Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review: Shazam! #1

The first issue of the new, ongoing Shazam! series, written by Geoff Johns with art by Dale Eaglesham starts with a quick recap of the origin. Then it skips to the present, where Billy and Freddy are on a field trip.   First thing I notice is Johns seems to have switched Billy and Freddy's personalities. Freddy is now the one acting like a jerk.  There is a blatant rip off of the Spider Man Homecoming scene where crooks in JLA masks bust in.  Billy changes to... well isn't this interesting... could it be a hint the name may change back to Captain Marvel???  More likely a cruel tease that will never amount to anything.  Suddenly the rest of the family pop in to help what's his name, but he seems annoyed by that.  Afterwards they get into an argument about who's in charge.


Later at the Vasquez home, with another Captain Marvel tease, they celebrate Billy's one year anniversary with the family. The kids go to the Rock of Eternity, which they have made their base, and they discover the mystery train, and that it leads to the magic lands.  Meanwhile back at the Vasquez's, an unexpected visitor drops in to see Billy.

The script by Geoff Johns isn't as annoying as his Curse of Shazam script was, but it does seem to be on a children's sit-com level.   The art is by Dale Eaglesham and is very good, if a little generic, but my biggest complaint is his Captain Whateverhisnameis has a face identical to Superman, with even the spit curl.

There is a second story, also written by Johns with superb art by Mayo "Sen" Naito that tells how Mary came to the Vasquez family and establishes her real family abused her.

All in all, this issue isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it is still a far cry the the real "World's Mightiest Mortal". Mayo "Sen" Naito's art earns an A+, and the rest of this issue gets a C+.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The best Elvis songs you've never heard, part 2.

To celebrate Elvis Presley being honored by President Donald Trump with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I thought I'd take the opportunity to add to my previous list of Elvis' best overlooked and under appreciated recordings.


Good Rockin' Tonight One of Elvis' Sun singles that just doesn't get enough love these days.

Milkcow Blues Boogie is another Sun single that seems to have fallen into the obscure, but has the great lyric "if you don't believe I'm leavin', you can count the days I'm gone".

I Was The One The flip side to Heartbreak Hotel, RCA initially thought it would be the hit.  A classic doo-wop ballad that set the standard for all doo-wop ballads that would come in it's wake.

Too Much is one of Elvis' hits from 1957 that sadly, is today mostly forgotten.

I Need You So is a blues style ballad that that has a beat and swings, with Elvis' vocal really selling it.

So Glad You're Mine is a honky-tonk blues tune written by Arthur Crudup (That's All Right) with some raunchy lyrics.

Is It So Strange is another ballad that Elvis' voice soars to another level.

When It Rains It Really Pours is a song Elvis attempted in the Sun years, but went unreleased.  He tried it again at RCA with a fuller sound (but less lyrics), and still unhappy with the performance, it went on the shelf for several years until finally getting released in 1965.
 
King Creole, the title song from one of his best movies, showcases Elvis with a bigger, Dixieland influenced sound that still rocks.

The Girl of My Best Friend is a bouncy song of unrequited love.

Reconsider Baby A track from the brilliant Elvis is Back! album is perhaps his finest blues performance, with a killer saxophone solo by Boots Randolph.

I Got Lucky  A song from the movie Kid Galahad, this mid-tempo number is all charm and happiness.

Your Cheatin' Heart  Elvis' super-charged cover of the Hank Williams classic rocks.

One Broken Heart For Sale is a quick but great tune written by one of Elvis' best songwriters, Otis Blackwell.

I Gotta Know is a mid-temp rocker with clever lyrics.

It Hurts Me is another great song where Elvis pleads for an unrequited love to give him a chance. Elvis also performed this song in a memorable sequence on his 1968 Comeback Special.

Night Life is an outtake from Viva Las Vegas. Its surprising it has never yet been used to promote Vegas tourism.

Down in the Alley is a great blues jam.

Tomorrow is a Long Time  Elvis sings Dylan.  'Nuff said.

Witchcraft  A completely different song than the standard made famous by Sinatra, but one that swings and rocks.

She's a Machine  A song from Easy Come Easy Go about a girl who is every boy's dream and every mother's nightmare.

Clean Up Your Own Backyard is a great tune accented by some fine resonator guitar riffs.

Polk Salad Annie  A song Elvis never recorded a studio version of, but the live version shows the energy of his concerts in the 1970s.

The Fool is a kind of funky Country track.

Funny How Time Slips Away has Elvis taking the Willie Nelson standard into a bluesy zone.

If You Don't Come Back has Elvis returning to the blues, recorded at the famous Stax studios.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Monsters & Mayhem

The latest issue of American Mythology's series of Three Stooges one-shots is also the third Halloween special.  S.A. Check is back writing after missing the previous issue (and this may be his swansong, according to the not-quite-clear-as-mud intro on the inside back cover), and the Fraim Brothers are back at the art chores, but this is still in the new format begun in the previous issue of gray tones in place of color.  The first story is a bit of a send up of "The Raven", and works okay for what it is.  The second story is the third installment of the Frankenstooge saga that has become a tradition in these Halloween specials.  It, also, works okay for what it is.  Needless to say, the Fraim Brothers turn in glorious artwork as usual.  It is curious to note these two new stories are rather short, and it's the 1966 reprint that takes up half the issue.  Also the reprint is in black and white, even though it was originally published in color.  While I like the gray tones of the new stories, I'm less enthusiastic to see the originally color stories reprinted in a cruder Xerox-like form of black and white.  Overall this issue earns a B.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Matinee Madness


The latest Three Stooges comic book from American Mythology features a change in format. The scripts are written to be more in line with the classic two reel shorts and the art work in toned in black & white.  The reprints are also reduced to single page strips.  The issue's two new stories, both written by Mike Wolfer are top notch.  He captures the tone, the characterizations, and the humor of the classic shorts perfectly.  Best of all, unlike some of the previous issues which seemed to be influenced by the Farrely Brothers movie, there is not a bunch of pop culture references to hit the reader over the head that this is 2018.   A good interpretation of the Stooges should be timeless.  There doesn't need to be an aggressive attempt to scream "hey, this is 2018", nor to scream "hey, this is 1938".  Just write the characters faithfully and put them in funny situations and don't worry about what year its supposed to be.  Wolfer succeeds with that in this issue. The premise  of the first story has the boys as exterminators who are mistaken for pastry chefs at a swanky party.  The second story's premise has gangsters hiring the boys to take them on a tour of a swamp where a scientist inventor is secluded. The artwork is by Eric Shanower, who with Jeremy Kahn's black and white tones, captures the atmosphere of the classic shorts. Shanower's renderings of the boys looks like it is more influenced by Norman Maurer's artwork from the '40s and '50s.  A bit more cartoony than the Fraim brothers artwork in previous issues, at least in regard to the Stooges, while other characters have a more realistic rendering.  Hopefully the Fraim brothers will get an opportunity to draw an issue or two in this new format.  Overall this issue earns an A+.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The first "Shazam!" trailer

This is it.  What we have been waiting for since 2002.  The Shazam! trailer.



I was completely underwhelmed by it.  Visually, it was too bland and generic. It looked like it was a big screen version of one of DC's CW TV shows.  Content was just as bad. It appears as if the studio is aiming for this to be a G-rated entry level film for children into the larger DCEU. There were a lot of attempts at humor, all of which fell flat. I didn't think any of the jokes were particularly funny. This is definitely not the G-rated version of Deadpool that word of mouth indicated several weeks ago. It's not even DC's version of Ant-Man.  If anything, this is more along the lines of Sky High.

I will say Asher Angel, as Billy Batson, impressed me.  I didn't think he could do it, but he was able to keep up to the level of the more celebrated and critically acclaimed Jack Dylan Grazer, as Freddy Freeman. Zachary Levi, on the other hand... well, let's just say he goes into full Freaky Friday mode, and that is not what Captain Marvel is about. But this movie is not about Captain Marvel.  It is about New52 Shazam, and the trailer looks as if it is going to be one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book ever. If this trailer is any indication, the final product could be a live action version of a motion comic.  The big problem is, "Curse of Shazam" is the most wrong comic to be so faithful to. It is divisive, the antithesis of what the Captain Marvel character is, and the majority of long time Captain Marvel fans abhor it. I think the average viewer over the age of 17 will find Levi's performance obnoxious after about 10 minutes.  Plus there is the fact his face looks more like Dagwood Bumstead than any C.C. Beck drawing of Captain Marvel.

It's funny, a few days before this trailer dropped, I saw the teaser for Tim Burton's Dumbo.  It had the tone, the look, and the atmosphere I so desperately wanted for a Shazam! movie. After seeing the Shazam! trailer, I wish Tim Burton was signed to direct Shazam! and David Sandberg was signed to direct Dumbo. Even so, the biggest problem is that it's based on Geoff Johns' work, and you can add butter and garlic and seasoning to a plate of shit, but it's still going to be a plate of shit. And that is what DC is serving us.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

First "official" image from the Shazam movie

Unfortunately this is just further confirmation this is going to be Curse of Shazam: The Movie.

In the Entertainment Weekly interview, director David Sandberg mentions the costume's shorter cape, as if that is the thing that will keep us long time Captain Marvel fans happy and quiet: “It makes him feel a bit more Golden Age superhero, which is the vibe I’m going for.”  And yet everything else, so far, appears to be ripped directly from the New52 reboot, which the majority of long time Captain Marvel fans detest.

The first teaser trailer will be released next week.  It is going to have to be ... well, marvelous, to win me over.

UPDATE:  a second official photo has been released, also featuring Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer, confirming a thought I had when it was revealed the talented Grazer was cast as Freddy, while lightweight Disney Channel personality Asher Angel was cast as Billy: Freddy is going to get a lot more screen time than Billy.
And a new photo for the cover of EW, which is cringe worthy of where this movie is going.
Finally, a pic of Billy Batson (with Freddy Freeman) has been released.

Friday, June 15, 2018

D.J. Fontana, R.I.P.

Dominic Joseph "D.J." Fontana, Elvis Presley's long time drummer, passed away on June 13, 2018 at the age of 87. The trio of Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black met D.J. during their year-plus stint on the Louisiana Hayride radio program, where D.J. was a staff drummer.  He joined the group, which was informally known as "the Blue Moon Boys", and continued to play with Elvis until 1968.  Arguably the first rock 'n roll drummer, one of his best known drum fills is from Hound Dog.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Slaptastic Special

The latest issue of American Mythology's series of Three Stooges one-shots is once again by the standard team of writer S.A. Check and artists Brian and Brendan Fraim.  The first story has the Stooges entering the world of virtual reality. Even though it includes a cameo by Shemp, this type of "modernizing the Stooges" formula just does not work, and this story falls flat.  The second story has the boys as window washers on a skyscraper, and fares much better.  This story is classic, entertaining, and funny.   The issue's third story is a vintage reprint written and drawn by Moe's son-in-law Norman Mauer, featuring Shemp as the third Stooge, and is top notch. Overall, this issue earns a B-.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shazam! wraps filming

Director David F. Sandberg announced filming on Shazam! has ended on May 11, 2018.  He also seemed somewhat confused as to why an official photo of Captain... Shazam has not yet been released.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Columbia "Blondie" film series

Recently, Turner Classic Movies aired the first six Blondie movies. Starring Arthur Lake as Dagwood, Penny Singleton as Blondie, Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling and Jonathan Hale as Mr. Dithers, these high quality films are a cornerstone of the family sitcom genre, and hold up very well, with classic comedy that is as funny today as it was in the 1930s and 40s.   It was great to see them on television again, but I'm disappointed TCM aired the edited TV prints. When AMC aired the Blondie film series about 15 years ago (back when AMC was an alternative to TCM and likewise didn't air commercials), many of the films were restored with the original Columbia titles and a couple minutes of footage that was edited out of the TV prints.


I hope Sony Pictures (Columbia's parent company) and King Features (or its parent company Hearst) will team up to restore all 28 Blondie movies to their original state, with the Columbia titles and missing footage restored, and release it in HD in a Blu-ray box set.

Icing on the cake would be to include bonus discs of all 14 episodes of the short lived Blondie color TV series from 1968 starring Will Hutchins as Dagwood, Patricia Harty as Blondie, Jim Backus as Mr. Dithers, Pamelyn Ferdin as daughter Cookie, and Bruce Lee as a guest star in one episode.

 
And perhaps some extra bonus features could be the 1954 Blondie TV pilot starring Hal Leroy as Dagwood and Pamela Britton as Blondie (the complete 1957 series with Arthur Lake returning to play Dagwood opposite Britton will be released on DVD by ClassicFlix in September 2018), plus Meet The Family, Arthur Lake's own 1954 Blondie-inspired color pilot co-starring his real life wife and kids, and may be a few of Lake's silent two-reel shorts from the 1920s.  


You can voice support for such a project by emailing Hearst/King Features at
kfs-public-relations@hearst.com
and Sony/Columbia at
consumer@SPHECustomerSupport.sony.com
and
SPE_Feedback@spe.sony.com

Friday, April 27, 2018

movie review: AVENGERS INFINITY WAR

Avengers: Infinity War is an epic event, but what it is not is a true Avengers movie. Captain America: Civil War was more of an Avengers movie.  What this movie accomplishes is being the cinematic equivalent of a comic book multi-title cross over story arc. What directors Anthony and Joe Russo have done is capture each of the individual franchises' tone for the segments featuring those characters. The segments featuring Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy feel like they were directed by James Gunn.  The segments featuring Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange feel like they were directed by Jon Watts or Scott Derrickson.  But unlike Justice League, where the clash of styles of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon caused a disconnect, Infinity War still holds together, and builds upon the diversity of styles, much like a multi-title cross over comic book arc does with different creative teams on each title building to the singular plot line.


The plot line here, is of Thanos, who bears more than a passing resemblance to pro-wrestler Kurt Angle, collecting the various infinity stones for his gauntlet for the purpose of wiping out half of existence. Truth be told, that's established in the first half of the movie, while the second half is one big battle royal across different locations.  At times, Infinity War starts to look more like a video game than a movie, with all the excessive CGI, as Justice League and the third act of Wonder Woman did, but over all, the Russos pull it off better than their DC counterparts. Still, it would be nice to have a superhero movie that does not feel the need to turn into a video game for the climax.


The large cast gives nearly everyone at least a few seconds to shine (the only ones not attending are Ant-Man, Hawkeye, the Agents of Shield and the Netflix heroes), but the characters that get the most screen time are Thor, the Guardians, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Bruce Banner, and of course Thanos.  The one character that I thought that got the short end of the stick is Captain America.  Despite one cool bit that is really a Batman rip off of Steve Rogers appearing seemingly from out of nowhere under cover of a passing train, he has little to do other than to lead his team of heroes into battle for the second half's mega fight scene.  After all the previous films where Steve dominates, its weird to have him pushed into the background for this go round.  The Scarlet Witch gets to have the most emotional role, and surprisingly the comedy, which has moved to the forefront in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and the Guardians movies, is reined in to a certain extent this time. But then again, there is the running gag of Thor constantly referring to Rocket as a rabbit- perhaps a House of Mouse dig at Bugs Bunny?  There are some deaths of significant characters, and the movie ends on a cliffhanger to be continued in the next Avengers movie due one year from now. This conforms to the original reports that it would be a two-part film, although the Russos later denied this claiming the third and fourth Avengers movies would be separate installments. Infinity War is a satisfactory ten year milestone for the MCU.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The role Zachary Levi was born to play (and it ain't Captain Marvel)

The comic character Zachary Levi was born to play is not Captain Marvel (or, more accurately, the inferior New52 Shazam, which is the character that will be used in the movie instead of Captain Marvel).... the role Levi was born to play is..... Dagwood Bumstead!

Just compare him to Arthur Lake, who played Dagwood in Columbia Pictures' long running Blondie film series, the simultaneous radio program, and reprised the role for a short lived TV sitcom in 1957.

So now, the thing I want to see most is not for there to be Shazam! sequels, but rather for Levi to be cast as Dagwood in a new Blondie movie, preferably opposite Brittany Daniel, who is a Penny Singleton look alike.
 
In fact, if and when I see Shazam!, every time Levi appears on screen, I may just see Dagwood Marvel.

More Shazam casting news

There are reports, currently unconfirmed but most likely accurate, that actors have been cast as the super powered versions of Billy Batson's foster siblings.  Reportedly, Adam Brody will play the powered up Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Michelle Borth will play the powered up Mary (Grace Fulton), D.J. Cotrona will play the powered up Pedro, Ross Butler the powered up Eugene, and Megan Good as the powered up Darla.  Coincidentally, Brody was cast as The Flash, and Cotrona as Superman in George Miller's cancelled Justice League Mortal movie from about a decade ago. As the Shazam! movie gets more cemented in being an adaption of the awful new52 reboot Curse of Shazam, my interest and excitement for the movie continues to diminish. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First Shazam pic

The first pic of Zachary Levi in costume as Captain.... Shazam has surfaced.  True to form, it looks very New52, just like everything else in this movie is turning out to be.  Yep, there's even that damn hoodie.
UPDATE: another shot, this time of the front has surfaced.  The front seems to look just like the Justice League War cartoon... or maybe Robin William's Mork costume.  Not quite sure.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Even better, hi-res pics have surfaced.
New 52 Dr. Sivana, played by Mark Strong.
 And Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman.  Wonder if his hair is dyed blonde like New52 Freddy?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Linux saved my computer

I have an admission I need to make.  My computer's operating system is Windows Vista. I know it has a reputation for being one of Windows' failed efforts, but it's what was pre-installed on my computer, and frankly, not only was I used to it, but it really didn't give me any serious problems. Sure, there was an occasional freeze, and rarely a crash, but it was nothing a simple reboot didn't fix. The first real problem I had was a couple years ago, while on the internet, I started to get blocked from websites with a warning that Internet Explorer was outdated and I needed to upgrade.  Normally, IE upgraded automatically, so I went to the website to manually upgrade it, and I found out IE no longer supported Vista.  I ended up switching to Firefox for my browser, and all went back to normal.  Until a couple months ago, when I noticed I didn't upgrade to the latest Firefox browser that was heavily promoted.  I went to the Firefox web site, and there I found out, not only will Firefox stop supporting Vista in May, but that Microsoft itself stopped supporting Vista nearly a year ago.  So now I thought I was screwed.  Does this mean I need to throw out a perfectly good computer just because the OS is obsolete?

My Windows Vista Desktop
There had to be another answer.  Installing the latest Windows 10 on my computer would cost nearly as much as buying a new computer, so that was not an option.  Perhaps there was a way to install Windows 7 at a very low cost or maybe even for free.  At least that may give me a couple more years of use out of my computer.  So, I did a web search to see if it was possible.  But what I found was something even better. I discovered Linux, which is a free alternative to Microsoft Windows.  It was the perfect solution to my situation: a perfectly good computer that is a few years old, and has a version of Windows that has become obsolete and unsupported.  Better yet, I didn't even have to install it blind, not knowing what I would be getting.  With Linux, you can create a bootable USB stick to test drive the OS simply by downloading the ISO image from the website, then using the free tool Rufus to burn it onto a regular USB stick. Now, I don't know anything about computer programming, or anything related to coding and how computers work, but this seemed like it would be real easy to do.  The biggest problem was choosing a Linux distribution (or "distro") as unlike its Microsoft counterpart, there are hundreds of different choices.

I decided to limit my choice to the 20 most popular distros according to Distrowatch, and those that are user friendly and aimed at beginners. I also had to decide if I wanted a point release or a rolling release. A long term support point release is a distro that is fully supported for three years, and has limited extended support for another two years.  So, in a similar scenario to Windows, every three to five years, you would need to install the newest version of the OS, or if you like variety, you can switch to a different distro. Naturally, it is free, unlike a Windows upgrade, but you would need to back up all your personal files, as the fresh install would wipe them out.  The advantage is that a point release is very stable and dependable.  A rolling release is an OS you install just once, and you just need to update it every few weeks.  The down side is rolling releases are not as stable, and can often have bugs.  But there are a couple rolling releases that are not so "bleeding edge" and are considered very stable and dependable.

The first one I tried was Elementary, a point release.  It was kind of slow loading web pages. It was very bare bones, but I liked its Pantheon desktop environment, which mimics Apple Mac rather than Windows. Like its name suggests, it is probably aimed at grade school computers and perhaps senior citizens.

Next I tried Linux Mint, another point release, and the number 1 distro on Distrowatch. It is the one most often suggested for first time Linux users coming from Windows. It was much quicker than Elementary, and seemed to be just like Windows. It would be a very easy transition. I noticed minor screen tearing while using the web browser while scrolling and watching videos. My printer/scanner works with it, so that was one concern eliminated.

Next I tried Antergos, a rolling release. It had some nice pre-installed apps like weather and maps, but the web browser was very juddery and had severe screen tearing. It also froze a lot. My printer/scanner would not work, so that may be a headache to deal with.

Next I attempted Manjaro, another rolling release that is considered more user friendly and stable than Antergos, but could not get the live boot to work, saying the kernel failed to load.

Then I tried Ubuntu, a point release that is considered the most used and preferred Linux distro. Many other distros, such as Mint and Elementary, are derivatives of Ubuntu, and if you ever happen to come across a computer in the store that has a Linux OS pre-installed, it would be Ubuntu. I really liked Ubuntu, perhaps more than Mint. The Gnome desktop is very different than Windows/Mint, but I kind of like it.  Unlike most other desktops which are based on the standard Windows, Gnome seems to be based on an iPhone or iPad. Gnome is also configured in a way that you can do everything from the keyboard and not use a mouse as much as you do in the Windows style desktops.  Like Mint, there was minor screen tearing in the web browser. My printer/scanner was able to configure.  I made a mental note, Ubuntu will be a finalist.

I tried another flavor of Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE. It was OK, but seemed like a second-tier version of the main Ubuntu Gnome. I did not care for the MATE desktop.  It just seemed kind of old and outdated to me, like it was from 1995.  I also tried Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu with the XFCE desktop.  It kept freezing on me, and also seemed kind of old, like it was based on Windows XP, which would be a step backward from Vista.

Next I tried PCLinuxOS with the KDE desktop. It is a rolling release and has been around longer than a lot of other distros, making it very stable and dependable.  I really like this one. Just about everything I need is pre-installed. It has a very Windows-familiar system, and is also very modern.  Again, there was minor screen tearing while watching videos in the web browser. My printer/scanner seemed to configure properly. Another little thing I liked about PCLinuxOS is that, like Windows, the number lock is on by default.  All the other Linux distros have the number lock off by default, which can be annoying when you go to use the number pad to type in numbers. I noted this one would also be a finalist.

Solus was a distro I was looking forward to trying, as I have read many great things about it. It is a rolling release, yet is extremely stable. It has rave reviews from those who have used it, and it's Budgie desktop is said to have no screen tearing at all.  It is a rising star on Distrowatch. Unfortunately, I could not get it to live boot on my computer. After the countdown screen, all I would get is a flashing cursor, and then a text that said "unable to get SMM Dell signature".  I tried several things, like burning the ISO image in DD mode.  I  tried contacting Solus for help, but the only reply I got was to the effect "Sorry it's not working for you... too bad".  It's really a shame, because for a minute there I thought it would be the one I would pick. Apparently, after looking at some Linux message boards for a solution, the problem live booting Solus seems fairly common. I guess because this is, in fact, a fairly new distro it will be more buggy than a lot of the positive reviews admit.  Maybe in six months or so, if they can fix the problem, I'll give it another try, but now I felt I needed to just move on.
(UPDATE: I ended up finding a work around to get Solus to live boot. In the end I wasn't too impressed by it.  It seemed buggy, and there was screen tearing in the web browser.)

So then I tried Ubuntu Budgie, just to see what Solus' Budgie desktop is like. I liked it. It was like an updated version of the MATE desktop, what it should be in 2018. I did not get any screen tearing while watching videos with Chrome. I was able to switch to Firefox, and did get the minor screen tearing as in the other distros.

I then decided to give Manjaro a second shot, since the first attempt did not boot up. Unlike Solus, Manjaro worked on a second attempt. I tried its Budgie desktop, which I did get some screen tearing in the web browser. I also tried Manjaro's Gnome desktop. There's something about the Gnome desktop I kind of like.  I made a note- if I want a rolling release with a Gnome desktop, Manjaro would be the pick.

I also briefly tried Korora.  This point release reminded me a lot of Mint, but with more choices in desktop environments.

So now the time came to choose.  In theory I like the idea of a rolling release, but I also realized for a beginner like myself, it could be a disaster.  So I decided for a back up if a rolling release just did not work out for me, I would go with Ubuntu- either the standard Gnome or Budgie.

The rolling release I did pick was PCLinuxOS. I now have PCLinuxOS dual booted on my hard drive with Vista as my safety net.

My new PCLinuxOS KDE desktop

So far so good.  I like it. My computer/scanner works, although it prints out a page very slowly, stopping in between lines. I get some screen tearing in videos in the web browser, but from other sources, like a file, it is perfect. As I use it over the next weeks and months, hopefully there will be no major bugs.  Then perhaps after a few months, if all continues to go well, I will delete Vista from the hard drive.  If things go south, then I will replace PCLinuxOS with Ubuntu while keeping Vista as a safety net for a little while longer.

UPDATE: After having PCLinuxOS on my computer for six months, I found it to be very stable, dependable, and problem free. Vista would sometimes freeze on me and occasionally crash. I am amazed that PCLinuxOS has never yet froze on me, much less crash. I make it a point to update the system every 7 to 10 days. Originally I was going to delete Vista from my computer, but I found out I could shrink the Vista partition and give most of my computer's memory to PCLinuxOS. Even though I have not logged on to Vista in months, I decided, just for an extra safety net and since I have enough free space on my computer, to shrink the Vista partition down to 100gb, and expand the PCLinuxOS partition.  All in all, I am very happy and satisfied with PCLinuxOS.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Shemptastic Shemptacular


The latest Three Stooges one-shot published by American Mythology has Shemp front and center. However, instead of doing a story with the Moe, Larry and Shemp line up, what we are really getting is more along the lines of one of Shemp's solo shorts made at Vitaphone, and later, at Columbia.  The plot deals with Shemp thinking the boys have been abducted, and his madcap search to find and rescue them. The script by S.A. Check is slightly above average, somewhat hampered by the consistent asides illustrating to the reader that this is set in today and not the 1940s. The art by Brendan and Brian Fraim is superb, as usual, and there is a tiny reference to Ted Healy and it looks vaguely like Agent Truman is based on Adam West, who co-starred with the boys in The Outlaws IS Coming.  There is only one new story, as the issue is filled out with two reprints written and drawn by Norman Mauer that are excellent. This issue earns a B.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Official Shazam press release

Batman-News.com posted the official Shazam! press release which answers some questions, and raises some concerns.
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out.  In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard.  Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them!  Can he fly?  Does he have X-ray vision?  Can he shoot lightning out of his hands?  Can he skip his social studies test?  Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child.  But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).

It goes on to confirm previous rumors Ron Cephas Jones has been cast as the Wizard. It confirms the movie will feature the New52 Shazam, and not the classic Captain Marvel. While most of the Curse of Shazam characters are mentioned, no classic Fawcett characters, like Sterling Morris, Beautia, Uncle Dudley, etc., are even hinted at.  Billy is referred to as "streetwise", which may be code for the New52 jerk character, perhaps slightly toned toned down.  Expect Billy's catch phrase to be "bad ass" instead of "Holy Moly". Of course the very purpose of this film seems to be getting a superhero version of Big made at any cost.  The whole "have fun with them" line seems like a big chunk of the movie will be a blend of the "discovering his powers" scenarios from both the William Goldman and John August scripts, and the New52 scenes where Shazam and Freddy try to find beer money and pull pranks, and emphasizes Shazam will be reckless with his powers. Although David F. Sandberg was quick to renounce the idea of Sivana as a sorcerer, Mark Strong's comments about Sivana flying and shooting lightning from his hands, and this press release stating he can control deadly forces of evil (read: Seven Deadly Sins) indicates otherwise. The release emphasizes the film is firmly set in the DC Film Universe, and considering Sandberg not renouncing the reports Henry Cavill will appear in the film as Superman, signs point to that happening.   Maybe Zachary Levi will get his wish and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman will also have a role.  And Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn should definitely be in it, considering the chemistry between Billy and Harley in the Injustice comic book series.

All in all, it looks like this movie will be a hybrid of Big and Curse of Shazam with a Spider Man Homecoming vibe, and those of us who wanted an adaptation of the Fawcett material with an Alex Ross spin are S-O-L.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Shazam filming begins

Even though the majority of the cast has yet to be unveiled, David F. Sandberg announced filming has begun on Shazam! today.
A post shared by David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) on

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Shazam movie character breakdowns

Character breakdowns from the Shazam! movie have surfaced.

THADDEUS BODOG SIVANA – “Evil sorcerer who regenerates from death with world domination on his mind.” Supporting Lead Male

BEAUTIA SIVANA – “Sivana’s devoted daughter. When he does not return her love, she changes loyalties and helps Billy out.” Supporting Lead Female

MAGNIFICUS SIVANA – “Sivana’s incredibly giant and strong son that has a huge battle with Shazam.” Supporting Lead Male

SHAZAM – “Elderly wizard who is forced to give his powers to a young boy before the boy is ready.” Supporting Lead Male

MYSTERIOUS MAN – “Shazam’s underling.” Cameo Male 

It is interesting to see Sivana will be a sorcerer and not a mad scientist.  But I am happy to see Beautia is confirmed to be in the film, and seems to be very faithful to the Fawcett original. It is also interesting to see Shazam is "forced" to give his powers to Billy "before he is ready".  It seems there will be generous liberties taken with the characters.  Many are jumping to the conclusion the "mysterious man" may be Black Adam, but to those of us who are long time Captain Marvel fans, it seems obvious the character is the stranger who summons Billy to board the mystery train that takes him to the Rock of Eternity.  Since filming begins in just a couple weeks, all these roles are most likely cast, although are being kept under wraps. A photo reveals Zachary Levi and Asher Angel at a table reading of the script in Canada where filming will occur.

UPDATE: David F. Sandberg debunked the character breakdowns, adding "Sivana is definitely not a reanimated sorcerer".

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dr. Sivana is cast!

After months of rumors, Mark Strong, through an interview in London confirmed he is playing Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana in Shazam! "I'm playing an evil bastard called Doctor Sivana, they are always the best characters to play, the most fun."  He went on to affirm the film's concept as a superhero version of Big, "It's a funny film, it's about a young boy who can become a superhero but still remains a young boy so there's elements of 'Big' there's elements of 'Stranger Things'. I think originally the comic outsold 'Superman' in the 1940s."  He also spilled a major spoiler about his character, "I've been training like a mad man, I'm about to go over and see the stunt guys, I've been trying all of these harnesses on and I think I'm going to be doing lots of flying around and firing electricity out of my hands."  After the article hit the internet, director David F. Sandberg tweeted "I guess it’s official now then".

Speaking of spoilers, a few days ago, Zachary Levi may have also tipped his hand that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman may have a cameo in the movie, gushing about the Amazon Princess, “I think getting a cameo from anybody would be super cool, but I just think Gal Gadot is so effervescent. She has such a charm. And she seems like a really cool broad. Like, she was in the Israeli army. She's a mom. And I'm like, 'You seem like you're grounded and cool, and you're Wonder Woman, and you rock,' and I think it would be really funny to have the 14-year-old Billy Batson inside of Shazam that's really awkward around this beautiful Amazonian. I just think that would be really awesome.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: The Archies #4

Issue number 4 of The Archies features The Monkees.   Written by Alex Segra and Matthew Rosenberg, the plot deals with Archie who, during a gig with his band, gets knocked out and dreams about an adventure with The Monkees.  Davy is kidnapped and The Archies tag along with Mike, Micky and Peter to rescue him. Being a dream, the typical surreal, meta humor of The Monkees TV series fits into the narrative, laced with Monkees trivia and call backs. This includes the Monkeemobile, the Monkee's pad, the Monkees using their "Monkeemen" superhero guise, as well as the Archies donning their 1960s superhero costumes.  Also a character named Tony Tunes alludes to Don Kirshner. I don't know if it was intentional or coincidence, but as Davy is kidnapped in the story, much of the action focuses on Mike, Micky and Peter.  In real life, Davy passed away in 2012.  Joe Eisma is the artist of this issue, and does something clever.  The bookends are drawn in the current realistic Archie style, but the dream sequence reverts to the classic Archie style. My only critique of the art would be that Eisma didn't really capture the Monkees' likenesses in the interior art. They all seem to have the same generic face and the only way to tell them apart is by their hair. His cover art gets the likenesses better, as do the variant covers by Greg Smallwood, Mike Allred, and Tyler Boss. Overall, this is a very enjoyable issue and earns an A-.