Monday, March 28, 2011

Will I EVER get noticed?

I was just going through one of the other blogs that I follow ('Follow?' What's that, Kit?) when I ran across the following line:

"It (Magic: The Gathering)'s been around forever. I actually built a deck in 1995..."

Hey - what a coincidence! It was during that same year - my first terrible semester as a college undergraduate - when I...

"...when I was in fourth grade."

...and suddenly, all of the big words that I usually rely upon so heavily failed me completely.

Still, I'd already been pondering such things lately - and as these thoughts now seem to be particularly important: What does my voice bring to the already-overcrowded community of online commentators that could possibly be at all unique, anyway?

And how can I ever hope to achieve any sort of relevancy in comparison to the sheer magnitude of all the other work that's already out there - competing with the dedicated websites which exclusively feature the talents of those aforementioned creative young people?

At any rate, I hope to explore these issues more thoroughly in the weeks to come. Seeing as though I have very little time at present for anything other than my job and my continued education, for the moment I guess I'll just have to label my further ramblings on the matter as merely being works-in-progress.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Grouchos!

Best Supporting Actor - 1970.

It's true - Burt Young should've won Best Supporting Actor.

Now I know what you're thinking: Rocky, right? "Hey, Paulie!" and all that?

Actually... no. No - not Burt Young as Paulie.

Not even Burt Young as Burt Young! But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sites across the internet - as well as the various pop culture publications and/or other entertainment-related magazines that once ruled newsstands in that era wherein big print media was still the undisputed king - have long conjectured as to any surprise 'snubs' and/or outright omissions which are made whenever the Academy awards its chosen recipients.

This is not one of those films. While I suppose that I like it well enough myself, this really isn't some hidden gem - no lost treasure here, simply waiting for the chance to be rediscovered by a more receptive and appreciative audience...

In fact, there's no real reason to believe that the Academy even saw 1970's Carnival of Blood. And I don't just mean during the year of its original release!

No - I mean that it's likely that they never saw Carnival of Blood AT ALL.

And who could really blame them? What little information exists online about this film - i.e. its IMDb entry - is threadbare; and its wiki? Completely nonexistent.

You know how they added all those fake film scratches, emulsion bubbles and excess 'dirt' to the virtual negative of Rodriguez and Tarentino's Grindhouse to make it look more period-accurate and authentic?

Yeah - apparently every still-existing print of Carnival of Blood pretty much looks just like that.

So what, if anything, makes it worth recommending? Well, it is an interesting artifact from a time and place that I myself will never get to experience first-hand - i.e. the Coney Island amusements at their former absolute height. Similarly, the haunting refrain of the film's theme is one melody that's likely to stay with you for an eternity: "Carousels of my mind - of my mind..."

Also, if you're able to suspend your disbelief regarding an ordinary person having access to technology that even today still doesn't exist (you'll know it when you see it), then it actually makes for a halfway-decent little murder mystery!

And then there's John Harris - sorry, Burt Young - in the role of Gimpy. Say what you will about any other aspect of this film - literally anything at all! - but Young's performance alone is enough to make Carnival of Blood worth watching.

Seriously, the man elevates the otherwise-lowly character of Gimpy to such an extent that he actually becomes a legitimate work of cinematic art! And for that, Burt Young more than earns the Groucho for Best Supporting Actor of 1970.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dinky Reviews!

My sealed "brick" of Giant-Size X-Men HeroClix (+ 1).

It should have been terrible - in fact, I half-expected that it would be.

But before we get into that, let's talk for a moment about super-boosters. "Super-boosters" are the width and depth of two regular boosters - and they take the place of the same in each brick (you can also buy additional super-boosters separately - thus the aforementioned plus one). Each super-booster contains one of six possible over-sized HeroClix figures - so the more that you buy, the greater the risk you run of unwanted duplication.

So why were my expectations so low in this particular instance? Simply put, I'd done even better on my last go-around than I ever could've hoped for - and with the unwritten law of universal averages being what it is, I figured that my 'luck' was due for a downturn.

Now because any expenditure in excess of a hundred dollars isn't an inconsiderable one for me personally, I actually prayed extensively regarding the contents of both this brick and my previous one of DC 75th. This time however, my pleading was different: Instead of requesting the exceptional, I merely asked for acceptable.

The first and most obvious thing was the contents of my super-boosters. Would the same excitement for these over-sized characters that led to my ordering one extra turn around to bite me by my receiving two of the same non-generic figure?

No. I pulled Apocalypse - my first instance of said character. And Onslaught!

But what about the standard-sized boosters? Well, when my third of such yielded SR (Super-Rare) Magneto ("Playtime is ended," indeed!), I literally said to myself, "I don't even care what's in the rest of my packs!"

But somehow, I managed to open the rest of the packs anyway - and my efforts were rewarded with SR The Captain from Nextwave (however, I didn't get every character I need for the complete team - I'll have to pick up Monica Rambeau at some other time), and the SR Cyclops/Phoenix duo figure (or, if you prefer, Scott Summers and Jean Grey)!

So not too shabby, all things considered!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Grouchos!

Best Supporting Actor - 1981.

It perhaps isn't any great stretch of the imagination to propose that, by this point in time, most people likely recognize the Academy Awards for what they have sadly become: a near-total farce. Whatsoever merit legitimately exists is all too often ignored in favor of politics which have nothing to do with the actual films themselves, or the behind-the-scenes talent therein.

However, it should also be noted that this series of articles is in no way intended to denigrate the work of those few truly deserving recipients - it's just that, sadly, those are usually the exceptions to an unfortunate norm.

That said, the Groucho for Best Supporting Actor - 1981 goes to Jack Albertson for Dead and Buried. As William G. Dobbs, his performance was nothing short of masterful.

Like most of my heroes, Albertson had every good reason to give up. Even as he was dying of cancer, he kept his condition a secret so that he could continue to work. He refused to make excuses - and Dead and Buried ended up being his final film. I submit to you now that it was also most probably his finest performance.

Yes - surpassing even the role for which he is perhaps best remembered: that of Grandpa Joe in 1969's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Even if he had actually been nominated for the award (hint: he wasn't), he sadly wouldn't live long enough to witness the same. Jack Albertson lost his three-year-long battle with cancer less than six months after Dead and Buried was released. But still, he deserves to be recognized for his efforts - no matter that it's only happening now, posthumously!

So this Groucho is for you, Mr. Albertson - as well as for those who knew you in life, and all of the fans who love you. Because without you, Dead and Buried wouldn't have been what it turned out to be: my all-time favorite movie.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Please, Just Hear Me Out...

DC's Countdown.

Look - I agree with each and every criticism that's out there regarding DC's Countdown (issues 51-27)/Countdown to Final Crisis (26-1)... except, that is, for one. Even then, I'll grant that the topic currently up for discussion was deeply flawed in execution - and a complete failure in actual practice.

I ask you, though: Why can't Jimmy Olsen's girlfriend be an alien woman with (largely superficial) insect-like features? True, the relationship between "Superman's Pal" and New Genesis-resident Forager was entirely mishandled - and to be sure, there's no reason that a humanoid insect should have ever been portrayed as being better-endowed than even Power Girl! - but still, the concept itself is sound.

Under a different and much-better creative team, this same material could potentially be fascinating! The two would literally be star-crossed (and, post Final Crisis, extra-dimensional) lovers! And in a world where it's already common knowledge that aliens do in fact exist, Jimmy (writing anonymously, one would assume) might just have a great new angle for a series of articles regarding his experiences with interplanetary dating, as well!

"Thank god she's still alive... and weirdly gorgeous!" Indeed, Mr. Olsen - indeed. So who can we get to rescue this one good idea from the retcon hell to which the rest of Countdown has been banished?

True love is in danger, Star Sapphire Corps! To arms!