Monday, August 31, 2009

Marvel meets Disney

So, the Walt Disney Company is going to buy Marvel Comics.

Lot of teeth-gnashing over this.

First off, I honestly don't see, and have never seen, the problem some people have with Disney. They created a brand, the were successful. Big whoop. I get various pollution problems connected to the theme parks, and whatever, but you know, that's the same with any multi-national corporation. Big deal, it's like we're all conditioned to hate because it's big and wasteful. So's the government, so what? I bet Disney's health plan (which has been offered to same-sex partners since the 80's) is better.

They make entertainment, and, aside from a horrible period in the early-to-mid 80's, they do it pretty well.

Anyway...Marvel has been trying to Disneyfy itself for years. With plans for "Marvel Mania" stores and theme restaurants across the country, and a general concern with the value of their properties over using them effectively. I mean, for years I've been pretty much convinced that putting out solid comic books was the LAST priority for Marvel. Not when you have video game and movie deals, or merchandise to push.

think about it....How many Mickey Mouse cartoons have you actually seen? Precious few compared to say Bugs Bunny, or even Yogi Bear. (and you ought to seek them out, they're good...not the sublime madness of the Warner Brothers stable, but fun.) Yet every, single one of us knows Micky on sight.

That's what Marvel has been after for a long time, the ability to sell their "5000 characters" (yeah, tell me when anybody cares about 4,980 of those) based on their images alone. Not in stories, not in adventures, not with the simple, elegant stories that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko dreamed up, but as images, as iconography

I went into one of the few remaining "Marvel Mania" stores in the Universal Studios theme park...piles and piles of shirts, backpacks, statues, action figures and toys. All well and good, but where were the COMICS?!?! Y'know the stuff that made your name? Oh, here they are, like 10 titles off in a corner.

Sad, Man....Sad.

I mean seriously, Spider-Man is right up there for me. Genius creation, broke all the rules for comic book superheroes, clever, well written. Right now, Marvel has (I think) 4 Spider-Man comic book series on the market, including one that's weekly.

Only one is any good, and that's the one that exists outside "normal" continuity. (That would be Ultimate Spider-Man, or Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, or whatever the hell they're calling it this week. Yes, faithful readers, I didn't get off the wagon...I'm still there. You'll pay for this, for being so good, Brian Michael Bendis!!!)

I won't even get into the cesspool that's become the X-Men line. It's almost a unwritten rule that only one X-Men book can be any good at any given time, the rest just have to wallow in 30-year-old plotlines, and concepts that were picked to death in 1985.

Captain America, however, is still very good. RIGHT NOW it's very, very good. Get on that.

Marvel has been slowly creeping toward the day when they won't have to publish comics. Why do it, when you make huge dollars selling the icon to a film or video game company to tell the story? (or to co-finance, the "Marvel Studios" model) This merger/buyout/whatever with Disney will only accelerate that pace. Disney is gonna realize real quick that the monthly pamphlet business ain't what it used to be. Plus, now there's a bonafide big-time movie studio

Maybe they'll continue with online comics. Maybe a trade paperback that comes out every 6 months, because the trades, and book stores, are where the real money is. That could be good or bad, hard to say. Me, I like my monthly books, I like my boxes full of comics. I'm not going to be happy about this.

For good or ill, this could be the beginning of a pretty huge shift in the comic marketplace.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And people said I was crazy....

Yup, Avatar hate is in full swing.

Oh, folks, I am so sorry for you who's ideas of "badass" are so narrow as to be dissapointed that the space marines are actually the bad guys this time.

I am still hopeful, and ready for the journey Cameron wants to take me on, instead of some fanboy's fevered dream of what it ought to be.

For my Facebook friends, find the video here.

Of course I'd also like to point out this little bit of ridiculousness.

Oh, of course, a video that takes some shots at Cameron doesn't reflect the opinion anybody at Ain't It Cool News. God, why do I still read that site? It's ridiculous.

I'm all for some positivity from fandom. We need it, we're all too busy hating everything now. (as this reaction to Avatar shows) That said, AICN is just a nest of star-f*ckers, at this point.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Birthday presents...and other musings.

I'm excited by my lovely wife's gifts to me on my 38th (ugh!).

I'm re-reading my new copy of Star Trek Memories by William Shatner. Easily my favorite book about Star Trek, and the new printing is very, very snazzy. Hopefully a new edition of Star Trek Movie Memories will be forthcoming.

The whole think is, rightly, from Shatner's perspective, and he's an engaging storyteller. Though, I'm certain that "co-writer" Chris Kreski actually wrote most of the book. The stories are entertaining, and he's honest and direct about his poor relations with the rest of the cast, as well as his befuddlement at their hatered of him. A fun read.

I'm also REALLY excited about my new Bone: One Volume Edition, by Jeff Smith. The book is HUGE, well over 1000 pages, and containing the entirety of Smith's comic book/graphic novel masterpiece. Not something I'll be hauling on the train, but I'm gonna try to read a chapter or two every night before bed. I'm kind of ashamed I haven't read this before now, as it truly is a classic, and I've found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions.

Also got a number of DVDs and Blu-Rays, especially cool is For All Mankind, Al Reinert's amazing documentry on the moon landings. I'm so excited to watch this in Hi-Def. New Torchwood and Doctor Who to watch, as well.

In other news, first night of actual rehearsals for Plans 1-8 from Outer Space last night. Of course, I hurt myself. I think I bruised a rib on my right side.


Just figures, right?

Short weeks always go slower, don't they? We're wrapped up for Plans 1-8 this week, but I have the "Trekkie Play" workshops on Saturday and Sunday. Lots of stuff going on, and I feel really tired. The crap with the ribs doesn't help, sucks the energy right out of me. LOL!

Need to get back to working out. Seriously, nothng like going to LA to make you feel out of shape.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back in Chi-town

At some point I'll have something to say, I'm sure.

But right now, I'm just trying to get through the day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


So, the teaser trailer for Jim Cameron's latest opus, his first since Titanic, just hit.

Find it: HERE

So, I've watched it twice.

I'm convinced of one thing here, this will be the biggest fanboy letdown since The Phantom Menace. I mean, since late last year, the fanboy call has gone out "F*cking your eyeballs in December, 2009." The general vibe is, basically, how can Jim "badass" Cameron make a movie in IMAX digital 3-D that is anything less than mind-blowing?

Once again, the fanboy community gets hung up on the visual.

That's where Cameron will fall down. He's asking us to accept CGI creations as, essentially, our main characters. The same fanboys that are chafing their neither regions in anticipation of this film are also the ones bitching and moaning about the over-use of CGI in every other film that comes out. The fanboy assumption, once again, is that somehow they will be able to ignore that these are CG creations.

They never do, they never will.

Now, me, personally? I'm jazzed. I think it's a little amusing to use all this tech to essentially re-make Dances With Wolves set on another planet. I'm confident in Cameron's ability to make me care about his story, even if I'm keenly aware that the images aren't "real." Hell, Pixar makes me weep with almost every film, and that's not even attempting to be "realistic."

The problem with fanboy anticipation is that they're obsessed with being dazzled, visually. Me, I want a fun story. While they're staring at the tech, trying desperately to be f*cked in the eyeballs, I'll be trying to get involved with the characters. Boys and girls, please re-think how you're looking at this movie...

Because the trailer...looks, tech-wise, like any number of other movies you've seen.

But the story...may be amazing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I am Lazy...

No blog entry yesterday. What can I say? I'm counting down to my mini-birthday-vacation, I have little use for such things as BLOGGING...

I have begun my duties with Stage Left Theatre, and I'm very happy that I'm mainly tasked, so far with reading new plays. Anyone who's worked with me in a theatrical capacity knows my love of new works in theatre. New scripts are what push the medium forward. Yeah, yeah, we know that Oklahoma! pays the bills, but it's those little plays being done for the first time that really matter.

Not that they're all very good. I've worked with three theatre companies, in "official" capacities since I left school, and worked with new scripts in every case. If there's one hard and fast rule I've learned it's this:


Lest you think I'm holding myself above others, I will tell you this, I have a play I started writing about eleven years ago. It was first performed about ten years ago. It's not done. It can be better. I'm done so many drafts, including a page-one rewrite, I don't even know which one I'm on anymore. (Probably somewhere between 15 and 20) Oh, sure, I've had other works that I've "finished," but mainly on a deadline. Neon, the aforementioned play, was really never ready to be performed when it was, and mainly went up because we had nothing us to stage at that point.

The most ridiculous reason to put up a play, ever.

Development is such an important part of the new works process, and I think it's almost always the last thing anybody thinks of. I see way, way too many small companies that do new work putting up scripts that are obviously first or second drafts.

You have to work the script harder than that. You have to pound the thing into submission, and you have to let the parts that don't work wither, fall off and die. That's hard to do, I know, but I've seen people fight and fight to keep characters and plot points that are, flat out, not working, or worse, lack any reason to be there, in a play. It might hurt to remove that really funny character that you based on Uncle Morty, but, if it makes your story flow better, if it makes your play stronger, Morty's gotta take a dive.

The other thing that kinda drive me up the wall...

A statement is not a story.

I understand you may have something to say about global warming, I understand that you want to get that out, and share it with the world. However, if you've cobbled together a series of events that really aren't interesting, just so your lead character can deliver a 3 page manifesto about the use of fossil fuels and the consumer mentality of Americans, you have failed. You have failed because I, as a reader and an audience, don't care about statements, I care about people and characters and how the events of the play move and change them.

Craft a story that involves your issue. This may take a long time, but a hackneyed plot built around your personal hot button issue is nothing but playwright masturbation. (Much like the entirety of Kenneth Branagh's film of Hamlet is "actor masturbation.") It's the point where your desire to give us what we "need" outpaces your desire to give us something interesting. Now you're sitting back and positioning yourself as the authority of human morality, and preaching.

No one goes to theatre to be preached to, they go to be...and I know this is a dirty word to some people...ENTERTAINED. That doesn't mean you have to pander, it means you have to be compelling, or at least interesting. It means that your characters ought to be something more than a avatar for you to get on a soapbox.

So, yeah....

and lay off the stage directions. Most directors are going to ignore them, anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ahh, what might have been....

Remember when Van Halen made records? Waaaay back in 1997, when they did their one, and only, album with Gary Cherone? I know I'm probably the only one, but I loved that lineup. The Album had problems, but I think there was so much potential.

The tour was of the best shows I've ever seen. A highlight was the version of "Mean Streets" VH did with Cherone. I love that song, and I loved the way Gary sang it.

Well, Cherone is back with his original band, Extreme, now, but "Mean Streets" is back too...

Love that video. Apparently, they recorded a DVD at their Boston gig. Hopefully this song will be included.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You ever notice...

"Dangerously irresponsible" is Keith Olbermann's favorite phrase?

I'm kinda tired of this guy being the voice of my end of the political spectrum, can we all move on to Maddow?

Keith, go pet Ms. Precious Perfect and spin in your chair...

Monday, August 10, 2009

I try to stay out of politics...

Rant mode on....

The whole process annoys me, and I find the most vocal members of either end of the political spectrum to be annoying, false, and ego-driven. O'Riley, Olbermann, Beck...These idiots don't give a damn what they say, if they contradict themselves in the same breath, or if it even makes any damn sense, as long as it attacks "those people.

Then I read this:

Is Obama Punking Us?

I'm sorry to say it, but Obama is a one term President. The main reason for this? His own supporters.

Our major problem, for every one of us, is the idea that's perpetuated in this country that we are all infallible. Our personal beliefs ought to be shared by everyone, and we get furious if they aren't. For God's sake, we get pissed off that anyone with any sort of pulpit for his views might speak something we don't agree with. Nobody wants to admit it, but our general attitude in this country, FROM ALL OF US, the left or the right, is that views in opposition to our own are best not heard.

The guy we vote for is nigh-on a saint, walking on water, and the other guy is two steps lower than Satan. Bush? A Nazi! Obama? A Commie! The parties are no longer about differing methods in order to provide the best for all citizens of this country.

If you think anybody starts a political party in order to screw a portion of the populace, you're on crack.

When your methods differ, but your goal is the same, compromise is possible, co-operation is possible. When your party exists simply to tear down the other party as far as possible, you have...the clusterfuck we have right now. The Republicans have no plan, so they just attack, attack, attack, and when Pelosi got the majority, it was all about payback. None of these people care one little bit about you or me or our lives, they just want to grab as much power for themselves as possible.

I voted for Obama mainly because he talked of ending this bickering. The unfortunate result of his win, however, was encouraging Pelosi and her crew on her quest to ram anything and everything she can down the Republican's throats.

The American public is also ridiculous. The woman in the article, "I got punked." Oh my God! He couldn't change the course of the nation in 8 months! What a liar! It's, yet again, the American attitude of "I want what I want RIGHT NOW! I don't have to compromise, I'm an American!!!"

Then, there was a laughable attitude among Obama supporters that somehow his election was going to change the entire system of government in this country. Someone I know actually said to me before the election, "Obama's talking about changing the whole way the Government operates." I didn't know if I should pity him, or laugh in his face.

Washington operates as it does, and it always will. No one will ever get elected and make sweeping changes to the system. You vote for people who share your values about what that system ought to be used for. All of the Obama supporters who perpetuated the "messiah" vibe around him are the reason his poll numbers are slipping.
These people, who looked upon him as a miracle man, able to do anything, are now looking at a Health Care package that is the result of compromise over a difficult issue.

Y'know, the left used to attack Bush and his cronies as seeing the world too simplisticly. Everything was "black and white," and they never grasped the complications of these issues. Of course, when Obama takes office, those same people expect everything to happen RIGHT NOW. Iraq? We ought to be out last week, doesn't matter what kind of chaos that might leave in our wake. Chaos we caused, by the way.

Or, that allowing auto manufacturers to fail left and right might not be exactly the best course of action to restore financial confidence. Oh, I know most of you don't have friends or family who work for Ford or one of the other car makers, but...*pssst!* They do employ a lot of people.

It's a major financial turnaround we're going for here, and, lady, I don't care if you felt "punked" or not, it's not going to happen overnight.

So, y'know what? The guy's trying to do his best up there. Why don't you grow up, and stop whining like a 2 year old when you don't get things your way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chickenfoot - Chicago Theatre -8/7/2009

Fantastic show, fantastic band.

Ok, first off. Chad Smith was out on stage about a half hour before the opening act, checking out the theatre, and hob-nobbing with the folks in front. Gave me a big laugh. Folks realizing who it was and trying to rush down there.

I was in the handicapped section to start. (Hey, I just asked what was left, and they sold it to me.) About 10 minutes before the opening act, the house manager comes up and asks if I'm alone. I say sure, she asks if she can move me "a little closer."

I say yes, and I'm led down to about the 20th row. Nice.

The opening act was great, Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam. Dave F, you would've went crazy for these guys, right up your alley. The only complaint I have is that the mix seemed to be in a frequency that went right through my head. I had a few moments when Knowles' guitar was downright painful.

So, after that, the lights go out and a tons of lights, a giant, lighted version of the "Chickenfoot" symbol, and a huge "Chickenfoot" banner lower into position. Chad Smith comes out, and just stands behind his kit for a minute, arms crossed, and surveying the crowd....then sat down and started banging away.

Look, let me get right to this. Chad Smith made this show for me. I've never seen the Chili Peppers, so I have no idea if this is his "normal" routine. Sammy Hagar, when introducing him called him the "craziest guy I know," and he lived up to that. First off, great drummer, and I can only compare it to Keith Moon, just wild, total abandon in his playing, all over the kit, but always in the pocket. He must also hit HARD, about 30 seconds into the first song, I see a broken stick come flying into the crowd.

Honestly, it was raining sticks all night. He must've thrown 30 or 35 sticks into the crowd. In some songs it seemed like every measure, a stick would go flying into the air. Then another one out, without missing a beat. It was hard to fathom how he could do all that, keep the beat, and never run out of sticks. I mean, he must've had piles of sticks behind his kit.

Plus, the dude is funny. You could see him playing with the audience the whole show, making faces, interacting directly to people in front. Totally entertaining guy. Smith also gets the line of the night, "Why are you people upstairs not standing up? We're working our balls off up here! You, in the orange shirt! Yeah YOU! Stand UP!"

Sammy was obviously having a ton of fun, and Mike Anthony was Mike Anthony. Love him to death, a stand up guy, and he was obvioulsy unleashed as far as what he was playing, and being able to hear him. Satriani was more reserved, but that's also the place that seems to be carved out for him in the group, as he's obviously the most reserved one up there.

What did come through, in spades, was that these four guys were having a ball playing together. They were not trying to trade on past glories, other than the fact of who they are, which they can't do anything about. They basically played the who album, then "Bad Motor Scooter" and "Highway Star" for an encore. No Van Halen (which would've been easy to do), no Hagar solo stuff, no Satriani solo stuff, no Chili Peppers. Though, would be funny to see Sammy sing "Give it Away," or something. LOL.

Sammy directly addressed the issue at one point, thanking the crowd for coming out even when they knew that they were going to get 100% new songs. He then went on to say that he felt Chickenfoot wasn't a "supegroup," but a cult band. Now, I don'tknow about that, but I get the sentiment.

All in all, a really, really fun show. A band very much worth seeing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Oh, the joys of last-minute decisions...

Chickenfoot is playing the Chicago Theatre tonight. This, if you do not know, is the "supergroup" cosisting of Sammy Hagar (vocals), Joe Satriani (guitar), Michael Anthony (bass), and Chad Smith (drums). The debut self-titled album came out in June.

Of course I picked it up. I love Satch, and, "hip" or not, I always preferred Van Halen with Sammy over Roth. I know, I know...It's not like I DISLIKE the Roth stuff, I just felt like Sammy was a much better, and versitile singer. That Van Halen's ability to do different sorts of things increased. I like bands that are versitile.

Anyway, Chickenfoot...

I think there's only maybe 3 clunkers on the album. The opening track ("Avenida Revolution") had me worried, as it's probably the worst on the disk. (why you would open the album that friggin' clue) The rest is good, solid, melodic hard rock. It's entertaining and fun, no more, no less, and they all sound like they're having a great time.

Satch isn't all over the place like on his solo stuff, which some people have complained about. Thing is...of course he isn't, he's playing behind a vocalist! I really appreciated hearing Satch play in the pocket, instead of being the main show. Hagar sounds fantastic, for a guy as old as he is, his voice is still sharp as hell. Anthony gets to actually play for probably the first time in his career, and Smith turns out to be a incredibly powerful hard rock drummer.

I read somewhere, and I think it's pretty apt, "Van Halen went and got a better guitarist and drummer, and changed their name to Chickenfoot." (and yeah, I think Satch and Smith are much sharper than the Van Halen brothers at this moment) I would MUCH rather see this band than VH, and their nostalgia-rama, now. Especially at one third the ticket price.

So, I dropped by the theatre today, to see if anything was left. Of course, I know from having a friend in ticketing (ha-ha) that they almost always have some house seats left. Especially for one person. I'm in the handicapped seating area, back of the main floor, but pretty much dead center. Bonus points for buying direct from the box office, no Ticketmaster charges!

What I also realized just a bit ago is that this is the first time I'll get to see Joe Satriani play live, so that's cool.

I dunno, I thought about going to see the GI Joe movie, or having dinner (which I still may), but I wanted to get out and do something cool. CByrd's out of town this weekend, so I'm not stuck in that "what will both of us like to do?" mode. Not like she wouldn't go to this show with me, but, yknow, I don't like to make her see stuff she's not excited about.

So, anyway...Have a weekend everybody. Avoid Grant Park, that Lollapalooza's a bitch for traffic. Which reminds me, I'll have to ride the train out of downtown with those people....

Oh, what the helll...

You have the honor of copying all these asinine questions, writing your own response, and tagging other victims. Tag me back too.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:30

2. How do you like your steak? Medium Rare

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? District 9

4. What is your favorite TV show? Of what's on the air right now, The Office

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? London, I think

6. What did you have for breakfast? Fiber One Caramel Crunch (Yep, I'm old)

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Chinese

8. What foods do you dislike? I have violent reactions to spicy food. It's painful not for just myself

9. Favorite Place to Eat? La Bocca De Verita

10. Favorite dressing? For dinner?

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Honda Civic hatchback

12. What are your favorite clothes? Black ones

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Well, I've been a lot of places I've wanted to go. Germany's on the list.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Full of what?

15. Where would you want to retire? London.

16. Favorite time of day? dusk

17. Where were you born? Omaha

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Hockey if I have to watch anything.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back? *shrug*

20. Person you expect to tag you back first? *shrug*

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? *shrug*

22. Bird watcher? Um...Random. The answer is no.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? As time has marched on, I'm beginning to think "neither."

24. Do you have any pets? no

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Nothing I believe I'm at liberty to share....yet.

26. What did you want to be when you were little? Fireman, astronaut

27. What is your best childhood memory? Star Wars first time. A game-changer

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Um...I'll say dog

29. Are you married? Yes

30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes

31. Been in a car accident? Yes, very minor

32. Any pet peeves? Oh, Christ...Do we have about 10 hours?

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Beef.

34. Favorite Flower? This is something that I have never thought about once in my entire life.

35. Favorite ice cream? Pistachio.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Burger King, but I rarely indulge that. Potbelly. Chipolte.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Um, none.

38. From whom did you get your last email? Zach

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? LOL Forbidden Planet, London.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? I took this quiz.

41. Like your job? which one?

42. Broccoli? With cheese? Awesome.

43. What was your favorite vacation? London 2007...Years of expectation..

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Colene

45. What are you listening to right now? People at work

46. What is your favorite color? Red/Black

47. How many tattoos do you have? None....Yet!

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? *shrug*

49. What time did you finish this quiz? 1:46 PM

50. Coffee Drinker? In the land of Starbucks, we all suckle the teat.

Bless, you The Comics Curmuedgeon...

Seriously, the site The Comics Curmudgeon has moments of pure, sublime brilliance...

One such example...

“God, these gangsters have such a terrible grip on me … it’s like they’ve got my nuts locked between their teeth! Sorry for the weird metaphor, sis, but it just popped into my head for some reason.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I used to be an INTENSE headbanger

I mean a total heshian. (At least that was the term in my day, now, apparently, it's some sort of skateboarder.) Gave myself whiplash many times. Hair down to my ass, and the whole bit. Loved Metallica, Megadeth, etc...

Not saying I don't still like those bands, I do. A lot. I've just also really connected with a more, um...lyrical form of rock and roll. Springsteen is the king for me, as he plays as hard as any of those bands mentioned, but also writes true poetry. I've also gotten really into the "prog" area, Rush, King's X, etc...

In the old days I was very taken with an act you might have heard of, Anthrax. Specifically, when they picked up a new lead singer, a guy named John Bush, for their 1993 album The Sound of White Noise. LOVED that record.

I'd been a fan of John Bush with his original band, Armored Saint. Symbol of Salvation is, for my money, one of the best metal albums ever. The guy has a fantastic voice, and was even asked to join Metallica, at one point, early in their carreer. (James Hetfield just wanted to play guitar) Armored Saint was a great band, but they never really "made it." Plus, one of their founding members succumed to cancer, so I guess Bush was ready for a change when Anthrax came calling.

The pairing was fruitful. I consider every one of the Anthrax albums with Bush, Sound of White Noise, Stomp 442 (1995), Volume 8: The Threat is Real (1998), and We've Come For You All (2003), to be top-notch metal records. I also like them much better than any of the earlier albums with Neil Turbin (1 album) or Joey Belladonna (5 full-length albums).

However, Joey is considered their "classic" singer. Among the Living (1987) and Persistance of Time (1990) are probably the two best with Joey. Where the impression of "classic" exists, there's money to be made, and from 2005 to 2007 Anthrax toured with the "classic" lineup (also with original lead guitarist Dan Spitz). Apparently, the original idea was to tour with BOTH Belladonna and Bush singing.

They had tried this before, after releasing the Attack of the Killer A's Greatest hits package in 1999, covering both the Belladonna and Bush eras. They even recorded a cover of "Ball of Confusion" with Joey and John dueting on vocals. The idea was to put both signers on stage. Belladonna apparently balked at this, and opted out. The tour went on with just Bush.

This time, Bush went home. The reunion tour with Joey was pretty successful (saw it myself), but I always felt that Bush was the best singer for the band. The fan community felt that Bush had gotten the run-around. As Bush said later:
"No. Bitter is not the way I wanna be about anything. I'm not bitter at all. There was probably not a perfect way to do that, what they did. It was like, how are they gonna say...? I mean, they asked me to do it—the tour with Joey—and it just wasn't right for me, I couldn't do it. So, whatever...if they felt they had to do that, I understand. It wasn't like I was going, 'Yeah, do it. That's great.' But once it happened, I was like, 'okay.' It was like a book ended. It's okay. I mean, it's much better to look at it that way than to be angry or frustrated, 'cause I really don't feel that way."
But the tour went on, and was successful enough that the band started thinking, "hey, new album with Belladonna." Surely it would sell well.

It probably would've, but Joey ultimately opted out. Was this beacuse the band wanted to treat him like a hired gun, and pay much less, or because Joey was an egomaniac, and wanted more than his fair share? Who knows? The fact is, Joey left, again, and apparently, the band went back to John Bush, who also said, "no."

"I was asked to write, and it just wasn't right for me. I couldn't go back and say, 'Here I am...' It would be like coming in with my tail between my legs, and that's not right for me. I just couldn't do that. It just didn't feel right to do that. It was about soul, your gut. How does that feel? Does it feel right? Good enough. Sold. Answer."

So, now what does Anthrax do? As any good aging metal band, they go looking for a new singer. Who do they find? Some dude no one's heard of named Dan Nelson. The band starts working on a disk called Worship Music, and plays a few gigs. Introducing Nelson to the fans with a show at The Double Door here in Chicago, which was apparently well received.

So, all is well, right? Nelson's in, they're touring Europe, including a date at the Sonisphere Festival on August 1st, Worship Music is set for release in September, with a US tour supporting Slipknot. The band is on it's way back....

Then, SOMETHING happened.

On July 17th, 2009, via a press release, Anthrax cancelled all European dates, indicating it was because Dan Nelson was ill. On July 21st, again via press release, that Nelson was out of the band, the tours were cancelled, and Worship Music was pushed back. Also added; the Sonisphere date was NOT cancelled, and John Bush was returning for a "one-off" date with the band.

Nelson's reaction to all this?
"I was never seriously ill or sick at all, as reported in Anthrax’s 7/17/09 press release. This extremely inflammatory statement hurt me tremendously. This statement misled fans, friends and family members into believing that I was seriously ill when I was not. I was not aware such a statement was being issued and it came as a total shock to me, as I’m sure it did to all of you. It was the other band members’ decision to cancel the tour dates, not mine. I was ready, willing and able to do my job. After issuing the press release the other band members decided, on their own accord, that I had 'resigned' from the band. I never resigned from the band."
What the HELL is going on here? I mean, I'm happy as a clam that footage such as this:

Is available, even if this is Bush's last fling with Anthrax.

I can't even say I really care anymore. I was planning to buy Worship Music, give Nelson a shot, but in the back of my head, I knew it was all wrong. They sorta pushed John aside to tour with Joey in what was a naked cash grab. Then came back when they needed him, and Bush (Rightly!) told 'em to take a hike. They find some nobody, and they can't get along with him. (though the rumors of what exactly happened are NASTY, and paint Nelson in a very bad light.) This seems to be a whole mess of crap they brought on themselves.

I LOVE this band with John Bush, but even if this one-off leads to a full reunion (and Anthrax members have flat out stated this is "right at the front of their minds"), I don't know that I can follow them again. The well seems poisoned.

Bush had been working on some new music with a reunited Armored Saint, which I KNOW I'll buy. I think I'd rather he stuck with that.

What's really become clear here is that John Bush is a class act, in every way. The video makes it clear he came, he saw, and he kicked ass. He brought his A-Game, no matter what the backstage situation. These guys he'd spent a ton of time working with called and needed a solid, and he delivered.

That's the kind of person I strive to be.

Monday, August 3, 2009

When Conventions die slow, meandering deaths

The Wizard World Chicago convention is this weekend.

I am sorta amused that they're website lists it as the "Chicago Comi-Con" again. Which was the title before Wizard bought it out a number of years ago. Wizard (which is a comic-book/pop culture magazine) had been promoting dozens of conventions over the course of the year for a while, but this year...just two. Chicago and Philly, I believe.

There was a time when the Chicago Comi-Con was the largest in the country. Hard to believe now.

Honestly, I first went just a few years ago. Probably '02/'03, it was a couple of years after we moved here. I was pretty impressed the first year, and horribly unimpressed upon every attendance since. I actually haven't gone in about 4 years, I say. The sight of a wrestling ring in the middle of the floor, when Wizard was trying to start it's own wrestling tour, was the end of the enjoyment for me.

Well, this year, looks like I'll be heading back. Some of the guys and I are talking about it. I think it's SDCC withdrawls.

Though I also have the hotel reservations in place for the 2010 SDCC. Go-go gadget nerd!

Couple of interesting people will be attending WWC this year, George Perez, always a lovely man, fun to listen to, and a genius. Dan Slott, one of the few exciting writers over at Marvel right now. Howard Chaykin, another genius. Plus, another chance to be in the same building with Edward James Olmos.

But I'll be damned if I'm paying $50 for Billy Dee Williams autograph, and what would a convention be without some classic Star Trek actor hocking their own photos (Nichelle Nichols)?

Y'know, I first started going to conventions in high school. I'd travel up to Denver with a few friends, and we'd see Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner speak. I was at the very first convention appearance that Patrick Stewart ever did. I watched him sign autographs and meet people for 8 hours, and never a dime was exchanged. That's the way it was in the old days, they people would do a Q&A session, then sign for a few hours. If you made the line before cut-off, you got a signature. Shatner and Nimoy knew, and Stewart quickly learned, that sometimes it was just easier for everyone if you didn't sign.

But Takei? Nichols? Koenig? They'd always sign. They were right there swinging.

Then somebody told them they could make some dollars.

I don't begrudge anyone the right to make a living, everybody's got to eat. The conventions have also changed, you won't see Takei or Nichols doing Q&A anymore. Actors and actresses have found a new area, the autograph area, off by the artist's alley. (Where artists you've never heard off try to hock their self-published books)

Now, SDCC and WWC are, supposedly, COMIC BOOK CONVENTIONS. So, the idea that your actors and actresses get turned into glorified autograph machines kinda makes sense. We're supposed to be here for COMIC BOOKS, right?

Yeah, but, you see, when Wizard, and Creation before them, got into the convention business, comic books, or Trek, or whatever, got amalgamated into these great mass "pop culture" conventions. When that happened, a lot, if not most, of the character was lost. Now, there's a convention on pretty much every weekend of the year.

Who pays the price? Well, Wizard does. Yep, their insta-con recipe ultimate gave their conventions a generic sense of "so what?" SDCC never had this problem, because, as much as it's been sucking the corporate and Hollywood teat for years, there's a uniqueness in what it is. The size, the sheer magnitude of the exhibits and dealers. It sprawls, and you know you're right in the bowels of the fanboy world. Plus, the SDCC stands alone. They don't publish a magazine, they don't run an internet store on the side, and they don't feel like they're trying to become the Apple computer of the fan world. They run their massive conventions, and they attempt to do that as well as possible.

(In a convention center that's woefully too small, and a city that ALMOST can't deal with it.)

The myriad Wizard conventions? Feels like you're walking through a cookie cutter. A cookie cutter that's trying to sell you all sorts of crap on your way through.

So, the ultimate point?

Wizard just about ruined everything. They've been around since the comic boom of the 90's, when every idiot on the street thought they could buy 10 copies of The Death of Superman, and be multi-millionaires within ten years. Pretty much the entire hobby has moved past this mindset, EXCEPT WIZARD. They've been leading a war to try to drag us back to that mindset since the speculators realized a comic that printed 1,000,000,000 issues would NEVER be worth anything in the aftermarket, and hit the road.

Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard

Wizard has proceeded with a "suck up everything, and then suck the life out of it" attitude. The magazine isn't even that good. For a while it was the premiere magazine for the comic book industry. Whereas with most industries, that would mean some journalistic credibility, with Wizard, it simply meant they sucks up to the big comic companies better than anyone. No reviews, at least none that amounted to anything more than a puff piece. No interviews that dared to challenge any creators or publishers. No OP/ED content at all. Half the time they'd have a "Wizard Exclusive Cover" for whatever the hot title was, at some insanely jacked up price.

Yeah, that's right the magazine covering the industry was also trying to be a one-stop sales location for all this stuff they'd proclaimed "hot collectibles" in their pages. Hmmmm.....

That's not what the industry needs right now, and the fact that Wizard, as a company, is having a tremendously hard time right now, is proof that the market is (hopefully) starting to grow up. (In the best way, and staying kids at heart in the best ways) The shrinking of the convention numbers, from about 10 to 2. Lots of staff getting let go. I feel bad for the people taking a hit, but I'm really gald to see the fan base moving away from this stuff.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Well, Sorry Kathy

Dear Mother-in-law Kathy...

We tried our best, but we're in the rafters. At least we're in the building. :)

T-Minus 14

Lots of message board chatter about how easy the Milwaulkee sale went. Got to agree.

I know they're all holding off for Chicago. That Born to Run thing is making people rabid. Rumors of a second show to be added on the 22nd.

Well, guess I'm going to the Milwaulkee show, too

I did a "test run" on the Milwaulkee, November 15th, Bradley Center tickets when they dropped at 10:00...and pulled up GA tickets. I couldn't let them go.

Silly, I know.

Thanks for the Birthday money, mom! It's feeding my beast. :)

Still unsure how the pit lottery will work. It required physical tickets for the last few years. It also required standing in the venue parking lot for several hours. (Which would not be fun in Milwaulkee on November 15th) I have heard that, with the new paperless system, some artists have made pit selection completely random.

I'm OK with that. I've done the pit twice, I'm good.

Waiting on the boss

It's ticket on-sale day for the two shows closest to me.

Last time around it was a pain in the ass to get tckets for the Chicago show, I'm REALLY hoping this announcement of playing Born to Run in it's entirety doesn't make things worse. Although, there was also all the Ticketmaster hijinks last time too.

Milwaulkee goes in 12 minutes. We shall see.