Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fantasy Schmantasy

Trying to come up with a blog subject has been a pain in the posterior. I plan on doing another comics related commentary, but I was not ready. I thought it was too soon for another music themed commentary. So I finally came up with my own hang-ups with a particular genre, Fantasy. When it comes to Fantasy, I prefer Mythic and Urban/ Modern/ Contemporary Fantasy. The Whole Sword and Sandal or Sword and Sorcery leaves me bland. I live in the modern era so I have modern ideas and conventions. The High Fantasy genre has become passé and clichéd. I have an appreciation for the Masters; Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, the Eddings, Hickman, Weis, and Terry Brooks. As much as I enjoyed studying medieval culture and history in College, it does not hold my fascination anymore. Too many fantasy authors cover the same themes and cultures. I also find Stereo typical High Fantasy as too escapist. When I do enjoy High Fantasy the authors mix up the cultures a bit. They use Cultures that are not routine for high Fantasy.

What I enjoy about Contemporary Fantasy is that it is nice to see a sense of wonder in our jaded world. One of the things that I see in Modern culture is that there is nothing unknown to us. This is a fallacy, ask any scientist and they will tell you that we don’t know all there is to know. In Contemporary Fantasy, it is conveyed that the fantastic is still possible and out there. Also Contemporary Fantasy straddles the border between Fantasy and Horror. Clive Barker and Charles DeLint have both written in both genres. The unknown and fantastic can be frightening, and not always benign. A common theme in Contemporary Fantasy is arrogant modern man runs into a Mythical creature and is reminded he does not know everything.

Since the modern world is more global, Contemporary Fantasy spans over more cultures. In many cases a Contemporary Fantasy work can cover both ancient and modern cultures. I am surprised that in Film, Contemporary Fantasy has not been tapped into that much. Dueling with wands and pistols, flying mythical beasts is chases with cars, magical tomes on flash drives are a few ideas I could see used in modern media. I understand the modern world and its rules, when I read High Fantasy I need a rulebook. That just how I see it.

Examples of Contemporary Fantasy Authors are Charles DeLint, Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Clive Barker, J.K. Rowling, Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman, Sergei Lukyanenko, Terri Windling, and Mercedes Lackey. These authors run the gambit of Wondrous to grim and gritty.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fang Me

Recently at Wal*Mart I saw a plethora of Vampire TV shows and old films. When I was a kid till I was 12, Vampire Movies freaked me the hell out. The Worst offender was the old Hammer Horror Dracula series with Sir Christopher Lee. That Man’s intense glare and demeanor made me want to run for the hills. He stills scares me, but I love it now. For me he is the best Villain EVER. So, I did not get interested in Vampire Media, until I discovered an interesting fact. In the Time-Life Folklore series, the Vampire book stated that in Eastern Europe they believed that Cleft lip and palate people were either Werewolves or became Vampires when they died. Since I have a Cleft lip and Palate, my curiosity was ignited.

So let’s look at the various Vampire Media. The first for me was the bad pilot Nick Knight with Rick Springfield from 1989. It was pretty cheesy; it was later resurrected in 1992 as Forever Knight. I watched that show for the first couple of seasons. It was not the best, but had some very good characters. La Croix the main villain was great; he was the proto-Spike. Then there was the revival of Dark Shadows in 1991, it had Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins. I am a little young to have seen the original series in first run. I later watched it, when SciFi Channel launched in 1992. The remake was not as cheesy as the original, but the original’s kitschiness was gold like Original Star Trek was. Interview with a Vampire Came out, it was fun. I agree with Lestat that Louis is a Whiney Wuss.
I never got into Vampire Literature; Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles had me raising an eyebrow in disbelief. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is interesting; mind you I have only read the first three.

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer film came out, I saw it as a kitschy satire of Vampire films. It also reminded me of Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers. Years Later the TV Show came along. Now I am the first to point out the Film and show are different animals all together. The Show was smart, sarcastic; the heroine was not as blindly shallow and vacant as her Screen counterpart. I still think today, that a young Nicholas Brendon should have been Spiderman. The Buffy Series also gave us Angel and Spike, the best instance of familial rivalry in Vampire fiction since Lestat and Louis. Whedon did well with this series and its spin-off Angel. In 2007, Blood Ties on Lifetime came out, this time the main Vampire was based on a historical figure. The Vampire was a supporting character like with Buffy. Recently with the Film Version of the Twilight series and the TV version of Vampire Diaries, the young Adult Vampire Novels have taken the forefront. Twilight’s version of Vampire breaks some serious Vampire Lore. Don’t get me started about sparkly Vampires. In 1996 Kindred the Embraced, premiered on Fox. It was an Adaptation of Vampire: The Masquerade table top Roleplaying Game by White Wolf. Vampire: The Masquerade spawned its own culture including a Live Action Roleplaying Game.

Personally I enjoyed the Dark Shadows Revival, Forever Knight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel. Twilight got a so-so from me. Vampire Diaries seems like Vampire 90120. Now I am not a Vampire Media Aficionado, but I know what I like. I have read a few Vampire Novels, owned the Vampire Masquerade RPG at one time, and own a few Vampire show and movies. Too many have made the Vampire too cute and cuddly. 30 Days of Night, both the comic book and Film, went about bringing back the menacing dark, visceral Vampire. I think both accomplished their jobs. I am just giving an overview here and barely skimming the surface. A series of books can be made about Vampires in Media. Before I go I will mention a few more Vampire Film I enjoyed. Fright Night, Love at First Bite and Once Bitten do Vampire Comedy well. When people mention Dracula: Dead and Loving It, I steer them to those three films. Well there it is my rundown.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wham Bam Thank You Glam

I have been thinking about what sub-genre of Rock has been the most influential. What I mean by that is how many bands and styles have sprouted off from the original. Well after lots of thought I have come to the conclusion that the genre is Glam. I mean the 70’s rock movement not the 80’s metal from Hollywood. Although most of the influential bands come from the United Kingdom, The first that started seems to be the American act The New York Dolls. Dressed in drag and oozing with attitude not only are they viewed as early glam, also proto-punk. There it is the first offshoot, Glam helped give us punk. Other Glam bands that influence punk are Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and David Bowie. Bowie himself with others helped influence such styles as New Wave, New Romantics, Glam Metal, Goth and Grunge. Such Bands like Sweet, Queen, who surpassed there early glam connection, Slade, Kiss Alice Cooper and T. Rex helped influence Heavy Metal and Glam Metal. There are bands that started out as glam acts that surpassed it that would surprise you, such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, Twisted Sister, and Roxie Music. Elton John is included by some, others view him as glam lite or faux glam.

Glam, Glam Rock or Glitter Rock was theatrical, unconventional and gender bending. It was pop with catchy melodies and rhythms. It was fun, exciting and controversial. The Film Velvet Goldmine captured most of that in 1998. It took social convention and threw it to the wolves. Iggy Pop, Proto-Punk great, played in this sandbox with David Bowie. Glam Metal was a pale Shadow of the earlier Glam Rock. Glam Rock experimented with Style, ELO played with Orchestral Pop and Rock. Queen played with Operatic Rock. Bowie experimented with style in ways no one can explain even today. Roxy Music played with Synthesizers and through Brian Eno influence Ambient Music. Gary Glitter, Slade and Sweet seemed more throw away pop. However they were fun, bright and exciting pop. They were much better than a lot of Pop that has come along since. Glam was in your face, brash and unapologetic like most Rock. Almost Forty years later one can still see its influence all over Modern Rock. The Darkness seemed to be a throwback to this Movement. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, from my neck of the woods, attempted a Glam revival in 2000 with Diamond Light Boogie. Glam may be gone, but cannot ever be forgotten.

Shazam It

Originally posted on My Space on Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

My Favorite DC Comics character is Captain Marvel/Shazam. The Last 5 years have been crazy for the Character and his supporting Character the Marvel Family. During the Infinite Crisis, in 2006 they killed off the Wizard Shazam. During the Trials of Shazam in 2006, they turn Billy Batson/ Captain Marvel into a version of the Wizard Shazam called Marvel. Marvel sent Freddy Freeman/ Captain Marvel Jr. on the Trial of Shazam to reclaim the powers from the various Mythic Gods and heroes that patronized the Marvels. After all is said and done Freddy is now called Shazam. During all this in 52, Countdown to Final Crisis, and Final Crisis, Mary Marvel went from depowered to evil to good then neutral then bad the depowered then bad again. In 2009 they resurrected the Wizard Shazam who they depowered both Billy and Mary after they fell in with Black Adam, Afterwards he said he would deal with Freddy soon enough. Ok, DC I know The Marvel/Shazam Family is one of you second or third tier Characters, but lately too many changes one after the other confuse folks. This is reminiscent of what happed to Hawkman in the 90’s. Enough already, these character are mythic and if done right great. I enjoyed the Trials of Shazam, they were great but DC needs to police the use of their characters better sometimes.

I always liked Captain Marvel/ Billy Batson; he was the perfect childhood fantasy. You can say a magic word and poof you become an adult superhero. He was the first superhero who could hold his own against Superman. Because of the similarities DC sued Fawcett and basically destroyed the publisher. In the 80’s DC purchased Fawcett’s Superhero properties. DC has always tried to de-emphasize Captain Marvel especially after the name was trademarked by Marvel in the 60’s. Jerry Ordway’s Power of Shazam was great; it updated the character in a fun and faithful way. After Infinite Crisis and the Trials of Shazam, I thought the changes were cool. What they put Mary Marvel through irritated me. DC did not let the changes settle a while before letting Jerry Ordway resurrect the Wizard Shazam and make his death seem pointless.

Captain Marvel was a unique character in that he was a composite Avatar. He was an Avatar of Multiple Mythic Gods and heroes; this made him complex and interesting. Comics Books have very few good mythic Superheroes. Wonder Woman, Thor, Hercules and sometimes Isis seem to be the most popular. Captain Marvel like Wonder Woman has the advantage of being not public domain like the other three. Captain Marvel is an Avatar of Mythic beings from multiple cultures. When Judd Winnick wrote Trials of Shazam, Freddy underwent a quest to request renewed patronage of his Patron mythic beings. I feel this muddling of the Character is similar to what has occurred with Hawkman and Aquaman. DC these are your second tier first stringers characters, it is frustrating when your D-List heroes get treated better than major characters. That is the problem with corporate properties too many cooks in the broth.

Plastic Freaks

Originally posted on Myspace on Wednesday, September 17, 2008.

Okay, First thing I was born with a Cleft palate and Lip. That means when I was born I looked like the kids on the project Smile commericals. It also Mean I spent my childhood and Teenage years in and out of the Hostpital for Reconstructive Surgery. I joke with people that I have had more nose jobs than a Hollywood Housewife but less than Michael Jackson. I had to have these surgeries to function. I get irritated seeing all these episodes of Dr. Phil , Oprah and Maury where these Teenagers want Plastice Surgery. If I could have avoided them myself I would have. Another One was These people who are addicted to Palstic Surgery. Why???? The Pain is not worth it to me. Maybe I have had the perfect Plastic Surgery Aversion, too many I had no choice in. Hell some of the Nose jobs I have seen, I say to myself I would love to have the before nose. Mine is malformed inside and for everything my surgeon tried I still have trouble breathing. I wish people would learn to become happy in their own skins. I know it is hard, but is surgery and the possible complications aren't worth it.

That is my not so humble opinion.

Geek Buttons

This Was Origianlly posted on Myspace on June 22, 2007 and September 10 2008.

Have you every noticed everyone has what I call a Geek Button. That is the one subject that they are so Passionate about that once you get then started talking it is hard to get them to stop. Finding Someone's Geek Button Can be fun, with such Power comes great responsibility.

Not everybody's geek buttons are what society considers geeky. My Dad cannot stop when you start him on John Wayne or Clint Eastwood Westerns. I have a co-worker whose geek button is Pro-Wrestling. Also not all geeks are men. I know a few female X-Files Geeks, Neil Gaiman's Sandman geeks, Charmed and/or Buffy the Vampire Slayer Geeks. I know of a grown woman that was a Barbie geek. Have you ever seen a NASCAR nut geek out about Dale Junior, I have Scary. In Many ways Goths can be slightly geeky, ever seen Abby on NCIS (Fairly realistic). Plus you got closet geeks. People that you meet that you would not believe watch Doctor Who or Star Trek. Plus in today's Day and Age it seems like the Geeks are inheriting the earth.