Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Captain America Controversy

It's weird watching so many people write think pieces of various emotional intensity about the new twist in Marvel Comics where it looks like Captain America has been secretly a member of Hydra all along. Weird in a good way. People who couldn't have given a toss a few years ago now care about the occasional comics development because they like the MCU, and it makes me feel a little good that people have embraced versions of these characters I grew up reading.

That said, don't sweat it. Captain America's not a Nazi, and this change--like most changes in comics--doesn't mean anything.

It's a story twist that, I imagine, is serving as the big lead-in to Civil War II, which is this year's big line-wide, storyline-derailing, momentum-killing event crossover from Marvel. (If you want to talk about the real problem at Marvel Comics, it ain't the Hydra cliffhanger, it's that the writers can't get any decent arcs going or sustain their regular plotlines because every summer has to have a damn event that starts okay, gets tedious, fizzles out, ships late, and limps to the finish line in January when it was supposed to be over in September.)

This is all gonna be some of kind of villainous chicanery (my current money is on the Red Skull using a cosmic cube to rewrite history... I feel like I want to add "yet again" to the end of that sentence) and things will return to status quo, the way they always do because it's freaking comics. It may take a few years (no, no, the New 52's going to last forever, they told us), but it always goes back.

So, I understand why some people are shocked. That's why they did it: to shock you. But let's hold off on writing long, angry posts about what a disservice this is to Jack Kirby, or how disrespectful this is to the entirety of Jewish history, or how Marvel is only doing this to make money and get attention. Let's not send writer Nick Spencer death threats (as has been happening) because of a temporary twist in a comic book. This is just how the endless soap opera that is funnybooks goes sometimes. Sometimes Doctor Octopus takes over Peter Parker's body for a year or two and everyone gets mad and then it just goes back to the way it was. This is comic books, where nothing means anything, change is impermanent, and death is temporary.

Also, someone give Nick Spencer a raise because this is they most I've seen the general public talk about a development in a Marvel comic in maybe my entire life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Quick Film Non-Review

So, yesterday I was flipping channels and the recent remake/reboot/whatever of Vacation was starting on one of the array of HBO channels. The opening credit sequence is actually charming and funny; it's just Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road" paired with authentic, hilarious family vacation photos (a few of which you've definitely seen online). It was kind of nice, and I watched the whole sequence.

It was nice.

Then the movie started.

We join Ed Helms (whom, turns out, I still despise on sight) as grown-up Rusty Griswold, now an airline pilot. After some hacky banter with his aged co-pilot, Rusty steps out into the cabin and tries to be the impressive captain in front of a boy. But, thanks to some turbulence, he ends up falling several times, in the process grabbing the boy's mother's breasts and ripping her shirt off, and finally face-planting directly into the boy's crotch in a serious of "hilarious" accidental incidents.

"STOP!" I yell and change the channel.

Stop.

Stop.

So... look, I've never intended to watch this movie in the first place and, based on this, I never will. I'm just mentioning it here because tuning out after a couple of minutes and then reviewing it as though I actually saw it seems intellectually dishonest.

But I had to get this out: seeing just that little bit of Vacation made me want to turn off the television, call Comcast and cancel my cable. disconnect my television, put it back in the box it came in, tape the box shut, and go drop it off at the Goodwill.

It made me feel like humankind's whole experiment with cinema should maybe just be ended.

It made me hate that we have the need to tell stories at all.

I'm... still weirdly angry about it.

Even after this weekend's traumatic episodes of Outlander and Game of Thrones, this is the thing that stands out from the last day.

Fuck you, movie.

Muppet Monday

This is kind of a rare and wonderful video of one of the last Muppet appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. It aired in color on May 31, 1970, but the only copy of this clip that appears to have survived is this black and white version that appeared in a 1984 documentary called Henson's Place. In the bit, Kermit attempts to perform Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley's "What Kind of Fool Am I?" while being repeatedly interrupted by Grover.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alan Young 1919-2016

It just came to my attention that Alan Young passed away a few days ago. This makes me very sad. During those friendless years in junior high and high school, one of my biggest pleasures was getting home from school and watching DuckTales, which has remained one of my favorite shows.

When I was a little kid, my Dad used to take me to his barber shop to get my hair cut. It made me feel terribly grown up. There was a magazine rack with three shelves. The top shelf had news magazines like Time, but also had Playboy. The middle shelf had more general entertainment mags. But the bottom shelf had comic books, and that's where I discovered the joys of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics. DuckTales just took me right back to that barbershop and those good times with my Dad, the same way smelling certain powders or aftershaves still does today.

I didn't know at the time that DuckTales was basically Carl Barks: The TV Series. But seeing it inspired me to go back to Disney comics and try to capture the feeling of reading those adventures again. And I found out all about Carl Barks, and that led me to Don Rosa, and to some of my favorite stuff that ever existed. And for me, Alan Young and his characterization of Scrooge McDuck is an integral part of it all. Scrooge is basically my favorite Disney character of all time, and the man who voiced him has passed on. In a time of pretty intense loneliness, Scrooge was an escape.

Young was also in George Pal's The Time Machine, one of my very favorite movies. I used to get excited when they'd show it on WGN's Family Classics show. "Thanks for being such a good friend, David."

Thanks for being Scrooge.

Song of the Week: "God Only Knows"

This is my 500th Song of the Week. 500 weeks of songs... that's 9.6 years. Gosh, I've had this blog a long, long time. It's only natural for me to fall back on my favorite album here, and a song that I've gone on record as calling the most beautiful ever written, yet somehow never posted before.