Pilot Season – vote for Genius

“Pilot Season” is a Top Cow competition in which six one-shot comics compete for the right to be “greenlit”. Readers are able to vote online, and the two highest votegetters will become an ongoing series.

scans_daily: Pilot Season – vote for Genius.

I discovered this on Warren Ellis’ blog and as he says:

[T]he idea is so simple and crystal that I could spit.Every generation has its own naturally gifted brilliant military mind. Some people just have a genius for military thinking. What if this generation’s natural military genius was a seventeen-year-old girl living the gang life in the middle of South Central LA? And what if she had, since she was old enough to fuck shit up, been connecting people and laying plans for the only war she’d ever want to wage?

Next: an extraordinarily large pile of dead LAPD.

I ended up not having enough reading material for the return trip on Sunday, so I started listening to the audiobook of Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein. It’s actually a good listen, with some laugh out loud funny parts. But this is Warren Ellis. There are some really fucked up, cringeworthy bits too. Basically, take Warren’s blog, take out all the bits that aren’t disturbing and wrap what’s left into a noir detective story. Voilà, you have created Crooked Little Vein. Okay, that may come across as a little unfair, it is after all well written and entertaining. But it also contains ostrich date-rape and godzilla bukkake fetishism. And I’m only a quarter of the way through.

So we saw Iron Man at the weekend, a nice gentle end to the stag weekend in Bristol before we all had to go on our journeys. I’ll get straight to the point: Despite my initial reservations (It’s Marvel) I really enjoyed it and rate it… Must watch.

It was funny, it worked visually and musically and Robert Downey Jr. pulled it off marvellously. Marvel must be pleased with their first release where they’ve had full creative rights throughout the process and have already signed up all the cast for two sequels with the next one slated for 2010. Stark will also make a brief appearance in The Incredible Hulk.

I originally thought that Marvel would end up shooting Ultimate Iron Man, after all, one reboot should lead into another. Oh no. I read through a copy of UIM in Waterstones on Sunday and it is god-awful. No, instead large reams of plotting are sourced from Warren Ellis’ reboot, Iron Man: Extremis which actually looks quite good.

Slowly but steadily I’m discovering the occasional thoroughbred in Marvels stable, which I still believe mostly consists of nags.

Yeah, I tend to avoid net memes (AKA following the herd like sheep), but this one tickled me. Below are the top 106 books tagged “unread” in LibraryThing.

The rules:
Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your tbr list.

Full list after the break.

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Movies

There haven’t been too many movies I’ve got to see recently, but I did get to see The Orphanage in the cinema. This is a Spanish language haunted house tale “presented” by Guillermo “Pan’s Labyrinth” del Toro. Overall it was quite good, though they did over-use the old trick of loud noise to make you jump at the creepy bits. I don’t think it needed it and overall would have been better as a chiller with some creepy overtones rather than using the “BANG! Made you jump!” technique. Also, the last two minutes were entirely redundant, but other than that it was quite a good movie. I rate it… Must Rent.

I also finally caught the modern remake of 3:10 to Yuma on BluRay rental, because I like westerns and I like Christian Bale. Hmm… The score was good, the visuals looked lovely in HD BluRay glory and the score was good and well used. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the 50’s original to compare, but the story was really weak. It started off okay, but veered a little around the middle and by the end had unravelled entirely to the point that my suspension of disbelief had, itself, been completely suspended. I rate it… Avoid.
I knew I should have gone with The Assassination of Jesse James etc.

TV

Yeah, not too much here either. The new season of Heroes hasn’t really blown me away yet neither has Doctor Who. I’ve been watched Season 1 of House which started well. The fact that this is a blatant medical Sherlock Holmes (Homes? House? You see what they did… Oh never mind) crossed with CSI quite appeals to me, as does Hugh Laurie’s misanthropic titular character. But it’s becoming pretty damn samey, pretty damn fast. I’ve been assured that more character development and variation is coming, but I’m losing faith fast.

Books

I’ve been working my way through the recent trend of supernatural pulp detective novels, the most famous of which is the mildly entertaining Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher which was made into an utterly rubbish TV show. The books are fun, but are being bogged down by their own mythology by now. Then I moved onto the Rachel Morgan series, when I read Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, which was blatantly the Dresden Files, by a female author, with a female protagonist for a female audience. Half of it read like a the relationship self-help sections of women’s magazines. I didn’t bother picking up the rest of the series. But now I’ve moved onto Mike “Hellblazer” Carey’s Felix Castor series, beginning with The Devil You Know. I realise I may be a little biased towards the writer I already know I like, but I would say that Carey’s books are my favourite of this genre. I’ll hopefully be picking up the second book in the series today.

Graphic Novels

Not much for a while, but I read Warren Ellis’ Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E and laughed like a drain and I don’t even know what that means! Penny’s usually not much into Ellis, but she read the whole thing, frequently muttering “That’s just wrong!” and then carrying on reading.

Music

Well, due to my current client, I’m exposed to a lot more music these days, but not all of it is new. I’ve been listening to We Are Scientists, The Hives, The Datsuns and, for a complete change of style, Remi Nicole. And I wasn’t too impressed with Portishead’s first single off the new album, finding it too industrial for my tastes.

Games

Most of my gaming right now is on the PSP. I played God of War and enjoyed it immensely! For six hours. Let me reiterate that, to make it quite clear: This £25 game entertained me for a mere six hours! Once, I take off the trade-in value, that means I paid £2.30 per hour of entertainment.
On the other hand, I’m still playing Final Fantasy Tactics and according to my save game file, I’ve played it for 30 hours so far…
As for the PS3, Gran Tourismo 5 Prologue is beautiful, cheap and fun. It is worth your money and is very friendly to casual play.

I had my scepticism about , the sequel to ‘s excellent , especially as it seemed to be an over-the-top, Americanised sequel to an excellent, low budget British horror movie. However, Spanish-born did an okay job at the end of it. While definitely different in mood, this is very much to Aliens as 28 Days is to Alien. A different feel but definitely solid continuation of what went before. I think a lot of the feel of the sequel came from the soundtrack by and the re-scored version of that gave the original such moody weight.

Set-wise, they obviously tried to capture that eerie feeling of seeing a deserted London, but on a wider scale. Largely they managed it, though sometimes it did seem a bit forced. Crucially, as in the first film, much of the horror was not in what the not-zombies did, but what people are willing to do to each other.

To sum up, an enjoyable film, though this may be partly due to my low expectations. But I’d rate it above both Spidey 3 and 300 for this year’s cinema releases.

Edit: Before I forget, I also read through the graphic novel ’28 Days Later: The Aftermath’ which is supposed to fill in the gaps between the two films. Short summary: All filler, no killer. The writing is jarring, being split into four interwoven, but separate stories, and the art is uninspiring.

I always say I won’t do these anymore, then I get lax for one reason or another and do another catchup post. But, here we are again and once again my assurance that this will be the last of it’s kind unless something dramatic happens in the form of the destruction of the internet, abduction by fae who see in me their long-lost and recently reincarnated god-king or I happen to catch ebola.

And so, in roughly chronological order:

  • I am the happy owner of a Sony 3. I am very pleased with my investment and have been getting a lot of pleasure out of it. This warrants it’s own, in-depth, post which I hope won’t take another month to emerge.
  • Penny went to Iran, had a good time, was fascinated by the cultural differences, saw interesting sights and missed a by the morality police by 24 hours. She is slowly but surely uploading pictures to her and hopes to blog her experiences.
  • As , I spent a weekend up in Cheltenham, drinking beer, hiking, observing the local predators at play and taking a steam train around the villages. Most enjoyable.
  • Since I last blogged I saw two movies in the cinema, both of which I was disappointed by, namely 300 and Spiderman 3. The former was either too hammy or the hamminess was not done by actors who could actually pull it off. The central themes and black humour of the graphic novel were not sufficiently present and the whole thing came off as a very pretty hack fest. Pretty, good battles but soulless. Spiderman 3 was great on special effects but it rubbed me up the wrong way with it’s constant lame gags to distract the kiddies from the darkness and the massive emphasis on Forgiveness. Do all superhero films now have to have a moral? All in all, watchable and fun, but does not compare favourably with it’s superior predecessors. This makes this years personal cinema chart look as follows:
  1. Hot Fuzz
  2. In Pursuit of Happyness (sic)
  3. 300
  4. Spiderman 3
  • Next cinema films I intend to watch are Pirates 3, Harry Potter 5, Stardust, 28 weeks later, Bourne Ultimatum and Beowulf.
  • Music-wise I’ve been to the , and .
  • In books, I’ve been devouring Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series about a tough Chicago private eye… wizard. Excellent stuff, very good escapism.
  • Penny and I went camping last weekend down on the south coast. The little village of Rye is incredibly charming while the Camber Sands Leisure Park where we pitched up is dire beyond mention. here. It was a pleasant weekend and the new tent, a , held up spectacularly in adverse conditions. All the more impressive considering the minuscule weight of just over 1kg.

Right, I’ve probably missed bits out, but it’s a good start!

TV

Well, I’ve still got a backlog of movies and programs to watch on the PVR, so I still haven’t watched the end of Season 1 of ‘‘. I’ve been mostly enjoying it, though it’s not really fantastic. But certainly watchable. What I have been enjoying is ‘‘ on Sky Three since for some reason my reception improved. A team of geniuses attempts to unravel the mystery of an alien DNA/behaviour altering viral intelligence. Production values aren’t up there with some of the stuff coming out of the states, but it’s certainly interesting to watch. Getting Sky Three back also allowed me to watch an episode of ‘‘. You’d think a pseudo-supernatural, time traveling investigation drama, starring whose character seems to only own low cut tops would appeal to me. But no, it’s fairly pants. I won’t bother watching any more.

Movies

I recently watched ‘‘ on DVD and found myself surprisingly enjoying it. A lot of recent animal themed animations like ‘‘ and such have been rather boring. But despite OtH’s standard “rogue finds redemption through the fellowship of his new-found friends” storyline (yes, I know it’s for kids) I actually found OtH laugh-out-loud funny in several places. And finally there was a role truly worthy of William Shatner’s overacting…

Graphic Novels

Not a lot recently, though I did re-read all of ‘Transmetropolitan’ a few weeks back, beginning to end. What an excellent series. But what I did buy recently was Frank “Sin City” Miller’s ‘300’, the tale of the Spartan’s holding back the massed army of the Persians. A totally excellent graphic novel that I would recommend to anyone, both in terms of art and story. The gallows humour doesn’t hurt it either. There is a movie due out in March and Chris “Cursed Empire” Louziou (sorry for the spelling) is running a playtest of a ‘300’ roleplaying game at Conception using the appropriately lethal ‘Cursed Empire’ rules.

“Real” Novels

I’m currently in the middle of two. I’m re-reading ‘The Sign of Four’ from my complete Sherlock Holmes book that I got for Christmas and also reading James Herbert’s ‘The Secret of Crickley Hall’. It’s a very old-fashioned ghost story so far. You know the drill… Haunted house, new residents, a terrible past… It’s all there. It’s enjoyable for all that, but I was hoping for more of an updated twist in the traditional haunted house scenario.

Music

Too much and too varied for me to individually list out, particularly now the Ipod speaker system is properly set up in the lounge.

DC Vertigo have just released Transmetropolitan #1: Back on the Street as a free for download PDF! Check out the here or go straight to the . Here’s the background to this excellent graphic novel.

After years of self-imposed exile from a civilization rife with degradation and indecency, cynical journalist Spider Jerusalem is forced to return to a job that he hates and a city that he loathes. Working as an investigative reporter for the newspaper The Word, Spider attacks the injustices of his surreal 21st Century surroundings. Combining black humor, life-threatening situations, and moral ambiguity, this book is the first look into the mind of an outlaw journalist and the world he seeks to destroy.

A chilled out weekend that began with a few hours of playing on the PS2, acquired by trading in some of my older games that I don’t play anymore.

RE4 is slightly less horror and slightly more FPS than previous incarnations, but I think it does so well. The interface seems slicker, there’s less really annoying, pointless puzzles and more story. I’m actually interested in what happens next. So I can see myself keeping myself amused with this in the odd moments of spare time.

On Sunday penny and I went to see the at the Royal Academy of Arts, which we enjoyed immensely. My favourite piece was the , rather than the more well-known piece, .

Monday, yesterday, Penny had a busy day. She had her first introductory driving lesson, a preliminary to her intensive course starting soon, and then went in to London in the evening. The purpose of her visit was to go to see Neil Gaiman announce, talk about, read from and sign his new book, . Apparently she enjoyed it immensely.