Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AN OTTERLY COLORFUL LOOK AT U.S. PRESIDENTS is NOW AVAILABLE!

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A labor of love for the last 6 months as I've researched and cartooned all 45 presidents (with a plan to keep this book updated with new editions whenever the office turns over).



The goal for this educational coloring book is not to retread the same grounds that a student usually covers during their years in school or reading thick biographical volumes. This book takes a . . . unique approach which allows I THINK, THEREFORE I COLOR: AN OTTERLY COLORFUL LOOK AT U.S. PRESIDENTS to be different and a bit more fun. Within these pages there are notations included of the dates each president was in office and a selected quote or two. The focus, however, is more on sharing some lesser-known or forgotten interesting facts about each president. Of course, there are also otters. Few things are as cute and adorable as otters. Those playful mammals—members of the weasel family—that populate rivers and zoos have become a mainstay of the modern world of memes and video clips. So what could make learning some presidential history more fun than otters playfully dressed up like presidents? Not much! Have fun learning in the least painful way possible—coloring some very silly otters.

Only $12.99 at Amazon and Prime Members get Free Shipping.




ALSO AVAILABLE!

           

Thursday, June 15, 2017

NO FANTASTIC FOUR IN MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.....OR MAYBE THERE IS?

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In an alternate reality somewhere in the vast multiverse, Friday, June 9, 2017 saw 20th Century Fox (Fox) releasing FANTASTIC FOUR 2, their announced sequel to Josh Trank's interminably awful 2015 disaster on digital celluloid FANTASTIC FOUR.   Thankfully, for our reality, Fox's plans for a sequel have not only not materialized, by all accounts, they have not even been discussed much if at all.   But back in 2015, Fox sure did have some plans and they made sure we all knew about it!


That 2-year silence has led some comics fans, myself included (I even facetiously proposed a #OcuppyFF movement), wonder aloud whether Marvel Studios might be negotiating behind-the-scenes some sort of shared ownership of the FANTASTIC FOUR (FF) film license that would allow the FF characters to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Perhaps it was some sort of karmic harmonic confluence of some kind, but on the heels of this historic date passing us by like a failed prophesy date-setting for the Apocalypse, I noticed an influx of several clickbait-ey type posts online making the social media rounds declaring that MCU head, Kevin Feige, has made it explicitly clear that the FANTASTIC FOUR are not headed to the MCU from Fox—along the lines of a deal similar to that made with Sony that allowed SPIDER-MAN to have his "Homecoming" as a full-fledged member of the MCU after repeated film missteps in the Sonyverse.

Newsarama, a website devoted to comics industry news and commentary, posted the following report on June 13, 2017 with the bold headline "No FANTASTIC FOUR In MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE, Says KEVIN FEIGE"—

 According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, not only does Marvel have no plans to incorporate the Fantstic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the conversation isn't even on the table.
"[We have] no plans with the Fantastic Four right now," Feige told AlloCiné in a Facebook video. "No discussions about it."
Feige's comments come after a fan-submmited question echoed persistent rumors that the FF could appear in the MCU in a deal similar to the one Marvel struck with Sony to allow Spider-Man: Homecoming to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. . .

And so, the string of shares and comments on social media of comic book fans both cheering and lamenting began.  Either cheering because they hate the Fantastic Four characters or lamenting because their last, best hopes held out that "Phase 4" of the MCU might include the first family of the Marvel Universe finally "done right" on film seem utterly dashed by Feige's statement.

However, might I suggest that this is following a very familiar politician-like pattern as what went down when Marvel was quietly negotiating with Sony to get them to allow Spider-Man to appear in the MCU.  Fifteen months before it became "official" that Spider-Man was jumping from the Sonyverse to the MCU, Feige was dismissing the very idea, but as we all know, a multi-million (billion?) dollar negotiation like requires months, if not years, of lawyer haggling to get both sides to sign off. Note the similarity in Feige's words in this report from October 2013 when asked about the idea of Spider-Man joining the MCU:

Over at the French website Reviewer.fr, a new interview with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has gone live. Appreciating that Feige is on the publicity rounds at the moment, and that interviews with him aren't in short supply, this nonetheless had one or two interesting bits in it that are worth pulling out.
Firstly, for instance, Feige confirms that there was a conversation about inserting Oscorp Tower into Joss Whedon's The Avengers film, which would have crossed the Spider-Man cinematic world (which is owned by Sony) with what Marvel is up to. Feige said in the end though that "the deal was never close to happening".
He also confirmed that there are no plans to bring Spider-Man into a future Marvel film. "They have movies they want to make, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Thor stories, and Cap stories, and Avengers stories", adding that "it would be cool to happen sometime. But I don't know when that would be"

The bottom line is just to say that when Feige says that there are "no plans with the Fantastic Four right now", that is the same turn of phrase as FBI Director Comey saying there are "currently no open investigations into the president."  "[N]o plans . . . right now" does not at all mean "no plans . . . ever."

So, until Fox craps out another FF movie to preserve their license, there's always hope that the next "Homecoming" will be Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben—THE FANTASTIC FOUR!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: THE YEAR MORE PEOPLE LIVED THAN DIED

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So, 2016 has come to an end and I am just as guilty as everyone else for bad-mouthing this entire year.  The collective hatred and dread regarding 2016 reminds me of the infamous “Summer of the Shark.”  You remember that, right?  Back during the summer of 2001, there was a media feeding frenzy of ridiculous over-coverage of shark attacks and it blew the whole country up into hysteria over why shark attacks were increasing.  However, statistically, shark attacks on humans, in terms of actual numbers, were slightly less than average that year.  Of course, the coverage of shark attacks stopped completely when the twin towers came down on September 11.  That provided the media with some real meat to consume and they promptly stopped propping up a false story to get people to tune in to the news and to buy their papers.

Well, in 2016, it was even more insane because we now live in the world of social media dominance where “clicks” on stories and ads equal revenue, so the more “click bait” they can chum the waters of social media with the more money pours into their profit margins.  Kicking off 2016 with coverage of the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and a string of other near-forgotten former greats in entertainment, including the previously presumed immortal Abe Vigoda, all dying just within January appeared to set up a portent of great disaster for 2016.  And this stigma never seemed to shed, and I will share that I went and looked through the January celebrity deaths from the previous 15 years and it really was a remarkable (but arbitrary) grouping of celebrities that January 2016 in comparison to other Januaries.  However, this does not make 2016 a terrible year.  Every year has ups and downs.  I think the families of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks of 2001 would have a very difficult time agreeing that 2016 was the worst year ever.


I say all of that to say this—while most articles and blogs reflecting on 2016 are going to focus on the negatives, I’m going to break that mold and instead refocus our memories and experiences on a few great and positive things that happened in 2016.  The best way to go forward into 2017 is to stop letting this collective negativity sour all of us over what was an historic year.  And it was historic in bad ways and in good ways.  Every year has deaths. Every year has wars. Every year has political victories and losses.  Every year is full of pain but it is also full of joy.  Let’s take a look back at 2016 in all her greatness!

IN 2016 . . .

Related imageA WOMAN WON THE POPULAR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT!
In 2016, the United States saw the first major political party nominate a female to run for president and even though she lost the electoral college count, she won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.  

Three. 

Million.  

That is historic and sets the stage for a very near future where the sex/gender of our presidential candidates are irrelevant in terms of qualifications.  

Image result for new prime numberA NEW PRIME NUMBER WAS DISCOVERED!
Mathematicians discovered the number  2^74,207,281 – 1.  This means it has roughly 24 million digits and is about 5 million digits longer than the previously known prime number.


Image result for chicago cubsTHE CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!
For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series.  So, the century-old jokes about the Cubs are officially done.

And that should be a reason to celebrate in and of itself.


Image result for snl debate baldwinSATURDAY NIGHT LIVE GOT FUNNY AGAIN!
Not only did SNL give us Tom Hanks as David S. Pumpkins—instantly one of the funniest new characters to appear on SNL in years but their skewering of the 2016 presidential race, with Alec  Baldwin introducing his magnificent Trump caricature, was easily on par with the brilliant SNL skits during the 2000 presidential race.



07BRAIN CHIP ALLOWED A QUADRIPLEGIC TO MOVE HIS FINGERS AGAIN!
Not only did the implanted chip allow a quadriplegic man to be able to move his fingers again, he was able to play Guitar Hero!  Also, stem cell injections allowed stroke victims to be able to walk again!  This was a grand year for scientific advancements in this area!



Related image

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DEMONSTRATED ORIGINAL THOUGHT!

Yes, that’s right, some of Google Brain’s AI personalities have begun sending messages to each other through self-designed encryption codes. 

Image result for netflix and hboTV RAISED ITS OWN BAR FOR EXCELLENCE!
Television stepped up to the plate and hit these three brand-new brilliant series straight out of the ballpark:  Stranger Things, The Crown, and Westworld.



MORE CELEBRITIES LIVED THAN DIED!
For example, here’s a selective list of famous people who might have died in 2016 but they didn’t.
They are still alive!!!


Jimmy Carter! Mary Tyler Moore! Stan Lee! Kirk Douglas! Brian Blessed! Grace Slick! Queen Elizabeth II! Ringo Starr! Alan Arkin! Don Rickles! Steve Ditko! Woody Allen! Dick Van Dyke! Carol Channing! Carol Burnett! Betty White! McCauley Culkin!

All these celebrities, and many more, did NOT die in 2016!!!

So, remember 2016 the way it should be remembered. 
It was the worst of times; it was the best of times—as it is every year. 

But if you’re reading this, then you survived 2016.

And that is good.







Sunday, September 11, 2016

ANNOUNCING "20 PAINTERS & PAINTINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW," AN ALL-AGES EDUCATIONAL COLORING BOOK

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AVAILABLE NOW!

I THINK, THEREFORE I COLOR: 
20 PAINTERS & PAINTINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

ONLY $9.99
CreateSpace E-store is my preferred Online Venue but if you prefer to take advantage of your Amazon Prime Free Shipping click here.

I had this particular project on my heart and mind for a long time and I'm excited to finally have it finished and available for purchase!  It was a joy to create and I hope my enthusiasm and inspiration shows in my work.  All of the line art was entirely hand-drawn by me!  To steal (sort of) a line from my friend Mark Sparacio:  No computers were harmed in the creation of these 40 drawings!

This educational coloring book is the second volume in the "I THINK, THEREFORE I COLOR" series and features striking caricatures of 20 notable painters and line-art versions of one of their most famous paintings perfect for coloring. Spanning over 5 centuries, these artists and their paintings are deserving of your mad coloring skills. For as we all know, learning new stuff is always better when you're having fun doing it!

Download a preview here: https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1200133

Like the I Think, Therefore I Color​ Page

#adultcoloringbooks
#coloringbooks
#educationalcoloringbooks
#painting
#painters

Friday, July 1, 2016

LEGEND OF TARZAN Swings Solidly to ☆☆☆1/2 out of ☆☆☆☆☆

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THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
☆1/2 out of 

For those who don't know, I am a lifelong fan of the Tarzan character.  In fact, I am drawn to all the mythical "feral man" archetypes including Tarzan, Ka-Zar, Mowgli, and others.  The thing about Tarzan is that much like the Frankenstein Monster and Dracula, most people have a rather simplistic and distorted view of the character influenced by film and tv bastardizations that bear very little similarity in depth with the original literary version.  Perhaps we might call the novel version the "prime" version?


I also have to add that other than the 80s film GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES starring future Highlander, Christopher Lambert, pretty much every Tarzan movie is close to unwatchable after the age of 8.  The primary reason for it, in my opinion, is that the filmmakers usually have no desire to translate the character from the novels to the big screen -- they want to just churn out some cheap jungle action with a stuntman running around in a loin cloth, or in John Derek's TARZAN, THE APE MAN, make some jungle-based soft porn starring your wife.

So, does THE LEGEND OF TARZAN break the mold and give us a Tarzan for our times?  For the most part, the answer is yes.  It's not a perfect film, but it is a good movie and it is entertaining throughout (altho a couple of slow spots in the middle).  The best thing about the movie is Alexander Skarsgård who absolutely nails the role of Tarzan/John Clayton every moment he's on screen (minus the forced hug at the end).  He's giving it his all internalizing the beast within as a John Clayton who has turned his back on the jungle to assume his role as England's Earl of Greystoke.  The motivation for he and his wife, Jane, staking out a new life in England is John's grief over the loss of their child.  It's a solid motivation and the stoic Lord Greystoke can't help but show his pain through his eyes.  Skarsgård gets it.  He is physically everything the Tarzan of the novels describes tall and athletic.  He is brooding but charismatic; cunning and clever; driven and intense; and always in conflict between his human nature and ape nurture.

This film, for the first time (at least that I can recall) makes the effort to bring out from the novels the fact that the apes that raised Tarzan are not normal apes.  They are the Mangani.  They are much more intelligent, organized, and violent than normal gorillas.  This film incorporates the famous jewels of the hidden ancient city of Opar.  (I'm told that this was mentioned in that awful Caspar Van Diem TARZAN movie from the '90s, but I've apparently blocked out those details.)  I thoroughly enjoyed the backstory flashbacks giving Tarzan's origin story and establishing the conflict with his ape father but also the camaraderie between Tarzan and his ape brother -- whose signal of brotherly affection is a slight bump with the back of his hand, which is used effectively for both humor and drama.

Really I cannot find anything to criticize about Skarsgård's performance.  I know I came away from this film very glad that he did not get cast as Thor because it very likely would've prevented him from taking on this role as a 19th century super-hero. Lord Greystoke is a man of few words but all of his actions have impact and meaning, even if it is just a nod of his head or a bend of a finger. So, what the filmmakers have done is surround him with people who talk....a lot.  The exposition and dialogue that the lead character might usually be informing the audience with is put into the mouths of those surrounding him.  His wife, the American Jane Porter, is played by Margot Robbie and she has quite the mouth on her.  She's feisty and sassy but also compassionate and strong. She was so strong that it actually bothered me that she was forced into the damsel in distress role for nearly the entire film.  I would've liked to have seen her partnering with Tarzan more equally.  The character, George Washington Williams, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is based on a real person but is saddled with a motormouth of bad dialogue.  As I mentioned, I understand the need for someone to drive the story's dialogue since Tarzan is mostly silent, but man...I wish they could've written it stronger.  His manner of speaking was anachronistic and more of the modern annoying American tourist type of dialogue.  Christoph Walz was...well...the same bad guy he's been for the last 25 movies he's been in.  I love the guy, but I want the casting directors to start challenging him with something more different than whether his character has facial hair or not.

The storyline is also a bit preachy and involves a slavery  storyline as well as ripping a little from the real world with King Leopold of Belgium attempting to win a real-life game of RISK over possession of the African Congo.  It really does turn into a super-hero movie by the huge climax where Tarzan is basically Land-Aquaman but I loved it. It was a silly romp and very satisfying.  I definitely hope it does a brisk business this weekend because I'd love to see Skarsgård's Tarzan in another adventure.

#legendoftarzan

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SUPERMAN . . . MEET SUPERMAN . . . MEET SUPERMAN

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The return of the "classic" Superman to the DC Comics Universe inspired this cartoon highlighting just some of the myriad of variations of Superman that have appeared in DC Comics over the years. There are plenty more, especially if I start opening up the "Elseworlds" and "Imaginary Tales" versions.

For those who may not be able to identify all of them, here's some info about each character starting at the top going left to right.

1.  "CLASSIC" SUPERMAN.  This is the one most people associate with the character.  Lantern-jawed caucasian with thick eyebrows, a spit-curl, and a low-necked costume with a cape.

2. "SUPER-LEX" SUPERMAN.  This version is currently appearing in DC Comics and is following the *spoiler* death of the Nu52 version of Superman.  Lex Luthor now wears super-powered armor and has set himself up as the replacement Superman for Earth in the aftermath of hero's death. Needless to say, the return of "Classic" Superman has upset Lex's plans.

3.  "NEW SUPER-MAN" SUPERMAN.  As far as I know, this version has not officially appeared in print yet, but this Chinese Super-Man is soon to premiere in his own series.

4. "NEW 52" SUPERMAN. The younger Superman of the New 52 era marked by the high collar, overly detailed costume, and the loss of the red trunks over tights look the character has had since the beginning.

5. "MULTIVERSITY" SUPERMAN.  This Superman of "Earth 23" is also the President of the United States.

6.  "EARTH 2" SUPERMAN. In the New 52 version of "Earth 2" this is the second person to be called Superman.

7.  "SUPERMAN PRIME" SUPERMAN.  I'm convinced the entire purpose of the DC event known as Infinite Crisis was done primarily to destroy the character of Superboy as a big eff-yoo to the family of Jerry Siegel (co-creator of Superman) who had recently won a huge ruling in the courts granting back to the Siegels the rights to the character of "Superboy"—a decision since reversed.  So, in Infinite Crisis, the character of "Superboy Prime" (introduced during the original 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths as the Superboy of our Earth -- known as "Earth Prime"—was revealed to have gone psychotic and tried to destroy the entire Multiverse.  And since at that time DC was enjoined from using "Superboy," the character called himself "Superman Prime."

8.  "SUPERBOY" SUPERMAN. After the Death of Superman in the early 90s, there was a storyline called "Reign of the Supermen" where 4 new characters were introduced -- each calling himself "Superman."  One of them was this new Superboy character who was a clone from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor.

9.  "STEEL" SUPERMAN.  In the "Reign of the Supermen," John Henry Irons fashioned himself a super-armored suit and called himself Superman for awhile. After the real Superman returned he called himself "Steel."

10.  "CYBORG" SUPERMAN.  In the "Reign of the Supermen," Hank Henshaw (DC's evil pastiche of Marvel's Reed Richards) used his super-brain to take possession of a cyborg body and pretended to be Superman.

11.  "ERADICATOR" SUPERMAN.  In the "Reign of the Supermen," a sentient Kryptonian weapon known as the Eradicator took on the human-like form of Superman in the interim between the Death and Resurrection of Superman.

12.  "MESSIANIC MULLET" SUPERMAN. When Superman was eventually resurrected he somehow gained what I call his "Messianic Mullet" that stuck around way longer than it should have and resulting in the very embarrassing period in which Clark Kent wore a pony tail.

13.  "ELECTRIC BLUE" SUPERMAN.  In one of the worst ideas of the '90s, DC decided to give Superman all-new electricity powers and an all-new costume to go with it.  Like the messianic mullet, this too went on way longer than it should have.

14.  "TANGENT" SUPERMAN. DC let Superman artist Dan Jurgens go on a "tangent" and create a new universe of his own imagining using the familiar character names from the DC Universe and nothing else.  This is the Superman of the Tangent Universe.

15.  "JUST IMAGINE" SUPERMAN.  DC also approached Stan Lee to do the same thing and try to re-imagine the DC Universe if the only things he had were the names.  This is a series of comics that turned out way better than you might expect.  This version of an alien policeman called Superman is a co-creation of Stan Lee and John Buscema.

16.  SUPERSQUIRREL?  Yes. Supersquirrel.  The Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew stories take place on "Earth C" but most readers do not know that there is also an "Earth C-minus" where the JLA (Just'a Lotta Animals) exists.  And on that Earth, there are funny animal versions of the entire JLA (Batmouse, Wonder Wabbit, Green Sparrow, etc.) and their pantheon of villains.