Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And, so, today is leap day. Do most people born today really celebrate every four years? I'd just celebrate on the 28th in non-leap years, but that's just me.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lost in the stacks. (True Story Swear to God)

I love comic books. I've been collecting for roughly the last decade. However, I'm not drawn toward traditional titles. Somehow, I gravitate toward limited run titles. These comics, more often than not, fall through the cracks and are forgotten, lost to time. This column aims to shine a light on these titles and, hopefully, make them some new fans...or draw out the old ones.

How far would you go for true love? Would you, say, upend your roots in California to be with your beloved, who lives in Puerto Rico? Even more, would you chronicle this new relationship in a warts-and-all comic book series? Well, cartoonist Tom Beland did just that.

While on assignment at Disney World (referred to, presumably for legal reasons, as the 'magical kingdom'), Beland happens upon Lily Garcia, who's something of a celebrity in Puerto Rico. The two of them hit it off right away and so begins a whirlwind courtship, filled with family gatherings and the logging of several frequent flyer miles.

There are actually two runs of this comic. The first consists of 17 issues put out by Clib's Boy Press (Beland's self-published label) that cover the first meeting through the first few months of Tom's life in Puerto Rico. The second, released by Image Comics, continues through to the beginning of Tom and Lily's marriage.

It has to be said that Puerto Rico, from the citizens to the scenery to the food, is a character unto itself. (The rendering of El Morro in the fourth issue of the Clib's Boy run is very eye-catching and really stands out amongst the simple artwork of the comic.) It looks like a great place to visit...though given the arc of Clib's issues 5 through 7; living there might be a problem. As compelling as the scenes are, I couldn't handle a hurricane.

The authenticity of the dialogue is another asset. In just about every issue, the conversations feel real, likely because they are. It almost feels like eavesdropping as much as getting a look at the relationship. One could quibble about the profanity, but maybe one needs to leave the bubble of canned romantic stories.

Besides, who needs predictable rom-com nonsense when you have characters like Tom's brother Joe; the story of the fish sandwich (in Clib's issue #2) still makes me chuckle. And then there's Lily. One can see what drew Tom to her. This line from the first Image issue endeared me to her: "I think it's far worse to wonder if something would fail than to know it did fail."

If the love story turns you off (*coughheartlessschmuckcough*), I highly recommend the collection "100 Stories" (incidentally, Tom sent these to Lily so that she'd learn more about him; second issue of the Clib's Boy run). Sure, there are a number of relationship strips, but most of them cover Beland's childhood growing up with his family. The matter-of-fact, oh-man-I've-been-there storytelling, at times, recalls the style of Jean Shepard*.

For an appealing slice-of-life comic, look no further than this.

Grade: A-

Availability (if any): The individual issues of the Image run are available from Mile High Comics. The collection of Clib's Boy issues (released by Image, incidentally) and the collection of '100 Stories' can be found at Amazon.

* - I've not read a word of Shepard's stories, but I have seen A Christmas Story and the comparison, in my view, isn't that exaggerated.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

"I'll never trust an awards show again..."

"...unless that delightful Billy Crystal is involved."

8:30 Hey! It's Morgan Freeman! (applause) With earrings?!

8:31 Billy Crystal gets a plug in for his movie during an Artist parody. Followed by The Descendants (yikes) and Moneyball (heh).

8:32 Chatting with Justin Bieber. Wait, what?

8:33 Biebs hitches a ride with Sammy Davis, Jr.

8:34 Nice way to fold the The Help's most infamous scene into Bridesmaids.

8:35 Billy as Tintin. Yikes.

8:37 "We're here at the beautiful Chapter 11 Theater." "Nothing like taking your mind off of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires reward each other with golden statuettes."

8:38 Very funny musical number.

8:42 Tom Hanks gives a shout-out to a long-time seat filler. Could've sworn that was Mickey Rooney in the opening pan.

8:43 Best Cinematography goes to...Robert Richardson for Hugo. Like I said, the opening shot will make your jaw drop. The rest of the movie looked good, too.

8:44 Best Art Direction goes to...Hugo. (1/24) Today is Dante Ferretti's birthday. I mused that this would make a hell of a birthday present. Interesting that his set decorator is also his wife.

8:51 A tribute to the movies: love, excitement, laughter, classsic moments...

8:54 Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez present Best Costume Design, which goes to...Mark Bridges for The Artist. (2/24) Western New York in the house!

8:56 Best Make-Up goes to...The Iron Lady.

9:00 Actors talk about their first the movies.

9:05 Sandra Bullock presents Best Foreign Language Film in Chinese. Huh?! The Oscar goes to...Iran's A Separation.

9:09 Christian Bale presents Best Supporting Actress to...Octavia Spencer. (3/24) She seemed overwhelmed. Can't say I blame her.

9:18 A look at the test screening for The Wizard of Oz featuring the Christopher Guest troupe. Okaaaay.

9:22 Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper present Best Editing. The Oscar goes to...Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If they had anything to do with cutting the trailer, I'd say the award was well-deserved.

9:25 The Sound Editing Oscar goes to...Hugo.

9:27 The Sound Mixing Oscar goes to...Hugo, again. I'm starting to think that The Artist may have some competition for the top prize.

9:34 Kermit and Miss Piggy at the Oscars present...Cirque Du Soleil and another tribute to the movies. The music is from the stage production "Iris" by Danny Elfman. If it was a film score, it would've been a nominee, for sure.

9:40 Tony Stark and Pepper Potts present Best a documentary is being shot. Okay, how did I not notice that she's taller than him? Even without the benefit of heels, she probably has three inches on him. The Oscar goes to..."Undefeated". (4/24) Names out of a hat FTW.

9:46 Chris Rock (rightly) points out that voice work is the easiest job in the world. Best Animated Feature goes to...Rango. (5/24) Good for Gore Verbinski. I've been a fan as far back as Mouse Hunt.

9:52 Following a paraphrase of Melissa McCarthy's airline seduction scene from Bridesmaids, Emma Stone and Ben Stiller present...good God, she's taller than him. Is this going to be a recurring motif? And this 'savoring the first time at the Oscars' thing is dragging. Anyway, Best Visual Effects goes to...Hugo. Huh.

9:58 Melissa Leo presents Best Supporting Actor to...Christopher Plummer for Beginners. (6/24)

10:08 Billy Crystal tells us what the stars are thinking. This made me laugh more than it should've.

10:11 Best Original Score, presented by Owen Wilson and Penelope Cruz. The Oscar goes to...Ludovic Bource. (7/24) The Artist had a very lovely score. This makes me so glad.

10:17 Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis crash cymbals and present Best Original Song to..."Man or Muppet" by Bret McKenzie. (8/24) I still maintain that the Academy let a great opportunity slip through their fingers by not nominating the "Flight of the Conchords" guys against each other.

10:25 Angelina Jolie presents Best Adapted Screenplay to...The Descendants by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. What do you want to wager this becomes an in-joke on "Community"?

10:30 Best Original Screenplay goes to...Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. (9/24) What did I say?

10:32 More people talking about what movies they love. Hey, Warren Beatty's still alive! Seriously, him and Goldie Hawn need to come back to movies. Don't let Town and Country be your swan song, please!

10:35 Milla Jovovich tells us about the separate technical awards ceremony.

10:38 The ladies of Bridesmaids present Best Live-Action Short Subject to..."The Shore".

10:41 Best Documentary Short Subject goes to..."Saving Face". I saw an ad for it on HBO this morning. Truly chilling.

10:44 Best Animated Short Subject goes to..."The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore". (10/24) This is something that deserves to be seen in a theater.

10:50 Michael Douglas presents Best Director to...Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. (11/24)

10:56 Meryl Streep tells us about the Governor's Awards (to David Newman's Hoffa!) and recipients James Earl Jones, Dick Smith and Oprah Winfrey.

11:03 Remembering those we have lost.

11:09 Looking at how movies affect famous people one more time...including Patton Oswalt!.

11:15 Natalie Portman presents Best Actor to...Jean Dujardin. (11/24)

11:25 Colin Firth presents Best Actress to...Meryl Streep. Ain't that a bitch? (The situation, not Streep.)

11:33 Tom Cruise presents Best Picture to...The Artist. (12/24) Well, another Oscar ceremony is done. Let's do it again next year.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Oscar predictions.

(Disclaimer: All predictions are spurious at best.)

Picture: If you don't like the expression 'sentimental favorite'...well, tough titty, 'cause you're gonna see it a lot, starting with this category. It's all about The Artist. I liked it, but didn't love it. I'll not harbor a grudge if it wins. Hell, as long as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is left out in the rain. A drama about 9/11 with a main character named Oskar?! How crass can you get?
Actor: I've heard everywhere that this is, essentially, a two-man race between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin. I'm going with Dujardin.
Actress: Viola Davis. What else do I need to say?
Supporting Actor: The sentimental favorite in this category is Christopher Plummer. Haven't seen Beginners, though I'm sure it will be a deserving win.
Supporting Actress: There's been talk about Octavia Spencer taking the prize, which I have no problem with, but if there's an upset...Berenice Bejo.
Director: Martin Scorcese's craft was as strong as ever in Hugo, but it'll likely go to Michel Hazanavicius...or Terence Malick, if the Academy is feeling cheeky.
Original Screenplay: The Academy loves Woody Allen, so I see a sure win for Midnight in Paris...which I haven't yet seen.
Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball. I just have a feeling.
Editing: As much as I'd love Kevin Tent to finally get an Oscar, this will go to The Artist.
Cinematography: I really liked Robert Richardson's work on Hugo (that opening shot will put your jaw on the floor), but (based on the trailer), I think that Emmanuel Lubezki's lush work on The Tree of Life will be rewarded.
Art Direction: Definitely Hugo. That train station looked incredible.
Costume Design: Just watch. The Academy will be determined to reward The Artist as much as possible. Lucky break for Mark Bridges. Can you believe his eye-catching work in Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood was ignored?
Animated Feature: Rango was my favorite animated feature of last year and, as you may recall, my favorite film of the year.
Animated Short Subject: Once again, I caught the program of animated shorts. However, "La Luna" was missing (likely because Pixar wants to show it before Brave this summer). I felt that "A Morning Stroll" was a shaggy-dog joke that never paid off and, despite some nice moments, I couldn't make heads or tails of "Dimanche (Sunday)". That leaves me with the spell-binding "The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore" and the amusing, bittersweet "Wild Life". The smart money's on the former.
Live-Action Short Subject: What's this? An actual opinion on this category? Yes, I did stay for the live-action shorts. After a promising start, "Pentecost" kind of fizzled out. "Time Freak" was quite it's definitely out as a sure bet. The other three shorts were striking with their local color, but between the heartbreaking "Raju", the fairly engaging "The Shore" and the peculiar-yet-touching "Tuba Atlantic", I'm torn. Let's say..."Tuba Atlantic".
Foreign Film: I couldn't even effing tell you what these's movies are about, but let's say...Canada's Monsieur Lazhar.
Visual Effects: The bid to nominate Andy Serkis for Best Supporting Actor was a(n unfortunate) flop. In that spirit, this should go to Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Sound: I imagine that the Academy will want to give War Horse something...
Sound Effects Editing:, why not?
Make-Up: Albert Nobbs. I can only imagine what a woman goes through to look like a man.
Original Score: One of the rare years where anyone in the category could win the prize and I wouldn't be the least bit upset. I loved Hugo and Tintin to pieces, but Ludovic Bource had best make room on his mantle.
Original Song: "Man or Muppet". Save for "Pretty Bird", I didn't really feel one way or another about the songs in Rio. (Fun fact: "Pretty Bird" was co-written by Jemaine Clement, while "Man or Muppet" was penned by his "Flight of the Conchords" partner, Bret McKenzie. How funny would it have been to have the two of them against each other? Total missed opportunity.)
Documentary Short Subject: "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement".
Documentary Feature: "Undefeated". Sometimes, folks, the 'names out of a hat' approach is best.

Oh, and 'sentimental favorite'.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Digimon: the Movie (Udi Harpaz and Amotz Plessner)

(Plot information gleaned from IMDb, because there is no way I'm scouring my brain to recall information about this movie on my own.) Three stories, substantially edited down from three films: "The first involes an encounter with a digimon of the third kind. The two kids Kari and Tai, raise this fast growing digimon from egg to giant monster. It's a good thing it showed up too, as an awsome fight ends this segment. The second of the movies involves Tai and Izzy. Some sort of computer virus sweeps th internet. It turns out to be a digimon. The digimon are uploaded to the internet and Tai tries to get others to help. Matt and T.K. help as well, with some more outstanding fight scenes. The third and Final segment starts in N.Y. with Kari and T.K., now years older, and they see 2 digimon fighitng and a kid with them. They try to follow him and they get there friends to follow as well. One of the new digimon belongs to Willis, the other, does as well, except this digimon seems to have a virus." - user name chrombot

I haven't seen this in a decade, but I recall it being not that bad for what it long as you were cautious enough to bypass the first few minutes. (Those who've seen it know what I'm talking about. Those who are curious, trust me on this. It's not worth finding out.)

As with a number of Saban-produced family features around this time, the music is lush and exciting, a fine collaboration between the underappreciated Udi Harpaz and Amotz Plessner.

Digimon: the Movie
music by
Udi Harpaz & Amotz Plessner

1. Introduction/The DigiEgg 1.38
2. The Egg Hatches 3.18
3. Coramon in the City/Digimon Fight 7.04
4. Computer Virus 0.57
5. Internet Glitch/The Digimon 2.38
6. Everyone's Unavailable 3.10
7. Digimon Fight #2 3.32
8. Internet Battle/Rebooting 3.44
9. Multiplication/Backwards from Ten 2.39
10. It's Over 1.33
11. Going Digital/Omnimon 2.07
12. Glitch Destroyed 1.34
13. Meet the Team 2.38
14. A Trip to Colorado 5.35
15. Digimon Fight #3/Another Ride 3.09
16. Willis' Story 2.52
17. "He'll Find Us" 1.41
18. Final Battles/ "Time to Heal" 8.08
19. Finale/Another DigiEgg 1.21

Pieces of the score have made their way to YouTube, but I would love a full release of this delightful score.


Friday, February 17, 2012

I would've posted pictures to go along with this post as they pretty much speak for themselves. There are chocolate-filled Twinkies now.

Unfortunately, my Gmail account is being a total whore right now. I took pictures of them with my phone and sent them, but they didn't go through.

Still, weird, huh?

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

"I Want to Dance with Somebody". "I'm Every Woman". "I Will Always Love You". Chances are you've heard at least one of these songs in your life, so you know the powerful voice that performed them.

Yet another promising talent felled by tragedy. It's hard to know how to respond to this, but her singing talent could not be denied. She will be missed.


Friday, February 10, 2012

As I sit here before I have to work two full days - on the weekend - I can't help but think this is the universe telling me to buckle down on the number of things I want to do, but am too lazy to move forward on.


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Got a tetanus shot this morning. Hadn't had one since I was a teenager and, since I cut myself extracting a beer can from a machine the other day, I was truly worried.

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