Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson's Folly

Say what you like, the First Amendment might be set aside in a situation where the President of the United States is giving a speech before a joint session of Congress. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) embarrassed himself, his district, his state and his party by shouting out "You lie!" at the president on Wednesday night.

Wilson is apparently a serial apologizer. He's made hotheaded, even stupid statements for which he has had to apologize, often only when the facts proved he was incontrovertibly wrong.

He was wrong on the facts here as well. Apparently the wording of the House bill declares that there will be no federal payment for health care for illegal aliens. But I guess ol' Joe just didn't know enough to keep from making a fool of himself on national TV.

So give ol' Joe a piece of your mind, if you're willing, and call his office in DC at 202-225-2452. Maybe you support his stupidity and maybe you don't. I don't and I plan to let him know. I also plan to give his Democratic opponent Rob Miller a donation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Born on August 14

Hey folks,
Did a quick peek at to see who else was born on my birthday. That they're listed on IMDB suggests they've done more from this common starting date than I have but... so be it.
Anyway, born on my birthday were:

Spencer Pratt (25)
Mila Kunis (25)
Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters) (34)
Catherine Bell (JAG) (40)
Halle Berry (42)
Brannon Braga (Star Trek writer/producer) (43)
Andrew Kevin Walker (screenwriter) (44)
Emmanuelle Béart (45)
Susan Olsen (aka Cindy Brady) (47)
Sarah Brightman (48)
Marcia Gay Harden (49)
Magic Johnson (49)
Jackée Harry (52)
James Horner (55)
Carl Lumbly (57)
Gary Larson (The Far Side) (58)
Danielle Steel (61)
David Schramm (Wings) (62)
Antonio Fargas (Starsky & Hutch) (62)
Steve Martin (63)
Wim Wenders (63)
Lynne Cheney (ugh) (67)
David Crosby (67)
Arthur Laffer (right wing economist) (68)
Earl Weaver (78)
Alice Ghostley (82)
Lina Wertmüller (82)
Russell Baker (83)

Not a bad line-up, hm? Anyway, hope that all of YOU out there have had or will have a great birthday. I'll probably be offline most of the day, so enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grading the Comics: Week of August 10

Okay, let's see what's (hopefully) in the comic book box this week:

  • BATMAN #689
  • GEN 13 #31
  • RED HERRING #1 (OF 6)

As usual, the italics are for books I am not committed to buying but hope to glance over on the stands. Odds are good that if I like what I see, it'll go home with me.

In the meantime, what are YOU reading? Comment away!

Political Note

I know a few of my readers have, in the past, said they do not like the political stuff. Fair enough (and I'm not even sure if those readers are still reading).

I'll just post these two links and let you read or not.

Friday, August 7, 2009

John Hughes, RIP

Don't let him be remembered for "Drillbit Taylor," that's all I'm asking.

Perhaps the landmark filmmaker of the 1980s, John Hughes died yesterday at age 59 in New York City of a heart attack. Creator (writer and director) of such hits as "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink" and "Weird Science," he made stars of Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, not to mention providing invaluable career springboards to Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr., Judd Nelson, John Cusack, Alan Ruck, and even John Candy (who knew Candy and Steve Martin could be such a great "dramedic" duo?). He launched the "Home Alone" and "Beethoven" franchises and lent his talents as a writer to a surprising number of movies (including the aforementioned... aw forget about that one).

I was in college when the majority of his films hit the big screen, but I loved his stuff greatly. Even his near-great films like "Some Kind of Wonderful" had something going for them. I was a huge fan of "Weird Science" and "Breakfast Club" in particular, seeing both in the theater more than once.

When he stepped out of the business (or so it seemed), I missed his point of view tremendously. There weren't many (heck, ANY) writer-directors who could capture the essence of being a teen the way Hughes did. Shermer, Illinois seemed like a modern Oz, where Ferris Bueller could bump into Lisa on his way to a party at Claire Standish's house. It takes a special kind of magic to make that happen, and Hughes had it in spades.

RIP, Mr. Hughes, and thank you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grading the Comics: Week of August 3

Hey there, seems like forever since I graded my comic book purchases.
Having a baby in the house will do that. I have books from two or three weeks ago that I haven't even read yet.
Anyway, here's what I'm planning to buy today:

  • AGENTS OF ATLAS #9 - Darn it, I forgot to pick this up. Will try to snag a copy today.
  • BOYS #33 - Sick, what Butcher does to Payback, but very entertaining. And there's material besides that sets up some interesting stuff ahead. B
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #2 (OF 5) - Good stuff. Steve Rogers is on his way back (slowly) and yet--will he be Cap when he finally returns? A-
  • DOOM PATROL #1 - Side by side with Metal Men, this is one wacked-out book. A must-read. A+
  • HULK #13 - Bruce says bye to A-Bomb and we're thinking Ol' Jadejaws is gone...? B
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE CRY FOR JUSTICE #2 (OF 7) - Haven't read it yet.
  • SAVAGE DRAGON #151 - Geez, for a dead guy, Dragon sure can carry a book. B
  • SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #6 (OF 12) - Didn't have a copy at the store, hope to have it tonight.

As I've said elsewhere (I think), I'm probably going to let the WildStorm stuff fall by the wayside. "World's End" has been an interesting direction for the books but I'm ready to let it go.

Ditto the Ultimate line of books. I wasn't thrilled with the last issue of ULTIMATUM (see below), and now seems like a good time to let those titles slip off my reserve list. I'll keep an eye on the line to see what's happening, and reserve the right to change my mind, but... we'll just have to see.

Man, I sure didn't have a lot to say about the books this week-- but I'll fix that soon enough.


Fan Fatale

My friend Sherin has created a site to discuss (and, let's be honest, promote) her work. It's here, but the URL is Give it a look; her stuff is real good and those of you who like urban fantasy will get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movies: In the Loop

Kat and I managed to catch a film recently--the delightfully subversive "In The Loop." Based on a BBC series called "The Thick of It," this film finds a hapless minister (Simon Foster, played by Tom Hollander) making a gaffe on British radio--calling war "unforeseeable"--and landing in the middle of a power struggle on both sides of the Atlantic. Assisted by chilly pro Judy (played by Gina McKee) and an amoral newcomer named Toby (Chris Addison), Foster is the football tossed between pro-war and anti-war factions. He tries to play both sides but... well, suffice it to say he is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

On the anti-war side is Assistant Secretary of State Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy), whose assistant Liza Weld (Anna Chlumsky, best known for her role in "My Girl") wrote an obscure paper on the pitfalls of going to war. This paper, Foster's harried cluelessness, the machinations of the hilariously obscene Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi)--the Prime Minister's Director of Communications and general troubleshooter--and the ridiculous nature of factional politicking make the movie a joyful chaos of conflicting purposes, double-dealing, betrayal, deceit and the things that make Washington DC and London so much fun to watch. Not to mention Steve Coogan as a local who needs Foster to repair a wall adjoining his property, lest his mother's greenhouse be crushed by falling bricks. Or James Gandolfini as a general who may or may not have political ambitions, but knows how to survive the Washington version of Russian roulette. Or David Rasche as venal Secretary of State Linton Barwick (leader of the pro-war side), whose sleaze is buried under a layer of cold humor and patronizing propriety.

As you can see, there's a lot to like here.

It's about the most foul-mouthed movie I've seen, but it is hilarious to those of us who live in this kind of environment. If you like political satire of a really dark bent, go see it.

San Diego next year?

Been talking with Kat and we're trying to decide on our big vacation next year. The less expensive choice (of the two we have now), oddly enough, would be four or five days in San Diego at San Diego Comic-Con.

It'd be fun and exhausting and all of that times ten. Plus it'd put a huge dent in our wallet.


Not sure what we'll do but it's something that's on our minds.

Ultimate Marvel: ...and that's a wrap!

Just read ULTIMATUM #5 (of 5). This is the biggest blowout of the Ultimate Marvel universe, folks. MAJOR deaths and a shakeup in the status quo that can't be paved over by the Ultimate Beyonder stopping by for Starbucks.

Big. Stuff. Happens.

Won't go into details, just suffice to say that this is a real ending point in where the UM had been.

It's also time I bowed out. Much as I enjoyed the books (mostly) over the years, this is where I say goodbye. It's not that I doubt the next wave of books--one a relaunch, the other two picking up Iron Man and the Avengers--won't be entertaining; it's just that I'm done with this world. Most of my favorite characters are now dead and the ones that are left... well, they're the ones I wasn't watching as much anyway.

I'm sure it'll be a fun ride but I'm stepping off the carousel now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Passing (the unexpected addendum)

Talk about unexpected.
We got home last night and I heard Charlie Gibson say, "Next...remembering Michael Jackson."
What the...??
Can't believe Michael Jackson is gone.
Last night and all of today, the Internet and news and all has been buzzing about the entirety of the man's life. Some dwell on the negative--and there was a lot of it, especially in the last two decades--and some dwell on the positive.
I hope he'll be remembered as one of the world's great entertainers, whose influence shaped a generation of new performers and left a legacy of incredible music and unbelievable dance moves. He was one of a kind, love him or hate him, and the most important thing about his life was surely the body of work he's given to the ages.
RIP, Mr. Jackson, and thank you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


We lost two celebrities this week: Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett. McMahon was 86, Fawcett was 62. (Oddly enough, she's the same age my dad was when he passed away, also from cancer.)

It's enough to make me reflect on their place in my growing-up years.

Sometimes when we traveled for summer vacation from Wisconsin to Mississippi (or back again), we would stay in a motel to get a break from the road. Dad liked to drive until late, so that "break" might not happen until after 10pm Central (which is 11pm Eastern--it sounds early but it was late for us). We'd trudge into the room, worn out and cranky, and turn on the TV to settle down for the night. We'd almost always watch THE TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson. Carson's routine was funny even to us kids (most times), but it was Ed McMahon that told us when things were really funny. His big, booming laugh was a barometer for "okay this is funny" or "it wasn't funny but we're laughing anyway."

It was a nice part of my childhood, those motel room nights with the family, watching a little TV and sharing a laugh together.

As for Farrah, I never owned the infamous red swimsuit poster, but I know guys who did. Heck, there was one hanging in an office in my high school. She embodied the California girl ideal of the mid-70s, fluffy hair and sparkling smile and all. I was disappointed when she quit Charlie's Angels after one season (I thought even then it was a bad career move to trust in one season's work on TV--a lesson David Caruso didn't learn), but times moved on and there were other "It girls." Still, nobody was quite the same as Farrah. She had that kind of charisma that's impossible to define but unmistakable.

In saying farewell to both of these folks, I'm reminded that life moves on for all of us. The people I loved watching as a kid are aging (or, in many cases, gone), while the newest crop of celebrities are people I don't recognize. It's a generation gap thing.

But thanks, Ed and Farrah, and rest in peace.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Kat and I had visitors this weekend--Brielle's grandparents came to see the girl, and since they had her Friday night, Kat and I decided to go see a movie.

We saw Up, the new release from Disney/Pixar. It's the story of Carl Fredricksen, a blocky 78 year old balloon salesman with one great adventure left to be attempted. It's also the story of Russell, a pre-teen Wilderness Explorer; Doug the Dog; and Kevin, an improbable denizen of Paradise Falls in South America.

It's a really wonderful movie, with dazzling (and entirely appropriate) 3-D effects--by all means, see this in 3-D if you can!!--but what it has in spades is heart. Carl's story begins in great sadness; I dare anyone watching it not to cry at least four times, and that's possibly in the first fifteen minutes.

The way the story unfolds will not tax those who like to anticipate plot points... but it should delight and impress regardless, as the characters (and the actors behind them) make the story come alive. Doug, in particular, has a host of delightful and quotable lines.

Being a Pixar movie comes with very high expectations. Up, very happily, lives up to all of them.
Strongly recommended.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's New

Wow, it's been almost two weeks since I last posted. Where did the time go?
Well, part of it was lost to being sick. Brielle and I both had colds that have lingered from the fifth through pretty much now. She and I were both out three days last week, so it took a little time to get back into the swing of work, baby management, etc.
Her grandparents are coming to visit soon and we can't wait-- they love seeing her so much, it's just a blast having them come to town. We're looking forward to other visitors as well, so if you see this, come on down!
Anyway, not a lot else to say right now. I need to catch up on some comic books-- for the first time in ages, there are books from two weeks ago that I haven't read yet-- as well as some fiction for SFRevu, so you could say my reading time is packed.
Still, I hope to get some words up here on the blog before too much longer. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

RIP David Carradine

Kwai Chang Caine's long journey is finally at an end. Bill has met his maker. And the fellow from the Yellow Pages ads is now gone far away.

David Carradine, the seventy-something star of "Kung Fu," Kill Bill and lots more besides, was found hanged in a hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand earlier today. A local newspaper asserts that he committed suicide but, as of now, I don't believe there's any official word one way or the other. (Carradine's agent has since claimed he believes the actor died of natural causes.)

He was filming a new movie, Stretch, at the time of his death.

This is sad news, folks. Carradine could play just about anything, with an impish sense of humor and a gravity in those eyes of a life fully lived. He'll be missed.

RIP, Mr. Carradine, and God bless you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I'm Over "Jon and Kate Plus 8"

Used to be, I really enjoyed this little show about a family with eight kids, whose mom and dad were visibly struggling to raise their unwieldy brood as they bickered (usually lovingly) back and forth.

How times have changed.

Now the mom and dad are separated (and look to be headed for divorce), while the kids are doing so much insanely fun stuff, it's amazing they have time to sleep and eat. On last night's first new episode, the kids took mom Kate to Duff Goldman's Charm City Cakes--a real life Willy Wonka's factory, if you substitute cake for chocolate--to celebrate her birthday. Then Kate took older daughter Mady (one of their twins) to San Diego for a mother-daughter outing while Jon stayed home with the kids.


I'm sorry. I just don't relate to this family any more. Instead of the charming foibles and frustrations of oversized-family life, we see the Gosselins ensconced in an extremely spacious home on 24 acres; we see Kate on book tours and speaking engagements (here and there, anyway); and we see each parent alone on a couch, speaking to the camera in tones ever more glum and downcast.

Heck, I might not have liked how Kate treated Jon--she was pretty nasty to him several times on the show--but I'm liking both of them a lot less these days. That isn't really a judgment on either Jon or Kate... it's more that I am not enjoying the time I spend in their video presence.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can begin to appreciate how wearing it can be to parent a baby. All things considered, I would rather be part of my world than spend time being a part of the Gosselins' extended video family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Highs and Lows of Last Week

From the 17th to the 22nd, there were some major highs and lows in the Bittnerverse.

On the 17th, we brought Brielle back home from a visit to NJ (sorry, friends--we had no time to visit; besides which, Kat and I were both mildly sick with colds). We checked in with a neighbor couple who also have a newborn daughter--we were working on doing a nanny-share with them--only to find that they were pulling out. They had made alternate arrangements. That left us without any help for Brielle... and we were going back to work the next day.

Not a good time at all. We patched together babysitters for the week (including the couple who'd backed out on us), but were in a jam: we literally had no plan to get us past the 25th (Memorial Day). So we started thinking and came up with some possibilities. We contacted one, a friend of ours, and it turned out she was willing to watch Brielle into the summer.

That was a huge relief.

On Tuesday, we had the news we'd been waiting for: there was a spot for Brielle in the day care in my building as of June 1.

Enormous relief.

We met with the day care staff on the 21st and realized (happily) we were all on the same page. I've started bringing supplies to put away for Brielle and she begins "transition week" this Monday.

It's really scary not knowing what you can or will do with your daughter. Interviewing strangers, looking for babysitters or in-home day care and having no idea what these people are like... it can be bad. Lucky for us we had a friend who could bridge us over this week or so, and that an angel for Brielle came through (her name's Agnes) and worked her magic to get Brielle into day care.

This is not the hardest or worst challenge we'll face as parents but it is a challenge. Now we just have to see about getting Brielle settled into a whole new environment...

I'll let you know how it goes.

Grading the Comics: Week of May 25, 2009

You're probably dying to know what's on my list this week, right?
Well, the suspense is over. Here's what I'm shopping for tomorrow (New Comics Day is pushed back one by Memorial Day--ah well):

  • AVENGERS INITIATIVE #24 - Humberto Ramos sure draws a mean Typhoid Mary!
  • GREEN LANTERN #41 - I'm guessing it's more Blackest Night, but that's just a guess.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33 - Probably going to drop this one today. I'm just not feeling it any more.
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #10 - This is Kat's book.
  • SUPERMAN #688 - Oddly enough, this book is working out okay without Superman.
  • TRINITY #52 - And another weekly title comes to an end.
  • WILDCATS #11 - See Justice League of America.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #224 - I think this is the issue wherein we take leave of Professor X, isn't it?

All right, folks, I'll be back with reviews and notes and general snark after I've read 'em. I have a few things to write for SFRevu but I'll try to be good this week.


Deadliest Warrior

Hey folks,

A good friend turned us on to a show on Spike TV called "Deadliest Warrior." A bunch of you probably already know about or even follow the show but in case you don't, it is the bomb.

The premise is simple: two fighters from different backgrounds, cultures and so on are matched up, their lethality is evaluated, and a computer simulation is run 1000 times to determine who would win.

Match ups to date include Shaolin Monk vs. Maori warrior, William "Braveheart" Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, Soviet Spetsnaz vs. Green Beret... you get the idea.

Kat and I were spellbound watching the first two matchups above last night. There's a team of three--a biomedical engineer, a computer programmer and a medical doctor--who work with experts on the combat styles and techniques of various groups. Each side is judged on its five most common or deadly weapons; the experts tend to talk a lot of trash to each other, which is really funny.

Spike has carved out a niche for itself with high testosterone shows that practically bleed macho--but this one is, like Kat said, "Mythbusters for the really violent."

Anyway, the season finale matchup is IRA vs. Taliban. We can't wait!

Rating: A+

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grading the Comics: May 13, 2009

Okay, let's get back to work, shall we?
Here's what I'm aiming to pick up today (with some notations)...

  • ACTION COMICS #877 - Nightwing takes the badly injured Flamebird to the one safe haven he knows, then engages in a brawl with Ursa and the US military. Good fun all around. B
  • ALL-NEW SAVAGE SHE-HULK #2 - Thulkdra takes on Shulkie! Alas, didn't find a copy on shelf. No grade.
  • BOOSTER GOLD #20 - Where in Time is Booster? Apparently back in the 1950s. Not bad at all, really. B-
  • CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI-13 #13 - Man, you thought Brian, Pete and their team got their butts kicked so far? You ain't seen nothin' yet. A
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #36 - Sodam Yat and Arisia on Daxam, while Sinestro gets to know his kid. Not as much as I might have hoped. C+
  • SECRET WARRIORS #4 - Nick Fury continues to be the consummate soldier, recruiting some old friends to his anti-Hydra cause, while the kids try and figure out what the good colonel is doing. B-
  • STORMWATCH PHD #21 - It's StormWatch vs. Night Tribes, with a cameo from WetWorks' Dane. Apparently the sh*t is hitting the fan in Europe big time, but can our heroes do anything about it? B-
  • TRINITY #50 - The world is dead, Earth is destroyed, and Krona has a long heart-to-heart with the worldsoul, only to find he had no idea what planets really do. Then the Trinity get together and make a decision with significant consequences. B
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #132 - Spider-Man gets reacquainted with Dr. Strange, who appears to be having a very bad day, plus Kitty Pryde 'fesses up and Mary Jane goes bonkers. Entertaining but I'm spiraling down on my "Ultimate" fandom. B+
  • UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #6 - Twisted with a capital S. Love it. The end of the Dallas storyline has an unexpected set of turns, setting the stage for an even bigger third act. Way to go, team! A
  • UNWRITTEN #1 - You have to read it. A+
  • WALKING DEAD #61 - Kirkman rules. Zombies rule. Kirkman and zombies totally rule. In this installment, the survivors meet a man of God whose survival is a mystery, and rough justice is meted out when someone does something both horrific and unimaginable. A+

And there you have it. What do you think? On the money or off target? Let me know.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek (2009): What It Is and Is Not

Saw the new Star Trek last weekend and was absolutely blown away. Once in awhile, you leave a theater feeling like a movie was pretty good--or even great--and you re-think that reaction a day or two later. "Huh... y'know, Wolverine really wasn't good..." stuff like that.

Not so with ST '09. J.J. Abrams and his team have successfully and happily blown up the continuity-waterlogged beast that ST had become, pushing the new series into its own self-declared alternate timeline. The Original Series (OS) shows still happened... but now there are episodes that cannot happen with this new crew. There are layers of tragedy that will shadow certain characters forever, and new possibilities because the original timeline was not salvaged.

So what does this mean? It means that Star Trek now has a blank slate. There is no "it has to be!" about their future adventures, no inevitability about meeting Khan, the planet destroyer, the Tribbles... any of it. Abrams can cherry pick whatever he likes for the next few movies, freed from the shackles of continuity. Long-time fans won't like it, I'm betting, but I am a long-time fan and this is infusing that whole universe with fresh blood.

As many publications and sites have noted, Chris Pine absolutely nails the essence of Kirk. He loves the ladies, he's reckless and a bit of a showoff but he gets the job done. He is the epic hero in ways that Spock is not and cannot be, larger than life and bolder than bold. Pine doesn't impersonate William Shatner-- that would be a thankless and self-defeating task--but he captures what Kirk is all about: he's a leader, a man of action, and the guy whose commands you follow no matter what because he inspires that kind of loyalty.

Zachary Quinto likewise nails Spock, but brings emotional depth to the character that Leonard Nimoy only revealed very gradually (probably because the writers were trying to figure him out back then, whereas Quinto benefits from 40+ years of Spockian analysis). This Spock is as much a rebel as Kirk, though he is quiet and coldly precise in how he defies authority. His emotions are always under tight control--with Quinto, the cost and effort of that control are always there, giving a strong urgency to his performance. It's really something to see.

Overall, I loved the new movie and hope fans will continue to embrace it. If serving the original fans were all that the movie aspired to do, it would be a disappointment and indeed a failure; the franchise needs to pull in new viewers, new fans, if it's going to survive. And frankly, the franchise needed a huge dose of risk-taking and adventurous spirit to overcome the last few mort-tastic entries in the theaters. If anything will take the sour taste of the recent ST:NG movies out of my mouth, ST '09 is the palate cleanser.

Grade: A+

...And So It Goes

Well, I wanted to jump back into blogging and had good intentions toward doing so. Real life intervened.

With any luck, I'll be able to put together a coherent thought or two on this page in the next few days.

As for comics, buy POWER GIRL! It's a blast.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yeah, I Know

Hey there!
Boy, time flies. I was on paternity leave for five weeks (just getting back to work as of yesterday) and y'know, I haven't blogged in ages.
Anyway, it's been in the service of a good cause: my daughter Brielle is doing very well and growing like a weed. She's in NJ with the grandparents for the week, which is not much fun, but we'll be off to see her Thursday night.
As for my comics reviews, I'll start afresh this week. Probably not much point in recapping the past six weeks or so... but send in comments if there's anything you want to talk about and I'll be glad to post some opinions.
all best and thanks for reading!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Grading the Comics- the Long-Overdue Edition

Hey folks!
Yeah, I'm back to grading comics. I have to write up my notes and see what's what this week. In the meantime, here's what I picked up:

  • DARK AVENGERS #3 DKR - Starts out with some truly awesome face-to-face time between Norman Osborn and the Sentry, with some startling revelations and a bit of insight into both Norman and Bob Reynolds. Truly stellar. The rest of the issue, as the Dark Avengers face off against Morgan le Fay, is pretty good--but the first part puts this issue firmly into A+ territory.
  • MYSTERIUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #3 (OF 6) - Not read yet.
  • STAR TREK CREW #1 - Not read yet.
  • STORMWATCH PHD #20 - A StormWatch ground team enters Eastern Europe, which is held by the Night Tribes, and finds things are vastly worse than they imagined. Expect a WetWorks appearance real soon. B-/C+
  • SUPERGIRL #39 - Not read yet.
  • TRINITY #42 - The Trinity aren't quite back to normal, even though they seem to be on the right side, and Gangbuster has a personal revelation courtesy of Tarot. B
  • ULTIMATE X-MEN #100 - The series finale (sort of) sees the team battling the Multiple Man, who's been turned into a million-strong army of suicide bombers. Pretty strong ending. B++
  • ULTIMATUM #3 (OF 5) - Not read yet.
  • UNCANNY X-MEN #507 - Not read yet.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #222 - Not read yet. This one bats clean-up, as I like to take my time reading Mike Carey's work.

Report back soon, ye army of loyal readers! I'll have comments and grades real soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Okay, I know you are dying to know what I thought of Watchmen.
Kat and I saw it Saturday with friends and, oddly, this has been my first chance to sit down and write about it.
The movie is good. Not great, not fantastic, but good. It's faithful to the book especially in its look, though it's undercut by some choices that--while understandable--end up weakening the story in certain ways.

  • Everyone loves Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, and with good reason--this is an Oscar-level performance, especially at the end. He deserves enormous kudos for what he does with (and without) a sock on his head.
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan made me care about the Comedian. He pulled this brute's humanity out by the roots and showed something vulnerable, even tragic in this monster wrapped in the American flag. Amazing performance.
  • Patrick Wilson comes alive as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II late in the game, but when he does, it's great. (Also, his reaction to the near-end of the movie feels much more appropriate than what happened in the comic.)
  • Billy Crudup sells me (most of the time) on Dr. Manhattan. Although we nicknamed him "Swingin' Blue," the shots of him full-frontal weren't gratuitous and his manners reflected a character who really cannot connect with humanity any longer.
  • The production values of the movie could not have been higher, with amazing effects (like Rorschach's mask, the Owlship, Dr. Manhattan) and fantastic sets putting viewers into the sewer that is this alternate 1985.
  • Taking out the squid was okay with me.


  • Watchmen is set in a time when the world is literally on the edge of nuclear annihilation. Problem is, we don't feel it. Alan Moore used street-level perspective to get the point across--the news vendor, the teenage kid, the cabbie, the psychiatrist, all of them showed life on the edge of the end. In the movie, we don't get enough of this. I know it's a time-constraint issue but I can only hope the director's cut includes it.


  • The violence was gratuitous. I know they're supposed to be "not the heroes we know," but showing compound fractures, ripping skin and a skull cleaved (over and over again) was overkill. And somewhat nauseating.
  • Malin Akerman only sold me on her as Silk Spectre here and there. I can't say for sure if it was performance or script but she didn't register as anything more than a token female presence passed between two of the characters. Her revelation moment landed with a thud and even the byplay with Carla Gugino felt forced. Not good.
  • Matthew Goode didn't deliver as Ozymandias. His performance was too muted, too restrained. Was he (or Zach Snyder) thinking that the audience would figure it out? Didn't they know most of the audience knows the story by now? In any case, Ozy should have been more forceful and Goode was just kind of present.
  • The music really hammered on this being the 1980s, didn't it?
  • The makeup for Nixon especially was terrible. And it didn't help that he was always in the War Room under that harsh fluorescent lighting, which showed how little the actor resembled the ex-president.

I doubt this will be one for the ages. My circle of friends (by voice vote) think it will not end up one of the big films of the summer, and indications now are that they are right.

At least this put to bed the notion that Watchmen (the graphic novel) is unfilmable. It CAN be filmed--but this version of it wasn't as great as the source material.

Grade: B-/C+

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Pitch Like a Rejected Pitch

Y'know a few posts back how I had been working on a pitch with an artist?
We got rejected.
Bummer, man.
But it's a fact of life: most pitches are rejected.
So what now?
We're picking ourselves up and moving forward. I have a ton of ideas and my artist friend seems to like what I've got, so we'll keep at it. With luck, I'll actually get back into doing comics on a freelance basis.
Which would be way cool, as supplemental income would be real handy right about now...

About a Month Later, And...

More pictures of Brielle!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brielle Grace Bittner, b. 2/17/09

My daughter was born yesterday afternoon. She's 7 lbs., 6 oz. (UPDATED: today she weighed in at 6 lbs. 9 oz., so she's lost a lot of weight) and 20-1/2 inches long, with lots of dark hair and brown eyes (like her mom).

Right now, she is practicing baby basics like stretching, yawning, crying and thrashing her limbs; her mom and I are practicing parent basics like hoping we can actually raise a child.
Last night turned out okay-- she was awake for a bit but she slept on top of me from 2am to 5am, while Kat caught some shut-eye. Tonight she's already been sleeping well, so it's possible she'll be up all night long. Ah well.

And as you can see, pictures... are here!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


It's been nearly a month since I last posted on the blog. Mostly because of a whole bunch of things...
1) I've been Facebooking like a fiend;
2) Kat and I are getting ready for our baby;
3) I had (minor) surgery a few weeks ago and needed to recover, and
4) I've been working on a comic book pitch with an artist.

So... that's what's new here.
I'll revive my weekly comics reviews this week; there's been a lot of interesting stuff in the past month and I'm eager to talk about it. Ditto the movies coming up. I'm hoping there will be a sneak preview of WATCHMEN but you never know.
Good to be back and hope you're all still out there!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

Well, you know these always come in threes.

Word is in that Ricardo Montalban has passed away, age 88. He lists 167 performances in TV and movies (per, but he is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Roarke in the original "Fantasy Island" and as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek (both the episode "Space Seed" and the movie "Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan"). In recent years, he had done appearances in movies and voice work in animated TV shows.

Rest in peace, Mr. Montalban.


Patrick McGoohan, RIP

Actor, producer, writer and director Patrick McGoohan passed away in Los Angeles today at the age of 80.

Best known as "Number Six" in THE PRISONER, a 17-episode series he created as a kind-of continuation of DANGER MAN (there has been some controversy over this, btw), McGoohan also starred in, wrote and directed a number of Columbo TV movies (winning two Emmys in the process); he also starred in the Disney production of "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" and Mel Gibson's epic "Braveheart." He was also in David Cronenberg's SCANNERS, for you genre fans.

I remember watching The Prisoner with disbelief and absolute confusion at the age of 11 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. It was in reruns on a local station at an odd hour, and the surreal show blew my circuits. McGoohan's Number Six was a model of privacy, self-control and integrity unlike nearly anything else in the rather dissolute '70s. (I know, it was broadcast in the '60s but I didn't discover it until much later.) McGoohan was one of those actors who is always watchable, always fascinating.

Very sad, but McGoohan created much that we value even today. (A remake of The Prisoner is currently underway on AMC with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen.)

Rest in peace, Mr. McGoohan, and thank you.

Ain't It Cool News:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grading the Comics- January 14

Another week, another batch of reviews.
I haven't read everything on my list this week (had a late night at a farewell dinner for a friend who's off to LA next week), but I did read a few. So here we go:

  • ACTION COMICS #873 (FOE) - Superman is caught between the Kandorians and the people of Earth, even as unsuspected enemies plot very bad things for the Man of Steel and his fellow Kryptonians. Plus a very unexpected reveal on the last page. A
  • BOOSTER GOLD #16 (FOE) - not read yet
  • CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #9 - A terrific book that keeps getting better. Pete Wisdom really shows how hard a guy he is and Captain Britain suffers a loss, the scope of which he doesn't quite realize. A
  • FINAL CRISIS #6 (OF 7) - You've probably read about this one. All I can say is, the pieces are definitely beginning to come together: Flashes Barry and Wally go on what could be their last run; the Green Lanterns don't give up; the last castle crumbles; Mr. Terrific makes a momentous decision and enlists a revived superweapon; Supergirl and Mary Marvel square off one final time; and Batman's big play comes to light, along with the return of a missing hero. We have an awful lot happening and the last page is a killer. Marred by uneven art, the story still comes through. B+/A-
  • GEN 13 #26 - not read yet
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #32 (FOE) - Kyle takes on Kryb, as the Star Sapphires show they can play nice when the mood strikes. Really interesting stuff AND we get more set up for the War of Light. And did anyone miss the significance of the response to the Guardians' Third Law? B+
  • NO HERO #3 (OF 7) - The rookie is put through hell to trigger his powers, while the team suffers another loss--and the rest get a history lesson about how to kill a superhuman. Warren is bringing some real heat to this book, y'all. A
  • PUSH #4 (OF 6) - not read yet (holding this one for last)
  • TRINITY #33 - Okay, no Trinity in the flesh, but we do get a telling of Wonder Woman's "breaking" in this new world, as well as the battle for Tel Aviv (which has some really heavy emotional moments) between the JSI and the Dark Trinity. Great character work by Nicieza in the backup especially. B
  • X-INFERNUS #2 (OF 4) - sold out! Hope to get it next week.

And that's where we stand. See ya!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby Update

Brielle Grace is doing well. Kat had an exam yesterday and the baby was described as "energetic" (IIRC), which is very good news. She's 32 weeks along and we're both eager to meet the new girl.

Grading the Comics- January 2 & 7 Double Header!


Okay, here's the stuff from last week:

  • FINAL CRISIS SECRET FILES #1 - Recap of Libra's origin story with some marginalia shoveled in at the back. Nice to see Len Wein working again but the story itself was inconsequential and the art was okay but nothing special. C-
  • GREEN LANTERN #36 - Setting up the War of Light with Sinestro in the hands of Red Lantern leader Atrocitus, while Hal finds out more about the Blue Lanterns (who have a really impractical recruitment process, not to mention a pretty silly ambition regarding one Green Lantern). Plus a Sinestro Corps member changes color and a green ring gets hypercharged. Important in building toward the aforementioned War but not a terrific story in and of itself. C+
  • INCOGNITO #1 - A real neat story, of a supervillain in witness protection who's having a hard time adjusting. A-
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #28 - JLA meets Milestone in a bruising clash that is not what it seems. McDuffie returns to the characters he helped create (and publish) all those years ago. B+
  • JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #22 - A strong ending to the World Under Gog storyline that's been running for... oh, a long time now. Superman-KC has a nice few moments at the end and Starman gets to do something new. A
  • KICK ASS #5 - I'm out. F
  • SUPERMAN #683 NEW KRYPTON - Superman is caught between Earth's heroes, who want to "talk with" the Kryptonians who killed some of the Science Police, and the Kandorians, led by a vengeful Alura. Things are not going to end well. B+
  • TEEN TITANS #66 - A feeble attempt at recruiting new Titans, a supervillain declaring revenge, and a core member takes a hike. I'm out. F
  • TRINITY #31 - Well, my interest is sustained for yet another week, so it can't be that bad. B-/C+
  • ULTIMATE HULK ANNUAL #1 - Truly awful. The art is okay but the storyline (Power Princess beats the $#!t out of the Hulk, who's naked and obsessed with pancakes) is really atrocious. Probably the worst Ultimate Universe story I've read; doubly so for the ending. No, just plain no. F
  • ULTIMATE X-MEN #99 - Rogue lines up some help in taking the fight to Magneto, but her plans are derailed as human Sentinels attack the X-Mansion. Interesting set up but the payoff was regrettably weak. And Vindicator is right--taking out Magneto IS more important than helping out the X-brood. Oh well. C
  • WHAT IF SECRET WARS - Doom keeps the Beyonder's power and kicks butt all over the Marvel Universe. Yep, the heroes who died on Battleworld stay dead and yep, Doom takes down pretty much everybody. And stays in character doing it, which is even better. B+
and here's this week's offering:

  • AUTHORITY #6 - StormWatch and the Authority come to an agreement, things begin to move and an old enemy makes a very big play. Plus an unexpected ray of hope for Jack and the Engineer. B+
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #4 - The end of the current mini sets up the next one in ways one could never miss. It was pretty good and had some neat gross-out moments, wrapping up a lot of "whatever happened to the OTHER guys...?" Still don't think I'll come back for another helping, though. Gotta cut somewhere. B
  • TRINITY #32 - More legends about how Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman ended up in this quasi-Earth, with unsettling resonances for many of the would-be rescuers. Plus a character study of Triumph and Tomorrow Woman and why they're fighting the good fight. B
  • WALKING DEAD #57 - Rick and Abraham set out for reconnaissance and recovery, while the others hunker down and wait for their return. Features some of the most disturbing content of the series, which is really saying something. A

Wow, that's kind of a light week. Four I'll definitely buy, two I might-or-might-not. Hm.

And finally, my "trimming the list" candidates (stuff that won't be on my pull list any longer):

  • KICK ASS - Enough is enough.
  • REIGN IN HELL - I've seen about as much as I need to see for this mini.
  • SPIRIT - Once Darwyn walked away...
  • SQUADRON SUPREME - Not enjoying it so much I want to shell out $3 (or more)
  • TEEN TITANS - The team's falling apart and I just don't care that much.
  • TERROR TITANS - ugh.
  • TITANS - I wish the reunion of the original Titans was better than this. But it isn't. We're getting rehashed Trigon and now Jericho-gone-bad-or-is-he? nonsense. Isn't anyone interested in trying something NEW with these characters?

Wow, clean sweep of all the Titans books. Oh well.

That's it for now, friends! See you next week.