Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A few entertainment picks

I've recently discovered an author by the name of Kim Harrison. I picked up her first book, "Dead Witch Walking", a couple weeks ago because I figured it's always a good idea to keep up on what other writers are doing in the genre you want to work in. It's a detective story with a supernatural twist. The book was so fun I turned around and picked up book two in the series, "The Good, The Bad, and The Undead" as soon as I finished. Literally.

The story is about a witch named Rachel Morgan, an Anita Blake type but not quite as "badass". It's set in a very cool original world where humans and "Inderlanders" (vampire, were creatures, pixies, fairies, leprechauns, and different types of magic wielders) coexist in society openly, more or less.

If you like Nocturnal Essence, I've got hunch this will be right up your alley. I might even send the author a copy of our first trade when it comes out.

Another remarkably similar book series came out around the same time called "The Dresden Files". It is also a supernatural detective series starring a witch set in the modern day, but it's a bit grittier and is set in a more realistic world. Chicago, actually.

Now I confess I never read these books. I found out about it by way of the new Sci Fi series of the same name. I've been watching it every week since its debut. Great stuff.

And finally, I'll be anxiously awaiting the first season of Painkiller Jane. Sci Fi picked up the pilot. This latest incarnation of the brainchild of Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti is an ex special forces soldier who survived a very "Team 7" like super soldier experiment by some kind of rogue government agency. She has super regenerative abilities and heightened senses, including a kind of computer scanner eyesight.

They recast the lead roll. I'm not sure if this is good or bad yet, but Jane will be played by Kristianna Loken (BLOODRAYNE, TERMINATOR 3). She's blazin' hot and a good enough actress. Bloodrayne was the victim of a bad director. She made it watchable. With that resume, she can definitely handle action scenes. But I hope this doesn't mean they've made radical changes from the pilot.

The pilot/movie was surprisingly good for a Sci Fi Original. I watched it out of morbid curiosity, waiting for it to suck. But it never did. In fact it was actually really good, at good as other shows of its kind at least. If it sticks to what made the movie work, the series should be worth the Tivo space. We'll see.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Gave BSG another shot... meh

So a few months back I caved into peer pressure and finally made myself watch the new Sci-Fi rendition of Battlestar Galactica. I watched the recap and started watching with the premier of season 3.

I had very little nice to say about it, and stopped recording it after four episodes But I was then told by a few different sources that season three started off bad, and was not indicative of the rest of the show. So I tried again and rented the pilot.

Sorry. It's still a weak show. It's better than a lot of trash, but there is nothing exciting that makes me look forward to the next episode here.

Now I have learned to acknowledge that all entertainment is subjective. I live in a world where Firefly fans are legion, people actually consider Stargate SG-1 to be quality entertainment, and some philistines say with a straight face that the Star Wars prequels were well written. I acknowledge it, but fail to understand it.

The look of the series is gorgeous. I love the technology, not too flashy and just futuristic enough to be science fiction. The series portrays a very realistic vision of human life in space. The ship's mechanics are just as vital to the cast as anyone else, not just thrown in for background color. Touches like that ground the series in a way that makes me relate to it more than Star Trek normally can.

But the tone of the show creates a cynical, dare I say ugly, view of human existence. Adama's "We bought this on ourselves" speech seems to reflect a common theme in the show. Much of the drama loses its impact because its mired in so much moral ambiguity. The only time I really cheered was when Starbuck stood up to the X.O. of the ship at the end. I was relieved to know that we were NOT supposed to like this inept jackass, and yet confused as to why he was respected by anyone at all in the first place.

Speaking of losing impact... the space battles are ridiculously boring. They look pretty and realistic, but there's nothing to engage you in the scene. Maybe a friend of mine was right. Maybe I was spoiled by Lucas. Maybe I shouldn't expect all space battles to be exciting and fast paced. But then again maybe that's not so much to ask from a space BATTLE scene.

Oh, and this version of Baltar is just the sorriest excuse for a "villain" in cinematic history. He's too pathetic to boo, but too spineless and selfish to feel sorry for.

I took the rest of the series out of my rental queue. One guy told me that the pilot sucked and that the weekly series itself was better. But I have my doubts that these thematic elements that make the story so hard to enjoy only appeared in the pilot and the beginning of season 3.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Speaking of bad directors

So, get a load of this... At the ICG Publicists' annual awards dinner, George Lucas presented the lifetime achievement award to Sid Ganis, who had been the in-house publicist for Empire Strikes Back. In his presentation he attempts to make quip...

"It's testament to his skills that ('The Empire Strikes Back') is considered the best 'Star Wars' film, even though it was the worst"

Now... Anyone who's watched the extras on the Star Wars videos knows that the man is so deadpan that he can't deliver a joke to save his life. Couple this with comments that he's made in the past, and one can't help but wonder if he was really joking. A lot of fans lit off on him over this comment because, considering the source, it had a ring of sincerity to it. Way to go, George. Good show.


I just finished the first season of Smallville on DVD. The first thing that struck me was that I had been watching this show longer than I thought. I thought I had jumped in during season 3, but I guess it was 2. It's also striking how different the viewing experience is, watching everything in a week opposed to over several months. So many things that an audience considers to be dragging on and on really isn't when you can see the big picture.

A funny aside... A few weeks back I ripped on Kristen Kreuk for screwing up a line. In a scene where this lab was collapsing all around Lana and Lex, she screams "Watch out Mike!" It was so noisy that Mike Rosenbaum the actor must not have caught it either. Apparently neither did the director.

It turns out Tom Welling did the same thing in season 1. At one point Lex asks Clark "Are you alright", to which he response "Yeah Mike I'm fine." How does this stuff not get caught? You'd think that would be material for the blooper reel. Okay maybe not so funny, but I got a kick out of it.

I gotta give Kristen a break, though. Last week she worked sick. I wondered if the writers decided to make it winter in Kansas to explain off why Lana's voice was so hoarse through the episode.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Trying to take notes from Job

Any person of faith will inevitably go through a time when that faith is challenged, often to the point where they are forced to question it. I've had more of those moments than I'm proud to admit.

The book of Job from the Old Testament was about a man on top of the world. He had everything he could ever want; health, riches, a beautiful family. And he watched it all go up in smoke for reasons he could never understand much less control. The point of the story was to show us how a man's soul can survive any amount of hardship so long as he has faith.

Ever since I made the decision to leave consulting and go into tech support, that side of my life has just been one disaster after another. I've been laid off twice, bounced between contracts, somehow managed to survive 18 months unemployment, and now I'm about to be on severance again in three weeks. I don't want to believe that life is a zero sum game, but for most of the last six years, it feels like I've just been trying to recoup my losses.

Now I was never as prosperous as Job, and I haven't fallen as low or faced nearly as much as he did, so I am keeping this in perspective. I know I'm only getting a tiny taste of what he must have felt. And one clear difference between us is my downhill road began with a decision that was firmly my own. I acknowledge all of that.

It's just that when you think you're doing everything right, doing the things that you think God wants you to do for what you think are the right reasons, but you can't seem to scrape out more than a mundane existance despite your best intentions and efforts, it's hard to turn down the RSVP to the pity party.

Just as clearly as I've recognzied the things that have kept me from getting ahead as being beyond my control, I've recognized those things that have kept me from hitting bottom, too. Every time I'm afraid the bottom is about to drop out, God does two things. He catches me. And he reminds me of why I chose this path.

Nocturnal Essence and Redshift have hit a scheduling speed bump, but it won't last past March. Both books are scripted at least an issue ahead and our talented pool of creators is still working. Some are just recovering from bumps of their own.

In July, Rogue Wolf is going to be at the San Diego Comic-Con. We will have great artwork adorning our booth and we'll have new books to sell. No "I hope" qualifier in there. We will. That's a hell of a lot more than I could say last year (or the two years before that).

My comics career looks like it might finally be coming out of its forty months in the wilderness. I doubt you'll be seeing me on the cover of Wizard any time soon, but if you follow the indie press market at all, you will be hearing our name come up a lot more in the near future.