Horror Rental Run-Down

Begrudgingly Yours
My J-Horror reputation precedes me and it is all thanks to my first viewing of Takashi Shimizu's original film JU-ON THE GRUDGE (although not his first work with this story as he also directed 2 made for TV movies in his home country of Japan). Upon my perusal of this film I began to consume Asian Horror at an alarming rate and after awhile overloaded on the genre and had to take a break. But I still find time to support my favorite Japanese director Shimizu and was there for the midnight showing of THE GRUDGE 2, the sequel to his 2004 American directorial debut THE GRUDGE.

I cannot deny that I have seen other reviews (some blatantly sent to me in some lame attempt to get me down) and for the most part, they are not at all flattering. What I enjoy about Shimizu is what others find annoying. So while I can see the points made against this film, I am still at a loss as to what made this movie SO freakin' horrible that it deserves the flack it's getting. And I'm sure there are plenty of people ready to tell me just why it was so freakin' horrible...but until then let me stretch my old reviewing sea legs so to speak and comment on what worked in THE GRUDGE 2.

For starters, I simply adore the use of prior film footage to tell a story in a new movie. I am not talking about the standard flashback to the prior film, I'm talking footage -NOT- in THE GRUDGE that found it's way into it's sequel. I would be referring to to the opening scene that reveals the reason that SHIMIZU's cursed house is in fact so cursed by showing the original family that inhabited it and Kayago and Toshio's violent deaths. This footage is from (if I'm not mistaken) the original Ju-On The Curse made for TV movie and isn't the first "shout-out" to those that have been following the Ju-On legacy.

Secondly, Shimizu mines his old films for some excellent scares but also leaves those that are familiar with his work just as uneasy by adding some new elements to the ways in which Toshio and Kayago get their fright on. Seeing the SAME old man that played peek-a-boo with Toshio in Ju-On The Grudge do it all over again is a great shout-out; while adding new ways for the ghosts to materialize (like photographs) keeps the old-heads guessing. There are some extemely decent edgy moments, with no incidental music--although that is present at times too and only adds to the scream factor--and just pure uneasiness.

(((at this point in my writing I have started seeing things out of the corner of my eye in the mirror I had set up next to me. I was watching LOST on my computer prior to starting this blog and doing my make-up at the same time hence the mirror. I am trying very hard to press on, so I've removed the mirror back to its original spot and have lit up a cigarette.)))

In an effort to fill out the story and I'm sure to allow for sequels (a inevitable Hollywood evil), Shimizu fills out his ghost story with some new elements, some of which I do not agree with but am able to look past. And while I figured out the end into the middle of the film and then found myself a tiny bit bored, I am standing by my thoughts on this film: Frightening in a simple yet pleasing image and deep-seeded in its Japanese horror film roots. In short, I regret nothing! People either seem to love or hate this genre and I am proud to say I am supporter.

SAVE A CAT - STRANGLE HARVEY KEITEL - and a few other films...
1-HELL (thailand)This was my only PHILLY FILM FEST viewing, but it was pretty damn worth it. Within the first 5 minutes all the major characters are killed off and send to (yep! You guessed it!) Hell. The visuals in this film are stunning. Witness the deepest pits of sin and despair, and the lovely punishments that await you for such things as alcoholism, adultery, and lying. The story becomes more of a struggle for the characters to find their way out of their fate, and the realization of their actions; but the journey along the way is quite a masterpiece.

2-TWO EVIL EYES directed by GEORGE ROMERO and DARIO ARGENTO. This film takes 2 masters of horror and lets them "go off" so to speak on EDGAR ALLEN POE tales. It turns out the ARGENTO had planned a horror anthology series with more than just ROMERO; he wanted to adapt POE's stories of horror with the likes of WES CRAVEN and STEPHEN KING as well. When CRAVEN and KING didn't contribute, ROMERO and ARGENTO produced this 2-part film. ROMERO's half is first, and not that impressive in story. He does "THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MR. VALDEMAR," and while I did jump a couple times the story really just didn't take me anywhere. ARGENTO's offering is far more satisfying; THE BLACK CAT is a more faithful story and pretty darn interesting with HARVEY KEITEL playing ROD USHER (there are other POE references within this part of the film as well); a man with a penchant for crime photography and cat strangulation. I really recommend this movie to horror and E.A. POE fans.

3-2001 MANIACS--this is a modern take on HG LEWIS' classic 2001 MANIACS!, a masterpiece in cannibalism and country-bumpkin horror. This remake may have had a bigger budget, but its story leaves something to be desired. The redeeming parts of this film are quite redeeming indeed: GIUSEPPE ANDREWS and ROBERT ENGLUND give great performances, and the references to LEWIS' original film actually make this movie watchable. If you haven't seen the 1st film then you will probably run away screaming, but having the knowledge of the first film is all you need to have a hoot and a holler with 2001 MANIACS. THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN BITCHES! (and I've now added GIUSEPPE ANDREWS to my long list of secret boyfriends)

4-DEMONS (Ital. horror)--like DEMONS 2, but in a movie theater. Demons make me sick.

5-DOOR INTO DARKNESS--Dario ARGENTO murder-mystery. DARIO hosted this 2-part film. I love Dario's hair. The point is the story, the 2nd one was good, the 1st one I fell asleep on. I dig on ARGENTO's thrillers just as much as his horror. He tells a good story. Nuff said.

6-CHOPPING MALL (originally titled KILLBOTS). This is the classic 80's horror flick. Robots, thought to make a mall MORE protected, end up killing a lot of horny teenagers. Pretty damn funny--good movie to play "spot the 80's cliches" to, and notice the couple from EATING RAOUL at the beginning of the film.
~Till Next Time Kittlings....
(((Pictures - #1 - KAYAGO from THE GRUDGE, #2 HARVEY KEITEL with a snappy beret, #3 Cutie GIUSEPPE ANDREWS, #4 DARIO ARGENTO with an awesome 'do)))


Gettin' Medieval on Your Mice - MICE TEMPLAR exclusive interview and art!

It’s finally here!!! This Wednesday Mice Templar makes its’ official debut at comic shops everywhere. Created by my good friends Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass, Mice Templar is steeped in legend and a lot of hard work from both creators. I was able to sit down with them and get the scoop on their new project – as well as some exclusive art that can be seen nowhere else.

So let’s get with the boys and see what they have to say about Templar

Mary E. Brickthrower: MICE TEMPLAR was a long time comin’ – so why did it take so bloody long to launch.

Michael Avon Oeming: Wow, lots of things.... I had this idea (just a shell) going way back to the turn of the century. In fact, after POWERS hit and was a success and then I told [Brian Michael] Bendis I was going to do another creator owned book--he thought it was going to be MICE TEMPLAR instead of HAMMER OF THE GODS. Long story short, I just have a lot of ideas I want to do and only so much time. Not sure why other projects grabbed me when they did, but I'm glad I waited. You know what Mary, you're a good friend and I love you so I'm going to give you the real scoop on a few things- both TEMPLAR and POWERS, as well as OMEGA FLIGHT, what went on with those projects, why some were late, and how I've felt about others. Only you get this because you and Jacob saw me through a lot of this. We had intended to start way earlier on this last year, but several things came up in both Bryan's life and mine. I went through a separation with my wife and my whole world turned upside down for a while. I moved out and found myself living alone for the first time ever at 34 years of age. I was running around and traveling all over the world to try and escape myself and find a new life at the same time. It was crazy times, throwing POWERS way off schedule and putting a halt on MICE TEMPLAR for a while. So there you go, those of you POWERS fans freaking out at Brian--the lateness wasn't him, it was me. And for obvious reasons, you won't find me talking about it more than what you're reading here on Mary's site, so don't bother asking me. OMEGA FLIGHT had started at Marvel as my first monthly ongoing series, but well into issue two having already been drawn, it was abruptly cut down to a five issue mini series. A mini would have been fine if I had started it as a mini, but I wasn't writing or setting up the series that way so it really screwed with both the story and me. I almost gave up. Between that and what was going on in my life, all the love was sucked out of the experience. I'm proud of the work and the book and the fan reaction. I STILL have a great working relationship with the editors and Marvel, make no mistake about that--just because it was bad times doesn't mean I feel that way about the book or Marvel. I love both. I continue working with them and love it. And yet it represents a time when life and career felt like they were on fire... and not in the good way, but in the "flesh is boiling off my brain" kind of way. During the big NYC show in February, I had a complete meltdown one night, literally out of my mind. So if OMEGA FLIGHT fans wondered (as they often do on my own [message] board) why I haven’t commented on OMEGA FLIGHT much, on the fan reaction, the fact that it sold so well (outselling many of Marvel's ongoing titles) or even just general questions about the series future--that is why. Its just been dwarfed by personal experiences. That also explains the lateness of POWERS. I've since recovered for the most part, and I'm now hard at work on getting POWERS regular again as well as establishing MICE TEMPLAR on a bi-monthly schedule. Seriously, my working life now is solely dedicated to POWERS and MICE TEMPLAR, as well as seeing RED SONJA through. So that’s it; that's a whole lot that I won't be talking about anywhere else!

Bryan J.L. Glass: Damage to the hull, and the rigging was a disaster...then came the mutiny, walnuts, the plank, shark infested waters, and finally a school of ill-tempered sea bass! Actually, however, I'd been itching to make this book our priority right after QUIXOTE released in February 2005, but Mike was in the midst of making a splash for himself as a writer at Marvel and at Dynamite Entertainment; no blame involved, it was always just that Mike's popularity had made him so tremendously busy that there simply wasn't enough time to launch yet another project. The unexpected bonus is that it gave me literally years to refine the story, its rich mythology and vast back story of history, as well as the opportunity to flesh out an entire universe for the Templar mice to play in.

Brickthrower - I read that this was based on a short story Mike had up on his website very early in his career. Was this something that Bryan latched onto and decided to develop further or was Mike looking for the right person to expand the concept of Mice with sticks?

Oeming: I totally asked Bryan when we attended a Robert McKee writing seminar in NYC in 2003. I knew he could bring more life and a greater "world," in the tradition of LORD OF THE RINGS, than I ever could. MICE TEMPLAR has become a real world with a real mythology and history, based on loose notes from me, and I do mean "loose," that Bryan created a world from. Example, I would tell him that we should have "Great Seasons" that represent different periods in MICE TEMPLAR history and I gave one-sentence explanations for them. Bryan added a few seasons of his own and then created an in-depth social history from out of that. Amazing. And it's all relevant; we aren't just naming characters, places and things for fun, you know? Everything needs to resonate. Bryan makes that happen.

BJLG: Mike wrote and drew that original short story back in '97-98 when we were finishing the last few issues of SHIP OF FOOLS and were only starting to talk about QUIXOTE. It was just this great little tale that I liked a lot, and that Mike hoped to be able to one day transform into a series; at the time, Mike hoped to one day write and draw it himself, as it has been an inspiration that had been with him since childhood with his early exposure to the fabulous Don Bluth production of THE SECRET OF NIMH. But then, unfortunately, the comic industry imploded and everything we'd planned for was shelved until Mike found a new lease on his career developing POWERS with Brian Michael Bendis. Some time later, it was while we were both in Manhattan taking the amazing Robert McKee STORY seminar together that Mike said he finally wanted to get THE MICE TEMPLAR off the ground, and he honored me by asking if I could be the one to expand his universe. I said yes(!) and then immediately plunged into all of Mike's notes and started developing concepts that eventually became the back-story upon which everything else in the tale hinged. Everything is intertwined, from the creation of the world (as mice see it), to the ancient war when owls drove bats from the night sky; the legendary founder of the Templar Kuhl-En, and his sacred blade known as the Mark, as well as the priesthood known as The Readers of the Wheat; how Kuhl-En himself purportedly divided the day into two distinct worlds of night and day, and posted the Guardians of the Dusk and Dawn to prevent trespass between; the rise of King Icarus, and how the ideological civil war actually divided and ultimately destroyed the Templar; why rats support a mouse king; and finally why Karic is chosen, and how one small mouse might just change the entire world. That's what I brought to the story; and the whole thing just leapt from a 6-issue mini-series to a 25-issue epic (that has an equally ambitious sequel already in development). I look back now and am astounded that Mike offered this amazing gift to me in the form of this extraordinary opportunity. I only hope that I've done him proud.

Brickthrower: What kind of research was done for TEMPLAR? My sources say that you trapped 5 mice, dressed them up and gave them knives and spears, and basically wrote down what happened? Isn't that kind of cheating? Or was there more to it than that?

Oeming: Sort of. At one point I bought some mice; some came and went, but they are all dead now. They were each named after creators: Bendis, Mack, Andy Lee, and Frazetta.

BJLG: It was amazing to watch all of these natural human characteristics play out with only 5 mice in a cage, but when we saw them literally reenacting all of human history, Mike and I were astounded. The crucifixion and resurrection was particularly moving and encouraged us both to reexamine our own lives; but it was when one of the mice started calling himself Oppenheimer and secluded himself away in the little mouse bunker, that Mike and I decided the experiment had gone as far as we felt comfortable. We still don't know what to do with the two pellets that mouse produced, each in disproportionate size to the other, but we have them stored away someplace safe and secure. After that, Mike gave me his basic note outlines that inspired me to push every germ of a concept that Mike had into directions he'd never dreamed of. In the end, I am less interested in producing something that is historically allegorical--say for instance, following established Knights Templar history, or some mythological source--than I am in using historical, mythological, religious, or sociological concepts as a mere starting point to see where I can create a fantastic and ultimately satisfying tale. Telling a good story that engages the reader on multiple levels is my true goal; if the story I create can be enjoyed simply as a story first, then any individual deeper meanings taken from it are gravy.

Brickthrower: So honestly - WHO did more work? Mike or Bryan? ((I'm a writer Bryan so no matter what Mike says I'll be agreeing with you))

Oeming: No question about it, Bryan did. Seriously, the time he's spent writing and creating history, a glossary, language, rules and mythos. For as detailed as the art is here, it goes by really fast. Hell, I drew like 15 pages or so in a week near the end of issue one, is that right Bryan?

BJLG: Obviously I was the one doing far more work, as Mike had me chained in the basement and allowed only the occasional conjugal visit from my wife Judy. But the quality of the work in the end has now made all of those years of suffering worth it! If we were talking actual hours spent at a keyboard or the drawing board, I'd have to humbly submit myself as the guy that's logged the most hours on the mice thus far. One of the neat things about our mutual vision for THE MICE TEMPLAR is that we both agreed that we wanted the entire story finished before Mike even started drawing page one. The entire 25+ issue story of Karic is complete in excruciating detail: every issue, every event, each character arc and sweeping flow of the story has been finished since last November. The entire saga can be read in the form of a minimalist novella (which we may add to the comic, trade or website in installments as each arc comes to its close, so that fans can see how the finished product ultimately matched the original vision). This was not accomplished until after I completed an equally ambitious chronicling of all Mice Templar history. And only then did I finally script the 50-page issue #1 that Mike started drawing in January.

Oeming: Oh yeah, let's not forget our colorist WIL QUINTANA who did an amazing job at turning around a 50-page book so fast. His colors really add to the world in very much the same way as the line art and writing does. He's amazing.

BJLG: Let me address one aspect of the perceived MOUSE GUARD controversy that is utterly absurd: that we were inspired in any way by David Peterson's wonderful creation is absolute nonsense and a personal insult. I was in the midst of literally HUNDREDS of pages of Mice Templar history, myth, character, back-story and plot on the night Mike first sent me a link to check out the earliest MOUSE GUARD material online. Mike was instantly devastated and wanted to quit. I told him that I hadn't spent the past couple years creating all of this material just so that someone else with a mouse book could bring it to an end. We both knew we had an epic on our hands with extraordinary potential, and I convinced him to persevere. The second absurd aspect of all this is Mike's track record as a creator. In addition to his established work on titles like THOR, ARES, STORMBREAKER, OMEGA FLIGHT, SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS and RED SONJA, Mike has established a reputation for creating startling original works, like SHIP OF FOOLS, POWERS, HAMMER OF THE GODS, BASTARD SAMURAI, PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE, SIX, QUIXOTE, 86 VOLTZ: THE DEAD GIRL, BLOOD RIVER, WINGS OF ANANSI, and THE CROSS BRONX. Exactly what aspect of Mike's 15+ year career in comics is it that suggests he needs to take advantage of anybody else's idea. The greatest irony of all is that we first learned about MOUSE GUARD when a close friend of Mike contacted him about "this dude [who] is totally ripping you off!" That "dude" turned out to be David Peterson, a terrific guy and a brilliantly talented artist who is going to go down in comic history as one of the greats. And David wasn't ripping anybody off, as he knew nothing about the previously published MICE TEMPLAR story and was creating his own thing. We all respect and admire each other greatly. And yet there are still a small handful of these particularly insecure fans that have found a wonderful book in MOUSE GUARD and invested so much of their own identity into it[; so much so] that they now seem threatened by the concept of competition--of similar concepts playing out with different themes. The biggest joke of it all is how these fans believe they are actually displaying some kind of loyalty by commenting on and pre-convicting a book they've not even seen or read yet, as well as making moral judgments against its creators. It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. A paraphrase of what I posted on Newsarama, that in only one year, none of the comparisons will matter, and the real winners will be the fans of this genre that will have a multitude of unique visions to enjoy!


Check out these exclusive pages from issue #2 of Templar, as well as colored image above of the cover to Issue # 3!

Mice Templar will be available in your local comic shop this Wednesday. Be sure to buy a copy or 2.


~Till Next Time Kittlings.


Random Notes

Things I’ve been watching this week:
Palm Pictures The Directors Label Box Set, because this collection of music videos is brilliant. My favorite is probably Jonathan Glazer’s which touts not only Radiohead’sStreet Spirit” but UNKLE’s “Rabbit in the Headlights” AND Massive Attack’s “Karmacoma.” His style goes from intense color to stark black and white with ease. In my opinion, the perfect video collection - and a must have for your next party. There are more videos, but also probably the shortest amount available with the set. But every single video is a gem.

I also started Pan’s Labryinth but fell asleep and have yet to put it back in the DVD player. The Office (British Edition) also found its way into the PS2.

As I write this I’m watching Top Chef and that jerk Hung just broke down some chickens like its his job. Which of course, it is.

Things I’ve missed this week:
Rock of Love…sigh…what does it hurt?
And I’m kinda sad that I have only 2 shows that I’m following religiously and I missed the skankier of them.

Things I’ve been reading this week:
Sandman: The Kindly Ones

Web sites occupying way too much of my time:
Warren Ellis’ Club of Mars on Ning.com. I hate that bastard sometimes for his ability to make us gather; “us” being the loyal [Bad Signal] and Internet Jesus followers. But it’s a fun little site to play with so far.

~Till Next Time Kittlings. (sorry this is a short one - busy week at the real job)


The Baldwin Progression

I was watching a recent episode of 30 ROCK where Alec Baldwin plays studio executive Jack; he portrays the typical “suit” with a calm intimidation about him. While his character is undesirable in the sense that he is arrogant and safe in the knowledge that he is better paid and more powerful than the other characters he interacts with (SNL alumni Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan), I still found myself quite partial to Baldwin. I started to ponder where this appeal of Alec came from as I remember despising him as a child. And sure, to despise someone you have never met—and as an innocent child for that matter—may sound strange to some people but I am adamant that fellow lovers of pop culture know exactly what I mean. Those of us who worship at the altar of Pop culture define themselves by likes and dislikes; our opinions on famous people and media are crafted after “research,” and can be drastically altered by one TV show or film that doesn’t sit well. So armed with my own youthful impressions and IMDB.com, I started to decipher the reason why I have gone pro-Alec as of late.

I remember the late 80’s/early 90’s Alec Baldwin of my childhood. He was the thinking woman’s sex symbol then, all slick-backed hair and piercing blue-eyed stare. Upon perusal of Baldwin’s IMDB.com list of work, it becomes every more apparent that I have selectively forgotten he movies where played more endearing characters and seem to clin to his arrogant villain roles like Baldwin in Malice. I never found Alec particularly physical attractive and his prideful roles seem to translate to real life with me, making him even more unappealing.

(Side Note: Beetlejuice is one of those films that I enjoyed and enjoyed Baldwin in but somehow the character he played is disconnected from my ideas of him—why? Maybe it was the brown hair…heh.)

But with 1999 came a film that seemed to change my attitude about Alec forever, and that film was Outside Providence. Outside…is the story of a deadbeat kid (and his deadbeat friends and family) who finds a better a life in the established private school he is sent to after being expelled from the public system.

Baldwin plays the main character’s father: a grizzled single dad with a slightly kind demeanor about him who does well to hide it. The movies is a sweet one, a romantic comedy above all else but it was Baldwin’s turn in his supporting role that is most memorable to me. He is the solo parent who doesn’t know just how to talk to his kids but tries the best he can. And it is in his actions that show how much he cares about his children over everything. Perhaps it is this similarity to my own father that changed my opinion of him. But I can pinpoint this time to when I officially became a “friend” of Alec.

This is also around the time that I recall Alec’s addition of grey hair and weight gain—a humanizing trait that lessened the “greater than thou” demeanor of his. Since Outside Providence Baldwin had continued to play arrogant pricks (his Pan Am President Juan Trippe comes to mind from The Aviator) but his aging into a distinguished actor has earned him a place among other gentleman like Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall. They are the proper men of Hollywood: avoiding tabloids and drama with the greatest of ease. Baldwin’s voice-over work in cartoons like Thomas the Tank Engine and Fairly Oddparents, (and as per my boss TDaniel "and how could you forget the GREAT voice-over work in Royal Tennenbaums?!?") only solidifies him as a respectable actor in my eyes. And yes, there was the controversy with the cell phone message he left for his daughter - but I can overlook that knowing the set-up (the tape being released by Kim Basinger's lawyer) and so forth. His humor (SNL's "Schwetty Balls" sketch) and his wit outweigh any legal battles he's having at the moment.

So maybe it was always apparent to you my kittlings, but for me, it took some weight gain and aging to make me an Alec Baldwin fan.


~Till Next Time Kittlings



Since I didn't get to go to WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO THIS YEAR...
(an oldie but goodie - mr MARK MILLAR and I battle it out regarding his work THE ULTIMATES VOLUME 1- who wins??? Read on!!! This was from Wizard World Chicago 2004)

Mark Millar, like my favorite PYTHON Michael Palin, is now dubbed by me “The Nicest One” in the comic books business. He uses his Scottish accent to make everything truth; and his charming UK-ways have given him his own special nickname: The Scottish Rogue.
To state first the premise of our Chicago meeting, take a trip back in time with me to the DYNAMIC FORCES FAN FEST in Runnemede, NJ and I quote myself in italics:

MILLAR totally impressed me with his story-telling and the promise of one free drink per correct question answered in "ULTIMATES QUIZ 2004," an epic battle pitted against me and MILLAR set for WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO this August.

What followed was a borderline stalking relationship. If there is one thing that Mark will try to increase, it's his and every other UK’s ultra hip, hard drinking, shag-ready lifestyle. If it’s one thing he’s quick to avoid, its organizing. Although he promised to send me all 12 issues of THE ULTIMATES and other recent work; I never received it; and although he swore on his first born that the quiz would indeed take place, the bastard did not want to nail down a time, a day, so I was forced to settle for a place and a promise via email. Maybe I’m new to the scene, but I felt the need to have the set-up, the score and all that planned prior to our trip. Mark finally succumbed to my pressuring and threatening emails with a Friday date at KNUCKLES in the HYATT HOTEL.

Nervousness began to succumb around 1pm when I had my first glass of wine for the day (they had alcohol @ the convention--An addition I would like to request at every subsequent convention I attend!) and a chance meeting with Rob Van Dam-scoping and buying toys hardcore incognito. I decided to case the MARVEL booth for Mark. I was able to catch him as he arrived for his signing. He came over and gave me a hug and spoke his Scottish gibberish, assuring we were still on for the evening. After a few hours of crashing from jet lag, followed by primping and a nice dinner, we headed over to the HYATT aka “Talent and Fanboy Central.”

Everyone who was anybody in the little clique known as the comic biz was there. This was equally balanced by a whole plethora of message board elite and fanboy alike. I walked into on Jim Mahfood (who did a kickass TRANSMETROPOLITAN-related sketch of Daphne from his comic GRRL SCOUTS) talking with Brian Michael Bendis. I requested the whereabouts of Mark, and was pointed straight back to the bar. After staring down eye candy John Cassaday, I approached Mark who was downing GUINNESS like water and a smile that lit up the whole room.

Words to the wise people: when engaging in conversation with Mark it is quite necessary to maintain physical contact throughout the entirety of your interaction with him. Mark’s internal Scottish charm clock is on 24/7 and works double time when he’s been drinking. His magnetism and need to relate insane stories of the rest of his comic creator alumni drives him to newer and better conversations by the minute. We met Laurie and Victor, fans from last year that Mark befriended with the kindness displayed only by Mark or the perpetually drunk. After a few drinks, a shot of Tequila and vice like grip to his arm to keep him with me, Mark and I went out first round with the ULTIMATES QUIZ 2004.

The Rules? 2 Rounds, 5 Questions Each. For every correct answer, Mark promises to buy me a drink the next night post-con. Let’s see how the events went down with

Round 1:
Mark Millar Question #1 (MMQ1): What was the name of the soldier in WWII in the first issue of THE ULTIMATES that has a bullet rip through his helmet, and that helmet is given to Cap in a later issue?

I stutter and hesitate…not knowing is easily noticed in my eyes…Mark realizes this.

I think I don’t owe you a drink my dear! I don’t think you read my book!

Mary E. Brickthrower (MB):
I did! I did! I don’t know the answer. Who am I kidding. I let Mark give me the answer.



Once again I feel that this is going downhill VERY FAST…I'm kept alive b
y having him repeat the question, I spring to life—finally!

MB: JARVIS? MM:: Hey! (he points at me and nods) 1-2. So far, so good.

: GIANT MAN, in issue 2, he’s trying out the whole formula in the lab right? What is the maximum height a human being can be—[before his body is destroyed]?

Oh yes baby…I didn’t even let him finish this whole question, I was that ready.
MB: 60 feet. (nod my head in unison with Mark oh yeah pimp style!)

2 drinks, I owe you 2 drinks. You’re doing ok!
: What is the name of BUCKY BARNES’s wife…and the reason this is so important is that she was CAP’s sweetheart in the 1940’s.

MB: GAIL (answered with complete and total confidence)

: That’s it…you’re one smart cookie. End of this round now.

5: Who was Betty having dinner with—[when the HULK appeared]

Another question in which I stopped The Scottish Rogue short, having the answer already on my tongue:

4 for 5 and Ze Brickthrower was winning?!? Believe me when I say I could’ve gasped in astonishment. I proceeded to do my white girl celebrating of “raising the roof” which luckily was not recorded with a camera. Our lengthy distance from the bar and Chicago’s silly rule of closing time of 1am had us worried more about consuming all the alcohol we could, that we agreed Round 2 would take place in his swanky HYATT executive room.

Mark is good at talking up his friends, and sure enough WIZARD did provide some BUD LIGHT and friendly conversation when the bar closed and the crowd spilled into the lobby
. Mark continued to chat up the ladies, drink with a furor only seen in Europeans and from there we gathered a small entourage for...

Round 2:

: Ok, we’re on question #6, so far I’m winning… I think I’m kicking your ass.

MM: You’re doing well, I’ll admit it.

:What was the name of the guy that replaced Hank Pym as the head of the program to discover the “Super Soldier Serum”, and he’s a real person, and my doctor. And in issue 7 of THE ULTIMATES.

Once again, he started me out with this question that made me want to admit defeat right away. I hadn’t a bloody clue. Not a one.

: EAMONN BRANKIN. (a comment in the room that Mark had just asked a very good question). So you’ve done 4 for 6, which is still very respectable.

MMQ7: What is the name of the alien race in issue 8, the shape changing race, they were known
as SKRULLs but the ancient Africans called another name.

Oh bloody Christ on a cross! I knew it…but I didn’t…I had been quizzed that morning, but could not recall. I harbored a guess, hoping not to butcher the name too much.


MM:Close enough. THE CHITAURI.

It was coming down to the final 2 questions, and I was getting more amped than ever. I attempted to take advantage of his drunkenness by asking if we were on our last one…but that Scottish Rogue is a sly one.

MMQ8: The name of th
e city where CAPTAIN AMERICA kicks HANK PYM’s ass in a pub called THE RED LION, and it was in a very very familiar city. And the RED LION is a real pub in this city…

Over-confidence struck. I answered before even thinking…

: New York right? Mark just shook his head and I knew
that I was now 5 for 8.

: What state/area was the fight against THE CHITAURI fought at?

: Nebraska? (another guess on my part, cycling through the names and places I could recall in the city).

MM:No…ARIZONA. Ok…last question.

: NICK FURY: what lev
el of the military is he as the leader of THE ULTIMATES? As in, a corporeal, or whatever?

I would not make the same mistake again…I took my time with this one and thought about the last issue.

Which I had only read once because I enjoyed issues 1-6 much better.

: General.

: 8 out of 10! [Ze Brickthrower’s note here: I have no idea where Mark got his total from. But we were all just the tiniest bit tipsy and no one disagreed. So thank you for that extra drink MM!!!]

MB: (here I give Mr. Millar a handshake from
across the table) Thank you so much! I can’t believe I got that many right!
Victorious! Impressed more than anyone has myself and my exceptional ability of recalling a book that I went into holding a grudge of sorts (CAPTAIN AMERICA? SAMUEL L. JACKSON as NICK FURY? Surely you jest Mark sir!). A Scot with a knack for writing characters that are not only involved and personality—heavy but hella slick as well. We ended the evening with a promise to meet up the next day (actually the same day, considering we didn’t leave for our hotel until 4am that morning).

I wasted the day away trying to decide what 8 drinks I would have Mark pay up for my championing over him. The request came, as we sat in our usual corner spot at KNUCKLES, of 8 RED DEATHS. A RED DEATH is a shot most easily described as a KAMIKAZE and an ALABAMA SLAMMER combined. This was a shot no one at the bar had ever heard of, so KAMIKAZE’s it was. Mark ordered them for me, and as the “winnings” sat before me, I was thinking “Millar is a genius! He may have to pay for 8 drinks, but I was the one that was paying by becoming instant entertainment for the crowd that evening with my drunkenness. But I had to prove something. Not only could I win a quiz on a bloody superhero book but also I could do 8 KAMIKAZE’s as if I was TONY STARK himself. And damn it if I didn’t down the shots in 2 minutes flat (or so Mark timed). The real feat of the night. I did NOT throw up once…

The rest of the night was more drinking, more debauchery that only a lot of alcohol, stories of strip clubs and stories from that only the Scottish Rogue could provide. And there is no way I could not love a more gracious person such as Mark than the description he used for me in the company of my pal Koop:

“You are the American version of JENNY SPARKS.”

I know he probably says this to all the girls, but as for me he is: Anglophile approved, as one Brickthrower’s eyes gleamed with delight.
~Till next time Kittlings!


The FUZZ hath Forsaken Me...

I jumped the gun with my Hell's Kitchen finale coverage, as tonight is the actual throw-down that will determine the winner. Last week's episode showed Rock and Bonnie sharing time with their families, visiting Vegas and being judged on their "signature" dish. Bonnie took the win on that one and so her prize was to have 1st pick on her Sous Chef for the big night in the kitchen. Several alumni from this season returned and it was really no surprise when Bonnie picked Jen straight outta the box. She also chose Melissa, a surprising pick over Julia, except for the fact that Julia was breaking down and crying every few seconds due to the fact that she was feeling let-down by not being in the final 2. Julia is Bonnie's final pick. Rock takes all the men (Brad, Vinnie and Josh - in that order) and we're geared up for menu-to-menu for the final episode of this intense show.

Did you know that Mr. Ramsay was sued for his Kitchen Nightmares show and the supposed fabrication of scenes by restaranter Martin Hyde. The NY TIMES has reported that the case has been thrown out of court but will now go into arbirtration. Read the full story here ==> http://www.nypost.com/seven/08102007/news/regionalnews/tv_chef_out_of_frying_pan_regionalnews_kati_cornell.htm
I was ecstatic when my copy of Hot Fuzz finally came from Netflix this past Saturday. I was bored by the end of the film. VERY bored. What a shame too - as I've been Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright fans since their Britcom Spaced, co-created with Jessica Stevenson. Seriously my favorite Sitcom that is not comedy troupe related. Despite the plethora of cameos, the laugh-out-loud scenes are few and far between and the ending seems to take forever to actually come to an end. The outtakes are brilliant however.

The movie I did watch this weekend and was fully surprised at how interesting, funny, and sweet it was was Stranger Than Fiction. The story follows Howard Crick (Will Ferrell) through his daily life, until he (and the viewer) discovers that he is a character being written about by Karen Eiffel (EmmaThompson) - a famous author renowned for killing off her main characters. I was in a weepy mood so I was bawling by the end. But it was such a lovely little tale, and Dustin Hoffman really shines. While Will Ferrell can be a bit too "Will Ferrell" at times, he becomes rather convinceable by the end. This was certainly not the film I was expecting to be recommending to people as I thought Hot Fuzz was a sure thing; but here I am kittlings, telling you to bump up Stranger Than Fiction on your Netflix list and forget about the Fuzz.
Till Next Time Kittlings~


The Thursday Night Threak-OUT!

So this week I read Burying Sandwiches (story and illustrations by Rob Sato, text written and edited by Rob Sato and Elle Veven). Goddard recommended it - obviously because of its "goth" sensibility. Black and white, factor in lack of food and little black creatures running around and hell! You've got a comic and Goth would love.

Yes, I often describe myself as a "Business Goth." I go to goth clubs to dance (but not exclusively as Josh Wink is my favorite DJ besides Drum and Bass master DJ Dieselboy), my attire is mostly black, grey and red. I like Living Dead Dolls and "dark things" - ok fine - I'm a goth. But Burying Sandwiches would appeal to anyone not just the funny goth crowd like me. Anyone sick of fitting in, anyone sick of normalcy in the very root of the word.

The story follows poor little Janice as she doesn't understand nor agree with eating. Her view is shown so beautifully in its most grotesque. Does anyone remember Angela from My So Called Life talking about eating? Chewing; how the very act is obscene and insane that it's some thing we do in public? This short little graphic novel reminded me of this. I was both empathetic to Janice's plight but also curious. NO FOOD SATIATED HER? The girl becomes a world-class cook, studying and preening to be make the most amazing food imaginable. And none of it is appealing to her. Except of course the black little beasties that she craves more than anything. Want more explanation? Read the delightful Burying Sandwiches and be happy that you enjoy even the simplest pleasures of fast food like McDonalds French Fries or the most heightened delicacy such as beluga caviar.

RUSH HOUR 3 = ? was anyone asking for this? Don't get me wrong, I was quite a fan of the 1st movie. But the 2nd movie was utterly forgettable and this movie just doesn't look fit for even the biggest Chris Tucker or Jackie Chan fan. WTF I say!? WTF?

And finally, this would be Bar Comic #1 and #2, courtesy of Goddard and I this week. Blame it on the beer, blame it on the need for me to do something other than a crossword. Dammit though, I love to create in the comic form - even if my art is awful. I have an artistic boy behind me - we do panel by panel works of "art?" I usually start, he finishes - that sounds kinky. Enjoy kids.=)

(for full size)
Till Next Time Kittlings~


The Most Honest Review of STARDUST you'll ever read.

We were able to procure advance tickets to Stardust through my friend Ange, and because it was quite a big group of us heading to the show, the party atmosphere was in high-swing. Drinks were had, and I don’t want to incriminate anyone, but someone in our group *COUGH* Goddard *COUGH* smuggled in some Beefeater Wet Gin and Juice into the theater. What better way to celebrate this Neil Gaiman novel coming to the silver screen than by having a couple swigs from the old flask?

I have not read the novel on which this film was based, but was given a short synopsis beforehand by my fellow viewers. Apparently a lot of the beginning is skimmed over but it’s not important to the story. The film starts out interesting enough. A son (Tristan played by Charlie Cox) is born to mortal man Dunstan (young Dunstan Ben Barnes) and entrapped princess Una (Kate Magowan) in a magical world beyond a wall that is guarded by a very old man. Tristan is raised by his Dunstan and has fallen in love with slightly rich-bitch Victoria (Sienna Miller).

In the magical elseworld, on the other side of the wall, a King (Peter O'Toole) is dying and his 7 sons (some of which are just ghosts, hanging out and haunting the rest of the family) are vying for the kingship. In his final gesture, the king chucks his Ruby necklace out the window and proclaims that whichever son retrieves it will be deemed his processor. Old man has a mighty throw, as the ruby flies into the sky and knocks a star so hard that falls to the ground. Tristan and Victoria are sharing a drink that evening, and Victoria spies the falling star. She tells Tristan that if he can retrieve the star for her that she will marry him.

Tristan tells his father (old Dunstan played by Nathaniel Parker) of his journey and his understanding father gives him some magic items to help his son on his quest.

Tristan is not the only one that sees the falling star, as it turns out 3 elder witches also witness this and make plans to get the star for themselves, as it seems the power the star possesses will regenerate them into youthful beauties once more – Michelle Pfeiffer plays the main witch and takes the last of their previous captured stars’ power to transform into a youthful beauty and gain the strength she needs to ensnare the newly fallen star.

Tristan uses this magic to find the star Yvaine (Claire Danes) and he is able to trap her with another bit of magic…

Then, um, I fell asleep. I cannot lie dear readers, either the limited special effects or perhaps the gin did a number on my brain and I took a little nap right there in the theater.

I awoke to see Robert DeNiro (as Captain Shakespeare) prancing on the screen in a brassiere and panties, the audience was laughing heartily. I guess it seemed funny enough.

Not funny enough to keep me awake however, as I fell asleep again.

I was roused for the last 20 minutes of the movie, the epic fight between good and evil, the “misunderstanding”, the realization of true love, the crowning of the true king, and all that jazz. Honestly, what I saw was pretty cute, Michelle Pfeiffer was delightfully evil. Apparently Ricky Gervais makes a cameo that I missed. The special effects weren’t great and that got on my nerves. And that’s all I got folks…I guess I should’ve napped beforehand. =)


I got to have a little chat with comic book artist pal Reverend Dave Johnson on Saturday and learned of some tid-bits I thought my kittlings might be interested in. 1st off, it looks like Johnson’s art will make an appearance at some point on Drink and Draw alumni Kat Von D’s new show entitled LA INK, premiering on TLC August 7th @ 10pm. He told me he signed a release for the art to appear on the show, so be on the look out for some Reverend-y goodness at some point in the season.

And if you dig on the Micronauts, keep your fingers crossed for Warner Bros. to launch a cartoon series, as Johnson has been given a green-light to develop the show. Keep in mind that his art direction project (BEN 10) was in development for over 2 years, so we have some waiting on our hands, but nevertheless this is some excellent news for Johnson and Micronauts fans alike. I have seen some of the preliminary art and it looks FAN-Fing-TASTIC!!! We will all be in for a treat if this show is picked up!

And finally, I have a little BONUS for my faithful readers, as Aaron Plante wrote this little story of possible fame and fortune as he exploits the white trash in the Poconos. Aaron traveled there this past weekend with friends for a white water rafting trip. Enjoy!


I have tried to contact most of you, but for those of you who don't know, this weekend is big for all of us because we will be premiering the first-ever film short dedicated to our weekend. That's right, all of you attending will be stars. The goal is simple: create a short detailing our adventures, post on YouTube, get the hell clicked out of it and start a film company called Cracker Crumbs, Inc., generate more senseless shorts for the cubicle-curious and sell it to Google in two years for a cool $60 million. (Of which I promise each of you $8.37.)

The film will be titled:
"Pocono Rapid Nights...the legend of Jimmy Thorpey"
or "A River Runs Through Ricky Bobby's Nights"
or "Days of Pocono Thunder"

The Plot:
A group of friends travel to Lake Harmony, Pa for a whitewater weekend extravaganza. Locals inform them days before their weekend that the lake and surrounding area will be overshadowed by the arrival of a strange and mystical race of inbred humanoids called "NASCARdigans." They take human form upon arrival and can only be distinguished from authentic humans by the addition of their unique communications devices affixed to their heads. These devices mimic human hair but sport cilliated spikes on the top of the head to intercept incoming signals and long swooping antennae in the back to send signals.

Peter Chauncer, the only known survivor of a NASCARdigan attack in Daytona, Florida, overheard them calling the comm links "MULti-Link Electro-biologic Telecommunicators" or MULLETs. Peter is still recovering at an undisclosed mental hospital. According to Peter, NASCARdigans use these MULLETS to quickly transfer information between each other and they also serve to block cell phone and Wi-Fi frequencies making it difficult for urbanites to communicate in rural locales. See attached photos for example.

Many NASCARdigans also employ the use of Commlink Apex Proclaimers (CAPs) to boost signal transductions and display their comm link channel (i.e., "#8," "#3," "#24" etc.). They are also frequently seen with cans of nutritional substances dubbed "Containers Having Essential Aggregate Personal Beneficial Environmental Enhanced Rations" (CHEAPBEER). Although serving no known purpose, they may also be seen in sleeveless shirt.

The movie will highlight the battle between the forces of good, evil and heavy drinking. Our group of friends will come into intermittent contact with the NASCARdigans and individual sub-plots will also be featured.

The film will end with a fierce battle, as the remaining members of the whitewater group head into certain assimilation as they go into the heart of the NASCARdigan's fortress: The Pocono Raceway.

Volunteers are needed for this final scene. Please reply if you will be able to make it for race day so we can have our insider acquire the correct amount of Terra Identification Council Konfirmed Existence Tags (TICKETS).

Only you can make this film successful!

Oh and we'll need to confirm who's bringing what for food, because we've been told on several occasions that the NASCARdigans pillage local food outlets not only for CHEAPBEER, but also to destroy our food supply in the hopes of crippling us.
Start yur ingines and see youz at the track.

Till next time Kittlings~
(((PIC #1, naptime for Mary @ the STARDUST screening; Pic #2- a part of the movie I was actually awake for, Michelle Pfeiffer on a quest for a star; Pic# 3 - KAT VON D gearing up for her new show on TLC)))


Full House of Love for Rent; Hell's Kitchen Included!

I have seen the future of theater, and it is Bitter Cocktail's Production of Full House: Live! We saw this innovative stage show last Saturday and I must say that it keeps the hope alive that theater will continue to thrive instead of die out with the senior citizens that are the largest demographic of patrons presently.

Full House: Live! takes 2 episodes from that the seminal sitcom’s heyday and gives it the edge it never had before. Michelle is played by a full-grown woman (credited to Leigh Ann “and Ashley” Brienza) and her actions and lines are delivered seeping with sexual innuendo. To complement her sex appeal is Jesse Katsopolis (John D’Alonzo) whose lasciviousness is focused mainly on Michelle although his lechery extends even to the insufferable next-door neighbor Kimmy Gibbler (Stephanie Kornick). Father Danny Tanner (Joseph Nevin) is never without his handy dishtowel, DJ (Damian Bellino) is played by a man and Uncle Joey (Amanda Damron) is a drag king, there is even a band that opened the show with the original theme song and provided dramatic music for Danny’s talks with his daughters. The character that really shined in her role was Alyssa Kondracki as Rebecca Donaldson. The lines are the same as in the actual TV show but Kondracki delivers them in such a way to over-emphasize the utter apathy that I now realize Rebecca characterized perfectly.

The beauty of this show lies in the many factors that differentiate it from classic theater. Cheap entry fee ($5), later starting time (10pm) with cash bar, and themed snacks such as cupcakes adorned with pictures of your favorite Full House character give the entire feel of the show a more laid-back vibe. Full House: Live! was sold out 30 minutes before the house opened (no pre-sale) and the humor appealed to a younger crowd. This night out was an afterthought for my boy and myself but we ended up laughing our arses off and dreaming up our own stage-shows…Saved by the Bell or Beverly Hills: 90210 perhaps??

Hell’s Kitchen has been in full-swing FURY since my favorite bastard Gordon Ramsay abruptly kicked Josh off mid-service 2 episodes ago (and good riddance!). To have Julia leave that same week was depressing but also inspiring as Ramsay is paying to send her to culinary school. That girl’s got hella talent and no doubt we will be seeing more of her in the future (I hope!). This week’s episode saw the end of Jen, who was way too much of a crybaby anyway, and the final 2 (Rock and Bonnie will square off next week for Mr. Ramsay’s respect, and the keys to the Green Valley Resort kitchen.

My guiltiest pleasure? The show that reserves my spot in the stupidest part of hell? That would be Rock of Love, the VH1 drivel that puts Poison lead-singer Bret Michaels in a house with some of the skankiest gals you’ve ever seen and begs the question: Will Bret find true love? I'm not sure if he actually can considering they would have to live forever--sorry this dude looks like a vampire to me, I'm pretty sure he stole those piercing blue eyes from Lestat himself. Some of the girls are just tattooed and crazy (Jes and Lacey), some are downright stupid and slutty (Heather and Brandi C), and then there is Cindy aka "Rodeo" who intrigues me more than any other contestant because I swear to god she is pushing 50. She looks like Bret’s rowdy aunt that used to strip by the airport. It may be lowest common denominator fodder even trashier than Flavor of Love, but dammit if I can’t wait for the next episode.