Friday, May 8, 2015

A Fistful of a League of Extraordinary Avengers

Conceived and used with the permission of Matthew Constantine and Brad Gullickson, the original dorks.

Everyone has a “Top 5.”  But Brad and Matt, choosing to walk a different path, amended that to “A Fistful…” over at their blog, In the Mouth of Dorkness.  A film-centric blog where they also discuss comics and books and TV, these two regularly share their top 5, ranging from “Heroic Kids” to “Spies” to “Summer Movies” to “Punches” to all things in between.  Always fun, often insightful, and something I hope to regularly pilfer for Warrior27.  As they say:  If you’re going to steal, steal from those you know relatively well, who will not sue you.

            This latest “Fistful” is in response to the ITMOD guys’ latest podcast, where they came up with their fistful of Avengers (or Revengers) from across the film spectrum that they would bring together to combat Thanos, in a world where the Avengers did not exist.  The guys on the ‘cast came up with a great collection of “toughs.”  Here’s my meager addition to that:

·         “Harmonica”  (Charles Bronson) from Once Upon a Time in the West

He’s all about the long game, and he’s not stopping ‘til you are done with this Earth.

·         Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) in The Searchers

Driven doesn’t properly describe Edwards in this film.  You know he’s going to find and kill whoever wronged him, or die in the attempt.

·         The Bride from Kill Bill

She’s the Bride.  ‘Nuff said.

·         Snake Plissken

Again, what more need be said about Snake Plissken.  Throw him into an impossible situation, it don’t matter, he’s coming out of it.  Though probably a bit worse for wear.

·         “The Wolf” (Harvey Keitel) in Pulp Fiction

The Wolf is the Captain America of this group.  He knows what needs doing, has a plan, and will make damn sure you get it done, and done right.  Because you do not cross the Wolf.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What It Is – week ending 3 May [2015]

With apologies to Dave the Thune (as well as Mike Baron & Steve Rude).

Every day.  1000 words.  That’s the goal.

But sometimes, the goal needs to be set aside.  One of the things that has pushed me with my writing is that feeling of irritability I get when I go a few days without writing.  And this isn’t something I notice, consciously—at least, not for quite a few years.  It would take me those few days to notice that I was snapping in frustration at things that did not merit such a response.  I’d then roll through reasons for this, eventually falling on the fact that I hadn’t written anything for a number of days, realizing that was the crux of my frustrations.  Greg Rucka expressed a similar sentiment at a convention panel I attended a number of years back, and that was the lightbulb that clued me into this aspect of myself, but it’s still taken me years to lock onto that lack of writing as the basis of my crappy mood, at the top of my internal Google search.  So, it was odd that I was feeling that same sense of frustration a few weeks back, since this year has been my most productive, as far as hitting my daily goal.  I’d only taken three days off from writing all of 2015, at the mid-point of April. 

I’m not one who balks at pressure—I tend to relish it.  But I was feeling the pressure of needing to keep on my writing streak.  So, I took a break to recharge, to read some, to watch some TV, to just take it easy.  And it felt good.  Ultimately, it only ended up being two days off from writing, but that’s what it took, because by the third day the voices were sliding around in my brain again, begging to be let out.  And that’s what I did.  I jumped back on the horse and started writing. 

Best piece of advice I’ve ever heard on being a writer—which I’ve read in numerous places and mentioned multiple times here—is that one needs to write.  But you also need balance. 

Finished up Tom Sawyer this week.  What more can I say?  It’s a classic, and there’s a reason for that.  The characters, the dialogue, Twain’s way with words, it all works fantastically.  Glad I finally took the plunge. 

As for comics, I’ve been wading in nostalgia over the past couple years, and it’s been great.  Not that there aren’t comics being made today that don’t interest me, but there aren’t many that necessitate my seeking them out upon publication—most of them I’m fine reading in collected form, long after they’ve hit the stands (the prime exceptions are Ed Brubaker’s book, Velvet & The Fade Out, and the upcoming Providence from Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows).  But the pile next to the bed has included early issues of G.I. Joe, Suicide Squad (Ostrander et al.), and, lately, The Badger.  I started reading Baron & Butler’s Badger a few years back, when I put together a full run of the book, across all its publishers, but I stopped at some point around the mid-30s.  But with my hankering for 80s comics, to really excite my inner child, I picked it up again from the start, and it’s been a great ride.  This book is crazy, in that it doesn’t follow anything resembling a “traditional” take on superheroes.  It’s not just the Badger, who suffers from multiple-personality disorder, or his supporting cast, which includes a 500-year-old wizard, but it’s the plots that Mike Baron and his artistic collaborators conceive—an adventure seeking out a truffle hunting pig, an issue where the Badger rides a buffalo in search of a rampaging rhino, and other “out of left field” concepts.  It basks in the glory of being a comic book, which makes it such a fun book to read.  If you like your superheroes a bit off-center, you should definitely dig into the back issue bins for these books. 

So, everyone was going on about Daredevil on Netflix (did anyone find any fault with the show?), which led me to head back to Central City and catch up with Barry Allen, The Flash!  I watched the big time travel story—comprised of “Out of Time” and “Rogue Time”—which had people going crazy on the internet about a month and a half ago.  And they were great.  I go into more detail at this post here, but these two episodes really leveled up this series for me, and I’m back on board until the season finale.  The creators are infusing so many concepts from the comic books into this series, while tweaking others, and it all works so well for me.  And the brightness of the show and the positive outlook of the character of Barry Allen just adds to much to it, and is the right comic book TV series for me, right now.  It’s the difference between the real take on these over-the-top characters so often taken in both film and comics today, and this aspirational take, which is what I want from my superheroes and leads right back to why I’ve been reading so many comics from my childhood.  Not that you can’t have brooding, serious characterizations (especially for heroes like Batman or Daredevil), but you need to have variety (hear that, DC comics?) in order to not just appeal to a broader audience, but also to better define these characters—because if they are all “grim ‘n gritty” how can you tell them apart?  (other than their four-color costumes)

Put down a stone walkway at the house this weekend.  (homeowner win)  I need to make them flush with the ground.  But that’s for another weekend.  (let’s not get ahead of ourselves here)

As always, check out my friends – Brad& Matt and Darren Smith (with Bryan Young on accompaniment, when he’s available)  and Don McMillan, as well as Dan’s foray into podcastdom, the Potato League Podcast, for their own weekly recaps on things comic-y and geeky, and we'll see what's what in seven.