Friday, August 31, 2007

Red Skelton

I'm watching some DVD's of old Red Skelton shows. Now, he seems to be somewhat funny and this isn't my first introduction to him. What's amazing to me is that his show was on for 20 years and yet no one really ever talks about it. They talk a lot about "The Simpsons" going into its 19th year and "Gunsmoke" ran for 20 and praise is heaped upon "Walt Disney" and "Ed Sullivan", but "The Red Skelton Show" is virtually ignored. It aired from 1951-1971.

Perhaps it is because Skelton's type of humor was really sort of cornball. In fact, when I used to watch Skelton on TV when he appeared occasionally up until his death in 1997, I noticed his propensity to laugh at his own jokes that weren't very funny to begin with.

Skelton was also an anomaly in the movies as well. Whereas other stars of his caliber such as Bob Hope or Jack Benny transcended the "compilation" type feature like "Big Broadcast of 1938", Skelton happily immersed himself in those type of pictures, so that there isn't one defining moment of Skelton genius.

I guess that's what made him unique, but also very puzzling to me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stardust Review

I had extreme reservations about seeing this film, mainly due to the nonexistent or negative publicity surrounding it mainly due to the fact that there have been a number of fairy tale movie disappointments in recent times like "Chronicles of Narnia" or "Polar Express". It didn't matter that Neil Gaiman wrote it, because I wasn't sure if he could write the type of movie I would like anyway. (Actually, Jane Goldman and Director Matthew Vaughn wrote the screenplay.)

Anyway, I am happy to say, and with Lee's encouragement to go see it, that "Stardust" is the surprise movie of the year and ranks up there with "Grindhouse" as my two favorite movies of 2007 and is a contender for one of my favorite movies of all time.

It has in its cast some of my favorite actors of all time like Robert DeNiro (in one of his best roles) and Peter O'Toole, and others that I respect very well like Michelle Pfeifer and Claire Danes. But good actors do not necessarily make a good movie, nor does good directing alone, which is done by Matthew Vaughn, who has only directed "Layer Cake", previously, but is in line to direct the upcoming "Thor". Good writing does! If you don't have a good script in the first place, the old "you can't polish a turd" phrase applies.

Speaking of casting choices, Lee asked me once what woman is my type. I have never heard of or seen Kate Magowan before, but I was immediately entranced by her appearance and her performance, and she isn't even the main star. And of course, there's good eye candy with Sienna Miller and even Claire Danes, who doesn't come off as plain as she usually does.

The movie is at once very fantastical and is paced very well. There is a lot of humor and at once reminds me of "The Princess Bride", but unlike that film's jarring returns to Peter Falk and Fred Savage, this movie stays in its fairy tale setting the entire time. It also reminds me of two other films that I enjoyed very much, "Time Bandits" and the recent "Nanny McPhee". "Stardust" is better and is a definite must see that should be seen on the big screen to be fully enjoyed. The visual effects, though plentiful, do not burden down the proceedings as the story is consistently the main focus, not the effects.

Without spoiling anything, there are three storylines going on that actually tie up very nicely by the end of the film. One is of a dying king (O'Toole) telling his surviving sons what they need to do to become the next heir to the throne; a second is of three witches (the main one being Pfeiffer) who need to find another solution to help refresh their lost beauty; and the final one is the story of Tristan (Charlie Cox) who wants to marry the beautiful Victoria (Sienna). She concedes to do so if he can fulfill this one task. Through a number of twists and turns, it is accomplished with great satisfaction and with some surprising results. Ian McKellan handles the narration chores throughout and although I am usually against excessive narration in a movie, this is done very well.

Despite some violence, this is really a movie that the entire family can enjoy and be entertained. They don't make movies like this very often. I'm glad they did this time out.

Stuff I Don't "Get"

I feel that I'm a fairly intelligent person, but there's a number of things in this day and age that I truly don't get that other people love or at the very least accept blindly. The following is a list of those things. Some of them are obvious, others not so much. This list is not necessarily complete, just some ideas that came to mind:

1. Lenny Bruce
2. Jacques Tati films
3. Will Farrell movies
4. Julia Roberts' beauty
5. Bush's high approval ratings in 2007
6. Bob Dylan's singing (except maybe on "Lay Lady Lay")
7. The "9/10" on gasoline prices
8. Sales tax is separate in the US
9. Daylight savings time
10. People who don't remember their own childhood
11. People who don't let you merge when you are signaling on time and then change to the lane you were in when you finally do merge
12. Pretentious people
13. Vitamins and "Ask your doctor if it's right for you" medications
14. Discounts on stamps for two ounce letters
15. Islamic extremists
16. Non-Islamic extremists
17. Multiple logos on TV screens
18. Scrolling text and moving graphics on TV screens
19. The high praise for TV shows like "Arrested Development" and "The Office"
20. Dane Cook's comedy
21. The US boycott of Cuba in 2007
22. "Matrix" movies
23. "Lord of the Rings" movies
24. Chris Tucker
25. Martin Lawrence
26. Bernie Mac
27. Iphones
28. Apple-only fanatics
29. Scooby-Doo
30. Hedwig
31. Standing in line for movies or products that are commonly available
32. Brad Pitt
33. Tony Danza (except on "Taxi")
34. People who have no knowledge or interest in anything that came out before they were born
35. "Reality" shows
36. "Entertainment Tonight" and those type of shows
37. Eddie Izzard
38. Whoopi Goldberg
39. Rachael Ray
40. Dr. Phil
41. Tyra Banks
42. Oprah Winfrey
43. David Letterman's show ever since he moved to CBS
44. "The Family Guy"
45. "American Dad"
46. Carl's Jr. commercials
47. People who get upset at the things people like Anne Coulter says
48. Terminally flaky people
49. The fact that there seems to be an endless supply of ammunition in Iraq, so much so that people can randomly shoot their guns off into the air when their soccer team wins
50. Why we don't have Social Security taken out of our checks all year long and then the SS administration complaining that they don't have enough funds to pay everyone
51. No socialized medicine in the US
52. The fact that socialism is considered a dirty word in the US
53. Jackson Pollack paintings
54. Robin Williams being compared to Jonathan Winters
55. Humorless superhero movies
56. Excessive use of penguins in animated films
57. Why I don't make more money
58. Taking your shoes off at the airport
59. The uproar about Janet Jackson's tit on the Superbowl
60. The fact that making lists like this does absolutely nothing to change these things

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stupid Google!

Stupid Google dropped my Mark's Rare Comics website from their listings on July 31, making my number of views plummet. My dad contacted Google to get it reinstated, but the damage has been done. Mark's Rare Comics used to rank at the top (or in the top 3) if one typed "rare comics" in the Google search. No more. For those wanting to see my site, it's at

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sicko Review

As with all Michael Moore projects, I loved "Sicko". What's interesting about Moore, is that I don't always agree with his politics and also I know sometimes he manipulates his facts somewhat to prove a point. What he does do with this and all of his films is to make his films entertaining and to make you think. "Sicko" was at once very funny and also very depressing. The best part was when Moore mentioned the word "socialism" and visions of old USSR stock footage appeared in the background while he revealed that the US has socialized schools, libraries, firefighters and police. We're just idiots about this stupid health care issue. We could easily adjust to a universal healthcare model if our politicians would stop being bought off. And what are they being bought off for anyway, they already do and will continue to have free healthcare and if done right, the taxes won't go up. Of course, us being the US, we won't do it right, and taxes will soar.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Freelance Writing and Other Jobs

Hey Everyone reading this. I am looking for a freelance writing job writing about the entertainment industry. My interests include movies, TV, animation, comic books, etc. Also, if you have any full time (or even part time positions) in your entertainment-based company, please let me know. Drop me an email at with what you can offer.

Freelance Writing and Other Jobs

Hey Everyone reading this. I am looking for a freelance writing job writing about the entertainment industry. My interests include movies, TV, animation, comic books, etc. Also, if you have any full time (or even part time positions) in your entertainment-based company, please let me know. Drop me an email at with what you can offer.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Superior Casper Volume From Beck and Cabarga!

If you've seen my review of Sid Jacobson's book "Ultimate Casper", this book is even better. In fact, if I could give it six stars, I would. This is the best treatment of a Harvey character that I have seen. This time the book presents Casper in a truly historical perspective, giving a brief history and also reprinting stories from not only the Harvey days, but the prior St. John days, including Casper's first appearance in comic books.

Some may quibble about the black and white artwork, but Leslie Cabarga explains it well in his editor's notes that the original artwork and silver prints were used for this high quality production. Jerry Beck informed me that this volume should be compared to the likes of the "Marvel Essentials" or "DC Showcase" series than the "Marvel Masterpieces" or "DC Archives". In fact this book has much better paper and reproduction than the black and white Marvel and DC volumes and it is a miracle that this was even produced.

I am looking forward to future volumes of this series. Richie Rich is next and Hot Stuff is scheduled to be third. If proven successful, Dark Horse should continue to re-present every major and minor Harvey character over the next few years and the possibility of a new comic book line may develop.

For those looking to investigate the history of Harvey in greater detail, I'd recommend "The Best of The Harveyville Fun Times!"