The Punisher Armory (1990 – 1994)

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Mar 272016

The Punisher (like Doctor Who) is one of those one of those properties that, in my personal opinion, has enormous potential but that nobody has ever gotten quite right.  I don’t mean to denigrate any of the fine efforts made over the years in either case.  They’re what IT people refer to as edge cases – both involve truly unique characters that are damn-near impossible to really nail writing-wise.

The Punisher Armory comes the closest I think – it’s certainly my favorite Punisher comic.  Which is admittedly a little strange, since Frank Castle never appears on a single page.  Neither does anyone else, for that matter: the entire ten-issue series consists of still-shots – mostly of equipment – narrated in text-box format by the man himself.  Eliot Brown wrote and drew these in a manner Frank would respect: plain, no-nonsense, and in their own way, beautiful.

It features no action or dialogue whatsoever. These are instead the quiet, personal moments that make-up the bulk of Castle’s existence.  It’s convenient to summarize his character as a one-man army driven by rage over the loss of his family one sunny day in the park long ago.  But his day-to-day reality is that of a stone-cold professional for whom every hour of combat is preceded by 100 hours of training, reconnaissance, and preparation.



The Queen (2006)

 History, Video  Comments Off on The Queen (2006)
Mar 162016

I used to dismiss the British royal family as an irrelevant institution – lots of people do. But over the years my opinion’s mellowed a bit.

England’s peculiar historical triumph is that of a country whose transition from absolute monarchy to democracy was a gradual, mostly dignified transfer of power: there’s something to be said for a monarchy that didn’t end in a bloody revolution.  David Starkey’s BBC documentary series Monarchy (2004-2006) makes a good case for this notion.  But I also have to admit, I’m just plain won-over by Queen Elizabeth II – lots of people are.  It’s not about her “class”, which has always been a dirty word here in the states, for some pretty good reasons.  It’s that she has class. 

Highly recommend The Queen (2006).  I’m also looking-forward to the upcoming biographical series from Netflix, The Crown.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

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Mar 162016

This is one hell of a movie, about one hell of an interesting guy.  T. E. Lawrence still has historians scratching their heads and arguing vehemently a century later.  Depending who you ask he was an imperialist tool, an opportunistic adventurer, a traitor to his nation, or a hero for the ages.  It’s undeniable he was crucially important in shaping the modern Mid East.

Lawrence was a bundle of contradictions: a quiet, bookish young man whose stamina and sheer force of will propelled him during his college years to undertake lone journeys to places so remote and foreign that no sane Englishman would dare go without a massive retinue and the resources to match.  A lifelong romantic whose boyhood dream was to become a knight, when unexpectedly presented to the King of England for just that reason, he walked away.  A loyal subject of the crown, he betrayed secret details of the Skyes-Picot treaty to his Arab allies because he believed theirs was a destiny more important than colonial aspirations of old-Europe.  And strangest of all, a mild-mannered academic who on his own initiative stepped-forward as a military leader whose bravery, audacity, and tactics were of the first order.  In short, a really, really weird dude.

Anyway, the movie’s first-class, a sprawling epic on the order of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, and generally does justice to the historical facts.  The bits it leaves-out are generally even more unbelievable than what it leaves-in.  And Peter O’Toole’s performance – well, it’s hard to piece-together, even now, exactly what sort of man Lawrence was – but I think he probably nailed-it pretty damn well, and either way, he’ll knock your socks-off.  Make sure you watch it in good honest high-def, or else you’re cheating yourself.

Detroit Metal City

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Mar 122016

Detroit Metal City (Wikipedia) is one of my favorite anime series.  It’s a comedy about a hapless virgin who dreams of becoming pop artist of the bland, cloying, up-beat acoustic variety.  He instead he falls-in with a heavy-metal group and his true destiny is unleashed on the world: his alter-ego Krauser, the demon king of metal.

Little Witch Academa

 Art, TV, Video  Comments Off on Little Witch Academa
Mar 042016

What a lovely little gem!  Little Witch Academa (2013) (Netflix) is a single-episode anime from Studio Trigger (wikipedia), an up-and-comer started in 2011 that promises great things.  The cel-animation is incredible – feels like Looney Tunes was a major inspiration (along with Disney and traditional anime of course).  There’s also a sequel (Netflix) that was kickstarter-funded.

Trigger’s first full-length series is Kill la Kill (2013) (Netflix), another breath of fresh air.  Decidedly more mature (but not direly-so), its artistic styling is pure 80’s anime, directed with the frenetic, absurd blatantcy of a twelve-year-old Quentin Tarantino on a three-day binge of Red Bull and Pop Rocks.

Carry Me Ohio – Sun Kil Moon

 Music  Comments Off on Carry Me Ohio – Sun Kil Moon
Jan 312016

This is the second Mark Kozelek song I ever heard, the first being Katy Song.  It’s another of those tracks you could listen-to on repeat all night (Kozelek’s particular gifted at that sort of thing).  What can I say?  Some music simply beats the shit out of you once, continually (to mangle the words of J.E.B. Stuart).