Monday, April 30, 2007

Movies Adapted from Comic Books

With Spider-Man 3 coming out a good year for movies adapted from comic books gets a whole lot bigger (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and 30 Days of Night also in the offing this year with Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Wanted, and Batman: The Dark Knight due out next year.)

The list of the top grossing comic book adaptations will change, of course…in fact it already has changed this year with 300 (#7), Ghost Rider (#19), and TMNT (#37) all jumping into the top 40 since this year began.

As of this writing, the top 10 biggest grossing movies based on comics from 1978 to the present (according to Box Office Mojo) are:

  1. Spider-Man
  2. Spider-Man 2
  3. Batman
  4. Men in Black
  5. X-Men: The Last Stand
  6. X2: X-Men United
  7. 300
  8. Batman Begins
  9. Superman Returns
  10. Men in Black 2

Spidey 3 seems likely to push MIB 2 out of the top 10 in fairly short order (300 just displaced Batman Forever down to #11.)

Looks like a good time to be a comic book geek :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Ah, the hiatus. Television shows can’t seem to string 5 or 6 new episodes in a row without having to take a weeks (or even months) long hiatus. For some this is not a good thing…the long hiatus that Lost took after a handful of frustrating and tepid episodes centering on the once intriguing but now decidedly bland and boring “Others” (like that show needed more people for its viewers to keep track of…those bloody islands seem to have the population of a small city) was a good jumping OFF point for me (and, judging by the ratings, for a lot of other folks too...if it's actually gotten better someone let me know and I'll think about checking out the DVD set when it comes out...)

The producers of 24 have wisely evaded the hiatus problem by not starting their season until January and churning out24 episodes in the row without gaps or reruns (a ploy that Lost is apparently going emulate next season.)

And there’s Heroes. When the show took off for a 6-week hiatus I wondered if they could recapture the momentum they had as they rolled into the 5 final episodes of the season. I needn’t have worried it seems as the show came back with a crackerjack outing that picked up right where it left off and drew me right back into the lives of the extraordinary people who make up its expansive cast. As the various plot threads start to entwine towards the explosive climax new alliances are formed as the characters, each in his or her own way (and for his or her own reasons), strive to “save the world”, new secrets are revealed (the enigmatic Mr. Linderman, for example, turning out to perhaps not be the completely black-hearted villain he’s been portrayed to be throughout the season…and that, perhaps, he has previous working relationship with the matriarch of the Petrelli clan, who it seems has a power of her own), two people die (one gets better…hey, they’re super-heroes, just go with it :-), and we get a glimpse of a possible future with the time-bending Hiro and his faithful sidekick Ando.

And next week the future is now as the focus shifts 5 years hence.

The producers and writers of Heroes keep swearing that they won’t fall into the quagmire that Lost has gotten stuck in…that there will be answers and resolutions this season…and I believe them. And, being the geek that I occasionally admit to being, I’m jazzed beyond words to see how it all turns out (don’t let me down folks.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stars On 45 - The Beatles Medley

Is there anything more crap-tastic than early 80's disco medleys? No, my friends, I think not :-)

(And yes, I bought this single back in the day...and I'm not as ashamed of that as I probably should be.)

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More MKW Blogstuff: Bread and Roses

Saturday, April 21, 2007


In 1999 Macy Gray burst onto the music scene like Athena bursting forth from the brow of Zeus: fully-realized and ready to conquer any hearts and minds savvy enough to recognize and embrace her soul-deep funk, gloriously unique voice , and decidedly offbeat wisdom. On How Life Is, her first CD, was a dazzling, funny, funky, soulful tour de force that took the pop world by storm.

Since then, Gray has shined as both an accomplished actress and a quirky personality but her records have not reached the same heights as her first. Big, her first effort on’s Geffen-distributed label, reclaims much of the glory of her debut. (man, that’s WAY too precious a moniker), the leader of the Black Eyed Peas, co-produced most of the CD and he did a fine job while managing to stay out of the way of the star of the show (he delivers one, mostly tolerable, rap on the propulsive “Treat Me Like Your Money”.) He brought along a couple of friends to good effect: Justin Timberlake, who co-wrote, co-produced, and played (drums, keys, and guitar) on the funky romps “Get Out” and “Okay”, and Fergie, who provided strong backing vocals for the infectious smooth R&B jam “Glad You’re Here”.

Natalie Cole adds her distinctive voice to the acerbic, celebratory kiss off “Finally Made Me Happy”.

Macy is in fine voice…well, you know what I mean…throughout. From the engaging hooks of “Shoo Be Doo” and “What I Gotta Do” (an affirming paean to what a mother has to do provide for her children) to lilting semi-tropical grooves of “One for Me” and “Slowly” to the oddly-charming murder ballad “Strange Behavior” to the rockin’ dance floor stomper “Everybody”, Gray reminds us that she is…with her beguiling voice…is still a force to be reckoned with in the music world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sanjaya Malakar and American Idol

Reality TV shows…from The Real World to Survivor to American Idol…rise or fall on the strength of their casting. Put the right mix of personalities together and you can create television magic; make the wrong choices and you can…and will…create television that is hard to slough through.

From the standpoint of putting on a television show, the Idol judges and producers dropped the ball for the most part this season. Don’t get me wrong, some of this year’s contestants are very, very talented…I would buy a CD by Melinda Doolittle tomorrow (while acknowledging that her jazzy singing is probably better suited to the tastes of old duffers like myself rather than the young whippersnappers that Idol producers, and music mogul Clive Davis, want to appeal to) and I like Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks a lot as well (most of the others still in the running all have had their moments as well)…but as television personalities they don’t bring any of the spark that some past Idol contestants brought to the proceedings.

In terms of making a buzz-worthy show, the producers and the judges made only two spot on picks: Antonella Barba and, yes, Sanjaya Malakar. Antonella was the breakout publicity magnet of the early part of the season thanks to the racy photos of her (real and faked) all over the net but she turned into a deer in the headlights onstage as the controversy increased and the judges got snarkier and the viewers mercifully put her out of her misery.

Young Mr. Malakar, on the other hand, has wholeheartedly embraced his turn in the spotlight with an unflagging smile and a dazzling array of hairstyles…he hasn’t allowed his own tepid vocals or the withering scorn of the judges daunt him even a little and he has, in the process, become a pop culture touchstone. No other Idol contestant has stirred up such a passionate firestorm this season…and no other Idol contestant’s name has been on the lips of folks like Howard Stern, Hilary Clinton, and David Letterman (who had the guy who created the infamous Vote for the Worst site on his show last night.) No other contestant has been regularly featured on pop culture shows like The Soup and Best Week Ever. (Even NBC’s Nightly News gave over several of their precious minutes to a feature on Sanjaya a couple of weeks ago.)

Like him or loathe him, you cannot deny the fact that Sanjaya is the face of this season of American Idol (that this apparently irks the judges…especially Simon…is silly since they and the producers are the ones who put him on the show in the first place) and if and when he is voted off there will be precious little that anyone will be talking about when it comes to this season of the show. From a pop culture standpoint, it is indeed, for a brief season anyway, the world of Sanjaya and we’re all just living in it.

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Wednesday night addendum: For some American Idol fans, their long nightmare is over. Sanjaya is gone...just in time for "Idol Pats Itself on the Back"...I mean, "Idol Gives Back"...and somewhere Howard Stern and the Vote for the Worst folks are weeping bitter tears in their beer :-) And so it goes.

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More MKW Blogstuff: Bread and Roses

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Springer Hustle

The Springer Hustle confirms what most people had figured out anyway. VH1’s new series shows the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that go into making “the worst show in television history” (as Springer rather proudly refers to his talk-cum-freak show.)

Backstage we are introduced to high octane, nakedly ambitious and competitive producers charged with scraping the bottom of the barrel to find the folks who come onto the Jerry Springer Show to air their dirty laundry (and to wrestle with each other and throw chairs and all other kinds of like-minded things.)

The producers fairly browbeat the guests into agreeing to come to Chicago to appear on the show and then do their best to rile them up into a frothing frenzy before they hit the stage (up to and including giving them lines to scream at each other for the enjoyment of the studio audience and the television viewers.) (One would hope that the guests could see how much they are embarrassing themselves by agreeing to go nuts on a nationally televised show while revealing intimate details of their private lives for all the world to see but, apparently, that doesn’t occur to most of them.)

It’s all rather horrifying…and at the same time, admittedly, strangely fascinating.

I am not ashamed to admit that I went through a Springer period…I haven’t watched the show in years but for a brief period I watched it on a daily basis…and so while I probably won't be watching Hustle on a regular basis I find these proceedings kind of interesting.

I’m not sure what The Jerry Springer Show…and The Springer Hustle…says about American television viewers (ratings for the main show are down but it’s still hanging in there) but it’s probably nothing good. On the other hand, it’s just a TV show…easily ignored if one doesn’t care for the low-rent circus it presents…Western civilization may fall one day but I don’t really think we’ll be able to point to Jerry Springer and/or reality TV as the cause. (Though this last point is not helped by the fact that VH1 sandwiched the debut of Hustle between the premiere of Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School and a re-broadcast of the I Love New York reunion show...)

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More MKW blogstuff: Bread and Roses

Friday, April 13, 2007

V.K. Lynne

One of my favorite things about the blogosphere is the fact that I can find, listen to, and buy interesting music from independent artists (this is one of the main reasons that I have a MySpace page.) One of my newest favorite indie artists is the amazing V.K. Lynne.

Bear with me while I unleash my unabashed fanboy for a bit:

I reviewed her engaging CD Black Halo in a previous entry (see here.)

You can here full versions of four of her songs and buy tracks on her MySpace page (see here.)

You can see her and her crack band in a video posted on You Tube (see here.)

And you can read about her with her latest project…the creation of a new EP…in a posting on her MySpace blog (see here.)

She's enormously talented, incredibly cool, and undeniably gorgeous…what’s not to like? :-)

Namaste, y’all.

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Other MKW Blogstuff: Bread and Roses

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Macy Gray - Finally Made Me Happy

Macy with Natalie Cole and

Shear Genius

Bravo has created fun reality show entertainment with a fabulous show about fashion (Project Runway), an engaging show about cooking (Top Chef), and a so-so show about interior design (Top Design) so maybe they could make a show about hairstyling fun and entertaining too.

Or maybe not.

Shear Genius is a mess. 12 well as utterly tedious, delusional, and completely irritating...egos fooling around with hair does not an entertaining show make.

Host Jaclyn Smith doesn't bring much to the table either. But, to be fair, even the unflappable Tim Gunn couldn't make this turkey work (how much longer until Runway comes back anyway?)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Live Earth

Former Vice-President Al Gore, the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, continues his campaign to bring attention to global climate change with a concert event on July 7, 2007 (or 7/7/07.)

Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis is being produced by SOS: Save Our Selves, an international organization founded by Live 8 producer Kevin Wall (CEO of Control Room, a supplier of live digital entertainment that will be producing the concert) and the former Vice-President (both seen above with Pharrell.)

The Live Earth concert will be a 24-hour event taking place on all 7 continents (yes, including Antarctica) and featuring dozens of artists.

The lineup for the London show (at Wembley Stadium) includes: the reunited Genesis, Madonna, the Beastie Boys, the Black-Eyed Peas, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Keane, Corinne Bailey Rae, Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, John Legend, James Blunt, Damien Rice, and Bloc Party.

The US show (at Giants Stadium in New Jersey) will feature: the reunited Police, the Smashing Pumpkins, Alicia Keys, Melissa Etheridge, the Dave Matthews Band, Kanye West, Bon Jovi, Fall Out Boy, Kelly Clarkson, K.T. Tunstall, John Mayer, Ludacris, Roger Waters, AFI, and Akon.

Other locations will include Shanghai (China), Johannesburg (South Africa), Sydney (Australia), and locations in Brazil, Japan, and Antarctica. Other performers will include Pharrell, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Snoop Dogg, Mana, Enrique Iglesias, Korn, and Lenny Kravitz.

The concerts will be streamed live on MSN and parts of the shows will broadcast here in the US on NBC.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Johnny Hart 1931-2007

Johnny Hart, the old school cartoonist who created the strip B.C. in 1958 and co-created (with Brant Parker) The Wizard of Id in 1964, died Saturday of a stroke (reportedly at his drawing board.) Both strips are highlighted with their gently acerbic humor and world views (respectively using prehistoric and medieval characters to poke fun at modern times.) Hart was 76.

Both strips will continue to be produced and published despite Hart's death (Hart has been getting help from his family on the strips for years and an extensive archive of computer images exists.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pop Culture Auction

I guess this is where I’m supposed to write something pithy like “up, up, and away!” :-) A Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve in 1978’s Superman: The Movie was sold at auction for a heroic $115,000.

Profiles in History, a memorbilia dealer, racked up more than $2,000,000 at its auction of more than 700 pop culture items this week which also featured a latex Alien costume designed by H.R. Giger for the original 1979 movie Alien ($126,500), a Winkie guard costume from The Wizard of Oz ($115,000), a gown worn by Marilyn Monroe in There’s No Business Like Show Business ($92,000), Val Kilmer’s Batman costume from Batman Forever ($63,250), Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine claws from X2: X-Men United ($40,250), and Stevie Wonder’s Grammy for Innervisions ($37,350).

Man, that’s a lotta greenbacks for a bunch of old stuff :-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

On April 24, Nonesuch Records will release A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, a collection of Joni Mitchell songs performed by an interesting and eclectic group of artists.

I am a fan of tribute albums…even while acknowledging some of them are kinda cheesy…and this one is especially appealing not only because it features Joni’s amazing songs but because it features some of my favorite artists: Emmylou Harris (covering “The Magdalene Laundries”), Cassandra Wilson (“For the Roses”), Prince (“A Case of You”), Bjork (“Boho Dance”), Elvis Costello (“Edith and the Kingpin”), Sufjan Stevens (“Free Man in Paris”), Annie Lennox (“Ladies of the Canyon”), K.D. Lang (“Help Me”), and James Taylor (“River”).

Brad Mehldau (“Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow”) and Caetano Veloso (“Dreamland”), two artists I’m less familiar with, round out the lineup.

Snippets of the songs featured…both the covers and Joni’s original versions…are up at the A Tribute to Joni Mitchell site along with appreciations of Mitchell by some of the artists involved.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

The Strokes and Eddie Vedder cover a Marvin Gaye classic.

Sons of Hollywood

Once upon a time, c-list “stars”, faded stars, and would-be stars had to get their exposure through game shows like Hollywood Squares, guest-star desperate shows like Love Boat or Fantasy Island, and bad disaster feature films and really bad TV movies…but times have changed.

Nowadays, seemingly any wannabe, used-to-be, and never-will-be “star”…the more vapid, self-absorbed/self-pitying, delusional, and/or embarrassingly self-destructive the better… can get his or her own “reality” show on cable (including and especially thanks to the good folks at VH1, Bravo, and A&E homes to offerings as enlightening and entertaining as…um…The Surreal Life, I Love New York, Dice Undisputed, Breaking Bonaduce, Being Bobby Brown, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Flavor of Love, and Shooting Sizemore among many, many others.)

A&E’s new offering, Sons of Hollywood, falls squarely into this profitable (for the networks if not necessarily for the viewers) trend. It features the sons (see above) of Rod Stewart, producer Jerry Weintraub, and the late Aaron Spelling (producer of, among many other things, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island) in all of their vapid, self-absorbed/self-pitying, delusional, and embarrassingly self-destructive glory.

But then I try to remember what my grandfather told me…namely, if you don’t have ANYTHING good to say about something you should say nothing at all. So (this one’s for you, Papa), in regards to Sons of Hollywood:…um…”nothing at all”.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Acceptable TV

Jack Black is one of the executive producers of Acceptable TV, a new sketch comedy show on VH1. Acceptable TV is made up of five different shows (4 live action and 1 animated), each no longer than the presumed attention span of a viewer (3 minutes or less), performed by an ensemble cast of young actors. Each week viewers vote on their favorites and 2 are allowed to present a new episode on the next show while the other 3 are cancelled.

Viewers can also upload their own shows to the Acceptable TV website and the winner of the popular vote is also presented on the TV show.

As with all comedy sketch shows Acceptable TV is decidedly hit or miss when it comes to bringing the funny (some of it works well while other stuff just flails about looking for a joke) but the actors are quite game in trying to make this stuff…like the amusing “Homeless James Bond” (see below), which was the most popular show from the first broadcast…work.

It’s not often great comedy but it is often fun…and, for me anyway, that's acceptable TV :-)