Category: Between the pages


Winter is coming.... The cold winds rise in Westeros April 1st on HBO.

That’s right, the highly anticipated second season of Game of Thrones will premier on April Fools Day?

I hope that isn’t foreshadowing of some sort. I know there’s some concern among the fan community that HBO might not maintain their level of commitment to A Song of Ice and Fire, but according to Richard Pleper’, co-president of HBO:

 “We told George we’d go as long as he kept writing.”

Hopefully that means the budget will be there into the third and forth seasons and beyond so that we can see the story that George RR Martin wants to tell.

At any rate, the first of 10 episodes kicks off on April 1st, with returning cast members Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emmy winner Peter Dinklage (yay!), Michelle Fairley, Lena Headey and Kit Harington.

Here’s a little tease to whet your appetite.

Advertisements

Sometimes Toronto surprises me. The city has a reputation of being fairly uptight, self-satisfied and more than a bit arrogant. But every now and then a little something shakes loose and we get a glimpse of something really wonderful beating behind the Hogtown façade. This is one of those things:



I’ve been by Type (883 Queen Street West) a few times but haven’t had a chance to stop in. I’m thinking it’s about time I do, especially if I can manage to hide out until after closing time.

The Adventures of TintinThe Adventures of Tintin – 3D

Studio: Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones
Rating: Rating System!Rating System!Rating System!/ 5 Handbags

I wanted to love this movie. I really, Really, *REALLY* wanted to love this movie. I had seen the mixed reviews, but I was hopeful. I figured The Adventures of Tintin might have been too European for North American tastes. But no, I was wrong. It wasn’t a *GREAT* movie. It was a good movie, don’t get me wrong, it’s not horrible, but the magic just wasn’t there.

You have to understand, I grew up on Hergé (Les aventures de Tintin), Goscinny and Uderzo (Astérix et Obélix), Peyo (Les Schtroumpfs) and Chaulet  and Craenhals (Les 4 As) – yes, I read them in French. As a matter of fact, I remember getting in fights because some idiot guy would try to take them away from me. Girls weren’t supposed to be interested in such things, at least not good Catholic school girls.

A black eye and a bloody nose took care of that misconception.

At any rate, I was really looking forward to sharing this movie with my kidlets, particularly 5 year old Goober who loves all things pirates.

The movie starts out with a clever conceit, a young man in a market place is having a portait done of himself. Oh look, it’s Hergé and he’s drawn Tintin in cartoon form. Yes, how cute, chuckles all around.

Tintin thanks the artist for the drawing and begins to meander through the crowd, spotting an old model ship, which he buys from the salesperson for half the asking price. This sets off a bidding war between two men who simply *must* have the model. Tintin politely, but firmly declines, taking his model ship home with him. The result is an escalating series of episodes involving dire warnings, break-ins, shootings, kidnappings, a car chase, cows, break-outs, escapes and plane crashes.

So why is it all so boring?

Yes! You heard me! BORING!

*SIGH* Unfortunately, I have to lay all this at the feet of Thomson and Thompson, the two incompetent detectives from Scotland Yard. The Thom(p)sons are in “hot pursuit of a wily pickpocket named Silk, and their escapades interrupts  the flow of the mystery swirling around Tintin and his new friend Capitain Haddock. While the interlude works well in the book, and is quite entertaining, it only slows down the action in the movie. And while those familiar with The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackam’s Treasure are probably happy to see a familiar face, to those who have had limited exposure to Tintin’s universe would probably find the action horribly, horribly contrived. Omitting The Thom(p)sons would be akin to an act of heresy, however I’m sure that the entire plot device could be wrapped up in such a way as to not drag down the action all the while allowing Thomson and Thompson the opportunity to make an appearance in Bagghar in time to save the day.

Once this thread is dealt with, the pacing of the movie improves exponentially. When you finally get the back story of what happened between Captain Haddock’s ancestor, Sir Francis  and Red Rackam does the movie finally pick up steam and move to a satisfying conclusion. The sea battle between the Unicorn and Red Rackam’s ship is definitely worth the price of 3D admission and is as thrilling as any I’ve ever seen.

Technically the film is gorgeous, everything from the color palette, to the design details are, in a word, sumptuous. Nothing has been overlooked, including the scene wipes which rank up there with my favorites from Brotherhood of the Wolf and Highlander. The world that these characters inhabit is so rich and exquisitely rendered that you feel you can reach out and really touch what’s on the screen.

As great as the 3D and CGI are, The Adventures of Tintin does suffer for the technology on occasion. There are a couple of scenes in the movie that I swear are included only because the movie is shot in 3D. I HATE that. 3D should serve the story and enhance the experience, not the other way around. If at any point in a movie, the viewer is taken out of the story to think: “Oh hey! Cool 3D effect”, the director has failed as a story teller. Thankfully,  this only happens briefly once or twice in the movie, but it is an unfortunate faut pas.

The truth of the matter is I can sit back and nitpick this movie to death, but it won’t change the fact that Goober, my little 5 year-old adrenaline junkie sat through the entire 107 minute runtime. Once The Adventures of Tintin was over, he walked out of the theater proclaiming: “This is the best movie ever!” and is now curled up, snug and cozy in his bed with a copy of The Secret of the Unicorn tucked under his pillow where he thinks I won’t find it.

And at the end of the day that’s probably all that Peter Jackson and Steven Speilburg are going to care about.

Me too for all it matters.

JRR Tolkien

Caricature by gaumgospel

Today would have been JRR Tolkien’s 120th birthday.

To celebrate, Tom Hawking, the contributing editor over at Flavorwire has put together a gallery of beautiful and strange editions of Lord of the Rings  and The Hobbit from around the world. The list includes Professor Tolkien’s *least* favorite cover art as well as bizarre interpretations from Poland (which really should surprise no one who has seen CHUD’s extensive coverage of Polish movie posters) and other international editions.

To see an exhaustive listing of Tolkien cover art, please visit the Tolkien Book Covers Gallery and The Tolkien Library

Here are my personal favorites, some from Tom’s list and others from The Tolkien Book Covers Gallery.

The original | Polish Edition | British Folio Edition | 2005 Houghton-Mifflin set | Finnish Edition

So, please join me in raising a glass and toasting the author of one of the most enduring and beloved books in the English language:

“THE PROFESSOR!”

Suck It Wonder Woman
Suck It Wonder Woman!

The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek

Author: Olivia Munn with Mac Montandon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating: Rating System!Equals 1/2 purse / 5 Handbags

Another birthday came and went recently and one of my DH’s presents was a copy of Suck It Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Attack of the Show’s Olivia Munn. I have never seen Attack of the Show, but I had heard of Olivia as the reigning Geek Goddess and remember her from a brief appearance in a season 4 episode of Chuck.

It’s weird being a geeky girl. There’s not a lot out there for us and the expectations are pretty low. The stereotype is either an unattractive, socially awkward girl who hangs out with the nerds in hopes of getting some attention from these poor schmucks once they realize there’s no hope in hell of dating a cheerleader, or gold-diggers who go out with computer and science nerds for their increased earning potential. So, here comes Olivia Munn, talented, beautiful, popular and an unabashed geek who looks to break the stereotype. I was really interested to read what she had to say.

Boy was I disappointed.

Firstly the book is written like a blog, which would be fine if I wanted to read a blog, for free. But DH shelled out $20 bucks for the thing, so an over-arching theme and a little cohesion would be nice. Instead, the book reads like a stream of consciousness cross between Mean Girls and Men Behaving Badly. It is little more than a series of anecdotes which have less to do with being a Geek in Hollywood as it does with simply being in Hollywood.  Her reminiscences  are neither insightful as to the being a geek in Hollywood, geek culture within Hollywood/LA or celebrity members of that culture.

The other thing is that this book is definitely written for the fanboys. With chapters about getting laid (Chapter 6: Sex: What You Can Do to Help Yourself  Have More of It and Chapter 17: Dating Tips to Help You Score), hooking up with a bridesmaid at a friends wedding (Chapter 12: Muscle Relaxers and Swimming Fully Clothed Really Don’t Go Together So Good [sic]) it’s obvious that this books main audience buys Clearacil in bulk and lives in their parent’s basement. Even her gallery of great women which features historical heavy weights like Catherine the Great and Eleanor Rosevelt – women who are Munn’s supposed ‘inspiration’ – are reduced to caricatures as conceptualized by Joe Francis and Hugh Hefner.

BORING!

There is nothing new here, and that really does a disservice to those Munn says she’s trying to champion – those awkward, shy girls, who want desperately to fit in yet have interests and passions that set them apart from the crowd. Yes, we *know* it’s hard growing up when you like sci-fi and play D&D. It’s nothing new, get over it. Show us how you used your geekdom to forge an identity and a career for yourself, not complain about how hard it was to be true to yourself while surrounded by mean kids then take pot shots at people who are overweight.

Olivia Munn on Playboy

"She haz to be naked! If not, why is she do Playboy?"

All this isn’t to say that the book is a total washout. There are some hidden gems buried in here, most notably My Worst Day Ever which had me reaching for my hanky and On the Playboy Cover Shoot, Scandinavian Stylists and Picking out Panties was absolutely hilarious and give a glimpse of the real Olivia Munn as someone who is strong, passionate, sensitive,funny and not afraid to stand up for herself.

Someone I would really like to hear more from.

In the meantime,unless you are interested in girls who take swan dives into giant chocolate cream pies whilst wearing nothing but a fetish French maid outfit, this is a book to avoid. We geek girls will just have to make due with tweets from Amber Benson and Felicia Day until such a time as they write their own memoirs.

Harry Potter's ButterbeerI snagged this recipe from Starline Hodge’s webcomic site, Candi – A College Story.

You should definitely check the strip out. It’s a lot of fun, has some great characters, and depicts parts of my university career with aching clarity, episodes that I think are universal to anyone who’s pursued higher learning at any institution.

Most of which I think a lot of us would would much rather forget.

*SHUDDER*

At any rate, thanks Starline!

BUTTERBEER

Ingredients:

1 cup (8 oz) club soda or cream soda

½ cup (4 oz) butterscotch syrup (ice cream topping)

½ tablespoon butter

Directions:

Step 1: Measure butterscotch and butter into a 2 cup (16 oz) glass. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely incorporated.

Step 2: Stir and cool for 30 seconds, then slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.

Step 3: Serve in two coffee mugs or small glasses; a perfectly warm Hogwarts treat for two!

Yummy! And to work up your appetite, here’s the latest trailer for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 & 2.

RIP Harvey Pekar - 1939-2010

RIP 1939-2010

“…In the long run, we’re all dead anyway.”

– Harvey Pekar, The Quitter, 2005

Harvey Pekar, the genius author behind American Splendor has died. He was 70 years old.

Pekar began his chronicle of everyday life in 1976 while he was working as a file clerk at Cleveland’s Veterans Hospital. American Splendor was an unflinching look at Pekar’s mundane and seemingly pointless interactions between himself and co-workers and hospital patients. As it evolved, American Splendor became an ongoing biography of Harvey’s life, his trials, foibles, worries and anxieties, eventually expanding to include his relationships with his wife Joyce Brabner and his adopted daughter Danielle. Harvey never pulled any punches, most notably when writing about his fight against lymphoma in ‘Our Cancer Year’, published in 1994. He would go on to write about jazz, the artists with whom he collaborated, the making of the movie American Splendor staring Paul Giamatti, and the wartime experiences of his friend and coworker Robert McNeill in Vietnam.

Pekar worked with some of the greatest comic artists of this century to produce American Splendor including: R. Crumb, Gary Dumm, Greg Budgett, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Zabel, Gerry Shamray, Frank Stack, Mark Zingarelli, and Joe Sacco. More recently Harvey teamed up with artists Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld and cartoonists Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Alison Bechdel, Gilbert Hernandez, Eddie Campbell, David Collier, Drew Friedman, Ho Che Anderson, Rick Geary, Ed Piskor, Hunt Emerson, Bob Fingerman, Alex Wald and even legendary comics writer Alan Moore.

It was R. Crumb who first started working with Pekar on what would become American Splendor after they met in 1962. It was Harvey’s contention that comic books could be used to tell more than formulaic fantasy stories, that they could be something more:

When I was a little kid, and I was reading these comics in the ’40s, I kind of got sick of them because after a while, they were just formulaic. I figured there was some kind of a flaw that keeps them from getting better than they are, and then when I saw Robert Crumb’s work in the early ’60s, when he moved from Philadelphia to Cleveland, and he moved around the corner from me, I thought ‘Man, comics are where it’s at’.

Always irascible and opinionated, Pekar appeared multiple times as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman during the 1980’s until he was banned for wearing a t-shirt declaring himself to be “On Strike Against NBC”, railing against NBC’s parent company GE and accusing Letterman himself of being a corporate shill. According to Harvey:

[W]ith Letterman … you either lay down and let him insult you or you do something about it. Most people keep their mouth shut and let him dump on them. I don’t wanna do that.

Goodbye Harvey, you were authentic, original and thought provoking. We were all much better for having know you. You shall be missed.

A few days ago, Mike Sampson over at JoBlo posted a detailed description of Captain America’s costume developed for Chris Evans:

The fabric of the costume doesn’t look like the scaled material of SPIDER-MAN but more of a leather fabric, like something you’d see on one of the X-MEN. Cap wears an old school utility belt, the likes of which we haven’t seen much in modern superhero movies. Utility belts were a staple of comic superheroes but haven’t made the transition but here Cap sports a rather thick belt made up of brown pockets with a silver buckle. (It actually looks something like the belt on this Captain America toy. [snip]
The suit actually has a practical WWII military look to it with some of the obvious Captain America flourishes that we would expect. It’s hard to really pass judgment on a costume until you see it properly lit, in motion and doing what it’s meant to do. But based on what I saw, I’m pretty impressed with how they were able to adapt the costume for the film.

As for the shield, it actually hews very closely to the classic design of red/white/red rings with the white star in a blue circle at the middle.

And yesterday, AICN posted artwork of a completely different source, which Mike from JoBlo has confirmed to be the art he was describing in his original piece.

And now, without further ado, I give you: Captain America – The First Avenger:

Continue reading

Wil Wheaton riding a unicorn kitty, hunting Orc-John Scazi down with a vengeanceOkay, gang, stop scratching your head. You’re about to draw blood. All will be explained.

For those of you wondering, yes, that’s Wil Wheaton. And yes, he’s riding a wing-ed unicorn kitten whilst wearing his favorite sweater (which seems so much more bad-ass here).  And yes, for some reason he’s going medieval on poor John Scazi who seems to have suffered a tragic telepod accident involving himself and Shrek.

Why? Well that’s up to you. I’ll let John explain:

You write a 400 to 2,000 word fanfic about the picture above. Come at it from any angle you like to explain, illuminate or otherwise bring to life what’s going on in the picture above. Our only request is NO slash fanfic (please). But other than that, knock yourself out.

When you’re finished with the story, in addition to whatever else you do with it (hey, it’s your fanfic, we hold no claim to it), send a copy of the story to fanfic@scalzi.com by 11:59pm Eastern, June 30, 2010 (one entry per person), with the text of the story in the e-mail (no attachments, please). When you do, you’ll enter your fan fiction into a contest.

If your fanfic of the picture is chosen by our Jury of Awesomeness, your story will appear in a special electronic chapbook about the picture, with other stories written by me, by Wil, by Norton Award winner and Best Novel Hugo Award nominee Catherynne Valente and by Patrick Rothfuss, best selling author of The Name of the Wind. You will be paid for your story at the rate of ten cents a word (twice the SFWA minimum professional rate), and you’ll receive a special prize pack of books from Subterranean Press, which will publish the electronic chapbook later in the year.

We have plans for the chapbook: We’re going to sell it online, and the proceeds of the chapbook will go to benefit the Lupus Alliance of America, an organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus and providing support, services and hope to all people affected by lupus. As folks who know and love people affected by this disease, this a cause and foundation we believe in and want to help. The donation will go through the Alliance’s Michigan/Indiana affiliate.

Awesome.

Good luck! If you enter, be sure to send me a copy so I can publish it on the blog.

BTW, the painting was created by concept designer Jeff Zugale (V), who himself is also AWESOME!

Via: Wil Wheaton, John Scazi