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Jay Allen  Sanford WHAT I'M WATCHING:

Jay Allen  Sanford WHAT I'M WATCHING:

 Man, I can hardly find a single positive word about this movie online, and I’m frankly mystified – given one of the most dubious and potentially pointless tasks in movie history, “Make a sequel to Donnie Darko,” I feel the filmmakers did a thoughtful and somewhat marvelous job.  

It’s no Donnie Darko, don’t get me wrong – the original is one of my all time faves, but this story of Donnie’s little sister Samantha isn’t meant to be and shouldn’t be taken as a “continuation,” despite taking place a few years later. Rather, it’s more of a flipside – the Darko universe, where timeslips can cause ripple effects that destroy reality, as it relates to the “manipulated dead,” who are charged with the task of at least attempting to mend the damage. Whether they want to or not.


Frank the Doomsayer Bunny in the original Darko was one of the manipulated dead – this time, Frank’s POV is examined as his task falls on others (note the plural – S. Darko isn’t just the story of Donnie’s sister, even if it seems to be during the first hour or so…it’s that sort of Serling/M Night/O Henry/D Darko turnaround of all you thought you knew that allows S. Darko to successfully capture the feel of the original, while telling an altogether different story).



I recommend that S. Darko viewers listen to the DVD commentary, and you’ll see what I mean about the careful thought and consideration put into it by the writer and director. Every little detail in their film fits perfectly into world(s) portrayed in the original cult classic. They are clearly true fans of Donnie, and they truly understood (as well as anyone can) the universe created for the characters to exist within ---


Part of S. Darko’s appeal, for me, is the LOOK – filmed with a new “red camera” technology that allows for digital film that still closely mirrors 35mm, I was astounded by the Utah landscapes and the way the characters and their dusty little town appear so crisply delineated, yet still so warmly rendered, with a depth of field that flatters and beautifies both inanimate objects and the charismatic cast, all of whom are outstanding.



I’d single out S. Darko herself, Daveigh Chase, reprising her original sparse role in the original as Donnie’s little sister Samantha, as particularly riveting. Not just because she’s lovely, but for her wandering and ethereal portrayal of a lost young woman whose fate – in life and beyond – is something she seems to already know that she has no control over.


Samantha even keeps acting out her fate in various ways, as if rehearsing for a play she’s never read and doesn’t even know exists, before it actually happens to her, remaining aloof and apart from the world around her, even as events in her life illustrate her integral (if involuntary and possibly unwilling) role in saving that world.




Some people in the Darko universe have the power to change the future – but, perversely and sadly, others are doomed to play supporting roles that ensure the big-picture events play out fated. Else the universe could be destroyed.



SPOILER ‘GRAPH (most obvious spoiler, anyway): Great to be the essentially superpowered (or at least hyper-evolved, or super-aware) Donnie – except you have to die to save everyone. Bummer to be his sister, or to be one of the Manipulated Dead – except their role in saving the universe is no less important, perhaps even more so, else the powerful Donnie(s) would never know what to do or how to do it (or even that anything needs to be done at all).


OR, think of it this way – gotta have apostles, even tho there’s only one Jesus, and he gets to call the shots AND gets all the glory. But every single thing we (think we) know about the Jesus story comes from the apostles, doesn’t it, and how could Jesus’ have happened without them???? ----


Sher, there are some “red herring” bits that never really pay off (and may in fact be continuity errors) in S Darko – same with Donnie, tho I admit it’s more of a challenge to piece together what you’ve just seen after viewing S. However, I DID find myself thinking about S a lot after viewing, reaching several “aha” conclusions that may or may not be valid or intended. Just like after I viewed Donnie the first time (and the second, third, and fourth times).



And the new metal bunny head, obsessively created and worn by Iraq Jack even tho it makes his head bleed, totally rocks! THIS is a bunny that’d get my attention – and inspire my life-changing and world-changing action – a lot quicker and better than the fuzzy dime-store Frank of the original Donnie!


I have to wonder if someone saw S. Darko who was completely unfamiliar with Donnie wouldn’t find it a fine movie? Maybe they’d love S’s ambiguous and thought-provoking story and cast a bunch, just like so many as they first see Donnie.


S. Darko fills in the backstory enough and efficiently, I feel, so maybe S is best enjoyed by viewers who AREN’T already fans of the Donnie original. Those original fans certainly don’t seem to be the right audience for S, as they seem to universally hate and pan the sequel.



An aside ----- If someone’s first Planet of the Apes movie they see is Escape From the Planet of the Apes, the third entry where the entire story is flipped upside down, they’ll probably like it fine, perhaps even better than the Heston original once they finally see it. The original is great, sure, but Escape – tho completely different – is also a great flick. Same universe, a couple of the same characters, but a wholly different take and setting ---


I wish more people would give S. Darko a chance. It’s no Donnie Darko, sure – but it’s a fine Escape From the Planet of the Apes.

Jay Allen  Sanford  WHAT I’M WATCHING...

 So I finally watched one of the new Futurama movies, Bender's Game - I was falling down laughing ---

"Eat the wizard
eat the slut
eat the robot's shiny butt!"
 The Scary Door/Twilight Zone bit rocked - there were a buncha Scruffy cameos, but my favorite was when I spotted him cleaning up centaur poop. Not sher how many people "get" the Mork attack (the creatures all quote Robin Williams punchlines from the old Mork and Mindy TV show), but I almost bust a gut with this one:
Lela: Is that a hobbit?
Farnsworth: No, it's just a hobo and a rabbit. But they're MAKING a hobbit....
My face hurts again just from typing it ------

Jay Allen  Sanford WHAT I'M WATCHING...

IMDB synopsis: - A fashion model moves into a house inhabited (on the top floor) by a blind priest. She begins having strange physical problems, has trouble sleeping at night, and has some nasty flashbacks of her attempted suicide. She complains to the real estate agent of the noise caused by her strange neighbors, but finds out that the house is only occupied by the priest and herself, and ultimately discovers that she has been put in the house for a reason.

Boy, 1977's the Sentinel is better than I remembered. When I saw it new in theaters as a young teen, I didn't have the patience for the very gradual buildup, and I don't even remember most of the flick. It was a treat to finally re-watch, and see so many later stars like Chris Walken, Jeff Goldblum, and Beverly D'Angelo, not too mention old Hollywood faves like Burgess Meredith, Ava Gardner, and John Carradine.

It's odd how the forces of God are shown to be just as creepy and evil looking as the forces of Satan, and how both are equally uncaring about what they do to innocent humans in order to maintain the cosmic stalemate at Hell's gate??
One thing confused me, tho - were the previous Sentinels murderers, which seemed to be indicated? If so, what did the poor new girl do to deserve the crappy Sentinel gig? It was her boyfriend who allegedly had someone murdered. Then again, the boyfriend also gets killed and zombie-fied, so perhaps the murderers get "sentenced" to hang around the gate, while some innocent is forced to commit suicide and man the gate itself.
I'm also confused about why sentinels need to retire and be replaced - if they kill themselves first in order to work the gig, do they keep aging and "die" again anyway? The film suggested several sentinels had served over just a few generations -----
Anyway, lovable old Burgess Meredith was great in full creepy mode, and (very) old John Carradine was about as scary as I've ever seen! It was an unexpected treat to watch this again so many years later -  

 IMDB synopsis: Hazel (Carol Baker) runs a beauty salon out of her house, but makes extra money by providing ruthless women to do hit jobs. K.T. is a parasite, and contacts Hazel looking for work when he runs out of money. She is reluctant to use him for a hit, since she prefers using women, but decides to try him on a trial basis. Meanwhile, the local cop she pays off wants an arrest to make it look like he's actually doing his job, but she doesn't want to sacrifice any of her "associates." Several other side plots are woven in, populated with characters from the sleazy side of life.
Since I was already in a mid-'70s mood after watching the Sentinel, I finally watched Andy Warhol's Bad, from 1977 - yikes! Felt like I needed a shower when it was done --- it reminded me a bit of early John Waters, but with more bitter and less wit. I almost turned it off a few times - I especially can't handle violence against animals - but then I'd catch some Mike Bloomfield music or hear a great line and decide to stick it out.
 I've seen Carroll Baker from the original Lolita get pretty scuzzy in other movies late in her career, but this one was a shocker. And what a trip to see Susan Tyrell - who I just recently watched in the early Oingo Boingo brothers cult flick Forbidden Zone - as the lone "good guy" in the whole flick (well, until she drops her mongoloid baby in shock from finding Baker's corpse). 
I think I get what the movie is saying RE rampant (& seemingly contagious) immorality overtaking both decency and sanity, especially circa '77 NYC (a cesspool indeed), but I find like-minded movies such as Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, those cynical Death Wish and Magnum Force movies (and even The Warriors) were far less abhorrant (and less abberrant) in the way they portrayed the psycho decline of civility and civilization.

  RTN - the Retro TV Network - has been airing Night Gallery half hour eps each weeknight, and tonight's was one I don't remember seeing before, "Brenda" - turns out Thriller/Zone vet Doug Heyes scripted it, but under a pseudonym.
 Heyes did some of the greatest Twilight Zone eps, like the fondly remembered "Eye of the Beholder," but I'm particularly a fan of his work on Boris Karloff's Thriller, like the "Hungy Glass" episode with Shatner and Russell "Professor" Johnson - even horror author King has said it was one of the most terrifying things he remembers seeing on TV.
"Brenda" is a really strange ep about a mentally unbalanced girl who both befriends and taunts what looks to be a close relative of the Swamp Thing. There are a few Thriller-like and Heyes-like touches, such as back-to-back shots that alternate between pure terror and the young girl's strangely joyful reactions to the terror, like she's watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon instead of seeing her parents practically dumping in their drawers as they realize the swamp creature in their house (that she let in...with a giggle!) is impervious to their weapons.
 (SPOILER PARAGRAPH) The girl is so wacked out that she imagines some kind of love affair with the creature, which sounds silly to type but actually made for a compelling ep, the way the actress played out a year in her character's skewed and psychotic life, managing to seem as if she's grown up when she returns to her monster's island, only to quickly crack back up into the whacked out lonely girl who may either marry or be eaten by her man-thing.
Opinions on "Brenda" are wildly mixed at IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0660795/usercomments
I enjoyed it, tho it was unlike most Gallery eps, and I would have found it worth my half hour even if I hadn't noticed Heyes' credit on the IMDB page -

 Whether or not you're a fan of Will Ferrell...Try Stranger Than Fiction sometime! Seemingly loosely inspired by "Secret Cinema," an obscure cult film by Paul "Eating Raoul" Bartel, Ferrell's character suddenly hears an unseen narrator telling his life story, with foreshadowing and hints of worrisome events to come. Ferrell seeks out Dustin Hoffman, who has written about writing and seems to understand that Ferrell is a character in a story and must do certain things that adhere to certain narrative structures.


 One of the more interesting aspects of the movie is how Ferrell's obsessive compulsive disorder is actually illustrated by bits of animations that show us how his compartmentalized mind is working - surprisingly fine little film that few seem to have heard of, let alone seen.


 Cloverfield FAR exceeded my expectations! It wasn't an A-plus effort but, having heard nothing but "yuck" reviews, I was amazed I liked it as much as I did. Perhaps the whole jiggly camera thing isn't so annoying on a little screen - I imagine in a theater I would have needed dramamine pills to handle all the jerking around. 
 But on a TV screen, I thought it was a unique and entertaining way to tell a story - showing a huge event like a monster tearing down NYC, but focused thru a tiny handheld camera lens.
I watched the making-of docus too, and they were also entertaining, especially to realize how much of the "script" was improvised by actors who weren't even told what the movie was about yet - like the Blair Witch concept, but done far batter and backied with really terrific special FX. 
 I like that the movie doesn't cheat you out of at least one long, slow, intensely closeup look at big ol' Clover.
Far better movie than I was expecting -- tho I still refuse to watch Lost, JJ Abrams is fast becoming one of my favorite count-on Hollywood powerhouses.

BLACK CAESAR, 1973: I've only seen a few vintage "blaxploitation" films, so tonight I'm watching Black Caesar, of interest to me because it was written, directed and produced by ol' Larry Cohen, just a couple years before his inexplicable masterpiece God Told Me To, with the outer space Jesus and the vagina on his chest...that Larry, madman with a camera... 

 Right from the start, the music is top notch! Mainly James Brown, but there's also a cool female-fronted song a girl performs while Fred Williamson shoots up a room fulla white folks. Williamson is probably the only good actor in the whole film, but who can read Larry Cohen's dialogue, in any movie, and come off sounding real. All his movies have such cartoony dialogue, but that's part of the charm of his stuff (other than Q and a coupla others just too awful to recall).


Most of the characters in Black Caesar are hollow and soul-less anyway, so the junior high acting doesn't distract. Williamson is good enough to make up for the others -



I really didn't know what to expect going into it, so it was pretty astonishing to see Williamson smear shoe polish on a guy and make him sing "Mammy"!! A Larry Cohen moment I'll certainly never forget ---


Despite all the grindhouse schlock - much of which I love! - there's a solid little story. The scenes with Williamson breaking his mom's heart and then facing off with his neglectful dad shows Cohen was going for more than machine guns and chase scenes. And, again, the music - wow! Even the most incidental bits of background music are smokin', and perfectly suited to the frequent NYC exteriors.


So now I've seen three or four blaxploitation flicks, and part of one other, Scream Blackula Scream, which was so bad that it caused me actual physical pain, so I shut it off...(for some reason, I can't handle anything with VooDoo, it freaks me out with all the animal mutilation and stuff, hence me never seeing Angel Heart, Serpent and the Rainbow, etc).


So far, Black Ceasar is the best I've seen of this genre ---




Forbidden Zone was an early ‘80s freakfest by the Brothers Elfman, then of the performance art musical group known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (later taken over by Danny Elfman and converted to the Oingo Boingo rock band. Little Herve, soon to be cast in TV's Fantasy Island, stars, which alone should tell you bunches.....


 It reminds me a lot of the early homemade movies by the 70s comedy troupe the Firesign Theatre. If you’re familiar with them, they were making the brainiest 70s comedy records (my faves being the sci-fi I Think We're All Bozos on the Bus and the late night TV spoof Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers). Less known are the Firesign homemade movies, like Eat of Be Eaten and Nick Danger: Third Eye (they also used to overdub comedy dialogue over old movie serials for an 80s Showtime series called Hot Shorts) - Zone was a LOT like those weird old vids.


There was also an element of Sid & Marty Krofft to Zone, which seems about right since the Elfmans grew up on 70s TV shows like HR Pufnstuff, Lidsville, et al. And, funnily, just as I was thinking the B&W and golly-gee-whiz acting reminded me of an old Mickey Mouse Club ep - but on acid - the girl with the Mouse ears showed up ----


I bet anything, tho, that the Elfmans were MOST inspired by Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, for which Zone could practically serve as a sequel, if with more cabaret and less "classical" music. I especially liked Zone's Pythonesque animated sequences, and I'll never be able to hear the words "Pico" or "Sepulveda" without humming that bizarre little musical "Pico and Sepulveda" sequence.


 When the flick ended, I felt like I'd just come off a dicey acid trip, but it was great fun to checkout! Somebody should make a stand-alone video for Danny Elfman's devil sequence (which meticulously recreated the hijinks of several classic cartoons, even using some sound samples from the 'toons) - they could screen it on MTV tomorrow, and I bet few would ever guess it's a quarter century old and not a brand new video by the Killers or My Chemical Romance....


Recently, FMC showed Cover Me Babe – released in 1970, it's got Robert Forster as a student filmmaker, who's obsessed with the idea that "reality" might be more interesting than scripted productions. Especially seedy, sordid reality. He's inspired by the Lee Harvey Oswald shooting that was broadcast live on TV - his big idea is, essentially, reality TV! He tells his film teacher about how someday people's real lives will be filmed, and viewers will come to prefer it over anything scripted - very prophetic! A better movie than I expected, and apparently rarely seen, especially on TV - this version seemed uncut, with nudity intact.

It's not worth any great expense or effort to seek, but fine as an easy diversion - interesting and prophetic, but by no mean a great movie. I can see why it was despised in 1970 - it's only value as a cinematic artifact is achieved by it being almost 40 years later now, and how eerily the film predicted the rise of "reality" entertainment. The very same things that Forster's lead character is hated for screening, those things now win awards and accolades and movie/TV career contracts. Forster's performance is metallic and makes him more unlikable than any film character I can think of outside the a-hole principal in Animal House - and at least HE was funny!

So it's a curios at best, but with out-there and ultimately accurate ideas about media and pop culture, the kind of thing film buffs can appreciate. And (very) young Sondra Locke really isn't bad as one of Forster's long-suffering girlfriends, even tho there's never the slightest indication why she'd put up with his vidiot/savant personality and ways ------


SPOILER ALERT, this is written with the presumption that readerss have seen the first two films - certain events and plot resolutions are openly discussed in various places.

 In the grand tradition of vintage teen grindhouse cinema, along comes a version for the next century. I see strong resemblance in these FD films to the old B&W Carnival Of Souls film, where death is literally the entity catching up with someone, an ethereal woman, who mistakenly lived after an accident and is creating ripples of unrest in reality by surviving. Highly recommended - I have the DVD, Carnival Of Souls is now considered a sort of lost classic. I like the cheesy organ score, done one finger style on a cheap carnival organ by the director himself.

The Final Destination films have an interesting Rube Goldberg way of unfolding events, that is simple minded and amusing amidst the faux-philosophical conversations the otherwise clueless teens are engaging in. Each death is like the old Mousetrap game, obvious the moment the ball starts rolling down the chute, while the teens try to act like it's Rubik's cube unfathomable!

And gawd do I laff at that old coroner who suddenly hands them the answers to the universe between burning bodies, whenever they think to ask him (which has only been twice in two films, whereas you'd think they'd be sitting at his feet trying to pick the mystical genius' brain 24-7! Makes no sense, and is just tossed in as a way to "explain" what death is doing, and it's done so shamelessly cheesy that I like it!)

I take the FD films as a humorous twist on Carnival Of Souls and enjoy them as such. I found #2 very confusing to see first, especially the reintroduction of Bangs and the explanation of how the other survivor of the first film died (I still have no idea what the heck they were talking about). But the early multi-car/truck crash in #2 was riveting and I got sucked into the story, even if it was hard to pickup without even knowing I was watching a sequel (it was on TV for an hour before I looked up the title).

 The teen actors themselves are all blah cyphers, meaningless and interchangeable other than Bangs herself, but the writing and situations are cool, especially the surreal dialogue at the most inappropriate times (I died laffing when, seconds after seeing their friend sliced in two next to the railroad track and his blood still dripping off them, the kid starts lecturing Bangs about his newest intricate theory of the progression of deaths, even before they start running away from the approaching sirens!!).

I like being pleasantly surprised by films I've never heard of. I thought Final Destination was the name of a video game or something. Instead they turn out to be amusing live-action horror variations on Carnival Of Souls Meets Mousetrap. Pretty cool idea!


TCM has been showing the weirdest 1973 psycho killer film, Wicked Wicked. It takes place at the historic (and reportedly haunted) Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, set up to be a residential hotel.

Almost the whole movie is done in split-screen. Not like the TV show 24 where they show different things happening at the same time - instead, the second screen illustrates backstory and foreshadowing with flashbacks, internal thoughts, and just weird little bits of the story - like, on one screen the creepy kid is telling a pretty girl he studied chemistry, and the other screen shows him young and reading a book on embalming.

The music is all soap opera organ (we even see the guy playing it on occasion?!) and the script seems to spoof slasher movies, but it's very well played. It's just so offbeat, I really enjoyed it - I had to stop what I was doing so I could watch closely and absorb the two different POVs running side by side. Never heard of it before - just saw the Hotel Del in the opening shots, and stayed on this channel ------

Aside from some interesting storytelling, it's a love letter to the Hotel Del - a bunch of exterior shots, from different angles, plus the Crown Room, the west bell lobby, the beachfront and fountain pools, and a lot of hall and interior shots that sher look like the Hotel itself.

The "Wicked Wicked" theme song is still stuck in my head - it's performed on stage I think 2 1/2 times, plus it runs over the credits, a schmaltzy James Bond lounge affair...the girl singer kind of gargles the lyrics, but in a creepy cool way that I THINK may have been intentional parody (she may have been doing Sammy Davis Jr) --

Just an odd, interesting little film -

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 (Mild spoiler alert flashing now ---- be-aware -----) 


Okay, the credits are still onscreen, so let me get one thing out of the way first.




Now then, realize that I’m a guy whose entire adult career has involved comics. I worked my way up from retail comic shops (most notably Comics Etc. in the Mira Mesa mall), to wholesale distribution (Pacific Comics, then Diamond Distribution, then Bud Plant), and then I became a comic book creator (around 200 comics, so far) and, eventually, a comic publisher, to some fair measure of success, albeit very little acclaim (see links after review for more). Reader readers know me as the guy behind Overheard In San Diego and Famous Former Neighbors (in case yer new ‘round here - if you are....nice to meetcha, set a spell why dontcha, maybe checkout my comic strips at the above links later if yer looking fer more) -------------


So I’m a big believer in the power of comics, to entertain, to inform, and – at their best - to engage.


Watchmen – The Movie was the most engaging comic book-related movie I’ve seen. And the most entertaining. AND - as I'll get to when I talk about my fellow moviegoers tonight - it most certainly informed. Most amazingly, against all odds,  the film did indeed manage to capture a lot of the storytelling form and underlying heart pioneered so successfully by the original Watchmen comic creators.


Which is not to say it was a perfect movie…..


For one thing, the music misfires. Frequently. Songs by the likes of Simon and Garfunkel and – gawd help us – Nena (“99 Luftballoons,” fer chrissakes), are far too fixed in our real world recollections to be anything but jarring in the Watchmen universe.


 watch2 Never mind that songs like Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” are 10 or 15 years mistimed for the film’s setting in a wonky “alternate timeline” ‘80s.


Yeah, yeah, Luftballoons is about nuclear war, one of the movie’s “big” themes, and Hendrix sings “Two riders were approaching” just as Owl Man and Rorschach are staggering thru the snow to Ozymandias’ arctic hideaway (having ridden there in the Owl Ship) – chuckle chuckle. Now get back to the movie -----


The performances (all but one) are pitch perfect.




They would/will be, I think, even to most people who HAVEN’T read the source comics. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach in particular -- it’s hard to believe that he's the grown-up geeky kid from Breaking Away (a 1979 fave of mine).


The problem with Rorschach, in the film AND the comics, is the apparent celebration of his sociopathic actions/dialogue/costuming/worldview, which is taken a step further yet in the film than in the comics (especially the revolting accompanying movie sound FX, all the more quease-inducing in perfect 21st century Hollywood S-T-E-R-E-O-ON-S-T-E-R-O-I-D-S).




This becomes doubly troubly when one is surrounded by a theater audience peppered with enough of its own sociopaths that Rorschach’s MOST abhorrent actions, and his sickest inner monologues, were greeted with hoots and cheers that didn’t indicate the slightest trace of irony, let alone what should pass as "humor." 


Real people will always be scarier than the worst of movie mustache twirlers ----


BUT, to accept Watchmen as alternate reality – something that could REALLY be real, in a really real world --- for real --- one must accept the premise that there HAS to be a Rorschach in a Watchmen world. As dark is to light, as night to day, yin to yang, frick to frack, Beavis to Butthead....you know what I mean.


The Watchmen world needs Rorschach like it needs air, earth, and water --- if only to counterbalance the childlike, chimerical (and ultimately idiotic) optimism at the other end of the superhero spectrum, the shallow end of the pool, where costumed heroes pose for newspaper photos with their leather hip boots planted heavily atop the unconscious head of a fallen evil-doer.


Where the good guys always win.


When the stars always - eventually - align, for even the most starcrossed of lovers.


Where – to paraphrase Kink-y Ray Davies – heroes never feel pain, and heroes never die.


Rorschach is the deep end of the pool. WAY deep. OFF the deep end, in fact, and falling fast toward bottomless ------


The other characters all ring fairly true to their comic counterparts, and I think they’ll feel real to non-comic types too. Despite (and sometimes thanks-to) the often silly costuming (superheroes, by definition as much as design, dress funny).



I mean, great moviemaking transcends genre, and everything about Watchmen: The Movie is pretty great, from the performances to the costumes, the tech, the script, the minute set details, even Doc Manhattan’s otherworldly blue glow and his occasionally 50-foot penis –


There are so many amazing and striking visuals that I could spend the next ten hours just listing the ones I noticed --- stuff like how the Comedian's teardrops roll down the countour of a jagged facial scar he suffered at the hands of the pregnant mistress he was murdering, with said teardrops then disappearing like phantoms into the graying grizzle of his unshaven (but still cleft and manly) chin.


There’s a much bigger story being told in Watchmen than the end of superheroes, or even the end of the world ----

Bigger even than the various love stories that unfold (a couple of the movie’s other rare misfires happen during the “sex” scenes, even/especially when suddenly there are at least FIVE blue penises flopping around Doc Manhattan's very flustered young girlfriend).


The big picture is the one of humanity itself. Watchmen holds up all the ugly, for all to see, side-by-side with all the love, the power, the piety, and all the other messy ingredients that make up mankind. Holds them up and presents them as one long unchanging, unending sequence ("sequential art" is a phrase commonly - perhaps wistfully - used to describe comics), ie one of those old “infinity cover” comics, where someone is holding a comic with a cover of them holding the comic, with a cover of them holding the comic, with a cover of them holding the comic, the same image repeated again and again, unto infinity, with no indication that one image is greater or less - or first or last - compared to the others.


Watchmen: The Movie holds all of this up before us, (im)perfectly framed within the felt trim that surrounds the movie screen, with no one facet of mankind deemed greater, or lesser, or more or less important than any other. Each ingredient that makes us the malicious, miraculous, bug-fuggen crazy mofos we are, each is necessary, in equal measure, to what we were, are, and will ever be. For better or worse.


Which is depressing.


And joyous.


As is Watchmen: The movie.


Me, I give 9 and a half stars.


In awhile, I'll be able to watch Watchmen on DVD, without those idiot Rorschach "fans" (???) who verbally orgasmed around me tonight when he killed the midget – sorry, little person - from Seinfeld (the film’s only casting/acting misfire…I kept expecting Kramer to stumble in….).


THEN I'll probably give it a 10 ------------- just watch, man ----------


Jay Allen  Sanford 5:45 a.m. - PS: I'm not about to start patronizing indoor theaters over drive-ins. DIs get 99 per cent of my theatrical business - Until tonight, I've only seen two full movies indoors in the last ten years (Spider-Man 1 and the Exorcist re-release). Also indoors, I've seen two partial movies in ten years, whose bugfuggen audiences drove me from my seat, both the same night (Very Bad Things, where they were laughing thru a drawn out bloody prostitute murder, and that movie about middle easterns being rounded up in NY concentration camps, I can't be bothered to look up the name)

That said, I'm astounded at the state of the art in indoor movie SOUND!!

Holy crap, I almost fell out my chair during a few explosive moments, probably cuz of living so long in the CA quake zone and always being ready to bolt out the nearest door whenever the seats shake ----

Not much else (other than the movie) impressed - charging $4.75 for a medium coke should be prosecutable. And I can't believe people put up with the volume and repetition of plain old commercials on the screen, pretty much nonstop between films. Especially the same spots over and over and over and over -maddening ---

Before Watchmen tonight, my other indoor movie was Coraline in 3D, a stop-motion creepy crawly based on a story by comic guys Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean and produced by many of the crew behind Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Even without Burton and Depp, it was a fine movie, and not at all bad in 3D. I didn't realize they'd refined 3D so much, and it was cool that I could take off the glasses and still watch a pretty regular looking movie, other than occasional short bits designed for stereoscopic (possibly quadroscopic?) separation.

 Another neat factor was that I was the only person in that theater, for the whole flick - not one other patron ever came thru the doors (one of the smallest rooms in a big multiplex). It was KINDA like being in my car at a drive-in ----- I could scratch anywhere and anything I pleased.

My kinda movie night -------------------

http://media.sdreader.com/img/blogs/header_img/2008/Dec/26/JayReader10_t70.jpg?ae88c44a06b839ae83ed332f677bfc71b4a83374 WHAT I'M WATCHING - The Prisoner remake on AMC

 I just watched the first four of six episodes of AMC's remake of the classic cult '60s TV series The Prisoner - as a HUGE fan of the original U.K. series (I bought two different DVD sets), I have a major problem with the Prisoner suffering memory loss instead of refusing to divulge his secrets.
 It negates the entire point of the show, ie a (Danger)man standing up for his individual rights and refusing to be a number.
 DC's Prisoner comic book miniseries "Shattered Visage" was the only sequel/continuation of the Prisoner that creator Patrick McGoohan ever authorized in his lifetime, and those were wonderful comics. I don't think he would have ever let this new version do what it's doing to his creation ---
I would have changed the channel for good two different times tonight, had not good old Rover the malevolent weather balloon suddenly showed up to provide the only semblance of a connection to McGoohan's singular series ----

Here's my review so-far (referencing the druggy subtext of both series) ---

The Original '60s Prisoner = taking Orange Sunshine acid at Disneyland. In the '60s.
The 2009 Prisoner remake = taking the brown acid at Woodstock. In Hell.

 The only cool thing I've seen in the first four new Prisoner eps is the scene where Six asks a classroom full of children "Who is Number One?," and they all raise their hand, with one of them offering her rote-memorized reply to "the oldest question in the history of the Village."

If only the remake producers had just posted the little girl's reply on Facebook or Twitter or something, instead of creating the miniseries, they could've saved all the hassle, expense, and inevitable mocking they'll get over ruining the entire concept of Patrick McGoohan's Prisoner ----

Here are some rarely seen pages from an unpublished Prisoner comic book created by the late king of comics, Jack Kirby ---

ALSO: Southland Tales is on cable tonight - man, I feel like I just dropped acid! What a lineup of bizarre guest stars, like John Waters on steroids - I've never read the comic book it's based on, but the movie reminds me of some weird mix of Cafe Flesh, Repo Man, Brazil, the Man Who Fell to Earth, Escape from New York, Zardoz, and the Harry Canyon segment of the Heavy Metal movie!

I wasn't sure if I was digging it until the Justin Timberlake music video dropped out of nowhere, like the plane engine in Donnie Darko. I'll definitely have to rewatch - what a wonky movie!




 Following is a mailing list dialogue between me and writer Jamie Ralph Gardner, who had posted material about the old Sid and Marty Krofft ‘70s TV show Land of the Lost, the basis for a new Will Ferrell movie. 


Jay Allen  Sanford  JAS SAYS: I grew up when the Krofft shows were new, and always found Land of the Lost to be their weakest work. Well, maybe not as bad as Kaptain Kool and the Kongs on the Krofft Supershow, but LOTL was no PufnStuf or Lidsville. 


 JRG REPLIES: Land of the Lost is my favorite of the Krofft shows. It's been one of my favorite science fiction TV shows since I was a child. I watched it again on the Sci-Fi channel during the 1990s. It still held up really well. I will admit that the special effects are weaker then I remember as a child. Some people nitpick on the acting but I think the actors potrayed a likable family. The show went down hill in the 3rd season when they replaced the Father with the uncle character.


 The scripts during the 3rd year were not up to the level of the first 2 seasons. Land of the Lost had intellectual science fiction stories and message oriented episodes. There are times when Jay can be wide off the mark in his opinions.

I liked H.R. Pufnstuf as a child but I was very disappointed in it as an adult. Sometime, I will try watching it again to see if I can recapture my childhood fondness for it. I talked with [Carnal Comics publisher] SS Crompton about your being such as a fan of H.R. Pufnstuf and he couldn't understand why someone beyond 8 years old would be a fan of the show. SS thinks you like it so much because of the drug connotations of H.R. Pufnstuf. 

 David Gerrold (the author of The Trouble with Tribbles episode of Star Trek) was the story editor for Land of the Lost during the first season. Gerrold wrote 5 episodes of the show including the first episode. There were other Star Trek writers on the show such as D.C. Fontana (she wrote or co-wrote such Star Trek episodes such as By Any Other Name, Charlie X, The Enterprise Incident, Friday's Child, Journey to Babel, This Side of Paradise, Tomorrow Is Yesterday, The Ultimate Computer, etc.), Norman Spinrad (the author of The Doomsday Machine episode of Star Trek), Theodore Sturgeon (the author of Amok Time and Shore Leave episodes of Star Trek) and Margaret Armen (The author of the Cloud Minders, The Paradise Syndrome and The Gamesters of Triskelion episodes of Star Trek).

Walter Koenig wrote The Stranger, the LOTL episode that introduces Enik. Donald F. Glut and Larry Niven are other science fiction writers who wrote for Land of the Lost.


Jay Allen  Sanford  JAS SAYS: Yeah, I'm sure my fondness for Puf has to do with being so young when it aired, but I still enjoy it as an adult for the astounding sets and costumes and their trippy Wonderland-style iconography.


 I was a member of the Banana Splits fan club in grade school, and one of my first records was by PufnStuf star Jack Wild - one of the first movies I ever saw by myself in a theater was the Puf feature, which was also my first exposure to Mama Cass, so yeah, that has a lot to do with my fondness --- that, and the Puf music, and Jack Wild's talent.

 Lidsville was another fave, again for the imagination it displayed. The subsequent shows all seemed lesser and lesser, as did the lowlight stars like Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair) in Sigmund.


 The Kroffts did worse crap than LOTL, like those semi-live action Twain shorts. Perhaps it's the cheap look and wooden acting that most turns me off to Lost - as you said, the scripts were certainly ambitious.



 JRG REPLIES: I first watched Land of the Lost when I was 5 years old. I watched it from the beginning. It's one of my earliest childhood memories. This show is one of the things that got me interested in dinosaurs. I think the guy playing Father is fine in the series. I think the actors playing the brother and sister overact at times but I generally like them. I don't think the cast is wooden. I read that Wesley Eure poked fun at his own acting during the audio commentary for the Rhino Records DVD collections of the Land of the Lost TV series.


Jay, since you're a fan of William Shatner, how do you feel about people who criticize William Shatner for overacting? Michael Copner [publisher Cult Movies magazine] once said to me that overacting is not always a bad thing. He made a point that Bela Lugosi overacted in a good way that made his acting larger then life.


 I think one of the problems with Land of the Lost is that it was shot in videotape. Videotape shows flaws much more then film.


If the original Star Trek had been shot on videotape, it would look much less real. There are already people who complain about the special effects of the 1960s Star Trek. I talked to some boy who criticized the stop motion animation in the first Terminator movie. The boy prefers CGI effects. I'm not as picky as many other people when it comes to special effects. On another subject, I like the music of Land of the Lost as well, not just the theme song.


Jay Allen  Sanford  JAS SAYS:

I tried to watch some LOTL on Sci-Fi yesterday, and found the biggest hurdle was tolerating the MUSIC. I'd forgotten how astoundingly cheap and cheezy it was - monotone drones on synth, a repeating Mellotron loop, and hideous overuse of the Theremin, a lovely "futuristic" sounding audio invention used to great effect in Forbidden Planet thru many modern pop songs, but reduced to the equivalent of a whoopie cushion sound effect on Land of the Lost. I kind of understand the sci-fi "futuristic" aspect behind the soundtrack, even tho it was a prehistoric setting, but how wonky to soundtrack the entire show like an episode of Far Out Space Nuts ---


You having seen it as a kid inured you to that kind of thing, the same way I'm not bothered by the alphabet soup scripting in Puf-N-Stuf - the shows harken back for us a time when imagination was everything and the real world with all its darkness and scariness was still fended out of our purview by the warm light of the TV screen ---


Shatner has grown on me, after enjoying his run on Boston Legal. I'd still rather watch any of the later Trek shows than the original, with a handful of exceptions, partly because Shat could be so groan-worthy.


 Michael Copner and I had several spirited chats about his love of Lugosi, VS my own reverence for Karloff, tho both of us found much worthy work by the others' hero. Had Lugosi been given (or had he chosen) roles like Karloff scored, Lugosi could and should have been one of the greats.


 Man, how great would it have been to see LUGOSI playing the aging horror star in Targets, instead of Karloff (in one of his final U.S. roles)! Woulda been a whole different film -


I'm watching more LOTL marathon now - "The Musician" ep wasn't awful, and the ep before that reminded me that the Suliban of Star Trek Enterprise seem to be the same transparent critters with lightbulbs taped to them from LOTL ---
Watching "Split Personality" now, and WTF, the Marshalls see a ghostly image of little Holly beckoning, and Dad freakin' tells Holly to "stand still" and LET the spirit ENTER her, cuz "It wants to communicate with us, thru Holly!" This, after Holly complained about her first encounter with the ghost-image, practically crying "It wants to get INSIDE me!!!" (really, really creepy). Thanks a LOT, Dad!!! Some stranger wants to get INSIDE his young DAUGHTER, and he tells her to just relax and TAKE it?!?!?!
There's something mighty creepy about hearing little Holly say, all tranced out, "The rocks are inside of me...the other part is out the other side." Again, WTF???
I admit today's eps are more watchable than previous attempts I've made to see this series - still hating the "future music," but I kinda dig the occasional bluegrass banjo riffing and freaky-folk flute ---

JRG REPLIES: I'm surprised by your criticism of William Shatner. You have spoken so highly of Shatner's acting in the Thriller TV series. I think Shatner did his best Star Trek acting during the first season of the show. His acting could be quite different, depending on the episode. I think Harlan Ellison's The City on the Edge of Forever has one of William Shatner's best acting jobs. With the exception of Richard Matheson's The Enemy Within (during which Shatner plays the good and evil Captain Kirk), his acting is way more toned during the first year.

I have noticed his haltering acting style is something he does when speaks outside of acting as well. In a book that Shatner wrote, he said that the reason why he halters when he speaks, is that he is pausing to remember his lines. Shatner says that he would deliberately overact to make silly situations seem more real. He has written about his acting in The World of Suzie Wong play. Shatner claims that when he overacted, the audience got more in to the play.

I think the "The Musician" is one the weaker episodes of the first 2 seasons of land of the Lost. I think a flaw of the 2nd season is that Chaka and his ape people got used too much. They were being used too much for comic relief. I like Chaka but I prefered it when he was potrayed in a more serious way. Most of the famous science fiction writers were gone during the 2nd season. Even though the 2nd was uneven, the show still had a signicant number of good episodes.

I'm glad you started watching the shows before the 3rd season. Many land of the Lost fans are very critical of the 3rd season. If you just had the 3rd season to go on, this would reinforce your negative opinion of the show. I would recommend you see the first season, this is when the show was at it's best.

Jay Allen  Sanford  JAS SAYS: Okay, I was 15 or 16 when the third season of Land of the Lost aired, so I wasn't watching much Saturday morning TV any more. But I can NOT be the only person watching the episode "Flying Dutchman" all these years later who CRINGES with horror at this twisted bit....

The old bearded Dutchman looks at little Holly (from behind her...), gazing longingly at her, and asks "Do you LIKE me?"

Holly says something like "Sure, you're super," without really looking back at him.

The Dutchman continues studying the little girl's backside, looking her up and down, and then he says, with weight and gravity (and what seems to be unconcealed lust), something like "It does get...." (looooong pause) "....LONELY out here."

Jeez!!! Pedophile, much??? WTF???

(JAS LATER, AFTER MARATHON WRAPUP): I admit you've greatly swayed my previous opinion of LOTL - my casual exposure to it in the '70s never revealed so much story depth, tho I still have little love for the ill-conceived music and uninspired performances. Viewing parts of the marathon on your own passionate recommendation enabled me to appreciate aspects of the series I paid little heed to (even if that same marathon also reinforced/reminded me how intolerable the music was to my ultimate enjoyment of the stories being spun) --

Hey, was that even the actor who played their dad seen vanishing thru time in the third season intro, or did they just stick a Mike Brady perm-wig on some poor hapless Sleestak extra and shove him thru two giant paper towel rolls?? Why DID they boot the dad? He was the only one who could act his way out of the paper bag sets (other than Chaka, who I thought was a female until you clarified) ---

(NOTE: I ADDED THIS AFTER ALL THE BAD FILM REVIEWS CAME IN, CERTIFYING THE LOTL FILM AS A BOMB): The one good thing, apparently, about the Land of the Lost movie is the resulting marathon of the original series on the Sci-Fi Channel. This not only enabled old fans to rediscover an almost forgotten fave, but it also allowed a second look by kids of the 70s like ME who'd dismissed the series as inferior to the preceding Krofft programs. I was completely surprised by the show background that list moderator Jamie provided, and now wish I'd seen more of the marathon - I had no idea of the many merits of the series, having given up on it back in the day due to the brain-dead music, cheezy FX, and actors who seemed to have none of the talent, appeal, and fire of their Krofft precedents (Jack Wild, Billie Hayes,etc) --




Ehhhhh. I'm not a big fan of the original series (Next Gen is much better), but there were some fun movie moments in the recast restart that caught the funny vibe of a lot of the 60s episodes. But the rest of the movie was indistinguishable from any number of mediocre sci-fi films, with nothing Trek-like about it, least of all the actors playing the original cast characters.



Only the guy from Heroes playing Spock seems to grasp his predecessor's work (probably because Nimoy is in the movie too, and probably coached him on-set), other than a couple of quick moments from the guy now playing chief engineer Scotty (who should have had a larger role in the movie) –


Funny about the guy who played Bones - he seemed more like the character as written in the better Trek novels than like his TV predecessor. Since the books tend to add a lot more character fine tuning than TOS, in a way the new guy is a better Bones than DeKelley - the new guy certainly brings a lot more instant- personality than De did when debuting on the air in Trek's Man Trap/salt vampire ep, one of George Clayton Johnson's poorer stories (tho he had very little info about the show when he wrote it). It took awhile for DeKelley to get into his full grumpy southern doc groove -



It may seem silly, but I have a huge problem with Scotty being portrayed in the new movie as someone who would have used Captain Archer's pet beagle Porthos (from the Star Trek: Enterprise series) in a transporter experiment that resulted in Porthos being left in transporter limbo somewhere in space.


 Well, at least the same thing happens to Scotty himself in the original non-altered timeline, where Scotty rematerialized years later on Picard's ship. But I take great exception to the notion of him not only endangering (and losing) Archer's beloved (and famous) dog, needlessly (any living creature would have worked - or rather, NOT worked), but then Scotty seems to find this a funny tale to tell. I find this intolerable, matter how young and rash he may have been at the time ----


 I've never thought much of most Trek fan fiction, but now I have an idea for a "Return of Porthos" story that would sure as Hell teach that alternate timeline Scotty an ass-biting lesson or three ---


Shabby way to treat one of the few pets ever seen or referenced in the Trek universe(s), other than the Shelat Spock grew up with, Phlox's medicinal animals, Data's cat Spot (his Ode to Spot below) and, I guess, tribbles -----


 The BEST thing about the new movie, tho? MORE ORION SLAVE GIRLS! IMHO, there can never be too many green hotties, in ANY universe or timeline!




  • Data, "Schisms"
  • Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
    an endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature?
    Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
    contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.

    I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
    a singular development of cat communications
    that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
    for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.

    A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
    you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
    And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
    it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

    O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
    connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
    And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
    I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

    RevMcray COMMENT: Patrick McCray, Director of Dramatic Arts - Webb School of Knoxville, author Elvis Shrugged, co-producer Star Trek: The Continuing Mission


    I'm going to have to out-geek you on this. 

    And canonically-speaking...

    Keep in mind that the timelines don't diverge until 2233.

    Jonathan Archer was born in 2112.  By the time he gets command of the NX01 in 2151, he's 39.  By 2184, he goes from admiral to Federation president at age 72.  Scotty isn't born for another 38 years, in 2222. 

    The timelines don't diverge until 2233, when Archer (if still alive) would be 121 years old.  Scotty would be 11 at this point. 

    By the time of the launch of the alternate Enterprise in the new movie, it's 2258.  That would make Archer 146 years old.  (And Scotty 36.)

    To put this in perspective...

    Yes, humans live longer in the 23rd century, but 146 is still incredibly old.  In the first episode of TNG in 2364 (106 years after the launch of the alternate Enterprise), McCoy appears to be extremely frail.  He has access to medical technology that is 106 years more advanced than what
    would exist in 2258, and he's not looking in the best of shape.  It's not a wild leap to imagine that Archer would be dead at age 146, especially with a century's fewer medical advances

    And Porthos?  Still alive?  Porthos was living with Archer in mid-2150. By the time of the launch of the NX-01 in 2151, let's say he's 365 days old.  By the time of the launch of the alternate Enterprise, that would make the dog 108 years old in human years or 445 years old in "dog years."

    That's an old dog.  The only way he'd be transported would be in a small casket or urn.

    And besides, in either timeline, Archer becomes president, because that's in 2184, 49 years before the timelines diverge.  Thus, even with his illustrious record of service in Starfleet, he'd still probably be called President Archer, rather than Admiral Archer. 

    The point of all of this is that it is incredibly unlikely that Jonathan Archer was around for Scotty to take *any* pet of his to experiment on. And certainly not Porthos. 

    So, I think famous Star Trek pets are safe.  This had to be the pet of some different admiral's.  A relative of Jonathan Archer's.  Maybe. 

    Besides, in the novelization, the beagle rematerializes on the Enterprise as it's going to warp.  Given that we have no sense of the passage of time while in transport, the chances of the dog actually suffering is zero, unless he suffers from canine transporter phobia, similar to the human
    form suffered by Reg Barclay.  But Barclay was an engineer, with an intimate knowledge of what could go wrong with the transporter.  A dog, lacking this knowledge, would probably just be a little surprised by the change of scenery. 

    It's suggested that the Admiral Archer who sent Alternate Scotty to Delta Vega in 2257 is still alive, since Scotty's still there to be found. Thus, I think it's safe to guess that dog and owner were eventually reunited to the joy of both. 
    Patrick McCray



    RevCrompton COMMENT: SS Crompton, comic book creator Demi the Demoness


    I agree with most of what you are saying here, but one undiscussed possibility, which has happened on Start Trek before is that maybe Archer and his dog get either frozen in time, teleported 75 years to the future or their lifespans are enhanced by grateful aliens at some point.

    So given that all of those things have happened to others in the Trek universe maybe this would explain it...



     COMMENT: Patrick McCray


    Well, this is the thing about science fiction...Any of this is possible.  But if we're looking at it with no real writer-interference, then the dog had to be someone else's, rather than the only engaging character from ENT.
    Patrick McCray,




    COMMENT: Jamie Ralph Gardner, Carnal Comics creator


    Dear Jay,
    The audience at the movie theatre laughed when the dog story was told. This made me feel uncomfortable because people were laughing about a tragedy that happened to a dog. Someone I talked to said that people were laughing because of the way that the story was told by Scotty. I think this scene was put in to give some reference to the Enterprise TV series.

     I think The Man Trap is one of the better Star Trek episodes. I think the creature is one of the most realistic looking aliens on the show. I read an article in a Star Trek fanzine that had the viewpoint that this is a underrated episode. I think the viewer is supposed to feel sympathy for the creature because it kills people to get their salt. This is similar to people eating animals for food. One of the moral dilemmas of the episode is whether it should be killed since it is the last of it's race.


    [Episode writer] George Clayton Johnson has been critical of his opening dialogue being changed by Roddenberry. Roddenberry's dialogue further emphasized the relationship between McCoy and who he thought was the woman he knew.
    Jamie Gardner



    LIFE ON MARS season 1 

     Wikipedia synopsis: Life on Mars is an American science fiction crime drama television series which originally aired on ABC from October 9, 2008 to April 1, 2009. Co-produced by Kudos Film & Television, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios, it is about a New York City homicide detective who suddenly finds himself inexplicably transported from 2008 to 1973. The series was adapted from the BAFTA-winning British series of the same name, shown by the BBC. The series tells the story of New York City police detective Sam Tyler (played by Jason O'Mara), who, after being struck by a car in 2008, regains consciousness in 1973. Fringing between multiple genres, including thriller, science fiction and police procedural, the series remained ambiguous regarding its central plot, with the character himself unsure about his situation.[1] The series also starred Harvey Keitel, Jonathan Murphy, Michael Imperioli, and Gretchen Mol. Life on Mars garnered critical praise for its premise, acting, and depiction of the 1970s, but suffered from a declining viewership after its premiere.[2][3] ABC announced on March 2, 2009 that it would not be ordering a second season.


    I remember not being that impressed with the first Life on Mars episode - seemed like no more than a "reverse" Dirty Harry, ie instead of a rogue cop operating amidst PC bureaucracy, the show had a PC future cop in pre-PC 1973. The premise seemed to have possibilities, but that first ep was all stereotypes and occasional inexplicable sci-fi flashes explaining less than nothing about what the hell was going on ----


    However, I stuck with it, and I'm absolutely astounded at how it paid off!!


     I don't want to spoil by revealing specifics, but the show is becoming, as I said, astounding. Nothing is as it seemed in the first ep, and there's actually a reason for that - in particular, Harvey Keitel as the precinct chief, his character is, well, you really should see it. I nearly applauded out loud after a couple of his feature eps, especially over Keitel's story arc - if anyone was actually watching this show, he should be up for an Emmy. Just ---- astounding.


     Over subsequent eps, the story began coming together, the sci-fi "explanations" becoming more clear, and - the thing you may like best - they're really conjuring up a VERY authentic 1973! UNlike the first ep, which was painfully obvious about dropping and/or showing cultural touchstones every few minutes ---- as I mention, there's actually a REASON for how simplistic his first day in 1973 seemed, and it wasn't lazy scripting. It's actually an important - and innovative - story element. As each episode progresses, we get more and more of the real world of 1973.


    And everything from the clothes to the cars, dialogue, and especially the music, is becoming more "real '73" than just about any actual '70s movie I can think of. Especially when contrasted with the lead character's hindsight and inside knowledge about future events.


    The music is particularly inspired - not at all the predictable radio hits of the early 70s, but really thoughtful choices of songs that perfectly illustrate the scenes they accompany, in surprising and enjoyable ways...like, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Blood Sweat and Tears, the Sweet "Little Willy," 5 Man Electrical Band "Signs" ---- to give you an idea of how off the beaten path I'm talking about, the one Rolling Stones song to turn up was "Out of Time."


     Even the show title "Life on Mars" now has some context, again UNlike the pilot, where its only relativity SEEMED to be the David Bowie song by that name playing in the car when it crashed (one of my fave Bowie tunes, BTW, and one I used to do when I was in bands and which I STILL sometimes sing and play here on my old Yamaha keyboard and PA system).


     That's the great music that brings back the era for me, and those are the kind of tracks that keep turning up on Mars - the effect is that you suddenly recover a memory when a song starts that you haven't heard in 30 years, at the same moment as you see the guy on Mars undergo a similar 8-track flashback.


    That would never work if the show soundtrack had been, say "Brown Sugar" by the Stones, instead of "Out of Time" - we've heard Brown Sugar a billion times since it first came out, so it's no longer fixed to a specific time and place.


    Taken as a whole, the show is an engrossing and fairly brilliant musical love letter to 70s rock, films, and TV, with a finite (and very satisfying) final ep that wraps up pretty much all the mysteries and loose ends (and with quite a different ending than the original UK series, too!) ---


     Life On Mars: Season One (the complete series) was released in a DVD box set at the end of August.

    ***************************************************** *****************************************************



    Here's a sneak peek at the first promo art for Rock 'N' Roll Comics: Hard Rock Heroes, a 400 page graphic novel shipping from Bluewater Productions in November, as well as the cover of the 240 page Beatles Experience comic shipping around the same time -

    What goes together better than comics and rock ‘n’ roll? 400 pages of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, going beyond Behind the Music in order to tell the real life, behind-the-scenes stories of rock’s greatest Hard Rock Heroes. With art by Stuart Immonen (Superman: End of the Century), Mike Sagara (Carnal Comics) and others, the cinematic stories are realistically drawn and researched from countless photo and video archives, with an encyclopedic eye toward visual and journalistic accuracy and featuring dramatic flair rarely seen in most biographical comics.


    Hard Rock Heroes is a book-length pictorial history covering rock’s heavy hitters, with stories featuring Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Rush, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax, and more.


    tod17 "Great ideas, like the marriage of rock 'n' roll and comics, have the half-life of Uranium and will always be popular," says series co-creator Jay Allen Sanford, who has worked on over 200 reality-based comic books and thousands of similar cartoon strips for the San Diego Reader, as well as for magazines like Rip, Spin, and Oui. "The folks at Bluewater clearly have their fingers on the same pop culture pulse that enabled the original Rock 'N' Roll Comics to become one of the top-selling indie comics of the '90s. Truth is often stranger than fiction...and certainly much more interesting!" 



    The Beatles are bigger than ever, now available online for the first time digitally, on the Vegas stage in “Love,” and in the new Beatles: Rock Band video game. Now comes the most comprehensive and encyclopedic illustrated Beatles story ever, the Beatles Experience! Over 200 pages, dramatizing one of the most compelling tales in pop culture history, drawn from thousands of photos and interviews, meticulously researched and featuring stunning art by Mike Sagara (Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics) and Stuart Immonen (Legion of Super Heroes, Ultimate X-Men).


    Covering the Beatles’ lives from birth and beyond their breakup, dramatized in dialogue and scene recreations more akin to a film bio than a mere documentary, the Beatles Experience also includes a Chronolog timeline going down each page, with encyclopedia background and footnotes detailing related events happening at the same time in the world, in music, and in the Beatles’ own tumultuous and extraordinary lives. 







    THE ROCKETEER AND OTHER FAMOUS '80S COMICS BEGAN RIGHT HERE IN SAN DIEGO - Here's a detailed history of local Pacific Comics, who recruited comic superstars like Jack Kirby to create one of the first successful indie comic book lines. Pioneers in the fight for comic creators' rights and royalties, former employees and operators reveal how they did it, and what went so terribly wrong...




    THE KOMPLETE KISS KOMIX KRONICLES - Comprehensive collection of stuff I’ve done about working with Kiss on a comic book series in San Diego, along with a bunch of never-before-seen artifacts from the Kiss Komix archives AND an article by Kiss comic author Spike Steffenhagen, offering his own very-different take, ala Rashomon, on the same events I describe in my essay...



    ROCK 'N' ROLL COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY - In 1989, San Diego's Revolutionary Comics ("Unauthorized And Proud Of It") launched Rock 'N' Roll Comics, featuring unlicensed biographies of rock stars, most of which I wrote. Some performers, like Frank Zappa and Kiss, were supportive, while others like New Kids On The Block considered our comics akin to bootlegs and sued. In June 1992, publisher Todd Loren was found dead in his San Diego condo, brutally murdered...



    NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK VS REVOLUTIONARY COMICS - The inside story of how a hugely successful boy band tried to sue local-based Rock 'N' Roll Comics over an unauthorized biography of the group, sparking a court case that established, for the very first time, first amendment rights for comic books. Illustrated by comic superstar Stuart Immonen (Superman, etc.)...



    OVER A MILLION CARNAL COMICS ARE IN PRINT - Here's how and why we made some of the top-selling erotic comics of all time, right here in San Diego, including what Gene Simmons has to do with it all, backstage tales of porn stars, and more confessions of a comic pornographer...



    COMICS AND CENSORSHIP - DON'T BE AFRAID, IT'S ONLY A COMIC BOOK - A local-centric history of comic book censorship, and the fight for the rights of comic creators...


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    TWILIGHT ZONE AND STAR TREK WRITER GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON PRESENTS - The inside story of a local horror comic book series featuring Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, plus sci-fi king Larry Niven, Zap Comix co-founder Spain Rodriguez, Matthew Alice artist Rick Geary, Vampire Lestat painter Daerick Gross, yours truly JAS, and many more...



    THE BIRTH OF IMAGE COMICS: INSIDE STORY OF A LOCAL PUBLISHING POWERHOUSE - Illustrated tale revealing how Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and local comic artist Jim Lee (the Punisher, etc.) conspired to create the ultimate creator-owned comic books...


     Down the Slippery Slope - Arrested For the Crime of Viewing Manga

    On March 30, 2004, when Dwight Whorley found the Japanese website of Fractal Underground Studio via Yahoo and clicked on a couple of the thumbnail images... ( http://comipress.com/special/miscellaneous/down-the-slippery-slope-the-crime-of-viewing-manga )


    "Before It Was The Gaslamp: Balboa's Last Stand" - Cover story 6-21-07: In the late 70s/early 80s, I worked at downtown San Diego's grindhouse all-night movie theaters, for the owner of the Pussycat Theatre chain, Vince Miranda - this detailed feature recalls those dayz, the death of the Balboa Theatre, etc.

    More Before It Was the Gaslamp


    "Battle Of The Peeps" - feature article about a weird gig I had in the mid-'80s, running a strip club called Jolar, for the nation's second biggest pornographer, Harry Mohney (Deja Vu Showgirls founder).

    More Battle of the Peeps - An Insider History of San Diego Porn Shops

    "Field Of Screens" - Cover story 7-6-06: Complete theater-by-theater history of San Diego drive-ins thru the years, including a few which screened X-rated fare for awhile.

    More Drive-In Theaters in San Diego: Complete Illustrated History 1947 thru 2008


    "Pussycat Theaters - When 'Cathouses Ruled California" -- for the first time, the detailed inside story of the west coast Pussycat Theater chain of adult moviehouses, which peaked in the '70s but later died out. Told by those who actually ran the theaters!

    More Pussycat Theater History: When Cathouses Ruled CA


    Jay Allen  Sanford  More Music on the Reader Website:

    Find a Band

    Today's Top MP3 Downloads


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    Like this blog? Here are some related links:

    OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/

    FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/

    SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic

    JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford

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