom Zone baddies go on and on during the last third of this film, and it's really too much. Characters go pummeling through Metropolis high rises to the point where tumbling sky scrapers become a bore.

Superman has superpowers. So do these other guys. We get the point. But, in the midst of all these prolonged battles, the human element gets lost.

In the film's last moments, we see Superman struggling to make a choice as Zod (well- and menacingly played by Michael Shannon) threatens to kill a small group of bystanders. But any realism to the scene is lost, since the Man of Steel has just spent the last 30 to 45 minutes punching his way through every office building in sight. Weren't people killed or injured every time he did so, without seemingly giving it a second thought?

The creators of this film's sequel would do well to focus on a terrestrial conflict and spend more time on the human side of Superman. Judging by the "LexCorp" truck we saw get smashed in this one, maybe that's just what we'll get.

Music new releases June 18, 2013: Bill Frisell; Frank Zappa; Miles Davis; Man or Astro Man; Lester Young; Patty Duke!

Click the links to order discounted CDs, LPs and downloads from Amazon.


Big Sur by Bill Frisell


Woody Guthrie at 100 (CD/DVD)


Over-Nite Sensation by Frank Zappa vinyl


Freak Out! by Frank Zappa vinyl


In a Silent Way by Miles Davis vinyl


Defcon 5...4...3...2...1 by Man or Astro Man


Don't Just Stand There/ Patty by Patty Duke


Boston 1950 by Lester Young


Sings Songs from Valley of the Dolls/ Sings Folk Songs (Time To Move On) by Patty Duke