Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stuff Consumed Lately

I have not been just watching Star Trek. I have been reading like a fiend. I also manage to get in a movie or two. I read comics to supplement in between stuff. Sometimes I like "changing the channel." That's why I read two, three, four books at once most of the time. Since I grew up on comics, I am used to my storylines, the plotlines, being divided up for those month breaks. When I read a comic, and it said "To be continued," I would have to wait a month for the next installment so I read other things in between. I have been reading books that way most of my life. I will read a real novel, then mix it with a sci-fi novel. I have also found that this gives me time to "process" the novels that I am reading--makes me think about them.

Also note, I am still reading Moby Dick, quite diligently. I am also keeping track of my Moby Dick reading on another blog that some people have even seen and read. I also have some exclusive words from author Jane Yolen there on why she considers it the most important novel she's ever read.

This was actually quite good. It's a sardonic graphic novel called Dungeon Monstres. Very dry tongue-in-cheek humor for the D&D medium that is quite good.

Yep, this Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner is a kid's book but it was quite good. I tell you, I did not see that cool switch at the end. Made me sit up and go, "Oh, no!" Any book that can deliver that kind of line out of an English major has to be worthwhile reading (plus, it only took me less than half an hour to read the whole thing).

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert is the fourth installment of the massive Dune saga. I'm still perplexed by this one. I will say that Herbert is a master at creating a truly believable world for his saga. Although, my one problem, and I admit this is my fault as a reader, is that I don't fully understand why the God Emperor Leto II is a tyrant. I am discussing online at to try to find some answers. I want a few answers before I try to attempt the fifth book. Amy just read the entire prequel trilogy, the "House" books, by his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. She really liked the first two but found #3 a bit tiresome. I have read previously House Atreides and maybe I will read the next two "House" books first before diving into the fifth regular Dune book.

For a book that calls itself Zombie! there is hardly any zombie! It's an okay little pulp fiction paperback that I found at Goodwill or somewhere like that. The married couple vacations on a Caribbean island and finds a voodoo cult. Hey, I read it. Would make a decent SciFi Channel movie, instead of some of that unwatchable crap they make.

This documentary on Muhammad Ali, When We Were Kings, was very interesting. Such a piece of time is documented. If I hadn't already known that Muhammad Ali was a great man, this would have solidified it. A bit slow in spots but it makes up for it in the brilliant climax of the "Rumble in the Jungle." Well worth watching.

Why do we remember this flipping movie? The Blob from 1958. Is it only because it is the first Steve McQueen movie? That's gotta be it because this movie does not deliver. And the ending with just parachuting the blob in a box and leaving it in the Arctic...Maybe I have to remember that this movie is now 50 years old, and that might put some perspective on it.

So they tried to remake The Blob in 1988, thirty years later. Other than showcasing some new effects, which make the 1958 movie look even worse, but make it seem extremely dated for 1988, the plot does not get any better at all. In fact, gone is the plotline of nobody believing Steve McQueen and the kids--it's replaced by a plotline of the blob being a U.S. virus-in-space experiment that went wrong. It is almost laughable when that actress Shawnee Smith is shooting her machine gun at the blob.

SIDEBAR: Will Terminator 2 one day be "dated" by its special effects? The answer seems to be YES with what they are doing nowadays, but it isn't. Terminator 2, which brought us that liquid technology will not be dated because it stands as a great movie first. That's the key. Effects do not a movie make. A good movie uses effects to tell the story, not the other way around.

Zulu, the first movie to introduce us to Michael Caine, is still a great action epic. This movie is fantastic and still holds up to today's standards if you ask me. There is character development for the most part, all that you really need, and great action, to the point that you lose track of the fact that this movie is well over two hours long. Great flick.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill and The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket. I like these books for the fast read that they provide and the fact of how dark it really is for the protagonists. These are just fun to read. I think I have about seven more in the series to go.

Battletech: Highlander Gambit by Blaine Lee Pardoe. This is one of the better Battletech books that I have read. Slow in some parts but you simply have to find out if the guy is going to fulfill his mission of betraying his homeland--or how he will get away with it if he doesn't. Kind of long, but worth it. Better than that other one I read not too long ago.

Conan the Swordsman, mostly by L. Sprague de Camp. A bunch of short stories for Conan, kind of fill-in-the-gaps behind his longer adventures. Great stuff. Quick and easy Conan.

Conan the Liberator mostly by L. Sprague de Camp. Conan leads an army to liberate Aquilonia from a despot king and a dark sorceror. It's okay. I have read better Conan. The climactic military battle promised is completely dismissed as Conan plays a raid on the palace, now defenseless, and battles the king and the wizard. No where near as good as the Robert Jordan Conan novels.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I have always wanted to read this, ever since The Lord of the Rings when I found that Lewis was part of the circle of writers with Tolkien. This is part one of Lewis' sci-fi trilogy and it is in the classic sci-fi tradition, with life on Mars, and pink trees and other strange colored things. Interesting from the protagonist's philology point of view, with understanding the language and tradition of the things living on Mars. I read it quickly--less than 24 hours which is great for me. I have to find the next two at the library.

The Professor's Daughter, a graphic novel. Ehhhh, it was okay. There were some internal logic things about it that I couldn't stand. So-so. Drawing was quite good but the story lacked, if you ask me.

Always cool to find out the back stories in these Star Trek novels. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had a few. I didn't know that David Marcus, Kirk's son, was involved with Saavik. Saavik origin stuff is here that never gets elucidated anywhere else. As Spock would say, "Fascinating" but truly only for a Trekkie.

I like J. M. Dillard's Star Trek novels. He writes them well. His adaptation of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is no exception. See, I secretly like Star Trek V.

I just cannot get into Legion of Super-Heroes. Maybe it is the fact that I have no idea who these eight million characters are. There is no depth to any of the characters. They have really stupid names too, like Invisible Kid and Lightning Lass. I just can't get into the series and I have tried. I just don't like 'em. I find myself having no clue what is going on. Powers just seem to be thrown around.

Weird, but it is definitely a slice of life.
Poignant and stylish, this graphic novel proves some of the power of the medium that is comics. Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcenet is really good. This would make a mediocre novel or biography if it were in prose. With the comic medium, the pictures that are able to tell a ton without words, it moves along faster and with much more power. Top notch.
Unfortunately, this was the third installment of a trilogy so I may have lost much. It's okay...The art is good, but the story pacing seems slow.
I had never seen Deliverance before. I knew something about it from references in popular culture--who doesn't know what happens to Ned Beatty in this? But I have to admit that this was a much better movie than I expected. I really like the way it was filmed. They just threw their characters into the action--you know all you need to know. There aren't a lot of words where there doesn't need to be. They walk into a terrifying situation with what I think is exactly what you would expect of these characters, even though they rise to the challenge. Jon Voigt is superb in it. I could see the fear and the determination in his face. I really enjoyed this flick.

Finally got around to watching Live Free or Die Hard, sitting on my shelf from Netflix for at least a month. Very good movie. Still isn't as great as the perfect The Bourne Ultimatum but still very good. Just a damn good action movie. I mean, they don't even let a story get in the way. There is action almost immediately. The characterization is there, but happens during the events of the movie, which is a really cool way of doing it. The storyline may seem farfetched but was based on an article called "A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin, located on Wired. First rate flick well worthy of the DIE HARD name; however, Die Hard still reigns supreme.

I have also read the following short stories:

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"--yet another one where Holmes doesn't really do anything. Watson could solve some of these crimes.

Then I read Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" and was impressed. Holmes actually solved something! And the switch was really neat.

Two H.P. Lovecraft tales, really good ones: "Pickman's Model" and "The Outsider." The latter is absolutely first rate and really short.

Comics also read lately:

From the Reign of the Supermen storyline: The Adventures of Superman #501, 502, 503, 504, Superman #78, 79, 80, 81, Superman: The Man of Steel #23, 24, 25, Action Comics #688, 689, 690

The Superman Gallery #1 (1993)

Strikeforce: Morituri #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Conan the Barbarian #214 (1989)

Conan the Adventurer #5 (1994)

Conan the Barbarian #99 (1979) Alone against the Man-Crabs of the Dark Cliffs!

The Clockwork Girl #1 (Arcana Comics, 2007)

Secrets of Haunted House #7 (DC, 1977)

Super Powers (DC, Volume 2, 1985-6) #3, 4, 5, 6

Warlord #8 (DC, 1977)

The Incredible Hulk Annual #16 (1990) by Peter David and a She-Hulk filler story by Bill Mumy (you know, the kid from the Lost in Space TV show)

Superman #674 (2008)

Superman #0 (1994, part of DC's ZERO HOUR storyline)

Robotech #1 (Wildstorm DC, 2003)

Superman: The Man of Steel #116 (2001, part of Our Worlds at War)

DC Comics Presents #7 (1979)

Underworld Unleashed: Apokolips--Dark Uprising #1 (DC, 1995)

Tarzan #239 (DC, 1975)

Thor #262 (Marvel, 1977)

NGuard #1 (Markosia Comics, 2008)

Robotech: The Macross Saga #22 (Comico, 1987)I want more action! More Veritech fighters!

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #1 (1995) Lex Luthor returns to his body again! Hasn't he used at least two bodies in the updated DC universe since 1986?

Detective Comics #467 (1977) a completely forgettable Batman adventure--boy, was he used horribly a lot of the time in the 70s.

DC Giant Presents Strange Flying Saucers Adventures #27 (Summer 1976) with stories by Gardner Fox and Otto Binder.

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