Mascot — fall 2000

By this point, I had the distribution/solicitation/marketing thing down pat. 

I put together for Mascot, a story set in a bizarre sector of the Twilight Zone. Basically, in an abandoned baseball field, a large bunch of baseball mascots (giant foam heads, uniforms) all battle to the death. The things I do to amuse myself. To be clear, there’s not necessarily anyone *wearing* the costumes. There’s a pirate, a Marlin, a Giant, a Tiger, etc., all just beating the hell out of each other. In an empty ball field.

It was bizarre, odd, violent and kind of fun, although I don’t think anyone really understood it, and if so, that’s on me. And I certainly didn’t help matters when I did the stupid cover.

The cover was simply the logo over a photo of clouds, with a hint of baseball park lighting in the lower corner. This was a huge tactical error on my part and especially stupid considering I’m painfully aware of just how important covers are in selling a book. 

So sue me, I was in a cloud phase. 

Why…. why not a couple Mascot heads on a baseball mound? Something to actually give an indication as to what might be happening IN the book?!?! Whatever my thought process was here… it was wrong. Lesson learned. 

Plenty of copies of Mascot are still in the basement, I think. I probably threw some boxes out by this point. I’m not sure. 

And there was a back up story as well. Something along the lines of the Pillsbury Doughboy coming alive at breakfast time and killing people. Then I was reminded that one of my clients did the advertising for pillsbury and I did some tweaking. Either way, this was not award winning material. Moving on…

Doctor Who Recommendations- The Matt Smith era

The youngest actor ever to play the Doctor, Smith was too young to have watched the classic show but when doing his homework after getting the part, he fell in love with Troughton’s portrayal in Tomb of the Cybermen.

1)The Eleventh Hour is a bold entrance for the new Doctor and Smith is in fine form, handling an invading alien crisis with an escaped criminal without any Tardis, sonic or his complete faculties. At the end, he IS the Doctor. So basically, “run”.

2)Amy’s Choice. A brilliantly creepy, oddball story featuring another an evil specter that seems to know the Doctor and enjoys torturing him and his companions by placing them in dreams and in danger. Excellent stuff.

3)Vincent and the Doctor. One of the most emotional and heartbreaking eps of the new era. Brilliantly written, directed and performed. Perhaps the best of the Smith era.

4)The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. A massive story that has everything wrapped up in a big box. Under Stonehenge. Threatened by all the races the Doctor’s ever gone up against. Surprises, twists and “timey-wimey” insanity as only Moffat can deliver.

5)A Christmas Carol. One of the finest specials of the new era gives us a DW spin on the old classic story. Fun and heartwarming.

6)The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. One of the most ambitious stories ever from Moffat, which brings us the Silence. Scary aliens in suits that you forget the second you look away from them. Epic story.

7)A Good Man Goes to War. Once again, swinging for the fences, another huge story, as the military clergy and the headless monks have Amy and her baby hostage. The Doctor and Rory are coming to rescue them, and they’re not alone. The Doctor calls in his debts. It’s war.

8)Let’s Kill Hitler is worth it just for the title alone, but the continuing story of River is a great bonus, as is her furthered relationship with the Doctor.

9)The Girl Who Waited is a powerful tale, with an excellent performance by Gillan.

10)Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. This is the fun that Doctor Who should be. 

11)The Angels Take Manhattan is a solemn, spooky tale that ends Rory and Amy’s time with the Doctor. Emotional and excellent.

12)The Name of the Doctor is a frightening and powerful look at the Doctor and his secrets, as he’s beset by the evil that is The Great Intelligence. It’s also a great lead in to…

13)The Day of The Doctor. The biggest television event in history, shown simultaneously in over 90 countries, 50 years to the day from the first episode’s airing in 1963. The story lived up to all of it. Every hope, every expectation, every Doctor was represented…and then some! Can not recommend this one highly enough.

Honorable mentions:

*The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone. Great big story, with River, Weeping Angels military clergy and the crack in time.

*The Lodger, a great, fun, down to earth episode. Smith shines.

*The Doctor’s Wife. The Tardis takes human form. Good ep.

*God Complex. Oddball ep but worth it.

*The Wedding of River Song. The complex but very enjoyable end to Series 6.

*Cold War. A worthy entry for the return of the Ice Warriors.

*Journey to the Center of the Tardis. Bit of a hidden gem, where you see more of the old girl than at any time so far. Good ep.

Plenty of Independence

I can’t really say that I’ve ever been excited about the 4th of July. Conversely, I never had any real problem with it. Except maybe the aspiring arsonists who get their rocks off by blowing off fireworks well past midnight because SPARKS GLOW PRETTY. Karma usually takes vengeance on the drunk ones in those scenarios though. 

Maybe it’s more accurate to say I never really gave the holiday a lot of thought. 244 years ago, we got our independence, all signed, sealed, and delivered. 

I could ramble on for quite a while about how this country was built, who built it for us, and who actually did the labor. But we’re all aware of these facts, and there are waves of people *not* social distancing out there that are more than happy to point out the unacceptable, horrid history of America while they sip their lattes and tweet.

But hey, they’re not wrong. Our ancestors did a mountain load of reprehensible shit over the past several centuries in the name of power, religion, land, money, or all of the above. It all happened and we don’t have a time machine to go back and fix it. 

What gets me though, is that for a while, during *my* life, I thought we were better. I really was naive enough to think we’d made progress. I, like so many people in our comfortable homes, REALLY thought things were better. That *people* were better than they were 100 years ago. 52 years ago.

I feel there have always been generally good people, generally bad people, and all the shades of gray in between where the fear, love, strength and hate dictate things. These rules apply to everyone, everywhere. It’s usually somewhat complicated. You hope that the good outweighs the bad. 

I think the HOPE was, that the backward-thinking, racist shit-heads were on the decline. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the 2016 election opened our eyes on a few things. A lot of stunned people who couldn’t believe who won–no one more so than the guy who won. In one fell swoop, we found out there were a lot of people who felt under-represented, angry, disenchanted, you name it. 

Worst of all, having a dim-witted, ranting, racist malcontent in the Oval Office emboldened a lot of people with similar hobbies to start throwing their weight around. It was disheartening to see these trolls start thinking they became legitimized by having a like-minded comrade in the White House.

Then 2020 happened. I wasn’t overly happy with 2019 but this year is unwinding like several bad summer blockbuster films one after the other. 

COVID and Floyd. 

Nothing good happened anywhere around these events. Not leading up to it, or coming off of it. The president of the United States has been as big a disappointment here as he has in everything else. 

We need help and we need it bad. We need an intelligent plan to deal with so many things but at the moment, we need to make sure we never have another COVID situation like this again, nor another Floyd scenario. Right now, I have little faith that we can prevent either from happening again.

But these are the problems I’m thinking about on Independence Day, and I’m sure most of you are too. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of what we’ve let this place become.

And NO, I’m not one of these hysterical types who’ll threaten to move to Canada. What good does that threat do? If everyone with a conscience, a sense of decency moves there, who and what’s left here?

It all just pisses me off, because yeah, I was dumb enough to think we were better than this. Hopefully we can change things in November.

Instead, I’m forced to look at Independence Day and America and think, “What the hell have we done with it?”

Steve Steel, Epoch – Spring, 2000

Maybe I’ll chalk this one up to watching a lot of so so Hercules movies on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Hercules always seemed like a fun loving guy who didn’t know his own strength and got into some crazy adventures. I decided to create a demigod called Steve Steel — basically, a combination of the old Hercules movie actors Steve Reeves and Alan Steele.

His only real appearance in this form came in the Epoch anthology book I did with some other illustrators at my studio. My story in the collection was a 14 page adventure where we come in during the tail end of a huge battle. We hit the ground running and maintain a fast pace throughout. A very powerful demon/god named Be’el, had mopped the floor with most of earth’s heroes. Even Steel, who had to be brought back to consciousness by Mataak (who I talked about yesterday), one of the others still standing. John and Theresa Longbow (*see yesterday) were doing what they could to stall the demon long enough to come up with a plan. 

Steel’s natural strength was too devastating in our fragile world, so he’d had power regulating implants put in his body to lower the levels. Be’el had managed to take control of the power dampening implants in Steve’s body to steal his strength away. Once Steve realized this, he ripped the implants out of his body, thus unleashing his full strength. While usually all too powerful in that state, it’s what was needed to defeat Be’el and drive him back through the dimensional portal to his home.

I actually had a few other interesting characters I brought in here as back up villains to Be’el, including a feminine android, a levitating Sumo wrestler and a hyper kid that flies around bouncing off walks called High Impact. During the course of the 14 page story, everyone pretty much interacts with and/or battles everyone else. 

Also, I’ve got two narrators who are watching the story along with us, with one explaining certain details to the other for some built in exposition. All’s made clear by the end. This one holds up fairly well across the board.

It would be 2008 when we next saw the altered version of the character, as Elof, an Asgardian prince as part of The Battalion in my graphic novel “100 Covers”, which I’ll get to later on this month. 

The Epoch anthology story would be the last time I’d play with most of these characters, especially John and Theresa Longbow. John especially had some potential, with his mental powers. Maybe some day.

Epoch was a vanity project where most of the illustrators in our storyboard studio got together and contributed. Mike Dammer contributed a page, Scott Larson did a two or three page short story, Seitu Hayden, Jim Wisnewski and Mike Edsey and I all did various longer stories for the book, with Mike Sobey doing the cover. 

I only add this to the proceedings this month as this was the start of the Epoch imprint I used for my solo books for the next several years and kicked it off by organizing the group project. 

All in all, it being an anthology book, black and white, and created by unknowns, we didn’t do too badly as far as sales. We all pitched in the proportionate amount of money based on how many pages we contributed and after it hit the stands, we each even got some of our investment back, so that was cool. 

All in all, a win-win.

It was definitely a one time deal though. 

Illustrators are much like cats when you try to herd them, so this was our one shot *together*. It’s been 20 years, but while I think Seitu might have had something published since, I don’t anyone else has. 

The Flea (Mataak) –1995

Now we’ll start at the very beginning, that’s a good place to start…..

Around 1990, I had a character I created called the Flea. He was a six inch tall alien from a distant planet with super strength, invulnerability and the power of flight. Over the course of a few years, I tweaked and changed the concept in preparation for developing a proper comic.

For the next few years, I did various short stories, and I even did a more involved tale and realized way too far into the process that the pages were the wrong dimensions for proper comic pages. Rookie mistake. Took a break. Eventually came back with a better story.

It’s 1995—-The alien was now 18″ tall and his name was”M’tk”, but called Mataak. Named by the two humans he befriended when arriving on earth, John and Theresa Longbow, both of Algonquin Native American descent. “Mataak”, in Algonquin, meant something like “to fight”, I believe. He was also named that because even though he wasn’t born yet, we knew if we had a son, his name would be Matthew. Of course, Theresa was already around, albeit just.

The basic thrust of the issue was that Mataak came to earth in an experimental warp craft to head off an invasion. His distant planet of Myristica had been ravaged by alien warlords. M’tk had learned the location of a future planet targeted by the warlords and vowed to not let that planet suffer the same fate as his. Working with scientists, he was genetically engineered to be the right warrior for the job and sent off in the craft that was much faster than the warlord’s armada and thus beat them to that next target planet: earth, but only just.

The trip to earth for the warlords took a few months, but in that time, M’tk used his time to plan and prepare, then warped over in the nick of time. In hindsight, if I had to do it over today, I might have had Mataak come to earth, have some adventures, get settled in for several issues, then build up to the big invasion. But I wanted to hit the ground running.

Mataak is introduced along with John Longbow and his granddaughter Theresa. She’s the no-nonsense head of a family run corporation and he’s a bit of a mystic, a touch of Yoda in him. He drives Theresa crazy. He senses Mataak’s arrival and he and Theresa go to help.

The warlords arrive and start wreaking havoc, so Mataak has to move fast. Defending a group of humans, he destroys one of the invaders and afterwards, commits what appears to be some form of ritual arrangement of the body. He then attacks another warlord from behind and unseen, whispers “Duvaari” to the other invader, which terrifies him. Mataak successfully makes the invaders think that earth is already infested with their deadliest enemies, the Duvaari. The con works and the warlords are more than happy enough to move on. Afterward, Mataak reveals his craft was only able to make a one way journey, so for better or worse, he was here for the duration. 

Now, I went through all the steps mentioned above to set things up for printing and distribution, and got a decent amount of orders. I had a printer down in Texas work up 3,000 copies– that was way more than I needed but at the time, it was their minimum print run. And, because of the scheduling of the monthly distributor catalog, if I wanted to keep things moving, I had to have another two issues ready to go, so I did create a second and third issue. Sadly, the order numbers for issue two were far too low to rationalize getting a 3,000 print run for that as well. Thus ended Mataak’s book. Issue two would have introduced more side characters and issue three would have been the actual Duvaari coming to attack, with Mataak’s earlier gambit coming back to bite him.

But nothing is ever abandoned. I liked the characters of Mataak, John and Theresa, so they did make another appearance in 2000, in the Epoch anthology book I put out with a bunch of illustrators from my studio. I’ll have a bit more about that in the next entry.

As for Mataak, he once again came back in 2008 as part of a whole superhero team called The Battalion I created for a graphic novel called 100 Covers, which we’ll get to later on. I incorporated the Duvaari invasion into that project, in fact.

Creative side note: a co-worker of mine at the time, Mike Semer, was supposed to actually do the dialog in the Mataak book, but after a miscommunication, he left the project. All because of a typo. It took me a while to figure out what the hell happened.

There was a scene early on where John Longbow sensed something was very wrong, some disturbance in the force, if you will, etc. 

Mike had a wonderful line for John describing the disturbance as “A warp in the wood of reality.” This was a brilliant line. Unfortunately, when he typed it up, he hit the wrong key, so line read as “A warp in the woof of reality.”

Only ever seeing the “woof” version, I didn’t get it at all and when I asked him about it, not realizing he had the typo, he insisted that it was a great line but he didn’t hear me saying woof, thought I was saying wood, thought I just didn’t appreciate it and was assuming I was out of my head questioning him and just being difficult. Didn’t even bother to look back at the sheet at what he typed. And he bowed out of the project immediately. He probably figured I was a temperamental perfectionist. He probably was right. Still…. “woof”.

For the longest time, since we never cleared it up, I was under the impression he thought “woof” was brilliant for some reason. 

I definitely corrected the typo and went with “A warp in the wood of reality.” 

Best line in the book. 

As for the art, it was pretty raw, but even worse was that I hand lettered it. That was painful. I later went back in and digitally redid the lettering. Chalk it all up to early days, I suppose. This was also one of the very last times I used zip-a-tone! Good times. 

Creation Month -prologue

This entry is kicking off  “Creation Month”.   

Basically, several days this month will feature some of the creations I’ve concocted over the years, regarding comic books and comic characters. I’ll give the reasoning behind them, if any, and what the point was, if any, to them. Give you a look at the process, the circumstances and the outcome, be it success or failure. 

My goal was to create professional comics and successfully get them printed and distributed. Regarding my projects in between 1995 and 2004 that I’ll be talking about in the coming days, I did just that, at least until the process became financial untenable.

First, becoming an independent publisher is a bit daunting. Certainly not impossible but there are things you have to do to facilitate the business. It’s a good idea to do your homework. Talk to comic shop retailers and get their input on when the best time of the year is for an independent comic to actually hit the stands, and any other tips they might have. Then find out about all the steps it takes to print and distribute your book. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not difficult.

In essence, the process I list below is what I usually did with each of my comics. So, a little bit about the process about actually self publishing:

The era I’ll be referring to was mostly before the internet and web comics so if you wanted to get *your* comic book distributed around the world yourself, you would go through the channels with a company like Diamond, who, until recently, had a monopoly on distributing print comics in America. To get things going, you would do the following:

(assuming you’ve already completed your comic….)

A. Have your comic ready to be published. Diamond wouldn’t take just anything and they certainly wouldn’t allow anything in the catalog that was unfinished because some illustrators are like scatter—brained cats that can’t keep to a schedule. Some. Make sure that product is ready for publication.

B. Contact the main distributor (Diamond) and get their timetable, schedule, deadlines for their process.

C. Send them a mock up of your book to show them you had a proper product and they can see it’s worthy of being published. As I say, if it was unprofessional looking or not finished, odds are, they wouldn’t allow you to solicit your book in their catalog. They would let certain companies like DC, Marvel or Image be late back in the day—and they always were, but that was a high profile comic company, not an independent. Some may refer to Image as an independent, especially back then but they would be incorrect. Considering the rock star names they had in the company, the high profile, and the millions they were hauling in, they were a big company. When it comes to unknowns and independents, there were different rules.

D. Send all the necessary info for the solicitation of your comic to the distributor. This would be:

*The mock up of the book

*The solicitation copy for your book to be printed in the catalog, a couple lines telling the comic shop owner what the book is about. Hoping to catch their eye. Most comic shop owners would sell or give away the monthly catalog to their customers so they too could see what was coming up and maybe ask the owner to order certain things as well.

*Any ads and/or artwork for ads you wanted to put in the catalog. For ads, you would find out the ad sizes and prepare your ad appropriately. I would usually get a smaller, quarter page black and white ad for $800.00. The hope, of course, would be that the ad would generate more interest on behalf of the comic shop owner, or readers. hopefully pump up those orders. Then you hope the orders are sufficient that they pay for the ad and the printing costs. (They rarely, if ever did)

E. So, after all your stuff was in, the distributor would put your comic into the catalog, send it to all comic retailers for them to order comics, etc. 

F. You would contact a printer that does comics professionally and they would print up a run of your book to fill the orders. I would contact Brenner printing down in Texas, as they did a nice, professional printing job on comics. And Diamond would pick up comics from there each week. Initially, the *minimum* print run at Brenner was 3,000 copies, which was brutal but thankfully, eventually, that came down to 500 . Much more affordable.

G. Your comic would hit the shelves in comic book stores around the world. 

I probably committed to this process with at least a dozen different one shot comics over a decade.

The actual timetable for all the above steps went something like this, if you wanted your comic to *hit the comic stands* in May of any year:

1. You would send all your solicitation materials to Diamond before the January deadline, thus ensuring you would get into their *March* catalog.

2. The March catalog would come out, previewing all the comics due to come out in May. Retailers/fans order comics.

3. All the March orders from retailers are supposed to be in by early April, the numbers go out to the publishers late April.

4. Publishers (me) gets the numbers, contacts their printer—who already has the files/art ready to be printed.

5. Printer prints up the order number for diamond to pick up. any excess copies get shipped to the publisher. that’s why I still have many boxes of old comics in my basement.

Oh, and lest I forget, there’s the *pricing* of the comic. What price do you put on that cover? It’s a bit more complicated than one might think because of the profit breakdown. Most retailers would keep whatever comics they order and not return them and get 50% of the cover price on every individual comic/copy sold. Diamond would get 15% of the cover price and the publisher (me) would get 35% of the cover price on each copy sold. So the comic shop owner made more money on each copy than I did (as he was taking the big risk getting stuck with comics). Plus, I had to pay the printer up front. So I had to create a price that wasn’t crazy high yet high enough so I had a chance to make some of my money back. Or in a miracle scenario, make an actual profit.

SO… I hope that all wasn’t too confusing but that’s the process. I got used to it pretty quick. Like I say, around 2005, things got to the point where Diamond rose ad rates by 50%— got too rich for my blood, because you really needed the ads to try and stand out. Although I was somewhat unique in doing this back in the late ’90’s, early 2000’s, by 2005, I was one in a sea of independents filling up the catalog and it was more and more a case of diminishing returns.

*Side note: a lot of these practices and timelines I believe are still in effect today with Diamond so if you want to dive into this world, go for it!

But I still kept creating stuff. On with Creation Month!

Half a year down, half a year to go.

That first half wasn’t so hard (or entertaining), was it?

So far, so good in this experiment where I post up a blog for 366 days straight. 

Once again, this was basically me just relating pretty much everything in one way or another about me. But I find that I’ve related most of my stories, remembrances, horrible mistakes — that I remember, anyway. Still a few more tales to pass on but I’ve already covered a lot of ground. Favorite this and that, also goofy stuff, things that makes me laugh, whether it’s stuff like The Purple Throbber or Horse Guy. 

I haven’t written much serious fiction at all. Most of my *actual* serious stuff has been serious enough. But that all brings us to the second half of the year and what it will hold. 

Side note: I’m *kind* of astonished that I got absolutely no reaction to my documenting the time I almost killed Linda’s parents (and us) back on the June 16th entry. I mean, that was an amazing event and very true. there was no exaggeration what so ever and frankly, I’m pretty damn proud that I was able to pull us out of that mess with our skins intact. That was me in a rare good moment! ah well.

This October, I think I’ll finally partake in “Inktober”, the fairly popular art exercise where the organizers send out an optional daily prompt word for inspiration and you draw something each day of the month. I will then post it up the same day or the day after, depending on the schedule. We’ll see where the experiment takes me. 

Since I’m basically presenting “the life of Rick” during this year, it seems only fitting that I devote a chunk of it to artwork. (I can put everything on a flash drive when I’m done and give a copy to the kids to pass along to future generations to explain who the weird old man was.)

I thought that during another month –not sure which one, I would revisit some of my past creations and projects to document things. So, basically everything from the past 25 years, from Mataak to The Swede. That might just start tomorrow on July 1st, with me peppering some of those creations throughout the month. Not every day, but they should pop in several days at least. I’ll add the title of the creation and the year.

Immediately following Inktober is “NaNoWriMo”, or National Novel Writing Month. The thought there is that those who wish to write, should attempt to hammer out 50,000 words during November as the start of a novel. 

Frankly, I’m not sure I’m up to that. When it comes to writing, I find I’m like a sprinting alligator — I’m good for short bursts, but no sustained speed or distance. A lot of this has to do with projects in general. I’m impatient and get very bored when something gets extended and drawn out. Maybe it has to do with my vocation and storyboards. Everything is hurry up and wait and crazy deadlines. 

So I kinda doubt I’ll be diving into NaNoWriMo but stranger things have happened. So, we’ll see. the more I think about it, the less I’m inclined to try it.

As for stories of my youth… like I say, I’ve covered most of the good, the bad and the ugly. There are some that I shan’t share as it might intrude on the privacy of others, as I wasn’t always the bad influence during these adventures. And I’ll probably never give the details of the Academy Christmas party where I was dressed like Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who. Eh…. no. Really, nothing good can come of that. 

Stayed tuned for the ass end of 2020… 

Because the thing IS. 

The Mad Max Quadrology, or- “How to Make an Interesting Car Chase”

A million years ago, when Mel Gibson was an unknown, before eventually being hated, he made a low budget flick straight outta Australia (former prison continent), called Mad Max. It was a decent film but I barely remember any of it. 

Max had a wife and child who were brutally run down by a biker gang. I remember this only because I think we see both the wife and the baby each running down the highway while bikers loomed menacingly in the background.

Max was left for dead, came to, buried his family, tracked down the bikers, exacted revenge. Actually I think most of that happened but I’m not sure, because I don’t think I’ve ever rewatched it because it was either disturbing, depressing, had violence against children, was just a shitty movie, or all of the above. 

The thing IS…. whenever you wanted to watch some primo Mad Max, you’d gun it right over to Mad Max: The Road Warrior. This really was the perfect movie for the 1980’s. Lent itself very nicely to the chaotic punk era. Mel Gibson’s Max was kind of the Dirty Harry antidote to all of it. 

RW had an intro, giving us all the exposition we need about gas and water and survival and desert gangs and the set up.

But the movie is really an excuse for a bombastic, crazy ass car, cycle, tank, truck, copter, insert vehicle here, chase. With spikes and leather and Mohawks and screaming and razorangs. Chock full of Ozzie humor, which kind of amounts to the same end result of the leather, spikes, etc.

Like many film franchises, this second film was the standard bearer. The quality entry.    And like many film franchises, we see the second film and think wow, imagine how good the third will be! Ah well.

Mad Max : Beyond Thunderdome wasn’t really that bad, I don’t think. Unlike Road Warrior, it may have had more of a story but mostly dome antics, Tina Turner showing some leg and MasterBlaster, who, frankly, is a much better, more interesting, capable and well rounded character in this franchise than Boba Fett was in his. Just sayin’.

I also don’t think I’ve ever watched BT a second time either. Not all the way through, anyway. 

I think, when you come right down to it, it’s very hard to care for any of these people. Well, I guess you care a bit about the people holed up in the fort in RW, but the occasional Ozzie humor undercuts the severity of their situation. And you really don’t care about the crew in BT. I forget if they had slaves or some form of oppressed individuals in the dome and if so, how bad their plight was, mostly because of the wacky Ozzie comedy bits/black humor. The last people you really felt sorry for were Max’s wife and baby, but that was before the apocalypse. You weren’t really even that concerned about the Feral Kid, because he knew how to wield the razorang. 

But then, decades went by and we got a brilliant new Mad Max film, Mad Max: Fury Road. I say “brilliant” because it is easily one of the most visually stunning films ever. Certainly the best looking Max film by far. And virtually no Ozzie black humor!

It is not really a Mad Max film though. It is a Furiosa/Mad Max film. Furiosa is played by Charlize Theron. That’s all you need to know. 

The next time someone complains we have no strong women roles or role models out there, remind them of Charlize Theron in any number of roles like Furiosa or Atomic Blonde. Remind them of all the roles they’ve forgotten going back to Mrs. Peel 60 years ago in the Avengers. (Look it up, kids) but I digress. Bottom line, Furiosa is awesome.

Max is kind of the go between in the movie between we the viewers and the co-hero of the film, Furiosa. My hats off to the producers for making a Furiosa film but labeling it as a Mad Max film just to get it out there, get butts in the seats and basically rehashing the Road Warrior.

And it works! Yes, it’s the Road Warrior again and I would even say it’s done better. More action, more craziness, more violence, more spikes, leather, screaming, color and Guitar Guy.

Guitar Guy, the most colorful, red leather gimp in all of Oz, slammin’ on a sci fi blazing guitar, suspended on wires, plastered on the front of a speeding monster truck.

Tom Hardy plays Max and he’s more than a worthy successor to Gibson, so maybe there are more Max films coming? I have no idea. They had one good idea that’s been done twice in four movies. If George Miller tries again, he may end up taking another giant Thunderdome. 

Back to Hardy. The guy is a consummate professional. The vast majority of actors go nuts if you cover up their handsome mugs in a movie for even five minutes. Hardy, meanwhile, is the guy who was facial, vocally and physically unrecognizable when playing Bane in Dark Knight Rises, yet was easily the most entertaining part of the film. Here, he spends the first half hour with no lines and his face covered in a metal cage! Crafty old blood-bag…

It’s very rare that a film franchise pulls it all together and not only nails it on the 4th try but has the audacity to be a better remake of the only other good film *in* the franchise. That’s pretty crazy. 

It’s MAD, I tell you!

Doctor Who Recommendations- The David Tennant era

One of if not the most popular Doctor of the new era, tenth incarnation actor Tennant is a huge Doctor Who fan and had been all his life. His dream came true.


1)Christmas Invasion introduces us to the new Doctor and just what kind of man he is.  

2)Girl in the Fireplace is a wild offering from Steven Moffat (the Robert Holmes of the new era) and this tale of monsters under the bed, girls in fireplaces and horses on a spaceship is forever a joy.

3)The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit is an ambitious thriller featuring a planet in stationary position above a black hole, hordes of possessed Ood and yes, Satan. Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh-Pyramids of Mars) once again returns as the voice of the Devil.

4)Smith and Jones. Far out Sci-fi concept with Judoon on the moon.

5)Human Nature/Family of Blood. The Doctor must become human and forget he’s a Time Lord to escape a predator species. But as a human, he creates a new life and actually becomes happy. When his happiness is torn asunder, these aliens have done the worst thing imaginable. They’ve angered the Time Lord.

6)Blink. One of the most popular stories of the new era of DW, that introduces the Weeping Angels. It’s one of the best, scariest eps ever and the Doctor is barely in it. Brilliant.

7)Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. This scary reveal of the omnivores who live in shadows, the Vashta Narada, also introduce a very important figure in the Doctor’s life. His wife, River Song. A shame he doesn’t know her yet.

8)Midnight. Just watch it.

9)Turn Left. Powerful masterpiece where Donna Nobel is the most important woman in the universe. Does she have to die to save it? Catherine Tate is magnificent. 

10)Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. This is an all star outing, a reunion and an ending, chock full of thrills, chills, Daleks, Davros, and unbelievable cliffhangers.

11)Waters of Mars. Brilliant suspense as the Doctor breaks the rules of time and it costs him. See what happens because he’s the Time Lord, Victorius. 


Honorable mentions:

*Tooth and Claw- beautifully directed and action packed with Queen Victoria and a werewolf.

*School Reunion – the return of Sarah Jane Smith. ‘Nuff said.

*Love and Monsters – quirky, heartwarming Doctor lite ep.

*Army of Ghosts/Doomsday- big finale notable for major surprises, suspense and a big confrontation for the first time in 45 years.

*Utopia – worth watching for Derek Jacobi’s portrayal of Prof. Yana.

*Partners in Crime, a funny, engaging romp with the Doctor/Donna.

*The Fires of Pompeii- notable for not only the grand adventure but also featuring future eleventh Doctor companion Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), AND future 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi!

*Planet of the Ood – good story and excellent performance by Catherine Tate as Donna.

Beef Log from Enzo’s

While polling the family for possible blog content, my daughter had some ideas. One of which was reviewing certain foods. Now, they’re currently ordering a beef log or some kind of meat log from a place called Enzo’s I believe. The whole bit here is that I’ll write up the pre and post log thoughts. Frankly, I think Theresa’s just starving.

As I type this on Friday evening, awaiting the log drop, I find I have no preconceived notions on how this will be or if it’ll be any good. Theresa said it was amazing but then again, I don’t know how hungry she was the last time she had it. 

To hold myself over an hour ago, I had a slice of tomato with a chunk of fresh mozzarella, seasoning and basil on it. THAT was excellent. 

Now… I wait for the log. 


Intermission

So we had the beef log. Basically beef rolled up in a pastry, seasoned indiscriminately with garlic or garlic salt, sliced off into squares and the whole thing came delivered in a pizza box with a couple containers of Au jus. 

The beef was tasty yet not distinctive and I think it works best in tandem with the bread wrapped around it yet it gives moisture to the bread. I rate it… 6.8 out of 10.

Moisture.

My wife says the Au jus helps it along but I’m on the fence about Au jus.

I instinctively recoil from Au jus because in the past, I didn’t like my bread soggy. I didn’t embrace the moisture.

Moisture.

But the last couple times we had beef sandwiches, you know I actually find that I liked adding more juice to the sandwiches, so maybe I should stop recoiling from Au jus and just dive in.

Moisture.

But I ended up having four pieces through the evening (2 in 2 sittings), and although it seemed to be plenty moist enough, you’d think I would have at least tried some Au jus sauce. 

But actually, I do know why. If you take a container of Au jus with you and your sandwich, that’s a dipping/spilling hazard. Tactically, it would have been fine for the two pieces at the kitchen table, but not when I was transporting the sandwiches back to the front room to watch the John Mulaney. I’m not really a Big Dipper anyway.

Speaking of Big Dipper, have you sought out stuff with Neil deGrasse Tyson yet, like Cosmos? 

No? Okay, well you suck then and you don’t know what you’re missing. 

I *should* do a blog just on John Mulaney because the guy is frankly hilarious. Former writer on SNL, he’s got three hour long stand up specials on Netflix and during two of them, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He did “New Kid in Town” from 2012 which is very funny but Comeback kid (2015) and Kid Gorgeous (2018) are even better. Boom. There’s a blog.

When you watch the specials, why not have a big beef log from Enzo’s, with Au jus on the side? I guess they have a meatball version too. Whoduthunkit? Enzo’s!

Moist.

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