Thursday, June 30, 2005

Movie Time: War of the Worlds (spoilers)

Back in the day, I used to play in my high school symphony band, and our conductor would always say that the audience will forgive you anything as long as you finish strong. Now, that's putting it a little too simply, I think, but there's quite a bit of truth to the idea that a good ending will make up for a lot.

What happens, though, when everything is great except the ending? The new War of the Worlds movie was terrifying, visually arresting, and highly entertaining. But the end. Gah. The end was ridiculous (and no, I'm not talking about how the aliens are defeated -- I was cool with this because I'm familiar with the source material). The ending of this movie was so unbelievably unbelievable I seriously thought Tom Cruise's character was dreaming, and that he was going to wake up from his happy-ending-dream and realize that no, in fact, not everyone survived, it was a frickin' alien invasion, and the chances are slim to none that every single person you care about, and their significant others, and their grandparents, and their Boston townhouse were able to survive. But no, it was not a dream, it was how this movie ended and it was really disappointing. Maybe they just have a lot of germs in Boston or something, and Miranda Otta spent the entire invasion doing laundry, just in case, you know, her ex-husband and their children made it all the way from New Jersey without dying so she could greet them at the front door with perfectly flawless and clean clothes.

I want to recommend this movie, because so much of it was really fun and perfect for a summer movie. But that ending. The end of a movie, like the end of a piece of music, is your last impression, the thing that sticks with you immediately, before you've had a chance to think over the various parts and scenes and remember your favorites. And the end of War of the Worlds was lame. I can't really say anything else because I'm so disappointed by it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New to Comics: One Year Later (Part II)

So what started me down the path of comics again, after that last dismal experience (related below)? Well, two words, actually: T. V.

I started watching X-Men: Evolution mostly because of the movies, and at first I thought it pretty much sucked. But eventually, especially around the end of the second season, it started to hit its stride, and pretty soon I became a fanatic: 'shipping for certain couples, talking about it with whomever I could corner, getting up on Saturday mornings just to watch new episodes. But once the show ended I realized I still needed my X-Men fix, and I realized that the easiest place to get this was comics. I was no longer as daunted as I had been about comics because I kinda knew what I wanted. And the internet was clutch in helping me find good stuff (see this excellent Return to Comics post). To make a hugely long story short, I'm now a comic book reader, hardcore, and to some extent, my purchasing choices are still influenced by television shows.

Like Justice League/Justice League Unlimited! Thanks to this fantastic show I'm reading books of varying quality, but I'm having a lot of fun getting into the DCU. For the first time since starting down the comics road, I finally get the appeal of the DC "universe" (sure I had read some Marvel books and some DC books, but I was never really into the larger continuity -- until now).

Because I've been in a whirlwind love affair for the past 12 months (with comics of course!), I've been thinking about how to get others to share in the love, and to a small extent I've succeeded. I've introduced a younger family member to the four colors and he's succumbing, though slowly. Others have been a little more resistant (you know who you are manga-lover). But I'm not sure comics can ever be "mainstream" because it takes too much work to really get into them. Even with the impetus of good comics-based cartoons on t.v. stirring me on, it took a lot of research and experimentation to finally find what I like. Of course, maybe that's the way it is with all hobbies, and I'm just noticing it now 'cause I'm new to this sort of thing. But I understand and share the desire of so many, to get more people into comics, because I love this new world I've entered and I want to share it with as many people as I can.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Just finished watching this movie, and I can't get enough William Powell! The Thin Man movies are an interesting hybrid of comedy and the hardboiled detective drama, and I'm trying to think if there are any other films out there that combined these two genres as effectively. The comedy aspects and the hardboiled stuff are balanced perfectly so that neither waters down the other, and yet both co-exist in the film without it feeling like you're watching two different movies.

Plus, Nicky's drunk all the time, so he would fit right in here at the Flying Inn!

New to Comics: One Year Later (Part I)

I started reading comics about a year ago. For some reason, I had never really gotten into comics as a child (with the exception of Calvin & Hobbes, and a Dick Tracy movie tie-in comic, and some old, obscure sci-fi graphic novel my aunt gave me), which is weird because -- despite being a girl -- I was into all the stuff one might associate with comics: I liked superheroes (Batman: The Animated Series was a favorite), science fiction, fantasy (the Conan movies were favorites), and various other things in "nerd" culture (I played roleplaying games, loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and hung out in an arcade with my older brother). Now, of course, liking these things doesn't necessarily translate into liking comic books, but in my case, I did like comics (see Calvin & Hobbes above) but I never really knew about the larger comic book culture; I had never been to a comic book store, didn't even know if there was one in my town, and so I never really had a chance to become a hardcore comics reader.

Short Anecdote: About 6 or 7 years ago, I thought I'd try to get into comic books, so I went to the only comic book shop I knew about in my area and started browsing. I was unbelievably self-conscious, had no idea even where to start looking, and the guy at the counter was involved in a very animated conversation with a customer about something I couldn't understand at all (whether they were talking about comics or indie rock, I don't think I'll ever know). Once the customer left, my first thought was to ask the clerk what he recommended, but shyness and fear of embarrassment prevented me. I wandered around a few minutes more, growing unbelievably uncomfortable (the silence in the place was deafening), and finally grabbed a Powerpuff Girls comic, payed without a word, and left, pretty much convinced I would never go back. At that time, the world of comics seemed completely inaccessable to me.

I've got a feeling my first comics shop experience was so dreadful because of a strange mix of two things: I was embarrassed to be in a comic book store in the first place (what if someone I knew saw me go in there?!), and at the same time, I felt like a poser, trying to pass myself off as someone who knew what she was doing, but who really hadn't the slightest clue what was a good comic to buy. I felt like I was too cool and not cool enough both at the same time. The store I go to now has a fantastic clerk, who is super-friendly, makes great recommendations, and is genuinly eager to make customers feel welcome, and even though it was my own insecurity that hampered that first experience, I'm wondering if, had the guy at the counter been more helpful, I might have gotten into comics that day 6 or 7 years ago.

More, on how I finally did start reading comics, and why comics are still pretty scary for the uninitiated, to follow. . .

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only. There is hope for a man who has never read Malory or Boswell of Tristram Shandy or Shakespeare's Sonnets: but what can you do with a man who says he 'has read' them, meaning he has read them once, and thinks this settles the matter?"
-- C.S. Lewis, "On Stories"

Friday, June 24, 2005

"But who will write us a riding song. . .

Or a fighting song or a drinking song,
Fit for the fathers of you and me,
That knew how to think and thrive?
But the song of Beauty and Art and Love
Is simply an utterly stinking song,
To double you up and drag you down,
And damn your soul alive."
-- The Flying Inn
, p. 71

Thought I'd give this blogging thing another try, 'cause I'm nothing if not dogged (snerk). I figured I'd explain the name and why I chose it (to all my numerous fans), and marvel at how Chesterton continues to have his pen on the pulse of modernity even nearly 100 years later.

The Flying Inn is one of Chesterton's novels, and I decided to read it basically because I loved the idea of a traveling pub rambling through the countryside trying to escape the nefarious forces of prohibition. They've got a wooden sign, a barrrel of rum, and a wedge of cheese -- how could I not read this book?!

Well, it turns out The Flying Inn is also about the growing fascination with, in England and elsewhere, non-European religion and philosophy in the West, and how this is a bad thing. About abandoning our culture for a foreign culture that is really not all that better than our own. It's about England, and the English, and how English and Western culture should be praised and celebrated, repeatedly, in song. Not to mention, the novel deals with the ridiculousness of things like Prohibition, Vegetarianism (unless, of course, like Patrick Dalroy and myself, you mean vegetables that have been liquified and fermented, and add fun to a party), and Diplomats. Never enough ridiculing of diplomats found in literature in my opinion.

Of course, the inferiority complex the West has about her own culture is not the main thrust of this blog (as my very first post ever *below* will reveal), but it's not a bad topic to bring up once in awhile (and I just might). But I didn't pick the name of The Flying Inn for my blog because of the book's thematic content.

Why, then, The Flying Inn? Well, since most of my posts will probably be semi-incoherent anyway, why not name it after a pub, right? Mostly though, I liked the idea of being "on the run," unable to stay in one place too long else the authorities catch you, always popping up to cause trouble or merriment or an epic battle, whatever the need may be. No need to worry though, my blog will probably never be as cool as I just made it sound in the last sentence.

So, this is The Flying Inn, and it will cover many topics, flying from one to the other without warning. Hopefully someone, somewhere will share a bit of my wedge of cheese and enjoy it.

Well. That didn't work out the way I wanted, did it. Well-played Spurs, and good job Timmy (though you are no longer my pretend basketball boyfriend -- some things cannot stand the test of losing the NBA championship). I love my 'Stons though, they played so hard, and I've got a pretty good feeling I'll be watching basketball into June next year. . .

Thursday, June 23, 2005

De-troit Basket-ball!

Game seven tonight. Go Pistons!!!